Numbers 244. Report of Brigadier General Nathaniel C. McLean, U. S. Army, commanding Second Brigade.
HDQRS. SECOND Brigadier, FIRST DIV., ELEVENTH A. C.,
[May] -, 1863.
GENERAL: I have the honor to make the following report of the operations of the Second Brigade, First Division, Eleventh corps, on May 2:
The brigade, consisting of five regiment-the Twenty-fifth, Fifty-fifth, Seventy-fifth, and One hundred and seventh Ohio, and the Seventeenth Connecticut-was placed in position by your order, as represented in the accompanying sketch.*
The front was south, and the rifle-pits behind which the regiments were placed were intended to defend against from that quarter. My men were in good heart for action, and under more fortunate circumstances would not have been overpowered as they were.
During the day, in plain sight, large bodies of troops with trains of some kind could be seen passing on our front, a little to the left, and, as we supposed, either massing on our right flank or retreating. With these facts you were familiar, and communicated them to headquarters.
With the exception of an alarm caused by some rebel cavalry, all was quiet during the day and up to about 6 p. m. My line of pickets had been pushed out in my front (the right flank of our division being picketed by the First Brigade) to such a distance as to prevent a surprise in that direction, and skirmishers were thrown in advance again in the hope that some small force of the enemy with a battery, reported to be looking for a position from which to shell us, might be driven back.
The sketch will show from what point we were fully prepared to resist an attack and how little we expected one on our flank and rear. The First Brigade, commanded by Colonel von Gilsa, was posted on my right, with one of my regiments, the Seventy-fifth Ohio, formed in double column in his rear and given for his support. Two pieces of artillery were posted in the road on the right of the First Brigade. I had then only left out of the rifle-pits and posted as reserve in rear of my brigade the Twenty-fifth Ohio. The attack was made by the enemy on our right flank and rear with heavy force, and, as will be seen from the sketch, so as to completely envelop us. The two pieces of artillery placed with Colonel von Gilsa's brigade in the road fired but a few times, and then broke down the road in rear of the rifle-pits.
Colonel Reily, of the Seventy-fifth Ohio, immediately upon the commencement of the attack, wheeled his regiment in column to the right, and deployed, facing the enemy under heavy fire. So impetuous was the attack that the regiments in his front at once broke in great confusion, interfering somewhat with his deployment, but still the regiment was enabled to fully form and deliver its fire continuously until ordered to face-about.
At this time Colonel Reily fell, at the head of his regiment, most gallantly doing his duty. His fate is uncertain, but, if killed, the country will lose a true patriot and brave soldier, who has at all times and under all circumstances most nobly performed his duty.
At this moment I found, from the rush of fugitives from the right
* Not found.