on Williams' and Berry's divisions. The troops of Birney's division, above mentioned as occupying the hill in prolongation of Geary's line, soon retired. A battery belonging to the same division, which was with these troops, was, I am informed, captured by the enemy. I know that immediately after the infantry had retired from this position a battery was used on this point against Geary's line with fearful effect, as it enfiladed his position completely. The efforts of the enemy for three hours were directed mainly against the divisions of Generals A. S. Williams and Berry.
Repeated efforts were made by heavy columns of the enemy to break these lines, but without effect; our troops held their ground with a determined bravery seldom equaled. Our artillery was advantageously posted and handled with great skill and effect.
At 8 a. m. I informed the commanding general of the fact that our small-arm ammunition was nearly exhausted, and that a new supply was necessary or that my troops must be relieved. As there was no ammunition on hand, a brigade of Birney's division was ordered to relieve a portion of Williams', which was done, but too late to prevent the advance of the enemy. Our artillery, also, which had been firing constantly for about three hours, was nearly exhausted of ammunition.
At about 9 a. m. the troops on the right of my command fell back, which was soon followed by a portion of my line. The enemy at once gained a position which enabled him to use his infantry against our batteries. The artillery, however, held its position until two battery commanders, Captain Hampton and Lieutenant Crosby, were killed besides their pieces, until 63 cannoneers were killed or wounded, and until 80 horses had been shot in the harness. The batteries were then retired to a position in rear of our second line without the loss of a single piece. The infantry also retired in much better order than could reasonably have been anticipated, and formed in rear of the new line. At 9 p. m. on Sunday, I was ordered to take a position on the extreme left of the line, which was done at once, and every hour was occupied in strengthening our position until we were ordered to recross the river.
We recrossed on Tuesday night, and on Wednesday evening the entire command was in its former camps.
The events of the past few days have greatly increased my confidence in my command. Most of my corps marched more than 60 miles in three and a half days, over bad roads and through a severe rain-storm, the men carrying on their persons eight days' rations (more than double the amount ever before carried by any troops in this army), besides 60 rounds of ammunition and the usual amount of clothing. On this march the command crossed two rivers, a portion of it fording one of them. I have never witnessed a scene that tended more to increase my confidence in our troops, or that so strongly excited my admiration, than that presented by the two brigades of Williams' division in fording the Rapidan River. This ford is a very difficult one at all times, the current being very rapid, the bed of the river uneven and very rocky, and the water in many places being at least 4 feet in depth. Not only the officers, but every soldier, seemed to appreciate the necessity of speedily gaining a position on the opposite bank, and they seemed to vie with each other in their eagerness to execute their orders. The fact river by the rapid current, and were only saved from drowning by cavalrymen and boatmen stationed below the ford for the purpose of rescuing such as might lose their footing, did not seem in the slightest degree to dampen their ardor.