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and Leaders." Vol. II.,
General Humphreys, covered on the right and on CH. XXII. the left by swampy streams and winding ravines. Woods in front furnished a cover for the formation of the Confederate columns, but an open space intervening afforded full play for the terrible Federal artillery. It was not the place for a prudent general to attack, and Lee was usually one of the most prudent of generals. But he had his whole army well in hand, Jackson having come up in the night, and he decided to risk the venture. D. H. Hill took the liberty of representing the great strength of McClellan's position, and to give his opinion against an assault. Longstreet, who was present, laughed and said, “Don't get scared, now that we have got him whipped." "It was this belief in the demoralization of the Federal army,” Hill says,
“ that made our leader risk the attack.” Lee evidently thought the position could be carried by à coup de main. The order to his generals of division is a curiosity of military literature: "Batteries have been established to rake the enemy's Ibid., p. 892 line. If it is broken, as is probable, Armistead, who can witness the effect of the fire, has been ordered to charge with a yell. Do the same."
On the part of the Confederates the battle was as ill executed as it was ill conceived. There was a vast amount of blood and valor wasted by them; while on the Union side, under the admirable leadership of Porter, Morell, and Couch, not a drop of blood nor an ounce of powder was thrown away. Successive attacks made by the Confederates from one o'clock until nine were promptly and bravely repulsed by the Union soldiers. Jackson's forces suffered severely in getting into position early in the
CH. XXIII. afternoon. One of Huger's brigades charged upon
Couch about three o'clock, and was driven back, roughly handled. D. H. Hill waited a long time
for the “ yell” from Armistead, which was to be his " Battles signal for onset. But Armistead's yell in that roar Leaders." of artillery was but a feeble pipe, and was soon
silenced; and when Hill at last heard some shouting on his right, and concluded to advance, he was repulsed and fearfully punished by the immovable brigades of Couch and Heintzelman. The most picturesque, perhaps we may say the most sensational, charge of the day was that made by Magruder late in the afternoon. His nine brigades melted away like men of snow under the frightful fire of Sykes's batteries and the muskets of Morell's steadfast infantry. This charge closed the fighting for the day. The Union line had not been broken.
One remarkable feature of the battle of Malvern Hill was that neither of the generals commanding exercised any definite control over the progress of the fight. General Lee, it is true, was on the field, accompanied by Jefferson Davis; but with the exception of that preposterous order about Armistead's yell, he seems to have allowed his corps commanders to fight the battle in their own way. Their reports are filled with angry recriminations, and show a gross lack of discipline and organiza
tion. Early in the afternoon Lee ordered LongIbid., p. 408. street and Hill to move their forces by the left
flank, intending to cut off the expected retreat of McClellan. Longstreet says: “I issued my orders accordingly for the two division commanders to go around and turn the Federal right, when, in some way unknown to me, the battle was drawn on.
July 1, 1862.
Report of the
We were repulsed at all points with fearful Ch. XXIIL slaughter, losing six thousand men and accomplishing nothing."
General McClellan left the field in the morning before the fighting began, and went to his camp at Haxall's, which was under the protection of the gunboats. He came back for a little while in the afternoon, but remained with the right wing, where there was no fighting; he said his anxiety was for the Committee right wing, as he was perfectly sure of the left and of the war. the center. In this way he deprived himself of the pp. 436, 2$7. pleasure of witnessing a great victory won by the troops under the command of his subordinate generals. It is not impossible that if he had seen with his own eyes the magnificent success of the Union arms during the day he would have held the ground which had been so gallantly defended. To judge from the accounts of the officers on both sides, nothing would have been easier. The defeat and consequent demoralization of the Confederate forces surpassed anything seen in the war, and it might have been completed by a vigorous offensive on the morning of the 2d. Even Major Dab- July, 1862. ney, of Jackson's staff, whose sturdy partisanship usually refuses to recognize the plainest facts unfavorable to his side, gives this picture of the feeling of the division commanders of Jackson's corps the night of the battle : “After many details of losses and disasters, they all concurred in declaring that McClellan would probably take the aggressive in the morning, and that the Confederate army was in no condition to resist him."
But, impressed by the phantasm of two hundred thousand men before him, McClellan had already
CH. XXIII. resolved to retire still farther down the James to
Harrison's Landing, in order, as he says, to reach a point where his supplies could be brought to him with certainty. Commodore Rodgers, with whom he was in constant consultation, thought this could best be done below City Point. The victorious army, therefore, following the habit of the disastrous week, turned its back once more upon its beaten enemy, and established itself that day at Harrison's Bar, in a situation which Lee, having at last gained some information as to the fighting qualities of the Army of the Potomac, declined to attack, a decision in which Jackson — half of whose men were out of their ranks by death, wounds, or straggling - agreed with him. After several days of reconnaissance he withdrew his army, on the 8th of July, to Richmond, and the Peninsular Campaign was at an end.
ENERAL MCCLELLAN was greatly agitated Cn. XXIV.
by the battle of Gaines's Mill,' and by the emotions incident to his forced departure for the James. Under the influence of this feeling he sent to the Secretary of War, from Savage's Station, on the 28th of June, an extraordinary dispatch, which we here insert in full, as it seems necessary to the comprehension of his attitude towards, and his relations with, the Government:
I now know the full history of the day. On this side of the river (the right bank) we repulsed several strong attacks. On the left bank our men did all that men could
1 Lieutenant-Colonel B. S. against allowing any such order Alexander, of the Corps of En. to be issued, telling him he gineers, gave the following sworn thought it would have a bad evidence before the Committee effect upon the army-would deon the Conduct of the War (p. moralize the officers and men; 592]. He said he saw, on the that it would tell them more evening of the 28th, at General plainly than in any other way that McClellan's headquarters at Sav- they were a defeated army runage's Station, an order directing ning for their lives. This led to the destruction of the baggage some discussion among the officers of the officers and men, and he at headquarters, and Colonel thought also the camp equipage; Alexander heard afterward that appealing to the officers and men the order was never promulgated, to submit to this privation be- but suppressed. Brevet Brigadiercause it would be only for a few General James F. Rusling indays, he thought the order stated. forms us that he saw and read this He went to the general at once, order, and that it was issued and and remonstrated with him acted upon to a certain extent. MS. lotter.