Sumner, stating to him the situation, and asking him for a
re-enforcement, and to aid us also by a demonstration on the enemy's front and left flank. This note I sent by two orderlies through the woods by the short route. Tho this note I received no answer. No re-enforcements and no demonstrations were made.
I had the evening before sent an order to General Kearny to advance to Cheesecake Church and there await orders. General Sumner the next morning sent him an order to advance and support Hooker. I now sent him another, informing him of our pressing need and urging him to hurry up.
The enemy had in front of General Hooker's attack six earthworks, the largest of them (Forth Magruder) with a bastioned front. A portion of the ground in General Hooker's front was clear. The trees in front of this clear space were felled,to give cover to their sharpshooters and more range to their guns. They had rifle pits between their works and the felled trees. They also had field artillery in the rear of their rifle pits. The only space where we old plant a battery was exposed to a cross fire from the artillery in their works. The ground in advance of their works was a level, unobstructed plain for 600 yards, and then dense forest and thick undergrowth, through which you could scarcely see a man at the distance of 60 yards. The most of the battle was fought in this forest. The space in which our batteries could be used was so contracted that they were comparatively of little use.
The infantry supports being driven out of a point of woods to the left of the road the enemy possessed himself of it, and drove the men from the guns of Captain Webber's battery, and carried off three Parrott guns, one 12-pounder howitzers, and one caisson. Captain Bramhall's battery on the right of these was also abandoned, but the guns were so badly mired they could not be carried off by the enemy. General Emory, with Colonel Averell's Third Pennsylvania Cavalry, and Captain Benson's horse artillery, was a mile and a half in the rear, watching a road through a cleared space on our left, through which a road ran into Williamsburg. He and Colonel Averell were of the opinion that by this road we might make an attack and turn the enemy's right flank. As soon as our re-enforcements came up I sent Captain McKeever, my assistant adjutant-general, to conduct to him four regiments of infantry, two batteries of artillery belonging to General Kearny's division, with which and the cavalry and horse artillery I wished him to make the attack. General Hooker and his division gallantly sustained themselves against a much superior force from early in the morning until near 3 o'clock p.m., when the Third Brigade began to give way, having expended nearly all their ammunition. General Patterson, who was in command of this brigade, had joined but a few days before. By great exertions on his part and that of the officers most of the brigade was again rallied. The troops maintained their ground for some time with empty guns and not a cartridge in their boxes, relying upon their bayonets. I had sent messenger after messenger to General Kearny to hurry up his division. The road had now become a sea of mud from the passage of the troops of the enemy, then of our troops, and the ammunition wagons and artillery.
Our soldiers, weary and exhausted by the labors of the siege of Yorktown, had left Sunday morning as soon as those in the trenches the night before joined us. The long march trough the rain and mud gave but little for rest. Many straggled or came back with the constant stream of the wounded, who had to be helped to the rear. They were not always prompt to rejoin their regiments. The rain, the