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[23] battery so as to rake the position, and the rebels were forced to retire into the woods, when our men again got possession of the guns. The enemy was again reenforced, and another desperate conflict was had over the guns. One had burst, and another was rendered useless by a ball being rammed home in the excitement without a cartridge. Nearly all of the horses had been killed by the rebel sharp-shooters, and it was impossible to drag the remaining two guns away by hand. The enemy, again reenforced, made a final charge upon the guns, and succeeded in holding the position. In this melee--one of the most exciting and desperate that has occurred during the whole war — the sword, for the most part, was the only weapon used. Col. Wyndham, more conspicuous than the rest of the officers who mingled in the fight, by his dress and general appearance, was evidently recognized and made a target of, both by swordsmen and carbineers. He escaped with a ball in the calf of his right leg.

Gen. Gregg and staff advanced and ordered Col. Kilpatrick to support Col. Wyndham on the right. As the first regiment, Tenth New-York, Lieut-Col. Irvine, emerged from the woods, they charged upon the rebels formed near the railroad, and were closely followed by the Harris Light cavalry, (Second New-York,) Lieut-Col. Davies. They met with such firm resistance that they became somewhat scattered, and were ordered back — only a portion of them having crossed the railroad. At this juncture, the First Maine cavalry, commanded by Col. C. S. Douty, came upon the field. It was a critical moment. A line of skirmishers had been advanced to the railroad, a section of artillery thrown forward on the right; a superior force of the rebels had driven our forces from the hill on the left so gallantly taken by the Second brigade, the Tenth being on the left of the First brigade--the whole command rising in echelon; was ordered to charge and drive the enemy from the hill and hold it, when the whole line was threatened by a superior force. It was here Col. Irvine was seen to fall. Col. Davies, of the Harris Light cavalry, was ordered to attack the enemy in flank — their movements were checked by two columns of the enemy just beyond the railroad — and both regiments were thrown into some confusion, and they were called back to rally. It was just at this point that Colonel Douty emerged from the woods, when he was made aware of the attitude of affairs, and was called upon to charge the enemy in flank — the two previous attempts having proved failures. The force in front outnumbered ours two to one--but onward the sons of Maine swept, with drawn sabres and plumes waving in the air — a grander sight was seldom ever witnessed; across the railroad they dashed and drove every thing before them, and in a very few minutes the hill at the rear of Stuart's headquarters was carried; two cannon, a flag, and a large number of prisoners were captured. As the First Maine arrived at Stuart's quarters, the first battalion, under Lieut.-Col. Smith, passed to the left of the house, and Major Boothby, with the second battalion, swept round to the right over the hill; and on they rode for about three quarters of a mile beyond where the regiment was again formed. Here was another critical position; there was no one coming to their support, and they were not only to lose what they had, by their daring valor, gained, but there was a fair prospect of being cut off; the enemy were closing in upon them near the railroad, and to escape they had to pass between two sections of artillery and a cross-fire of carbines. The position was taken in at a glance — a dash was made toward one of the batteries, as if to take it, when on a sudden a detour was made, and the whole command passed around the rebels and rejoined the brigade. The section of artillery captured by this regiment could not be taken away, but the horses were all killed.

The several divisions then fell back toward Kelly's Ford, united and moved up the right of the Rappahannock, across the railroad, until the left of General Buford's command was reached some time during the afternoon. The fact that the rebels did not make a step toward following the command, though vastly superior in numbers, indicates very clearly that they had had quite enough of the Yankees for one day.

During the afternoon, the main object of the reconnoissance having been accomplished, our forces gradually recrossed the river at Beverly Ford--two miles above the Orange and Alexandria Railroad bridge — the rear covered by the Eighth Illinois cavalry and Fifty-sixth Pennsylvania infantry. The enemy kept up a desultory fire, but little damage was done. The troops retired at their leisure and in good order — every man, though fatigued, feeling fully satisfied with the result of the contest.

Just at dark, a rebel regiment made its appearance near the Rappahannock Railroad Station. One regiment crossed the river to see what they wanted, but the enemy ran away so fast they did not ascertain the special object of the untimely visit.

This being really the first cavalry fight in force which has been indulged in during the present war, it becomes a matter of interest to all to know how our troopers thus massed conducted themselves. As one who travelled quite extensively over the extended field while the troops were the most hotly engaged — from five o'clock A. M. until one o'clock P. M.--I can say with pleasure that I neither saw myself or heard of any thing but what was creditable alike to their manhood and the cause in which they were engaged. In two instances, squadrons were broken while charging and suddenly and unexpectedly coming upon superior forces. In one of these cases, two thirds of the men engaged were recruits, and had never been in a fight before. In the other instance, they were momentarily thrown into a panic by the death of their leader. Both of these commands quickly rallied, and subsequently, by their gallant conduct, wiped away whatever stigma any one might consider as having been attached to them for previous conduct. One or two regiments also got somewhat scattered after a charge, but they were


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