Colonel Russell, and Second Rhode Island, Colonel Wheaton, of Devens' brigade, Couch's division, and by two regiments, Ninety-second New York, Lieutenant-Colonel Anderson, and Ninety-third New York, Lieutenant-Colonel Butler, of Palmer's brigade, and three regiments, the Eighty-fifth Pennsylvania, Colonel Howell; One hundred and first Pennsylvania, Colonel Wilson, and One hundred and third Pennsylvania, Major Gazzam, of Keim's brigade, all from Casey's division. General Peck speaks well of the services of those regiments, and when the ammunition of his own men was exhausted he relieved them with six of these fresh regiments, who held the position during the night, General Devens commanding on the left and General Keim upon the right.
With the exception of a few men of the New York Fifty-fifth, who gave way before a very hot fire, and a few in the Pennsylvania Ninety-eighth, who betrayed a temporary unsteadiness, General Peck speaks in the highest terms of the good conduct of his troops; and in holding so long a position against overwhelming numbers they displayed a kind of courage the most difficult of all to exercise.
Considering the parts taken by the brigades of Generals Peck and Hancock on the right and left of the Fourth Corps in the late action, and in view of the fact that bad conduct or lack of vigor on the part of either might have lost us the battle, I deem it my duty to dwell at some length upon this portion of my report. Those two brigades, as well as the divisions of Couch and Smith, to which they respectively belong, I regard, after nearly six weeks of daily comparison, and after witnessing the conduct of both in the presence of the enemy, as equally excellent. The killed in Hancock's brigade were just half the number killed in Peck's brigade and the wounded less by 9. But Peck, I think, inflicted less damage upon the enemy than Hancock. Hancock took a considerable number of prisoners and a flag from the enemy, and Peck recaptured and held a battery which Hooker had lost. Peck met the enemy when he was flushed with his success in the repulse of a portion of Hooker's division, and Hancock broke in upon his left flank with astonishing audacity. If Peck had given way the enemy would have broken our center, and a rout might have ensued. If Hancock had failed the enemy would not have retreated. After seeing both brigades enter upon the scenes of their exploits, after having collected all the facts and all the results, I am convinced that Brigadier General John J. Peck and Brigadier General Winfield S. Hancock and their respective brigades are equally deserving of praise and reward for the parts they took in the battle of Williamsburg, and I commenced these words to the memories of all those who cherish our cause and honor its defenders.
As the day advanced it became apparent that the enemy were receiving re-enforcements much more rapidly than we were. The sound of his discharges showed that Hooker was hard pressed, and that the enemy was gaining ground in the woods toward the open fields around the White House. The most urgent appeals had come from Hooker for supports, and they had been repeatedly asked for Hancock. Finally, about 3 p.m., General Sumner ordered me, in conformity with my expressed wish as well as his own, to go down and bring forward the re-enforcements. I rode with dispatch, and on my way down to the church at the fork of the road [a little more than a mile off] I encountered troops of Couch's division marching up. I urged them on with all speed. At the opening opposite the church I found five regiments of Casey's division, the greater part of them with their arms stacked. I put them on the march without a moment's delay. Naglee's brigade