previous next
[157] lost little ground, telegraphed again to McClellan that his position was critical, when French's and Meagher's brigades of the 21 corps were ordered to cross to his support. They moved promptly and rapidly; but, before they could reach the field, the Rebels, rallying all their forces, just at sunset, for a last desperate effort, had stormed our intrenchments both on the left and on the right, and driven back their defenders with mutual carnage, capturing several of our guns.

Porter, seeing his infantry beaten, now called into action all his reserved and remaining artillery, and thus bringing at once about 80 guns into action, was covering the retreat of his infantry and dealing fearful retribution on their assailants, whose advance was suddenly checked; when Gen. Cooke, without orders, undertook to charge, with a battalion of cavalry, the right flank of the Rebels advancing on our left, and still covered in good part by woods. This charge being met by a withering fire of musketry, amidst the roar of a hundred belching cannon, resulted in instant rout: the frightened horses, whether with or without the consent of their riders, wheeling abruptly and crashing through our batteries; leading our gunners to suppose, for the moment, that they were charged by regiments of Rebel horse. “To this alone,” says Fitz-John Porter, in his report, “is to be attributed our failure to hold the field, and to bring off all our guns and wounded.”

In another moment, the cheering shouts of French's and Morell's men were heard, as they advanced rapidly to the front. Rallying behind these two fresh brigades, our wearied, decimated regiments advanced up the hill down which they had recently been driven, ready to meet a fresh attack, lad one been attempted. But the enemy, perceiving that they were confronted by fresh combatants, and not knowing our force, halted for the night on the field they had so hardly won.

During that night, our forces were by order withdrawn, unmolested, across the Chickahominy, losing three guns, that were run off a bridge into the stream. in addition to 19 that they l}ad left on the battle-field.

Our loss in this action, though not specifically reported, probably exceeded 6,000 killed and wounded: among the former were Cols. Samuel W. Black, 62d Pa., McLean, of the 8:)d, Gove, of the 22d Mass., Maj. N. B. Rossell, 3d regular infantry, and many other brave and valuable officers. The 11th Pennsylvania Reserves, Col. Gallagher, and 4th N. J., Col. Simpson, while enveloped III the smoke of battle, having too long maintained their position in the farthest front, found themselves at last completely enveloped by overwhelming forces of the enemy, and compelled to surrender; and Gen. John F. Reynolds, of the 1st brigade of Reserves, will his Adjutant, Capt. Charles Kingsbury, were taken prisoners just at dark, riding into a Rebel regiment, which they supposed to be one of their own. Altogether, our losses in this desperate action were hardly less than 8,000 men; those of the Rebels being probably about two-thirds as many.1

1 Gen. Jackson officially reports the losses of his corps in this battle at 589 killed, 2,671 wounded. and 24 missing: total, 3,284. The other division and corps commanders make no separate report of their losses in this action. Gen. C. M. Widcox, 4th brigade. Longstreet's division, states his losses at 584, out of a total of 1,850. Among the Rebel killed were Cols. J. J. Woodward, 10th Ala.; S. T. Hale, 11th Ala.; John Marshall, 4th Texas; among the severely wounded, Cols. Rainey, 1st Toxas, and Robinson, 5th Texas.

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.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: