War of the Rebellion: Serial 087 Page 0226 OPERATIONS IN SE. VA. AND N. C. Chapter LIV.

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would have passed, so that nothing would be gained. Orders therefore were given to Colonel McAllister, commanding the force, to hold well down the plank road in anticipation of any attempt of the enemy's cavalry to pass to our rear. An order was also sent to him to arrest all stragglers and form them into regiments. This order, it appears, was handed by the orderly bearing it to General Willcox, who, not observing the address to Colonel McAllister, opened the order, and, thinking it addressed to him, deployed a part of his division to arrest and form the stragglers from the battle-field. How much delay was caused by this error is not known, but it is known that the division, in any event, would not have arrived in time to be of service. Meanwhile the enemy were preparing their forces for a final attack, which was inaugurated about 5 p. m. by a heavy artillery fire, which, while it did little actual damage, had its effect in demoralizing a portion of the command exposed to a reverse fire, owing to the faulty location of the rifle-pits, as before explained. The shelling continued for about fifteen minutes, when it was followed by an assault on General Miles' front, opposite the position held by the Consolidated Brigade and the Fourth Brigade. Just at the time when a few minutes' resistance would have secured the repulse of the enemy, who were thrown into considerable disorder by the severity of the fire they were subjected to and the obstacles to their advance, a part of the line (composed of the Seventh, Fifty-second, and Thirty-ninth New York) gave way in confusion. At the same time a break occurred on the right of the One hundred and twenty-fifth and One hundred and twenty-sixth New York. A small brigade of the Second Division, under command of Lieutenant-Colonel Rugg, which had previously been sent as aa reserve to General Miles, was ordered forward at once to fill up the gap, but the brigade could neither be made to go forward nor fire. McKnight's battery, under Lieutenant Dauchy, Twelfth New York Artillery [Battery], was then turned on the opening, doing great execution, but the enemy advanced along the rifle-pits, taking possession of the battery and turning one gun upon our own troops. On the left of the break in the line was Murphy's brigade, of the Second Division, which was driven back, and two batteries (B, First Rhode Island Artillery, Lieutenant Perrin, and the Tenth Massachusetts Battery, Captain Sleeper) fell into the hands of the enemy after having been served with marked gallantry and losing a very large proportion of officers, men, and horses. I immediately ordered General Gibbon's division forward to retake the position and guns, but the order was responded to very feebly by his troops, the men falling back to their breast-works on receiving a slight fire from the enemy. By the loss of this position the remainder of General Gibbon's

division was exposed to an attack in reverse and on the flank and were obliged to occupy the reverse side of the breast-work they had constructed. Affairs at this juncture were in a critical condition, and but for the bravery and obstinacy of a part of the First Division and the fine conduct of their commander (General Miles) would have ended still more disastrously. General Miles succeeded in rallying a small force of the Sixty-first New York Volunteers, and forming a line at right angles with the breast-works swept off the enemy, recapturing McKnight's guns, and retook a considerable portion of his line. General Miles threw about 200 men across the railroad and toward the enemy's rear, but the force was too small to accomplish anything. The One hundred and fifty-second New York is reported to have behaved very badly here, running away without firing more than one or two shots. An attempt was made to get some of