No. 166. Reports of Colonel John H. Taggart,
Twelfth Pennsylvania Reserve, of the battles of Mechanicsville, Gaines' Mill, and Glendale, or Nelson's Farm (Frazier's Farm).
HEADQUARTERS TWELFTH REGIMENT P. R. V. C.,
Camp at Harrison's Landing, Va., July 5, 1862.
LIEUTENANT: I have the honor to submit the annexed report of the operations of the regiment under my command at the battle of Mechanicsville, on the 26th of June:
In anticipation of an attack, rifle pits had been dug on the slope of the hill on both sides of the Cold Harbor road in that direction. On the afternoon of the 26th it was reported that the enemy were advancing in force, when eight companies of the regiment were at once posted in the rifle pits on both sides of the road, and two companies, B, Captain Mathewson, and C, Captain Gustin, were posted at a rifle pit near Ellison's grist-mill, in advance on the right of the road, which commanded the meadow which lay between our position and the advance of the enemy. Two pieces of artillery of Cooper's battery, under command of First Lieutenant James S. Fullerton, were also posted on the brow of the hill in rear of the road over which the enemy were expected to pass. These dispositions made, it was not long before the enemy appeared in large force marching from Mechanicsville. Fire was immediately opened upon them by the two pieces of artillery and by the infantry in the rifle pits, which was returned with great spirit and determination by the advancing force.
The battle raged for an hour with great fury, when I discovered that the enemy were attempting to turn our left flank, two full regiments being deployed along the hill opposite us for that purpose, whose skirmishers had advanced to the creek on the west side of the meadow and were endeavoring to cross some distance to our left. I instantly communicated the fact to Brigadier-General Seymour, who ordered the Seventh Regiment Pennsylvania Reserve Volunteer Corps, Colonel Harvey, a battery of three pieces of artillery, and a Massachusetts regiment into a position on our left, which fortunately prevented the accomplishment of the movement.
The action continued until after dark, lasting some five hours, during which we maintained our ground and kept at bay an overwhelming force of the enemy. The firing at dark closed by natural consent, the enemy occupying the woods on the hill fronting our position, while the men under my command retained possession of the rifle pits, in which they remained during the night. The loss of the enemy must have been very heavy, as they were in full view of our infantry and artillery at short range while the action lasted and in great force. The cries of their wounded were heard plainly all through the night from our position.
On the next morning, 27th of June, having orders to fall back, I ordered the rifle pits to be cleared and the men to form on the road in the rear. The firing had recommenced in the morning and was kept up with spirit on both sides, which made the task of getting the men out of the rifle pits a difficult and dangerous one. In fact, many of the men seemed so determined to stay that they either did not hear the order to fall back or would not do so, and a number (perhaps 20) were