War of the Rebellion: Serial 087 Page 0232 OPERATIONS IN SE. VA. AND N. C. Chapter LIV.

Search Civil War Official Records

and a caution concerning the vacant space between the Fifth Corps and my right, had been received from General Humpreys, chief of staff, but a few minutes before General Meade's arrival. Under instructions from me, General Egan deployed two of his brigades to the right of the plank road, and subsequently deployed two regiments as far as they would reach to the right, and it was at one time reported that the connection with General Crawford was made, but the report was erroneous. Major Bingham, of my staff, was sent to communicate with General Crawford, and states that he found him about one mile from my headquarters, and a short three-fourths of a mile from my right. The enemy meanwhile were not idle. They placed nine guns in position in front of Egan on the north bank of the run, and five more about 800 yards from Egan's left, on the White Oak road, from which they opened a very annoying artillery fire. Beck, with four guns of his battery, replied gallantly. General Gregg was directed to send one of his brigades to drive away or capture the battery on our left, but on making a reconnaissance of the position thought he discovered infantry protected by hastily constructed works, and did not advance against the battery. More important events diverted my attention from this point, though Granger's battery, Tenth Massachusetts, was sent forward to relieve Beck, that the latter might replenish his ammunition. As soon as Major Bingham returned from General Crawford and reported his (General Crawford's) whereabouts, Lieutenant-General Grant and General Meade left the field, giving me verbal orders to hold my position until the following morning, when I was to fall back by the same road I had come.

For a better understanding of the events of the day reference is made to the accompanying sketch,* which shows the position of my command between 3 and 4 p. m.

Knowing the views of my superiors, I had determined to assault the bridge and gain possession of the high ground beyond. General Egan, whose division occupied the crest of the ridge near Burgess' Tavern, had been intrusted with the necessary preparations, and McAllister's brigade, of Mott's division, had gone forward to support him. De Trobriand's, of Mott's division, was still in line of battle, facing the approaches from the upper bridge. The remaining brigade of Mott's division (General Pierce's) had been moved up to support a section of Beck's artillery, under Lieutenant Metcalf, which was in position on a secondary ridge about midway between Mott and Egan. Constant firing had been heard on my right, which was attributed to Crawford's advance. Becoming uneasy, I ordered two regiments of Pierce's brigade to advance well into the wood and ascertain what was there. Lieutenant Stacey, of my staff, was sent to General Crawford to inform him that I was about to assault the bridge, for which preparations were complete. A section of Granger's battery had been advanced to cover the bridge; the artillery had already opened, and a small party of the One hundred and sixty-fourth New York, the advance of the storming party, had pushed across the bridge, capturing a 10-pounder Parrott gun. Just at this time, about 4 p. m., a volley of musketry immediately on my right, which was followed by a continuous fire, left no doubt that the enemy were advancing. The small force of Pierce's brigade in the woods were overrun by weight of numbers, and the enemy broke out of the woods just where Metcalf's section was placed. Metcalf changed front, and fired a few rounds, and the part of Pierce's brigade in support endeavored to change front, but were unable to do


*See page 233 for diagram.