These admirable dispositions, promptly made, the splendid fire of the artillery, and the imposing attitude of an iron wall of infantry co-operated with our flank attack to check the enemy's advance, which was effectually accomplished before dark.
General Berry, having established his front line, dispatched and aide and patrols to the right of our position, in search of the troops who were supposed to protect that flank or connect with it. These efforts were futile. Report was made to the commanding general of the fact, and information obtained that the Second Corps would connect with our right. At 9 p.m. General Hays, of the Second Corps, reported to General Berry with a brigade, which was placed obliquely in rear of the second line (Carr's brigade) and facing toward the left.
After dark, the enemy's line could only be defined by the flash of his musketry, from which a stream of fire occasionally almost enveloped us. As often as these attacks were renewed, generally with fresh troops, and aided by his artillery, they were repulsed by our guns, now directed by Randolph on the flank and by Osborn in front. Ascertaining the enterprise of cutting us off from the army to be hopeless, the enemy sullenly withdrew to the line of rifle pits and breastworks formerly held by the Eleventh Corps. Several of our guns and caissons were immediately recovered from the woods the enemy had occupied, and, again to quote the felicitous observations of General Pleasonton-
Such was the flight at the head of Scott's Run-artillery against infantry at 300 yards; the infantry in the forest, the artillery in the clearing. War presents many anomalies, but few so strange in its results as this.
I now hastened to open communication with General Slocum on my right and with headquarters at Chancellorsville-the last communication which I had received from the general-in-chief having been the order to assail the enemy on his right flank and check his advance, which was conveyed to me about 5 p.m., adding that I must rely upon the force I had, as Berry's division, of my corps, could not be spared from the front. To open communication, I sent Lieutenant Colonel Hart, assistant adjutant-general, and a small mounted escort, detailed by General Pleasonton, first taking the precaution to be sure that no orders, communications, or memorandum of the countering should compromise us, if capture resulted in the search of his person. Colonel Hart, taking the route through the ravine and by Fairview, performed this duty with his usual address and zeal, and brought me orders to hold my position.
Colonel Hart was instructed to report to the general-in-chief that a portion of Whipple's ammunition (mule) train, some of the caissons of his batteries, and two or three of his cannon were in the woods occupied by the enemy between my line of battle and the road, and that to recover these, as well as the line of the Plank road, I would, with his sanction, make a night attack, if supported by Williams' division, of Slocum's corps, and by Berry's division, of this corps, now forming a connected line. About 11 o'clock I received, through Colonel Hart, permission to make this advance, and immediately confiding the dispositions on the flank to General Birney, and in front to Major-General Berry, directed the attack to be made on the flank in two lines of battle (with the bayonet), supported by heavy columns.
Colonel Hart was sent to communicate with Major-General Berry and General Williams, who intervened between Birney's right and Berry's left, Berry's lines crossing the Plank road in the woods in front of Fairview. Colonel Hart reported to me that Berry and Williams were ready, at midnight I ordered Birney to advance.