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BATTLE OF SEVEN PINES OR FAIR OAKS.
attack our position in front, while so come in on our right. The entire Gen. Huger's, on his right, was to Rebel army defending Richmondmove down the Charles City road some 40,000 to 50,000 strong-was and come in on our left flank; and either engaged in or supporting this Gen. Gustavus W. Smith was to movement, with Jefferson Davis, move out on the New Bridge road to Gen. Lee, and other magnates, obOld Tavern, taking thence the Nine- serving, directing, animating, and mile road to Fair Oaks Station, and giving counsel.
The attacking columns were to nated, when Hill, who had for some move at day-break;' but the tremen- time waited impatiently in our imdous rains of the preceding afternoon mediate front, gave, at 1 P. M., the and night had so flooded the earth signal to his division to advance and as to render the moving of artillery attack. exceedingly difficult; the infantry Casey's division was surprised as often wading through mud and water well as largely outnumbered. Havtwo or three feet deep. Huger's ing been scarcely two days in this flank movement had not yet culmi- position, their defensive works were
not of much account; and even their onets and drive them back; which commander did not consider the mat- was done, but under a musketry fire ter serious until a vedette reported that mowed down our men by hunthe enemy advancing in force, about dreds. Here fell Col. James M. the same moment that two shells Brown, of the 100th New York, and came hissing over their heads; when, Col. Davis, of the 104th Pennsylvadropping the axes and spades where- nia, whose Major also was mortally with they were felling trees for abatis wounded; and, our flanks being and digging rifle-pits, our soldiers at again enveloped, Rains having gained the front hurriedly stood to their the rear of our redoubt, and firing arms as our pickets came running thence on the flank of our infantry, in.
Casey's division was driven back in Gen. Casey promptly sent forward disorderly retreat upon Couch, with Spratt's battery of 4 3-inch rifled the loss of 6 guns. Col. G. D. Bailey, guns to a position in front of his Major Van Valkenburg, and Adjt. rifle-pits, and ordered up Gen. Ramsey, of the 1st New York artilNaglee's infantry brigade, consisting lery, were killed, while endeavoring of the 56th and 100th New York, to save the guns in the redoubt; 11th Maine, and 104th Pennsylvania, which were the next moment seized to its support; while he disposed his by Rhodes, and turned upon our fly7 remaining regiments and 3 bat-ing columns. To the credit of this teries on either side of a small re- shattered division be it recorded, that, doubt, which he had hastily con- under a fearful enfilading fire from structed, expecting to hold his ground Rains, in addition to that thundered until the arrival of rëenforcements; on their rear from Rhodes, they and ordered his artillery to open on brought off three-fourths of our guns. the advancing enemy.
The storm of battle now fell upon But the odds were too great. The the 93d Pennsylvania, Col. McCarter, three brigades of Rhodes, Garland, 55th New York, Lt. Col. Thourot, and Anderson, were immediately in 23d Pennsylvania, Col. Neill, and his front; while that of Rains, by 61st, Col. Rippey, of Couch's divia flank movement, was coming in on sion, who were sent forward by his left. The 104th Pennsylvania, Keyes to the relief of Casey, on the which he had sent forward to the right, where they fought gallantly support of his pickets, came rushing and lost heavily. The 7th Massaback in confusion, and went to the chusetts, Col. Russell, and 62d New rear in disorder, having lost heavily York, Col. J. L. Riker, were afterby the Rebel fire; and, though mus- ward sent to rëenforce them; but ketry and artillery were doing fear- were pressed back upon Fair Oaks ful execution on either side, it was by the enemy's overpowering adplain that we must soon be over- vance, and there, uniting with the whelmed.
1st U.S. Chasseurs, Col. John CochSeeing that the enemy were closing rane, and 31st Pennsylvania, Col. in on him on both wings, Gen. Casey Williams, held their ground until ordered Gen. Naglee, with what re- the advance of Gen. Sumner's corps, mained of his brigade, to charge bay- I which had with great difficulty made
SUMNER'S CORPS SAVES THE DAY.
its way across the swollen Chicka- Gen. Abercrombie, with five regihominy, checked the Rebel advance ments, was at Fair Oaks (the crossin that direction.
ing aforesaid), instructed to hold the Brig.-Gen. Peck, who held the left position at all hazards. Here fell of Couch's position, had been divested Gen. C. Devens, severely wounded; of most of his regiments aforesaid, while of the 61st Pennsylvania, Col. which were successively ordered up Rippey, Lt. Col. Spear, and Maj. to the front by Couch or Keyes, Smith fell dead, and 27 of the line until, at 41 P. M., he led the 102d officers were either killed or woundPennsylvania, Col. Rowley, and 93d, ed; and near this point, at sunset, Col. McCarter, to the aid of our Gen. Jo. Johnston, the Rebel Comcrumbling right, and was for half an mander-in-chief, was struck in the hour sharply engaged with the tri- side by a shell and badly wounded, umphant enemy near Seven Pines, breaking two ribs in falling from his losing some ground, but encamping horse, so that he was disabled for very near his field of conflict. service for several months. Gen. G.
Heintzelman was promptly sum- W. Smith succeeded him in commoned to the aid of Couch; but there mand; but he was very soon disabled was an unaccounted-for delay in the by a paralytic stroke, and removed reception of the message, and some from the field. One of the last Rebel of his regiments did not rush to charges on this part of the field was the front quite so impetuously as a led by Jefferson Davis in person. good portion of Couch’s, especially Hearing vaguely of trouble on the the 55th New York (De Trobriand's left, McClellan, still at New Bridge, Frenchmen), made tracks for the had ordered Sumner, who had Sedgrear. It was a quarter past 3 o'clock wick’s and Richardson's divisions, to before Heintzelman came fairly into cross to the relief of Couch; and the fight; Jamison's Maine and Sedgwick, with the advance, reached Berry's Michigan brigades eagerly the field on our right an hour and a pushing to the front.
half before sunset, just as the triumOn the Rebel left, Gen. Smith's phant Rebels had turned Couch's attack was delayed by Johnston, left, interposing between him and who was there in person, until 4 Heintzelman (who, in coming up, P. M., listening for the sound of Long- had swayed to the right), with instreet's musketry, which, for some tent to sever and defeat our two corps atmospheric reason, he failed to hear. on the south of the Chickahominy. It was now too late for complete suc- But Sedgwick, advancing rapidly, cess, though his men fought desper- interposed at the critical moment, ately. The Richmond and York and, forming in line of battle in the River Railroad, near its crossing of edge of a wood, with a large open the Nine-mile road, runs for a con- field in his front, commenced a fire siderable distance on an embank- of canister from his 24 guns on the ment 4 or 5 feet high, forming an head of the enemy's advancing effective breastwork, behind which column, which staggered it; and our men held stubbornly and fought then, moving forward his whole divigallantly
sion in line of battle, he completely VOL. 11.-10
swept the field, recovering much of seemed to waver; but Burns's calm, the ground that had been lost. At full-voiced order, “Steady, men, nightfall, Richardson's division, hav- steady!" evoked a thundering cheer, ing also crossed over, came up on the followed by volley after volley of left of Sedgwick, connecting with musketry, under which the enemy Birney's brigade of Heintzelman's advanced steadily, and were chargcorps on his left; thus making all ing Kirby's battery, when he poured secure in that quarter.
into their close ranks a murderous At 6 P. M., Abercrombie, farther fire of canister, which sent them to our right, still desperately fight- rapidly to the woods in their rear. ing, had been compelled to give Meanwhile, Dana's brigade had ground, and seemed about to be en- come into line on Gorman's left, and veloped by an overwhelming force; the Rebels renewed, as darkness fell, when the long-expected succor ar- their attempt to outflank our right, rived. Gorman's brigade, leading extending their left farther and Sedgwick's division, deployed into farther; but in vain. Gens. Sumner, line of battle along the crest of a hill Sedgwick, Dana, whose horse was in the rear of Fair Oaks, and ad- killed under him, Burns, and Gorvanced down a gentle slope to the man, each exerted himself to the field where Col. Cochrane's U. S. utmost to animate and encourage Chasseurs and Neill's 23d Pennsyl- | their men. Dana's wing was gradvania were fighting against heavy ually advanced as the Rebels exodds. At this moment, a furious tended their left, and the battle enfilading fire of musketry was re- swayed more and more to our right, ceived on our right, indicating an until our line was nearly at right effort to turn us on that flank, and angles with that on which we had repeat the sharp lesson of Casey's been fighting two hours before. And disaster. Gen. Sedgwick instantly thus the fight raged on until after 8 directed Gen. Burns to deploy the o'clock; when the Rebels desisted 69th and 720 Pennsylvania to the and fell back, leaving us in undisright, himself holding the 71st and puted possession of the ground 106th in support of Gorman. The whereon the final struggle was made. Rebels attacked with great fury, Sumner's heavier artillery had been stampeding two or three battery left stalled in the swamps of the teams, so that for a moment our lines Chickahominy, as his infantry hur
Gen. McClellan, in his elaborate report on the steady fire of the infantry and the splendid this campaign, after relating Gen. Sumner's practice of the battery. After sustaining the arrival on the battle-field, with Sedgwick's divi- enemy's fire for a considerable time, Gen. Sum
ner ordered five regiments (the 34th New York, sion, says:
Col Smith, 82d New York, Lt.-Col. Hudson, "The leading regiment (1st Minnesota, Col. 15th Massachusetts
, Lt.-Col. Kimball, 20th Mas. Sully) was immediately deployed to the right of sachusetts, Col. Lee, 7th Michigan, Maj. RichCouch to protect the flank, and the rest of the ardson, the three former of Gen. Gorman's bridivision formed in line of battle; Kirby's battery gade, the two latter of Gen. Dana's brigade) to near the center, in an angle of the woods. One advance and charge with bayonet. This charge of Gen. Couch's regiments was sent to open was executed in the most brilliant manner. Our communication with Gen. Heintzelman. No troops, springing over two fences which were sooner were these dispositions made, than the between them and the enemy, rushed upon his enemy came on in strong force, and opened a lines, and drove him in confusion from that part heavy fire along the line. He made several of the field. Darkness now ended the battle for charges, but was repulsed with great loss, by that day."
MOCLELLAN FAILS TO IMPROVE HIS OPPORTUNITY.
ried forward to the battle. It was an attempt was made to bring them extricated during the night, brought forward." forward, and properly posted by In the morning," McClellan awaitmorning; when Gen. McClellan also ed an attack, which he says was made had arrived; but, alas! without the at 6 A. M., on the left of Sumner's corps of Fitz-John Porter and Frank- corps, by Gen. Pickett, supported by lin, which, could they but have come Gen. Roger A. Pryor's brigade of up on the New Bridge road during Hnger's division; to which French's the night, might have converted brigade, on our side, stood opposed. Casey's demolition into a Rebel over- | The fight between them was noisy, throw. It does not
It does not appear that even but not very bloody: due caution and 10 Gen. McClellan, in his report, states that the "An advance involving the separation of the still rising Chickahominy floated the log-way two wings by the impassable Chickahominy approaches to Gen. Sumner's brigade, after that
would have exposed each to defeat in detail.” officer had crossed his corps, so as to render That Gen. McClellan greatly over-estimated the them impassable; hence he [McClellan] was strength of the Rebel batteries and their supobliged to send his horse around by Bottom's ports opposite Fitz-John Porter and Franklin, Bridge, sis miles below, in returning to his and the difficulty of crossing there, is made plain headquarters. He adds:
by his dispatch, four days later, to the War De"The approaches to New and Mechanicsville partment, as follows: bridges were also overflowed, and both of them were enfiladed by the enemy's batteries estab
"HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC, lished upon commanding hights on the oppo
“NEW BRIDGE, June 5, 1862. site side. These batteries were supported by but is not clear. The river still very high and
" Rained most of the night; has now ceased, strong forces of the enemy, having numerous rifle-pits in their front, which would have made troublesome. Enemy opened with several batit necessary, even had the approaches been in teries on our bridges near here this morning; the best possible condition, to have fought a san
our batteries seem to have pretty much siguinary battle, with but little prospect of suc
lenced them, though some firing still kept up. cese, before a passage could have been secured. The rain forces us to remain in statu quo. With
" The only available means, therefore, of great difficulty, a division of infantry has been uniting our forces at Fair Oaks, for an advance crossed this morning to support the troops on on Richmond soon after the battle, was to march the other side, should the enemy renew attack, the troops from Mechanicsville, and other points I felt obliged to do this, although it leaves us on the left bank of the Chickahominy, down to
rather weak here. G. B. MOCLELLAN, Bottom's Bridge, and thence over the Williams
Major-General Commanding. burg road to the position near Fair Oaks, a dis
"Hon. E. M. STANTON, Secretary of War." tance of about twenty-three (23) miles. In the condition of the roads at that time, this march
Gen. J. G. Barnard, chief engineer, in his recould not have been made with artillery in less port of the campaign, says: than two days; by which time the enemy would have been secure within his intrenchments should have been taken advantage of. It was
“ The repulse of the Rebels at Fair Oaks around Richmond." It is hard for non-military readers to appre- not repeat themselves.
one of those occasions which, if not seized, do
We now know the state ciate admiringly the Generalship which con- of disorganization and dismay in which the sessedly exposes one wing of an army for two Rebel army retreated. We now know that it days to the entire force of its adversary, with could have been followed into Richmond. Had out assistance in any form from the other. If it been so, there would have been no resistance there be any military reason why Gen. McClel- though we did not then know all that we now
to overcome to bring over our right wing. AL lan should have thrown two corps across the do, it was obvious at that time that, when the Chickahominy on his left, within a few miles of Rebels struck the blow at our left wing, they Richmond, without simultaneously, or for five did not leave any means in their hands unused days thereafter, pushing over his right also, and they struck with their whole force ; and yet we
to secure success. It was obvious enough that seizing the commanding hights which were en
repulsed them in disorder with three-fifths of filaded by the enemy's batteries, no indications We should have followed them up at the of them appear in his report; which, with re- same time that we brought over the other twoference to following up our advantage of the 1st,
fifths." naively says:
11 June 1. ,