division was disposed as follows: Naglee's brigade extending from the Williamsburg road to the Garnett field, having one regiment across the railroad; General Wessells' brigade in the rifle-pits, and General Palmer's in the rear of General Wessells'; one battery of artillery in advance with General Naglee; one battery in rear of rifle-pits to the right of the redoubt; one battery in rear of the redoubt, and another battery unharnessed in the redoubt. General Couch's division, holding the second line, had General Abercrombie's brigade on the right along the Nine-mile road, with two regiment and one battery across the railroad near Fair Oaks Station; General Peck's brigade on the right, and General Devens' in the center.
On the approach of the enemy, General Casey sent forward one of General Palmer's regiments to support the picket line, but this regiment gave way without making much, if any, resistance. Heavy firing at once commenced and the pickets were driven in. General Keyes ordered General Couch to move General Peck's brigade to occupy the ground on the left of the Williamsburg road, which had not before been occupied by our forces, and thus to support General Casey's left, where the first attack was the most severe. The enemy now came on in heavy force, attacking General Casey simultaneously in front and on both flanks. General Keyes sent to General Heintzelman for re-enforcements, but the messenger was delayed, so that orders were not sent to Generals Kearny and Hooker until nearly 3 o'clock, and it was nearly 5 p.m. when Generals Jameson and Berry's brigades, of General Kearny's division, arrived on the field. General Birney was ordered up the railroad, but by General Kearny's order halted his brigade before arriving at the scene of action. Orders were also dispatched for General Hooker to move up from White Oak Swamp,and he arrived after dark at Savage Station.
As soon as the firing was heard at headquarters orders were sent to General Sumner to get his command under arms and be ready to move at a moment's warning. His corps, consisting of Generals Richardson's and Sedgewick's divisions, was encamped on the north side of the Chickahominy,some 6 miles above Bottom's Bridge. Each division had thrown a bridge over the stream opposite to its own position.
At 1 o'clock General Sumner moved the two divisions to their respective bridges, with instructions to halt and await further orders. At 2 o'clock orders were sent from headquarters to cross these divisions without delay and push them rapidly to General Heintzelman's support. This order was received and communicated at 2.30 o'clock, and the passage was immediately commenced. In the mean time General Naglee's brigade, with the batteries of General Casey's division, which General Naglee directed, struggled gallantly to maintain the redoubt and rifle-pits against the overwhelming masses of the enemy. They were re-enforced by a regiment from General Peck's brigade. The artillery, under command of Colonel G. D. Bailey, First New York Artillery, and afterward of General Naglee, did good execution on the advancing column. The left of this position was, however, soon turned, and a sharp cross-fire opened upon the gunners and men in the rifle-pits. Colonel Bailey, Major Van Valkenberg, and Adjutant Rumsey, of the same regiment, were killed; some of the guns in the redoubt were taken, and the whole line was driven back upon the position occupied by General Couch. The brigades of Generals Wessells and Palmer, with the re-enforcements which had been sent them from General Couch, had also been driven from the field with heavy loss.