War of the Rebellion: Serial 016 Page 0472 OPERATIONS IN N. VA., W. VA., AND MD. Chapter XXIV.

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mishers advancing through the skirt of woods, the command following them closely. We had passed nearly through the belt of timber to our front, when upon the opposite edge beyond the wood my skirmishers, receiving an exceedingly hot musketry fire from the railroad cut, were obliged to halt. Colonels Johnson and Berdan immediately notified me that unless they could have better support from the skirmishers on their right it would be impossible to advance farther. Upon going to the front I found that their report was correct; Captain Spear being wounded at this point by the enemy's cross-fire. Rearing that our skirmishers did not properly connect with those of General King's on the right I deployed two companies of the Eighteenth Massachusetts to correct the error, if possible, which they succeeded in doing satisfactorily. I then sent Captain Powers to General Porter, reporting our true position ; requested a more decided support on the right, or else, on account of an enfilading fire from the enemy, it would be futile to commence the attack. By an orderly I sent a similar dispatch to General Butterfield. From General Porter I received the following reply:

I will at once send infantry upon your right. Wait until they arrive, then push vigorously forward.

From General Butterfield, through his aide, Lieutenant Perkins, I was directed to be sure and make the connection with General Hatch, allowing no mishap to occur in so doing. I then requested Captain Powers to confer with the officer in command of General Hatch's advanced regiment, which was at that time directly in our rear, requesting him to speedily move on, as we had no time to lose. This order was faithfully delivered, Captain Powers at the same time showing said officer just the spot where my right rested. Notwithstanding all this the command of General Hatch came forward very slowly and in a confused manner, and with much labor on my own part I was obliged to move my entire command slightly to the left, in order move speedily to get into position the advancing brigade.

I then notified General Butterfield that the desired connection was at last accomplished. We then, by General Butterfield's order, simultaneously with the Third Brigade, together with three deafening cheers from the respective regiments, charged across the open field nearly to the timber beyond, hoping under the cover of the wood to be enabled to sweep around to the left and take the guns of the enemy, but the musketry fire, both from the right and front, was so galling that the troops were obliged to halt and in line of battle resist it, an incessant artillery cross-fire at the same time being poured into them from the left. In this position we remained upward of thirty minutes, our brave boys holding their ground, but falling in scores. It was here that Colonel Roberts, of the First Michigan, bravely leading his command, was instantly killed, being shot through the intestines, the missile going directly through his body. At last, finding we had no support whatever on the right, the regiments there having retired, we were obliged to retreat, which, under the circumstances, was performed in good order. The enemy hotly pressed us at first, but were soon checked by the forces of General Sykes, who nobly covered our retirement.

Succeeding in getting my command nearly one-eighth of a mile to the rear I halted, an joining with the Third Brigade, moved over the high hill back from the field of battle. Here General Morel (who, by some conflict or discrepancy of orders, had in the morning moved on to Centreville, together with the Second Brigade, Martin's battery, and the Twenty-second Massachusetts Regiment) joined us, and by his orders we retired to our present position.