previous next

[57] General Robert E. Lee, flushed with a succession of victories during the preceding six days, was pushing forward, and the Federal army, strongly posted, had determined to make a stand.

General Lee thus describes the position: ‘Early on July 1 Jackson reached the battle-field of the previous day, having succeeded in crossing White Oak Swamp, where he captured a part of the enemy's artillery and a number of prisoners. He was directed to continue the pursuit down the Willis Church road, and soon found the enemy occupying a high range, extending obliquely across the road, in front of Malvern Hill. On this position of great natural strength he had concentrated his powerful artillery, supported by masses of infantry, partially protected by earthworks. His left rested near Crew's house and his right near Binford's. Immediately in his front the ground was open, varying in width from a quarter to a half mile, and, sloping gradually from the crest, was completely swept by the fire of his infantry and artillery. To reach this open ground our troops had to advance through a broken and thickly-wooded country, traversed nearly throughout its whole extent by a swamp, passable at but few places, and difficult at these. The whole was within range of the batteries on the heights and the gunboats in the river, under whose incessant fire our movements had to be executed.’

But the best description of the field of battle and of the position of the Federal troops is given by General Ambrose R. Wright, to whose brigade of Georgians and Mahone's brigade of Virginians was assigned the duty of opening the engagement, as we will hereafter see. General Wright's very clear pen-picture is well worth perusal. Here is what he says:

Immediately in our front, and extending one mile, stretched a field, at the farther extremity of which was situated the dwelling and farm buildings of Mr. Crew (formerly Dr. Mettert). In front and to our left the land rose gently from the edge of the woods up to the farm-yard, when 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 a bluff across the meadow to a swamp or dense woods about five hundred yards farther to our right. This low, flat meadow stretched up to and swinging around Crew's house, extended as far Turkey Bend on James river. The enemy had drawn up his artillery

Creative Commons License
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.

hide Places (automatically extracted)
hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Ambrose R. Wright (2)
Virginians (1)
Mettert (1)
William Mahone (1)
Robert Edward Lee (1)
Robert E. Lee (1)
Stonewall Jackson (1)
Crew (1)
Binford (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
July 1st (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: