War of the Rebellion: Serial 012 Page 0527 Chapter XXIII. BATTLE OF WILLIAMSBURG, VA.

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Hancock that, failing to communicate with me, he had taken the responsibility of halting the left wing. The right wing was immediately ordered to bivouac in the open field where it then found itself, and I then proceeded to look for General Sumner, whom I afterward found in the woods with Generals Hancock and Brooks. I then received instructions with reference to posting the reserve brigade and to be ready to attack the works at daylight. The reports of Generals Hancock and Brooks and Captain Chambliss* with reference to the operations of their respective commands this day are herewith inclosed.

At daylight on the morning of the 5th it was raining hard, and while waiting for sufficient light to get into the woods to reach General Sumner I was informed by him that he had ordered the command to retire, as some of the regiments were without rations. I then proceeded to post the command in its new position, and while doing so learned that the enemy's works [reported the night before to be a single line open in the rear] consisted of line of inclosed redoubts, extending to our right as far as the eye could reach. I immediately asked that engineer officers of the command might be ordered to make a reconnaissance. Captain Stewart, of the Engineers, detailed for this duty, made a reconnaissance to the right of Fort Magruder, but from the nature of the ravines and the flanking power of the redoubts found no suitable point of attack.

In a conversation with Captain Stewart he told me that a negro had informed him that there was a road across a dam on our right, leading to Williamsburg, a distance of about 3 miles. I then asked him to take four companies from my command as an escort, and proceed to make an examination as to the correctness of this report. A little after 10 a.m. Captain Currie, my assistant adjutant-general, returned to me from Captain Stewart, and reported

that a redoubt had been found apparently unoccupied, commanding a dam which was practicable for artillery to cross. This report was immediately made to General Sumner, who insisted on Captain Stewart being sent for. On Captain Stewart's arrival, to confirm his previous report, I received permission to order a brigade forward to take the work if possible, and General Hancock was immediately detached for that purpose. In addition to the orders received from General Sumner he was ordered by me to go as far as prudent in his own estimation. Later in the day I received an order to detach a brigade from the division to the support of General Hooker. General Brooks was ordered for this purpose, but I went back to expostulate against the breaking up of my command, and to ask that I might go with the two remaining brigades of the division to re-enforce General Hancock, who had sent in word that he had already taken two forts. Permission was granted, and the remainder of the division was being drawn out on the road when I received orders not to proceed, but to place my troops in a position to resist an attack on the ground we then occupied. This was done, but later in the day I again urged that I might be allowed to proceed to the support of General Hancock as the most expeditious mode of terminating the attack upon the left. This request was denied.

About 12 m.four pieces of Captain Mott's battery were ordered into position in front of the Vermont brigade, more to annoy and distract the enemy than with the hope of accomplishing any permanent good. The object seemed to have been attained. Still later in the day Lieutenant Farquhar arrived with a message from General Hancock. He


*See p.440 for Chambliss' report; Hancock's and Brooks' reports follow, Nos.49 and 50.