now getting dark, and I received orders to advance my brigade into the woods and occupy the rifle-pits, which were about 200 yards from edge of the woods, and which had been occupied by General Crawford's division during the day. I immediately advanced, occupied the line designated, connecting with Crawford's division on the left. The First Division did not advance at this time, and a gap was left between the right of my line and left of First Division, which was closed up, however, during the night. During the night the pits were strengthened and the troops supplied with ammunition.
On the morning of the 20th I advanced a thin line of skirmishers, supported by a strong line, about 200 yards in the front of the main line, until the enemy's line of skirmishers was discovered. No shots were exchanged. During the day five regiments of the brigade were withdrawn to the original position occupied on the afternoon of the 19th, where we bivouacked for the night, leaving the Fifty-first Pennsylvania on the skirmish line, supported by the Twenty-seventh Michigan Volunteers.
At 5 o'clock on the morning of the 21st I moved my brigade, with exception of the Fifty-first and Twenty-seventh Michigan, which remained on the skirmish line, to a position on the left and in front of the Blick house, my right resting on the Ninth Massachusetts Battery and my left extending across railroad (two regiments being on left of the railroad) and resting on
Battery. Here I threw up a line of intrenchments, which was almost completed at 9.15 a. m., when the enemy attacked on the left of the Fifth Corps. When this attack was made one of General Ayres' brigades, of the Fifth Corps, moved up to my line of works. At 10.30 the enemy attacked on my immediate front; the artillery opened upon him with full force. There was no infantry fire from my line except by a few sharpshooters on the right. The enemy was soon compelled to retire, owing to the murderous fire of our artillery, and about 25 or 30 prisoners came in on my front. The regiments on the line of skirmishers were obliged to retire with some loss.
I am pained to mention the loss of Major Horatio Belcher, commanding Eighth Michigan Volunteers, who was killed on the 19th. He was at the time suffering from a wound in right arm, received at Bethesda Church, June 3, and would not leave the field until after he received a third bullet wound, which caused his death. A braver, truer, and nobler soldier never lived.
Major Hart, commanding Fifty-first Pennsylvania, received three severe wounds while gallantly leading his regiment.
I am much indebted to Colonel Harriman, Thirty-seventh Wisconsin, for the valuable service rendered by him on the 19th.
The members of my staff - Captain J. D. Bertolette, assistant adjutant-general; Captain R. N. Doyle, provost-marshal; Captain C. H. McCreery, acting assistant inspector-general; Lieutenants Watts and Bean, acting aides-de-camp, and Lieutenant Campbell, acting engineer officer - deserve particular mention for their coolness, bravery, and gallantry in the field, and I am much indebted to them for the valuable and efficient services they rendered me. Lieutenant Bean had his horse killed under him, and was himself severely wounded.