from their camps in front of Richmond across New-Bridge, to strengthen Jackson still more. Happy delusion! Their first shells exploded around and over the hospitals at Savage station, but it is just to say it was not intentional. They next opened upon a cluster of officers, including Sumner, Sedgwick, Richardson, Burns, and their staffs, missing them fortunately, but covering them with dust. Our own batteries were now in full clamor, and both sides handled their guns skilfully. The object of the enemy seemed to be to break our right centre, and consequently Burns's brigade was the recipient of the principal share of their favor. As the afternoon wore away, the combatants drew closer together, and the conflict became one of the sharpest of the battles on Virginia soil. Two companies of one regiment stampeded. General Burns flung himself across their track, waved his bullet-shattered hat, expostulated, exhorted, entreated, threatened, imprecated, under a storm of lead, and at last, throwing his hat in an agony of despair upon the ground, begged them to rally once more, and preserve them and him from disgrace. The last appeal touched them. The men wheeled with alacrity, and fought like heroes until the carnage ceased. Each regiment distinguished itself so conspicuously, that in happier times their names will be inscribed in general order. But there was such a number of regiments and officers engaged that the record would make a volume. Suffice it that none but those I expected, and who redeemed themselves subsequently, faltered in the fight. Sumner's corps held the field till Heintzelman's corps had retired, and then moved quietly and swiftly back, under cover of night and the forests, across White Oak bridge. Our trains had now passed White Oak bridge. Such an achievement, in such order, under the circumstances, might well be regarded wonderful. The retreat was most ably conducted. Until this day, (Monday,) the enemy seems constantly to have operated upon the supposition that our army was intending to retire to the Pamunkey. They had been deluded into this belief by the Seventeenth New-York and Eighteenth Massachusetts regiments, together with part of the First, Second and Sixth Regular cavalry, which had been sent out of Old Church on Thursday morning, to impress the enemy with that notion. (Par parenthese, they retired safely to Yorktown, and are now at Malvern Hill.) But our true object must now have become apparent, and it was vitally necessary to get the trains through before the enemy could push columns down the Charles City, Central and New-Market roads. But until eight o'clock in the morning, we had no knowledge of any but the Quaker road to the point at which we now aimed — Hardin's Landing and Malvern Hill, in Turkey Bend. Sharp reconnoissance, however, had found another, and soon our tremendous land-fleet was sailing down two roads, and our long artillery train of two hundred and fifty guns and equipments were lumbering after them with furious but orderly speed. So perfect was the order — although to an unpractised eye it would have seemed the confusion of Bable — that the roads were blockaded but two or three times. The topography of the country had now become such, that infantry could march through the woods in parallel lines on both sides of the trains, while White Oak swamp fortunately protected our flanks from cavalry. We were getting on admirably, and it was apparent that the whole army would be safely in position before sunset unless the enemy should attack.
This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
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.