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Chapter 7: Seven Pines, or Fair Oaks.

  • A new line of defence
  • -- positions of the confronting armies -- Fitz -- John Porter -- terrific storm on the eve of battle -- General Johnston's orders to Longstreet, Smith, and Huger -- lack of co-operation on the Confederate side, and ensuing confusion -- Fatalities among Confederate officers -- Kearny's action -- serious wounding of General Johnston at the close of the battle -- summary and analysis of losses.

On the 9th of May the Confederate army was halted, its right near Long Bridge of the Chickahominy River; its left and cavalry extending towards the Pamunkey through New Kent Court-House. On the 11th the commander of the Confederate ram “Virginia” ( “Merrimac” ), finding the water of James River not sufficient to float her to the works near Richmond, scuttled and sank the ship where she lay.

On the 15th the Federal navy attacked our works at Chapin's and Drury's Bluffs, but found them too strong for water batteries. That attack suggested to General Johnston that he move nearer Richmond to be in position to lend the batteries assistance in case of need. He crossed the Chickahominiy, his right wing at Long Bridge, his left by Bottom's Bridge, and took position from Drury's Bluff on his right, to the Mechanicsville turnpike, with his infantry, the cavalry extending on the left and front to the lower Rappahannock and Fredericksburg. The right wing, D. H. Hill's and Longstreet's divisions, under Longstreet, from James River to White Oak Swamp; the left under G. W. Smith. Smith's division and Magruder's command from White Oak Swamp, extending thence to the Mechanicsville pike, with Jackson a hundred miles away in the Shenandoah Valley. [82]

After careful study of the works and armaments at Drury's Bluff, I ventured the suggestion that we recross the Chickahominy at Mechanicsville and stand behind Beaver Dam Creek, prepared against McClellan's right when he should be ready to march towards Richmond, and call him to relieve his flank before crossing the river.

Although the country between McClellan's landing on the Pamunkey to the Chickahominy was free of all obstacles on the 15th of May, the head of his advance did not reach the banks of the latter river till the 21st. On the 16th he established his permanent depot at the White House, on the Pamunkey, and organized two provisional army corps,--the Fifth, of Fitz-John Porter's division, and Sykes's, under command of Porter; the Sixth, of Franklin's and W. F. Smith's divisions, under Franklin. On the 26th the York River Railroad as far as the bridge across the Chickahominy was repaired and in use. This, with other bridges, was speedily repaired, and new bridges ordered built at such points as should be found necessary to make free communication between the posts of the army.

On the 24th parties were advanced on the Williamsburg road as far as Seven Pines, where a spirited affair occurred between General Naglee's forces and General Hatton's brigade, the latter withdrawing a mile and a half on the Williamsburg road. At the same time two other parties of Federals were sent up the left bank, one under General Davidson, of the cavalry, with artillery and infantry supports, as far as Mechanicsville, where he encountered and dislodged a Confederate cavalry force under Colonel B. H. Robertson and occupied the position. The third party, under Colonel Woodbury, the Fourth Michigan Infantry and a squadron of the Second United States Cavalry, moved up to New Bridge, where the Fifth Louisiana, Colonel Hunt, of Semmes's brigade, was on picket. Finding the bridge well guarded, a party, conducted by Lieutenant [83] Bowen, Topographical Engineers, marched up the river, concealing their movements, crossed to the west bank, and, passing down, surprised the Fifth Louisiana, threw it into disorder, and gained position on the west side.

Pleased at these successes, General McClellan sent a sensational despatch to the President. His position thus masked, rested his right upon Beaver Dam Creek, a stream that flows from the height between the Chickahominy and Pamunkey Rivers south to its confluence with the former a few hundred yards below Mechanicsville Bridge. Its banks are scarped, about six feet high, and eight feet apart, making a strong natural ditch for defensive works.

On commanding ground south of the creek admirably planned field-works were soon constructed, which made that flank unassailable. Two miles out from the river the creek loses its value as a defensive line. From Beaver Dam the line was extended down the river to New Bridge, where it crossed and reached its left out to White Oak Swamp, and there found as defensible guard as the right at Beaver Dam Creek. The swamp is about a quarter of a mile wide at the left, and down to the Chickahominy studded with heavy forest-trees, always wet and boggy, but readily forded by infantry, and at places by cavalry.

Near the middle of the line, back from New Bridge, was Stoneman's cavalry. Fitz-John Porter's corps (Fifth) was posted at Beaver Dam Creek, Franklin's (Sixth) two miles lower down, Sumner's (Second) near the middle of the line, about three miles from the river. The Third and Fourth Corps were on the south side, Kearny's division of the Third at Savage Station of the York River Railroad, Hooker's division at White Oak Swamp Bridge, with entrenched lines. The Fourth Corps was posted on the Williamsburg road, Couch's division about a mile in advance of Hooker's, of the Third, at the junction of the Nine Miles road, entrenched, and field [84] of abatis; Casey's division of the Third half a mile in advance of Couch's, entrenched, and field of abatis. The point occupied by Couch's division is known as Seven Pines. His advanced picket-guard on the Nine Miles road was at Fair Oaks Station of the York River Railroad.

The line, which was somewhat concave towards Richmond, was strengthened at vulnerable points by fieldworks. General Sumner was senior of the corps commanders, and in command of the right wing; General Heintzelman, the senior of the south side, was in command of the left wing. The Chickahominy is a hundred feet wide as far up as Mechanicsville Bridge, but narrows above to forty and thirty. Along the line of McClellan's deployment its course was through lowlands of tangled woods that fringe its banks, the valley seldom more than a hundred yards wide. Artillery was posted to command all bridges and those ordered for construction. On the 26th, General McClellan ordered General Fitz-John Porter to organize a force to march against a Confederate outpost near Hanover Court-House. Porter took of Morell's division three brigades,--Martindale's, Butterfield's, and McQuade's,--Berdan's Sharp-shooters and three batteries, two regiments of cavalry under General Emory, and Benson's horse battery; Warren's brigade to march up the right bank of the Pamunkey in connection with operations projected for the fighting column. Porter was the most skilful tactician and strongest fighter in the Federal army, thoroughly trained in his profession from boyhood, and of some experience in field work.

The Confederate outpost was commanded by Brigadier-General L. O'B. Branch, six regiments of infantry, one battery, under Captain Latham, and a cavalry regiment, under Colonel Robertson. General Branch was a brigadier from civil life. The result of the affair was the discomfiture of General Branch, with the loss of one gun [85] and about seven hundred prisoners. Losses in action, not including prisoners: Confederates, 265; Federals, 285.

A. P. Hill was promoted to major-general, and assigned to command of a division at that outpost and stationed at Ashland.

On the 27th, General Johnston received information that General McDowell's corps was at Fredericksburg, and on the march to reinforce McClellan's right at Mechanicsville. He prepared to attack McClellan before McDowell could reach him. To this end he withdrew Smith's division from the Williamsburg road, relieving it by the division of D. H. Hill; withdrew Longstreet's division from its position, and A. P. Hill's from Ashland. The fighting column was to be under General G. W. Smith, his next in rank, and General Whiting was assigned command of Smith's division,--the column to consist of A. P. Hill's, Whiting's, and D. R. Jones's divisions. The latter was posted between the Mechanicsville pike and Meadow Bridge road. A. P. Hill was to march direct against McClellan's outpost at Mechanicsville, Whiting to cross the river at Meadow Bridge, and D. R. Jones at Mechanicsville, thus completing the column of attack on the east side.

I was to march by the Mechanicsville road to the vicinity of the bridge, and to strike down against the Federal right, west of the river, the march to be made during the night; D. H. Hill to post a brigade on his right on the Charles City road to guard the field to be left by his division, as well as the line left vacant by Longstreet's division.

At nightfall the troops took up the march for their several assigned positions. Before dark General Johnston called a number of his officers together for instructions,--viz., Smith, Magruder, Stuart, and Longstreet. When we were assembled, General Johnston announced later information: that McDowell's line of march had [86] been changed,--that he was going north. Following the report of this information, General Smith proposed that the plan for battle should be given up, in view of the very strong ground at Beaver Dam Creek.1 I urged that the plan laid against the concentrating columns was made stronger by the change of direction of McDowell's column, and should suggest more prompt and vigorous prosecution. In this Magruder and Stuart joined me. The pros and cons were talked over till a late hour, when at last General Johnston, weary of it, walked aside to a separate seat. I took the opportunity to draw near him, and suggested that the Federal position behind Beaver Dam Creek, so seriously objected to by General Smith, could be turned by marching to and along the high ground between the Chickahominy and Pamunkey Rivers; that the position of the enemy when turned would be abandoned without a severe struggle, and give a fair field for battle; that we should not lose the opportunity to await another possible one.

General Johnston replied that he was aware of all that, but found that he had selected the wrong officer for the work. This ended the talk, and I asked to be allowed to halt my columns as soon as possible. The other movements were arrested, except that of A. P. Hill's division, which was ordered to continue its march, cross the Chickahominy at Meadow Bridge, and take position between the Meadow Bridge road and the Brooke turnpike. The counter-order reinstated my command of the right wing, including D. H. Hill's division on the Williamsburg road and extending to the York River Railroad. Before leaving the conference, I announced that we would fight on the Williamsburg road if we had to find the enemy through bayous.

The order to halt the columns found Smith's division [87] between the Mechanicsville and Meadow Bridge roads, Longstreet's near the city at the Nine Miles road; D. R. Jones had not moved.

On the 29th and 30th, General D. H. Hill sent out reconnoitring parties on the Williamsburg and Charles City roads. On the 30th he received a fair report of Casey's intrenched camp, and the probable strength and extent of the line of his skirmishers reaching out his left front to White Oak Swamp. On the 29th, General Johnston wrote General Whiting, commanding Smith's division, giving notice of a reconnoissance ordered by General Hill, cautioning the former that his division should be drawn towards the right, to be in better position for support of a battle of his right, and adding,--

Who knows but that in the course of the morning Longstreet's scheme may accomplish itself? If we get into a fight here, you will have to hurry to help us.

The report of General D. H. Hill's reconnoissance of the 30th was forwarded to Headquarters. I followed it, and found General Johnston ready to talk over plans for battle. General Huger had reported with three of his brigades, and was in camp near the outskirts of Richmond on Gillis Creek. The plan settled upon was that the attack should be made by General D. H. Hill's division on the Williamsburg road, supported by Longstreet's division. Huger's division, just out of garrison duty at Norfolk, was to march between Hill's right and the swamp against the enemy's line of skirmishers, and move abreast of the battle; G. W. Smith's division, under Whiting, to march by the Gaines road to Old Tavern, and move abreast of the battle on its left. The field before Old Tavern was not carefully covered by the enemy's skirmishers north of Fair Oaks, nor by parties in observation.

Experience during the discussion of the battle ordered for the 28th caused me to doubt of effective work from the [88] troops ordered for the left flank, but the plan seemed so simple that it was thought impossible for any one to go dangerously wrong; and General Johnston stated that he would be on that road, the better to receive from his troops along the crest of the Chickahominy information of movements of the enemy on the farther side of the river, and to look to the co-operation of the troops on the Nine Miles road.

To facilitate marches, Huger's division was to have the Charles City road to the head of White Oak Swamp, file across it and march down its northern margin; D. H. Hill to have the Williamsburg road to the enemy's front; Longstreet's division to march by the Nine Miles road and a lateral road leading across the rear of General Hill on the Williamsburg road; G. W. Smith by the Gaines road to Old Tavern on the Nine Miles road.

The tactical handling of the battle on the Williamsburg road was left to my care, as well as the general conduct of affairs south of the York River Railroad, the latter line being the left of the field to which I had been assigned, the right wing.

While yet affairs were under consideration, a terrific storm of vivid lightning, thunderbolts, and rain, as severe as ever known to any climate, burst upon us, and continued through the night more or less severe. In the first lull I rode from General Johnston's to my Headquarters, and sent orders for early march.

For a more comprehensive view of affairs as ordered, it may be well to explain that General Johnston ordered Smith's division by the Gaines road, so that, in case of delay of its march, McLaws's division, on that road and nearer the field of proposed action, could be brought in to the left of the battle, leaving the place of his division to be occupied by Smith's, when the latter reached McLaws's vacated line. There was, therefore, no reason why the orders for march should be misconstrued or misapplied. [89] I was with General Johnston all of the time that he was engaged in planning and ordering the battle, heard every word and thought expressed by him of it, and received his verbal orders; Generals Huger and Smith his written orders.

General Johnston's order to General Smith was:

Headquarters Department of Northern Virginia, May 30, 9.15 P. M.
Major-General G. W. Smith: General--
2 If nothing prevents, we will fall upon the enemy in front of Major-General Hill (who occupies the position on the Williamsburg road from which your troops moved to the neighborhood of Meadow Bridge) early in the morning, as early as practicable. The Chickahominy will be passable only at the bridge, a great advantage to us. Please be ready to move by the Gaines road, coming as early as possible to the point at which the road to New Bridge turns off. Should there be cause for haste, Major-General McLaws, on your approach, will be ordered to leave his ground for you, that he may reinforce General Longstreet.

Most respectfully your obedient servant, J. E. Johnston.

General Johnston's order for General Huger read:

Headquarters Department of Northern Virginia, May 30, 1862, 8.30 P. M.
Major-General Huger: General,--
The reports of Major-General D. H. Hill give me the impression that the enemy is in considerable strength in his front. It seems to me necessary that we should increase our force also; for that object I wish to concentrate the troops of your division on the Charles City road, and to concentrate the troops of Major-General Hill on the Williamsburg road. To do this it will be necessary for you to move, as early in the morning as possible, to relieve the brigade of General Hill's division now on the Charles City road. I have desired General Hill to send you a guide. The road is the second large one diverging to the right [90] from the Williamsburg road. The first turns off near the tollgate. On reaching your position on the Charles City road, learn at once the route to the main roads, to Richmond on your right and left, especially those to the left, and try to find guides. Be ready, if an action should begin on your left, to fall upon the enemy's left flank.

Most respectfully your obedient servant, J. E. Johnston.
P. S.--It is necessary to move very early. 3

The Nine Miles road takes the name from the distance by that road from Richmond to Seven Pines. The Williamsburg road to the same point was sometimes called the Seven Miles road, because of the distance by that road to Seven Pines.

As expressed and repeated in his orders, General Johnston's wish was to have the battle pitched as early as practicable. When his orders were issued, he was under the impression that I would be the ranking officer on the right of the York Railroad, and would give detailed instructions to govern the later operations of Huger's troops.

Subsequent events seem to call for mention just here that General Smith, instead of moving the troops by the route assigned them, marched back to the Nine Miles road near the city, rode to Johnston's Headquarters about six in the morning, and reported that he was with the division, but not for the purpose of taking command from General Whiting. As General Johnston did not care to order him back to his position as commander of the left wing, he set himself to work to make trouble, complained that my troops were on the Nine Miles road in the way of his march, and presently complained that they had left that road and were over on the Williamsburg road, and induced General Johnston to so far modify the plans as to [91] order three of my brigades down the Nine Miles road to the New Bridge fork.

The order was sent by Lieutenant Washington, of Johnston's staff, who, unused to campaigning, failed to notice that he was not riding on my line of march, and rode into the enemy's lines. This accident gave the enemy the first warning of approaching danger; it was misleading, however, as it caused General Keyes to look for the attack by the Nine Miles road.

The storms had flooded the flat lands, and the waters as they fell seemed weary of the battle of the elements, and inclined to have a good rest on the soft bed of sand which let them gently down to the substratum of clay; or it may have been the purpose of kind Providence to so intermix the upper and lower strata as to interpose serious barriers to the passing of artillery, and thus break up the battle of men.

My march by the Nine Miles and lateral roads leading across to the Williamsburg road was interrupted by the flooded grounds about the head of Gillis Creek. At the same time this creek was bank full, where it found a channel for its flow into the James. The delay of an hour to construct a bridge was preferred to the encounter of more serious obstacles along the narrow lateral road, flooded by the storm. As we were earlier at the creek, it gave us precedence over Huger's division, which had to cross after us. The division was prepared with cooked rations, had wagons packed at six o'clock, and rested in the rear of General Hill's at nine A. M.

Meanwhile, General G. W. Smith's division had marched by the Nine Miles road and was resting near the fork of the New Bridge road at Old Tavern. Upon meeting General Huger in the morning, I gave him a succinct account of General Johnston's plans and wishes; after which he inquired as to the dates of our commissions, which revealed that he was the ranking officer, when I [92] suggested that it was only necessary for him to take command and execute the orders. This he declined. Then it was proposed that he should send two of his brigades across to join on the right of the column of attack, while he could remain with his other brigade, which was to relieve that of General Hill on the Charles City road. Though he expressed himself satisfied with this, his manner was eloquent of discontent. The better to harmonize, I proposed to reinforce his column by three of my brigades, to be sent under General Wilcox, to lead or follow his division, as he might order. Under this arrangement it seemed that concert of action was assured. I gave especial orders to General Wilcox to have care that the head of his column was abreast the battle when it opened, and rode forward to join General Hill, my other three brigades advancing along the Williamsburg road.

Opposing and in the immediate front of General Hill was the division of General Casey, of the Fourth (Keyes's) Corps. The division stood in an intrenched camp across the Williamsburg road, with a pentagonal redoubt (unfinished) on the left of his line. Half a mile in rear of Casey's division was that of Couch, of the same corps, behind a second trenched line, at its junction of the Nine Miles road, part of Couch's extending along the latter road to Fair Oaks Station of the York River Railroad, and intrenched; farther forward he had a guarded picket station. Between Couch and Casey a skirt of wood stretched from the swamp on their left across the Williamsburg and Nine Miles roads and the railroad. Between the stretch of forest and Couch was an open; spreading across the roads, and at Casey's front, was another open, though more limited, some abatis being arranged along their front lines. These were the only cleared fields on the south side of the railroad within two miles of Casey's picket line, our line of march and attack.

General D. H. Hill stood ready for battle at an early [93] hour, waiting for his brigade on the Charles City road. Under the delay to relieve that brigade by one of Huger's divisions, I sent orders to General Wilcox to pull off from column on that road and march for the position assigned him near the head of White Oak Swamp.

The detailed instructions for battle were that the advance should be made in columns of brigades two on each side the Williamsburg road, preceded by strong lines of skirmishers; the advance, approaching an open or abatis or trench line, should reinforce the skirmish line to strong engagement, while the lines of battle turned those obstacles by flank or oblique march when the general advance should be resumed. As the wooded field was not convenient for artillery use, we only held the batteries of Bondurant and Carter ready for call. At eleven o'clock, weary of delay, General Hill asked to let loose his signal-gun and engage, but was ordered to wait for his absent brigade.

The reports of the hour of opening battle are more conflicting in this than in most battles, owing possibly to the fact that many are fixed by the beginning of the hot battle about the trenched camp, while others are based on the actual firing of the signal-guns. The weight of evidence seems conclusive of the former attack at one P. M., and this would place the firing of the signal-guns back to noon or a little after. As events occurred, however, the hour is not of especial interest, as it is shown that the battle was in time for a finish before night if it had been promptly followed up. I will say, therefore, that General Hill's second appeal to open the signal-gun was made a little before noon, and that he stated in this appeal that his brigade from the Charles City road was approaching, and would be with him. He was then authorized to march, but to give instructions that the advance should be carefully conducted until all the troops were in place, to give full force to his battle. He had four brigades, and [94] was ordered to advance in columns of brigades, two on each side of the road. Garland's and G. B. Anderson's brigades in columns, preceded by skirmishers, advanced on the left of the road at the sound of the guns, and engaged after a short march from the starting. As Rodes's brigade was not yet in position, some little time elapsed before the columns on the right moved, so that Garland's column encountered more than its share of early fight, but Rodes, supported by Rains's brigade, came promptly to his relief, which steadied the advance. The enemy's front was reinforced and arrested progress of our skirmishers, but a way was found by which the enemy was turned out of position, and by and by the open before the intrenched camp was reached. In the redoubt was a sixgun battery, and on the right another section of two pieces. General Hill ordered Bondurant's battery to the open into action, and presently the battery of Captain Carter.

Garland and G. B. Anderson had severe contention at one o'clock, but by pushing front and flank movements got to the enemy's strong line. R. H. Anderson's brigade was pushed up in support of their left, when a bold move gave us the section of artillery and that end of the line. At the same time Carter's battery was in close practice with five guns within four hundred yards of the redoubt, and the enemy was seriously disturbed; but General Hill was disposed to wait a little for Huger, thought to be between him and the swamp, to get farther in; then, fearing that longer wait might be hazardous of his opportunity, he ordered Rains's brigade past the enemy's left, when Rodes seized the moment, rushed in, and gained the redoubt and the battery. The officers at the battery made a brave effort to spike their guns, but were killed in the act. So Rodes, who had some artillerists acting as infantry, turned them with some effect upon the troops as they retired. [95]

When General Hill reported that he must use Rains's brigade to march around the redoubt, other orders were sent General Wilcox to leave General Huger's column and march to his position on the right of General Hill's battle, directing, in case there were serious obstacles to his march by the Charles City road, to march over to and down the Williamsburg road. A slip of paper was sent General Johnston reporting progress and asking co-operation on our left.

The battle moved bravely on. R. H. Anderson's brigade was ordered to support its left at Fair Oaks, and Pickett's, on the railroad, was drawn near. Hill met Casey's troops rallying, and reinforcements with them coming to recover the lost ground, but they were forced back to the second intrenched line (Couch's), where severe fighting ensued, but the line was carried at two o'clock, cutting Couch with four regiments and two companies of infantry, and Brady's six-gun battery, off at Fair Oaks Station. Finding that he could not cut his way back to his command, Couch stood back from the railroad and presently opened his battery fire across our advancing lines. As he was standing directly in front of Smith's division, we thought that he would soon be attacked and driven off. Nevertheless, it was not prudent to leave that point on our flank unguarded until we found Smith's division in action. The force was shut off from our view by the thick pine wood, so that we could know nothing of its strength, and only knew of its position from its artillery fire. We could not attack it lest we should fall under the fire of the division in position for that attack. Anderson's other regiments, under the gallant Colonel M. Jenkins, were ordered into Hill's forward battle, as his troops were worn. Jenkins soon found himself in the van, and so swiftly led on that the discomfited troops found no opportunity to rally. Reinforcements from the Third Corps came, but in the swampy wood Jenkins was [96] prompt enough to strike their heads as their retreating comrades passed. Right and left and front he applied his beautiful tactics and pushed his battle.

General Kearny, finding that he could not arrest the march, put Berry's brigade off to the swamp to flank and strike it, and took part of Jamison's brigade to follow. They got into the swamp and followed it up to the open near the Couch intrenchment,4 but Jenkins knew that there was some one there to meet them, and pushed his onward battle. General Hill ordered Rains's brigade to turn this new force, while Rodes attacked, but the latter's men were worn, and some of them were with the advance. Kemper's brigade was sent to support the forward battle, but General Hill directed it to his right against Berry, in front of Rains, and it seems that the heavy, swampy ground so obstructed operations on both sides as to limit their work to infantry fusillades until six o'clock.

Our battle on the Williamsburg road was in a sack. We were strong enough to guard our flanks and push straight on, but the front was growing heavy. It was time for Wilcox's brigades under his last order, but nothing was heard of them. I asked General Stuart, who had joined me, if there were obstacles to Wilcox's march between the Charles City and Williamsburg roads. He reported that there was nothing more than swamp lands, hardly knee-deep. He was asked for a guide, who was sent with a courier bearing orders for them to remain with General Wilcox until he reported at my headquarters.

Again I reported the cramped condition of our work, owing to the artillery practice from beyond the railroad, and asked General Johnston to have the division that was with him drive that force away and loose our left. This note was ordered to be put into General Johnston's hands. [97] He gave peremptory commands to that effect, but the movements were so slow that he lost patience and rode with Hood's leading brigade, pulled it on, and ordered communication opened with my left.

At one o'clock, General McClellan, at his Headquarters beyond the river, six miles away, heard the noise of battle and ordered Sumner's (Second) corps under arms to await orders. General Sumner ordered the command under arms, marched the divisions to their separate bridges, and put the columns on the bridges, partly submerged, to hold them to their moorings, anxiously awaiting authority from his chief to march to the relief of his comrades. The bridge where Sedgwick's division stood was passable, but Richardson's was under water waist-deep, and the flooding river rising. Richardson waded one brigade through, but thought that he could save time by marching up to the Sedgwick bridge, which so delayed him that he did not reach the field until after night.

As General Johnston rode with Hood's brigade, he saw the detachment under General Couch marching north to find at the Adams House the road to Grapevine Bridge, his open way of retreat. Directly he heard firing where Couch was marching, but thought that Smith's other brigades were equal to work that could open up there, and rode on, ordering Hood to find communication with my left. Smith's other brigades were: Whiting's, commanded by Colonel Law; Hampton's, Pettigrew's, and Hatton's; Whiting commanding the division, Smith commanding the left wing. Smith quotes Colonel Frobel, who was with him at the time,--viz.:

Whiting's brigade was gone; it had been ordered forward to charge the batteries which were firing upon us. The brigade was repulsed, and in a few minutes came streaming back through the little skirt of woods to the left of the Nine Miles road, near the crossing. There was only a part of a brigade in this charge. Pender soon rallied and reformed them on the edge of the woods. [98] General Whiting sent an order to him to reconnoitre the batteries, and if he thought they could be taken, to try it again. Before he could do so, some one galloped up, shouting, ‘Charge that battery!’ The men hurried forward at double-quick, but were repulsed as before.5
It seems that at that moment General Sumner reached the field. He reported:
On arriving on the field, I found General Couch, with four regiments and two companies of infantry and Brady's battery. These troops were drawn up in line near Adams's House, and there was a pause in the battle.

He received his orders at 2.30 P. M. and marched with Sedgwick's division-three brigades-and Kirby's battery, and reached the ground of Couch's work at 4.30. In less than an hour he had surveyed the ground and placed his troops to receive battle.

General Smith attacked with Hampton's, Pettigrew's, and Hatton's brigades. It seems he made no use of artillery, though on the field right and left the opportunity was fair. The troops fought bravely, as did all Confederate soldiers. We heard the steady, rolling fire of musketry and the boom of cannon that told of deadly work as far as the Williamsburg road, but it did not last. General Hatton was killed, General Pettigrew wounded and a prisoner, and General Hampton wounded. General Smith was beaten.

General Sumner reported:

I ordered the following regiments, Eighty-second New York, Thirty-fourth New York, Fifteenth Massachusetts, Twentieth Massachusetts, and Seventh Michigan, to move to the front and charge bayonets. There were two fences between us and the enemy, but our men gallantly rushed over them, and the enemy broke and fled, and this closed the battle of Saturday.6

General Smith sent to call Hood's brigade from his right, and posted it, about dark, near Fair Oaks Station. At parting, General Hood said, “Our people over yonder are whipped.”

General Wilcox filed his three brigades into the Williamsburg road, followed by two of Huger's division at five o'clock. He was reminded of his orders to be abreast of the battle, and that he was only four hours behind it; but reported that while marching by the first order by the Charles City road, he received orders to try the Williamsburg road; that, marching for that road, he was called by orders to follow a guide, who brought him back to the Charles City road. He confessed that his orders to march with the front of battle were plain and well understood, but his marches did not quite agree with the comprehensive view of his orders.

Two of his regiments — the Eleventh Alabama, under Colonel Sydenham Moore, and the Nineteenth Mississippi, under Major Mullens--were ordered to join Kemper, turn the position of the enemy at that point, and capture or dislodge them. With the other regiments, General Wilcox was ordered by the Williamsburg road to report to General Hill, Pryor's brigade to follow him, Colston's brigade to support the move under Colonel Moore.

Armistead's and Mahone's brigades, of Huger's division, were sent to R. H. Anderson, who was ordered to put them in his position and move his other regiments to the front.

Colonel Moore hurried his leading companies into the turning move against Berry's brigade before his regiment was up, and before the Mississippi regiment was in supporting distance, and fell mortally wounded. General Kearny, seeing the move and other troops marching towards it, ordered his troops out and in retreat through the swamp. He reported of it:

Although so critically placed, and despite the masses that gathered on and had passed us, checked the enemy in his intent [100] of cutting off against the White Oak Swamp. This enabled the advanced regiments, arrested by orders and this contest in the rear, to return from their hitherto victorious career and retire by a remaining wood-path known to our scouts (the saw-mill road), until they once more arrived at and remained in the impregnable position we had left at noon at our own fortified division camp.7
He states the hour as six P. M.

Birney's brigade of Kearny's division was ordered along the north side of the railroad a little before night, and had several encounters with parts of R. H. Anderson's brigade and some regiments of G. B. Anderson's. Jenkins, nothing daunted, pushed his brave battle forward until the shades of night settled about the wood, and flashes of dark-lanterns began to creep through the pines in search of wounded, friend and foe.

At seven o'clock, General Johnston ordered his troops on the field to sleep on their lines, and be ready to renew operations in the morning, and ordered General Smith to call up other troops of the left wing. At half after seven he was hit by a rifle-ball, then a fragment of shell unhorsed him, and he was borne from the field, so severely wounded that he was for a considerable time incapacitated for duty. The command devolved temporarily upon General G. W. Smith. General Johnston was skilled in the art and science of war, gifted in his quick, penetrating mind and soldierly bearing, genial and affectionate in nature, honorable and winning in person, and confiding in his love. He drew the hearts of those about him so close that his comrades felt that they could die for him. Until his recovery the Confederacy experienced a serious deprivation, and when that occurred he was no longer commander-in-chief, for General Lee was promptly called to the post of honor. [101]

The brigades were so mixed up through the pines when the battle closed that there was some delay in getting the regiments to their proper commands, getting up supplies, and arranging for the morning. D. H. Hill's was put in good order and in bivouac near the Casey intrenchment; those of Longstreet between the Williamsburg road and railroad. Wilcox's brigade took position on the right, in place of the detachment under Jenkins; Pryor's brigade next on the left; Kemper, Anderson, and Colston near the stage road (Williamsburg). They made blazing fires of pine-knots to dry their clothing and blankets, and these lighted reinforcing Union troops to their lines behind the railroad.

The brigades of Huger's division (Armistead's and Mahone's) were near the left. Pickett was ordered to report to General Hill at daylight, also the batteries of Maurin, Stribling, and Watson. It was past eleven o'clock when all things were made ready and the killed and wounded cared for; then I rode to find the headquarters of our new commander.

Summary of forces and losses.

Union troops engaged on the Williamsburg road, reported by General Heintzelman, commanding Casey's, Couch's, and Kearny's divisions18,500
Hooker's division was at hand, but no part of it engaged. Confederates engaged on the Williamsburg road, of D. H. Hill's division89008
Two brigades and two regiments of Longstreet's division5700

Two lines of intrenchments were attacked and carried, six pieces of artillery and several thousand small-arms were captured, and the enemy was forced back to his third line of intrenchments by night, a mile and a half from the point of his opening. [102]

Sedgwick's division is not separately accounted for, but an average of the divisions reported by General Heintzelman will give him6080
Estimate of Couch's command2000
Union force against General Smith8080
Smith's division, five brigades10,500
But Hood's brigade was not engaged2,100
Of Smith's division in action8,400
Union losses on the Williamsburg road4563
Confederate losses on the Williamsburg road3515
Union losses on the Nine Miles road468
Confederate losses on the Nine Miles road1283

1 Smith's War Papers.

2 Rebellion Record, vol. XI. part III. p. 563.

3 Rebellion Record, vol. XI. part i. p. 938.

4 General Berry thought that he got up as far as the Casey camp, but mistook Couch's opening for that of Casey.

5 Confederate War Papers, G. W. Smith.

6 Rebellion Record, vol. XI. part i. p. 763.

7 Rebellion Record, vol. XI. part II. p. 813.

8 Previous returns give him 11,000, but one of his brigades was absent.

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