This, however, I could not accomplish. It was left to the Twentieth Connecticut Volunteers, of the Second Brigade, First Division, Twelfth Corps, to repulse the advancing enemy, and it did it nobly.
To the falling back of this regiment of Zouaves in the manner and at the time they did, I attribute the giving way of General Berry's line and our own, as they carried with them the troops which were intended as re-enforcements for our line. These never came up to our barricades nor fired a shot in our support.
After this disgraceful retreat on the part of the Zouaves, I saw Colonel Colgrove, of the Twenty-seventh Indiana Volunteers, moving through the woods in my front, attacking the enemy on the flank, and apparently driving him. I at once ordered the One hundred and twenty-third New York Volunteers to advance over our barricades, and, throwing its left wing forward, it delivered some well-directed volleys into the enemy's flank, immediately in front of the left of General Berry's line.
At this moment the enemy pressed forward with such an overwhelming force as to compel our whole line to give way and fall back to the brick house previously occupied by General Hooker as his headquarters. There I succeeded in forming a portion of the First and Second Brigades, after which I was ordered by Colonel Dickinson, of General Hooker's staff, to hold my men in this position. I found this to be a harder task than might at first be imagined, from the fact that I had lost every regimental commander of the eight regiments composing the two brigades, except Colonel McDougall, of the One hundred and twenty-third New York Volunteers; besides, the men had been continually either engaged with the enemy or building rifle-pits for three days twelve hours, and my command had also been without food for at least twelve hours, and were likewise without ammunition, and entirely worn out and dispirited from seeing everybody else going to the rear.
I take this occasion to return my sincere thanks to Colonel Diven, of the One hundred and seventh New York Volunteers, for volunteering to remain at this point with this regiment as long as he could be of any service to me. He is a brave and gallant officer; would to God that our country had more like him!
After remaining in this position about ten minutes, I received an order from General Williams to move my command along the right of the road leading to the United States Ford. After morning about a mile and then halting some hours in the woods, the command was again moved, and about dark took up a position on the hill at Scott's dam, relieving a portion of the Eleventh Corps, and forming the extreme left of our line.
This position we occupied during May 4 and 5, the men being constantly employed in constructing traverses for our artillery and throwing up rifle-pits.
On the morning of the 6th instant, I received orders to recross the river, which was successfully accomplished without any accidents, and the brigade moved to this point, arriving in camp just after sunset.
I have omitted to state that a portion of the First Brigade fell back as far as the river on the 3rd instant, where it was employed on provost duty and in guarding prisoners until the 5th instant, when it rejoined the division, I in the meantime having been assigned tot he command of the Second Brigade, by order of Brigadier-General Williams, commanding First Division.
I take this occasion of speaking in the highest terms of the valuable services rendered me by Captain C. H. Fenn, of the Twenty-eighth