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[72] they cried. Their piteous begging showed how fully their unprincipled leaders had deceived them with the idea that they were to be murdered at once. They, like the others, were sent to the rear. Here we found from the prisoners that two regiments of the enemy were just to the right of us, in line of battle at right angles to our own. Here we flung out our right skirmisher with his company — a burly captain, whose weight before the war was always a good three hundred, but now reduced by hard marching and harder eating to the size of common men — up the railroad-track, to feel the enemy there. He soon found them and received their introductory volley, returning the salutation. He turned to see where his supports were, and discovered Gen. Butterfield close behind him. “They are here in large force,” said he to the General. “Pitch into them all you know how,” was the prompt response. “Aye, Aye, sir,” and away went the captain at the double-quick. The boldness of the flank attack surprised the enemy and he fell back. Pressing through the woods, the Eighty-third Pennsylvania came out just in front of the enemy, as two sections of Griffin's battery were unlimbering. Here again Gen. Butterfield appeared, and calling for a horse, shouted, “Where is Stockton? Give me a horse and Stockton too, and the day is ours!” and at once ordered the Eighty-third Pennsylvania forward through the battery, to engage the enemy now in the open field. The enemy was wavering, but this demonstration decided him at once; his face was turned and we followed. Just as the Eighty-third was crossing the railroad, excavated some ten feet in the field here, and mounting the opposite bank, the enemy opened upon them a terrific fire. Nothing but the protection offered by the bank, and the position of the men as they lay and sat firing, saved them in this fifteen minutes from severe loss.

Here an incident occurred not to be soon forgotten. A sergeant, who had but just rejoined his regiment after a two months sickness, had managed after great exertion to keep in his place through the trying march, but now was almost exhausted. An officer stopped to encourage him. “A few minutes more, sergeant, and we shall be on them.” “Yes, I'll be with you,” said he, and pulling out a miniature of his wife and two children, “That is what I have to fight for.” The next instant a ball shattering his leg had borne him to the ground.

Advancing now in compact line, and firing as they went, the Eighty-third Pennsylvania and Ninth Massachusetts drove the enemy some five hundred yards through the open field. No retreat could have been more handsomely made than was this. He retreated a short distance, came to the right about, and with colors steady, delivered his volley and again retreated. His pursuers were gaining on him, however, and others following fast after their steps, when near the edge of the woods his line gave way, and he fled in confusion. The enemy began his retreat in the morning under the fire of this brigade, and our bullets in the evening closed the success of the day. Darkness had now come, and gathering up the honored dead and the sufferers who yet lived, we sent them to the hospital and returned to bivouac on the field.

The next morning Butterfield's brigade turned into the guard over two hundred and fifty prisoners, two hundred stand of small arms, wagons, tents, cannon, etc., etc.--among the prisoners a major, six or eight captains, a batch of lieutenants — and were ready for another fight, with one regiment on the march toward the South Anna, to accomplish, what I had forgotten to state was the object of our expedition, namely, the cutting the enemy's lines of communication with the forces in front of Banks and McDowell.

There were many noteworthy incidents of the day that have not made part of my description. A ball struck at the foot of Gen. Porter's horse. “Did you see that?” asked an aid. “I see that Butterfield is driving them handsomely,” was the quiet reply. An Irishman of the Seventeenth New-York came up to the General, tugging under a load of three guns on one shoulder, his own at a trail in the other hand, driving three prisoners in gray before him--“Sure Gineral, and I have three of them; what'll I do wid em?”

The kindness shown the wounded and captured was an evident surprise to them, and affected them much. They had no desire to be exchanged. The battle-field brings out man's nature in its strongest and truest light.

One of our colonels is said to have been absent from his command at a most critical moment, improperly, and it is reported that he will be cashiered. Time must prove this. One of our generals is said to have cried and lost his mental balance completely for a time during the fight, but the instant the fight was over, was laying down to the newspaper reporters, his deeds of valor, over the table where the surgeons were amputating the wounded. I might add a hundred incidents, but what I have told you is enough to give you an idea of the affair.

Gen. McClellan came up the next morning and was most enthusiastically received by the men. He grasped Gen. Porter by the hand most cordially and congratulated him. Turning to Gen. Butterfield, who was near, he put one hand on his shoulder and said some words that we on the outside could not hear. That they were well merited compliments for brave and gallant deeds, the faces of both showed most plainly. Our brigade was satisfied and confident that under fire, as well as elsewhere, we have the right man in the right place.

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