HEADQUARTERS FIFTH PROVISIONAL ARMY CORPS, Camp at Harrison's Landing, Va., July 8, 1862.
GENERAL: While the battle of Turkey Bridge was taking place the necessary arrangements were being made to resist the enemy coming from the direction of New Market and Charles City, who, as a natural consequence of previous operations, might be expected to launch on the following day his whole power against this force, with the hope of annihilating it and destroying the Army of the Potomac. The corps felt the responsibility and accepted it.
The position in which we were thrown had certain elements of great strength, and was the best adapted for a battle-field of any with which we have so far been favored. An elevated plateau covered the converging roads and was fronted to a certain extent with defensible ravines and low grounds, over which our artillery had excellent play. On the night of the battle of Turkey Bridge the division of General Morell was placed on the right of the line, with a portion of his division artillery and of Hunt's reserve artillery; the division of General Sykes on the left, with the same support, and the reserve artillery, under Colonel Hunt, advantageously posted for general efficiency, crowning the crest of Malvern Hill. In this position the corps lay on its arms during the night and waited the attack, which took place at about 4 in the afternoon of the 1st of July.
Couch's division, which had been sent on the night of the 30th, of June to General Sumner, remained in support of our immediate right, and, like our own force, lay on its arms through the intermediate time.
On the following morning, July 1, the lines were visited and rectified by the major-general commanding, and Generals Heintzelman and Sumner, who had retired from White Oak Swamp within our lines during the night, took position on the right of Couch, prepared to resist attack of give support to the left and center, as circumstances should require. Our position was strengthened by the arrival of heavy artillery under Colonel Tyler, whose ten siege guns were posted so as to control the River road and sweep our left flank, and by firing over the heads of our own men to reach the enemy, advancing on the Charles City road.
At about 1 o'clock p. m. the enemy commenced with his artillery and skirmishers, feeling along our whole front, and kept up a desultory firing till about 4 with but little effect. During this firing General Sumner, having withdrawn under the crest of the hill behind Malvern house a portion of his corps, directed me to do the same with mine. I could not at once refer to the major-general commanding then on the right of the line, and protested against such a movement as disastrous to us, adding that as the major-general commanding had seen and approved my disposition, and also General Couch's, I could not change without his order, which could soon be obtained if desirable. He desisted, and the enemy was soon upon us, compelling him to recall his own corps.
The same ominous silence which had preceded the attack in force at Gaines' Mill now intervened, lasting till about 6 o'clock, at which time the enemy (General John B. Magruder's corps) opened upon us suddenly with the full force of his artillery, and at once began to push forward his columns of infantry to the attack of our positions. Regiment after regiment, and sometimes whole brigades, were thrown against our batteries, but our infantry withheld their fire till they were within short distance (artillery moving them down with canister), dispersed the columns in every case, and in some instances followed the