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[14] Where the forest had been standing nearer than this distance the trees had been felled, in order that the occupants of the redoubts might have timely notice of the approach of an enemy, and early strike him with artillery. The trees had been felled in this manner on both sides of the road on which we had advanced for a breadth of almost half a mile, and the same was the case on the Yorktown road. Between the edge of the felled timber and the fort was a belt of clear, arable land, six or seven hundred yards in width. This was dotted all over with rifle-pits.

In connection with the redoubts themselves, I may be permitted to state, that I found them standing near the eastern and southern verge of a slightly elevated plain, the slopes of which were furrowed with widening ravines, with an almost boundless, gently undulating plain, reaching across the peninsula, and extending to the north and west as far as the eye can reach. The land-scape is highly picturesque and not a little heightened by the large trees and venerable spires of Williamsburgh, two miles distant.

Fort Magruder appears to be the largest of the redoubts — its crest measuring nearly half a mile, with substantial parapets, ditches, magazines, etc. This was located to command the Yorktown and Hampton roads, and the redoubts in its vicinity to command the ravines, which the guns of Fort Magruder could not sweep.

Being in pursuit of a retreating army, I deemed it my duty to lose no time in making the disposition of my forces to attack, regardless of their number and position, except to accomplish the result with the least possible sacrifice of life. By so doing, my division, if it did not capture the army before me, would at least hold them in order that some others might.

Besides, I knew of the presence of more than thirty thousand troops not two miles distant from me, and that within twelve miles (four hours march) was the bulk of the army of the Potomac. My own position was tenable for double that length of time against three times my number.

At half-past 7 o'clock, Brig.-Gen. Grover was directed to commence the attack, by sending the First Massachusetts regiment as skirmishers into the felled timber on the left of the road on which they were standing — the Second New-Hampshire regiment to the right — both with directions to skirmish up to the edge of the felled timber, and there, under cover, to turn their attention to the occupants of the rifle-pits, and the enemy's sharp-shooters and gunners in Fort Magruder.

The Eleventh Massachusetts regiment, and the Twenty-sixth Pennsylvania, were then directed to form on the right of the Second New Hampshire, and to advance as skirmishers until they had reached the Yorktown road, and when that was gained to have word sent to me.

Under my Chief of Artillery. Webber's battery was thrown forward in advance of the fallen timber, and brought into action in a cleared field on the right of the road, and distant from Fort Magruder about seven hundred yards. No sooner had it emerged from the forest, on the way to its position, than four guns from Fort Magruder opened on it, and after it was still further up the road, they received the fire from two additional guns from a redoubt on the left. However, it was pushed on, and before it was brought into motion, two officers and two privates had been shot down, and before a single piece of the battery had been discharged, its cannoniers had been driven from it despite the skill and activity of my sharp-shooters in picking off the rebel gunners. Volunteers were now called for by my gallant Chief of Artillery, Major Wainwright, to man the battery now in position, when the officers and cannoniers of Osborne's battery sprang forward, and in the time I am writing, had those pieces well at work. Bramhall's battery was now brought into action under that excellent officer, on the right of Webber's, and before nine o'clock every gun in Fort Magruder was silenced, and all the troops in sight on the plain dispersed. Between the sharp-shooters and the two batteries the enemy's guns in this fort were not heard from again until late in the afternoon.

One of the regiments in Brig.-Gen. Patterson's brigade — the Fifth New-Jersey--was charged with the especial care of these batteries, and was posted a little to the rear of them. The remaining regiments of Patterson's brigade, under their intrepid commander, were sent into the left of the road from where they were standing, in anticipation of an attack from that quarter.

Heavy forest trees cover this ground and conceal from the view the enemy's earthworks, about a mile distant. The forest itself has a depth of about three fourths of that distance. It was through this that Patterson led the Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth New-Jersey regiments. Bodies of the enemy's infantry were seen drifting in that direction, and the increased musketry fire proved that many others were flocking thither, whom we could not see.

Prior to this movement, Brig.-Gen. Emory had reached my position with a light battery and a body of cavalry, which were promptly placed at my disposal by that experienced and gifted soldier; but, as I had no duty on which I could employ those arms of service, and as I was confined for room in the exercise of my own command, I requested that he would despatch a party to reconnoitre and observe the movements of the rebels to the rear of my left. This was executed to my satisfaction.

It was now reported to me that the skirmishers to the right had reached the Yorktown road, where word was sent to Col. Blaisdell to proceed with the Eleventh Massachusetts and Twenty-sixth Pennsylvania regiments cautiously down that road, to destroy any rebel force he might find, and break down any barrier the enemy might have thrown up to check the advance of our forces in that direction, and when this was executed to report the fact to the senior officer with the troops there, and on his return to send me

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