orders from the Major-General commanding to march and attack the enemy at Cane River crossing, and for this purpose he placed at my disposal the following forces: My own division, General Cameron's command, General Birge's command, General Arnold's cavalry command, and his Chief of Artillery, Captain Closson. The head of the column, consisting of my own division, marched at half past 4 A. M., preceded by the cavalry under General Arnold, Colonel Gooding's brigade leading. In less than three miles from Clontierville the enemy's pickets were encountered. The cavalry was ordered to drive them in and press them until they ascertained the line of battle occupied by the enemy, which was very strong, and defended by two batteries of eight guns each, which crossed their fire on an open field through which it was necessary to pass before we could reach the enemy's position. The ground occupied by them, besides being covered with timber, was about some one hundred feet higher than that by which we were obliged to approach. This condition of things was partly foreseen before we started, and anticipated by the enclosed copy of an order given General Birge. (For a sketch of the ground and the position of the troops, I enclose a map of my Aid-de-camp, Lieutenant Loring.) Birge, reinforced by the Third brigade of my division, Colonel Fessenden commanding, supported by General Cameron, commanding a small portion of the Thirteenth army corps, was ordered to cross the Cane River out of sight of the enemy, and about three miles above the crossing, with instructions to turn the enemy's left flank and attack the heights in the reverse, cost what it might; for in that depended the success of the whole movement. Captain Closson, Chief of Artillery, was ordered to bring forward his artillery and batter the enemy's position, supported by General McMillan, commanding two brigades of the First division. General Arnold was directed to send a brigade of cavalry to our left, cross below, and threaten the enemy's left flank and rear, with orders, if Birge was successful, to pursue the enemy. The ground over which General Birge had to pass was exceedingly difficult,--traversed by muddy bayous, high and sharp ridges, covered by a dense growth of pine, and other topographical difficulties. His progress was necessarily very slow and tedious, and he did not get into position until late in the afternoon. While he was getting into position, the artillery was beautifully handled by Captain Closson, Chief of Artillery, and kept the enemy's attention fully occupied; and at the moment I heard the first rattle of General Birge's musketry, I directed a battery to take position directly in front of the crossing, and deployed lines of skirmishers as if preparing for an assault. The enemy made one attempt to cross the river and charge this battery, but was quickly repulsed by the One Hundred and Sixteenth New York, who were supporting it, and Colonel Chrisler, commanding Second New York cavalry, dismounted as skirmishers, with great gallantry led his skirmishers on foot immediately, and took possession of the crossing. The splendid firing of the battery placed in the last-named position, happening about the time that General Birge was carrying the enemy's flank by assault, caused the enemy to break and run. General Birge, after the circuitous and tedious march above described, at last fell upon the enemy's flank, and found him in very strong position, occupying the crest of a high hill, with an open field in front. This hill General Birge caused to be carried by assault by the Third brigade of my division, Colonel Fessenden commanding. It was done in the most gallant style, and reflects great credit upon General Birge, Colonel Fessenden, and the Third brigade. This, in fact, was the turning-point of the battle, and it was here our principal loss was encountered. Colonel Davis, commanding cavalry brigade, did not succeed in gaining the enemy's right flank and rear; but as soon as the enemy broke, I sent forward Colonel Chrisler, supported by Colonel Cribbs,--both cavalry commanders,--supported by General Cameron, to pursue the enemy and capture his artillery if possible. The main force of the enemy took the Fort Jessup road. One small regiment, either because it was hard pressed, or with the intention of misleading our troops, retreated on the Henderson Hill road. Colonel Chrisler, unfortunately deceived by this movement of the enemy's rear guard, the darkness of the night, and the ardor of the pursuit, led off on the wrong road. Our whole loss in killed, wounded, and missing, is only about two hundred (200) men, one hundred and fifty-three (153) of whom are from the Third brigade, First division. Enclosed are the reports of the several commanders, and the chiefs of cavalry and artillery, and I have to thank them, and also my staff, for the cordial and intelligent support they gave me during the day. I have also to thank the Major-General commanding the department, and the Major-General commanding the Nineteenth army corps, who came on the field early in the day, to aid by their advice, and give by the benefit of their presence, encouragement to the troops. I have no means of ascertaining with any degree of certainty the number of the forces of the enemy engaged, nor their loss. Prisoners that were captured report that there were four (4) general officers present--Generals Bee, Baly, Majors, and De Bret, and sixteen (16) pieces of artillery. I am, sir, very respectfully, Your obedient servant, (Signed)
W. H. Emory, Brigadier-General, commanding.
headquarters First division, Nineteenth army corps, Cedar Creek, Virginia, October 26, 1864.“Official copy.” (Signed)
J. G. Leafe, A. A. A. General.