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 367 Chapter XXIII. SEVEN-DAYS' BATTLES.

ground easily swept in its whole length by both our artillery and musketry.

The battle, which had opened on the extreme left about 11 o'clock in the morning, had slowly rolled along our front and reached our position about 1 o'clock, when Warren's skirmishers were driven in. When Warren found he was about to be closely engaged, he sent his chaplain to request me to support him on his right flank with my regiment. I had put my regiment in motion, when I received an order from Colonel Buchanan to support a section of Edwards' battery, then moving to take position in my front. I accordingly halted the Twelfth about 80 yards in rear of the section and ordered the men to lie down. We were soon exposed, to a heavy fire of artillery, which my men bore without flinching for three-quarters of an hour, when the section was withdrawn and joined its battery.

I had hardly regained the position first occupied by my regiment when I saw Warren's brigade advancing to the attack in line of battle. Seeing there was danger of his right being overlapped by the enemy, I was moving the Twelfth to his support when I received the order to charge. As I was still 600 yards from the enemy, and not wishing to exhaust my men before getting into close action, I ordered them to shift their arms to the right shoulder, and then marched them in line and in quick-time.

In the mean time Captain O'Connell brought the Fourteenth Infantry handsomely into line on my right, while the battalion of the Tenth and Seventeenth, under Major Andrews, moved down to fill the interval between my left and the right of Warren's brigade. When within easy distance of the enemy these three battalions, taking the double-quick step, with a cheer dashed at the enemy, who, not waiting for us to close, gave way and field disorder across the marsh and into the woods beyond. The rebels, now sheltered by the woods, opened on us an enfilading fire of grape, canister and musketry, which forced me to fall back and occupy the old position, the Fourteenth forming line to my right, and both regiments facing the woods. We held this ground until near 7 o'clock, when the extreme left of our line, near Gaines' Mill, had given way and was being forced back behind our center and right. At the same time the enemy was strongly re-enforced in our front and was crowding through the woods in overwhelming numbers.

The Fourteenth now fell back in good order to the road, where our second line was forming. As my men were partially sheltered by lying down behind a low ridge of ground I determined to hold my position as long as possible, in order to give the second line time to form. My regiment was now without support on either flank, and I soon became satisfied that I must either give ground or see my battalion surrounded, cut to pieces, or captured. I therefore warned my men that the enemy were close upon us and that they must be cool and aim low. When the rebel regiment immediately in my front was within 50 yards I gave the order to rise and fire. My men poured in one close, withering volley. I then gave the order the order to face about and fall back at the double-quick and to rally in the road behind the second line. I had been twice wounded, and while in the act of rallying my men in the road I felt faint from loss of blood and was assisted to McGehee's house, only a short distance off, and which was used as a temporary hospital. While lying there I witnessed the most desperate fighting of the day. The First and Second Brigades of the regular division had rallied in the rear of Weed's, Tidball's, and Kingsbury's batteries and the out-buildings of McGee's house, and they held the position, in spite of the


Page 367 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