before three P. M. The Federals were known to be in great strength in the immediate vicinity.
felt some uneasiness at the separation of these two corps.
's Division took position in line of battle across the plank road, and Wilcox
was ordered to go with his division through the woods in the direction of the old pike and open communication with Ewell
Ten or fifteen minutes before this order to Wilcox
was given, a line of the enemy's skirmishers came out into an open space of several acres, within less than two hundred yards of Generals Lee
, and Heth.
Seeing these officers and the soldiers near by, they retired at once into the wood without firing.
These skirmishers had come from the direction in which Wilcox
had to move.
's move through the dense woods was slow for the first half mile; then came afield of that width, and about a house, several hundred yards distant in front, in this field, a party of the enemy was seen.
One of his (Wilcox
's) regiments was ordered forward at a run, and captured twenty or thirty, several officers being of the number.
Two of Wilcox
's Brigades (McGowan
's and Scales
') were left in the woods, near the the fence of the field, and reported by him to General Lee
From the house there was a good view of the old Wilderness tavern; the Federals
could be seen about it. This was also reported, and Wilcox
passed on with his brigades in quest of Ewell
's right; crossed, a short distance beyond the house, Wilderness run
; rose up in a field beyond, and into woods to the front and left, five or six hundred yards, his two brigades were ordered; but in a second field, and to the right of these woods, Gordon
's Brigade, the right of Ewell
's Corps, was found.
had hardly spoken to General Gordon
when volleys of musketry were heard in the woods.
He rode rapidly to rejoin his brigades, but near the woods met a courier from General Lee
, bringing orders for him to return with all possible speed to the plank road, as Heth
was attacked-the enemy known to be in heavy force.
The two brigades were recalled at once, and returned with a little over three hundred prisoners. The musketry was heard in considerable volume on the plank road, and as Wilcox
recrossed the open field, the enemy could be seen moving toward this road; his two brigades left near the field had been recalled, and when he arrived on the field of battle one of them (McGowan
's) had already been ordered in, and the other (Scales
') soon followed — the former across the road at right angles, the latter to the right of it, where the firing then seemed heaviest.
The troops engaged could not be seen, the rattle of musketry alone indicating where the struggle was severest, and the points to which the reinforcing