before, (Monday, thirtieth of June, (and passed in over a blind road, in the direction of Malvern Hill. After moving about one and a half miles, I was again halted by finding General Armistead's brigade had stopped on a skirt of wood about one mile in front of Dr. Metterst's (now Crew's) house. Moving along General Armistead's line, I proceeded, and found the General in a deep ravine, about one hundred yards from, and running parallel to, Crew's field fence. Here I ascertained that the enemy in very large force was occupying the crest of the hill on Crew's farm, immediately in front of his farm-yard, and had pickets and sharpshooters advanced near the edge of the woods in which we then lay. No definite idea could be obtained from our scouts of the number or position of the enemy, and I suggested to General Armistead that we go forward to the edge of the field, and under protection of a strong force of skirmishers, ascend a high knoll or hill, which abruptly sprang from the meadow below, and on our right, from the summit of which we would be able to observe the enemy's movements. Having reached this position, we were enabled to get a very complete view of McClellan's army. Immediately in our front, and extending one mile, stretched a field, at the farther extremity of which were situated the dwelling and farm buildings of Mr. Crew, (formerly Dr. Metterst's.) In front, and to our left, the land rose gently from the woods up to the farmyard, where it became high and rolling. Upon the right, the field was broken by a series of ridges and valleys, which ran out at right angles to a line drawn from our position to that of the enemy, and all of which terminated upon our extreme right in a precipitous bluff, which dropped suddenly down upon a low, flat meadow, covered with wheat, and intersected with a number of ditches, which ran from the bluff across the meadow to a swamp or dense wood, about five hundred yards farther to our right. This low, flat meadow, stretching up to and swinging around Crew's house, extended as far as Turkey Bend, on James River. The enemy had drawn up his artillery (as far as could be ascertained, about fifty pieces) in a crescent-shaped line, the convex line being next to our position, with its right (on our left) resting upon a road which passed three hundred yards to the left of Crew's house, to Malvern Hill; the left of their advanced line of batteries resting upon the high bluff which overlooked the meadow to the right (our right) and rear of Crew's house. Their infantry, a little in rear of the artillery, and protected by the crest of the ridge upon which the batteries were placed, extended from the woods on our left, along the crest of the hills, and through a lane in the meadow on our right to the dense woods there. In rear of this, and beyond a narrow ravine, the sides of which were covered with timber, and which ran parallel to their line of battle, and but a few yards in the rear of Crew's house, was another line of infantry, its right resting upon a heavy, dense wood, which covered the Malvern Hill farm on the east. The left of this line rested upon the precipitous bluff which overhung the low meadow on the west of the farm. At this point, the high bluff stretched out to the west for two hundred yards, in a long ridge or ledge, nearly separating the meadow from the low lands of the river, upon the extreme western terminus of which was planted a battery of heavy guns. This latter battery commanded the whole meadow in front of it, and, by a direct fire, was able to dispute the manoeuvring of troops over any portion of the meadow. Just behind the ravine which ran in rear of Crew's house, and under cover of the timber, was planted a heavy battery, in a small redoubt, whose fire swept across the meadow. These two batteries completely controlled the meadow from one extremity of it to another, and effectually prevented the movement of troops upon it in large masses. The whole number of these several batteries could not have fallen far short of one hundred. The infantry of the enemy I estimated at least twenty-five or thirty thousand, from what I saw. Large numbers, as I ascertained afterward, were posted in the woods on our extreme right and left, and the line of ditches across the meadow was lined with sharpshooters. Having no artillery with us, it was deemed prudent to keep our little force, amounting to not more than twenty-five hundred men in both brigades, concealed in the deep ravine in front of Crew's field, and send to the rear for guns. General Armistead, being the senior officer present, directed me to bring up Grimes's battery and place it in position on the crest of the ridge in front of our position. Grimes's battery was ordered up; but the distance being so great, only two pieces of his battery (rifles) were put in battery. As soon as Grimes's battery opened, the enemy began a fierce cannonading along their whole line, concentrating their fire upon Grimes's two pieces. Returning down the hill, after conducting Grimes to his position, I met General Armistead's and my own brigade advancing, (Armistead's some twenty or thirty paces in front of my own,) in a run, up the hill, and toward the open field, in the far edge of which the enemy was posted. Having received no order for this advance of my brigade, and being convinced the movement was not a judicious one, I ordered my brigade to halt just before emerging from the woods, and fall upon the ground, as the enemy's shells were falling in a pitiless storm all around us. Just as I got my men quiet, I was officially notified that General Armistead had ordered the advance, and I moved my brigade on. Emerging from the woods, we passed into the open field, set with clover, at this point; and, continuing the ascent some fifty or sixty yards, we reached the summit of the hill, where we found the fire from the enemy's guns so well directed and incessant, that I deemed it prudent to halt and make my men lie down in the high clover. Meanwhile Grimes's guns had been silenced by the loss of horses and men, and he was forced to retire, leaving one of his pieces. I
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Foreign accounts of the fight.
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