War of the Rebellion: Serial 031 Page 0464 OPERATIONS IN N.VA.,W.VA.,MD., AND PA. Chapter XXXIII.

Search Civil War Official Records

the advance of the several batteries to within canister range of that point, induced me to strengthen it in every possible way. The Second and Sixth Wisconsin Volunteers were sent there temporarily, in addition to other troops. There was no danger, however, of the center giving way; the men stood as firmly as if rooted to the spot, and, although suffering severely from the canister, they did not yield an inch of ground. It now became very dark, and the enemy's guns gradually ceased to fire.

To meet an attack, should one be made the next morning, General Reynolds sent me Hall's battery (Second Maine), with three 3-inch guns, and the division lately under command of General Gibbon and now under command of General Taylor. I posted this division, which only contained about 2,000 men, as a reserve, behind a rise of ground in our rear. There was a great of heavy picket firing during the night, but toward morning all became quiet.

At daylight on the 14th, my troops again resumed possession of the ground to our left, and were formed as before in two lines, obliquely from the angle of the road to the river.

About 11 a.m. a Whitworth gun opened on us from the banks of the Massaponax, near the river, enfilading our lines along the Bowling Green road. Colonel Phelps skillfully evaded the danger by a partial change of front. Hall's battery replied to this gun, firing about 20 rounds, but most of his projectiles appeared to fall short. Considerable bodies of cavalry and infantry made their appearance during the day on the river bank, but no attack took place, probably owing to the fact that our batteries on the opposite side of the Rappahannock River had an enfilading fire upon them.

On the 15th, Colonel Morrow, by direction of General Reynolds, went to the Massaponax, with two companies of his regiment (the Twenty-fourth Michigan) deployed as skirmishers. It was a daring and

well-executed reconnaissance, and resulted in much valuable information. The day passed tranquilly away. About 8 o'clock we received orders to recross the river. General Reynolds himself took charge of the removal of the artillery, and I issued the necessary orders to the infantry. The retreat was a complete success. The wind was in our favor, deadening the sound of the artillery wheels, and thus preventing the enemy from being cognizant of our movements. It seems the pickets had made an agreement witch each other not to fire during the night, and this also favored us. These pickets and their supports were necessarily left out all night. Before daylight, Lieutenant Rogers, of the Sixth Wisconsin Volunteers, acting aide-de-camp, drew them all in successfully to the last man. They owe their safety, in my opinion, to the judgment and coolness of this young office.

Lieutenant-Colonel Williams, of the Nineteenth Indiana, was on picket duty with his regiment on the extreme left, nearly 3 miles from the crossing. His command was the last to cross the river, and was closely pursued by the enemy's cavalry and sharpshooters. A portion of his men were compelled to pass in boats, the pontoon bridges having been cut away. I cannot too highly praise the coolness and good order which marked the retreat of this regiment, and in all probability saved it from destruction.

However deplorable the results of this battle may be considered, i have the satisfaction of knowing that my division drove the enemy before it for 3 miles, and held all the ground it had gained. For the good conduct of the men I fell myself much indebted to Colonels Gavin, Phelps, Cutler,and Rogers, commanding brigades, who set an example of coolness and heroism that never wavered under any emergency.