eHistory logo Primary Sources Section
Primary Sources Home | Search eHistory

The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies

You are currently in Volume XI | Pages range from 1 to 994

Go to Page (current volume):  
Index | Previous | Next
OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 1, vol 11, Part 2 (Peninsular Campaign)
Page 255 Chapter XXIII. SEVEN-DAYS' BATTLES.

About 2 p.m. our advance pickets on the New Market road were driven in and measures immediately taken for forming our line of battle. I was ordered by Brigadier-General Meade to place my battery on a field on the right of the New Market road and on the left of Captain Thompson's battery (G, of the Second Artillery). Not having room for the whole battery, I placed four pieces in position, leaving the left section (Lieutenant Olcott) movable. Soon after General Kearny appeared on the field and changed the front of Captain Thompson's battery to right angles with mine. I then placed one piece of Lieutenant Olcott's section in position in the road on my left, near the woods, to command it.

Shortly after the enemy appeared in some force on our left and drove a regiment of our skirmishers, who ran without firing a shot. Immediately after the enemy opened fire on the batteries on my left, which was at once replied to, and a fierce cannonading ensued, which lasted about thirty minutes. As the enemy was beyond the range of my guns and their movements hidden by the woods I did not open on them, lest I should unnecessarily expose the battery to a fire which we could not return with any effect. After the firing of the enemy had ceased, and while they were supposed to be forming for a charge, at the suggestion of General Meade I fired four rounds of spherical case into the woods in front of me, but receiving no reply, a regiment of Pennsylvania Reserves was sent into the woods on my left to ascertain their position. They met them, fired one volley, broke and ran, closely pursued by the enemy. As soon as our flying troops had unmasked Lieutenant Olcott's gun he opened on the enemy with canister making a terrible slaughter in their ranks. After this first attack of the enemy on the batteries on my left having been repulsed, I ordered Lieutenant Olcott to limber up and come in battery with his section on my right. Soon the enemy made a second attack on the batteries on my left, when I changed front forward on my left piece, so as to take them in flank. Again they were forced to retire, but not until they had driven the cannoneers away from all of the batteries on the left and killed many of their horses. They next appeared on my present right flank (my former front), when I immediately changed front to the rear on my left piece. Captain Thompson also changed front to a line parallel to mine, his pieces being in line with my caissons. The rebels approached under cover to within 300 yards, when I opened on them with canister. They came boldly on, notwithstanding the frightful havoc made among them, to within 100 yards of the battery, when they broke and ran, but were rallied behind a second regiment, advancing to the attack, who approached to about 50 yards, but they too were driven back in confusion with great slaughter. My infantry supports, who during the attack were lying down between the lines of my limbers and caissons firing at the enemy, arising for a charge on the disordered mass, I ceased firing.

Early in the engagement I had cautioned both officers and men of my supporters that if they charged in front of the battery and were obliged to fall back, they should at once unmask my fire returning by the flanks of the battery. They rushed boldly to the charge, confident of an easy victory, but being met by a fresh regiment, the third of the column of attack, they fired once, were seized by unaccountable panic and fled, threw away their arms, and rushed directly for the battery. I in vain endeavored to make them unmask my fire. On they came, the foe close behind them, till when within 30 yards I gave the command to fire; but it was too late. They rushed through the battery, followed by nearly 50 of the enemy. When our troops broke I ordered the pieces to be limbered to the rear, but 38 of my horses lay


Page 255 Chapter XXIII. SEVEN-DAYS' BATTLES.
OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 1, vol 11, Part 2 (Peninsular Campaign)
Index | Previous | Next
This symbol external link icon indicates an external link
All images and content are the property of eHistory at The Ohio State University unless otherwise stated.
Copyright © 2014 OSU Department of History. All rights reserved. [citation and copyright information]
eHistory icon