About 5 p. m. the enemy advanced with a strong line of battle and attacked my left and center, and followed this with a heavy column upon my left. The attack from the enemy's left was successfully broken, and, my right advancing, we succeeded in taking a large number of prisoners, among them 21 officers and nearly all of the men of the Eighth Louisiana Regiment. I then immediately withdrew a portion of my force on my right and re-enforced my left, and sent to the corps commander for additional force. At this time our left was vigorously and stubbornly contending against large odds, and, after contesting the ground as long as was advantageous, our artillery and its supports moved a short distance to the rear, to the position before indicated.
At this time, Lieutenant Butler's (Regular) battery and two regiments reported to me, and were quickly thrown into position on our left. The enemy, apparently thinking our left was giving way, rallied and confidently advanced until they brought their flank opposite the woods in which was placed those sterling soldiers of the Vermont Brigade. At the favorable moment, this brigade opened its fire upon the flank of the enemy's columns, and immediately the batteries in front opened a direct fire. The effect of this flank and direct fire upon the enemy was most marked. In a short time not a hostile shot came into our lines. Darkness, now came on, but soon the moon rose and again lighted up the field, and not a rebel could be seen between our lines and the heights of Fredericksburg.
At 10.30 p. m. I was ordered to move the division back to Banks' Ford, and that night the division recrossed the Rappahannock.
Great credit is again due our artillery for their services in repelling the attack. In the action of Guest's farm the section under Lieutenant Simon, Fifth Artillery, and Captain Rigby's battery were largely instrumental in breaking the attack of the enemy's left, and the artillery on our left, under Captain Martin, was used with great effect in checking the advance of the enemy on that point, and afterward, in connection with Lieutenant Butler's battery, in wholly breaking the attack.
I would again make mention of the efficient services of Brigadier-General Neill and Colonel Grant, commanding brigades. The great extent of our line, and the large odds with which we were attacked, rendered it necessary during the action to make several important changes, all of which they successfully and skillfully executed.
Brigadier-General Neill, although partially disabled by being fallen upon by his horse, which was shot under him, continued in command of his brigade until the action was over.
My thanks are again due to Major [Charles] Mundee, assistant adjutant-general; Lieutenant-Colonel [Newton] Stone, division inspector; Lieutenant [Francis M.] Edgerton, aide-de-camp; Lieutenant [Eugene O.] Cole, provost-marshal; Lieutenant [Israel V.] Hoag, division commissary, and Lieutenant [Edward] Mattocks, commissary of musters, of the division staff, for the able and prompt assistance they gave me on the field in the action of the 4th.
Much credit is due to Captain [Brayton J.] Hickman, ordnance officer of the division, for the gallantry and energy displayed by him in promptly supplying the division on the field with necessary ammunition in the actions of the 3rd and 4th.
The list of casualties in the division on the 3rd and 4th (amounting in the aggregate to 1,515) has been previously forwarded.*
*But see revised statement, p. 190.