Hanover street, and soon after loop-holed the wall on the Plank road, and occupied the windows fronting the enemy, and from these positions drove him from the house and rifle-pits on the right, so that he could not occupy them again during the day.
The most trying test of discipline and courage is to place men in a situation where they are compelled to endure the steady fire of an enemy without having it in their power to return it. This was the case with my command on Sunday, the 14th instant, for soon after the firing commenced I ordered my men not to fire unless they saw something to fire at, with a probability of success, and they obeyed the order as it was given, although their companies comrades were shot down by their side at every moment. For this I ask that they receive credit such as is their due.
The enemy shot my men after they were wounded, and also the hospital attendants as they were converging the wounded off the ground, in violation of every law of civilized warfare. My loss would have been much greater but for our taking possession of the tannery. I was to hold the position to the last extremity, and it was held until after I was relieved by other troops. The enemy was so posted that he virtually cut off all intercourse between my brigade and the city between the break of day and nightfall. My dead were buried on the ground and my wounded brought away.
On the 15th, my brigade was posted in the city and about midnight was designated as the rear guard of the army in its withdrawal to this side of the Rappahannock. This duty was accomplished without loss, save of some stragglers from various volunteer divisions in the field. The straggling was excessive, and the completion of the movement delayed nearly two hours thereby. Why more of them were not captured by the enemy I am at a loss to understand.
We reached this side of the river at 8 a.m., and as soon as the brigade had crossed my rear guard, consisting of one company of the Twelfth and two of the Third, under the command of Captain F. Winthrop, Twelfth Infantry, was ordered across,and the bridge broken up and removed. Some few stragglers made their appearance on the bank after the bridge was broken up, and were brought over in the pontoon boats.
My loss was 2 officers, Lieutenants Benedict and Gensel, Fourth Infantry, severely wounded, and 49 non-commissioned officers and privates killed and wounded.
When all behaved so well it is hard to make distinctions, but I would call attention to First Lieutenant A. R. Benedict, Fourth Infantry, who was wounded while withdrawing his outer picket to place it under cover, after having had 7 or his men wounded.
The reports of the regimental commanders are herewith inclosed.
My staff, consisting of First Lieuts. William H. Powell, Fourth Infantry, acting assistant adjutant-general, and S. Van Rensselaer, Twelfth Infantry, acting aide-de-camp my orders with zeal and alacrity, and discharged their duties to my entire satisfaction.
I am, sir, respectfully, your obedient servant,
ROBT. C. BUCHANAN,
Lieutenant-Colonel Fourth Infantry, Commanding Brigade.
Captain GEORGE RYAN,
Actg. Asst. Adjt. General, Second Division, Fifth Corps.