About 4 p.m. a furious attack was made by the enemy upon General Beatty's (or Van Cleve's) division, then across the river. The fire of the enemy was returned with spirit for a time, when that division retired across the river and retreated through my lines, which were then formed near the bank of the river, my men lying down partly concealed behind the crest of a small hill in the open field.
As soon as the men of Beatty's division had retired entirely from our front, I ordered my command forward-the Seventy-eighth Pennsylvania on the right; the Twenty-first Ohio on the left, to advance under cover of the hill along the river bank; the Thirty-seventh Indiana and Seventy-fourth Ohio in the center. The Twenty-ninth Brigade moved forward in the same direction, the Eighteenth Ohio on the right, and formed partly in the intervals between the regiments of my right wing. The enemy advanced rapidly, following Van Cleve's (Beatty's) division, and gained the river bank, all the time firing rapidly across at my line. My troops opened fire from the crest of the hill; the enemy halted and began to waver. I then ordered the men forward to a rail fence on the bank of the river. Here a heavy fire was directed upon the enemy with fine effect, and although in strong force, and supported by the fire of two batteries in the rear, he began to retreat. Believing this an opportune moment for crossing the river, I ordered the troops to cross rapidly, which they did with great gallantry under fire from front and right flank.
Here the Eighteenth Ohio, part of the Thirty-seventh Indiana, and part of the Seventy-eighth Pennsylvania were ordered by some one to proceed up the river on the right bank, to repel an attack from a force there firing on my right flank. The colors of the Seventy-eighth Pennsylvania, and, I think, Nineteenth Illinois, were the first to cross the river; the men followed in as good order as possible. While my troops were crossing, a staff officer informed me that it was General Palmer's order that the troops should not cross. The enemy was then retiring, and many of my men across the stream.
I crossed in person and saw the enemy retiring. Taking cover behind a fence on the left bank, the men poured a heavy fire into the ranks of the retreating force. The Twenty-first Ohio had crossed the river on the left, and was ascending the bank and fast going into the woods. When in this position I received another order, purporting to come from General Palmer, recross the river and support the line on the hill. The force on the right of the river was then advancing in the corn-field and driving the enemy, thus protecting my right flank, and, having no inclination to turn back, I ordered the troops forward. Colonel Stoughton, of the Eleventh Michigan, formed his regiment and moved along the bank of the river, while the other troops moved forward to his left. The Twenty-first Ohio came in on the extreme left, and advanced in splendid style.
In crossing the river the men of the different regiments had, to some extent, become mixed together, yet a tolerable line was kept on the colors of the Seventy-eighth Pennsylvania, Nineteenth Illinois, Sixty-ninth and Seventy-fourth Ohio, and the men moved forward with spirit and determination.
The enemy's batteries were posted on an eminence in the woods near a corn-field in our front, and all this time kept up a brisk fire, but without much effect. His infantry retreated in great disorder, leaving the ground covered with his dead and wounded.
When within about 150 yards of the first battery, I ordered the Seventy-eighth Pennsylvania Volunteers to charge the battery, which was