of the canal and flooded fields in our front; also the dikes separating the fields to within 150 yards of the enemy's main line, and determined the depth and width of the canal, the depth of water in the fields, the width of the dikes and facilities for crossing. This examination was prosecuted till 3 a. m. and the information obtained duly reported that morning, and this brigade was ordered to attack and carry the enemy's advanced work before daylight of the morning of the 15th.
December 15, regimental commanders were ordered to get their men under arms at 12 a. m., which was promptly done, and the brigade was in full readiness for the work by 1 a. m. the battery which was to co-operate by a flank fire from the position, noted as Battery Numbers 2 on the accompanying map, was by some means delayed in getting into position and was not ready until 3. 30 a. m., besides which the First Brigade of this division, which the Second Brigade was to support the movement, was prematurely marched along the immediate rear of our works, and much confusion ensued. It was a very cold night, and the stamping of the men upon the frozen ground and rekindling of the subdued fires was sufficient to alarm the enemy, who gave palpable evidence of being ready to receive us. This fact was reported to the brigadier-General commanding division, and the undersigned was directed to use his own discretion whether to proceed or to abandon the attack. The troops were ordered into position for assault. The Twenty-ninth Pennsylvania Veteran Volunteers was in position on the beach of the river, the One hundred and thirty-seventh New York Volunteers in the left of our works as reserve, and the Sixteenth New York Veteran Volunteers and One hundred and second New York Veteran Volunteers were in position in front of our works, and the One hundred and forty-ninth New York Volunteers nearly so, when Captain Lambert, of division staff, communicated the peremptory order of the general commanding division to withdraw, which was reluctantly done at 4. 15 a. m. December 20, other than the above the brigade was engaged, during the occupation of this position, in building traverses in our works and otherwise strengthening them to protect the command from the almost continuous artillery fire from the enemy's works and gun-boats which came up the river so as to enfilade our line; also in constructing Batteries 1, 2, and 3 in front of this division. Toward evening of this day indications appeared that the enemy was either evacuating or preparing to evacuate, and the picket was ordered to keep a close watch upon his movements. He kept up an unusually severe artillery fire along his entire line until 11 p. m., when he totally ceased his fire.
December 21, at 12 a. m. the commandant of the brigade personally reconnoitered the enemy's position and consulted with the brigade officer of the day, Captain S. B. Wheelock, One hundred and thirty-seventh New York Volunteers. At 2. 30 the reconnaissance was repeated and the conviction entertained that the works in our front were vacated, though an occasional discharge of artillery was heard far to the right. Ten men were furnished by Lieutenant Colonel H. S. Chatfield, commanding the One hundred and second New York Veteran Volunteers, who were deployed in front of the picket pits and, under direction of and accompanied by the brigade officer of the day and the commander, advanced cautiously, and receiving no opposition entered the advanced works of the enemy at 3. 20 a. m. The undersigned immediately dispatched a staff officer to acquaint the brigadier-General commanding the division with this fact, and ordered the brigade under arms and the One hundred and second New York Veteran Volunteers into the