I succeeded with some difficulty in saving my pickets in the woods on the extreme left, bringing them in when nearly surrounded and under a heavy fire. On reporting to General Hooker, I was ordered to form my command as skirmishers in rear of the line of battle, and to prevent any stragglers passing through. this position I maintained until the change of front to the white house, where I formed a new line, which was maintained until the close of the action.
About nightfall, the general commanding the division ordered the Seventeenth Pennsylvania to cross the United States Ford and supply themselves with rations and forage. I remained with the Sixth New York, bivouacked in rear of the line of battle. The squadron of the Sixth New York, which had been picketing Ely's Ford, here reported. They had been completely cut off from our army, and had to fight their way through the enemy's skirmishers to our lines, losing several men and horses. They only came in by direction of the field officer in command of our outposts on that line.
On the morning of the 4th instant, I was ordered to report to division headquarters, when I was directed to place the Eighth and Seventeenth Pennsylvania in camp. The Eighth had on the previous day been picketing from Hartwood to Kelly's Ford.
Early on the morning of the 4th, the Eighth Pennsylvania was ordered to report to General Sedgwick, at Banks' Ford, who directed it to report to General Howe, then severely pressed.
When Sedgwick's corps crossed the river, Troops C and I, under Lieutenants Garrett and Baker, formed the extreme rear guard, remaining until after the bridges were taken up, when they were obliged to swim their companies across the river.
On the morning of the 5th instant, the brigade was ordered to Falmouth, where it encamped the same night.
Where all did so bravely and well it is hard to discriminate, but I cannot avoid recurring with admiration to the cool bravery of Lieutenant Garrett, of the Eighth Pennsylvania Cavalry, who had been left on picket some miles down the Plank road toward Fredericksburg at the time that our column on the left commenced to retire, on the afternoon of May 1. Scorning to come in without orders, he remained in rear of our retiring column, dismounted and deployed his little band of 30 men, steadily faced the enemy's advancing line, and fought his way back step, killing several of the enemy's skirmishers, and himself losing 5 horses, his own being killed under him. I drew him in from within less than half a mile from the brick house, having skirmished back 1 1/2 miles. He acted with the same coolness when left by General Howe to cover his rear, remaining until too late to cross the bridge, being obliged to swim his squadron across.
Captain McCallum and Lieutenants Daily, Carpenter, and Baker, of the Eighth Pennsylvania Cavalry, and Lieutenants Ramsey and Bell, of the Sixth New York, were also distinguished for their bravery in advance of the columns.
Lieutenant Blunt, of the Sixth New York, with an escort of 4 men, succeeded in communicating with General Verell at Rapidan Station, passing through the enemy's lines via Stevensburg (then occupied by them) both going and returning with admirable coolness, sometimes deceiving and at others eluding their patrols.
The regimental commandeers, Colonel Kellogg, Major Huey, and Captain Beardsley, were cool, prompt, and ready in carrying out my orders, and in no one case failed in their execution while under my command.