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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)




,---, 1862

CAPTAIN: I have the honor to submit a report of the part taken by my division in the engagements around Richmond which resulted in lifting the young Napoleon from his intrenchments around that city and setting him down on the banks of the James, 25 miles farther off, with a loss of 51 pieces of artillery, 27,000 stand of arms, and 10,000 prisoners.

On June 25 my division constituted the supporting force to a portion of the brigades of Generals Wright and Ransom which were engaged with the Yankees near King's School-House, on the Williamsburg road. We were exposed all day to an artillery fire, but with little loss.

We marched that night through the mud to the vicinity of the Mechanicsville Bridge, and there awaited the advance of Major-Generals Jackson and A. P. Hill. The plan of operations was for the former officer to come down by the way of Hanover Junction and get in rear of Mechanicsville, while the latter should cross at Meadow Bridge and move directly upon Mechanicsville, so as to unmask the bridge opposite it and enable my division to cross over, followed by that of Major-General Longstreet. To the four divisions of Generals Longstreet. To the four divisions of Generals Longstreet, Jackson, A. P. Hill, and myself was intrusted the task of turning the right flank of the Yankee army.

About 3 o'clock on the afternoon of June 26 the firing began at Meadow Bridge, and was followed by the rapid running of the Yankees toward Mechanicsville. My division was put in motion and crossed the Chickahominy after a little delay in repairing the bridge. General A. P. Hill, was then hotly engaged about the town, and my leading brigade (Ripley's) was pushed forward to his support. The Yankees were beginning to retreat across the creek (Beaver Dam) toward Ellison's Mill, but their artillery was still on the plain on this side. The three batteries of Jones' battalion, of my division, and Hardaway's battery and Bondurant's were brought into action and drove the Yankee artillery off the field.

In the mean time I had received several messages from General Lee and one from the President of the Confederate States to send forward a brigade. In advancing with this brigade I met Brigadier-General Pender, whose brigade had just been roughly handled, who told me that with the assistance of two regiments of Ripley's brigade he could turn the position at Ellison's Mill by the right, while two regiments should advance in front. Brigadier-General Ripley was directed to co-operate with General Pender, and the attack was made about dark. The enemy had intrenchments of great strength and development on the other side of Beaver Dam and had the banks lined with his magnificent artillery. The approach was over an open plain, exposed to a murderous fire of all arms, and an almost impassable stream was to be crossed. The result, as might have been anticipated, was a disastrous and bloody repulse. Nearly every field officer in the brigade was killed or wounded and a large number of officers of all grades were equally unfortunate.

Those hero-martyrs-Colonel [M. S.] Stokes, of the First North Carolina Regiment, and Colonel Robert A. Smith, Forty-fourth Georgia-deserve more than a passing notice. The former had served with credit in the Mexican war, and was widely and favorably known in his own State. The latter, though in feeble health and scarcely able to walk,

OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 1, vol 11, Part 2 (Peninsular Campaign)
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