previous next

[103] On the summit of this hill the two Cold Harbor roads form a junction to gain the Alexander bridge beyond, at the bottom of the valley, the only passage by which the Federals may yet be able to cross the Chickahominy. If the enemy succeeds in seizing this position, his two wings will unite for the purpose of driving the debris of the right wing of the army of the Potomac into the swamp, and crush them before they have been able to cross the narrow defile of the bridge. But at this critical moment fortune does not employ her final rigors against the Federals. The Confederates, fatigued by the effort they have just made, halt to re-form their lines. Hood's brigade alone has lost over one thousand men in the last charge. Stuart, near Cold Harbor, does not know how to make his excellent troops play the part which appertains to cavalry on the eve of a victory; he allows himself to be held back by the resolute stand of the regulars, and some few hundred men bearing the flags of Warren's brigade.

The retreat of the Federals, which was hastened by the declivity which they were descending into the ravine, is, on the contrary, slackened when they climb the other side. The battle has suddenly ceased; an effort is made to ascertain the condition of things; they halt. Twenty-two pieces of cannon have fallen into the hands of the enemy, but there yet remain forty or fifty. Most of these are again placed in battery, and open from a distance upon the lines of the assailants a fire which restores courage to the Union soldiers. The latter listen once more to the voices of their chiefs. Porter, Morrell, Slocum, Meade and Butterfield see increasing the groups gathering around them at random from every regiment. On the right the Federals have lost less ground and preserved better order in their retreat. At this instant Richardson1 and Meagher arrive on the ground with the two brigades sent by Sumner. The second is composed exclusively of Irishmen,

1 This is a slight error. The brigades were those of French and Meagher. See General McClellan's Report, page 127: ‘French's and Meagher's brigades now appeared, driving before them the stragglers who were thronging toward the bridge.’ And again: ‘These brigades advanced boldly to the front, and by their example, as well as by the steadiness of their bearing, reanimated our own troops and warned the enemy that reinforcements had arrived.’ This praise of their conduct renders it the more important that it should rest where it was merited.—Ed.

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)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

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.
Meagher (3)
Warren (1)
Sumner (1)
Stuart (1)
Slocum (1)
Richardson (1)
Fitzjohn Porter (1)
Morrell (1)
Meade (1)
McClellan (1)
Hood (1)
French (1)
Butterfield (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: