War of the Rebellion: Serial 027 Page 0225 Chapter XXXI. THE MARYLAND CAMPAIGN.

Search Civil War Official Records

Twenty-third New York Volunteers, under Colonel Hoffman, was detached for that purpose. The two remaining regiments, the Twenty-first New York Volunteers and Thirty-fifth New York Volunteers, closed up on the Seventh Wisconsin and Nineteenth Indiana, and all moved forward together. The enemy previous to this had kept up a brisk fire, but was sheltered by a series of rocky ledges, which afforded them almost perfect security; they poured in heavy volleys of musketry. To meet this increase of fire, Patrick's two regiments were thrown forward in the first line. To all appearance the enemy had been strongly re-enforced, and they not only resisted our farther advance, but moved to try and capture Campbell's battery and regain possession of the corn-field. This charge was handsomely repulsed by the fire of the Second Wisconsin and Sixth Wisconsin Regiments, by the rapid discharges of the battery, which fired double canisters, and by the flank fire of the Seventh Wisconsin and Nineteenth Indiana Regiments, of Gibbon's brigade, and the Twenty-first New York and Thirty-fifth New York Volunteers, of Patrick's brigade, these four regiments having taken up a position perpendicular to their former one, which enabled them to pour in a heavy fire upon the flank of the charging column. Patrick could not have changed position in this way under ordinary circumstances, but it was evident that a large part of the troops that had been in his front were detached to aid in the charge. These united agencies drove the enemy back, saved the guns, and gave us a renewed possession of the corn-field. General Patrick now pushed his regiments up to the road, which he held firmly for some time, capturing two battle-flags from the rebel regiments which advanced against him. He was finally attacked both on his right flank and rear, and compelled to fall back. He withdrew to a line of rocks at right angles to the general direction of the strip of woods, and about 15 rods from them. There he remained waiting for ammunition and re-enforcements to be sent him.

General Williams, of Mansfield's corps, now came up with re-enforcements. He sent a regiment at my request to watch the rebel force that supported the enfilading battery which was acting against the right of Patrick's line. The other regiments that he brought up with him were notified of the nature of the ground and of the position of the enemy, and were instructed by General Patrick as to the position they ought to assume to enfilade the enemy's line and drive him from his strong position, near the Dunker Church, which seemed to be the key of the battle-field. The re-enforcements sent us did not attack in the right place, and they were soon swept away by a terrific fire against their left and front from an enemy behind the rocks they could not see. Their line gave way, and the main body of the rebels advanced. We had no troops left to stem the shock. My own command had been fighting since daylight, and being out of ammunition was obliged to fall back. Patrick's brigade covered our retreat, resisting the enemy gallantly and retiring in perfect order. Campbell's battery having lost 38 men in killed and wounded, including its commander among the latter, and having had 27 horses killed, was no longer in a condition for active service, and was compelled to retire behind the supports of Sedgwick's division. It was soon followed by Gibbon's and Phelps' brigades, exhausted as they were by long-continued fighting, nearly out of ammunition, and too few in number to keep back the overpowering forces that were advancing. Colonel Phelps reports his whole brigade on the field as not numbering more than 150 men at this time. The division fell back in perfect order to a new line of defense. In the mean time General Hooker had been wounded and General Meade had assumed command