accidental opening, preceded for a while our line of skirmishers, but soon halted, and advanced in line some 30 paces in their rear. General Patrick rode to the front with his skirmishers, drew the fire of the enemy, and developed their position. They lay behind a fence on the summit running north and south, fronted by a woods and backed by a corn-field, full of rocky ledges. Colonel Phelps now ordered his men to advance, and General Hatch rode through the lines, pressing them forward. They went with a cheer, poured in a deadly fire, and drove the enemy from his position behind the fence, after a short and desperate conflict, and took some yards beyond.
Here General Hatch was wounded and turned over the command to me, and as during the action Colonel Wainwright, Seventy-sixth New York Volunteers, was also wounded, the command of my brigade subsequently devolved upon Lieutenant-Colonel Hofmann, Fifty-sixth Pennsylvania Volunteers. Phelps' brigade being few in number, and having suffered severely, I relieved them just at dusk with my brigade, reduced by former engagements to about 1,000 men, who took position beyond the fence refereed to, the enemy being in heavy force some 30 or 40 paces in our front. They pressed heavily upon us, attempting to charge at the least cessation of our fire. At last I ordered the troops to cease firing, lie down behind the fence, and allowed the enemy to charge to within about 15 paces, apparently under the impression that we had given way. Then, at the word, my men sprang to their feet and poured in a deadly volley, from which the enemy fled in disorder, leaving their dead within 30 feet of our line.
I learned from a wounded prisoner that we were engaged with 4,000 to 5,000, under the immediate command of General Picketts, with heavy masses in their vicinity. He stated also that Longstreet in vain tried to rally the men, calling them his pets, and using every effort to induce them to renew the attack. The firing on both sides still continued, my men aiming at the flashes of the enemy's muskets, as it was too dark to see objects distinctly, until our cartridges were reduced to two or three rounds.
General Ricketts now came from the right and voluntarily relieved my men at the fence, who fell back some 10 paces and lay down on their arms. A few volleys from Ricketts ended the contest in about thirty minutes, and the enemy withdrew from the field-not, however, until an attempt to flank a on our left, which was gallantly met by a partial change of front of the Seventy-sixth New York Volunteers, under Colonel Wainwright, and the Seventh Indiana, under Major Grover. In this attempt the enemy lost heavily, and were compelled to retreat in disorder.
While the main attack was going on at the fence refereed to, Colonel Rogers, with his own and Lieutenant-Colonel Gates' regiments (the Twentieth New York State Militia and Twenty-first New York Volunteers, of Patrick's brigade), rendered most essential service by advancing his right and holding a fence bolding the northeast side of the same corn-field, anticipating the enemy, who made a furious rush to seize this fence, but were driven back. Colonel Rogers was thus enabled to take the enemy in flank, and also to pick off their cannoneers and silence a battery which was at the right and behind their main body.
Our men remained in position all night, sleeping on their arms and ready for any attack; but with the dawn it was discovered that the enemy had fled, leaving large numbers of dead and wounded. Among them was Colonel J. B. Strange, of the Nineteenth Virginia, and some other officers whose names I am unable to report.