War of the Rebellion: Serial 016 Page 0503 Chapter XXIV. CAMPAIGN IN NORTHERN VIRGINIA.

Search Civil War Official Records

to by means of the letters of the alphabet. It must be kept in mind that I make this sketch from my own points of view. The distance between the ruled line represents 100 yards.

As a starting point I will state the position of affairs just before the attack was made in front by General Butterfield. His skirmishers had driven the enemy out of the woods at A, and he occupied the vicinity with his whole force. The First and Second Brigades of Sykes' division were between him and O. My brigade was at M, and Smead's and Randol's batteries in the road near me. General Reynolds' division held the woods, G, with a rifled-gun battery at G. All our other forces in sight were to the right and rear of these. I knew the enemy was in the woods and on the high ridge from the point F all around toward our right as far as C C, but high authority reported him retreating, and that this was only his rear guard. While General Butterfield was making his disposition to assault the enemy at C, General Reynolds' troops and rifled battery were all withdrawn from G and sent farther to our left at some point, as I, the enemy's rifled battery at C firing at the last of his troops making this movement. Hazlett's rifled battery was at the same time executing an order from General Porter to take up a position at G with the other and open on the enemy at C, so as to assist Butterfield's contemplated assault. This battery was then without support and our whole left flank was uncovered. I immediately assumed the responsibility of occupying the place Reynolds' division had vacated, and made all the show of force I could. For this purpose I deployed three-fifths of the Tenth New York Volunteers to hold the edge of the woods toward the enemy on our left, and keeping the Fifth New York Volunteers in reserve near H, out of view of the enemy's battery at C. Notice of this movement of mine I immediately sent by an officer to General Sykes or General Porter. He found the latter, who directed me to hold on, and sent me mounted orderlies to keep him informed. He was, I believe, near the point N, where Weed's battery was placed. From the point G I probably had the best view of what followed that the battle-field presented.

As soon as General Butterfield's brigade advanced up the hill there was great commotion among the rebel force, and the whole side of the hill and edges of the woods swarmed with men before unseen. The effect was not unlike flushing a covey of quails. The enemy fell back to the line of the railroad, and took shelter on the railroad cut and behind the embankment and lined the edges of the woods beyond. Butterfield's advance beyond the brow of the hill B was impossible, and taking his position his troops opened fire on the enemy in front, who from his sheltered position returned it vigorously, while at the same time a battery, somewhere in the prolongation of the line E B, opened a most destructive enfilading fire with spherical case-shot.

It became evident to me that without heavy re-enforcements General Butterfield's troops must fall back or be slaughtered, the only assistance he received being from Hazlett's battery, which I was supporting, and Weed's, near N. After a making a most desperate and hopeless fight General Butterfield's troops fell back, and the enemy immediately formed and advanced. Hazlett's battery now did good execution on them, and forced one column, that advanced beyond the point of the wood at A, to fall back into it. Unwilling to retire from the position I held, which involved the withdrawal of this efficient battery and the exposure of the flanks of our retreating forces, I held on, hoping that fresh troops would be thrown forward to meet the enemy, now advanc-