This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
 the enemy's infantry, which immediately gave way, but a heavy fire of twenty-five or thirty guns promptly replied to our battery, and formed, with the gunboats, a crossfire upon General Holmes's command. The numerical superiority of the opposing force, both in infantry and artillery, would have made it worse than useless to attempt an assault unless previously reenforced, and, as no reenforcements arrived, Holmes, about an hour after nightfall, withdrew to a point somewhat in advance of the one he had held in the morning. Though the enemy continued their cannonade until after dark, and most of the troops were new levies, General Holmes reported that they behaved well under the trying circumstances to which they were exposed, except a portion of his artillery and cavalry, which gave way in disorder, probably from the effect of the ten-inch shells, which were to them a novel implement of war; for when I met them, say half a mile from the point they had left, and succeeded in stopping them, another shell fell and exploded near us in the top of a wide-spreading tree, giving a shower of metal and limbs, which soon after caused them to resume their flight in a manner that plainly showed no moral power could stop them within the range of those shells. It was after a personal and hazardous reconnaissance that General Lee assigned General Holmes to his last position; when I remonstrated with General Lee, whom I met returning from his reconnaissance, on account of the exposure to which he had subjected himself, he said he could not get the required information otherwise, and therefore had gone himself. After the close of the battle of Malvern Hill, General Holmes found that a deep ravine led up to the rear of the left flank of the enemy's line, and expressed his regret that it had not been known, and that he had not been ordered, when the attack was made in front, to move up that ravine and simultaneously assail in flank and reverse. It was not until after he had explained with regret the lost, because unknown, opportunity, that he was criticised as having failed to do his whole duty at the battle of Malvern Hill. He has passed beyond the reach of censure or of praise, after serving his country on many fields wisely and well. I, who knew him from our schoolboy days, who served with him in garrison and in the field, and with pride watched him as he gallantly led a storming party up a rocky height at Monterey, and was intimately acquainted with his whole career during our sectional war, bear willing testimony to the purity, selfabnegation, generosity, fidelity, and gallantry which characterized him as a man and a soldier.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.