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[389] ready to take advantage of any opportunity that offered to assist him. I soon discovered a large number of rebels fleeing before the left flank of Grover's brigade. They passed across an open space some three hundred yards in front of my reserve regiment, which I ordered to fire on them, which they did, accelerating the speed and discomfiture of the rebels so much that I ordered them to charge; they immediately dashed out of the woods we were in, down across the meadow in our front, after the retreating foe, but, before arriving at the other side of the meadow, the retreating column received a heavy support from the railroad below us, and, soon rallying, came surging back, driving before their immense columns Grover's brigade and my handful of men.

An hour before the charge I had sent one of my aids back after a fresh battery, the ammunition of both of my batteries having given out, the battery arriving as our boys were being driven back. I immediately got them in position and poured a steady fire of grape and canister into the advancing columns of the enemy. The first discharge discomposed them a little, but the immense surging mass behind pressed them on us. I held on until they were within a hundred yards of us, and, having but a handful of men to support the battery, ordered it to retire, which was executed with the loss of one gun. I then joined the shattered remnants of my brigade, which had been rallied by my aids and its officers, and encamped about three quarters of a mile to the rear.

The next morning I brought my brigade forward to the position assigned me, and remained in reserve until about four in the afternoon, when I threw it across the road to stop the retreating masses which had been driven back from the front. I soon received an order to move my brigade off to the left on the double-quick, the enemy having massed their troops there during the day, in order to turn our left flank. I formed line of battle along the road, my left resting near the edge of the woods in which the battle was raging.

The road in which my brigade was formed was worn and washed from three to five feet deep, and afforded a splendid cover for my men. Soon our troops came rushing out of the woods, panic-stricken, leaving my brigade to face the enemy, who followed the retreating masses to the edge of the woods, when my boys opened fire on them at short-range with tremendous effect, driving the rebels back to a respectful distance.

But the enemy being constantly reenforced from the masses in their rear, came on again and again, pouring in advance a hurricane of balls, which had but little effect upon my men, who were so well protected in their road intrenchment. The steady and deadly fire of my brigade, together with that of a fine brass battery on higher ground, a short distance to our rear, which I ordered to fire rapidly with canister over the heads of our men, had a withering effect upon the rebels, whose columns melted away and recoiled back from repeated efforts to advance upon my road breastwork from the woods. But the fire of the rebels, which affected my men so little, told with destructive results in the exposed battery in their rear, and it required a watchful effort on my part to hold them to their effective work.

My horse was shot in the head by a musketball while I was in the midst of the battery cheering on the men. I got another, and soon after, observing the troops on my left breaking away in confusion before the storm of rebel fire, I hastened to assist in rallying them, and while engaged in this the battery took advantage of my absence and withdrew. I had sent one of my aids shortly before to the rear for fresh troops to support this part of our line, where the persistent effort of the rebels showed they had determined to break through. A fine regiment of regulars was sent, which was formed in rear of my brigade, near where the battery had occupied.

The rebels came round the forest in columns to our right and front, but the splendid firing of the regulars, with that of my brigade, thinned their ranks so rapidly that they were thrown back in confusion upon every attempt made.

About this time, when the battle raged thickest, Lieutenants Este and Niles of Gen. Schenck's staff, reported to me for duty, informing me that Gen. Schenck had been seriously wounded and his command thrown back from the field.

Most thankfully was their valuable assistance accepted, and most efficiently and gallantly did they assist me on that ensanguined field till eight o'clock at night, in bringing up regiments, brigades and batteries, cheering them on to action and in rallying them when driven back before the furious fire of the enemy.

Shortly after sunset my own brigade had entirely exhausted their ammunition, and it being considered unsafe to bring forward the ammunition-wagons, where the enemy's shell were constantly flying and exploding; and the enemy having entirely ceased their efforts to break through that part of our lines, and thrown the weight of his attack further to the left, I ordered my brigade back about half a mile to the rear to replenish their ammunition-boxes, and there await further orders. I remained on the field with Lieutenants Este and Niles, my own aids having been sent to see my regiments. The enemy continued their attacks upon our left till long after dark, which it required the most determined and energetic efforts to repel.

At one time, not receiving assistance from the rear, as I had a right to expect after having sent for it, and our struggling battalions being nearly overcome by the weight and persistence of the enemy's attack, I flew back about half a mile to where I understood General McDowell was with a large part of his corps. I found him, and appealed to him in the most earnest manner to send a brigade forward at once to save the day, or all would be lost. He answered coldly, in

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Robert C. Schenck (4)
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J. A. Grover (4)
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