War of the Rebellion: Serial 068 Page 0039 Chapter XLVIII. SOUTH SIDE OF THE JAMES.

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The withdrawal of Brooks and Weitzel on the right was soon confirmed, and the enemy had reached the brick house where General Smith had his headquarters in the morning. With two regiments under General Marston and the Fourth New Hampshire, then moving from the extreme left to the right, I formed a line in rear of the center of my position, covering the entrance to road leading to the rear. This was accomplished, and General Butler informed at 9.30 a. m. About this time I received verbal orders to move to the pike and cover Smith's left. About 9.50 the following written order came:

General GILLMORE: 9.30.

The enemy is pressing around our right. Smith has fallen back to near Half-Way House. The enemy is near Dr. Howlett's. You must fall back, press to right, and get in rear of Smith's corps. He will try and hold his ground until you get in his rear and clear the road to the entrenchments, so that we may get back behind the defenses. Push vigorously.

By command of General Butler:


Colonel and Chief of Staff.

Smith will have to fall back and hold road in rear of his right. Gillmore must hold pike. Information is clear they are pressing across river fast.


The staff officer who delivered the above order, when asked for an explanation of the last paragraph, said that the enemy was receiving re-enforcements from the other side for James River, and that it was feared that our retreat to the entrenchments would be cut off. The Half-Way House mentioned is a little more than half a mile in rear of the brick house occupied as General Smith's headquarters in the morning.


Up to this time Generals Terry and Turner still held the front line along which their commands had moved by the right flank to keep up the connection with General Smith's left. They were both actively engaged under the orders to attack the enemy in flank, and could not withdraw quickly without great loss. A part of their commands not engaged had been sent to the rear. Peremptory orders to retire were at once sent to Generals Terry and Turner. The final withdrawal of the troops engaged began about 10.15 a. m., just as I received the following order:

IN FIELD- 10 o'clock.


The commanding general directs that you move to your right and rear of Smith to hold the turnpike, Smith pressing to his right to hold there. Smith can't move till you reach the turnpike. Get there at once. The troops at General Ames' old position at junction are forced back. If you don't reach the pike at once we must lose it or the short on right of Smith. Press strongly. This is peremptory. We will lose turnpike unless you hurry.

By command of General Butler.


Colonel and Chief of Staff.