War of the Rebellion: Serial 016 Page 0413 Chapter XXIV. CAMPAIGN IN NORTHERN VIRGINIA.

Search Civil War Official Records

this time General Kearny's division held its position on our extreme right. Several orders were sent to him to advance, but he did not move until after the troops on his left had been forced back, which was near 6 p.m. He now advanced and reported that he was driving the enemy. This was not, however, until after the renewed heavy musketry fire on our center had driven General Hooker's troops and those he was sent to support back. They were greatly outnumbered, and had behaved with exceeding gallantry.

It was on this occasion that General Grover's brigade made the most gallant and determined bayonet charge of the war. He broke two of the enemy's lines, but was finally repulsed by the overwhelming numbers in the rebel third line. It was a hand-to-hand conflict, using the bayonet and the butt of the musket. In this fierce encounter, of not over twenty minutes' duration, the Second New Hampshire, Colonel Marston suffered the most. The First Eleventh and Sixteenth Massachusetts and Twenty-sixth Pennsylvania were engaged. The loss of this brigade, numbering less than 2,000 present, was a total of 484, nearly all killed and wounded. I refer you to General Grover's accompanying report.

Had General Kearny pushed the enemy earlier, it might have enabled us to have held our center and have saved some of this heavy loss. Kearny on the right, with General Stevens and our artillery, drove the enemy out of the woods they had temporarily occupied. The firing continued until some time after dark, and when it ceased we remained in possession of the battle-field. During the night, however, our troops again fell back from the woods that had been so obstinately disputed all the afternoon. At 5.30 a.m. August 30 a few shots were fired on my front. The morning was spent in procuring rations from General Sigel's train, our own having been left from necessity in our last camp on Bull Run. After holding a short conference and making reconnaissances it was decided that General McDowell should take his corps, mine, and General Porter's to make an attack on the enemy's left. At 12 m. General McDowell and myself went to our right to reconnoiter more clearly the enemy's position preparatory to moving. We saw but few of the enemy, and appearances were that they were retreating. On our return we met General Sigel, who expressed as the result of his observations the same opinion. At general headquarters the impression was that the enemy was retreating during the night. It was then determined that I should advance with General Ricketts' troops and my corps on the road leading to Sudley Springs and thence toward Hay Market. The first step in advance brought us in contact with the enemy's skirmishers. These were driven out of the woods, but our farther advance was resisted by the rebel artillery, commanding the road. The enemy was evidently still in force. Soon after (at 2 p.m.) General Porter became engaged with the enemy on our left, and at 4 p.m. this attack extended to our center. We then learned that withdrawal of troops from opposite our right was to mass them on our center and left, General Hooker's division now advanced into the woods near our right and drove the enemy back a short distance. At 5.30 our troops on the left and then the center began to give way. Shortly before night, on the falling back of the troops on the left and center, I was directed to retire and hold successive positions. General Hooker's division was ordered by General Pope to the left about dark, and I lost sight of it until after the whole army was in retreat, when I overtook it on the road beyond the stone bridge. We fell back to the Wier house (I believe), used as a hospital, and there