previous next

[85] The greater part of the day was occupied in making extensive reconnoissances in the direction of “White Oak swamp” and the Charles City road. A strong picket line was established, from a mile to a mile and a half in advance. Enemy's pickets were found at many points.

On the thirtieth, in consequence of an attack upon Gen. Casey's pickets, my brigade and two batteries were thrown out by direction of Gen. Couch upon the left of Gen. Casey's division, where they remained several hours awaiting the enemy's movement.

On the thirty-first, a little after eleven A. M., heavy picket-firing was heard in front. The falling of several shells into the vicinity of my headquarters satisfied me that the enemy was advancing upon Casey's division.

In accordance with directions from Gen. Couch, my brigade was at once placed on the principal road connecting the Richmond stage-road with the Charles City road, for the purpose of holding the left flank. A portion of Major West's artillery was placed at my disposal, and held in reserve. Being in position, with my right resting near the artillery of the division, I sent out numerous parties in every direction to gain information. At the opening of the engagement, I was instructed by Gen. Couch to send the Ninety-third Pennsylvania volunteers, Col. McCarter, to take position on the left of Casey's division. The regiment moved into line quickly, and held its ground as long as possible, falling back with the general line on its right, but in excellent order.

About one P. M., General Keyes, commanding Fourth corps, detached the Fifty-fifth New-York volunteers, under Lieut.-Colonel Thomas, from my command, and led them into position himself. This regiment was placed in support of one of the advanced batteries, and acquitted itself in a creditable manner. It will be a matter of deep regret to Col. de Trobriand that he was prevented by illness from participating in this engagement.

Later in the day, Gen. Keyes despatched the Sixty-second New-York volunteers, Col. Riker, to the support of Gen. Couch on the extreme right.

About three P. M. the Ninety-third Pennsylvania volunteers rejoined me with colors flying, and was placed on the left of my line.

At this critical juncture, Gen. Keyes sent an order for my two remaining regiments to move on the main road in support of the front, which he countermanded immediately on learning the advance of the enemy on the left, and the importance of the position held by me with so small a force, unsupported by artillery.

About half-past 3 P. M., Captain Morris, Assistant Adjutant-General, had an interview with Gen. Heintzelman, who enquired if I could press forward on the extreme left of the line. On being informed that several roads connecting the Charles City road and the main road to Richmond led into the road held by me, he appreciated the importance of the position, and directed me to hold it at all hazards.

About half-past 4 P. M., Generals Heintzelman and Keyes informed me that the enemy was assailing our right flank in great force, and urged me to push forward the regiment at a double-quick for its support. I moved off at the head of the One Hundred and Second Pennsylvania volunteers, Col. Rowley, followed by the Ninety-third Pennsylvania volunteers, Col. McCarter, across the open fields, under the concentrated fire of numerous batteries and of heavy musketry from the right. These regiments came into line handsomely, pressed forward on the enemy, and contributed their best energies to sustain their comrades so gallantly contesting inch by inch the advancing foe. For about the space of half an hour our lines swayed forward and back repeatedly, and at last, unable to withstand the pressure from successive reenforcements of the enemy, were compelled to fall back to the woods across the main road. Having remained near the main road with my Aid-de-Camp, Lieutenant Stirling, until the troops had passed out of view, I pushed on in the direction of the road leading to the saw-mill. Coming up with numerous detachments of various regiments and a portion of the One Hundred and Second Pennsylvania volunteers, with the assistance of Lieutenants Titus and Stirling of my staff, I rallied these men, and was conducting them back toward the Richmond road, when I met Gen. Kearney, who advised me to withdraw these troops by way of the saw-mill to the intrenched camp at this place. I stated I did not feel at liberty to do so unless by his order, which he gave. I arrived at this camp about half-past 6 P. M., in company with Gen. Kearney. Finding nearly all the forces here, I took position in the rifle-pit with General Berry's brigade. During the night my troops were supplied with a proper allowance of ammunition, provisions were brought in from the Chickahominy, the lines were strongly picketed, and every preparation made to meet the enemy.

At daylight, on the first of June, I was placed in command of the intrenchments. The force at hand was not far from ten thousand men, with a large supply of artillery. Small detachments and stragglers were collected, and sent to their respective regiments. All available means were employed to promote the comfort and efficiency of the troops. Heavy working parties, relieved at intervals of two hours, were employed until the morning of the second, extending and strengthening the whole line of works. A six-gun battery was thrown up on the left of the line, covering the approaches from the Charles City road. Before morning, the guns were in position. Another important work was constructed on the front, sweeping the depression running obliquely toward the timber nearest the system of works. A large force was busily engaged in slashing the timber in front, and on the extreme left. Lieutenant Titus was sent with a party to obstruct all roads and fords across the White Oak Swamp. I directed two squadrons of cavalry to reconnoitre carefully, at intervals of two hours. Several regiments took part in a thorough reconnoissance made by General Palmer. For these results I was mainly indebted to the cordial cooperation

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Charles City (Virginia, United States) (4)
White Oak Swamp (Virginia, United States) (1)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
June 1st (1)
31st (1)
30th (1)
2nd (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: