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[266] enemy, in conjunction with two regiments of Semmes's brigade, led by General Semmes, and drove them back for a considerable distance. I now strengthened the left of Mahone's, which was strongly threatened, with two regiments from Wofford's brigade, (on the right,) and closed General Kershaw to the left, strengthening the centre, supposing that the attack would be renewed; but no other assault was attempted; and as night drew on the firing ceased on both sides, and my command bivouacked in line of battle.

In this engagement, three or four hundred were taken and about the same number of the enemy were killed and buried. Just previous to the assault I sent my inspecting officer, Major Costin, to try and communicate with General Early, and to bring back information as to his position and designs, and the whereabouts of the enemy in that direction. A courier late in the night brought me a note from General Early, informing me that he would concentrate his forces in the morning and drive the enemy from the heights, Marye's hill included. I sent his note to General Lee, who, approving it, I forwarded it to General Early, who, on the next morning carried the heights, with but little opposition. After this, General Early sent me word by his staff again, that if I would attack in front, he would advance two brigades and strike at the flank and rear of the enemy. I agreed to advance, provided he would first attack, and did advance my right,--Kershaw and Wofford — to operate with him,--but finding my force was insufficient for a front attack I withdrew to my line of the evening previous, General Early not attacking as I could hear. In the mean while I had informed General Lee of the plan proposed, and asking for an additional force. I was informed, in reply, that the remainder of General Anderson's division had been ordered forward. I then directed that no attack should be made until General Anderson arrived. General Lee came in person to superintend the movement, arriving about the same time with General Anderson's head of column. General Anderson was ordered to the right with his three brigades. My understanding was that the troops of my own division and the brigades of Wilcox and Mahone were to continue in line, facing the enemy, and those of General Early and three brigades of General Anderson were to attack their right and rear. Orders were given that my troops on the right — Kershaw and Wofford — should advance after it was known that the attack on the right had commenced, which would be indicated by the firing in that direction. I was on the right of my line, straightening it, and extending to the right, when notice was given that the attack would shortly be made by Generals Early and Anderson, and that Colonel Alexander, who had established a strong battery, on a prominent hill, which commanded one of nearly equal force on the other side, which would take my line in reverse, and, in a measure, enfilade it, should open fire. The orders were given at once. Alexander opened his batteries, and Generals Kershaw and Wofford advanced to the front through a dense woods. Distant firing in tile direction of Fredericksburg was heard, indicating that the attack had commenced on the extreme right. Night now came rapidly on, and nothing could be observed of our operations. It being reported to me, from Mahone's position, that the noise of crossing on the pontoon bridge at Banks's Ford could be heard, I sent to Colonel Alexander, requesting him to throw snells so as to drop them as near as possible about the crossing, which was promptly done. Shortly afterwards, General Kershaw's arrival on the plank road was reported to me, and I requested General Wilcox to assume the direction of it, and with such a portion of his own brigade as he thought necessary, proceed down the Banks's Ford road, taking a battery with him, to press the enemy, seize the redoubts suitable for shelling the crossing, and open fire with the batteries, all of which was done in a most prompt manner, General Wilcox being acquainted with the localities, of which I knew nothing except by report.

I was as yet ignorant whether or not the attack upon the right had been a success, but the noise of their passage over the pontoon bridges convincing me that the enemy were in full retreat, I thought it best to press on in pursuit. After these orders had been given, and were in execution, I received a communication from General Lee, dated ten P. M., from Downman's house, informing me of the success of the attack on the right, and his desire that the enemy should be pushed over the river that night. Wofford's brigade advanced as far as the river road, engaging the enemy as he went, and driving them before him, and halted for the night beyond the river road, extending his pickets. Wilcox and Kershaw pushed on, driving the enemy before them, and occupied the redoubts commanding the ford and its approaches, and opened fire with artillery in that direction. As my troops advanced, I sent to Colonel Alexander, requesting him to fire on the approaches from the other side only, as I did not wish to risk his shells dropping among our troops; he did as requested, and the fire from all the batteries is reported by citizens about the ford as producing great confusion, and as being very destructive. The enemy throwing away their arms and breaking ranks, fled across the river in the greatest disorder. As evidence of which, the accompanying report of ordnance and ordnance stores picked up by my own division, on this side of Salem Church, shows how complete must have been the demoralization. The darkness of the night, ignorance of the country, and of the events transpiring on the other end of the line, prevented that cooperation which would have led to a more complete success, but I believe that all was gained that could have been expected under the circumstances. The enemy had several batteries--sixteen guns — in front of the left of my line, sweeping every approach from my left. I am not informed when they were withdrawn, but I suppose they were immediately after dark. By the next morning the enemy had retired from this side of the river, and my command was employed in burying the dead, attending to the wounded,

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J. A. Early (7)
J. B. Kershaw (6)
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Cadmus M. Wilcox (4)
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Raphael Semmes (2)
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