into our camp at Lee's Mill and reported that the enemy had evacuated their lines during the night. They were sent to General Smith at once, and arrangements were immediately made to send troops across the dam opposite our position to ascertain if the enemy had in fact abandoned their works there. I called for four or five volunteers from each regiment of my brigade [the names are herewith inclosed] to cross the creek and take the chances of the works being evacuated. I was also directed to take three regiments to cover my front, and to follow the volunteers across the dam. However, by the time I was ready General Brooks had determined the fact of the abandonment, and the works were immediately occupied by our troops. A squadron of our cavalry which had been sent to the front reported that they had seen the retreating force of the enemy, and I was at once sent by General Smith in the advance with the regiments immediately at hand-the Fifth Wisconsin, Forty-third New York, and Forty-ninth New York Volunteers.
On arriving near the cavalry skirmishers were thrown out and an advance made about 4 miles to Lebanon, where we arrived at 12 m. I here received an order to halt. General Smith now overtook me and assumed command. Previous to this time, finding the enemy had fired a bridge on Skiff Creek, on the direct road to Williamsburg, I sent first a party of cavalry to extinguish the fire if possible. They were fired upon by the enemy, and retired after exchanging shots. I then ordered four companies of the Second Vermont, under Lieutenant-Colonel Stannard, to the burning bridge and to extinguish the flames, which duty they performed, first driving the enemy away, and saving the sleepers of the bridge.
During the forenoon the enemy's retreating pickets occasionally discharged their pieces at Captain Chambliss' cavalry in advance. Many tents were found along the road still standing, with some small-arms, tents, &c., which had been thrown from the wagons on the enemy's retreat to lighten them. A number of the enemy's wagons, with their smith-forges, &c., were also abandoned. About 3 o'clock p.m. my brigade, followed by that part of the division which had come up, was ordered to proceed to a point near Whittaker's house, where General Stoneman and the artillery were said to be engaged with the enemy. Coming on the ground at Whittaker's at 5.30 p.m., I formed line of battle, two of my regiments on the right of the road and two on the left, with skirmishers thrown out in front. General Sumner and General Smith arrived immediately and directed subsequent operations. General Brooks' brigade, having now arrive, formed a second line in my rear. I was then ordered to advance to the front of the opening, to allow space for the Third Brigade [also under my command] to form its line in rear of General Brooks.
At this point I was directed to detach two companies with Captain Bugh, Fifth Wisconsin Volunteers, who under the guidance of Captain D'Orleans marched to the opening occupied during the contest of the day by Captain Gibson's battery, for the purpose of bringing off a piece of artillery which had been left in the mud for want of force to draw it to the rear. Arriving on the ground and exchanging shots with the enemy's pickets, it was reported by the cannoneers who went with the party as guides and looked over the ground that the piece had already been removed. I was next ordered to send five companies down to the right, to observe the position of the fort and the enemy's lines, if possible. Before they returned General Sumner had directed an assault of the enemy's work to be made by the division, the First Brigade leading in line of battle preceded by its skirmishers, General Brooks'