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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)

of attack,as indicated, was highly judicious, as he met a reserved body of the enemy, defeated them, and captured their battery. A few moments after the brief interview with General Whiting Brigadier-General Winder met me and said his brigade was coming up, and asked where he should enter the field. I directed him to march well to the left, which he did, and brought a timely support in a perilous crisis, to General Elzey's and other brigades, which had been terribly cut up by the terrible fire of musketry and the well-served batteries at McGehee's house, afterward captured. These brief meetings over, I sought the two regiments which were awaiting orders, uncertain what to do.

I decided to enlarge the front of attack as I had suggested to Generals Whiting and Winder, and led these regiments across the road into the pines, one-third of a mile to the right (north) of the first point of attack. Here we met two regiments retiring from the field in confusion, who cried out, "Your need not go in; we are whipped; you can't do anything!" Some of our men said, "Get out of our way; we will show you how to do it!" I formed my force, increased on our left by the fragments of other regiments which had been rallied, as nearly parallel with the line opposed to us as I could judge by their fire through the woods, and then rode along the line, distinctly telling the men, in the hearing of all, that they were now to make a charge with the bayonet and not stop one moment to fire of or reload; by doing which the continued longer under the enemy's fire and gave him the advantage over us, posted as he was in a good position, and strengthened by fallen timber, to obstruct our advance,and that the quicker the charge was made the less would be our loss. Leading them on with perfect confidence in their pluck the regiments advanced firmly and gallantly, receiving heavy volleys of the enemy's fire from the opposite height without returning it; pushed on down the hill and over trees felled in the swampy ground to impede our progress all the time under torrents of musketry fire, and bravely and rapidly ascended the hill, cheered on by the continuous shouting of the command, "Charge, men; charge!"

It would have required older and braver troops and those engaged in a better cause to have stood firm against an onset so rapid, so resolute, so defiant. The enemy were swept from the hill, and retreat rapidly from his strong position. It was not until his fleeing forces presented a strong temptation that a destructive fire was opened upon them. Pursued to his camp (the men perceiving some of our forces on his flank) one regiment surrendered in a body; the others fled down a ravine toward the Chickahominy.

Reaching the plateau, which the Federal general had judiciously selected and so well defended by artificial aids, I found a battery of seven guns (the First Pennsylvania Artillery, Captain Easton), which had been captured a few minutes before by parts of several regiments, which had with determined courage pressed forward at the first point of attack with fearful losses. Parts of three companies of the Fifteenth Alabama and fragments of several companies of the Twenty-first Georgia Regiment were the first at the guns, followed by the Fifth Texas and Eighteenth Georgia. Placing the Twenty-first North Carolina in charge of the captured battery, my brigade slept on the field from which the enemy had fled.

A careful examination of the ground the day after the battle showed as strong a position as could have been selected for defense. It is an elevated ridge on the southeast of the Chickahominy River, mostly cleared land on its summit, surrounded by several more elevated points

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