War of the Rebellion: Serial 012 Page 0372 THE PENINSULAR CAMPAIGN, VA. Chapter XXIII.

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Numbers 34. Reports of Brigadier General William T. H. Brooks,

U. S. Army, commanding Second Brigade, Smith's division of engagement at Lee's Mill, or Burnt Chimneys, with congratulatory order.


April 18, 1862

SIR: The regiments of this brigade left their camps on the morning of the 16th instant in this order: Fourth Vermont (Stoughton) at 6 o'clock, Third Vermont (Hyde), Second Vermont (Whiting), Fifth Vermont (Smalley), and the Sixth Vermont (Lord), at 6.30 o'clock. The Fourth (Stoughton) was advanced through the timber east of the field of Garrow's farm, in which are the standing chimneys, until the skirmishers reached the water in the dam to the front and left of the enemy's works. The Third (Hyde) was sent through the timber on the west side of the same farm, their skirmishers advancing to the stream below the dam. They also had to observe the approaches from the left. The Fifth Vermont (Smalley) was posted to support the Third. The Second (Whiting) and Sixth (Lord) were held in reserve in a field southeast of the one with chimneys. I concert with these disposition part of Mott's battery was placed at the southeast corner of the field containing the standing chimneys, within easy range of the enemy's works. As soon as they were in position Stoughton's skirmishers opened on the enemy a brisk fire, as did the section of Mott's battery. The enemy returned the fire with artillery and small-arms. The skirmishers of the Third Vermont also opened on the enemy. Our fire had the effect of diminishing that of the enemy until it almost ceased. A company of picked men from the Fifth Vermont was deployed in front of the chimneys, and advanced, under a heavy fire of shell and canister, down the slope to the water's edge below the dam, where they remained sheltered during the day, and were in position to greatly harass the enemy in working his guns.

About 10.30 o'clock Lieutenant E. M. Noyes, of my staff, made a bold and daring reconnaissance by crossing the stream below the dam and getting up within 50 yards of the enemy's works undiscovered. He found the stream to be about waist-deep. Wagons were also seen about this time in the rear of the works,as if removing stores. In order to try and determine the true state of affairs, two companies of the Third Vermont were directed to cross the stream and feel their way toward the works, and if they got into them they were to make a given signal. To cover this movement batteries were placed in the open field near the chimneys, and as the companies advanced they opened a heavy fire on the works. These companies crossed the creek supported by two other companies of the same regiment, and gained possession, with slight opposition, of the rifle pits in front of the enemy's right, and it is reported that about half a dozen of the men actually penetrated the work itself, driving out quite a number of the enemy by means of lusty yells alone. In crossing the stream the ammunition of most of these men got wet, and therefore useless, and instead of giving the signal agreed upon, unfortunately a messenger was sent back who failed to reach me. The ammunition failing,and no re-enforcements reaching them, these companies were ordered back to this side of the stream.

As soon as the practicability of crossing the stream was demonstrated, a section of artillery was ordered to our right to enfilade the rifle pits covering the enemy's right. Three companies of the Fourth Vermont were ordered to move along the abatis in front of the water toward the