War of the Rebellion: Serial 012 Page 0113 Chapter XXIII. GENERAL REPORTS.

Search Civil War Official Records

was practicable for infantry. It was not till night that a practicable bridge for infantry was obtained at the lower trestle bridge.

In reference to these two trestle bridges it must be observed that the bottom-land adjacent, dry or nearly so, when we selected the sites, was overflowed or rendered boggy for a half mile on one or the other side, and could only be made passable to cavalry or artillery by corduroying-a work which could not be done over so much water-covered ground in one day or two days, nor done at all on the enemy's side under his unsubdued fire, as subsequent experience proved.

At 8.15 a. m. the moment when the New Bridge pontoon bridge was being completed, I was on the spot. I have observed that the road crossing at this point was a raised causeway. On our own side the water had overflowed this causeway in two or three places near the bridge. On the other side were similar places. Anxious to ascertain how practicable the route was, I directed Lieutenant Babcock to proceed with a few of his suppers as far as he safely could on the other side. He proceeded perhaps 200 yards, when he was fired upon by sharpshooters ambuscaded in the vicinity and one of his men shot through the lungs. Supporting the wounded man himself, he with-drew, followed by repeated volleys. The intense anxiety I felt at this moment was partially relieved when I ascertained that it were not Lieutenant Babcock himself, as I supposed, who was shot.

Although these overflows of the causeway existed on both sides, the road surface was hard and at that time practicable for artillery. Later in the day water continuing to rise and flowing over with a powerful current, cuts were made so deep that artillery could not pass until these were bridged. Whether this happened, too, on the enemy's side (where the road, as stated, was likewise overflowed) there were no means of knowing.

At a late hour (perhaps 10 or 12 o'clock, for I find no record) I was again at these bridges. Of the results of the battle we knew (or I knew) nothing. The enemy held with artillery, and undisturbed, the opposite heights. It was evidently impossible to pass with our infantry, artillery, and cavalry confined to this narrow causeway, for I do not believe that even infantry in any numbers, in fighting order, could have passed over (opposed by the enemy's fire) the overflowed and ditched lands that interposed between the two trestle bridges and the enemy's positions. I so reported (in writing, I think, though I find no copy) to yourself. There was one way, however, to unite the army on the other side; it was to take advantage of a victory at Fair Oaks, to sweep at once the enemy from his position opposite New Bridge, and simultaneously to bring over by the New Bridge causeway our troops of the right wing, which would then have met with little or no resistance.

It should have been observed that soon after passing the Chickahominy at Bottom's Bridge General Keyes was directed to advance and to select and fortify a strong position on the Richmond road. He commenced fortifying a position about a mile in advance of Savage Station and 1 1/2 miles behind the Seven Pines. It was deemed necessary by the commanding general to hold the position of the Seven Pines (the junction of the Nine-mile road with the Wiliamsburg road), and by his order I directed Lieutenant McAlester to select and fortify a position. Lieutenant McAlester found the point held by Brigadier-General Casey's division and some slight rifle pits, abatis, &c., made. He selected a position a half mile in advance of the Seven Pines, which he deemed more tenable than the first. On visiting this ground on the