together in great confusion, the entire army being collected within a space of about three miles along the river.
No orders were given the first day for occupying the height, which commanded the position.
Nor were the troops so placed as to be able to resist an attack by the enemy; and nothing but a heavy rain, thereby preventing the enemy from bringing up their artillery, saved the army there from destruction.
The enemy did succeed in bring up some of their artillery, and threw some shells into the camp before any preparations for defense had been made.
“On the 3d of July the heights were taken possession of by our troops, and works of defence commenced, and then, and not until then, was our army secure in that position.”
[Extract from the “Report of the Committee
on the conduct of the war” (United States Congress), part I, page 27.]
testified as follows:
The enemy had come down with some artillery upon our army massed together on the river, the heights commanding the position not being in our possession.
Had the enemy come down and taken possession of these heights, with a force of twenty or thirty thousand men, they would, in my opinion, have taken the whole of our army, except that small portion of it that might have got on the transports.
I felt very much alarmed for the army until we had got possession of those heights and fortified them.
After that it was a strong position.
[Ibid, page 446.]
These heights would have been occupied and intrenched by our infantry and artillery, but Stuart
— dashing, gallant, glorious “Jeb
— could not resist the temptation of “stirring them up,” and so soon as his advance cavalry squadrons reached these heights he sent for Pelham
, the heroic “boy artillerist,” and a section of his horse artillery, which he ordered to open on the camps.
The confusion in McClellan
's camps showed how completely these hills commanded them, but it at the same time showed McClellan
that he must occupy those hills or all was lost.
was momentarily expecting Longstreet
, and resisted the strong force sent to dislodge him until Pelham
had fired his last round, and then he learned to his chagrin that Longrstreet had again been misled by his guide and was six miles away.
There was nothing left him but to withdraw, chuckling over the confusion he had produced in the camps of the enemy.
's orders were for an immediate attack on McClellan
's position, but Jackson
, who reached the field first, decided, after a careful reconnoissance, that the position was too strong to be assaulted and took the responsibility to order a. halt, which General Lee