The whole flotilla arrived at Yorktown on the 5th instant, and, with the exception of the cavalry and wagons, started from that place early on the morning of the 6th instant. I arrived at the point designated for the landing at 3 p.m. the artillery arriving, however, at 5 p.m. The landing commenced as soon as a reconnaissance of the shore was finished, and the infantry was all landed, under the brigade commanders, by 2 p.m., and the artillery under the superintendence of Captain Richard Arnold, Fifth Artillery, chief of artillery of the division, was ready for action by 10 a.m. on the 7th instant, the greater part of it having been landed by midnight.
My ignorance of the topography of the place of landing, and the fact that the enemy's cavalry and infantry were seen in the woods surrounding the plain upon which we landed as soon as the landing began, convinced me that something was to be feared from the enemy in the morning. During the night one of our pickets and one of the enemy's were killed and 2 prisoners were taken by our pickets. From these we learned that the enemy was in large force in our front, and that we were to be attacked in the morning. Extraordinary precautions were taken during the night to prevent the success of an attack. The roads approaching the landing were obstructed by felled trees, the vigilance of the sentinels was redoubled, the wood surrounding the plain upon which the landing was made was thoroughly watched by pickets which were posted by Colonel Bartlett, Twenty-seventh New York Regiment, general officer of the day, and to their watchfulness and efficiency our success of the next day is to a great extend due.
About 7 o'clock a.m. on the 7th instant General Newton and myself made a reconnaissance of the position on foot, which convinced us that our right and left flanks and front were protected by creek,s and that the only dangerous point of the position was a space about 200 yards wide at the right of the left flank. Through this space the road from the interior entered the open plain, flanked on both sides by a thick wood. There is a dam in front of our position over which infantry might pass, but it was well protected by a strong picket.
Reconnaissances were sent out in all directions to obtain as accurate a knowledge of the country as possible, and nothing was heard from the enemy until about 9 o'clock in the morning. Then firing between the pickets in the vicinity of the road entering the plain from the interior commenced, and increased in violence until the action became severe, between 10 and 11 o'clock. Between 7 and 9 o'clock General Newton's brigade had been ordered to take position to guard the road and its debouche from the wood.
I had been to the fleet, endeavoring to expedite the departure of the transports which had brought us up, when the firing commenced, and I did not hear of it until signaled by General Slocum, between 10 and 11 o'clock. I immediately went ashore, and found that the arrangements which had already been made were ample to repel any force which the enemy could bring against us. Newton's brigade, consisting of the Eighteenth, Thirty-first, and Thirty-second New York and the Ninety-fifth Pennsylvania, was holding the wood and road under a severe musketry fire. This brigade was supported on the left by part of Taylor's brigade, consisting of the Third and Fourth New Jersey Regiments, and by the Fifth Maine Regiment, of Slocum's brigade. In its rear were Hexamer's New Jersey and Upton's regular batteries, under command of Captain Platt, Second Artillery. They were supported by five companies of the Sixteenth New York Regiment, under Colonel Howland. The remainder of Taylor's brigade, the First and Second