Afterwards he telegraphed:
The enemy has begun an attack on Smith's left with infantry. I know no details.
Afterward the following:
The enemy has opened on Smith from a battery of three pieces to the right of the White House. Our shells are bursting well, and Smith thinks Sumner will soon have a cross-fire upon them that will silence them.
Afterwards (at 5.50 p. m.) the following was sent to General Keyes:
Please send one brigade of Couch's division to these headquarters without a moment's delay. A staff officer will be here to direct the brigade where to go.
Subsequently the following was sent to Generals Sumner and Franklin:
Is there any sign of the enemy being in force in your front? Can you spare any more force to be sent to General Porter? Answer at once.
At 5.15 p. m. the following was received from General Franklin:
I do not think it prudent to take any more troops from here at present.
General Sumner replied as follows:
If the general desires to trust the defense of my position to my front line alone, I can send French with three regiments, and Meagher with his brigade, to the right. Everything is so uncertain that I think it would be hazardous to do it.
These two brigades were sent to re-enforce General Porter, as has been observed.
At 5.25 p. m. I sent the following to General Franklin:
Porter is hard pressed. It is not a question of prudence, but of possibilities. Can you possibly maintain your position until dark with two brigades? I have ordered eight regiments of Sumner's to support Porter; one brigade of Couch's to this place; Heintzelman's reserve to go in rear of Sumner. If possible send a brigade to support Porter. It should follow the regiments ordered from Sumner.
At 7.35 p. m. the following was sent to General Sumner:
If it is possible send another brigade to re-enforce General Smith. It is said three heavy column of infantry are moving on him.
From the foregoing dispatches it will be seen that all disposable troops were sent from the right bank of the river to re-enforce General Porter, and that the corps commanders were left with smaller forces to hold their positions than they deemed adequate. To have done more, even though Porter's reverse had been prevented, would have had the still more disastrous result of imperiling the whole movement across the Peninsula.
The operations of this day proved the numerical superiority of the enemy, and made it evident that while he had a large army on the left bank of the Chickahominy, which had already turned our right and was in position to intercept the communications with our depot at the White House, he was also in large force between our army and Richmond. I therefore effected a junction of our forces.
This might probably have been executed on either side of the Chickahominy, and if the concentration had been effected on the left bank it is possible we might with our entire force have defeated the enemy there; but at that time they held the roads leading to the White House, so that it would have been impossible to have sent forward supply trains in advance of the army in that direction, and the guarding of those trains would have seriously embarrassed our operations in the battle. We would have been compelled to fight if concentrated on that bank of the river. Moreover, we would at once have been followed by