War of the Rebellion: Serial 012 Page 0566 THE PENINSULAR CAMPAIGN, VA. Chapter XXIII.

Search Civil War Official Records

to increase our responsibilities, and a great delay might have endangered other operations of the army.

This battle was a very handsome affair, and the able brigadiers and the officers and soldiers under them are entitled to all the honors due to distinguished gallantry and zeal.

My part in the battle was comparatively simple and easy, that of placing the troops in proper positions at proper times.

The conduct of the whole affair is due to the officers and soldiers. I have never seen troops go into action in better order, better spirits, or with more enthusiasm. The order was preserved throughout the day, as well as the spirit, and after a long day's battle, lasting until quite dark, and with a heavy rain pouring down, our regiments were brought from the field in as good order as from an ordinary day's march, some of the brigades marching back with complete organization.

It is exceedingly gratifying to say that no soldier left the field unauthorized. Our gallant wounded, who were able to make their way, left the field unassisted, preferring to go alone rather than take a soldier from his post. Bodies were usually brought in by 4 men; never by more than 6, and parties of 50 or 60 prisoners were guarded to the rear by 12 or 15 men.

Inasmuch as this effort of the enemy was supposed to be for the purpose of detaining us, in order to give him time to arrange other important operations in the direction of Richmond, it was deemed unwise to make the action any more general. In addition, our provisions and ammunition were ahead of us in our trains and could only be had by going to them.

So far as this particular action was concerned these circumstances seemed to operate greatly against us, and the almost impassable roads were equal drawbacks. These combined circumstances rendered it absolutely necessary that the captured arms and several of the field pieces should be abandoned. I sent an ax to General A. P. Hill, with orders to destroy the pieces that we could not remove from the field; but he had passed them so far, and night coming on, they could not be found. Four pieces are all that are reported as being secured, 8 regimental standards, and 400 prisoners. The wounded prisoners, however, were released, except the officers, who were allowed the privilege of remaining on parole or following us on the march. They preferred their parole.

It is worthy of mention that every piece but one of the enemy's artillery was captured by the repeated and brilliant charges of our troops. As before stated, but four could be taken off the field.

Our forces engaged amounted to about 9,000; those of the enemy probably to 12,000. Though he continued to throw in fresh troops until quite dark, our fresh troops were only sent to replace those whose ammunition was expended. Many of our men, however, replenished their boxes from the knapsacks and cartridge boxes of the enemy's killed and wounded.

Our loss in valuable officers and men has been severe. We have, however, every reason to think it but slight compared to that of the enemy. All officers and men agree in the idea that the ground was strewn with the enemy's dead to an extent far exceeding our loss. While we weep with the friends of our gallant dead, we must confess that a soldier's grave, in so holy and just a cause, is the highest honor that man can attain.

A false impression was made on my mind by our men bringing in the enemy's wounded. The natural inference was that our own