nearly at right angles with it. Company D, commanded by Captain C. K. Abell, was deployed to the front as skirmishers, and we remained prepared for any emergency during the night. I might here mention that during the night the regiment was occupied in throwing up a breastwork, which was completed at daylight.
At about 6 a. m. on the 3rd instant, the enemy opened a rapid and severe fire upon us and drove our pickets in. After heavy skirmishing for some time, the enemy advanced in force, and a severe engagement ensued, which lasted for upward of three-quarters of an hour, when, owing to the left of the brigade being flanked and the enemy advancing upon the left flank of the troops under my command with a heavy force, the regiment was ordered to change front, to repel them. The movement was attempted, but the rapid advance of so large a force of the enemy on our flank and front rendered it impossible to execute it.
The regiment was then ordered to fall back, which was done in good order by breaking by companies successively to the rear, keeping us a galling fire upon the enemy.
It was during this brief but severe engagement that our brave colonel, William O. Stevens, whole gallantly directing our movement, fell, dangerously, if not mortally, wounded. In consequence of the nearness of the enemy and the severity of the engagement, it was impossible to carry him from the field. After the fall of our noble colonel, the enemy, rendered bold by their momentary success, advanced more rapidly on our flank and front, and attempted to capture our colors, but the steadfast devotion and bravery of my regiment repealed their attempt, and, although the conflict was hand to hand, and their force far superior in numbers to our own, the colors of the regiment were borne in safety from the field.
The regiment went into this action with 29 commissioned officer and 411 enlisted men. The loss sustained in killed, wounded, and missing was 12 commissioned officers and 92 enlisted men, making an aggregate of 104, or about one-fourth of the entire command.*
In the afternoon of the same day, my command was placed in support of the batteries in front, and there remained until the evening of the 5th, when, in accordance with orders received to hold ourselves in readiness to march at a moment's notice, we formed line, and about 3 a. m. took up our march, and recrossed the pontoon bridge and returned to our former camp, where we arrived at about 5 p. m. of the same day.
I cannot close this brief report without calling your attention to the bravery manifested by all the officers and men under my command, and especially to the coolness and bravery of Adjt. James A. Smith (whose gallant bearing in former engagements has been mentioned), who by his brave and gallant conduct in cheering on the men and directing their fire in our most trying moments, deserves the highest reward which can be given to a brave and fearless soldier. Also Lieutenant Patrick Anderson, whose conduct in the action added still greater weight to the encomiums already passed upon him. I would also call your attention to the noble conduct of Sergt. Richard W. Clark, of Company H, whose coolness and bravery elicited the warmest admiration of all his comrades.
I have attempted in the foregoing brief and barren statement to do justice to the brave men whose former record is so well know that comment is unnecessary. While I cannot but fell proud of the gallant
*But see revised statement, p.179.