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[142] the passage of the Potomac. During the winter of preparation and drill which followed, he gained the warm friendship of his division commander, General Hooker. With spring came the campaign of the Peninsula. The division was assigned to the Third Corps, General Heintzelman commanding. At the siege of Yorktown, busied in the construction of approaches, Stevens won the name of a meritorious and gallant officer.

The battle of Williamsburg was the first severe test of fighting qualities of his regiment. In following up the retreating enemy, Stoneman's cavalry found itself, on the afternoon of May 4th, checked at Fort Magruder, a bastioned work, with several redoubts on either side effectually covering the road. Hooker's division, which followed in support of the cavalry, bivouacked in the woods that night, and came up before the fort early in the morning of May 5th. It commenced the attack at half past 7 o'clock, and for a while cleared the ground in its front; but the enemy, concentrating his forces, advanced to the attack, and again and again endeavored to turn Hooker's left. The firing became very hot, the enemy having a partial shelter in the woods, while the division was drawn out, partly in the open, partly in the felled timber, protecting itself as well as it could by the logs strewn on the ground. The brigade on the left was driven in, and soon after a heavy attack was made on the right also. Between these cross-fires the Excelsior Brigade lay, taking the brunt of the battle till after four o'clock, when the opportune arrival and gallant advance of Kearney's division allowed General Hooker to withdraw his troops, exhausted by the long day's fight. It had been a gallant struggle against superior numbers, protracted through rain and mud and hunger, until ammunition was nearly exhausted. They had suffered severely: the brigade had lost, perhaps, a third of its numbers, two hundred and eighteen having been killed and wounded from Major Stevens's regiment alone. The Major, who that day commanded the regiment, as the Colonel was in command of the brigade, was delighted with the behavior of his men. ‘Not one did I ’

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