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[78] the field wounded; there was then no general officer left in sight belonging to Couch's division.

Seeing the torrent of enemies continually advancing, I hastened across to the left, beyond the fork, to bring forward reenforcements. Brig.-Gen. Peck, at the head of the One Hundred and Second and Eighty-third Pennsylvania regiments, Cols. Rowley and McCarter, was ordered, with the concurrence of Gen. Heintzelman, to advance across the open space and attack the enemy, now coming forward in great numbers. These regiments passed through a shower of balls, and formed in a line having an oblique direction to theNine-mile road. They held their ground for more than half an hour, doing great execution. Peck's and McCarter's horses were shot under then. After contending against enormous odds, those two regiments were forced to give way; Peck and the One Hundred and Second crossing the Williamsburgh road to the wood, and McCarter and the bulk of the Ninety-third passing to the right, where they took post in the last line of battle, formed mostly after six o'clock P. M. During the time last noticed, Miller's battery having taken up a new position, did first-rate service.

As soon as Peck had moved forward I hastened to the Tenth Massachusetts, Col. Briggs, (which regiment I had myself once before moved,) now in the rifle-pits on the left of the Williamsburgh road, and ordered them to follow me across the field. Col. Briggs led them on in gallant style, moving quickly over an open space of seven or eight hundred yards, under a scorching fire, and forming his men with perfect regularity toward the last of the line last above referred to. The position thus occupied was a most favorable one, being a wood, without much undergrowth, where the ground sloped somewhat abruptly to the rear. Had the Tenth Massachusetts been two minutes later, they would have been too late to occupy that fine position, and it would have been impossible to have formed the next and last line of battle of the thirty-first, which stemmed the tide of defeat, and turned it toward victory; a victory which was then begun by the Fourth corps and two brigades from Kearney's division from the Third corps, and consummated the next day by Sumner and others.

After seeing the Tenth Massachusetts and the adjoining line well at work, under a murderous fire, I observed that that portion of the line a hundred and fifty yards to my left was crumbling away — some falling and others retiring. I perceived, also, that the artillery had withdrawn, and that large bodies of broken troops were leaving the centre and moving down the Williamsburgh road to the rear. Assisted by Capt. Suydam, my Assistant Adjutant-General, Capt. Villarceau, and Lieuts. Jackson and Smith of my staff, I tried in vain to check the retreating current. Passing through to an opening of our intrenched camp of the twenty-eighth ult., I found Gen. Heintzelman and other officers engaged in rallying the men, and in a very short time a large number were induced to face about. These were pushed forward, and joined to others better organized, in the woods, and a line was formed, stretching across the road in a perpendicular direction.

Gen. Heintzelman requested me to advance the line on the left of the road, which I did until it came within sixty or seventy yards of the opening in which the battle had been confined for more than two hours against a vastly superior force. Some of the Tenth Massachusetts, now under the command of Capt. Miller, the Ninety-third Pennsylvania, Col. McCarter, of Peck's brigade, the Twenty-third Pennsylvania, Col. Neill, of Abercrombie's brigade, a portion of the Thirty-sixth New-York, Col. Innes, a portion of the Fifty-fifth New-York and the First Long Island, Col. Adams, together with fragments of other regiments of Couch's division, still contended on the right of this line, while a number of troops that I did not recognise occupied the space between me and them.

As the ground was miry and encumbered with fallen trees, I dismounted and mingled with the troops. The first I questioned belonged to Kearney's division, Berry's brigade, Heintzelman's corps; the next to the Fifty-sixth New-York, now under command of its Lieutenant-Colonel; and the third belonged to the One Hundred and Fourth Pennsylvania, of Casey's division. I took out my glass to examine a steady compact line of troops, about sixty-five yards in advance, the extent of which toward our right I could not discover. The line in front was so quiet I thought they might possibly be our own troops. The vapors from the swamp, the leaves, and the fading light, (for it was then after six o'clock,) rendered it uncertain who they were. So I directed the men to get their aim, but to reserve their fire until I could go up to the left, and examine; at the same time, that they must hold that line, or the battle would be lost. They replied with a firm determination to stand their ground.

I had just time to put up my glass and move ten paces towards the left of the line, where my horse stood; but while I was in the act of mounting, as fierce a fire of musketry was opened as any I had heard during the day. The fire from our side was so deadly that the heavy masses of the enemy coming in on the right, which had before been held back for nearly two hours, that being about the time consumed in passing over less than a thousand yards, by about a third part of Couch's division, were now arrested. The last line, formed of portions of Couch's and Casey's divisions, and a portion of Kearney's division, checked the advance of the enemy, and finally repulsed him. And this was the beginning of the victory which, on the following day, was so gloriously completed. During the action, and particularly during the two hours immediately preceding the final and successful stand made by the infantry, the three Pennsylvania batteries, under Major Robert M. West, (Flood's, McCarthy's and Miller's,) in Couch's division, performed most efficient service. The conduct of Miller's battery was admirable. Having a central position in the fore part of the action, it threw shells over the heads of our own troops.

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