it; but these reconnaissance, made with infantry, were necessarily confined to a limited compass, and brought no other fact to light but that the enemy's skirmishers were found at a distance of 1 1/2 to 2 miles in considerable number.
Meanwhile we heard General Sickles' artillery, but the firing did not continue long, so that it seemed as if the attack on the flank and rear of the column of the enemy which we had seen marching toward our right had been checked or given up.
It was between 3 and 4 p. m. when the section of artillery attached to Colonel von Gilsa's brigade gave two discharges, followed by a short musketry fire. We hastened to the front, and received the report that only a few rebel cavalrymen had shown themselves on the old turnpike, and that the artillery had fired without orders. All became quiet again. I ordered General Schimmelfenning to push another reconnaissance up the Plank road. The instructions he received from headquarters were to the effect that he should avoid everything that might bring on an engagements. The reconnoitering party returned after some time with the report that they had heard the yells and shouts of a large number of men behind the enemy's lone of skirmishers. The cavalry, which had been attached to your command but a few days before, and whose business it was to clear up our front and flank, repeatedly reported that at some distance from our pickets they had been fired upon, and that then, of course, they could go no farther. Immediately before the enemy rushed upon us, a reconnoitering party of that cavalry went into the woods in front of the Twenty-sixth Wisconsin; returned after about ten minutes, and informed the officers of the Twenty-sixth Wisconsin that it was all right, and then went quietly to rest behind Hawkins' farm.
It was nearly 6 o'clock when we suddenly heard a sharp artillery and musketry fire on our extreme right. I at once ordered all regiments within my reach to change front. The One hundred and nineteenth New York I took out of its position in the woods, facing south, and formed it near the junction of the Plank road and the old turnpike, facing west. The Sixty-eighth New York received the order to occupy the western edge of the same piece of woods the southern border of which had been occupied by the One hundred and nineteenth formed the One hundred and fifty-seventh New York, then the Eighty-second Illinois, and farther to the right the Eighty-second Ohio, the letter receiving from me the order to cover the left of the Fifty-eight New York, to fire one volley if the enemy should break through the woods in front, and then to make a bayonet charge. The Fifty-eighth New York and the Twenty-sixth Wisconsin, on the extreme right, remained as they were, under the immediate command of Colonel Krzyzanowski. Captain Dilger, commanding my battery, drew his pieces back to the high ground, near Wiedrich's battery, and opened upon the columns of the enemy as soon as they showed themselves on the old turnpike.
To change the front of the regiments deployed in line on the old Turnpike road was extremely difficult. In the first place, they were hemmed in between a variety of obstacles in front and dense pine brush in their rear. Then the officers had hardly had time to give a command when almost the whole of General McLean's brigade, mixed up with a number of Colonel von Gilsa's men, came rushing down the road from General Devens' headquarters in wild confusion, and, worse than that, the battery of the First Division broke in upon my right at a full run. This confused mass of guns, caissons, horses, and men broke