No. 184. Report of Lieutenant Colonel Gustavus W. Town,
Ninety-fifth Pennsylvania Infantry, of the battle of Gaines' Mill.
HDQRS. NINETY-FIFTH REGIMENT PENNSYLVANIA VOLS.,
Camp in the Field, July 5, 1862.
SIR: I have the honor to report as follows the operations of my regiment on the 27th of June last:
Early in the morning the regiment, pursuant to orders from brigade headquarters, left camp, under command of Colonel John M. Gosline, and crossed the Chickahominy by way of a bridge on the right of General Smith's division, and took up position in the rear of Gaines' Mill. We remained there until about 11 o'clock in the forenoon, when, having been ordered to recross, we took up position assigned on the right bank, near the bridge, where we remained until noon, when orders were received for a return to camp.
Shortly after reaching camp the enemy commenced shelling, and the regiment was immediately formed in line of battle and placed under shelter a short distance to the rear.
About 2 p.m., with the balance of the division, we again crossed the Chickahominy over Woodbury's Bridge, marching from thence to the hill near Gaines' house. After maneuvering under orders, the regiment was deployed on the left of the brigade, entering the woods as first line, supported by the Thirty-first Regiment New York Volunteers as second line, the movement being made under fire from the enemy, who were then occupying the woods in large numbers. The right of the regiment on entering the woods encountered swamps and dense undergrowth through which they could not pass, and being subjected to severe fire from the enemy without the ability to reply with effect, the two right companies were deployed into column in rear of the third until the woods allowed them again to deploy.
We continued advancing into the woods, where we received and returned a fire of musketry. The Thirty-first New York Volunteers was at this time lying down at the edge of the woods, and my regiment was ordered to take the second line, which they did, retiring to it in good order, when both lines were advanced under orders, cheering as they went, and driving the enemy before them. When near the outer edge of the woods the Thirty-first New York retired to the rear of this, thus bringing this regiment again in front line and nearer the edge of the woods, rapid fire being still kept up with the enemy, who occupied the open space beyond. At this time the enemy, having turned the left flank of the brigade, poured murderous volleys of musketry into our left and rear, forcing us from our position. The colonel and major had just then fallen and were being carried to the rear, both mortally wounded, and others of the wounded who were accessible were being carried out.
The regiment as it retired from the woods was ordered to reform in rear of the brigade of General Taylor, which was then in line of battle on the edge of the hill facing the woods. Receiving no further orders, a large number of the men were detailed for the purpose of conveying the dead and wounded from the woods to the hospitals an other places of shelter, this being rendered necessary by an insufficiency of other means of conveyance. The enemy having now repossessed the woods, that portion of the regiment which had reformed on the brow of the hill facing the woods, being exposed to a heavy fire, was ordered to retire and shelter itself behind the hill to the right of a battery of