War of the Rebellion: Serial 012 Page 0777 Chapter XXIII. Battle Of Fair Oaks, Or seven Pines.

Search Civil War Official Records

his staff, and riding in front of our ranks addressed a few words of encouragement and confidence to our men, reminding them that they had been held back ever since they joined the service, but now their time had come.

In the mean while the firing in the woods fronting the field on which, in the midst of the dead and dying of the previous day's battle, we were drawn up for action, increased in volume and intensity, and it was at this moment that I received orders to throw the first regiment of my brigade (Sixty-ninth New York Volunteers) upon the railroad a little below where it was drawn up in line of battle. This order was executed promptly and dashingly, a pretty brisk fire opening on the regiment from the woods and one or two detached houses as they deployed to the left in line battle on the railroad. Shortly after this movement had been executed by the Sixty- ninth New York Volunteers the Eighty-eight New York Volunteers was ordered to proceed by a flank movement to the left and occupy the railroad on the left of the Fifth New Hampshire Volunteers, which regiment prolonged its line of occupation on the left of the Sixty-ninth New York Volunteers. The Eighty-eight New York Volunteers had to push its march through a tangled under-wood, encumbered with fallen and decayed trees, interspersed with heavy patches of mire and swamp. The regiment was conduct to its position by J> P> McMahon, of my staff, who was specially detailed that morning on the staff of General Richardson, commanding division.

It appears from the report of Lieutenant Colonel Patrick Kelly, commanding the Eighty-eighth New York Volunteers, that a countermand was given to his regiment by some staff officer of the corps whilst it was forcing its way through the wood to take its position on the left of the Fifth New Hampshire Volunteers. This led to some slight confusion, and the two leading companies of the regiment, not having heard the countermand, deployed from the wood on the railroad, and gallantly sustained the fire of the enemy until, the countermand being recalled, they were vigorously supported by the other eight companies of the regiment. The two companies maintaining themselves so creditably until supported by the main body of the regiment were commanded respectively by Captain Wiliam Horgan and Michael Eagan. Whilst the Sixty-ninth New York Volunteers, under command of Colonel Nugent, and the Eighty-eighth, under Lieutenant-Colonel Kelly, were thus deploying to the right and left on the railroad (the one through a field intercepted by stumps and exposed to a flanking fire from the enemy on the right and the other regiment forcing its way through the swampy woods on the left), the brigades of Generals Howard and French were splendidly maintaining the front of our position in advance of the railroad and holding the enemy in deck.

Thus it was that those two regiments of my brigade acted as a reserve and came to the support of those brave troops that had to stand the brunt of the battle of the 1st of June. The Eighty-eighth New York Volunteers had to display itself inn opening before they reached their position on the railroad which was exposed to the unobstructed fire of the enemy from the woods, forming a semicircle in front of the line on which the regiment was deploying. In other words, the line of battle of the Eighty- eighth was the chord of resistance to the are of the enemy's fire. At the central point of the chord there stood a farm-house, which during the action was used as a hospital for the wounded of the regiment specially detailed at this point any other of either army who were wounded in proximity to it and who could be brought in.