front with an ordinary musketry fire strong parties of rebel skirmishers in the gloom of the evening, rendered denser by the murky fogs of the smoke, were feeling their way slowly and distrustfully to the unoccupied parapet. Galloping back to find the nearest troops I met General Caldwell, who, under General McCall's supervision, was putting two or more of his regiments into line to the right of the road [a quarter of a mile in rear of the breastworks] to move up in order. Circumstances denied this delay. Accordingly I directed General Caldwell to lead a wing of a regiment at double-quick up the road to open on these rebel skirmishers. This wa done promptly, but from their being foreigners not with a full comprehension, and darkness embarrassing them, they fired at the rebels, but in the direction of others of my line; and thus whilst the enemy were swept off the arena it left for some little time our troops firing at each other. To increase this confusion the residue of the brigade who had not filed into the woods and formed on the road opened on us all who were in the front. It is my impression that General McCall must have been killed by this fire.
The errors of cross-firing having at last subsided my Fifth Michigan gallantly crossed the parapets and pursued the retiring enemy. The Eighty-first Pennsylvania, then nobly responding to my orders, gallantly led by Lieutenant-Colonel Conner and Captain Miles, of General Caldwell's staff, dashed over the parapet, pursued, charged, and with a few vigorous volleys finished the battle at 9.30 at night. I remained much longer on the field, and then reported in person to General Heintzelman at his quarters. [Under a tree at the junction of the Quaker and Charles City roads.-S. P. H.]
In concluding my report of this battle-one of the most desperate of the war, the one the most fatal it lost-I am proud to give my thanks and to include in the glory of my own division the First New Jersey Brigade, General Taylor, who held McCall's deserted ground, and General Caldwell, whose personal gallantry and the bravery of whose regiments not only entitle them to share in the credit of our victory, but also ever after engender full sympathies between the two corps.
In this engagement the coolness and judicious arrangements of General Birney influenced his whole command to feel invincible in a very weak position. General Berry, as usual, was active. The fearful losses his noble regiments have sustained, reducing them to scarce 200 to a regiment, obliged me to preserve such heroes for the decisive moments. Still, they will not be repressed, and the Fifth Michigan, under Major Fairbanks, was the first to pursue the enemy. I regret for ourselves that he, almost the last of our nobly distinguished at Williamsburg and Fair Oaks and the forced advance of the 25th June, is dangerously wounded. I have to state that this division has been extremely used. This has prematurely reduced to nothing regiments of the highest mark.
I have reserved General Robinson for the last. To him this day is due, above all others in this division, the honors of this battle. The attack was on his wing. Everywhere present, by personal supervision and noble example he secured for us the honor of victory.
For the names of officers distinguished in their regiments I for the present refer you to the brigade and regimental reports. As to the action of my artillery [Battery G, Second U. S. Artillery], it has never been equaled for rapidity and precision of fire and coolness amidst great loss of men and horses. The gallantry of its commander, Captain Thompson, identifies him with its distinction.
Our loss has been severe, and when it is remembered that this occurs