The Seven days fight.
has graphically described the battle of Gettysburg
, and thus added, if possible, to his fame as an orator; and McCabe
, in the most beautiful word painting, has pictured the Crater in all its thrilling horrors, and helped to immortalize the heroes who figured in and around that pit of death; and Robinson
, with his philosophical mind, has drawn from the Wilderness
a history and
a story that will instruct and delight succeeding generations; and Stiles
, in your presence a few weeks ago, gave a most vivid and interesting history of Second Cold Harbor,—no one has, as yet, attempted to describe any part of the seven days fight which took place in June, 1862, under the walls of this historic city.
The most momentous, the least understood, and the severest criticised battle of that year was that of Malvern Hill
In order to understand why and how it was fought, it becomes necessary to examine the position of our troops on the day of the 30th, and to pass over the field of Glen Dale
(Frazier's Farm) and witness the deathgrap-ple of Longstreet
On Sunday morning, June 29th, the divisions of Generals Longstreet
and A. P. Hill
left their camp north of the Chickahominy
, and marched, via the Long Bridge
roads, to intercept General McClellan
in his retreat to James river
The distance of sixteen miles was made, and those weary survivors of the desperate encounters of the previous days camped on the Long Bridge
road, within two miles of the retreating Federals, who were then passing Glen Dale
, where the Long Bridge
, Charles City
, and Willis Church roads meet.
While these two divisions were marching down the Darbytown
was engaging the enemy at Savage's Station on the York River
road, and Jackson
's forces were detained at Grape Vine bridge.
, having lost 400 men killed and wounded, and having captured many prisoners, including one hospital with 2,500 sick and disabled Federals, and inflicted a severe loss on the enemy, estimated at not less than 1,000, slept on the field that night; and early on Monday morning, the enemy in his front having retreated via White Oak
, marched his whole command over to the Darbytown
road, and at 2 o'clock reached Timberlake's Store.
At 4 o'clock he was ordered to New Market
to the assistance of General Holmes
Between sunset and dark his front brigades were forming in the dense woods bordering the Long Bridge
road, with the view of rendering this assistance.
After dark, he was ordered to Longstreet
; and, weary and footsore, these men marched to Glen Dale
and occupied the battlefield, where Longstreet
had made their slendid fight unsupported, although 50,000 men were within a radius of three miles.
's forces, consisting of Mahone
's and Ransom
's brigades, were ordered down the Charles City
road early Sunday morning, the 29th.
At the request of General
, one brigade (Ransom
's) was sent back; but, so far as we can learn from these reports, there was no interruption to the march of the other brigades down the Charles City
road, until they reached Fisher
's run, within three miles of the cross roads at Glen Dale
The enemy had blocked the road for a mile with felled trees, and planted their guns on the south side of the stream, and succeeded in detaining Mahone
at that point all day. A flank movement of his infantry through the woods to his right would have turned the position and placed him in easy reach of General Longstreet
, in his report, complains of both Generals Jackson
, saying that 50,000 were in easy hearing of the battle, yet none came in to co-operate with him. ‘Jackson
should have done more for me than he did. When he wanted me at Second Manassas
I marched two columns by night to clear the way at Thoroughfare Gap, and joined him in due season.’
We have seen why General Magruder
did not reach him, and no blame can attach to that commander.
was able to hold Mahone
so long at Fisher's Run
, or that those ambitious and enterprising brigadiers had not found a way to flank his position, will always be a mystery to the student of these detached fights made in thick woods and swamps, with raw troops, who were than only volunteer associations of men, without the drill and discipline necessary to make even of the very best material good and efficient soldiers.
The detention of Gen. Jackson
at White Oak Swamp
, three miles in rear of Glen Dale
, and only two miles to the left of Huger
, was as unfortunate (though more easily accounted for), as the delay at Fisher's Run
. General Jackson
's troops reached White Oak Swamp
at noon Sunday.
The bridge was destroyed and the crossing commanded by the enemy's batteries.
, in his report, says: ‘A heavy cannonading in front announced the engagement of General Longstreet
at Frazier's Farm, and made me eager to press forward, but the strong position of the enemy for defending the passage, prevented my advancing until the following morning.’
, in his life of Jackson
, says: ‘On this occasion it would appear, if the vast interests dependent upon General Jackson
's co-operation with the proposed attack upon the centre were considered, that he came short of the efficiency in action for which he was everywhere else noted.’
Then, after showing how the crossing might have been effected, Dabney
adds: “The list of casualties would have been larger than that presented on the 20th, of one cannoneer wounded; but how much shorter would have been the bloody
list filled up the next day at Malvern Hill
Dr. Harvey Black
, who was with General Jackson
at the time, has often told me that the General
was completely overcome by fatigue, and, having fallen asleep, it was impossible to arouse him, and that this was the cause of the delay at White Oak Swamp
Such was the position of the Confederate army at 2 o'clock on Monday, June 30th.