report of the operations of my command during the 12th, 13th, and 14th instant.
On the 12th, being on the left of the Third Brigade, acting as reserve, there was little worthy of note in the action of the Thirty-eighth. We merely followed the movements of the Second Brigade in advance of us on the march.
On the 13th, at about 8 a. m., I received your orders to cross the river, and immediately obeyed. The passage of the regiment over the pontoon bridge brought down a sharp fire from the enemy's artillery, and two shells burst within a few yards of the bridge, splashing water over two or three companies. Arriving on the other side of the bayou, I soon formed my command in three divisions, and advanced beyond the catalpa trees into the immense cane field, which subsequently proved to be a veritable field of battle. While the Thirty-first Massachusetts deployed across the field and skirmished forward under the active personal supervision of Lieutenant-Colonel Hopkins, my command laid upon the ground in the grass ready to support the Thirty-first if necessary.
At 1 p. m. I was ordered to deploy my regiment and relieve the Thirty-first. This was done promptly, and the line of skirmishers advanced a short distance beyond the line occupied by the Thirty-first, under orders to merely watch and prevent any advance of the enemy.
At 2 p. m. I received your order to prepare to advance my skirmishers, with further instructions to press on until within good musket shot of the works, then to halt and await orders. I had hardly time to gallop along the line, communicating this order, when it was modified, to the effect that we were to press on, and if we reached the enemy's works we were to go into them, and to move at once.
At 2.20 p. m., having communicated this order to Major Richardson, who took charge of the left, and throughout the day remained with he advance, and ordered, "Guide left," I have the command "Forward," and ordered the preserve to six bayonets.
I think I am justified in describing the advance as elegant. The skirmishers were at proper intervals, and my reserves advanced steadily and in perfect order under a furious fire of artillery and musketry. A large number of the enemy's skirmishers, although at long range, immediately fled from the ditches and the cane and retired to the earthworks. The fire, which had been incessant all day, was much increased at this moment, and several of my men were put hors de combat.
Color Corpl. George H. Trow was instantly killed, and Captain Gault, of Company A, who was in the left reserve, fell, with his leg shot completely off, and soon after died on his way to the hospital, while several others were more or less severely wounded. Captain Gault was, as an accomplished officer and gallant gentleman, beloved by his companions in arms while living, and his loss is deeply deplored by the whole regiment.
The regiment continued to advance, at first rapidly, but afterward slowly, until my left was within about 450 yards of the earthworks. At this time, 4.15 p. m., my right had reached the wood, where to was evident a strong force was stationed, not more than 50 yards distant, protected and concealed by felled logs and thick brush-wood. Finding it impossible to advance in this direction I halted my line, which, protected by ditches and stumps, continued to fire as opportunity presented, and reported to you the condition of things at 4.45 p. m. I was desirous before dark to learn the progress made by the One hundred and fifty-sixth New York, which was moving in the wood on the right