as he was relieved by Hays
As soon as the troops were in readiness the three brigades of my division moved along the Ridge
road from Hamilton's Crossing
to the Telegraph
road, and then along a cross-road leading into the Plank
going out on the Telegraph
road to join the column.
Upon getting near the Plank
road, a little before dark, I received a note from General Lee
which informed me that he did not expect me to join him unless, in my judgment, the withdrawal of my troops could be made with safety, and I think he used the expression that if by remaining I could neutralize and hold in check a large force of the enemy, I could do as much or perhaps more service than by joining him.
I had proceeded so far that I determined to go on, as the probability was that if the enemy had discovered my movement, the mischief would be done before I could get back, and that I would not be able to recover the lost ground, but might deprive General Lee
entirely of the use of my troops.
When the head of my column had reached the Plank
road and moved up it about a mile, a courier came to me from General Barksdale
, stating that the enemy had advanced against Hays
with a very large force, and that the latter and General Pendleton
had sent word that all of the artillery would be captured unless they had immediate relief.
The courier also stated that General Barksdale
had started back with his own regiments.
I determined to return at once to my former position, and accordingly halted the column, faced it about and moved back, sending my Adjutant General
, Major Hale
, to inform General Lee
of the fact.
The fact turned out to be that just before dark Sedgwick
had crossed the remainder of his corps and moved towards the River
road below, called also the Bowling Green
road, forcing from it the 7th Louisiana Regiment, under Colonel Penn
, which occupied that road and fell back to the line on the railroad after skirmishing sharply with the enemy.
There had been no advance against Hays