War of the Rebellion: Serial 012 Page 0042 THE PENINSULAR CAMPAIGN, VA. Chapter XXIII.

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brigade. It was found impossible to move the artillery of this division from its position on account of the mud. On coming near the woods, which were held by the enemy in force, General Hooker found General Birney's brigade, Colonel J. H. Hobart Ward in command, in line of battle. He sent back to hasten General Sickles' brigade, but ascertained that it had been turned off to the left by General Heintzelman to meet a column advancing in that direction. He at once made the attack with the two New Jersey regiments, calling upon Colonel Ward to support him with General Birney's brigade. This was well done, our troops advancing into the woods under a heavy fire, and pushing the enemy before them for more than an hour of hard fighting. A charge with the bayonet was then ordered by General Hooker with the Fifth and Sixth New Jersey, Third Maine, and Thirty-eighth and Fortieth New York, and the enemy fled in confusion, throwing down arms and even clothing in his flight. General Sickles, having been ordered to the left, formed line of battle on both sides of the Williamsburg road and advanced under a sharp fire from the enemy, deployed in the woods in front of him. After a brisk interchange of musketry fire while crossing the open ground, the Excelsior Brigade dashed into the timber with the bayonet and put the enemy to flight.

On the right the enemy opened fire after half an hour's cessation, which was promptly responded to by General Richardson's division. Again the most vigorous efforts were made to break our line, and again they were frustrated by the steady courage of our troops. In about an hour General Richardson's whole line advanced, pouring in their fire at close range, which threw the line of the enemy back in some confusion. This was followed up by a bayonet charge, led by General French in person, with the Fifty-seventh and Sixty-sixth New York, supported by two regiments sent by General Heintzelman, the Seventy-first and Seventy-third New York, which turned the confusion of the enemy into precipitate flight. One gun captured the previous day was retaken.

Our troops pushed forward as far as the lines held by them on the 31st before the attack. On the battle-field there were found many of our own and the Confederate wounded, arms, caissons, wagons, subsistence stores, and forage, abandoned by the enemy in his rout. The state of the roads and impossibility of maneuvering artillery prevented farther pursuit. On the next morning a reconnaissance was sent forward, which pressed back the pickets of the enemy to within 5 miles of Richmond; but again the impossibility of forcing even a few batteries forward precluded our holding permanently this position. The lines held previous to the battle were therefore resumed. General J. E. Johnston reports loss of the enemy in Longstreet's and G. W. Smith's divisions at 4,283; General D. H. Hill, who had taken the advance in the attack, estimates his loss at 2,500; which would give the enemy's loss 6,783. Our loss was, in General Sumner's corps, 1,223; General Heintzelman's corps, 1,394; General Keyes' corps, 3,120; total, 5,737.*

Previous to the arrival of General Summer upon the field of battle, on the 31st of May, General Heintzelman, the senior corps commander present, was in the immediate command of the forces engaged. The first information I received that the battle was in progress was a dispatch from him stating that Casey's division had given way. During the night of the 31st I received a dispatch from his, dated 8.45 p. m., in which he says:


*But see revised statement, pp. 757-762.