Report of Brigadier-General Hays.
Major: In pursuance of orders from division headquarters, my brigade, under command of Colonel D. P. Penn, Seventh Louisiana regiment, I myself being engaged in conducting a court of inquiry in the case of Colonel Skinner, Fifty-second Virginia regiment, left camp at sunrise, the sixth instant, and proceeded to the Rappahannock River, near the point where the Orange and Alexandria Railroad bridge formerly spanned that stream. Arrived there, Colonel Penn relieved Walker's brigade, Johnston's division, then on picket duty. The regiments of the command were placed in position in the following order: the Sixth Louisiana regiment, Colonel William Monaghan commanding, was stationed on the right of the works, on the northern side of the river, about a quarter of a mile in advance. The Ninth Louisiana regiment, Lieutenant-Colonel William R. Peck commanding, was retained in the works in reserve. To the left of the Ninth regiment, about a quarter of a mile in advance, was placed the Eighth Louisiana regiment, Captain Gusman commanding; the Seventh Louisiana regiment, Colonel F. M. Terry, being on the extreme left. The Fifth Louisiana regiment, Captain J. G. Angell commanding, was placed on picket, at a point on the southern side of the river, about half way between Norman's Ford and Rappahannock Bridge, at a distance of half a mile from the latter. Between the Sixth regiment and the Ninth regiment were two pieces of artillery, of Green's battery, and between the right and left wings of the Ninth regiment were two other pieces of the same command, these last two guns being somewhat to the right of a point in the works opposite the pontoon bridge. During the sixth instant, the enemy's vedettes were observed just in advance of the woods bordering the open field, in front of the work, about a mile's distance. There was no firing that day between the pickets. About eleven o'clock on the morning of the seventh instant, our vedettes reported a regiment of the enemy's infantry passing down the Warrenton and Fredericksburg road, in the direction of the right of our line, followed shortly afterwards by another body of infantry, proceeding towards the same point. Colonel Penn immediately went to the vedettes' posts to observe the movements of the enemy; and, at a quarter of twelve o'clock, a despatch was sent to Major-General Early, informing him that the enemy in force, both infantry and cavalry, was advancing and forming lines of battle. At a quarter-past one o'clock another despatch was sent to General Early, that the enemy were still in line of battle in front, and that his skirmishers had advanced a short distance from the woods; and that a large force had moved down the river, towards our right, accompanied by wagons and ambulances. At two o'clock the enemy formed another line of battle, about two hundred yards in advance of the wood above mentioned. At this time the Fifth Louisiana regiment, with the exception of one company and sixteen men, left on picket on this side of the river, at the point already indicated, rejoined the brigade, and was placed in position on the right of the Seventh Louisiana regiment. At half-past 2 o'clock the enemy's whole line advanced, supported, as they appeared, by two lines. The Sixth, Eighth, Fifth, and Ninth regiments were then gradually drawn in, and at three o'clock our skirmishers fell back to the road, distant about a hundred yards from our works, where they remained for half an hour, when they were compelled to retire by a movement of the enemy to flank them. The brigade was then disposed in the rifle-pits. A few moments from this, the enemy opened fire from a four-gun battery on our left, from a high hill which we had been forced to abandon by the approach of a heavy force. Colonel Penn immediately sent an order to a battery on this, the southern side of the river, to reply, which was done slowly, and with but little effect. At four o'clock I arrived upon the field, and took command of the brigade. I found heavy firing progressing between the enemy's skirmishers and our line. This continued for an hour, without any marked result. About half-past 4 o'clock, Hoke's brigade, under the command of Colonel Godwin, crossed the river, and was placed between the left wing of the Eighth regiment and the right wing of the Fifth regiment, to fill up a gap in our lines, created by a change in the position of these two regiments, rendered necessary by a movement of the enemy on the left. About five o'clock a battery was opened on our right, and another opposite our centre. The firing from the enemy's guns on the right, left, and centre, converging on the point occupied by us, was rapid and vigorous, until some time after dark. It was then under cover of the darkness that a simultaneous advance was made of the entire force of the enemy. In the centre, the skirmishers were driven back, and his first line was so broken and shattered by our fire, that the few who arrived at the works surrendered themselves prisoners. But the second and third lines continued to advance at a double-quick, arms at a trail, and a column formed, as well as the obscurity of the evening permitted me to descry, by companies, moving down the railroad, was hurled upon our right, which, after a severe struggle, was forced back, leaving the battery in the hands of the enemy. I immediately ordered a charge of the Ninth Louisiana regiment, for the purpose of retaking our guns, but our centre having been broken, and the two forces opposed to our right and centre having joined, rendered the execution of my purpose impracticable. Forming a new line after this juncture, facing up the river, the enemy advanced, moving behind our works towards our left, while a line which he had formed in a ravine above our