Read, assistant adjutant-general of this division, severely wounded, and killing a sergeant and a horse of Rigby's battery. Captain Rigby's battery was then put in position, and the enemy retired, after a few rounds.
The different lines were then advanced. The enemy, firing at one or two different points without effect, finally disappeared in a belt of timber which crosses the road and is immediately in front of Salem Church. In and in rear of this timber the enemy was in strong force and position, as was found by the advance of both Bartlett's and the Jersey Brigades.
At 5.30 p. m. the action became general. The Second Brigade (excepting the Twenty-seventh New York Volunteers), with the Second and Twenty-third New Jersey Volunteers, of the First Brigade, on the left of the road, and the First, Third, and Fifteenth New Jersey Volunteers, of the First Brigade, with the Ninety-fifth and One hundred and nineteenth Pennsylvania Volunteers, of the Third Brigade, on the right of the road, advanced against the enemy.
Immediately upon entering the dense growth of shrubs and trees which concealed the enemy, our troops were met by a heavy and incessant fire of musketry; yet our lines advanced until they had reached the crest of the hill in the outer skirts of the wood, when meeting with and being attacked by fresh and superior numbers of the enemy, our forces were re-established near the batteries of Rigby, Parsons, and Williston, now posted on a crest overlooking the ground lately passed over by our troops, and across which the enemy attempted to follow our retiring line; but this was soon stooped by the artillery and the re-enforcements form Newton's division, posted on our right.
In this brief but sanguinary conflict this division lost nearly 1,500 men and officers. Colonel H. W. Brown, commanding the Jersey Brigade, was severely wounded, and Colonel Collet, First New Jeresey, Colonel G. W. Town, and Lieutenant-Colonel Hall, Ninety-fifth Pennsylvania, were killed.
The enemy having been driven back to his wooded fastness, and darkness coming on, General Russell, lately arrived on the field with the Eighteenth and Thirty-second New York Volunteers and Forty-ninth Pennsylvania, was placed in charge of the front line. This line was composed of his own brigade and some regiments of General Newton's division.
On the morning of the 4th, the enemy was discovered throwing up entrenchments in our front, and at the same time moving troops by our left toward our rear and Fredericksburg. To be ready for an attack in any direction, this division was placed on two sides of a parallelogram. Barlett's brigade and Torbert's, now Colonel Buck, were placed on a line facing the south, nearly at right angles with Russell, who kept the position of last night. Between Bartlett and Buck was posted McCartney's battery, and on the left of Bartlett two sections of Hexamer's battery, under Lieutenant Parsons. The whole front was covered by the Twenty-seventh New York, as skirmishers, under Colonel Adams.
Late in the afternoon two lines of battle of the enemy, preceded by a strong line of skirmishers, made an advance on the south front, in conjunction with the grand attack made on Howe's division, on our left. The effort of the enemy on this occasion was very feeble, as the skirmish line, aided by a few rounds of fire by the battery of McCartney, not only repulsed but dispelled by whole line. A similar attack was made and met in the same way by Russell, and the contest on my front ended.