I found General Smith in presence of General Sumner. Stating the fact of General Hancock's position dangerous in case of a retreat, and at the same time expressing General Hancock's hope of great success when sufficiently re-enforced, I received General Sumner's order for General Hancock to retire, which order General Smith repeated, explaining to me that he wanted General Hancock to occupy his first position. On my return to General Smith wished him not to advance farther. Then I rode back to Captain Ayres, reporting to him the position of our batteries and the state of our affairs, begging him at once to do everything in his power to bring re-enforcements to General Hancock.
We happened to stay near General Smith, who had just received the order-I should rather think the permission-to bring up the rest of his division to General Hancock's support, but we had not yet made 800 yards with the head of the column when the order was given to return. Some time after that I heard that General Hancock was given up, when Major-General McClellan arrived and immediately ordered General Casay's division to advance on our right for General Hancock's support.
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
First Lieutenant and Adjutant of Artillery.
No. 47. Reports of Captain Charles C. Wheeler,
Battery E, First New York Light Artillery.
ADJUTANT: The battery under my command, by order of General Hancock, took position some 1,700 or 1,800 yards from Fort Magruder on May 5, and opened fire first on an earthwork some 500 or 600 yards to our right and front; then, after firing about six shots, turned our guns on a battery placed at the corner of the woods near Fort Magruder; afterward upon Fort Magruder itself, and finally, when the enemy charged our position, we turned our guns upon them as they advanced, firing case-shot and canister. By your own request I consented to lend Captain Cowan, in command of Kennedy's New York Battery, some ammunition, and owing to a change by him [not ordered by me] of his empty gun-limbers with two limbers of my caissons, and owing to the rapid firing which the quick advance of the enemy rendered necessary, and exact account of the elevation and number of shots fired cannot be given.*
At this battery near the woods, and at infantry passing near it to the enemy's front, and at artillery passing to their front and retiring, we fired at 5 more or less about 60 case-shot and 17 time-fuse shells. At Fort Magruder we fired 9 percussion shells, 5 falling short, 4 exploding within the fort. Fully two-thirds of the case-shot and time-fuse shells fired at the battery near the woods did not explode. Those that did explode appeared to produce good effect, as the battery took a new position more to their rear during the firing. The elevation for reaching Fort Magruder was 5 7/8, and the effect of the four that exploded in the
*List of ammunition expended omitted.