Potter, over the plateau, swept in every direction by the fire from batteries and rifle-pits, and joined the brigade, losing terribly while marching alone over this deadly plain. The First Brigade was also ordered forward to my assistance.
My brigade remained on the field until 6.30 p.m., having been under fire six and a half hours, and having expended all their ammunition, when were relieved by troops of General Griffin, and were marched back to the position of the night before, and bivouacked.
On the morning of the 14th,at 8 p.m., I was ordered to the front with my whole brigade to relieve the pickets of General Griffin, then occupying the line on which we had been engaged the day before. During the night my pickets were not fired on, but at daylight a brisk fire was opened on them from the rifle-pits and batteries, only a short distance in front. The troops were protected from the fire by a slight ridge, only covering them while lying at full length on the ground, and during the whole day my command lay here, unable to move without drawing fire from the enemy, yet not firing a shot in reply. The men this day displayed the greatest patience and endurance under such a trying ordeal. Only 1 man was wounded during the whole day.
My command remained in position till nearly 12 o'clock on the night of the 15th, when I was relieved by Colonel Zook's brigade, and, in accordance with orders,marched my command across the Rappahannock to our old camp, arriving there at 2 a.m. of the 16th.
The command throughout the engagement of the 13th behaved with the greatest bravery. The advance in line of battle in the face of the terrific fire from the enemy's batteries and rifle-pits was magnificent; although the ranks were being thinned by bullets and torn with shells, every opening was closed as fast as made, and the line advanced with unflinching courage until close up with the enemy, and there remained for over six hours in position, until ordered to retire at dark.
No comparisons can be drawn where every one behaved so nobly; but I must praise particularly the conduct of the Eleventh New Hampshire Volunteers,commanded by Colonel Walter Harriman-a regiment but a month in the service, and never before under fire-that marched up as bravely and fought as valiantly as the veterans of the brigade. The Fifty-first Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, Colonel Hartranft; the Twenty-first Massachusetts Volunteers, Colonel Clark, and the Fifty-first New York Volunteers, Colonel Potter, acted with the steadiness and courage that they have always on the battle-field, and that has won them their high reputation. The Thirty-fifth Massachusetts Volunteers also behaved splendidly,and, although losing their commanding officer, Major Sidney Willard, early in the fight, still fought with unflinching firmness.
The highest praise is due to Colonel Hartranft the senior colonel of the brigade, for his gallant conduct and valuable services, as well as to Colonel Potter and Colonel Clark.
Dr. Calvin Cutter, brigade surgeon, although injured on the 13th by a blow from a horse, was unremitting in his attentions to the wounded, and was of invaluable service.
Captain G. H. McKibbin, assistant adjutant-general: Lieutenant Tryon, aide-de-camp, and Lieutenant Walcott, aide-de-camp, of my staff, acted with great gallantry,and deserve high praise for their conduct during the day.
Private Frank Shaffle, orderly, was conspicuous for his bravery in carrying dispatches under the severest fire.