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 338 THE PENINSULAR CAMPAIGN, VA. Chapter XXIII.

and in motion toward the field selected as the position of defense against the expected attack of the enemy. The natural character of this position of defense is as extended field of high rolling ground, skirted in front and on the right by a thin copse of woods and a small creek running through a deep ravine. On the left a meadow extends along the banks of the Chickahominy as far as the eye can reach, while the rear is protected by the same river, with the low, marshy ground and the dense growth of forest through which it runs. The ground in front of this position, and which was taken by the enemy as his line of attack, is high and rolling, overlooking the meadow and frequently furrowed by deep ravines and sluggish streams. Over these ravines and streams our forces had previously thrown strong timbered bridges, to gain easy access to those which had been built across the Chickahominy.

As early as 8 o'clock in the morning the reserve, of which our brigade formed a part, had taken its position, while the main force and rear guard were gradually and joining it. The general had assigned to the pioneers of the brigade the duty of destroying three bridge lying between the house of Dr. Gaines and the line of our defenses as soon as the rear guard had passed, and ordered me to take command of the same, and see that the work should be effectually and faithfully accomplished, so as to check the advance of the enemy's artillery. In obedience with this order I at once examined the construction of the bridges, and determined upon the most expeditious manner in which they could be destroyed. Having prepared everything for the speedy destruction of these bridges I rode forward to the rear guard, which was now vigorously pressed by the enemy, leaving the pioneers, with axes and spades in their hands, under the command of Sergeant-Major Kydd, of the Sixteenth Michigan Volunteers, ready to commence the cutting away of the same as soon as I should conduct the rear of the guard safely across. Although the enemy was in sight, he seemed to have mistaken the course taken by our forces, and pressed considerably beyond Dr. Gaines' house, on the main road, before he truly apprehended our position. This fortunate circumstance enabled me to conduct the last of our artillery safely across the bridges, to effectually destroy them, and to securely fall back with the pioneers.

In successfully performing this duty I was greatly assisted by Orderly-Sergeant Grannis, of Company H, Forty-fourth New York Volunteers, and Sergeant-Major Kydd, of the Sixteenth Michigan Volunteers. I would especially commend the conduct of these two non-commissioned officers to the favorable notice of the general. Nor would I forget to speak in terms of admiration of the good order in which the rear guard fell back, and especially of the invaluable services of Captain Robertson, commanding a battery of United States flying artillery, which covered the retreat.

The bridges having been destroyed between the rear guard and the enemy, I reported the fact to the general, who immediately ordered me to superintend the felling of the trees in front of his brigade as an abatis, and the construction of a dam on our extreme left across the stream, to more effectually obstruct the approach of the enemy. The Forty-fourth New York Volunteers, holding the extreme left of the line, had thrown up a temporary earthwork of considerable strength by order of the general, in addition to the other defenses he had ordered for the protection of the brigade. These speedily-thrown defenses eventually saved the left of the line from entire annihilation. Scarcely had these obstructions


Page 338 THE PENINSULAR CAMPAIGN, VA. Chapter XXIII.
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