Since crossing the Potomac
on the 27th of June, the column had marched steadily day and night.
Previously, it had been on incessant duty since the opening of the campaign on the 9th of June at Brandy Station
, and now, having been for many days without food or forage, the division arrived with wearied men and jaded horses upon the field of Gettysburg
Its numerical strength had, moreover, been considerably reduced, for many horses and men had dropped from exhaustion along the road.
So much so was this the case that, in some regiments, it became necessary to consolidate the companies, reducing the number of squadrons in each to three or four.
Upon reaching the Bonaughtown road, pickets were thrown out, connecting with the infantry on the left, and extending well to the right of the road.
The remainder of the command sought a little rest and shelter from the scorching heat, while from the ridges of hills could be seen the conflict between the infantry and artillery of the opposing armies.
About seven o'clock in the evening a line of Confederate infantry skirmishers moved along our front, covering their main column, which proved to be a portion of Johnson
's Division of Ewell
's Corps, advancing to the attack of Culp's Hill
Screened by Brinkerhoff's Ridge from the position occupied by the cavalry, the enemy were not, at first, observed by the pickets, but a party of Confederate officers, making a reconnoissance to the summit of the ridge where it crosses the Bonaughtown road, disclosed their approach.
The section of the Purnell
Battery, in position on the road near the Howard house
, planted two shells in their midst.
At the same moment, those portions of McIntosh
's Brigade which were not unsaddled, and which were drawn up near the Little house
, mounted and moved forward.
Several squadrons of the Third Pennsylvania and First New Jersey plunged down the hill and across Cress' Run
, then dismounted and deployed at the double quick.
Coming to the summit of Brinkerhoff's Ridge, the enemy's line of infantry was observed approaching also at a run. Along the summit there was a stone wall, which each party at once saw would command possession of the field, and each redoubled its efforts to secure it. The cavalrymen, however, reached it first--the enemy being but some ten yards off-and poured in a volley from their carbines which checked the advance of their adversaries.
The enemy, after some ineffectual attempts to take the wall, retired to a more sheltered position, about two hundred yards off, and heavy firing was kept up until after nightfall.
In the meantime, some of the artillery with the division was employed upon the columns of the enemy's infantry, which could be seen moving towards Culp's Hill
in support of the bloody