Meagher's, the Sixty-third New York, to try and get up at least two pieces of artillery against the morning.
Sunday, June 1, at 3 o'clock in the morning, the division stood to arms. The arms and equipments of the men were examined and put in order for action. Having had three regiments (Second and Fifth Texas and Second Mississippi) bivouacked within half-musket shot of the New Hampshire regiment, and having retired before, daylight without noise or confusion, nothing was seen of the enemy until about 5 in the morning. There is a large open field opposite my right front. About 1,000 yards across on the opposite side it is covered with timber, and at the time mentioned the enemy's pickets were deployed on the other side of this field and moving toward us. The head of a column of cavalry was also seen just in the edge of the woods; also some reconnoitering officers, mounted. Captain Pettit's battery had just come up, and I sought and obtained permission of General Sumner to put some of his pieces in battery against them. These pieces now opened their fire, directed by Captains Hazzard and Pettit. The skirmishers and cavalry broke and retired into the woods in rear. This no doubt was intended as the head of the real attack, to come down this open field, but no movement of the enemy in that direction after our firing ceased could be seen during the remainder of the day. While this was going on General French informed me that were was a large space of some half mile between his left and the right of General Birney which was devoid of troops, and both of us considered it of vital necessity that this space should be filled up to prevent the enemy from cutting our line in two. I conveyed this intelligence to General Sumner, and he gave me permission to move General French to the left the length of three battalions, and at the same time put one of General Howard's regiments still farther on the left and the Fifth New Hampshire in second line. This flank movement at the same time involved the necessity of the first line crossing the railroad, and this line then stood some 50 yards in front of it, in a swampy piece of ground, covered with a thick growth of timber. Hardly had these arrangements been completed, at 6.30 o'clock a. m. when along the whole of our front line the enemy opened a heavy rolling fire of musketry within 50 yards. Near our left two roads crossed the railroad, and up these the enemy moved his columns of attack, supported on his left by battalions deployed in line of battle in the woods, the whole line coming up to us at once and without skirmishers in advance, showing that they had a good and perfect knowledge of the ground. Our men returned the fire with vivacity and spirit, and it soon became the heaviest musketry firing that I had ever experienced during an hour and a half, and the enemy interposed fresh regiments five different times, to allow their men to replenish their ammunition. The action had continued in this way about an hour. I had communicated to General French that so soon as he needed re-enforcements he should have them, and I now ordered in General Howard to re-enforce the first line with his brigade, which he gallantly did, bringing up the Sixty-first New York in person. Soon after this the whole line of the enemy fell back for the first time, unable to stand our fire, and for a half an hour the firing ceased on both sides. General Howard was wounded about the time he brought the Sixty-first into action. During the cessation of the fire I ordered forward the Fifth New Hampshire and the Sixty-ninth and Eighty-eight New York to take their positions in the front line of battle to relieve the Fifty-second New York, Fifty-third Pennsylvania, and Sixty-first New York.