forces, some portion of our army was not thrown across the Chickahominy that day to fall on the flank of the enemy's retreating columns. This could have been safely and suddenly done at the ford before alluded to. On Monday, thirtieth, by orders, we marched, at an early hour, over the same road taken by the enemy twenty-four hours before, and, three miles distant, passed the battle-field where General Longstreet had engaged the enemy the afternoon previous. At about four P. M., we reached the White Oak Swamp, where, after an hour's engagement with artillery, General Jackson's army bivouacked for the night, (including General Whiting's division.) On Tuesday, July first, we marched, by orders, at sunrise, crossed White Oak Swamp, (the bridge, destroyed by the enemy, causing some hours' delay,) continued by slow marches to----Church, and formed line of battle on Poindexter's farm, opposite the Malvern Hills, about two P. M.,--the Seventh brigade on the extreme left. We remained in position about three hours, during the greater part of which time artillery and musketry firing was heard on our right, a mile or two distant. At five P. M., Courtnay's battery was put in position, opened a brisk fire, which was answered by heavy discharges from four or five batteries of the enemy posted on Malvern Hill. After half an hour's engagement, doing good service, the battery was withdrawn reluctantly by an order of General Whiting, through a courier, (staff officer R. S. E.,) which turned out to have been intended for another battery. At three P. M., that day, after the enemy's position and disposition of his forces had been well reconnoitred through a glass, and plainly visible, I asked permission to move through the continuous woods to the left and attack the enemy by a surprise on his right. This proposal, forwarded to General Jackson, was declined by him. About sundown, orders were received to march the Seventh brigade to the right, where the battle had raged fiercely for some two hours, and our troops repulsed. I moved quickly, guided by an officer of General D. H. Hill's staff, through a dense woods, in the dark, exposed, for a mile and a half, to a continuous and rapid fire of the enemy's artillery, and took up a position on that part of the field where General Magruder had made his disastrous charges across an open field, every yard of which could be swept by the adverse artillery. This field was about half a mile broad, skirted by woods on the left, and a high and abrupt declivity, descending to Turkey Creek, on the right. I reported to General Ewell, and a few moments after, to D. H. Hill, who ordered the brigade to remain in its position near the woods, on the edge of the field. I proposed, soon after, to General D. H. Hill, to ride forward and reconnoitre the enemy's position. It was then about nine o'clock. We rode forward, and approached within one hundred steps of the batteries, and could hear plainly the ordinary tone of conversation. The guns were then firing on the woods to our left, where the last attack had been made at right angles to that part of the field we were in. I suggested to General Hill the advantage of making an attack on this battery, and that it must be successful, as the enemy would not expect one from our position, and, under cover of the darkness, we could approach them undiscovered. General Hill did not seem inclined to make the movement. We rode back to the brigade, conversed some time, when I again urged the propriety of an attack, as we could approach so near undiscovered as to insure success, the enemy having no skirmishers in our front; but he declined, as before, to order the attack, and directed me to make no further movement. I occupied this position until about twelve o'clock, when all firing had ceased for more than two hours, and as General Ewell and General Hill had both been absent during this time, I retired the brigade into the woods to bivouac for the night, as the men were completely worn out, and no further action expected. The next morning, by dawn, I went off to ask for orders, when I found the whole army in the utmost disorder; thousands of straggling men asking every passer by for their regiment; ambulances, wagons, and artillery obstructing every road, and altogether in a drenching rain, presenting a scene of the most woful and disheartening confusion. The Seventh brigade, not having been fairly brought into action, was in good order next morning, and prepared to move in a body. By six o'clock, orders were received from General Jackson, whom I met casually, to march to the church, where we remained all day the second of July. Thursday, third July, we had orders to march to the front; did so, and encamped about eight miles from James River, opposite Westover. July fourth, we again marched to the front, reached a point about four miles from James River, where line of battle was formed and skirmishers thrown out half a mile in advance, who occasionally exchanged shots with the enemy's scouts. At night, one of my regiments was put on picket. We lay in camp until July eighth. We were ordered to move, at dark, to the rear, and on the tenth of July, encamped four miles from Richmond, scarcely able to march from excessive fatigue and prostration, the result of constant fighting and marching in a country where air and water were both impure, and rapidly breaking down the health of the army. I append below the list of killed and wounded in the before-mentioned engagements. Yours, respectfully,
J. R. Trimble, Brigadier-General.
List of Killed and Wounded.
|Sixteenth Mississippi regiment, enlisted men,||3|
|Twenty-first North Carolina,||8|
J. E. Douthit, Assistant Surgeon.
On the above report was the following indorsement:
This report was handed in by General Trimble