making a demonstration in that direction. This caused me to hesitate a moment about sending a brigade forward, but I directed Colonel Atkinson to get ready to advance with his brigade, and the order had hardly been given before an officer of artillery came galloping to the rear with the information that an interval [an awful gulf, as he designated it] had been left in our front line, on the left of General Archer's brigade, through which the enemy were penetrating with a heavy column, thus endangering Archer's brigade and all our batteries on the right. I immediately ordered Colonel Atkinson to move forward with his brigade [Lawton's], as I was informed the interval was in front of it. This order was promptly complied with, and the brigade, with the exception of one regiment [the Thirteenth Georgia], moved forward in fine style, and in a few minutes encountered the enemy in the woods on the hill, immediately in rear of a point at which the railroad passes through a small neck of swampy woods, which position he had reached almost without opposition, thus greatly endangering our right, as in a few minutes Archer's and Field's brigades, with our batteries on the right, would have been surrounded, and the enemy have obtained a lodgment from which it would have been difficult to drive him.
Lawton's brigade, without hesitating, at once dashed upon the enemy with the cheering peculiar to the Confederate soldier, and which is never mistaken for the studied hurrahs of the Yankees, and drove the column opposed to it down the hill, across the railroad, and out into the open plain, advancing so far and with such ardor as to cause one of the enemy's batteries to be abandoned. This brigade, was compelled to fall back from this point by the approach of a large column on its right flank, which proved to be Birney's division of Stoneman's corps and Hooker's grand division.
In a very few moments after ordering the advance of Lawton's brigade, I also ordered Colonel Walker forward with my own brigade, as I was informed Lawton's brigade would not cover the interval in the line. This order was executed in double quick time, and Walker encountered the enemy in the woods to the left of the place at which Lawton's brigade encountered one column, another having turned General Lane's right flank, and his brigade having given way in consequence. This column was quickly driven out of the woods by Walker across the railroad and into the plain beyond; but perceiving still another column crossing the railroad to his left and entering the woods, he withdrew the brigade back to the railroad and took position on it, detaching at the same time the Thirteenth Virginia Regiment, under Lieutenant-Colonel [J. B.] Terrill, to attack the last-named column of the enemy on the flank. About the same time General Thomas, of General A. P. Hills, division, with his brigade, attacked this column in front, and under the two fires it was driven back with considerable slaughter.
As soon as Lawton's and my own brigades were ordered forward, I directed Colonel Hoke to move with his brigade [Trimble's] to the left of Hays', on the same line; but he had hardly got into position before I received information that Archer's brigade was giving way, and I ordered Hoke to advance to his support, obliquing to the right. This was done in gallant style, and Hoke found the enemy in possession of the trench [which had been occupied by General Archer's brigade] on the crest of the hill and in the woods in rear of it. Hoke attacked the enemy vigorously, and drove him from the woods and trench to the railroad in front, in which there were reserves. He followed up his attack, and drove the enemy from the railroad, which was a strong position, some distance in front, capturing a considerable number of prisoners