About 10 o'clock a.m., the enemy having posted artillery at different points on the plain and threatening to assault the work by a column of infantry then within musket-shot on my left flank, I immediately made preparations to defend the rifle pits, and asked the assistance of some light artillery. In a short time afterward I was directed to abandon the rifle pits except by the pickets, and to confine my operations to defending the skirt of woods before referred to.
Some time after this the enemy commenced a furious cannonading of the camp of the division behind our position, many of the shot passing into and through the woods in which my troops were stationed, inflicting upon us a few losses, but having no other effect. Their artillery was finally silenced by ours, commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Getty. Late in the evening the enemy's artillery again fiercely opened, apparently with the view of driving our infantry out of the woods. They met with no success in that respect, and were shortly after silenced by our artillery as before.
Late in the evening, after sundown, a body of the enemy's infantry from Garnett's house commenced an assault upon my command. They drove in my pickets rapidly (the picket lines had been less than 100 yards apart), and advanced to a little crest in the wheat field separating us, about 40 yards distant from my line, and delivered their fire. Our men replied with spirit, and stood bravely up to the work before them. The enemy, taking advantage of the crest in question, was partially sheltered from our fire. The contest of musketry continued until long after dark, when the enemy was repulsed with serious loss. The cartridges of our troops were nearly exhausted at the close of the contest.
The action of itself had the greatest importance, from the fact that the enemy had just gained a success on the other side of the Chickahominy, and from the fact that had he been able to force his way through our lines at the point held by me he would have been enabled to separate the two positions of our army on either bank of the stream.
During the action General Brooks came to my assistance with the Sixth Vermont Volunteers, Colonel Lord, and so disposed of that regiment as to take the enemy in rear of their left flank. Three companies got into position just as the firing had ceased. The regiment, however, met some casualties in coming into position. General Brooks also rendered me valuable assistance in taking charge of the right of our line, another of his regiments, the Fourth Vermont Volunteers, Colonel Stoughton, being under my orders and stationed at that point.
At the commencement of the action Lieutenant-Colonel Buck, Second New Jersey Volunteers, commanding the pickets of the New Jersey brigade on my left, threw his reserves into the rifle pits, and, together with a company of Berdan's Sharpshooters, under command of Major Gaspard Trepp, performed excellent service during the contest, driving back the enemy's skirmishers, who threatened an advance toward our left flank. They also did considerable execution on the right of the enemy's force attacking me from Garnett's house. The artillery also, under Colonel Getty and Captain Ayres, rendered valuable service in intimidating the enemy's advance upon my left flank. After the action was over I re-established the pickets in their original position, and withdrew my forces to camp.
In this action I have particularly to mention the following-named officers, whose good conduct I was a witness of: Colonel A. Cobb, Fifth Wisconsin; Colonel W. H. Irwin, Forty-ninth Pennsylvania; Colonel F. L. Vinton, Forty-third New York; Colonel H. Burnham, Sixth Maine; Colonel E. H. Stoughton, Fourth Vermont; Major T. M. Hulings, Forty-ninth