Reams' Station, and when within a short distance of the station the advance was confronted by infantry and artillery, and farther progress stopped. Disposition was immediately made to resist the enemy until communication could be had with the Army of the Potomac. Captain Whitaker, of General Wilson's staff, volunteered to go through the enemy's lines with a company of cavalry, and other scouts were started to go into our lines. Whilst making disposition of the different regiments of my command, the Eleventh Pennsylvania Cavalry, which was in the advance, was thrown into momentary confusion by an attack in flank by a regiment of Alabama troops, but several companies rallied immediately and charged the enemy, routing them, and capturing about 50 prisoners. Considering the enemy too strong to assault, there seemed no other course left except to intrench and hold on to our position until relieved by the Army of the Potomac. I accordingly ordered such defenses to be made as our means afforded. Two small breast-works were hastily thrown up, rails were piled up and trees felled to protect sharpshooters, which had the effect of keeping the enemy at bay in my front, and my command was not again molested. General Wilson having come up with his division, and finding the enemy advancing from the direction of Petersburg, on the stage road, in strong force, it was decided to destroy the trains, abandon the wounded, and try and save the men and horses by retreating. I was directed to bring up the rear, but before the retreat could be effected the enemy forced our lines between my command and the Third Division, several regiments of the latter falling back into my lines, creating some confusion. Finding that I could not get to the stage road, I immediately determined to turn the enemy's left flank and thus seek to reach our lines. This was done without opposition. We crossed the railroad between Reams' Station and Rowanty bridge and reached our lines soon after dark, and bivouacked. As we pursued no road, but marched by compass, passing most of the way through timber and heavy undergrowth, the artillery could not be brought through. It was hauled off the field and finally abandoned in a swamp, where the carriages mired, and could not be extricated. The officers in command of the batteries report that they spiked the pieces before leaving them. Nearly all the efficient men of my division came through in this way, also portions of the Second Ohio, Fifth New York, and fragments of other regiments of the Third Division-perhaps 1,000 men in all. The provost guard, stragglers, men sent to the rear with wounded, for ammunition and other purposes (perhaps 500 in all of my division) were separated with the Third Division, the greater portion of which followed the route taken by that division and came in with it. The loss in the division will not be ascertained correctly for some time yet, as the men continue to come, in most of them dismounted, and many are reported still behind, although within our lines.
The condition of the command was such that it was impossible to assault or oppose, with any hope of success, the great superiority of the command was such that it was impossible to assault or oppose, with any hope of success, the great superiority of fresh troops marched out of Petersburg to oppose us. For nine days the men had been constantly in the saddle, or engaged at night in destroying railroads. Our provisions were exhausted and no adequate supply could be obtained from the country through which we marched. The men were so much fatigued that every exertion of the officers was necessary to keep the men awake, even under the fire of the enemy. Many men were captured in consequence of falling asleep by the road-side. The unusual proportion of officers killed and wounded in my command attest their gallantry.