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[77]

As the pressure on Casey's position became greater, he applied to me for reenforcements. I continued to send them as long as I had troops to spare. Col. McCarter, with the Ninety-third Pennsylvania, Peck's brigade, engaged the enemy on the left, and maintained his ground above two hours, until overwhelming numbers forced him to retire, which he did in good order.

At about two o'clock P. M., I ordered the Fifty-fifth New-York, (Col. De Trobriand, absent, sick,) now in command of Lieut.-Col. Thourot, to “save the guns,” meaning some of Casey's. The regiment moved up the Williamsburgh road at double-quick, conducted by Gen. Naglee, where it beat off the enemy on the point of seizing some guns, and held its position more than an hour. At the end of that time, its ammunition being exhausted, it fell back through the abattis, and after receiving more cartridges, the regiment again did good service. It lost in the battle nearly one fourth its numbers, killed and wounded.

At a little past two o'clock I ordered Neill's Twenty-third and Rippey's Sixty-first Pennsylvania regiments to move to the support of Casey's right. Neill attacked the enemy twice with great gallantry. In the first attack the enemy were driven back. In the second attack, and under the immediate command of Gen. Couch, these two regiments assailed a vastly superior force of the enemy and fought with extraordinary bravery; though compelled at last to retire, they brought in thirty-five prisoners. Both regiments were badly cut up. Col. Rippey, of the Sixty-first, and his Adjutant, were killed; the Lieutenant-Colonel and Major were wounded and are missing. The casualties in the Sixty-first amount to two hundred and sixty-three, and are heavier than in any other regiment in Couch's division. After this attack, the Twenty-third took part in the hard fighting which closed the day near the Seven Pines. The Sixty-first withdrew in detachments, some of which came again into action near my headquarters.

Almost immediately after ordering the Twenty-third and Sixty-first to support the right, and as soon as they could be reached, I sent the Seventh Massachusetts, Col. Russell, and the Sixty-second New-York, Col. Riker, to reenforce them. The overpowering advance of the enemy obliged these regiments to preceed to Fair Oaks, where they fought under the immediate orders of Generals Couch and Abercrombie. There they joined the First United States Chasseurs, Col. Cochrane, previously ordered to that point, and the Thirty-first Pennsylvania, Col. Williams, on duty there when the action commenced.

The losses in the Fifty-Second were not so great as in some of the other regiments. Its conduct was good, and its Colonel, Lafayette Riker, whose signal bravery was remarked, met a glorious death while attacking the enemy at the head of his regiment.

The First United States Chasseurs, Col. Cochrane, fought bravely. By that regiment, an enemy's standard-bearer was shot down, and the battle-flags of the Twenty-third North-Carolina regiment captured.

For further particulars of the conduct of the Sixty-second New-York and the First United States Chasseurs, as well as for the account of those two excellent regiments, the Seventh Massachusetts and Thirty-first Pennsylvania, Cols. Russell and Williams, I refer to the reports of Gens. Couch and Abercrombie. Those regiments, as well as Brady's battery, First Pennsylvania artillery, (which is highly praised,) were hid from my personal observation during most of the action. They acted in concert with the Second corps, by the opportune arrival of which, at Fair Oaks, in the afternoon, under the brave Gen. E. V. Sumner, the confederates were brought to a sudden stand in that quarter, They were also present in the action of the following day, near Fair Oaks, where, under the same commander, the victory which had been hardly contested the day before was fully completed by our troops.

At the time when the enemy was concentrating troops from the right, left and front upon the redoubt and other works in front of Casey's headquarters, and near the Williamsburgh road, the danger became imminent that he would overcome the resistance there, and advance down the road and through the abattis. In anticipation of such an event, I called Flood's and McCarthy's batteries of Couch's division, to form in and on the right and left of the junction of the Williamsburgh and Nine-mile roads; placed infantry in all the rifle-pits on the right and left, pushing some up also to the abattis, and collecting a large number of stragglers, posted them in the woods on the left. Scarcely had these dispositions been completed, when the enemy, directly in front, driven by the attack of a portion of Kearney's division on their right, and by our fire upon their front, moved off to join the masses which were pressing upon my right.

To make head against the enemy approaching in that direction, it was found necessary to effect an almost perpendicular change of front of troops on the right of the Williamsburgh road. By the energetic assistance of Gens. Devens and Naglee, Col. Adams, First Long Island, and Capts. Walsh and Quackenbush, of the Thirty-sixth New-York, (whose efforts I particularly noticed,) I was enabled to form a line along the edge of the woods, which stretched nearly down to the swamp, about eight hundred yards from the fork, and along the rear to theNine-mile road. I threw back the right crochet-wise, and, on its left, Capt. Miller, First Pennsylvania artillery, Couch's division, trained his guns so as to contest the advance of the enemy. I directed Gen. Naglee to ride along the line to encourage the men and keep them at work. This line long resisted the further progress of the enemy with the greatest firmness and gallantry, but by pressing it very closely with overwhelmning numbers — probably ten to one--they were enabled, finally, to force it to fall back so far upon the left and centre as to form a new line in rear. Shortly after this attack, I saw Gen. Devens leave


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