previous night in force, but for some unexplained cause it was now believed to be evacuated. However, to meet any emergency, I made my dispositions for an assault under the supposition that the enemy might be present.
At this time, General Keyes having appeared in view of the work, sent for me. I accordingly left my command, and having met him, and understanding that his object was to make a reconnaissance of the country between my command and the river, I expressed to him some anxiety on that subject, and requested from him some cavalry, to which he replied that a regiment would be ordered to report to me immediately.
I now placed the artillery in battery on the crest of the hill in front of the enemy's fort at short range, deployed skirmishers on the right and left of the road, and sent the Fifth Wisconsin Volunteers, preceded by skirmishers, under command of Major Larabee, and followed by the Sixth Maine in column of assault, across the dam and into the work, Lieutenant Custer, Fifth Regular Cavalry, volunteer aide, leading the way on horseback. Finding the fort unoccupied, and being in possession of it, I left a garrison of three companies of the Thirty-third New York to protect my rear. I immediately threw my skirmishers forward into the open field in rear of the work, the remainder of my infantry in line of battle behind them, with the artillery in the center. I now, at 12 m., sent a message to Generals Keyes and Smith that I had already occupied the position at Cub Creek Dam. Knowing that the work about 1,200 yards in advance commanded the position I was then in, I felt the importance of securing it at once, and therefore requested General Smith to send me a brigade of infantry, in order to cover accidents and to secure my rear from assault from the woods bordering the open plain on my right and left. Farther down the stream than the work at the dam, and overlooking York River, another fort was seen, which we believed to be unoccupied, and which I wished to examine.
I was now anxiously awaiting the arrival of the cavalry to reconnoiter this last-mentioned redoubt and the skirts of the timber in my front and on my right flank and rear. To my application to General Smith for re-enforcements I receive a reply that he would send me four regiments of infantry and a battery of artillery immediately. I accordingly advanced in the order above mentioned and took quiet possession of the next redoubt. Feeling that my rear and right flank would be protected by the re-enforcements, I determined to advance my line sufficiently beyond the redoubt to drive the enemy out of the two nearest works in my front now occupied by him, and also to make a diversion in favor of that portion of our forces [understood to be under command of General Hooker] which were engaged with the enemy directly in front of Fort Magruder. Observing that our present position was a very important point, having a crest and natural glaces on either flank extending to the woods on the right and left, giving me about sufficient space to develop my front and entirely commanding the plain between me and Fort Magruder, I immediately threw three companies of the Thirty-third New York into the redoubt and deployed my line on the crest, with the artillery on the right and left of the redoubt, throwing my skirmishers 1,000 yards in advance, and covering the whole breadth of the plain, which at that point was considerably wider than at my position, and continuing so to Fort Magruder. I also threw flankers on my right and left, connecting with the skirmishers. From my position here Fort Magruder with all its surroundings could be distinctly