miles, with instructions to prevent any person leaving his premises. About nine A. M., on the twenty-ninth, some of Wise's cavalry dashed into the camp in a reckless manner, cheering, and were received with a volley, which resulted in the death of the Major, and capture of some twenty-five, among whom was Captain Ruffin. The troops lay in position all day, awaiting in anxious suspense the movements of the enemy, somewhat encouraged by the arrival of supports from the White Oak Swamp, at six P. M. My command was relieved by that of General Slocum, and in obedience to orders from General Keyes, took up the line of march to James river, where it arrived in safety, with its train and artillery, at nine A. M. on the thirtieth, having been on the road, without sleep, in expectation of meeting the enemy, the whole night. Malvern Hill. I placed Wessell's brigade in position not far from Turkey Creek, Naglee's brigade not having joined. The enemy having commenced his attack upon the columns en route, my command was placed in line of battle by General Keyes about 3:30 P. M., on the extreme right, and entrusted with the defence of the reserve artillery. For a long time it was the only command on the ground. Early on the first of July, General Slocum was placed on my left (Malvern Hill), and in conjunction with him arrangements were made for the defence of our portion of the line. During the day my detachments at Turner's and Long's Bridge, and Jones' Ford, were compelled to withdraw, to avoid being destroyed by the overwhelming force on the opposite side of the Chickahominy. They reported the enemy had already crossed at Jones' Bridge in considerable numbers. rear guard. At midnight I was advised that the army would immediately commence its movements to Harrison's Landing, some seven miles, and that my command would constitute the rear guard. After consultation it was deemed best, in case of there being only one road, that the brigades of Wessell and Naglee should cover the rear alternately, with the needful supply of artillery. At half past 1 A. M., I was in my saddle aiding General Wessell in forming his line of battle on the heights, a short distance this side the headquarters of General McClellan. Miller's battery only was retained ; all the principal by-roads were picketed with cavalry. Naglee's brigade was formed about a mile in the rear, on a commanding position. Stationing myself in the road, I gave my entire time and personal attention to the supervision of troops, batteries, and trains. Long trains of wagons and ambulances converging from every quarter towards the road, it became a very important question how to dispose of them, under my instructions, which were, to operate with reference to the rear of the artillery and troops, and not with reference to the trains, save the leaving of a single regiment in their rear. The plan which I adopted was this: that there should be one unbroken line of troops and batteries on one side of the road; and that the trains should move in like manner on the other side. That so long as the troops moved the trains could move; but that upon any detention of the troops the wagon trains must be halted. Batteries, ammunition, and hospital wagons had the preference. When extensive openings bordered the road, steps were taken to shorten up the trains by moving in several columns. Reports frequently came in of the movements of the enemy in various quarters, and on the reception of one of these, General Smith formed line of battle for some time to co-operate with me. About twelve o'clock M., Colonel Averill passed by with his fine command, bringing up everything from the direction of Turkey Creek, in excellent order and time. As every command, ambulance, wagon, and straggler, had gone by the rear guard, I directed General Wessell to draw in his pickets and detachments, and move on and take up a position in the rear of General Naglee. About five o'clock P. >M., it was evident that, owing to the terrible condition of the roads, the whole country being flooded with water, which had poured down upon the clay soil uninterruptedly since early in the morning, that the train could not reach its destination that night, and, without protection, would fall into the hands of the enemy rapidly advancing. I placed Wessell's brigade in position on the other side of Kimagen's Creek, with Miller's battery and seven small companies of cavalry. The brigade of Naglee, he being unwell, was placed in supporting distance this side of the creek. Soon after, the enemy opened with artillery upon the train for the purpose of creating contusion and stampeding the animals. Two additional regiments were sent to reinforce General Wessell. Judicious dispositions were made by him, and every step taken to keep the train of wagons moving through the night across the creek. At daylight on the third, the crossings of the stream were well nigh impassable, the rain having continued through the night. The drivers and animals were exhausted by want of food and great exertion, and the prospect for the balance of the train being passed was exceedingly dubious. New roads were cut through the woods, teams were doubled and fresh ones sent for. The enemy's pickets were around us, and his advance columns not far distant; doubtless held in check by the fire of the gunboats. The work proceeded slowly but surely through the day, and at seven o'clock P. M. on the third I had the proud satisfaction of reporting for the information of the headquarters Army of the Potomac that the last vehicle had crossed the creek. The opinion is ventured that the history of military operations affords no instance where
This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
Doc . 16 . operations in Tennessee .
Doc . 19 . the siege of Suffolk, Virginia .
Doc . 36 . General Rousseau 's expedition.
Doc . 59 . battles of Spottsylvania , Va: battle of Sunday , May 8 , 1864 .
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.