ated, an attack from the west and northwest could not be resisted for any length of time without a complete change of front on our part. To such a change, especially if it was to be made in haste, the formation of our forces was exceedingly unfavorable.
It was almost impossible to maneuver some of our regiments under fire of the enemy, hemmed in as they were on the old turnpike by embankments and rifle-pits in front and thick woods in the rear, drawn out in long, deployed lines, giving just room enough for the stacks of arms and a narrow passage; and this old Turnpike road was at the same time the only line of communication we had between the different parts of our front. Such was the position occupied by the Eleventh Corps on May 2.
In the course of the forenoon I was informed that large columns of the enemy could be seen from General Devens' headquarters, moving from east to west on a road running nearly parallel with the Plank road, on a ridge at a distance of about 2 miles or over. I observed them plainly as they moved on. I rode back to your headquarters, and on the way order Captain Dilger to look for good artillery positions on the field fronting west, as the troops would, in all probability, have to execute a change of front.
The matter was largely discussed at your headquarters, and I entertained and expressed in our informal conversations the opinion that we should form upon the open ground we then occupied, with our front at right angles with the lank road, lining the church grove and the border of the woods east of the open plain with infantry, placing strong echelons behind both wings, and distributing the artillery along the front on ground most favorable for its action, especially on the eminence on the right and left of Dowdall's Tavern. In this position, sweeping the open plains before us with our artillery and musketry, and checking the enemy with occasional offensive returns, we might have been able to maintain ourselves even against superior forces at least long enough to give General Hooker time to take measures according to the exigencies of the moment. Soon afterward we were informed that two divisions of General Sickles' corps were to attack in flank and rear the column of the enemy which we had seen marching, and you were requested to detach one of your brigades for their support. This weakened the force you might have used as a general reserve very materially.
In the absence of orders, but becoming more and more convinced that the enemy's attack would come from the west and fall upon our right and rear, I took it upon my own responsibility to detach two regiments from the second line of my Second Brigade, and to place them in a good position on the right and left of the Ely's Ford road, west of Hawkins' farm, so as to check the enemy if he should attack our extreme right and penetrate through the woods at that point. This was subsequently approved by you. The regiments I selected were the Seventy-fifth Pennsylvania and the Twenty-sixth Wisconsin. The Seventy-fifth pennsylvania had to relieve the pickets of the Second brigade, and was replaced by the Fifty-eighth New York. The Eighty-second Ohio I placed at some distance behind the left of the Fifty-eighth New York. The disposition of my troops was then as shown on Diagram Numbers 3, and, no orders reaching me, it remained so until the battle commenced. With these exceptions, no change was made in the position occupied by the corps.
Brigadier-General Schimmelfenning, commanding my First Brigade, made several reconnaissances in his front and that of General Devens, especially on the Plank road and through the wooded country south of