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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 618 THE PENINSULAR CAMPAIGN, VA. Chapter XXIII.

about 4 o'clock; but orders from General Jackson, conflicting with this, prevented so important a movement. About 6 p.m. the division was marched back up the Chickahominy, crossed the stream in the night at the new bridges, and bivouacked at Reynoldsville twelve hours after the enemy and General McClellan had abandoned that place.

It is deeply to be regretted that, from the sure indications of rapid retreat given by the Federal forces, some portion of our army was not thrown across the Chickahominy that day to fall on the flank of the enemy's retreating columns. This could have been safely and suddenly done at the ford before alluded to.

On Monday, 30th, by orders, we marched at an early hour over the same road taken by the enemy twenty-four hours before, and 3 miles distant passed the battle-field where General Longstreet had engaged the enemy the afternoon previous. At about 4 p.m. we reached the White Oak Swamp, where, after an hour's engagement with artillery, General Jackson's army bivouacked for the night, including General Whiting's division.

On Tuesday, July 1, we marched, by orders, at sunrise; crossed White Oak Swamp the bridge destroyed by the enemy causing some hours' delay; continued by slow marches to ---- Church, and formed line of battle on Poindexter's farm, opposite the Malvern Hills, about 2 p.m. the Seventh Brigade on the extreme left. We remained in position about three hours, during the greater part of which time artillery and musketry firing was heard on our right a mile or two distant. At 5 p.m. Courtney's battery was put in position, opened a brisk fire, answered by heavy discharges from four or five batteries or the enemy posted on Malvern Hills. After half an hour's engagement, doing good service, the battery was withdrawn reluctantly by an order of General Whiting, through a courier*, which turned out to have been intended for another battery.

At 3 p.m. that day,after the enemy's position and the disposition of his forces had been well reconnoitered through a glass and plainly visible, I asked permission to move through the continuous woods to the left and attack the enemy by a surprise on his right. This proposal, forwarded to General Jackson, was declined by him.

About sundown orders were received to march the Seventh Brigade to the extreme right, where the battle had raged fiercely for some two hours and our troops repulsed. I moved quickly, guided by an officer of General D. H. Hill's staff, through a dense woods, in the dark, exposed for 1 1/2 miles to a continuous and rapid fire of the enemy's artillery, and took up a position on that part of the field where General Magruder had made his disastrous charges across an open field, every yard of which could be swept by the adverse artillery. This field was about half a mile broad, skirted by woods on the left and a high and abrupt declivity descending to Turkey Creek on the right. I reported to General Ewell, and a few moments after to D. H. Hill, who ordered the brigade to remain in its position near the woods on the edge of the field. I proposed soon after to General Hill to ride forward under cover of the heavy darkness and reconnoiter the enemy's position. It was then about 9 o'clock. We rode forward and approached within 100 steps of the batteries, and could hear plainly the ordinary tone of conversation. The guns were then firing on the woods to our left, where the last attack had been made, at right angles to that part of the field

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*Staff officer. - R. S. E.

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Page 618 THE PENINSULAR CAMPAIGN, VA. Chapter XXIII.
OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 1, vol 11, Part 2 (Peninsular Campaign)
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