retiring mass, driving them with the bayonet, capturing prisoners, and also flags and other trophies, some of which have been forwarded to your headquarters.
This contest was maintained by Morrell's and Couch's divisions, the former supported by Sykes, who had thrown some of his regiments to the front and dispersed a large column attempting to take us in flank. A portion of the reserve artillery was also here in action. White the battle was proceeding, seeing that the enemy was pressing our men and accumulating his masses to pour fresh troops upon them, I called for aid from General Sumner, which call was promptly responded to by the arrival of General Meagher, with his brigade, followed by that of Sickles, which General Heintzelman voluntarily and generously sent to complete the contest. These brigades I posted-Sickles on the right of Couch and Meagher on the left of Morell and in their support-with instructions to push their regiments forward in echelon of about 100 paces, extending to the rear from the right or left of Couch's division, to relieve those in advance whose ammunition had been expended and to drive the enemy. These directions were promptly and successfully executed. McCall's (now Seumour's) division was held in reserve.
In the mean time Colonel Hunt hastened and brought up artillery to relieve the batteries whose ammunition had been exhausted and who had successfully borne the brunt of the engagement throughout the day. Long after the enemy's infantry was driven in disorder from the field and our own troops withheld from the desired pursuit these fresh batteries (one of them of 32-pounder howitzers) sent their missiles in destructive search after the rear of his column, silencing the guns he placed in position to cover his retreat. The lateness of the hour (9 p. m.) did not permit us to pursue the enemy farther, maintaining due regard to the security of the army, of which we were simply a rear guard, even had we had ammunition and provisions, in both of which particulars our men were sadly deficient.
For this brilliant action of my corps, inflicting on the enemy a blow which under other circumstances might have been followed up to a decisive victory, we can only claim that the success obtained secured for the army the following days of peaceful and undisturbed retirement to Harrison's Landing, so essential to rest, recruit, and security.
I have to acknowledge the excellent dispositions of the reserve artillery made by Colonel Hunt and the promptness with which batteries under the immediate directions of Major William Hays and Captain George W. Getty were always at hand when wanted to relieve others or to open fire in new positions, and also for valuable services, both by advice and action, received of him and of his assistants.
Colonel Averell, Third Pennsylvania Cavalry, rendered me valuable service as volunteer aide during the action, and to him was confined the command of the rear guard, which held the position keeping the enemy in check by the boldest demonstrations during the march which ensued on the following day from Malvern Hill to Harrison's Landing. His dispositions were in every respect brilliant in conception and satisfactory in result. Under the protection of his regiment and Buchanan's brigade of regulars and Tidball's battery all the troops and all the trains were safely and in proper order and time brought to this depot.
Reports of the commanders of divisions will soon be presented, when I shall take occasion to bring to the special notice of the major-general commanding many officers to whose services are due the successes of the day and who merit reward. Among the many noble spirits taken