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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 757 Chapter XXIII. SEVEN-DAYS' BATTLES.

of the creek to feel the enemy, and ascertain as far as practicable his strength. It was soon found that he was in full force. A message to this effect was received from Brigadier General D. R. Jones a few moments previous. The troops were halted in position to await the arrival of the other divisions.

Major General A. P. Hill soon repaired the bridges at the mill, crossed the Powhite Creek, and took position for the attack.

The columns under General Jackson, having a longer march, were not in position for some time after. Finally these columns were reported in position, and the commanding general directed my brigades to be put in position on the right to co-operate. In front of me the enemy occupied the wooded slope of Turkey Hill, the crest of which is 50 or 60 feet higher than the plain over which my troops must pass to make an attack. The plain is about a quarter of a mile wide; the farther side of it was occupied by sharpshooters. Above these and on the slope of the hill was a line of infantry behind trees, felled so as to form a good breastwork. The crest of the hill, some 40 feet above the last line, was strengthened by rifle trenches and occupied by infantry and artillery. In addition to this the plain was enfiladed by batteries on the other side of the Chickahominy. I was, in fact, in the position from which the enemy wished us to attack him.

The attack was begun by Major General A. P. Hill's division. My troops were drawn up in lines, massed behind the crest of a hill, and behind a small wood, three brigades in each position, and held in readiness as the reserve. We had not been in position long, however, before I received an urgent message from the commanding general to make a diversion in favor of the attacking columns. The three brigades under Wilcox were at once ordered forward against the enemy's left flank with this view. Pickett's brigade, making a diversion on the left of these brigades, developed the strong position and force of the enemy in my front, and I found that I must drive him by direct assault or abandon the idea of making the diversion. From the urgent nature of the message from the commanding general and my own peculiar position I determined to change the feint into an attack, and orders for a general advance were issued. General R. H. Anderson's brigade was divided, part supporting Pickett's in the direct assault and the other portion guarding the right flank of the brigades under Wilcox.

At this moment General Whiting arrived with his division, put it into position at once, and joined in the assault. The opportune arrival of this division occupied the entire field and enabled me to hold in reserve my rear brigade (Kemper's). Our gallant officers and men were moved forward in the face of three lines of infantry fire, supported by batteries from both sides of the Chickahominy. The troops, moving steadily on under this terrible fire, drove the enemy from his positions one after another, took his batteries, and finally drove him into the swamps of the Chickahominy.

No battle-field can boast of more gallantry and devotion. The severest trials were encountered by Wilcox's, Featherston's, and Pryor's brigades. These were skirmishing all day, and under a most annoying fire of artillery a great part of the time. They were the first, too, to make the assault and receive the terrible fire of infantry from the enemy's lines. The enemy's left was forced, and his position was thus partially turned, several of his batteries and many prisoners and regimental standards falling into our hands. As our troops reached the crest but a moment before occupied by the enemy re-enforcements


Page 757 Chapter XXIII. SEVEN-DAYS' BATTLES.
OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 1, vol 11, Part 2 (Peninsular Campaign)
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