War of the Rebellion: Serial 013 Page 0345 Chapter XXIII. SEVEN-DAYS' BATTLES.

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directions, when it was intimated that the regiments on our right were repulsed and gave way under the destructive fire of the enemy, who also threatened our right flank and were at that moment gradually gaining on our rear. Placed in this situation, without a moment's respite to change our position, the regiment was ordered to face by the rear rank and wheel obliquely to quarter circle on the proper right, the become the left, a maneuver was rapidly executed, and during its performance, I regret to state, its commander, Colonel McLane, was killed, and Major Naghel mortally wounded.

The command of the Eighty- third now devolved upon me. I found the enemy in vast numbers in front. The fire was terrific. The Eighty-third faced, as just stated, by the rear rank, mowed the assailants down in heaps, drove them back and ultimately compelled them to abandon their object of advance. They accordingly retreated and rallied in continuous lines of battle in another open field to the right and perpendicular to my proper left flank.

The enemy now being fairly driven from the woods, and as a last resort made his final stand on his own chosen ground. Major Von Vegesack came galloping along our lines, and, in a voice never to be forgotten, ordered the Eighty-third to face by the right flank, advance, half face the left, thereby still keeping the rear rank in front, deep on the center, and again face the foe. This cool and determined move on the part of him, Major Von Vegesack, which shall never be too warmly appreciated on the part of the Eighty-third, so filled the enemy, who were drawn up in line at about 100 yards' distance, with consternation, that he remained perfectly motionless and evidently awe-stricken for many moments, and finally sent forward a flag of truce, the Eighty-third doing so likewise, to know their intentions, which were to the effect that they considered themselves so powerful we had better surrender; a proposition, I need hardly add, that caused indignant mirth among us; and ere the officer of the Eighty-third who bore the truce returned to our ranks they, contrary to the rules, I believe, of civilized warfare, poured a deadly volley into the partly incautious ranks of our regiment. At once we fell fiat on the ground, raising on the knee and returning the fire, which was kept up in the bravest and most determined manner against overwhelming numbers, keeping the enemy at bay, until dark of the evening and the total expenditure of our cartridges caused us to retreat across the Chickahominy River to the camp ground of the Seventy-seventh New York Volunteers, where again, without a particle of covering, we lay down exhausted during the night.

It only remains for me now to forward the inclosed list of casualties,* which, although comparatively small, considering the heavy firing to which the regiment was exposed, is, I regret, many; and in conclusion say the officers and men unavoidably lost their knapsacks, blankets, and shelter-tents, &c., and that from the cool and determined bravery of all engaged that day I have reason to believe and feel a pride in announcing that the conduct of the Eighty-third during action was in the highest degree worthy their country and the cause they so nobly sustained.

I am, very respectfully,


Lieutenant-Colonel, Commanding.

Brigadier-General BUTTERFIELD.


*Embodied in revised statement, p. 40.