On the 30th of May, 9:15 P. M., General Johnston sent direct to General Whiting an order preparatory for battle; and at the same time sent the order to me:
If nothing prevents, we will fall upon the enemy in front of Major-General (D. H.) Hill who occupies the position on the Williamsburg road, from which your troops moved to the neighborhood of Meadow Bridges. Please be ready to move by the Nine-Mile Road, coming as early as possible to the point at which the road to New Bridge turns off. Should there be cause of haste, General McLaws, on your approach, will be ordered to leave his ground for you, that he may reinforce General Longstreet. McLaws' Division was guarding the crossings of the Chickahominy from the Mechanicsville, and formed a portion of the center of the army, commanded by General Magruder.The leading brigades of the division under Whiting moved at dawn from their position in ‘the neighborhood of Meadow Bridges;’ and soon after sunrise, May 31, near General Johnston's headquarters in the northeast suburb of Richmond, formed their line of march to the Nine-Mile Road, obstructed by troops of Longstreet's Division. Becoming impatient at the delay thus caused, General Whiting addressed a note to General Johnston on that subject, and received the following reply from an officer of the general staff:
General Johnston directs me to say, in answer to yours of this date, that General Longstreet will precede you. What he said about McLaws (in the order of battle sent to Whiting), was merely in case of emergency. He has given no orders to Magruder.From that time the movements of the division under Whiting were directed by General Johnston in person. He was with it the whole day, until he was wounded a little before sunset. Whoever may be responsible for the most unfortunate delay on the part of the Confederates in attacking the Federal Corps, badly isolated at Seven Pines, on the morning of the 31st May, no blame can attach to Whiting, or to the division he commanded. Without entering upon a description of the battle of Seven Pines, it may be mentioned here, that, as second officer in rank in the Army of Northern Virginia, I took command at dark on the 31st May; General Joseph E. Johnston having been, a short time before, removed from the field very seriously wounded. About 2 P. M. on 1st of June, by order of President Davis, I turned over the command, on the field, to General R. E. Lee. On the 2d June I was suddenly struck down by disease and taken to Richmond.