Lieutenant-Colonel Cadwallader Jones, to meet the enemy seen on the left, took and brought in some twelve of the prisoners, belonging in chief to regiments of Pennsylvania reserves. At the intersection of the roads, near Walnut Grove Church, where Major-General Hill stopped to confer with Major-General Jackson, I received General Hill's further instructions, and resumed the advance on the roads running near the Chickahominy to Gaines's Mill. Approaching the vicinity of Hogan's house, where General Lee stopped me by the roadside and gave me further directions for advancing and attacking the enemy, I moved the brigade forward in nearly the same order as the first--the First and Twelfth regiments leading, with skirmishers in front. In compliance with a request sent me by General Longstreet, I rode hastily across to Hogan's house, where I informed General Longstreet of the route by which my brigade was moving, and learned from him the parallel road on my right, by which his troops were to move. In approaching Powhite Creek, we passed an extensive deserted camp of the enemy, with great quantities of accoutrements and stores abandoned or burning. A large pontoon train was burning in a field to our left. The enemy made some stand at Gaines's Mill, and here our skirmishers (Cordew's and Haskell's companies, of the First, and Miller's, of the Twelfth) became sharply engaged. The enemy was sheltered by trees. Our riflemen availed themselves of the inequalities of the ground, where they could fire and load lying down. This exchange of fire having continued for some time, while the First and Twelfth were preparing to advance in line, and judging that a rapid charge of skirmishers would dislodge the enemy, with least loss to our troops, I ordered them forward at the double-quick. At the word of command the riflemen sprang to their feet, and, advancing impetuously, drove the enemy before them. The First and Twelfth now followed in line of battle, and, after the bridges on the creek and mill-race, torn up by the enemy, had been rebuilt by a working party under Lieutenants Johnson and Izard, of the engineer corps, crossed the stream and again formed line of battle on the brow of the hill to advance, supported by the other two regiments. It was now nearly two o'clock P. M. The advance across the plain, which extends from the valley of Powhite Creek to that beyond Cold Harbor, was made rapidly and steadily, under the fire of the enemy's skirmishers. For a good part of the distance, the line advanced at the double-quick. Among the troops driven from the ground, the Ninth Massachusetts was noticed. Descending into the hollow beyond Cold Harbor, the sides of which are wooded and the bottom occupied by a marsh somewhat difficult to cross, the brigade dislodged the enemy, and was formed in two lines. The first consisted of the First and Twelfth regiments, on the farther hill-side; the second consisted of the First rifles and the Thirteenth, in the low grounds, behind Captain Crenshaw's guns, now placed in battery near the brow of the hill on the Cold Harbor side, from which he commenced firing on the enemy across the valley, who replied from batteries on the hill in our front. In this position, with the fire of artillery passing over head, the infantry remained at a halt, by General Hill's orders, from about half past 2 o'clock until four, to await the formation of the line of battle on our right and left, preparatory to a general attack. When General Hill sent the order to make the attack, I directed the First and Twelfth regiments to advance up the hill-side. The ground, especially in front of the First, was covered with a dense thicket of young pines. As our troops ascended toward the open ground, they were met by a continuous fire of small arms from a much superior number of troops, and at the same time were exposed to a heavy fire of artillery, both direct and oblique. The fire was so destructive they could not advance farther. Finding that great damage was done by an enfilading fire from a battery established a good distance to our right, I directed Colonel Marshall, with his regiment, to charge and take it, throwing forward two companies in open order, supported by two others, as a reserve, in close order, and following with the rest of the regiment, joined in column of companies. Colonel Marshall, addressing a few brief and stirring words to his regiment, proceeded upon the execution of this highly perilous service in the handsomest manner. The two flank companies of Captain P. M. Perrin and Captain T. J. Norton, were thrown forward as skirmishers, under command of Captain Perrin. The companies of Captains Miller and Miles M. Norton followed in support. The four leading companies were all under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Ledbetter. The charge was made at the double-quick, the column of six companies being deployed into line after reaching the open ground. A most destructive fire of musketry and artillery, in front and in flank, did not check the charge, which was continued for several hundred yards, across the open ground and into a wood, where several regiments of the enemy were posted. The battery, which was the object of the charge, had been withdrawn. The regiment, on reaching the wood, commenced firing on the enemy's infantry, and drove them in, many of the men engaging in a hand-to-hand conflict with the bayonet and with clubbed rifles. A strong body of New York Zouaves now made a hot attack on the left wing and flank of the regiment. They were repulsed and brought to a stand by the steady and well-directed fire from a party which, on the spur of the moment, and with marked presence of mind and skill, Lieutenant Higgins formed to check them. Colonel Marshall, finding that no support was sent to him from the rest of the brigade, now too hard pressed on its front, ordered his regiment to fall back, and re-formed it in the wooded hollow, some distance to the right of its original position, where a North Carolina regiment, which just then came up, aided in holding the ground. Of five hundred and thirty-seven men carried into action, Colonel Marshall's regiment
This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
Foreign accounts of the fight.
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.