About 4 p.m. on May 4, an order was received from General Griffin for the brigade to advance from the earth-works, for the purpose of reconnoitering the enemy's position. The Fourth Michigan was deployed as skirmishers, and the other regiments formed in two lines of battle. The brigade advanced boldly and quickly, driving the enemy, until the skirmishers reached an abatis, where a large force was stationed. The object of the reconnaissance having been accomplished, the command, in obedience to orders previously issued, retired in perfect order.
During the advance, the enemy opened fire with a battery, which, however, inflicted no injury. I was thrown from my horse during the skirmish and sprained my ankle. The command devolved upon Colonel Sweitzer, who conducted the retirement in the most satisfactory manner. The movement was executed under the personal supervision of General Griffin.
I may be permitted to say that the coolness and steadiness of the men under fire on this occasion, and their general bearing throughout the operations of the week, sustained the reputation which the brigade earned during the Peninsula campaign. The conduct of all the officers and men was worthy of the brigade, which had once been commanded by General Griffin himself.
While all the regiments of the brigade are worthy of the highest praise, I feel it my duty to make especial mention of the conduct of the Fourth Michigan Volunteers, deployed as skirmishers during the reconnaissance on the 4th. Their advance was so rapid and determined that the skirmishers of the enemy were driven to their works without being afforded an opportunity to return our fire effectively. To this I attribute the slight loss sustained during the skirmish.
During the action of May 3, Company K, Fourth U. S. Artillery, lost a large number of men and was thus somewhat disabled. When the battery took position near this brigade, the lieutenant commanding reported the fact to me, when I called upon the Fourteenth New York for volunteers to man the guns. Nearly the whole regiment volunteered, and from the number the lieutenant commanding selected 24, who took their positions at the guns, and remained until the battery was relieved in the evening. The picket duty in front of the important point held by the brigade was performed by the Ninth Massachusetts Volunteers. Captain [John W.] Mahan, commanding the guard, furnished valuable information of the movements of the enemy.
The Thirty-second Massachusetts Volunteers occupied the breast-works during the entire time. I offered to relieve the regiment and place it in reserve, but the lieutenant-colonel commanding informed me that the regiment preferred to remain in front.
Major Lowry, with five companies of the Sixty-second Pennsylvania Volunteers, made a reconnaissance on the afternoon of the 3rd in the handsomest manner.
Being unwell when the army moved, and unfit for active duty, I was compelled to call Colonel Sweitzer to my assistance, upon whom devolved the most arduous and vexatious duties of the command during the march. I cannot speak too highly of the zeal and efficiency with which he aided me.
The brigade, under the command of Colonel Sweitzer, recrossed the Rappahannock on the morning of the 6th, and returned to camp, near Stoneman's Switch, the same day.
The members of my staff-Captain [Alvan C.] Lamson, acting assistant-inspector-general; Lieutenant [George W.] Yates, acting assistant adjutant-general, and Lieutenants [Michael] McQuade [jr.], and [John