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[356] but I felt it to be my duty, notwithstanding the desperate condition of my command, from great fatigue, from want of provisions and forage, and from the small hope that I had of any effective assistance from Alexandria, to hold my position at all hazards and under all privations, unless overwhelmed by the superior forces of the enemy. I had received no sort of information of any troops coming forward to my assistance since the twenty-fourth, and did not expect, on the morning of the thirtieth, that any assistance would reach me from the direction of Washington; but I determined again to give battle to the enemy on the thirtieth, and at least to lay on such blows as would cripple him as much as possible, and delay as long as practicable any further advance toward the capital. I accordingly prepared to renew the engagement. At that time my effective forces, greatly reduced by losses in killed, wounded, missing and broken-down men, during the severe operations of two or three days and nights previous; the sharp actions of Hooker, King, and Ricketts on the twenty-seventh and twenty-eighth, and the furious battle on the twenty-ninth, were estimated by me and others as follows: McDowell's corps, including Reynolds's division, twelve thousand men; Sigel's corps, seven thousand; Reno's corps, seven thousand; Heintzelman's corps, seven thousand; Porter's corps, which had been in no engagement, and was, or ought to have been, perfectly fresh, I estimated at about twelve thousand men, including the brigade of Piatt, which formed a part of Sturgis's division, and the only portion that ever joined me. But of this force the brigade of Piatt and of Griffin, numbering, as I understood, about five thousand men, had been suffered to march off at daylight on the thirtieth to Centreville, and were not available for operations on that day. This reduced Porter's effective force in the field to about seven thousand men, which gave me a total force of forty thousand men. Banks's corps, about five thousand strong, was at Bristow station, in charge of the railroad trains, and of a portion of the wagon trains of the army, still at that place. Between twelve and two o'clock in the day I advanced the corps of Porter, supported by King's division of McDowell's corps, to attack the enemy along the Warrenton turnpike; at the same time I directed Heintzelman and Reno, on our right, to push forward to the left and front toward Warrenton turnpike, and attack the enemy's left in flank if possible. For a short time Ricketts's division of McDowell's corps was placed in support of this movement on our right.

It was necessary for me to act thus promptly, and make the attack, as I had not the time, for want of provisions and forage, to await an attack from the enemy, nor did I think it good to do so under the circumstances. During the whole night of the twenty-ninth, and the morning of the thirtieth, the advance of the main army, under Lee, was arriving on the field to reenforce Jackson, so that by twelve or one o'clock in the day we were confronted by forces greatly superior to our own; and these forces were being every moment largely increased by fresh arrivals of the enemy from the direction of Thoroughfare Gap. Every moment of delay increased the odds against us, and I therefore advanced to the attack as rapidly as I was able to bring my forces into action. Shortly after Gen. Porter moved forward to the attack by the Warrenton turnpike, and the assault on the enemy was begun by Heintzelman and Reno on the right, it became apparent that the enemy was massing his troops, as fast as they arrived on the field, on his right, and was moving forward from that direction to turn our left; at which point it was plain he intended to make his main attack — I accordingly directed Gen. McDowell to recall Ricketts's division immediately from our right, and post it on the left of our line. The attack of Porter was neither vigorous nor persistent, and his troops soon retired in considerable confusion. As soon as they commenced to fall back the enemy advanced to the assault, and our whole line, from right to left, was soon furiously engaged. The main attack of the enemy was made upon our left, but was met with stubborn resistance by the divisions of Gen. Schenck, Gen. Milroy, and Gen. Reynolds, who, shortly after the action began, were reeenforced on their left and rear by the whole division of Ricketts's division. The action raged furiously for several hours, the enemy bringing up his heavy reserves, and pouring mass after mass of his troops upon our left. So greatly superior in number were his forces, that, while overpowering us on our left, he was able to assault us also with superior forces on our right. Porter's forces were rallied and brought to a halt as they were retiring to the rear. As soon as they could be used, I pushed them forward to support our left, and they there rendered distinguished service, especially the brigade of regulars under Colonel Buchanan.

Tower's brigade of Ricketts's division was pushed forward into action in support of Reynolds's division, and was led forward in person by Gen. Tower with conspicuous skill and gallantry. The conduct of that brigade, in plain view of all the forces on our left, was especially distinguished, and drew forth hearty and enthusiastic cheers. The example of this brigade was of great service, and infused new spirit into all troops who witnessed their intrepid conduct Reno's corps was also withdrawn from its position on our right centre late in the afternoon, and thrown into the action on our left, where it behaved with conspicuous gallantry.

Notwithstanding these great disadvantages, our troops held their ground with the utmost firmness and obstinacy. The losses on both sides were very heavy. By dark our left had been forced back about half or three quarters of a mile, but still remained firm and unbroken, and still covered the turnpike in our rear.

About six o'clock in the afternoon I heard accidentally that Franklin's corps had arrived at a point about four miles east of Centreville, and twelve miles in our rear, and that it was only about eight thousand strong. The result of the

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