War of the Rebellion: Serial 027 Page 0320 Chapter XXXI. OPERATIONS IN N. VA., W. VA., MD., AND PA.

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from the enemy, the division entered a piece of woods, on emerging from which another dense woods appeared in front, separated from us by a narrow clear space; and a line of troops lying on the ground, which I took to be the first line, was immediately in my front, and I accordingly halted and ordered my men to lie down, but they were hardly on the ground when I receive an order to move forward at double-quick and enter the woods in front. The outline of the woods was irregular, presenting a salient point where the left of my line first entered.

The first line was now hotly engaged in front, and hardly had my left regiment entered the woods when a tremendous musketry fire opened on my left and front, apparently perpendicular to my line of march and flanking the first line. Almost immediately a regiment of infantry came running in great disorder from the woods on my left, and the Seventh Michigan Regiment commenced to deliver an oblique fire to the left.

There was no time to wait for orders; the flanking force, whatever it was, was advancing its fire too rapidly on my left. I permitted the three right regiments to move on, but broke off the Forty-second New York Volunteers, with orders to change front to the left and meet the attack which had apparently broken through the first line on my left and front, and was now precipitated with fury on my left flank.

The Forty-second moved nobly up to its work, but before it was formed in its new position, and whilst it was in disorder, the enemy was close up on it, and the fire which was poured upon it and the Seventh Michigan was the most terrific I ever witnessed.

I remained with these two regiments, and, although the shattered remnants of them were forced by overwhelming numbers and a cross fire to retreat in disorder, I bear them witness that it was after nearly half the officers and men were placed hors de combat.

Having retired across the field to the woods on the right and rear about 300 or 400 yards, I ordered them to reform.

I had been struck by a musket-ball whilst in the woods, and now found that I could remain no longer on the field, and accordingly left directions for Colonel Hall, of the Seventh Michigan, to reform the two broken regiments and assume command of them until he rejoined the brigade, and I sent an aide to the senior colonel of the brigade, with information that I was wounded and had left the field.

In the absence of regimental reports I am unable to call attention to particular acts of good conduct on the part of officers and men, and must refer to those reports, but I desire to express my admiration of the gallant and meritorious conduct of Major Mallon, of the Forty-second New York Volunteers, who was distinguished for coolness and bravery and for his active endeavors to rally and reform the regiment under fire.

To the officers of my staff, Captain William B. Leach, assistant adjutant general, and Lieutenants Milton and Hallowell, Twentieth Massachusetts Volunteers, aide-de-camps, I am greatly indebted. Their conduct was unexceptionable, and I desire to commend them in unmeasured terms for coolness, bravery, and activity; but I beg leave to recommend Captain Leach especially for promotion for habitual industry, intelligence, and activity during the whole term of his service and for distinguished bravery on this field.

I had occasion in my report of the battle of Fair Oaks to speak in terms of high praise of Private John J. Brown, of Company G, Seventh Michigan. This man was bugler again for me at this battle, and I have again to report that his conduct challenged my admiration. This humble