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[125] McClellan with the direction of the pursuit, had this day been superseded by an order which placed Gen. Sumner in command at the front. To Sumner, accordingly, Hooker had sent, at different times throughout the afternoon, pressing applications for aid, but had received none; and Hooker says in his report:
History will not be believed when it is told that the noble officers and men of my division were permitted to carry on this unequal struggle from morning until night unaided, in the presence of more than 30,000 of their comrades with arms in their hands. Nevertheless, it is true.

Gen. Sumner explains that, before these applications reached him, he had dispatched Gen. Hancock, with his brigade, to the extreme right; so that lie had but about 3,000 infantry left, while cavalry was useless in that wooded and unknown region; hence, lie was unable to give the assistance required.

Gen. Hancock duly accomplished the flanking movement assigned him, and, by a brilliant bayonet charge, carried the Rebel works on our right, with a loss of less than 50 men.1 Soon, Gen. McClellan--after whom the Prince De Joinville and Gov. Sprague, of Rhode Island, had ridden post haste to Yorktown, where he was superintending the dispatching of Franklin's division to West Point — was induced, after some delay, to ride to the front, reaching Hancock's position about 5 P. M. Before dark, several other divisions had arrived on the ground; that of Gen. Couch, or a part of it, in season to claim the honor of having been engaged in the battle.

Gen. McClellan, at 10 P. M., dispatched to Washington the following account of this bloody affair, which proves that he was still quite in the dark respecting it:

After arranging for movement up Yorlriver, I was urgently sent for here. I find Joe Johnston in front of me in stron5 force, probably greater, a good deal, than my own, and very strongly intrenched.. Hancock has taken two redoubts, and repulsed Early's brigade by a real charge with the bayonet, taking one Colonel and 150 prisoners, killing at least two Colonels and as many Lt.-Colonels, and many privates. His conduct was brilliant in the extreme. I do not know our exact loss, but fear Hooker has lost considerably on our left. I learn from prisoners that they intend disputing every step to Richmond. I shall run the risk of at least holding them in check here, while I resume the original plan. My entire force is, undoubtedly, considerably inferior to that of the Rebels, who still fight well; but I will do all I can with the force at my disposal.

Had he supposed that the Rebels were at that moment evacuating Williamsburg in such haste as to leave all their severely wounded, 700 or 800 in number, to become prisoners,

1 Gen. McClellan, in his Report, says that he first heard, at 1 P. M., that every thing was not progressing favorably, when:

Completing the necessary arrangements, I returned to my camp without delay, rode rapidly to the front, a distance of some fourteen miles, through roads much obstructed by troops and wagons, and reached the field between 4 and 5 P. M., in time to take a rapid survey of the ground. I soon learned that there was no direct communication between our center and the left under Gen. Heintzelman. The center was chiefly in the nearer edge of the woods situated between us and the enemy. As heavy firing was heard in the direction of Gen. Hancock's command, I immediately ordered Gen. Smith to proceed with his two remaining brigades to support that part of the line. Gen. Naglee, with his brigade, received similar orders. I then directed our center to advance to the further edge of the woods mentioned above, which was done, and attempted to open communication with Gen. Heintzelman, but was prevented by the marshy state of the ground in tile direction in which the attempt was made. Before Gens. Smith and Naglee could reach the field of Gen. Hancock's operations, although they moved with great rapidity, he had been confronted by a superior force. Feigning to retreat slowly, he awaited their onset. and then turned upon them: after some terrific volleys of musketry, he charged them with the bayonet, routing and dispersing their whole force, killing, wounding, and capturing from 509 to 600 men; he himself losing only 31 men.

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Winfield S. Hancock (6)
G. B. McClellan (4)
Edwin V. Sumner (3)
Joseph Hooker (3)
W. F. Smith (2)
H. M. Naglee (2)
Heintzelman (2)
William Sprague (1)
Joinville (1)
Joe Johnston (1)
J. A. Early (1)
Couch (1)
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