battle began, I occupied the front near the turn-pike, General Palmer's division on the right, General Wood on the left, General Van Cleve in reserve to the rear and left. About eight o'clock, when my troops under Van Cleve were crossing the river, as ordered, and when all was ready for an advance movement, it became evident that our right was being driven back; orders were received and immediately issued recalling Van Cleve and stopping the advance; Van Cleve was ordered to leave a brigade to guard the ford — Matthews' brigade, Colonel Price commanding in Colonel Matthews' absence, was left — and to hurry with all possible dispatch to try and check the enemy to the right and rear. One brigade of his division, Colonel Fyffe's, had already been ordered to protect the train then threatened near the hospital, and General Van Cleve moved at once and quickly to the right with Beatty's brigade. He arrived most opportunely, as his own and Colonel Beatty's reports show, and checked the enemy. The confusion of our own troops, who were being driven from the woods at this point, hindered him, for some time, from forming his men in line of battle. This difficulty, however, was soon overcome, his line rapidly formed, and one small brigade, commanded by the gallant Colonel Beatty, of the Nineteenth Ohio, under the direction of General Van Cleve, boldly attacked vastly superior forces of the enemy then advancing in full career, checked their advance, and drove them back. Being soon reinforced by Fyffe's brigade and Harker's brigade, of Wood's division, the enemy were pressed vigorously, and too far. They came upon the enemy massed to receive them, who, outnumbering them and outflanking them, compelled them to fall back in turn. This they did in good order, and fighting with such effect that the enemy drew off and left them, and they were able to hold their position during the remainder of the day. From this time the great object of the enemy seemed to be to break our left and front, where, under great disadvantages, my two divisions, under Generals Wood and Palmer, maintained their ground. When the troops composing the centre and right wing of our army had been driven by the enemy from our original line of battle to a line almost perpendicular to it, the First and Second divisions of the left wing still nobly maintained their position. Though several times assaulted by the enemy in great force, it was evident that it was vital to us that this position should be held, at least until our troops, who had been driven back, could establish themselves on their new line. The country is deeply indebted to Generals Wood and Palmer for the sound judgment, skill, and courage with which they managed their commands at this important crisis in the battle. The reports of my division commanders show how nobly and how ably they were supported by their officers; and the most melancholy and convincing proof of the bravery of all who fought in this part of the field is their terrible list of killed and wounded, for with them was no rout, no confusion; the men who fell, fell fighting in the ranks. Generals Wood and Van Cleve being wounded on the thirty-first, their commands devolved, of course, on other officers--General Hascall taking command of Wood's division, and Colonel Beatty of Van Cleve's, on the first day of January. It was a fortunate thing that competent and gallant officers took command of these two noble divisions. On the night of the thirty-first, with the consent of the General commanding, I reunited my command, bringing them all together on the left of the turnpike, and before daylight, by orders from the General commanding, we took up a new line of battle, about five hundred yards to the rear of our former line; Hascall's division was ordered to rest their right on the position occupied by Stokes' battery, and his left on General Palmer's right; General Palmer was to rest his left on the ford, his right extending toward the railroad, and perpendicular to it, thus bringing the line at right angles to the railroad and turnpike, and extending from Stokes' battery to the ford. On the morning of the first of January, Van Cleve's division again crossed the river, and took position on ground the General considered it important we should hold, extending from the ford about half a mile from the river, the right resting on high ground near the river, and the left thrown forward, so that the direction of the line should be nearly perpendicular to it. These changes in position having been accomplished, the day passed quietly, except continued skirmishing and occasional artillery firing. The next day (January second) large forces of the enemy's infantry and artillery were seen to pass to the right apparently contemplating an attack. Lieutenant Livingston, with Drury's battery, was ordered over the river, and Colonel Grose's brigade, of Palmer's division, was also crossed over, taking post on the hill near the hospital, so as to protect the left and rear of Beatty's position. About four o'clock on the evening of the second, a sudden and concentrated attack was made on the Third division, now commanded by Colonel Beatty; several batteries opened at the same time on their division. The overwhelming numbers of the enemy directed upon two brigades, forced them, after a bloody but short conflict, back to the river. The object of the enemy (it is since ascertained) was to take the battery which we had on that side of the river. In this attempt it is most likely they would have succeeded, but for the sound judgment and wise precaution of Colonel Beatty, in changing the position of his battery. It was so late when the attack was made that the enemy, failing in their enterprise to capture our battery, were sure of not suffering any great disaster in case of a repulse, because night would protect them. They not only failed to capture our battery, but lost four of their guns in their repulse and flight. As soon as it became evident that the enemy were driving Colonel
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Doc . 62 .-Hoisting the Black flag — official correspondence and reports.
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