War of the Rebellion: Serial 013 Page 0417 Chapter XXIII. SEVEN-DAYS' BATTLES.

Search Civil War Official Records

within 150 yards of their line, and delivered a fire which drove them into the woods. For a time all was quiet in our front, but the fight raged on the left of the Fifth, and our troops seemed giving way. I soon found that a large force of the enemy --- probably fresh troops --- had come upon my right and opened an enfilading fire, which raked my whole line and that of the Fifth Regiment. I changed front to meet this attack, and gave the enemy a parting volley with my last round of ammunition; but I had no cover from their fire, and directed my men to take position behind a low ridge on the right. This, however, I found to be exactly in the range of our own batteries, and observing that the retreat had become general, I allowed my men to fall back with the others. I reformed my command near the hospital, where it remained during the evening.

When the re-enforcements had come up and the enemy was checked I rode over the bridge, and under instructions of an officer of General McClellan's staff, with the help of the First Rifles and Captain Wister, halted the stragglers and reformed nearly 2,000 men of the Pennsylvania Reserves in the meadow at the end of the bridge. I then went back to report to General McCall.

Our loss in killed and wounded was 1 officer and 25 men.*

On the night of the 28th we marched through White Oak Swamp, marched nearly all the next day, and did picket duty on the Richmond road during the night of the 29th. Many of our stragglers and slightly wounded had come in, and we entered the action on the 30th with 5 officers and 150 men and 5 officers and 84 men of the U. S. Sharpshooters. My first position was in the rear of the batteries on the right of the First Brigade. When the brigade made its charge I remained to support the batteries, moving to the left of the Parrott guns. The charge was brilliant and successful, but the enemy, giving our troops no time to reform, hurled itself in masses upon the left of our line, where your were endeavoring to reorganize those regiments which had become broken in the charge and encouraging them to meet the attack. I had been ordered to take position still farther on your left, but had only reached a point in tear of Nelson's house and behind a crowded but confused force of our own troops when the attack commenced. I soon saw our troops giving way, and, halting, faced my men by the rear rank to the then front. We lay down upon the ground, while all our own troops ran over us. I begged their officers in passing to reform behind us, and when our front was unmasked rose and gave the enemy a volley and continued firing for some minutes; but finding that we were the center of a murderous fire of an overwhelming force at very short range; that my men were falling fast and I should soon have none left, I gave the order to retire just in time to escape being surrounded. Here was lost one of the most gallant officers of the regiment: Senior Captain Philip Holland was shot dead while steadying his own men and attempting to rally others.

The enemy did not pursue us far, but turned to the left to attack the batteries. My regiment halted about 400 yards to the rear, where I made it the nucleus for rallying all the fragments of the Pennsylvania Reserve Corps which came that way. The men rallied nobly, though still under heavy fire. They only wanted a point to gather and the order to fall in. We soon had the colors of six regiments in


* But see revised statement, p.40.