Griffin's division was left in reserve to support either the column toward Dabney's Mill or the cavalry on the Vaughan road, and posted where the road diverged. General Humphreys informed me also that Wheaton's division, 4,500 strong, at the Cummings house, was available as support, as well as General De Trobriand's brigade, 2,500 strong. My orders were obeyed very promptly. General Crawford had not proceeded far before the enemy's entrenched picket-line was encountered. This was soon carried by General brigade of his division. Having intrusted the direction of affairs on the Vaughan road to General Gregg with his cavalry, I went with the infantry column toward Dabney's Mill. We had proceeded but a short distance when heavy firing began on the Vaughan road, and reports came that General Winthrop's brigade had been attacked by the enemy in force and could not rejoin General Ayres, as both he and General Gregg had all they could do to maintain themselves and needed assistance. I then directed General Griffin to re-enforce General Winthrop by a brigade and to take command of operations on the Vaughan road, reserving to myself General Griffin's Third Brigade (his largest and best), which was on his right, to send to General Ayres, in place of General Winthrop's, if it was needed there. Being again called upon by General Gregg for re-enforcements, as the enemy was turning his left, I sent over to order across the run the supports from General Humphreys. Having made these arrangements, I went along with the movement toward Dabney's Mill, to which place General Crawford soon drove the enemy. Rallying there, the enemy forced back General Crawford's left somewhat, when General Ayres was sent in to his support on that flank with his two brigades. The enemy was again driven and to some distance beyond Dabney's Mill. The firing continuing now to be constant and severe I brought up the Third Brigade of General Griffin's division in close support, and was obliged to put it all with General Ayres to hold our left. I sent then also, at once, for at least a brigade of General Wheaton's division, intending to order the whole division up if affairs on the Vaughan road would permit. Unfortunately, however, the enemy got up re-enforcements faster than I could, and when a brigade of General Wheaton's division was nearing the scene of action a charge was made by the enemy in a force (according to the Petersburg Express consisting of three divisions) against which I had but six brigades opposed.
Our line, despite all the exertions of the prominent officers and much good conduct amoung those in the ranks, gave way and fell back rapidly, but with little loss after the movement began; portions of the line continued to fire as it retired, and General Wheaton got his brigade in line, and with it a portion of the others reformed, so that the enemy was checked before our old lines were reached by us. The resistance the enemy's attack met on the Vaughan road, together with the vigor of our attack at Dabney's Mill, drew off all his troops to the latter place, which was the natural place for both his retiring columns to meet, as was our lines at the run for our two columns in time, so as to have transferred our troops on the Vaughan road to the enemy's right flank at Dabney's Mill, we should have driven him beyond the plank road with ease. As it was, a reconnaissance in force (see General Lee's report) began nearly simultaneously by both parties, resulted in the enemy being repulsed on one road and ourselves upon the other, with probably nearly equal losses. I must say if our troops had all stood as firm at Dabney's Mill as the best of them did, that I had