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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 224 THE PENINSULAR CAMPAIGN, VA. Chapter XXIII.

from Mechanicsville and its encampment on Gaines' and Curtis' farms, near New Bridge, it became necessary for the safety of the material to cover the bridges connecting with the main army across the Chickahominy. For this purpose the corps was disposed in a semicircle, having its extremities resting on the stream, while the intermediate portion occupied the ground designated by the major-general commanding, it being the best possible for defense under the circumstances. Part of the front was covered by the ravine of the Gaines' Mill stream, covered with trees and underbrush, which partially masked our force and screened the reserves from view.

By this disposition the roads from Cold Harbor and Mechanicsville, which converge at that point, were duly covered and defended. On the front thus formed were posted the divisions of Morell and Sykes, each brigade having in reserve two of its own regiments. Portions of the divisions of artillery of Morell and Sykes were posted to sweep the avenues of approach. The rest were held in reserve. McCall's division formed a second line in rear of the woods skirting the ravine, Reynolds' brigade being posted on the extreme right, to cover the approaches from Cold Harbor and Dispatch Station to Sumner's Bridge. General Cooke, with his cavalry, was instructed to take a position under the hill in the valley of the Chickahominy to watch our left flank, and, should the opportunity occur, to strike the enemy on the plain. He was told that he would have nothing to do on the hill. The troops remained in position waiting the approach of the enemy's columns, known to be advancing in very great force. Believing my force too small to defend successfully this long line, I asked of General Barnard, who had selected and pointed out this position, to represent to the major-general commanding the necessity of re-enforcement, and he was to send me felling axes for defensive purposes.

Deserters from their ranks and loyal citizens of Virginia represented that General Jackson, with 50,000 men, had united his forces with those of Longstreet, A. P. Hill, and D. H. Hill, from Richmond, and that they were advancing, with the determination to overwhelm and crush the Army of the Potomac. The dust from the immense columns of the enemy could be seen for miles, and soon our scouts and pickets warned us that they were extending over our whole front.

About 2 o'clock p. m. they began with their skirmishers to feel for the weakest point of our position, and soon large bodies of infantry, supported by a warm fire of artillery, engaged our whole line. Repulsed in every direction, a few hours of ominous silence ensued, indicating that their troops were being massed for an overwhelming attack. Our infantry and artillery were drawn in toward the center and posted to meet the avalanche. Re-enforcements were again asked for, and all available troops were sent forward by the major-general commanding.

About 6 o'clock the enemy renewed the attack, advancing immense bodies of infantry, under cover of artillery, along the road from Cold Harbor to Adams' house, immediately upon our right and center, where Sykes' division and Griffin's brigade were placed. This furious attack was successfully resisted and repulsed, but immediately renewed by fresh troops. The reserves were pushed as rapidly as possible into the woods to the support of Griffin, whose regiments were relieved upon the expenditure of their ammunition. This and all our positions were held against the enormous odds, and the enemy were at times driven back by our battalions of fresh troops as they were successively thrown into action. At each repulse by us fresh troops were thrown by the enemy upon our exhausted forces, and in such numbers and so


Page 224 THE PENINSULAR CAMPAIGN, VA. Chapter XXIII.
OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 1, vol 11, Part 2 (Peninsular Campaign)
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