During the evening I sent out several parties and secured the arms, equipments, and ammunition of many of the killed and wounded, and issued to the brigade three days' additional rations, which had been received from the supply train at camp.
At 3 o'clock the following morning (Sunday, December 14), by order of General Taylor, commanding division, I moved my command to the extreme left of the lines, and deployed the brigade in single line of battle,at right angles with the river, as a support to Doubleday's division, the Second and Third Brigades being deployed in two parallel lines in my rear. In this position the brigade was exposed to an enfilading fire from the enemy's artillery, which continued with occasional intermission throughout the day. At 4 p.m. the enemy had obtained the range of my position so accurately as to render it expedient to withdraw my line slightly to the left and rear, when, by lying down, the men were partially sheltered, and escaped loss. The brigade remained on its arms during the night.
On the following day (Monday, December 15,), the brigade was thoroughly inspected, while under fire, by Captain Lee, acting inspector-general. In the afternoon, by order of General Taylor, I sent out a strong patrol to the rear of the First Army Corps and arrested 140 stragglers, sent their names to division headquarters, and forwarded the men under guard to their respective regimental commanders. I also visited the neighborhood of the action of the 13th instant, in search of such of the wounded of my brigade as might have been left on the field, and, through the courtesy of the officer commanding the enemy's pickets, was enabled to make a through search of the field nearly as far as the railroad, without, however, finding any of my wounded.
At 10 p.m., pursuant to an order from General Taylor in person, I silently formed the brigade, marched to the pontoon bridge, and recrossed the Rappahannock River, bivouacking at midnight upon the plateau on this side.
The loss of the brigade during the three days' action is shown by the regimental reports (which are herewith submitted) to have been as follows: Officers killed,2; wounded,26; missing,4; total,32. Enlisted men killed,50; wounded, 343; missing,53; total,446. Aggregate,478.*
I am happy in being able to bear testimony to the gallant manner in which the regimental commanders took their men into action, and I deem it a duty no less than a pleasure to make especial mention of the Sixteenth Maine Volunteers, Lieutenant-Colonel Tilden commanding. This regiment is a new one, and here fought its first battle, and I felt some apprehension lest the terrible fire from the enemy's concealed rifle-pits would be too severe a trial for its men. But the gallant manner in which this regiment charged the enemy's position excited my surprise and admiration, and reflected the highest honor upon its officers and soldiers.
Previous to the battle 38 men of this regiment had volunteered to do duty with Hall's battery, and their conduct is represented by Captain Hall to have been creditable in the highest degree. The Ninety-fourth New York Volunteers, Major Kress commanding; the One hundred and fourth New York Volunteers, Colonel Prey; the One hundred and fifth New York Volunteers, Major Sharp commanding, and the One hundred and seventh Pennsylvania Volunteers, Colonel McCoy, are comparatively veteran regiments, and have been tried upon a number of hard-fought battle-fields. In doing their entire duty during the recent engagements they did what I expected of them.
*But see revised statement,p.138.