War of the Rebellion: Serial 087 Page 0289 Chapter LIV. THE RICHMOND CAMPAIGN.

Search Civil War Official Records

Penfield still held his position. Captain Noyes, inspector of Consolidated Brigade, was then directed to ascertain how far in the woods in front was the skirmish line, and whether it covered the whole front of the brigade. He reported that the left of the brigade was unprotected by skirmishers, but that the right was covered. Colonel Broady then directed Captain Noyes to have the skirmishers of the Consolidated Brigade in concert with the skirmishers of the First Brigade, to make a left half-wheel and find out the force of the enemy. It was then only that it was discovered that no connection existed between the skirmishers of the First and Third Brigades. The nearest picket discovered was in charge of a lieutenant at a house in front of the First Brigade. The condition of the picket line was immediately reported to General Miles, commanding the division. The line of men in the works had been so weakened by the withdrawal of the One hundred and eleventh, One hundred and twenty-fifth, and One hundred and twenty-sixth New York Volunteers that only a single line of men, in some places at the interval of a pace apart, occupied the works. The attention of Colonel Broady had been often called to the thinness of the line holding the works and to the necessity of well covering the gaps on the right and left of the brigade. To meet the occasion the One hundred and forty-eighth Pennsylvania Volunteers was formed in the rear of the left of brigade. Between 4 and 5 p.m. the works were further weakened by the posting of a gun in the rear of the right brigade. Shortly after the enemy commenced a charge extending over and overlapping the whole from of the brigade which resulted in the abandonment of the works. Three officers and one or more non-commissioned officers were sent into the rifle-pits on the skirmish line to announce the coming of a large force of the enemy. Sufficient attention was not given to the statements of these officers, whose especial care it was to look out for the front, and send correct information. The reports were discredited, and no order was given for the skirmish line to fall back. The enemy advanced with the utmost silence, refusing to answer the fire of the skirmishers till it suddenly broke with full force on the skirmish line, which soon became mingled with the pursuing column. The brigade reserving their fire for a time to allow the skirmish line to retire, poured heavy volleys upon the charging force. At this time the One hundred and forty-eighth Pennsylvania Volunteers was in the rear of the brigade. It was not posted in the pits, and the conduct of some of the men who rushed toward the left to discharge their pieces created some confusion. The reserve force only operated to impede and annoy the line in front occupying the works. The enemy appeared to come in on the railroad upon us through the gaps in the works between the First and Third Brigades, partially unnoticed by the men on the right of the brigade, who were too much engaged with the enemy in their immediate front. In this manner quite a force of the rebels got in the rear of the right before it fell back or was even aware of the mode of their penetrating our lines. On the left of the brigade also the enemy charged with great fury through the gap in the works between the Third and Fourth Brigades, capturing a large number of men who were fighting in the pits with great desperation, and who broke out rather for the front than the rear. The contest was a desperate one, but of short duration. The thin line in the works, flanked on the right and left, was obliged to fall back, not, however, before the colors of the One hundred and eleventh New York Volunteers were wrested from the color-sergeant in the very rifle-pits. Officers and men of the brigade, however, rallied, and in a short time

19 R R-VOL XLII, PT I