Report of Colonel Gordon.
headquarters First brigade, Third division, camp near Richmond, Va., July 19, 1862.Major: On the evening of twenty-eighth ultimo, the command of this brigade was turned over to me by Brigadier-General Rodes, his physical prostration forcing him to retire. At three o'clock A. M., Monday, June thirtieth, the brigade was put in motion, crossing the Chickahominy at Grapevine Bridge, and halted, during the afternoon and night, on the Williamsburg road, near White Oak Creek. Here one regiment (the Twelfth Alabama) was sent across the creek as picket, and was next day ordered back to Richmond in charge of prisoners. Continuing the pursuit of the enemy, on the first of July we were halted near Malvern Hill. As ordered by Major-General Hill, I formed the brigade in line of battle, on the right of the division, and threw out a portion of the Third Alabama as skirmishers, covering my right flank. Remaining in this position for two hours, I received an order to move immediately forward. Ordering the Third Alabama to call in its skirmishers, and by a rapid forward movement to join the brigade, I moved on. The enemy's batteries were distant about one mile, and the ground intervening exceedingly rough. Passing across an open meadow, and up a precipitous hill, through dense woods, one of the regiments of General Anderson's brigade (Colonel Trew) reported to me as having lost its brigade. Forming it upon the left of this brigade, I moved forward, halting when near the open field in which the enemy had stationed his batteries. I here sent forward Captain H. A. Whiting, A. A. General, to ascertain the respective positions of the Confederate and Federal batteries. Upon his report, I half wheeled the brigade to the left, and moving forward, placed it under cover of a low hill in sight of the enemy's batteries, to await orders, with the Twenty-sixth Alabama on the right, and the Fifth Alabama next on the right, both immediately in rear of the position occupied by our own batteries. The Twenty-sixth Alabama and the right wing of the Fifth were suffering from the enemy's artillery fire, directed at our batteries. I therefore at once moved these portions of the brigade by the left flank in rear of the Third Alabama, which I had previously brought into line. This was my position, when Major-General Hill gave me the order to charge the batteries in our front, distant seven or eight hundred yards, across an open field. I ordered Captain H. A. Whiting to bring the Twenty-sixth Alabama and the right wing of the Fifth Alabama as rapidly as possible into line. The whole ground in front of the Twenty-sixth, Fifth, and Third Alabama regiments was swept by the fire of the artillery, which had, in rapid succession, silenced two Confederate batteries in our front. As there was no artillery to attract the enemy's attention, his batteries from the beginning, and his infantry finally, poured a most destructive fire upon my ranks. Never was the courage of troops more severely tried, and heroically exhibited than in this charge. They moved on under this terrible fire, breaking and driving off the first line of infantry, until within a little over two hundred yards of the batteries. Here the canister and musketry mowed down my already thinned ranks so rapidly that it became impossible to advance without support; and had it been possible to reach the batteries, I have high authority to back my own judgment, that it would have been at the sacrifice of the entire command. I therefore ordered the men to lie down and open fire, and immediately sent back to notify Major-General Hill of my position, and to ask him to send up support. A brigade was sent forward, but failed to reach my line. The troops sent up from another division on the right, had already fallen back, and refused to rally under the efforts made by Captain Whiting, A. A. General, and myself. Nearly one half of the brigade had been killed or wounded, leaving me about six hundred men able to load and fire. With the enemy's batteries, and heavy lines of infantry concentrating their fire on my ranks, it was folly, without immediate and steady support, to hold the brigade longer in this position. I therefore ordered it to fall back. Night was upon us, and, in common with some of my officers, I assisted in placing other troops in position. The batteries were not taken; but, without detracting anything from the action of other troops, justice to these men compels me to say that the dead of this brigade marked a line nearer the batteries than any other. Some of the Twelfth North Carolina regiment nobly rushed forward and perished among the dead of my right regiment. I called the attention of two of Major-General Hill's staff to these facts the next day on the field. There were many exhibitions of individual heroism, but I must call especial attention to the gallant conduct of Colonel O'Neal, of the Twenty-sixth Alabama; Major Hobson, of the Fifth Alabama; Major Sands and Captain Powell, of the Third Alabama; and Major Baldwin, assigned to the temporary command of the Sixth Alabama. Mr. Lumsden, a volunteer Aid to Brigadier-General Rodes, was wounded in the hand while discharging his duties. Of the gallant conduct of Captain H. A. Whiting, A. A. General, I cannot speak in too strong terms. Ordered to the right, under the heaviest fire, to assist me in preserving the line, he discharged his duty with great courage and spirit. His services on this, as on other occasions, were invaluable. I submit herewith a tabular list, furnished by each regiment. Owing to their positions in line, the Third Alabama suffered most, and the Sixth Alabama least. Permit me to conclude by saying, that nothing so increases an officer's confidence in our own strength, as to lead such troops into battle. I am, very respectfully, Major, your obedient servant,
To Major J. W. Ratchford, A. A. General, Third Division.
To Major J. W. Ratchford, A. A. General, Third Division.