relieve the Third Brigade of the division, in command of Colonel Carr. On learning from Colonel Carr the condition of things in front, I advanced the brigade to within about 15 paces of the line occupied by the line which I had to relieve, when I halted and dressed it and sent skirmishers forward.
Having everything in readiness, I gave the order to advance. The line had advanced but a few steps when the left was struck with such violence by a regiment (which continued the line to the left) which had broken that the Second Excelsior Regiment, which was on the left of the brigade line, was almost carried away with it. Seeing the confusion, I rode hastily to this part of the line, accompanied by my two aides, Lieutenants Tremain and Dwight, and endeavored to stay this disgraceful retreat, but it was in vain; the tide could not be stemmed. On they rushed over and through my line perfectly panic-stricken, breaking and carrying away with them the left of my line. The enemy seeing this charged after them. I then endeavored to throw back my line to give the enemy a flank fire. This I found on trial impracticable, the wood being too dense to execute the movement. By this time the enemy had availed themselves of the large interval opened on my left and poured through in large numbers, and had got 50 or 60 paces in my rear, giving the line an enfilading and reverse fire. They, however, soon ceased firing, as they were so mixed up as to endanger their own men; they then commenced taking prisoners. Finding my line completely flanked and turned, and in danger of being entirely cut off, I gave the order to fall back, which was done in as good order as could be, situated as we were. The loss on this occasion was not as large as I had reason to apprehend, yet it was considerable.
It was on this occasion that my two aides, Lieutenants Tremain and Dwight, were taken prisoners, endeavoring to overcome the disorder and confusion occasioned by the stampede of the troops on my left. After extricating the brigade from its entanglement I reformed the line and immediately sent forward upon the line which we had occupied skirmishers, and followed them in myself, and remained there until a regiment from General Kearny's division came and took position on the line and engaged the enemy. I then withdrew the skirmishers and fell back to my own line, when I was ordered by Major-General Hooker to a position in an open field in rear of the Third Brigade, where the brigade bivouacked for the night.
The next afternoon (August 30) the brigade was ordered under arms and to be held in readiness to march in pursuit of the retreating enemy. Subsequently the brigade was marched in the direction of Centreville, and ordered it support a battery on the left of our line. Soon after it was ordered to follow the Third Brigade, which it did, and arrived in the night at Centreville, where it remained until the afternoon of the 1st instant, when it was ordered to take the road toward Fairfax Court-House. The column had not proceeded far on the road when heavy firing was heard on our left. The column was halted, and soon after the brigade was ordered to cross the road and form line, which it did, and was soon after, by Brigadier-General Grover, ordered to advance and support the division of General Kearny. The brigade remained in line during the night in rear of General Kearny's division and resumed its march about 2.30 a.m. toward Fairfax Court-House, where it arrived about 8 a.m. At 11.30 a.m. the march was again resumed toward Alexandria, and the brigade, with the division, bivouacked about 2 miles east of Fairfax Station.