In the mean time, accompanied by Captain Dearing, of the artillery, I rode forward to find covered approaches to Fort Magruder, the open ways being plowed by round shot and shell. Just as I had finished no support, and having received a request from General C. M. Wilcox to support him, I moved the brigade across the fields under a heavy fire of artillery, which was borne with all the steadiness of veterans, and formed it in line of battle in rear of the redoubts and in supporting distance of General Wilcox, reporting in person to General Wilcox my position and readiness to support him when needed.
At 10.30 [o'clock] General Anderson sent me an order to move down to the woods occupied by General Wilcox, some 800 yards in front of my position, and assist in driving back the enemy, who had deployed in force. Very soon the firing began. General Wilcox having attacked, and my own brigade reached the scene of action, Colonel Kemper, of the Seventh, was directed to throw his regiment forward in line and engage the enemy. His men dashed in with a cheer, driving back the enemy, who were advancing, in consequence of the regiment in front having given way, and with admirable skill and coolness changed front as they fell back, and put his regiment in position behind a fence, facing the enemy, and within 45 yards of them. The Eleventh Virginia, Colonel Garland, was moved forward by the flank on the prolongation of Kemper's original line, with directions to clear his right, face to the left, and feel the enemy. The dense wood prevented an accurate estimate of distance, and Colonel Garland's three left companies were still in rear of Kemper, when the Eleventh was moved forward to the front. Major [Maurice S.] Langhorne was directed to take charge of them and form on Colonel Kemper's right. The Seventeenth, Colonel Corse, being next in order, was ordered to follow in rear of Colonel Kemper, and, moving forward with great steadiness and gallantry, its left wing was thrown forward, so that it was formed in a line of battle on Colonel Kemper's left and prolonging his line. The Seventeenth encountered a heavy fire in making this advance before the wheel was made and suffered severely. The First Virginia, Colonel Williams, having been placed under the orders of General Wilcox at his request, they were conducted to the fight on our extreme left. The position of my line was this: Two sides of a rectangle, seven companies of the Eleventh forming the short side, the three companies of the Eleventh, the Seventh, and the Seventeenth the long, the enemy being in the re-entering angle, facing the long side. A regiment of regular infantry-I think the First-had formed line immediately opposite the Seventeenth, and were quietly awaiting its appearance when Colonel Kemper called my attention to them. We soon discovered they were enemies, when Colonel Kemper's regiment and a part of the Eleventh, at a rest behind the fence and a distance of 45 yards, poured into them a deadly volley, which distinctly marked the line of formation by the dying and the dead. The enemy, however, replied steadily and rapidly. The Seventeenth opened from the left, and Garland from the right was heard pouring in a continuous storm of lead. Then was the time, and Kemper's regiment was ordered to charge them, and, led by their gallant colonel, they bounded over the fence, Colonels Garland and Corse at the same moment, with the military quickness and intuition that proves the thorough soldier, advanced their own lines, and the enemy were forced back step by step-my own men eagerly pressing them-until the enemy reached an extensive field of felled timber, which