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 292 THE PENINSULAR CAMPAIGN, VA. Chapter XXIII.

stand of rebel colors, which during the fight skirmishes had taken on the field. We rested a little during the night on the flat ground bordering the Chickahominy.

The next day, being Saturday, the 28th, we were ordered forward, and marched some 6 or 7 miles to a camp toward the James River across White Oak Swamp, being a swampy tributary of the Chickahominy. My men had scarcely any food, and that little consisted of hard bread principally, with coffee and sugar. We got into camp, tents were pitched, wagons were parked, and we counted on a good night's rest, though the men were tired and they knew that the enemy which we had fought the day before was close at hand. About 1 o'clock we were roused by a false alarm, the men were got under arms, the wagons were repacked, and thus we rested until daylight. Not long after we had information that Keyes' corps required our aid, and my brigade was put in motion to go to his assistance. It was a shot, sultry Sunday morning. My brigade was moved forward about a mile. Back of us was fighting, by whom I do not know. We remained in position, covering the retirement of other portions of our troops, all day. We had no food but hard bread and coffee.

Night came, and pursuant to orders from General Morell I moved my brigade out of the road-side to a field half a mile distant, and halted again for more troops to pass. There was random firing all about us. My men were exhausted with the excitement of battle, want of sleep and food. They were reminded that it was a time to remember that panic would be destruction. Should an enemy assail us, there could be no security except in steady, unfaltering obedience to orders. On being reminded of these facts the response came repeatedly from the ranks, "We shall be steady." A panic was started in a regiment of another brigade near us. Shots were fired in the neighboring woods. The men sprang to their feet and arms, and then quietly sank again to the ground without leaving the ranks.

It was 2 o'clock in the morning when I received orders to move immediately forward. I got my command in motion and in the road again, but only to halt in expectation until morning. During all the preceding day it was almost impossible to find water, and as in most cases where a halt is ordered a few hours, all the wells were drained dry and the springs made muddy. The sun rose, and we got in motion again; went forward about 5 miles, when we struck the James River close by Turkey Island, or Oakley, or better know as Malvern Hill. We hoped that our troubles were ended, but there was fierce cannonading in our rear, mingled with the road of musketry. The men had already fixed their little bough houses, when we had an order to get under arms and return to the summit of the high hill from which we had descended to the river.

It was now Monday afternoon, June 30. Back we marched up the hill. This march was about three-quarters of a mile, and through a narrow path, most of the way covered by a dense wood. The springs ran down the road, and it had only been made passable by placing rails thickly across it. As we returned some of the baggage wagons obstructed the passage, and we had to pick our way along in single files. At length my brigade was on the elevated plateau above, where we could overlook the country for miles. The battle was coming nearer and nearer. Transportation wagons were teeming in on the trot. Clouds of dust and smoke filled the air. I received orders to move my brigade still farther to the front about a mile to support a battery. These orders were communicated to me by Captain Auchmuty, assist-


Page 292 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