War of the Rebellion: Serial 012 Page 0850 THE PENINSULAR CAMPAIGN, VA. Chapter XXIII.

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Numbers 57. Report of Colonel Amor A. McKnight,

One hundred and fifth Pennsylvania Infantry.


June 2, 1862

LIEUTENANT: A few minutes before 3 p.m. of the 31st ultimo I received orders from General Jameson, to get ready to meet the enemy. At 3 p.m. we left camp, following the West Point and Richmond Railroad until we arrived opposite the headquarters of General Heintzelman, where we diverged to the left, and after pursuing, the road for about 2 miles came up with the foe. Seven companies of this regiment, under my command, entered the abatis in front of the enemy at about 4 p.m. and at once commenced a brisk action. The firing was quite animated and told fearfully on the enemy, so much so that we succeeded in driving them back from their position, and also very materially interfered with the serving of a battery which they had in our front.

At this point I was preparing for a charge, when the intelligence was brought me that the rebels were driving our regiments in the rifle pits, and were at that moment actually in our rear, thereby cutting off our communication. I hastened back, and found from personal inspection that such was the case. On my return to our line I found that the enemy, emboldened by the success of their compatriots on their left, had returned to the fight in increased numbers, and were then in the act of making a charge on our position., The cry of "One hundred and fifth, charge!" immediately became general, and the men, springing from under cover of the abatis to the open ground in front, delivered a rapid, deadly fire, which caused the foe to fall in great numbers, and under which they immediately retreated, closely pursued until near the summit of the ground in advance of their position, when I ordered a halt. I though it best to stop here because of the enemy in our rear, and because a few discharges of grape shot we had had previously suggested to me that to advance unsupported within the fire of the enemy's battery would result in our total annihilation. We took and held the camps immediately in our front, and from which we kept up a desultory fire until about 7.15 p.m. when the enemy, having been re-enforced, made another advance. From the display of numbers I would judge their force to have comprised a brigade.

At this time my command was greatly reduced. Five captains went with me into action, and of that number 1 was killed and the remaining 4 seriously wounded, and out of 11 lieutenants 2 were killed and 5 wounded. With a partial regiment so greatly reduced, our ammunition out, the firing to our right and rear indicating that our forces were retiring, there was no alternative but to give the order to retreat. To retreat seemed almost as hazardous as to advance, the enemy being both in our front and rear. We succeeded, however, in getting off in safety by moving from our left flank, and by double-quicking through the fallen timber and swamps in the woods got by the enemy undiscovered. At no time during the engagement was there any confusion. We pressed steadily forward; never lost an inch of ground from the commencement of the fight until the withdrawal of the remainder of the line obliged us to retire. We forced the enemy several times from his position,and could we have been supported would have driven him entirely off.