War of the Rebellion: Serial 087 Page 0582 OPERATIONS IN SE. VA. AND N. C. Chapter LIV.

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Volunteers, Twenty-first Massachusetts Volunteers, and Thirty-sixth Massachusetts Volunteers occupied the second line; the Seventh Rhode Island Volunteers were considerably behind the second line, following up the advance with the intrenching tools, while the Fourth Rhode Island Volunteers, their term of service having expired, were permitted to act as provost guard. While in this position brisk skirmishing was heard in the direction of the Boswell house. I then received orders to send one of my regiments to the support of General Griffin. The Thirty-fifth Massachusetts Volunteers were accordingly taken from my right, and the commanding officer instructed to report to General Griffin. As this left a gap between my right and General Griffin's left, I moved my command to the right until the opening was closed. I then received an order to advance with General Griffin. Accordingly, I advanced into the open field. I could discover no enemy in my front to the left, and but a small force to the right. The advance was continued until my first line had arrived to the position now marked by the enemy's vedette line, where I halted and rode over the ground on my left, but could discover no enemy. My right was at this time quite briskly engaged, and very heavy firing was heard in General Griffin's front. I could not have been gone more than twenty minutes on this reconnaissance. On my return, however, I found the enemy had flanked General Griffin's brigade and that a confused mass of men had been thrown on the right of my second line, then resting in the woods directly in rear of my first line. Such was the pressure upon the flank of the second line that it was compelled to fall back to a position at right angles with the first line.

At this time the enemy appeared in heavy force immediately in front of the second line and desperate fighting ensued. The Thirty-sixth Massachusetts Volunteers, Forty-eighth Pennsylvania Volunteers, and Twenty-first Massachusetts Volunteers were able to hold the ground but for a short time, and fell back in good order to the edge of the woods on the left of the Pegram house. The troops of my first line were completely cut off by this rapid movement of the enemy, so that all efforts to extricate them were of no avail. Had I been informed of the approaching disaster I could have easily changed the position of my first line so as to have met the assault which was made by the enemy on the right of my second line, as it was not until after the right of my second line had been driven back and my first line cut off that the enemy appeared in any force on m left in front of the Bonyason house. But I had no intimation of the disaster, beside the enemy, continually, on the right flank of my second line, swept around in the direction of the Bonyason house and made connection with their own troops advancing to that point from the opposite direction, thus completely cutting off a large portion of the troops in my first line. During this time the Seventh Rhode Island Volunteers had taken a position on the right of the Pegram house and did good service by stopping the men of both brigades, and with their united efforts the enemy were held in check for some time. The troops of the second line fell back in good order to the line of works in front of the Peebles house.

The officers and men of my command behaved to my entire satisfaction. They were driven back, but not until their efforts upon the enemy had been rendered futile by the broken and confused mass of our own men which were thrown upon them.

During the night of September 30 I formed by brigade upon the left of the redoubt in front of the Peebles house. This position was occu-