War of the Rebellion: Serial 012 Page 0116 THE PENINSULAR CAMPAIGN, VA. Chapter XXIII.

Search Civil War Official Records

doubt, 9 guns; No. 5, an inclosed redoubt, 6 guns; No. 6, an inclosed square of 30 yards wide, 6 guns. These works were connected by rifle pits or barricades. The object of these lines, over 3 miles long, was to hold our position of the left wing against the concentrated force of the enemy until communications across the Chickahominy could be established, or, if necessary, to maintain our position on this side while the bulk of the army were thrown upon the order, should occasion require it; or, finally, to hold one part of our line and communication by a small force, while our principal offensive effort was made upon another. Such an offensive effort it was the understood purpose of the commanding general to make upon our right, driving the enemy from the large wheat field (where he opposed the passage of our right wing) and from his position at the Old Tavern, thus putting ourselves upon the Ninemile road to Richmond and within 5 miles of that city. Reconnaissances with this view were constantly made by the engineers, roads and bridges across the ravine which separated our right wing from the enemy prepared, &c.

At the same time several batteries were constructed under the direction of Captain Duane on the left bank of the Chickahominy, either to operate upon the enemy's positions and batteries opposite or to defend our bridges, &c. They were: No. 1, near Dr. Gaines' house, 6 guns; No. 2, on left of road near New Bridge, 6 guns; No. 3, on right of road, near New Bridge, 6 guns; No. 4, on right of Hogan's house, 6 guns. This last was armed with 4 1/2-inch siege ordnance, I think, and used with success against the enemy's batteries. Several of these siege guns and the 8-inch siege mortars were brought up to put either in or in the vicinity of redoubts Nos.3, 4, and 5.

Our reconnaissances showed that the enemy was throwing up works in the farther side of the large wheat field and in the neighborhood of Old Tavern, also in front of our lines from redoubt No. 2 to No. 5. It was impossible to distinguish the exact character of these works, though most of them were probably little more than rifle pits.

In order, as I understood it, to drive back the enemy's pickets and to throw forward our own, General Hooker was ordered on the 25th to push his division forward through the woods to the clearing three-fourths of a mile beyond his lines, and between the Wiliamsburg road and the railroad. Hearing the firing in the afternoon I went to that locality and pushed forward on the Wiliamsburg road to the farther edge of the woods (then held by our troops) with a hope of getting some better knowledge of the ground and works of the enemy. An opening of 1,200 or 1,500 yards extended before me, and I saw guns in position and tents partially hid by a depression in the ground, but no appearance of works. In returning, my horse was struck by a shell and disabled.

In view an advance to drive the enemy from the wheat field on our right it was decided as a preliminary to construct an epaulement for putting our guns on a commanding point on the edge of the field and near our picket lines. Colonel Alexander with a large detail broke ground at dark on the night of the 26th within musket range of the enemy's pickets, and succeeded by morning in obtaining cover without loss. The enemy did not interfere in any manner with the execution of this work, having probably other designs.

It had been known some days previous to this that Jackson's command had reached Frederick's Hall Station on its way from the Shenandoah, and there was presumptive evidence that an attack on our right wing was meditated by the concentrated forces of the enemy, and that,