previous next

[227] until six o'clock, and after great exertions, that General Sedgwick's division, with a single battery (Kirby's), was able to reach the field and exert a favorable influence upon the fortunes of the day.

The opportune arrival of General Sumner was not our only piece of good fortune; for about sunset the Confederate commander-in-chief, General J. E. Johnston, who had accompanied Smith's corps and directed the enemy's movements since four or five o'clock, was struck from his horse, severely wounded, by the fragment of a shell. In consequence of this, utter confusion prevailed for a time upon the Confederate left.

The next morning, at an early hour, the battle was renewed, the enemy making an attack upon General Richardson's division, which had not taken part in the engagement of the previous day, and which was now posted in front. They met it firmly, and returned with effect the enemy's fire, until General Howard's brigade was ordered to the front, when the enemy's line fell back. Other attacks, in other parts of the field, were repulsed; and finally our line advanced with the bayonet, and the enemy retreated, having gained about half a mile of ground in two days fighting.

In these severely contested battles our loss was five thousand seven hundred and thirty-seven, and that of the enemy six thousand seven hundred and eighty. three: we also lost ten pieces of artillery.1

1 At the time the battle of Fair Oaks began, General McClellan was confined to his bed by illness. This fact does not appear in his Report, but is stated by him in his evidence before the Congressional Committee on the Conduct of the War. But that committee say in their Report (p. 22), speaking of the second day's fight, “General McClellan was with the main part of the army on the left bank of the Chickahominy. After the fighting was over, he came across to the right bank of the river.” This statement is as untrue as it is unjust. General McClellan, enfeebled as he was by illness, immediately got on horseback when he heard the cannon which opened the battle of the 31st, was employed during the remainder of the day in receiving reports and giving orders, spent a portion of the night in conferring with his officers, and early the next morning went over to the right bank of the river, while the fight of June 1st was raging. Colonel Lecomte remarks upon the statement of the committee, that it is “, contradicted by many ocular witnesses, and, among others, by one of his aides who was with him the whole day. General McClellan, says this officer, though severely ill with dysentery, had passed the greater part of the night in seeking his generals and conferring with them. About half-past 7 in the morning he left the headquarters of General Sumner, and between eight and nine arrived at the place where the latter was engaged. The fight was then at its height: we were in a clearing, and were fighting along the edge of a wood, two hundred metres” (about six hundred and fifty feet) “from the spot where the general himself (Sumner) was directing the battle.”

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Chickahominy (Virginia, United States) (1)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
George Brinton McClellan (4)
E. V. Sumner (3)
G. W. Smith (1)
John Sedgwick (1)
I. B. Richardson (1)
Lecomte (1)
Kirby (1)
Joseph E. Johnston (1)
Howard (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
June 1st (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: