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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 812 THE PENINSULAR CAMPAIGN,VA. Chapter XXIII.

up to the farm-yard, when it became high and rolling. Upon the right the field was broken by a series of ridges and valleys, which ran out at right angles to a line drawn from our position to that of the enemy, and all of which terminated upon our extreme right in a precipitous bluff, which dropped suddenly down upon a low, flat meadow, covered with wheat and intersected with a number of ditches, which ran from the bluff across the meadow to a swamp or dense woods about 500 yards farther to our right. This low, flat meadow stretched upon to, and swinging around, Crew's house, extended as far as Turkey Bend, on James River. The enemy had drawn up his artillery (as well as could be ascertained about fifty pieces) in a crescent-shaped line, the convex line being next to our position, with its right (on our left) resting upon a road which passed 300 yards to the left of Crew's house on the Malvern Hill, the left of their advanced line of batteries resting upon the high bluff which overlooked the meadow to the right (our right) and rear of Crew's house. Their infantry, a little in rear of the artillery and protected by the crest of the ridge upon which the batteries were placed, extended from the woods on our left along the crest of the hill and through a lane in the meadow on our right to the dense woods there. In rear of this and beyond a narrow ravine, the sides of which were covered with timber and which ran parallel to their line of battle and but a few rods in the rear of Crew's house, was another line of infantry, its right resting upon a heavy, dense woods, which covered the Malvern Hill farm on the east. The left of this line rested upon the precipitous bluff which overhung the low meadow on the west of the farm. At this point the high bluff stretched out to the west for 200 yards in a long or ledge, nearly separating the meadow from the low lands of the river, upon the extreme western terminus of which was planted a battery of heavy guns. This latter battery commanded the whole meadow in front of it, and by a direct fire as able to dispute the maneuvering of troops over any portion of the meadow. Just behind the ravine which ran in rear of Crew's house and under cover of the timber was planted a heavy battery in a small redoubt, whose fire swept across the meadow. These two batteries completely controlled the meadow from one extremity of it to the other and effectually prevented the movement of troops in large masses upon it. The whole number of guns in these several batteries could not have fallen far short of 100. The infantry force of the enemy I estimated at least 25,000 or 30,000 from what I saw. Large numbers, as I ascertained afterward, were posted in the woods on our extreme right and left, and the line of ditches across the meadow were lined with sharpshooters.

Having no artillery with us, it was deemed prudent to kept our little force, amounting to not more than 2,500 men in both brigades, concealed in the deep ravine in front of Crew's field and send to the rear for guns. General Armistead, being the senior officer present, directed me to bring up Grimes' battery and place it in position on the crest of the ridge in front of our position. Grimes' battery was moved up, but the distance being so great only two pieces of his battery (rifles) were put in battery. As soon as Grimes' guns opened the enemy began a fierce cannonading along their whole line, concentrating their fire upon Grimes' two pieces.

Returning down the hill after conducting Grimes to his position I met General Armistead's and my own brigade advancing (Armistead's some 20 or 30 paces in front of my own on a run up the hill) and toward the open field, in the far edge of which the enemy was posted. Having


Page 812 THE PENINSULAR CAMPAIGN,VA. Chapter XXIII.
OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 1, vol 11, Part 2 (Peninsular Campaign)
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