Charles City road at 10 o'clock p.m. In the battle of the 30th ultimo my brigade held a long line some 2 miles in extent, connecting with Slocum's division. The Fifth Michigan Regiment, Major Fairbanks, was sent to my support, and by its gallantry added greatly to our strength. At 11 o'clock p.m.* I received orders to withdraw my brigade, the First New York, Colonel Dyckman, and Fifth Michigan, Major Fairbanks, and retire to James River. To do this within 100 yards of the enemy's pickets, in such a long line and dark night through a dense wood and tangled copse, was no light undertaking. I am happy to report that the discipline of the troops enabled me to do it successfully, in good order, and without collision. In this I was especially aided by Colonel Dyckman, whose regiment in line of battle advanced to what I considered the dangerous point, and remained until I gave him orders to follow our column.
On the 1st July, on reaching Turkey Island Bend, James River, my brigade was again ordered to the front, to meet the advancing enemy. This was done in good order, full ranks, and determined spirit. We held the front line during the furious cannonade and intrenched our entire front. The Fourth Maine and four companies from the Third Maine held the wooded ravine in front of Kearny's line, and when Couch's right was in danger of being driven back by an unexpected and furious onslaught of the enemy that portion of my command gallantly aided him in driving the enemy back. We held the position until 2 o'clock a.m. July 2, when, under orders, we took up march down the river, arriving at Harrison's Point during the afternoon.
On July 3 we were again ordered to the front and right of Heintzelman's line, and during the night, without tools, erected a strong barricade, serving for defense and protection for riflemen.
I give a list of killed, wounded, and missing in my brigade since the 29th ultimo. It is impossible now to classify them or to specify in which fight the casualties happened. The movements were so rapid that regimental and company commanders were unable to keep proper records.
I am pleased to report that my brigade, although somewhat reduced in strength, is in fighting trim and eager to meet the foe.
I mention with pleasure Brigade Surgeon Pancoast as worthy of honorable notice for his assiduous attention to his duties and his constant presence on the field. He proved himself a brave and skillful officer. Lieutenant Linnard, my aide-de-camp, was slightly wounded, and I fear taken prisoner during the retiring of my brigade. Lieutenant Lee, of my staff, was untiring in his efforts, and rendered me gallant and distinguished service.
My whole command feels under great obligations to the general commanding division for his unceasing, untiring devotion to their interests, which his thorough knowledge of all the by-roads and paths of the swamp enabled him so successfully to promote.
Captain Mindil, chief of my staff, fully sustained the honorable mention heretofore made of him.
Respectfully submitting the annexed list+ of killed, wounded, and missing, I am, sir, your obedient servant,
D. B. BIRNEY,
Actg. Asst. Adjt. General, Kearny's Division.
*The order was not sent from my headquarters until 12 midnight.-S. P. H.