War of the Rebellion: Serial 012 Page 0457 Chapter XXIII. BATTLE OF WILLIAMSBURG,VA.

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and was advancing to the support of General Stoneman. I pushed forward, and a mile from the front met General Hooker returning. He stated that General Sumner was in advance, and that the road was filled with troops. He suggested to march his division to the left from Cheesecake Church, about a half a mile in rear of us, into the road leading from Lee's Mill to Williamsburg, and attack the enemy farther to the left.

As I could not now follow my instructions literally I approved of this suggestion, and directed him to push forward. I continued on to Adam's house, about 3 miles from Williamsburg, where I arrived about 5 p.m., and found there Generals Sumner, Smith, Stoneman, Hancock, and soon after General Keyes and Brooks arrived. General Cooke was on the left of the road with the cavalry. Here were parts of two corps and a part of the reserve all mixed up. How General Sumner got here and the other generals I do not know, as my instructions directed me to "take control of the entire movement." General Hancock's brigade had just arrived; had stacked arms for a few movements to refresh themselves with rest and food. General Sumner determined to attack the works in front and carry them with the bayonet.

Before the arrangements were completed it became so dark that the troops got lost in the woods, and had to wait there until daylight.

During the night it commenced raining. Not long before daylight a messenger from headquarters arrived with orders to General Sumner, but as the latter was not to be found they were delivered to me. Soon after General Sumner arrived, having been compelled to spend the night in the woods.

About 7 a.m. General Casey arrived, and reported his division halted in the road a short distance back. Generals Sumner, Keyes, and myself then held a consultation, and it was determined to make a reconnaissance from our extreme right. We were told by a countryman that he had passed that way the Friday before, when the directed road to Williamsburg was filled with the retreating rebel troops. The reconnaissance disclosed the fact that two earthworks in that direction, one of them unfinished, were abandoned, and that the left of the enemy could be turned.

It was now near 11 a.m., and it was still raining steadily. I left as soon as I was relieved from a conference of general and took the road by Cheesecake Church into the road leading from Lee's Mill to Williamsburg. The distance was 6 miles, and the road so bad that I did not reach General Hooker before 1 p.m. I passed several deserted earthworks. This was evidently the main line of the retreat of the rebel forces. It was strewn with broken wagons and abandoned tools. Before I left General Sumner's headquarters a firing of artillery and musketry had been heard by me, and so continuous as to occasion me great anxiety. When I came up with General Hooker he informed me that he had attacked the enemy in front that morning at 7.30 o'clock, and that he was hard pressed, and in want of immediate re-enforcements; that he had written me a note and forward it by an orderly through the woods in close proximity to the rebel works, and that the distance across was not much over a mile, if so far. This note was dated 11.20 a.m., and was received by General Sumner after I felt. The orderly was not gone over twenty minutes. Colonel Blaisdell, Eleventh Massachusetts, sent by General Hooker to open communication with our troops on his right, also reported to General Hancock that the road was open and the communication clear from General Hooker's right to the left of General Sumner. I immediately sent another note to General