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[240] which was the point to be reached. It was expected that the Third corps, General French, would join the Second at Robertson's Tavern, but owing to General French having lost the road, this part of the programme was not carried out. General Hayes led the advance with his division, followed by General Webb's, then General Caldwell's division. At Robertson's Tavern, General Hayes met a large body of rebels and drove them back. General Webb happened to be near at hand, and at once deploying his forces to the right of the road, drove them back in confusion toward Raccoon Ford. It was in this spirited encounter that Lieutenant-Colonel Hesser, a gallant officer, fell mortally wounded. About this time, half-past 11 A. M., our skirmishers ascertained that the rebels were concealed in the thick woods, and were shrewdly extending their skirmishers to such an extent, that nearly all of the Second corps was required to check them.

At this time, rebel deserters and prisoners informed General Warren, that Johnston's rebel division was between him and Raccoon Ford, and that he was confronting Rhodes's rebel division.

General Meade was at once informed of this, and also that General Warren had received no tidings from General French on his right, and General Sykes on his left. General Warren notified General Meade that he was ready and willing to begin the attack, if he so desired, by advancing the centre, which was so weak as to be in a critical condition, and wholly unfit to cope with the superior forces of the enemy. It must be borne in mind that both wings of our army were then separated four or five miles from General Warren. General Meade instructed General Warren to wait until the right and left were heard from. Soon after, the roar of artillery was heard, and just then news came of the position of the left wing. The rapid cannonading came from General Gregg's cavalry division, who were engaging the enemy briskly on the plankroad. Heavy firing was heard shortly after at Morton's Ford, where General Custer's cavalry were skirmishing with Stuart's cavalry. During all this time, while General Warren was awaiting further orders and information, the enemy were artfully changing their lines, endeavoring to turn General Warren's right flank. While manaeuvring our forces, Lieutenant-Colonel Josselyn, commanding the Fifteenth Massachusetts volunteers, was seriously wounded, and fell into the hands of the enemy. This determination on the part of the rebels, induced General Warren to make a feint movement, as though about to offer battle for a general engagement. To do this, it was necessary to advance his line of skirmishers. He was entirely successful in deluding the wily foe, for, in the language of the F. F. V.'s, he fought “right smart” along the front of the Second corps. Colonel Carroll's brigade, composed of Western troops, conducted themselves in a manner that cannot be too highly praised. Colonel Carroll evinced considerable skill by drawing the enemy to his line of battle down she turnpike, where large numbers of Gordon's brigade, belonging to Early's division, were captured Colonel Carroll had a miraculous escape from instant death, his clothing having ten or twelve bullet-holes in it. Colonel Lockwood, of the same brigade, had his uniform pierced in several places by Minie balls.

In the afternoon, General Meade ascertained that General French had participated in an engagement, and the enemy had massed a force strong enough to successfully resist him. The exact position of the Third corps, at this time, still continued an uncertainty, although it was known to be four or five miles distant. At sundown General Warren ventured to advance his line of skirmishers, with a strong support. The enemy made a stubborn resistance, and retreated inch by inch, disputing his claim to the soil. Owing to the almost impenetrable woods, it was an impossibility to preserve a perfect line of battle, beside affording a subtle foe concealment, and an excellent opportunity to construct formidable earthworks in addition to those already there.

General Warren evinced his thorough military knowledge by using sufficient military caution in advancing so as to deceive the vigilant enemy, and thereby deter him from hurling his overwhelmingly strong numbers upon our lines. General Warren continued to maintain his position, although no other corps had formed a junction with him.

The First corps, General Newton, which had been ordered from the left in the afternoon, reached the rear of General Warren's command half an hour before dark, and, at daylight on the twenty-eighth, they were in line of battle on his left, a little south of the turnpike.

The Sixth corps, General Sedgwick, moved up and took position to the right of the Second corps, at daylight. At sunrise, the First, Second, and Sixth corps proceeded in line of battle simultaneously, but, to their great chagrin, they found the fleet-footed enemy had decamped during the night. By constant and rapid marching, our advance overtook their retreating rear-guard, and shortly after discovered the main body of the rebel army in a strong position on the west bank of Mine Run, which. is about one and three quarter miles from Robertson's Tavern.

Quite a number of deserters were picked up by our advance, and from them we learned that Hill's corps (rebel) had advanced from Orange Court-House down the plank-road, and there united with Ewell's corps, thereby concentrating the whole of Lee's army in a position naturally strong, and with formidable intrenchments to protect him.

To add to our numerous disadvantages, a heavy rain-storm set in early in the forenoon, accompanied with a thick fog, that foiled all our attempts, for a time, to continue a close inspection of the enemy's works and movements. Determined not to be balked by unpropitious weather, General Warren made a minute and personal reconnoissance


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