a tendency to encourage our men notwithstanding the rain, which continued to fall in torrents, but it was more of a struggle to overcome the obstacles than any attempt at marching in order. About 3 p.m. I received orders from General Birney, commanding brigade, to have my command relieved from all incumbrances except their arms and ammunition, with directions to move up to the front [3 miles in advance] as rapidly as possible, the greater part of the way [where the nature of the ground would permit] at a double-quick pace.
On arriving near the front, under the direction of General Birney my regiment filed to the right of the road into the woods, and then deployed in open order, fronting the enemy's works in the vicinity of Williamsburg. General Birney had in the mean time formed the Fortieth New York in our rear as a support.
The general now directed me to advance cautiously to the edge of the woods, but not to advance in the open field beyond, and not to fire unless they could hit, but after driving the enemy from the woods to hold my position until further orders. I accordingly advanced with the seven left companies of the regiment [the remaining three being under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Strong], and in obedience to orders drove the enemy from the woods. As the enemy retreated across the open space and road I continued to drive them. At this critical juncture General Kearny, commanding division, seeing the advantage to be gained, appeared on the field and gave me the instructions I required-" to pursue them across the road and charge them in their rifle pits and endeavor to get a position in their rear." That they obeyed the order with alacrity and promptness would but poorly express the enthusiasm manifested by the men on receiving the order to charge. How well they performed their duty under the galling fire from thousands of muskets, from batteries, and rifle pits is evident from the fact that notwithstanding the repulse we at first received, at every charge we gained and eventually drove them from their works and remained in them until after dark, when we were relieved by other troops.
Farther to the right, under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Strong, my three right companies operated, who, under the inspiration of their noble commander, performed the most brilliant feats, and, following the example of the general of division and brigade, charged across the road and step by step drove the enemy through the slashing, which was so dense that officers and men had their clothing torn into shreds. This command was also repulsed and again rallied by Colonel Strong, and pushed the enemy beyond their works, when a junction was formed by the regiment.
During the entire fight the enemy contested every step, raining volley upon volley upon our devoted troops. The rallying cry of the enemy-"Bull Run"-also had its effect upon our troops, who were determined to "have no more Bull Runs." Our noble officers and men were continually dropping around us, though instead of having a dispiriting effect this nerved our men to desperation. How well they performed their duty the list of killed and wounded will testify. Having but 24 officers engaged, 9 were killed and disabled. Although my regiment had before been tried and not found wanting, I have just reason to be proud of their action on the 5th. Two of my officers, Captain Dwyer and Lieutenant Watson, were prisoners, and were forced to deliver up their swords to the enemy, and were again rescued by our gallant men. The loss of the enemy in our must have been at least 600, as the field and their rifle pits were literally piled up with killed and wounded.