three lines close together, and the attack developed the fact that four and a half regiments, numbering some 1,600 or 1,700 men, occupied their first line.
My division commander, Major-General Hoke, about dawn on the 24th informed me that a general engagement was contemplated on that day, and gave me detailed instructions as to the part my command was to take in bringing it on. He had the night before given me directions to be ready for movement at daylight. He stated that a heavy cannonade was to be opened from the north side of the river ont eh enemy's position. Five minutes after it had ceased I was to charge the portion of the enemy's line between the river and the City Point road with the Twenty-first, Twenty-seventh, and Eleventh Regiments, and I would be closely supported by Anderson's brigade. When we had succeeded in driving them from their first line Anderson was to occupy it till his supports arrived, when he was to press on against their second and third lines. While pivoting my three regiments already spoken of on their right and bringing up the other two I was to form my line along the City Point road perpendicular to my first position; then, taking the enemy's first line as a directrix, I was to clear Colquitt's front (on my front) as far as and including Hare's Hill, &c.
While General Hoke was still explaining the plan of battle to me Lieutenant Andrews reported to me from General Anderson, stating that the latter was in position and had sent him to keep in communication with me. In consultation with General Hoke my plan of attack was settled and every arrangement made.
The artillery opened precisely at 7 a. m. and ceased precisely at 7.30 a. m. At 7.20 a. m. I sent Lieutenant Andrews to say to General Anderson that I would move in exactly fifteen minutes. He left me with speed. A delay of seven minutes, however, occurred in my movements, and at precisely 7.42 a. m. I advanced.
I am so far thus accurate as to time, because I did not see my supports; did not know their precise locality, and being governed in my instructions by time noticed the watch closely.
My advance was made with 400 picked men and officers as skirmishers, followed by the balance of the three regiments (about 550 men) in line at close supporting distance. Lieutenant-Colonel Nelson, Seventh Battalion, was selected to command the skirmishers. I took charge of the second line.
The attack was made, and the enemy were driven from their rifle-pits without resistance of moment. Their first line of intrenchments was gained and a portion of it captured. Some 30 prisoners here taken and sent to the rear and the enemy's whole line seriously shaken, his men in numbers running from the works.
Discovering our small force, and the attack not being followed up, his first line rallied, re-enforcements were rapidly pushed up from his rear, and we were compelled to fall back. This was done slowly, and the enemy, endeavoring to charge us, was driven back into his works.
My men, under orders, laid down in the oats about half way between the two hostile intrenchments to await Anderson's advance and then go with him. Numbers of them, however, got back as far as our rifle-pits, before spoken of, and were allowed to remain there, with the same orders as the more advanced line. None of them came back to our intrenchments except the few skulkers whom every attack develops, and in this instance I am pleased to say there were very few. How much time was occupied in these movements I am unable to say accurately, as I did not look at my watch again.