War of the Rebellion: Serial 013 Page 0348 THE PENINSULAR CAMPAIGN, VA. Chapter XXIII.

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Numbers 137. Report of Brigadier General George Sykes,

U. S. Army, commanding Second Division, of the battle of Gaines' Mill, engagement at Turkey Bridge, and battle of Malvern Hill.


Camp near Harrison's Landing, July 7, 1862.

SIR: The events taking place since the 26th ultimo have followed each other so rapidly that they may well be included in one general summary, which I have the honor herewith to submit:

The enemy having attacked in force at Mechanicsville on the 26th of June, my command moved a short distance in that direction as a support and bivouacked for the night. Early on the 27th I retired to the position assigned me near New Cold Harbor, and subsequently to a second position, chosen to command the roads leading from New and Old Cold harbor to Dispatch Station, on the Richmond and York River Railroad. My troops occupied the cres t of a hill in an open field, party covered by a fence and partly by the inequalities of the ground. McGehee's house, in rear of my right center, was the commanding point of the position. At the distance of 400 yards my front was masked throughout by heavy timber, bordering a ravine and where my left connected with other troops of Porter's corps a dense forest extended to the left and front. under cover of this the enemy was enabled to form his masses, protect them from our fire, and hurl them on our lines.

Weed's battery, supported by the fourth U. S. Infantry, occupied my right, and commanded the approach from Old Cold Harbor. Then followed to the left the Third, Fourteenth, Twelfth, Sixth, Second, Tenth, Seventeenth, and Eleventh U. S. Regular Infantry, Fifth and Tenth New York Volunteers, with sections of Edwards' battery at intervals along the line. These troops formed three brigades. The first and Third, under Colonels Buchanan and Warren, U. S. Army, were deployed; the Second, under Major Lovell, Tenth Infantry, was held in reserve.

About 11 a. m. the enemy appeared in some force beyond the ravine un front, and with his artillery endeavored to shake the center of my line of battle. From this hour till 2 p. m., his battalions being constantly strengthened, he made repeated attempts on the flanks and center of my line and was as often driven back to his lair. At noon Tidball's battery of Horse Artillery reported to me, and taking position on the right of Weed, these two batteries broke up every attack of the enemy on our right flank, and finally sent him scampering to his main body, on our left. Matters now remained quiet for an hour. It was only the lull that precedes the storm.

At 3 p. m. I directed Colonel Warren to throw forward his skirmishers and feel the enemy in the ravine. Desultory firing began, which soon deepened into a continuous roar, unvarying and unceasing, until darkness set in and the conflict ceased. i this interval between 2 and 3 p. m. the enemy had brought up his reserves, replenished his ammunition, and under cover of the forest heretofore mentioned marshaled his legions for a grand attack. It was not one, but many, each of which was met and repulsed with a steady valor that could not be surpassed. in these attacks the Fifth New York Volunteers, under Lieutenant-Colonel Dureyea, and Second, Sixth, Twelfth, and Fourteenth U. S. Infantry were especially conspicuous. The Fifth New York Vol