When I arrived the Eighty-fifth Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers was in front, then the One hundred and third Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, Major Gazzam commanding; next the One hundred and first Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, Colonel Wilson. The Ninety-sixth Regiment New York Volunteers, Lieutenant-Colonel Gray commanding, had been ordered by General Sumner to protect the Eighth New York Battery and after the regular battery of Robertson. The brigade advanced to the support of General Palmer's brigade. The Eighty-fifth Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, Colonel Howell, was in advance of General Palmer's brigade over the fence into the woods under a brisk fire of the enemy. At that time, when the fire was hot and heaviest, General Keyes rode up and addressed my brigade a few spirit-stirring remarks, who heartily cheered the general and resumed the work of destruction with more zeal.
General Palmer being called off, I assumed command of the Ninety-second (Colonel Anderson's) and the Ninety-third (Lieutenant-Colonel Butler's) Regiments New York Volunteers. I ordered Colonel Howell to the front to relieve the Ninety-third Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, who immediately encountered a sweeping fire, which was returned with spirit and effect. The One hundred and first Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, Colonel Wilson, I ordered to the left of the clearing across the road as a reserve. The One hundred and third Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, Major Gazzam commanding, was also ordered to the front, to support General Peck. I was assigned the command of the left, General Peck the center, and General Devens the right. About 5.30 the musketry fire had nearly ceased, the battery in front keeping up its fire until dark,two hours afterward.
Taking into consideration that the men had only one day's rations since Sunday morning, no overcoats, woolen or gum blankets, they evinced a spirit of endurance and heroic courage worthy of veterans, and the men and officers are entitled to praise for their arduous and successful efforts. The troops remained under arms all night, rainy and unpleasant. I was with General Peck and General Couch during the night. Sounds were heard of cutting wood, and commands were given to "Forward, march," which induced a belief that the enemy were about evacuating. At daybreak I ordered a company of Colonel Howell's regiment to reconnoiter toward the fort. Everything appeared quiet, when some cavalry from Williamsburg rode downward into the fort, so they withdrew. After the cavalry left the fort the effort was renewed and were steadily advancing, when General Heintzelman rode up and ordered my men back, he entering the deserted forts first which my brigade had aided materially to conquer.
My staff officers, Captain N. L. Jeffries, assistant adjutant-general, and Lieutenant Stewart, jr., aide-de-camp, rendered me efficient aid.
The state of my health must be the apology for this imperfect report.
* * * * * * *
WM. H. KEIM,
Captain HENRY W. SMITH,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Casey's Division.