War of the Rebellion: Serial 031 Page 0228 OPERATIONS IN N.VA.,W.VA.,MD.,AND PA. Chapter XXXIII.

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and would not retire. These subsequent attacks, although conducted with spirit, failed to produce any more serious impression upon the enemy.

Late in the evening three companies of Colonel Owen's brigade relieved three companies of the Fifty-third Pennsylvania Volunteers, of my division, which had exhausted their ammunition.

No ground was held in advance of our line, nor did any soldiers fall nearer the enemy than those of the regiments of my division and those of Kimball's brigade, of French's division. It seemed that the defenses of the enemy were too powerful to be taken by an assault of infantry. One serious difficulty in the advance was in the nature of the obstacles already referred to and the fact that a number of substantial fences intervened, which were required to be pulled down before the troops could continue their advance. Each of theses fences destroyed the unity of at least one brigade. These obstacles naturally caused brigades and regiments to lose somewhat their solidity of organization for an assault, for all these operations were conducted under a terrific fire.

The bravery and devotion of the troops could not have been surpassed, as an evidence of which it is but necessary to mention the losses incurred. Out of 5,006 men, the maximum taken into action by me, the loss was 2,013 men, of whom 156 were commissioned officers. It will be observed that the losses in some of the regiments were of unusual severity, such as is seldom seen in any battle, no matter how prolonged. These were veteran regiments, led by able and tried commanders, and I regret to say that their places cannot soon be filled.

Although the division failed to carry the enemy's heights, it lost no honor, but held the ground it took, and, under the most discouraging obstacles, retained it until relieved after the action was over. It will be impossible to mention in this report the names of all those who were distinguished. For those I refer to the reports of brigade and regimental commanders; still, it is due to their valor that I should mention those brigade and regimental commanders who performed the most important parts, and whose commands, in their heroic efforts, most severely suffered.

Brigadier General T. F. Meagher, commanding Second Brigade, led his brigade to the field under a heavy fire; but, owing to a serious lameness, making it difficult for him to either ride or walk, he was unable to bear that prominently active part which is usual with him. Some time after the Irish Brigade had gone into action, its regiments having suffered very severely, and after having been replaced by General Caldwell's brigade, General Meagher was instructed to collect the remnants of his regiments and march them to the point of formation, in order that their cartridge-boxes might be refilled. General Meagher, toward evening, took the remnant of his brigade, with his wounded, across the river, out of range of the enemy's fire.

On learning this fact, I directed him to return with all the men who were not disabled in his brigade. The general returned at once, and explained to me that he had understood that the transfer of the remnant of his brigade across the river was sanctioned by me.

The next morning, before the hour at which we were ordered to support the Ninth Corps in the meditated attack of that day upon the enemy's works, the brigade returned, numbering 240 men, all that could be collected up to that time.

The circumstance of the retiring of this brigade across the river, after it had been withdrawn from the battle, which I very much regretted at the time, although in no wise affecting the conduct of the brigade