open ground about 100 yards wide, over which the breastworks did not extend. Before moving farther forward, as it was then night, a few skirmishers were thrown out. A prisoner was captured almost at once. A company (F) of skirmishers was sent out, and they took 23 prisoners, one of them a captain. The regiment now crossed the open ground behind the skirmishers, and began to occupy the breastworks. At this time I was in command of the skirmishers. I found that we were very near a force of the enemy, as talking could be plainly heard and a line indistinctly seen. Two men were sent to inquire who they were. They answered, "Twenty-third Virginia. " One of these men was taken prisoner; the other escaped. The regiment now moved back across the open ground, and formed in fine at right angles with the line of breastworks. Our skirmishers afterward took 3 more prisoners. We had 3 men of Company K wounded. During the night breastworks were constructed along our new line. At daylight, July 3, our skirmishers, Company E, Captain Robeson, became engaged. Firing was kept up until 5. 30 o`clock, when the regiment was ordered to charge the woods in front of us. Colonel Mudge gave the order, "Forward!" The men jumped over the breastworks with a cheer, and went forward on the double-quick. The fire while crossing the open ground was terrible, but the woods were reached and the regiment began firing, steadily advancing, and driving the enemy before it. I now took command of the regiment, Colonel Mudge having been killed. I found on going to the right that the regiment that had advanced with us had never reached the woods, and that we had nothing on our right flank, and that the enemy were throwing a force in our rear. I ordered the regiment at once back far enough to uncover the right flank, which left the enemy in a very exposed position. They fell back rapidly, but lost heavily in so doing. I remained in my new position, inflicting a heavy loss upon the enemy, until my ammunition was nearly exhausted, when I sent to Colonel Colgrove, commanding Third Brigade, for further instructions. He ordered me to bring the regiment back to the rear of its former position. This was done, with a loss during the movement of 1 man killed and 1 officer and about 6 men wounded. My loss in this action was 2 officers killed, 2 severely wounded, who have since died, and 6 other officers badly wounded, 21 men killed, 102 wounded, and 3 missing-probably prisoners, as they have not since been heard of. * The regiment after this was not actually engage, although it occupied the breastworks on the left of the First Brigade during the following afternoon and night. The officers and men of the regiment did their duty bravely and faithfully throughout the action. There was not a single instance of cowardice or skulking, and there were a great many of individual gallantry. The color-sergeant and 2 other color-bearers were killed while carrying the regimental flag, and 2 were severely wounded.
I am, very truly, your obedient servant,
C. F. MORSE,
Lieutenant-Colonel Second Massachusetts Regiment.
Lieutenant ROBERT P. DECHERT,
Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.
* But see revised statement, p. 184.
52 R R - VOL XXVII, PT I