Seven Pines. He selected a position in front of the Seven Pines at which to throw up some defensive works. At his request I let him move forward and occupy the ground. He did so, and immediately commenced strengthening it with rifle pits and abatis.
The engineers now made a more thorough examination, and it was decided to hold a position about three-quarters of a mile in advance, as it covered a cross-road leading from the Seven Pines toward the Old Tavern, the latter strongly occupied by the enemy. General Casey moved his division forward and work was commenced on this new position. It progressed but slowly, however, on account of the incessant rains. This was on the 29th. On that day there was a sharp skirmish; Major Kelley, New York Volunteers, killed, and 2 privates wounded. On the 30th our pickets and the enemy's were again engaged. In the afternoon we had a heavy thunder-storm, with torrents of rain, continuing until late in the night and putting a stop to all work.
On the next day, the 31st, the forenoon was quiet. About 1 p.m. I first heard firing, more than there had been for several days. I sent Lieutenants Hunt and Johnson, two of my aides, to the front to learn what it was. At 2 p.m. I received a note from Lieutenant Jackson, of General Keyes' staff, informing me that the enemy were pressing them very hard, especially on the railroad, and asking me to send two brigades, if I had them at hand to spare. On this I sent orders for a brigade to advance up the railroad as a support. The one selected by General Kearny was General Birney's brigade.
Previous to this I had received instructions from the commanding general to hold the Seven Pines at all hazards, but not to move the troops guarding the approaches of Bottom's Bridge and crossing of the White Oak Swamp, unless it became absolutely necessary to hold the position in front at the Seven Pines. Believing the position in front of the Seven Pines to be a critical one, and not having entire confidence in the raw troops comprising the division of General Casey, I sought and obtained permission on Friday afternoon to advance a portion of my corps from its position near Bottom's Bridge. The order was to make such disposition of the troops of my corps as I saw fit. I immediately ordered two brigades of Kearny's division to move forward on the Williamsburg stage road and encamp about three-quarters of a mile in advance of Savage Station.
Lieutenants Hunt and Johnson returned about 2.30 p.m. having seen General Keyes, by whom they were directed to report that his front line, which was held by Casey's division, was being driven in. The road from the front was at this time filled with fugitives. I mounted my horse and rode briskly to the front. At the corner of the field, not a third of a mile from my headquarters, I saw the fugitives from the battle-field increasing in numbers as I advanced.
I had already given orders for all the available troops to advance to support those in front, as well as sent an officer to communicate with General Sumner and request his assistance. This officer met a staff officer sent by General Sumner to offer me assistance.
On reaching the front I met our troops fiercely engaged with the enemy near the Seven Pines, having lost the first position, three-fourths of a mile in advance. General Keyes was there, and from him I learned the position of affairs. Our re-enforcements now began to arrive. General Berry's brigade was sent into the woods on our left and ordered to outflank the enemy, who occupied in force General Casey's camp, and had a battery of artillery near a large wood-pile in rear of the unfinished redoubt. This position General Berry held till dark, when