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[362]

The Purcell Battery. [from the contemporary newspaper accounts, July 14, 1862.1


In the Seven days battles before Richmond.

The conspicuous part played by this battery in the recent battles before Richmond, its terrific losses in killed and wounded, and the brilliant gallantry displayed throughout by its officers and men, challenge from the press more than a passing notice. With little hope of doing justice to the subject, or giving to our readers a fair idea of the great service rendered our cause by this battery, we propose to sketch a brief account of its experiences and achievements from the moment of its crossing to the north bank of the Chickahominy until its last gun was fired in the great battle of Malvern Hill.

On Wednesday, the 25th of June, the Purcell Battery, Captain William J. Pegram, attached to Field's brigade, General Ambrose P. Hill's division, was encamped at Storr's farm, on the west of the Central railroad and south of the Chickahominy. The company numbered five commissioned officers, eleven non-commissioned officers, and eighty-three privates. The commissioned officers were: William J. Pegram, captain; Henry M. Fitzhugh, first lieutenant; W. A. Allen, second lieutenant; Joseph P. McGraw, third lieutenant; M. Featherstone, fourth lieutenant. Captain Pegram, though scarcely twenty years of age, commanded the entire respect and confidence of his men. The order issued Wednesday night to prepare several days' rations was the first intimation the men received that a battle was imminent.

Between 2 and 3 o'clock on the afternoon of Thursday, the 26th of June, the battery, along with the Fortieth, Fifty-fifth, and Sixtieth Virginia regiments, crossed Chickahominy at Meadow Bridge. The Fortieth Virginia regiment of infantry were deployed as skirmishers, while the battery advanced down the Meadow Bridge road about a mile, and then wheeling to the right, began to ascend a hill. About this time the rattle of musketry began to be heard in the woods, both to the right and left of the battery, and was quickly followed by the heavy thunder of cannon. Before reaching the crest of the hill two men were wounded by rifle balls. On the top of this hill they found what they called a Quaker gun—that is, a stove pipe mounted on

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