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As our troops drew near the forts, Monday morning, a heavy artillery fire was poured upon them, followed by musketry. The Thirty-third overtook the Division while it was progressing. Meanwhile General Hooker, who was advancing further to the left, fiercely engaged the enemy, who came out on the plain to meet him, and being pressed by overwhelming numbers, was obliged to fall back to the support of General Peck's Brigade. About eleven o'clock, General Hancock, who was now temporarily commanding the Third Brigade, with his own, was ordered further to the right of the Division, to turn the enemy's position. The Thirty-third, which had been marching since daylight, Fifth Wisconsin, Forty-ninth Pennsylvania, and Sixth and Seventh Maine, were assigned to this duty. After proceeding about two miles to the right, and in view of York River, they changed their course to the left, and crossed King's Creek, on a high dam built by the enemy to “back up” the water, and thereby render the stream unfordable. The overflow or pond thus made, extended nearly a mile, and in front of a portion of their entrenchments. Situated upon the high land at the western extremity of it, was one of the earthworks previously mentioned, strongly built, and with deep broad moats in front. Further back, and towards the York, were two others constructed, on a still higher rise of ground, and surrounded with numerous rifle-pits. They were, however, now all deserted. Just before reaching the dam, the three left Companies of the Thirty-third-B, Capt.
TROOPS ARRANGED IN POSITION.
White, G, Capt. Hamilton, and K, Capt. McGraw, were left, under Lieut. Col. Corning, to guard the forks of the road. After the force crossed, they were ordered forward, and took possession of the first fort, Major Platner being left in command of them.
General Hancock continued to move forward, and having advanced half a mile to the left, halted in the field, a short distance from the enemy, and near by an abandoned redoubt. Lieut. Col. Corning was now ordered to take Cos. A, Capt. Guion, D, Lieut. Brown, commanding, and F, Capt. McNair, Regimental Colors and Color Guard, occupy and hold the fort. This was quickly done, and the beautiful banner soon waved from the battlements, where it remained through the fierce conflict which ensued, torn and tattered for the first time by shell and bullets. A few moments later, Colonel Taylor proceeded with the remaining Companies of the Regiment, C, E, H and I, to a body of woods to the right and front, and deployed them as skirmishers.
Wheeler and Cowan's Batteries moved forward five hundred yards, directly in front of the redoubt and commenced shelling Fort Magruder, in which the enemy were posted. They were supported by the Fifth Wisconsin, whose skirmishers connected with those of the Thirty-third on the right, and Sixth Maine and Forty-ninth Pennsylvania on the left. From the redoubt, occupied by Cos. A, D and F, the ground descended slightly for a few rods, and then became a level plain, extending to Fort SUDDEN APPEARANCE OF THE ENEMY. 87 Magruder, and presenting but few obstacles to the advance of infantry.
Our artillery kept up a vigorous fire until two o'clock in the afternoon, and then ceased, in accordance, as it was understood, with orders from General McClellan, who had arrived on the opposite side of the creek.
A lull of several hours followed, but the heavy firing from the direction of our left, indicated that a severe engagement was going on there. No other troops had arrived to reinforce Hancock, and he held his position on the enemy's left flank all day with the small force previously designated. Night was approaching, and the men began to consider what further dispositions were to be made of them, when suddenly the rebels were discovered approaching from the direction of Williamsburg, and rapidly forming two lines of battle, which extended entirely across the plain in front. It required but a glance to divine their object. With overwhelming numbers they expected to press down upon the small force and capture it entire, or drive it pell mell into the creek. General Hancock immediately sent word to the batteries and infantry supports to fall back quickly, which they did, engaging the enemy as they retired. The three Companies of the Thirtythird were ordered out of the redoubt into line of battle, but the Color Sergeant and Guard remained to defend and keep unfurled the banner. The Seventh Maine was likewise posted in line of battle at the right.
On came the swarthy rebels, shouting Bull Run and Ball's Bluff, their lines unbroken and unchecked, while our guns and the Fifth Wisconsin, Sixth Maine and Forty-ninth Pennsylvania, hastily receded, forming on the left of the Thirty-third, as they fell back. The enemy's flying artillery also moved forward, and discharged shot and shell in quick succession, which fell all around the redoubt. It was a most trying situation—the foe was steadily bearing down upon us, and no reinforcements, were they to be had, could cross the narrow mill-dam in time to render assistance. Still the men faltered not, but nierved themselves for the shock, determined that many of the enemy should bite the dust before they would surrender.
As the rebels drew nearer and nearer, the men fired rapidly, but failed to make any impression upon their lines, which swept over the plain in most perfect order. They had now arrived within seventy yards of the redoubt. Lieutenant Brown and many other brave fellows had fallen mortally wounded. The cannoniers with their guns, and members of other Regiments, were hurrying back to the dam to escape. The right and left of the line were wavering, and it seemed as if all was lost.
At this critical juncture, the Lieutenant Colonel, turning to Colonel Taylor, who had just arrived from the skirmish line, remarked, “Nothing but a charge can check them.” “A charge it shall be,” he replied, and instantly waving his sword in the air, shouted, “Forward, men," "Charge bayonets,” added