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[536] and were rapidly advancing toward the bridge, our only crossing and way of escape; the enemy now being nearer this crossing than my line, I therefore ordered the brigade to fall back, and, moving rapidly, gained the bridge, crossed over, and reformed on the west bank of the river, north of the railroad.

Colonel Gates, commanding second brigade Bowen's division, says in his official report:

They1 formed their men on the river, in the timber, where we could not see them. They brought their men out by the right flank, in column of four, about one hundred and forty yards in front of my regiment, at a double quick. I then opened a most terrific fire upon them, and kept it up until the brigade had passed out of my sight behind a grove of timber immediately upon my right. They moved so as to strike the trenches occupied by General Vaughan's brigade, so I am informed. I do not know whose troops were there, but it was immediately on the right of Green's brigade. After they had passed me, I listened for our men to open a heavy volley on my right and drive the enemy back. Upon not hearing any firing on the right, I directed Lieutenant-Colonel Law to mount his horse and go to General Green and know whether the centre was holding its position or not. Colonel Law returned in a few minutes and said that General Green ordered me to fall back. I did so at once. After I had got back below the bend of the river, I discovered that they had crossed the ditches, and were between me and the bridge.

In this precipitate retreat but little order was observed, the object with all being to reach the bridge as rapidly as possible. Many were unable to do so, but effected their escape by swimming the river; some were drowned in the attempt. A considerable number, unable to swim, and others too timid to expose themselves to the fire of the enemy by an effort to escape, remained in the trenches and were made prisoners. In this connection I deem it my duty

1 the enemy

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Martin E. Green (3)
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Elijah Gates (1)
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