No. 324. Report of Lieutenant Colonel Waddy T. James,
Fifty-seventh Virginia Infantry, of the battle of Malvern Hill.
JULY 14, 1862.
Our regiment was drawn up in line of battle along a string of fence about 9 o'clock on the morning of July 1 near the battle-field of this memorable day. We were ordered to lie down to prevent being so much exposed to the shell of the enemy, that was flying over our heads in every direction all the time we remained in this position. Four men were slightly wounded during this part of the engagement. The left company of the regiment was posted beyond a small swamp from the balance of the regiment, and were compelled to move lower down during the evening to get out of range of the shell, which at this time began to fall pretty thick and uncomfortably near.
At or about 6 p.m. orders passed down the line for our regiment to charge the enemy's batteries, when the whole line were on their feet and started off with a defiant shout and at a run through a pine thicket, which had been literally torn to pieces by the artillery of the enemy and difficult to pass, down a steep bluff, over a ravine, and up a hill, which cleared us of the woods and brought us in full view of the enemy and in direct range of their guns. Here we confidently expect to begin the engagement, but found the enemy still a long way off and posted in a very advantageous position; but on we sped, nothing daunted, and under partial cover of a hill, but really exposed to a galling fire, we were brought to a halt and formed, when our commanding colonel, E. F. Keen, gave the word to charge. Taking the lead, [he] was followed in good order and steady ranks to the summit. Here we again halted, and seeing the Stars and Stripes floating defiantly before, we poured in a well-directed fire and had the extreme gratification of seeing the colors totter and fall to the ground, while a wide gap was made around it, as like wheat before the sickle. The hirelings wilted before Confederate fire. But a few well-directed rounds had been fired when Captain J. J. Allen, Company K, had his right arm nearly shot off, and Captain T. J. Martin, of Company F, being instantly killed on the field, proved to the regiment an unfortunate affair, as these companies became confused and the color-bearer, being stunned by a piece of a shell, left the field, which tended to confuse the entire lines, and we were ordered to fall back, which we did in some confusion. An attempt was made to rally the regiment to a second charge, but with partial success, as it was useless for a regiment or even a brigade to charge against such formidable odds as greeted us. The colors were again carried to the summit of the hill, but few men were found to rally a third time under such a fire.
Individual instances of heroic conduct might be here mentioned of both officers and men who even followed other regiments to the charge again and again; but enough of this.
The list of casualties already furnished will speak more plainly than words of the part the Fifty-seventh Virginia Volunteers bore in the battle of July 1.
I forgot to mention that Company C, (Captain D. P. Heckman's company) was sent out on picket before we were ordered to the charge, and consequently not in the action.
W. T. JAMES,
Lieutenant Colonel, Commanding Fifty-seventh Regiment Virginia Volunteers.
Captain J. D. DARDEN, Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.
53 R R-VOL XI, PT II