War of the Rebellion: Serial 012 Page 0847 Chapter XXIII. BATTLE OF FAIR OAKS, OR SEVEN PINES.

Search Civil War Official Records


Respectfully forwarded. Universal report speaks most highly of the gallantry of Colonel Campbell.


Brigadier-General, Commanding Division.

Numbers 54. Report of Lieutenant Colonel Elhanon W. Woods,

Fifty-seventh Pennsylvania Infantry.


First Brigade, Kearny's Division.

GENERAL: I have the honor to report that on Saturday, 31st May, Colonel Campbell, Fifty-seventh Pennsylvania Volunteers, received orders to move forward to the scene of action. We left our camp at the left of the rifle pits at the Burnt Chimneys at 3 o'clock p.m.: marched past the rifle pits to the railroad along the railroad a distance of about 4 miles; filed out at the left of the road at a camp. Here we met a staff officer or orderly who informed Colonel Campbell that he wished him to march still up the railroad to support a battery. We then marched along the railroad about 50 rods above or west of the bridge over the railroad, and came up with some other troops halted in the woods to the right of the railroad. We were halted and ordered to file into the woods at the right of the road and in rear of the other troops (said to be General Birney and his men.), which was done by forming column of companies (by right of company to rear into column). We stacked arms, lay a short time, and were ordered forward. Marched 50 or 60 rods farther and were ordered off to the right of the railroad, and formed line of battle in the center of an open field, with the left on the railroad and about 100 paces to the rear of the Third Maine, which was lying along the fence at the woods on our front. We stood a few minutes. A number of shot and shell passing over us, we were ordered by Colonel Campbell to march by the left flank. We did so; marched across the railroad through an oat field, through the woods, and came out into another oat field across the Nine-mile road to the woods; formed line of battle along the fence, the right near the road. Were ordered forward by a general officer (I took it to be General Keyes) into the slashing about 15 rods; formed again; were ordered on again; were ordered on again; marched on through the slashing to the swamp, about half way between the field and a camp in view in our front, where we encountered the enemy, the men standing and pouring a deadly volley into them.

After about five or six rounds word came that we were firing into friends, and the fire slackened for a moment. Colonel Campbell was now wounded and carried off (Major Culp having been shot dead in the field before entering the woods). Our fire was renewed and kept up until I saw the enemy past our right flank. I then gave the order to fall back. From the nature of the ground and the fallen timber it would be impossible to save the men by undertaking to fall back in regular order.

The regiment was formed again at the rifle pits, where it, remained for the night, it being already dark. Colonel Campbell received the order to form line on the north side of the railroad in rear of the Third Maine from Brigadier-General Birney. I understood at the time that the order to move over to the Nine-mile road came from General Birney.