following them some distance beyond into the open field. When we reached the railroad there was no support on our left, and a large column of Federal infantry were moving across the railroad about 400 yards to our left and entering the woods. Fearing to advance farther to our front, I drew my command back to the railroad and held that position, after detailing Lieutenant-Colonel [James B.] Terrill, with the Thirteenth Virginia, to deploy his regiment on our left flank, and directing him to advance under cover of the timber, to engage the enemy's columns on our left upon the flank. This was done promptly, and Thomas' brigade, of A. P. Hill's division, engaging them in front about the same time, they fell back in good order, but scarcely firing a gun in their retreat. The two fires told severely upon them, as the large number of dead and wounded left on that part of the field clearly showed. After this column of the enemy fell back, there was for some time no body of their troops in sight; but not deeming it prudent to give up the advantages of our position by advancing in pursuit over the open plain, I continued to hold the railroad for the remainder of the evening without any molestation from the enemy further than by forming a fresh line of troops in sight, but out of our range, and throwing out skirmishers, who kept up a straggling fire until night. After dark, I left pickets on the railroad, and withdrew my command back into the woods about 150 yards, and bivouacked for the night.
Early the next morning we were relieved by [Brigadier General E. F.] Paxton's brigade and joined the division.
Our loss was 157 in killed and wounded.*
I cannot close without expressing my admiration for the manner in which this brigade performed its duty, and the gallantry and bravery exhibited by both officers and men. I had no trouble in getting them to fight, but a good deal to get them to stop, when, in my opinion, it was imprudent to go farther.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully,
J. A. WALKER,
Colonel, Commanding Brigade.
Major S. HALE,
Acting Assistant, Adjutant-General.
No. 326. Report of Brigadier General Harry T. Hays, C. S. Army, commanding Hays' brigade.
HEADQUARTERS FIRST LOUISIANA BRIGADE, December 19, 1862.
MAJOR: On arriving at Hamilton's Crossing, on the Richmond and Fredericksburg Railroad, Saturday, the 13th instant, about 10 o'clock, I proceeded to place my brigade, according to orders, in line of battle, with my right resting on the railroad and the line extended on the road leading to Spottsylvania Court-House. Here I was directed to remain and to take advantage of the shelter afforded by the hills on the north. A short while before noon, an order was conveyed to me to advance in line through the woods toward the front. I accordingly put my line it motion. While advancing, I was informed of the existence of a ditch on the crest of the hill overlooking the river bottom, and directed to occupy
*But see Report No. 265, p.561. Lieutenant J. P. Colbert, Forty-ninth Virginia, reported killed.