Third Brigade, General Taylor commanding, had the advance, the Thirteenth Massachussets Regiment acting as skirmishers for the division. Colonel Lyle's brigade, composed of the Twelfth Massachusetts Regiment, Twenty-sixth New York Volunteers, Ninetieth Pennsylvania volunteers, and One hundred and thirty-sixth Pennsylvania Volunteers, formed the second line, the Twelfth Massachusetts having the right. The third line was Colonel Root's brigade, the Sixteenth Maine having the right.
Our position was taken at 9 a.m. The enemy was hidden from view by a thick wood. We remained lying down until 1 p.m., under a brisk fire of shot and shell, the skirmishers being hotly engaged, the balls of the enemy passing over us. During these four hours we had but 1 man of the Twelfth Massachusetts injured.
At 1 o'clock the signal to advance was given to the whole division. Immediately the advance began, when a heavy fire of musketry broke from the whole line of wood in our front. General Taylor's brigade stood the fire some thirty minutes, when ours was ordered to relieve them. As we advanced, the Twelfth Massachusetts became separated from the brigade by the retiring regiments of the Third Brigade, and continued to advance independently, taking a position and firing until our ammunition began field. Our brigade had fallen to the rear, and we were alone until the third line came forward. Our solid ranks broke the right of this line, which opened to the right and left to get to the front, where it was quickly formed. We followed the Sixteenth Maine Regiment, now in our front,a short distance, and, being out of ammunition, were about to join our brigade in the rear, when Colonel Root came to me, saying, "Don't retire." I told him our condition. "Never mind," said he, "I am going to make a charge." I at once gave the command to fix bayonets, and filed to the right of this brigade and charged with them into the wood. About 200 of the enemy rushed through our lines without arms, giving themselves up a prisoners of war. We carried the position, and remained some twenty minutes, expecting support. It did not come, and none was in sight. A fatal fire was still kept up by an unseen foe, and our men were falling constantly. Captains Ripley, Reed, Packard, and Clark were already wounded, and 100 of our men had fallen, and we were reluctantly compelled to abandon our position. I consulted with the officers, and it was deemed useless to remain, and the order was given to about face. We marched back slowly and reluctantly, in good order, bearing our tattered banners safely, and had but 2 men harmed as we retired, although several were saved from death by their knapsacks. Colonel Root's command fell back at the same time.
As we emerged from the wood General Taylor rode up, saying, "Colonel, I am now in command of the division. General Gibbon has been wounded. Keep your position. There is your support," at the same time pointing to a force emerging from the wood on our left. This force I had observed before, and informed the general that it was a force of the enemy. He looked again, and ordered me to the line occupied in the morning by the reserve, to await orders. As we retired we took with us our wounded officers, one of whom, Captain Ripley, is supposed to be mortally wounded.
After reaching our position we were supplied with ammunition and rations. We remained under arms during the night, and early on the morning of the 14th were ordered into a new position, where we remained until the night of the 15th, when we recrossed the river the corps.
The Twelfth Massachusetts was under fire six hours. Our loss was made, with the exception of one man, during the last two hours of the