Here I placed one regiment in position (Fifth Pennsylvania) to protect the wagon train, in obedience to orders, from General Kautz, and left the other standing in the road. After halting about two hours I put my brigade en route, following the division artillery, which was preceded by the Second Brigade. On the 29th arrived at Reams' Station, on the Petersburg and Weldon Railroad. Whilst en route an officer came from the rear and reported a party of bushwhackers annoying the train, and no troops of ours following the train sufficiently near to protect it. It at once sent one squadron of the Third New York Cavalry, under Captain Hall, to act as rear guard. Soon after I received an order to send two squadrons to the rear to communicate with General Wilson. I selected the detail from the Fifth Pennsylvania Cavalry, and placed Captain Ker in command. The duty was done, the captain reporting to me with his command in the field at Reams' Station. Afterward I was ordered, while debouching upon the plain near Reams' to send one company on scouting duty with a captain of General Wilson's staff. The detail was made. It was not heard from again until we arrived in our present camp. Upon arriving at Reams' I found the Second Brigade sharply engaged, and I was ordered to dismount my brigade and place it in a designated position, which was at once done. The gallant conduct of the Second Brigade relieved the immediate pressure, however, and my brigade remained in position without becoming engaged. General Wilson's troops coming up and getting into position on our left flank brought on a very sharp engagement. I was ordered to "prepare to cut loose from everything." I accordingly gave orders to abandon all carts and vehicles. Then I received an order to move out, following Colonel Spear's brigade. This I attempted to obey, but the artillery got between my brigade and Spear's, and I held back my men to let the artillery pass. Coming up to swamp stream, after having passed through a pine timber first, and afterward through a thick growth of young pines, on no road, I found the artillery stopped by the swamp. Up to this time, notwithstanding a severe artillery and at times sharp musketry fire, my brigade held together well. Desperate efforts were made to get the artillery across. The enemy held the stream not 200 yards to our right, and were advancing (not an imaginary enemy, but a real enemy) in force, in line of battle upon our rear. The artillery carriages in their efforts to cross the swamp got down to their axles in mud; fence rails were piled in without stint, but to no purpose; horses and carriages went down, and the whole pack had to be abandoned. At this time the enemy had closed upon our rear and opened fire, creating confusion in my brigade. The men deployed along the swamp to find crossings. I became separated from the bulk of them, and know but little of after occurrences. Not a wheel was saved; mountain howitzers and all fell into the hands of the enemy. I aided in rallying about 1,000 men and officers, fragments of all the regiments in both divisions, and succeeded in bringing them safely within our picket-lines, traveling principally by the compass until I neared the railroad. Some little inconvenience was experienced from small parties of the enemy who were concealed in the woods along the road. Nothing serious, however, occurred to prevent our joining the column under General Kautz a short time before our pickets were reached.
Our loss in officers and men has been most severe. Nineteen commissioned officers and 550 enlisted men are missing. Some of them will yet come, in a few having been heard from. I have no doubt a large proportion have gotten beyond the enemy and will appear either at some point on the James River or at the lines near Portsmouth. I