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[516] to the effect that a heavy body from that direction was threatening my line of retreat. I had already learned that my brigade was engaged with an entire division in its front, but continued the contest in the hope that the cannonade would attract to me some reinforcements — taking the precaution, however, to keep Campbell's Seventh North Carolina and Hardeman's Forty-fifth Georgia in order to cover the retreat in case my expectation should not be realized. Finding I could remain no longer without being surrounded, and hearing of no reinforcements, and feeling assured from the firing that Lane had made good his retreat to Hanover Courthouse, I determined to draw off. This, always difficult in the presence of a superior enemy, was rendered comparatively easy by the precaution I had taken not to engage my whole force. Campbell was ordered to place the Seventh across the road so as to receive the enemy if they should attempt to follow.

Orders were then sent to Lee and Cowan to withdraw in order. They were hotly engaged when the order was received, but promptly withdrew. Colonel Cowan, in an especial manner, attracted my tention by the perfect order in which he brought out his regiment, notwithstanding the severe and long continued fire he had received from both infantry and artillery. The regiments marched to the rear without haste or confusion and went up the Ashland road. A cautious attempt was made by the enemy to follow, but a single volley from the rear-guard of the Seventh arrested it. The march was continued without interruption to Ashland, where I was ordered by General Johnston to report to Major-General Hill. All my subsequent movements having been under orders received from him in person, they need not be detailed.

Having but one wagon and one ambulance, I was under the necessity of leaving a portion of my wounded. The enemy left a portion of their killed on the ground which we subsequently occupied.

My senior Surgeon established his hospital in a house on which the hospital flag was conspicuously displayed. It was not in or near the line of fire. I saw many shells thrown by the enemy explode immediately over and around this house. It could not have been undesigned.

Colonel Lane, with the Twenty-eighth regiment, has rejoined the brigade, but I have not received his report of the engagement he had with the enemy. As soon as received, it will be forwarded to you.

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James H. Lane (2)
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