the river that his left wing was forced, by the compact formation and resolute advance of my line, into the river. Notwithstanding these sources of embarrassment, resulting from the error of position in which the line was placed, we swept over the eminence held by the enemy and drove him down the bluff and mostly into and across the river, when our forces held the position until flanked by a large force of the enemy which crossed the river some distance below my right, under General [J. S.] Negley, which rapidly turned my position, opened fire simultaneously with a fire on front and from the opposite side of the river, and compelled my command to fall back. At this point in the conversation, General Bragg asked, "Why did not General Breckinridge protect you from the flanking force by the large body of cavalry I had placed under his orders?" I replied I did not know he had any cavalry under his orders. General Bragg then said that he had a large force of cavalry placed under his orders for the express purpose of providing for such a contingency. I remarked to him that I saw a large body of cavalry on the heights to my right and below the ford when Negley crossed the river, but that it did not make any attempt to arrest the advance of the flanking force, and I felt certain it could not have received orders to do so.
The above is the substance of that conversation on the part of those operating. General Bragg gave me the first intelligence that I received of this body of cavalry being under the orders of General Breckinridge. I expressed astonishment that it was not used for the protection of my right flank and rear. I also expressed myself as clear that the position of the line of battle was a most important error of judgment in the operations of the day.
In regard to the supporting force, I stated that the supporting force was placed in line about 400 yards to my rear; that when my line [constituting the assaulting force] commenced the advance, that the supporting force also commenced the advance; that the supporting line advanced so rapidly that, while my line was checked for a time by the enemy's force in the thicket to my right, it overtook my line coming up [the moment it was lying down under my order]. It likewise fell down as close in its rear as it could get, thus forming one line of four deep, and exposing both lines to a most destructive fire, at the same time that, thus situated, the rear and supporting line commenced firing over the assaulting line in its front, which fire in the rear greatly alarmed my line, and that my officers expressed the opinion that my men suffered severely from this fire; that, when the advance was again ordered, both lines went forward commingled, the whole becoming from that time forward the assaulting force, and leaving the command without any reserve or supporting force; that being myself, with my staff, about 30 steps to the rear of my line, I ordered the supporting line to halt, repeating the order several times, intending to move it to the right to attack the enemy's force in the thicket, but that no attention was paid to my orders, the supporting line rushing forward and past me, and falling down as near in the rear of the assaulting line as it could get. I said then, and am satisfied now, that, thus disposed of, the force which was intended as supporting force was a positive disadvantage and injury in the operations of the day. I said, further, that in my judgment the supporting force should have been either placed under my orders or else held in hand of the major-general until I called for it to come to my support. In confirmation of the correctness of this opinion, I mentioned the fact that in the assault upon the works of Cerro Gordo, and also in storming Chepultepec, General Scott, in both instanced, provided a supporting