On the morning of the 6th, orders were received to retire. Detachments of the Eighteenth Massachusetts and One hundred and eighteenth Pennsylvania Volunteers were directed to be formed into a rear guard, and, at the time designated, the whole brigade moved toward the river, bringing up the rear of the retiring army. Crossing the river in rear of all the troops, the brigade was directed to remain on the northern bank until the pontoons were removed, and the whole command aided in the removal and in drawing the heavy boats up the steep and miry roads that led to the level above the river.
At dark, the work being accomplished and the trains of the pontoons being reported in safety, the brigade moved toward its camp on the Potomac Creek, reaching there in the course of the night and the early morning, exposed to the violent storm which rendered the roads almost impassable.
On the night of the 7th, information having been received that the state of the roads had prevented the arrival of all the pontoon trains within the lines, the Twenty-fifth New York Volunteers was ordered to go out to act as a guard to them, and on the following day the brigade again marched to protect them. This was fully done, and on the 9th the brigade returned once more to its former position near the Potomac Creek.
I have only to add that every officer performed his duty with an alacrity that entitles him to a deserved commendation. It is impossible to discriminate, for there was no instance in which duty was neglected or a want of zeal manifested.
To the members of my staff I am particularly indebted for the unflinching courage manifested by them under the most galling fire of the enemy. Captain W. S. Davis, my assistant adjutant-general; Captain P. B. Spear, commissary of the brigade and acting aide-de-camp; Lieutenant B. Spear, commissary of the brigade and acting aide-de-camp; Lieutenant Horatio Staples, aide-de-camp; Lieutenant [John E.] Low, acting aide-de-camp, and Captain [John P.] Bankson, acting assistant inspector-general of the brigade, were active, energetic, and fearless in their performance of all the duties that they were called upon incessantly to perform by night and day, and deserve that I should make particular mention of them.
I have the honor to be, your obedient servant,
Captain C. B. MERVINE, A. A. G., First Div., Fifth Army Corps.
Numbers 172. Report of Colonel James McQuade, Fourteenth New York Infantry, commanding Second Brigade.
NEAR STONEMAN'S SWITCH, VA., May 7, 1863.
CAPTAIN: In obedience to instructions from division headquarters, I respectfully submit the following report of the operations of this brigade on the south bank of the Rappahannock during the recent movement of the army:
The brigade, consisting of the Fourteenth New York Volunteers, Lieutenant-Colonel Davies; Fourth Michigan Volunteers, Colonel Jeffords; Ninth Massachusetts Volunteers, Colonel Guiney; Sixty-second Pennsylvania Volunteers, Colonel Sweitzer, and the Thirty-second Massachusetts Volunteers, Lieutenant-Colonel Stephenson, was withdrawn