enemy was “hurriedly thrown over the moon!” the one being quite as practicable as the other, Kearny being on my right, half a mile from Hooker, (who was on my left,) and six of my regiments and three batteries, Cooper's, Kerns's, and Randall's, in the interval hotly contesting the ground with part of Longstreet's division, which, I am proud to say, after hard fighting, recoiled before the Pennsylvania reserves. The simple fact is, the enemy was thrown over by Sumner (for the meeting with Sumner and Hooker was altogether unexpected by the enemy, and they were disordered by their rencontre with Seymour) on to my centre, as established by the testimony of Colonel Roy Stone heretofore given; and repulsed as I have just stated. In a letter to me, dated Columbus, Ohio, February fourteenth, 1864, in reply to inquiries of mine, General Heintzelman says: “About five o'clock it was reported to me that the Pennsylvania reserves had given way. Knowing that if the enemy made much progress in that direction Kearny's division and the troops on the right of him (Slocum's division, etc.) would be cut off from the rest of the army and from our line of retreat to the James River, I rode forward.” Here is good presumptive proof that the “stubborn resistance” of the reserves prevented McClellan's army being cut in two. Heintzelman's temporary headquarters were at the crossing of Charles City road, about six hundred yards in my rear. On reaching the further edge of the pine woods, in my rear, and seeing my men “emerging from the woods,” and Sumner preparing to resist the advance of the enemy, he directed his chief of artillery to shell the woods in his front, (in my rear,) and his letter then goes on: “I stopped myself at, I suppose, half-way across the open space (on his return to his headquarters) to take another look to be satisfied that the enemy would be checked or driven back. (Where was my division at this time?) Whilst halting here I was struck on the arm by a ball from one of the enemy's sharp-shooters, I presume, in the woods in front; also one of my staff was hit.” How the sharp-shooters got into the woods, in the rear of the Pennsylvania reserves, and in part, at that time, occupied by two regiments of my reserve brigade, it is difficult to see; but as it appears, from his own report, that these wounds were contusions from spent balls, it is presumable that the shots were fired over the heads of my men when engaged at close quarters with the enemy in front of these woods. In order to explain to the reader what was going on in my division at this time, I extract a passage from my letter to General Heintzelman, dated March twenty-ninth, 1864: “Now, my dear General, had you, after posting De Russy's battery, ridden through the narrow strip of woods in front of you, a little to the right of where you saw my men ‘emerging from the woods,’ you would have found me in the open field in front, with the centre of my division; and General Meade, with his brigade, on the right of the division; and six regiments of the Pennsylvania reserves and three batteries, at that very moment, blazing away at the enemy, who was advancing with great steadiness to close quarters, but was driven back with great slaughter from every point of my right and centre. Before you started to return, you placed De Russy's battery on the right of Sumner's artillery, with orders to shell the woods in your front. Soon after this shelling commenced, General Meade rode up to me and reported that ‘ the shells from those batteries were falling among his men,’ and requested me to cause them to cease firing. I immediately sent my aid-de-camp, Captain Scheetz, to state the facts to the officer commanding the battery, and request him to cease firing, as my troops were in his front. In the mean time shells began .o fall about the centre of my division; there is no mistake about this, as some of them exploded over my own head. Captain Scheetz returned and reported that he had delivered my message, but that the officer commanding the artillery refused to stop firing without orders from his own General. I then directed him to seek the General commanding the troops, and repeat my request. The horse of my aid was killed on the way, and he did not find the general. The firing, however, ceased not long afterward, the enemy having been repulsed by me.” It will be seen by the foregoing extract that, while I was steadily resisting a heavy pressure from the enemy in front, I was subjected to “a fire in the rear” from my friends. I trust that this plain and unvarnished explanation of the rather crude passage in General McClellan's report, above quoted, will be sufficiently intelligible to the public and all concerned. Reference may at any time be made to General Meade, and the officers of both his and my own staff. I must still refer to another passage in General McClellan's report. On the same page (137) he says: “Late in the day, at the call of General Kearny, General Taylor's First New-Jersey brigade, Slocum's division, was sent to occupy a portion of General McCall's deserted position, a battery accompanying the brigade. They soon drove back the enemy, who shortly after gave up the attack.” Had this been true, it would have been the most ungenerous and ungrateful expression — the deserted position!--ever used by a commanding general toward a general officer, who had fought his division for four hours against superior numbers, even if overcome. But the check given to Lee by my division on the New-Market road, having, in the judgment of more than one Federal, and at least one confederate general, “saved McClellan's army,” it makes the stigma attempted to be cast on the division the more glaring and unpardonable. I have within a short time been unofficially informed that General McClellan, desirous of smoothing over the unmannered epithet, has written to the Adjutant-General at Washington, requesting leave to change his phraseology to the following, namely: “A portion of General ”
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Foreign accounts of the fight.
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