from some unexplainable cause the troops forming this part of the line would not stand but broke under a scattering fire, which should not have occasioned the slightest apprehension in raw recruits much less in old soldiers like themselves. Most officers who have served through this war have had instances of the same kind in their own experience, and will therefore readily understand this, though they may find themselves as much at a loss for a satisfactory explanation of its cause. It was the breaking of this line which involved the necessity of falling back. A change of front was necessary, and this must be made to a position which would place our force between the enemy and our base. That there was no intention of retreating the soldiers who stood fire clearly understood, and when once bright into the new position in the face of the enemy they were ready to advance upon him, as was shown by their magnificent attack when ordered forward.
To the Sixth Corps, which it is my honor to command after the death of that noble soldier Sedgwick, to its officers and its men, I desire to acknowledge the obligation which, in addition to the many others it has imposed, it laid upon the country by its steadiness, courage, and discipline in this important battle. Without disparagement to the soldierly qualities of other organizations concerned, it is but just to claim for it a large share in the successes of the day. Being from the nature of the attack upon our lines somewhat in the position of a reserve force and therefore fairy to be called upon to turn the tide of unsuccessful battle, it came up nobly to its duty, fully sustaining its former well earned laurels.
To the commanders, one and all, the full meed of thanks is due. That they bore themselves bravely is evidenced by the fact that of the general officers one was killed, five more or less seriously wounded, and all lost their horses from the enemy's bullets, while the list of casualties will show that their subordinates were in no degree behind them in gallantry and devotion to duty. In one division there was but one field officer for duty when the battle was over.
Where all did so well, it may seem invidious to attempt to discriminate, but I desire to call attention to the division commanders to whom so much of the success of the day was due. Brevet Major-General Ricketts was severely wounded early in the action. Brevet Major-General Getty, subsequently in command of the corps till it was resumed by me after the arrival of Major-General Sheridan, stoutly contested the enemy's advance and gave time thereby for the necessary formations. Brevet Major-General Wheaton, who conducted himself gallantly, and Brigadier-General Keifer, who was in command of the Third Division during the entire day, General Ricketts being first in command of the corps and subsequently taken wounded from the field.
To my own staff also I was as usual under great obligations for important services rendered, often in circumstances of the greatest danger. Their names have already been submitted to the War Department and their merits acknowledged by the Government.
H. G. WRIGHT,
Major-General of Volunteers, Commanding Sixth Corps.
Brevet Brigadier General G. A. FORSYTH,
Chief of Staff, &c.
11 R R-VOL XLIII, PT I