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

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OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 1, vol 11, Part 2 (Peninsular Campaign)
Page 291 Chapter XXIII. SEVEN-DAYS' BATTLES.

quarters, which were in convenient proximity at Watts' house, to urge the use of the artillery again. There I met Griffin, who at my request went with me to examine the ground. He pronounced the artillery most needful in the position I indicated. At length two pieces only were sent. Then my pioneers proceeded to trim up the woods, so as to get a clear sight of the enemy as they approached. I solicited and got permission to send skirmishers across the ditch at the foot of the ravine (over which men could almost jump and could easily climb) to the crest of the hill on the opposite side. Soon the skirmishers got engaged and drove back the enemy.

At this time the battle raged on the right, and Sykes' division appeared to me to be falling back. On the left we did not follow up the enemy as they were repulsed by our skirmishers. The design of battle seemed to contemplate that we should simply hold our position. After a considerable interval of time a determined assault was made in our direction. At that time I was posted on the crest of the hill close to the rank of the Second Main Regiment Our skirmishers came rushing back. My command withheld their fire until the enemy were within 500 yards. We then opened. The enemy followed, halted, tried bravely to hold their own, but soon retired. As soon as they passed over the crest of the hill on their side they were beyond our reach. If we had had twenty pieces of artillery in position there and the woods sufficiently cleared we might have done much greater execution. We did not move our forces across the ditch at the bottom of the ravine; we simply held our own. Repeated efforts against us of similar character were unavailing and the fire for a considerable time ceased.

At length the enemy renewed the attack more determinedly than before. I sent for a part of McCall's reserve, one regiment of which was placed in rear of a part of my own line. The right of our line, where Sykes' division was formed, had at this time receded. The enemy had succeeded in planting artillery opposite Sykes' so as to enfilade the left of my brigade. From this fire the left of the Twenty-second Massachusetts suffered severely. It was nearly sundown. Looking through the partial clearing in front of my two pieces of artillery, I saw the enemy approaching in dense columns. Already the right had shown signs of suffering and part of Griffin's regiments had retired, having been relieved.

The enemy came on. The battle was now a continuous road. It was a very stubborn and prolonged assault, in which the enemy had a very great preponderance of force. Presently I saw one of Butterfield's regiment coming in order out of the woods. Their movement grew quicker. The right, too, was receding. At once the whole line gave way and retired in disorder. After retiring about three-quarters of a mile re-enforcements were met from the Richmond side of the river. The enemy did not pursue. It was dark, and during the night we went deliberately across the Chickahominy.

Thus ended the battle of Gaines' Hill, or Mill. I had about 2,500 men in the action. Of that number I lost in killed, wounded, and missing 662. Every regiment suffered, but the Twenty-second Massachusetts much the most of all. Colonel Gove, commanding it, was killed. Major Tilton, of the same regiment, was wounded and taken prisoner. Major Gilbert, of the Twenty-fifth New York, and lieutenant-Colonel Varney, of the Second Maine, were also taken prisoners. The Second Maine and the Thirteenth New York each bore away a


Page 291 Chapter XXIII. SEVEN-DAYS' BATTLES.
OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 1, vol 11, Part 2 (Peninsular Campaign)
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