seen in line of battle, preceded by skirmishers, advancing in a direction parallel to our front, and toward a command of ours situated to the front of my left, whose line was formed nearly at right angles with mine. I immediately sent a pressing message for a battery of artillery, and Captain Hexamer, of Slocum's division of General Franklin's corps, was sent to me. The enemy, after a short cannonading, was forced to retire. In a short time an advance was made by some of our troops on my right toward the rear of Piper's house, the enemy appearing to make preparations to meet them. I assisted these troops by the fire of this battery, and subsequently seeing our troops returning, prevented pursuit. This advance proved to have been made by a single regiment, the Seventh Maine, without concert of action with other troops.
During this time and previously the entire command suffered a severe cannonading from the enemy's artillery, and was also much annoyed by his sharpshooters. The battery above referred to, having no ammunition, retired, and was replaced by Kirby's battery, commanded by Lieutenant Woodruff (12-pounder brass guns). Captain Tidball's battery had been in position a considerable distance from our extreme left, and toward evening that officer placed a section on the elevated ridge on the lift of my line, which did material service by the precision of its fire in concealing the weakness of our position. This section was withdrawn about dark.
Affairs remained in this position during the night. Our pickets were thrown as far forward as practicable (a very short distance). The next morning a battery of light 12-pounders, commanded by Lieutenant Evan Thomas, reported to me, and replaced the battery commanded by Lieutenant Woodruff. Captain Pettit's battery of rifled guns also reported, passed in this position, I having been directed in the morning, by orders from the commander-in-chief, not to precipitate hostilities, as he expected some reenforcements to arrive before he desired to recommence movements to the front. Receiving no further instructions during the day, I continued to await the operations of the other portions of the line. The enemy's sharpshooters commenced at an early hour on the morning of the 18th firing upon our troops, and so continued during the day. Their fire was replied to by our pickets and by others detailed for this service.
In the afternoon, being informed that a flag of truce from the enemy was in our front, I dispatched an aide to receive the message, and, on learning that General Pryor appeared on the part of the enemy, directed General Meagher to communicate with him and to ascertain his wishes. It was then learned that no flag had been sent by the enemy, and that a misunderstanding had arisen on account of an unauthorized arrangement which and been made by the pickets of the opposing forces (our own particularly in fault), ostensibly for the purpose of collecting the wounded between our lines. General Pryor was notified that as nearly all the wounded between the lines belonged to the enemy, any communication having for its object their collection must proceed from them, expressing a desire, however, that the wounded, who had been lying on the ground for thirty hours, might be removed. General Pryor had previously stated that he had no doubt a communication from us to the commanding general of the enemy's forces would result in a satisfactory arrangement. General Pryor stating that he had no authority to send such communication as indicated, on my part the conference closed.
Subsequently it was reported to me that another flag had appeared.