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[314] away. Gen. Peck's horse was shot under him, and several other officers had their horses struck, or were themselves wounded at this time. Their exertions, however, partially rallied the retiring regiments, and they fell back fighting: this brought us into a narrow strip of woods, along the main road. With the assistance of my staff and other officers, we succeeded in rallying fragments of regiments, to the number of about one thousand eight hundred men. Part of these Gen. Keyes took to the left of the road. I placed Col. Hays, of the Sixty-third Pennsylvania, in command of the remainder, and with two companies of his regiment, just returned from picket. This force I ordered to advance. They succeeded in repulsing the advancing enemy. This was late in the afternoon, and the fire gradually slackened and ceased on this part of the field. The enemy never got beyond those woods.

A new line was formed in some unfinished rifle-pits, about a mile in rear, and occupied by the troops of Gens. Couch's and Kearny's division, and such troops of Gen. Casey's as could be collected.

When the troops on the right of the road near the Seven Pines gave way, the enemy pushed several regiments across the main road, placing them between General Berry's brigade, part of Jameson's, and the portion of our troops who gave way from the right of the road. These troops, (Gen. Berry's,) however, most gallantly held their position on the rebels' right flank, and kept up such a deadly fire that no effort the enemy made could dislodge them. They remained till dark, firing away sixty rounds of ammunition to each man, and then supplying themselves with cartridges from the dead and wounded. Their fire completely commanded the open space in their front, and not a mounted man succeeded in passing under their fire.

When night came on they fell back about a mile, took the saw-mill road, and by eight o'clock P. M. joined their division. When we reoccupied the ground again, the rebel dead covering their front attested their coolness and the accuracy of their fire. Early in the afternoon, (three o'clock P. M.,) an order was sent, on the application of Gen. Keyes, to Gen. Kearny, to send a brigade up the railroad to his assistance. The order sent to Gen. Kearny was to send a brigade up the railroad to the front, and Gen. Birney's was ordered up. I learned, after I arrived on the field of battle, that the brigade was halted on the railroad a very short distance from the camp. I sent at least two orders for it to advance. From the reports, a few chance shots fell among the left of this brigade, but I cannot learn that it was engaged during the day. Had it gone into action between the railroad and Williamsburgh road, as I expected it would, I believe we would have driven back the enemy and have recaptured our artillery, lost before I came on the field. The gallant manner in which the brigade fought when led into action the next day by the gallant Col. J. Hobart Ward, shows what it would have done if it had taken part in the battle of the previous day. Through what misunderstanding or counter-orders it was kept back, I am unable to say. I have since learned that Gen. Kearny gave the orders.

After the battle, Gen. Birney was placed under arrest by my order, and brought before a court-martial, for disobedience of orders. The Court honorably acquitted him. Gen. Keyes has written such an excellent report of the operations of his corps, that it is scarcely necessary for me to add to it. So much has, however, been said as to the conduct of Gen. Casey's division, that it is due to him and to the troops he commanded that I should give my views. Gen. Casey, in his report, states: “On the morning of the thirty-first, my pickets toward the right of my line succeeded in capturing Lieut. Washington, an aid of Gen. Johnston's, of the rebel service. This circumstance, in connection with the fact that Col. Hunt, my general officer of the day, had reported to me that his outer picket had heard cars running nearly all night on the Richmond and York River Railroad, led me to exercise increased vigilance. Between eleven and twelve o'clock, a mounted vidette was sent in from the advanced picket to report that a body of the enemy was in sight, approaching on the Richmond road. I immediately ordered the One Hundred and Third regiment Pennsylvania volunteers to advance to the front for the purpose of supporting the pickets. It was soon afterward reported to me, by a mounted vidette, that the enemy were advancing in force, and about the same time two shells were thrown over my camp. I was led to believe that a serious attack was contemplated. I immediately ordered the division under arms, the men at work on the rifle-pits and abattis to be recalled and to join their regiments, the artillery to be harnessed up at once. I made every disposition to repel the enemy; while they were in progress the pickets commenced firing.” It is much to be regretted that I knew nothing of this until after the battle. After the fire had attracted my attention, and I had sent two of my aids to the front for information, I received a note (at two o'clock P. M.) from Gen. Keyes, merely asking, as I have already said, for two brigades, if I could spare them, to be sent up the railroad. With this indefinite information I ordered up every available man, and as they arrived in succession was forced to put them in action to meet pressing emergencies, without waiting to make a concentrated effort. Nothing but the great gallantry of Gen. Kearny, who had a horse shot under him while leading the Thirty-seventh New-York into action, his officers and men, and the steadiness of most of Couch's division, saved us from a most disastrous defeat. The defensive works of Gen. Casey's position, in consequence of the increasing rains, and the short time allowed him for labor with intrenching tools, were in a very unfinished state, and could oppose but a feeble resistance to the overwhelming mass thrown upon them. The artillery was well served, and some of the regiments fought gallantly till overwhelmed by numbers. After they were once broken, however,

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P. Kearny (5)
E. D. Keyes (4)
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