Volunteers, as our brigade was now moving forward. We marched by the right flank our of the city at quick time, with arms at a right shoulder shift, and, although on coming into the field we were exposed to an enfilading fire of artillery, the men marched in good order and without excitement.
On crossing the canal, I was ordered to form on the left of the brigade, which was lying under cover of a rise of ground, its right resting on the main road. Before I had reached the left of the brigade, I was ordered by General Hancock in person to come into line and support the other regiments. I again brought my command to a right shoulder shift, and moved up in line under a hot fire of musketry and artillery. The two regiments were as quiet and kept as good a line as though they were on parade. I found that the troops in front of me had halted in a most dangerous position, and were lying down in some places in two lines, and many were behind houses, firing at random. I here received orders from Lieutenant Mitchell, of General Hancock's staff, to take my regiments and hold the right flank. I saw that there was no enemy advancing on the right, but they were firing from behind a stone wall and rifle-pit. We were then within 40 yards of the enemy, and it only needed a spirited charge with the bayonet to close in with him, and carry the works. I asked permission of General Caldwell to make the attempt, with my two regiments, to storm the hill, relying on the other regiments of the brigade and Colonel Zook's brigade to support men, but General Caldwell thought the other regiments too much reduced to be relied upon, and Colonel Zook could not offer me a man. I was advised by all my superior officers there not to attempt it alone, and finally received orders to hold the right and prevent it from being flanked.
I only regret I did not make the attempt alone to carry the hill, relying upon the fragments of regiments then lying upon the ground to follow and support me. I thought the carrying of those works would be of vital importance to our army, and would have better effect on our troops than any victory we have won. I soon, however, engaged the enemy on the right. A sharp contest ensued, the enemy firing from behind rifle-pits, and grape and shell from their batteries. With the Austrian rifles of the Sixty-fourth we were able, from our position, to pick off the cannoneers at their guns, and drove them entirely for a time from the two sections of a battery situated on a bluff to the rear of the rifle-pits.
About this time I was struck by a rifle-ball in the throat, and disabled and obliged to leave the field. The command of the two regiments then fell upon Lieutenant-Colonel Brooks, of the Sixty-fourth New York Volunteers, who had thus far ably seconded me in maintaining the spirit of the troops, and displayed adroit coolness and courage.
On going from the field, I gave instructions that the ground we had taken be maintained at all odds until further orders.
I cannot speak in too high terms of the gallantry and coolness of the officers of both regiments. Every officer had his company perfectly in hand, and the men were as unconcerned and self-confident while under one of the hottest fires as while on drill. Not a man fired his rifle or brought it from a right shoulder shift while marching, without orders.
Among the officers particularly deserving mention for their display of qualities to lead in battle, are Captains Kittle and Keech, and Lieutenants Elmore, Gordon, Stratton, and Hallenback, of the Sixty-first and Lieutenants Darby, Fassett, and Lewis, and Adjutant Fuller, of the Sixty-fourth New York.