77.-battle of Oak Grove, Va.
A National account.
The correspondent of the New-York Herald
gives the following graphic account of the engagement:
It should be clearly understood what this particular fight was for. It was not an interruption of our march to Richmond
, in which, as might be supposed, the rebels threw themselves in our way and stopped us at a mile from our original line.
It was a fight for a position — a determined struggle for a piece of ground which it was deemed necessary that we should “have and hold.”
This piece of ground is barely a mile beyond our former line, and we have it, and hold it.
It will be remembered that the field on which the battle of Fair Oaks
, or Seven Pines
, was fought, is bounded on the side toward Richmond
by a line of woods.
This wood extends on either side of the Williamsburgh
road for a mile, and beyond it is a piece of open country.
Our outer pickets have been hitherto posted in that edge of the wood which is furthest from the sacred city, and the line of rebel pickets was drawn only a little further in the woods, and so near to our line that the men could talk to one another.
It appeared to be well understood that any further advance on our part would bring on a general engagement; and in that view our line was kept stationary.
But finally it was deemed necessary that our pickets should be posted at the other edge of the wood.
Accordingly Gen. Heintzelman
was ordered to advance the pickets on his front to the point named, and to advance the pickets on his left in a line with those in front.
At seven A. M., therefore, the greater part of his two divisions was in line and ready for action; but the advance was not made by so large a force.
Two brigades of Hooker
's division — Grover
's and Sickles
's — did nearly all the work, though some other brigades were slightly engaged before the day was over.
's brigade is composed of the five “Excelsior regiments” --the Seventieth, Seventy-first, Seventy-second, Seventy-third and Seventy-fourth New-York.
This gallant body of men has lost so heavily in previous battles, and by illness, that it mustered for Wednesday's fight only fourteen hundred men. Grover
's brigade is composed of the First Massachusetts, Col. Cowdin
; the Second New-Hampshire, Col. Gilman Marston
; the Twenty-sixth Pennsylvania, temporarily commanded by Lieut.--Colonel Wells
, of the First Massachusetts ; the Massachusetts Eleventh, Col. William Blaisdell
; and the Massachusetts Sixteenth, Col. Wyman
brigade mustered about four thousand men for duty.
At a little before eight A. M., the word was given, and these two brigades moved forward.
's line was formed across the Williamsburgh
road, and he advanced in the direction of that thoroughfare, his second regiment on his right, the fourth next to it, and both these regiments on the right of the Williamsburgh
To the left of the road, in the order in which they are named, the Fifth, First and Third were formed.
's left stretched about three hundred yards to the left of the road.
's line joined on to Sickles
's left, and was formed of the First Massachusetts on the right and the Eleventh Massachusetts on the left.
His other regiments were at hand, ready for use anywhere.
Both brigades advanced in line of battle, with skirmishers out in front.
In a few moments the whole line disappeared in the woods, Sickles
's part of it more slowly than the other; for the left of his line had to move through an abattis that was very difficult, and was thus detained.
Through this means, also, the regularity of his line was broken, and it did not get into action so soon.
Only a few moments had elapsed after the disappearance of Grover
when the scattered “pop,” “pop,” “pop,” told that he had reached the enemy's pickets.
This little fire continued for only a few moments — rattled rapidly once, twice, thrice up and down the line, and was over — and Grover
went on. The enemy's outer line was driven in. Slowly and cautiously the advance was continued.
When the pickets were driven in, they formed on the picket-reserve some distance in their rear, and after some little delay, with difficult ground and necessary caution, Grover
's skirmishers came upon their second line.
They disputed the ground tenaciously.
Nearly all their front appeared to be held by North--Carolina
troops, whom we have found to be by far, the best and bravest troops of the Southern Confederacy.
These gallant fellows stood to their post and kept up a rapid and accurate fire that galled our line severely, until they were fairly driven back in rout by Grover
's steady advance.
The stout resistance of these pickets gave ample time for the formation of Hill
's division, to which they belonged, and which is made up in great part of North-Carolina
This division, supported by the division of Gen. Huger
, now advanced to meet our line, and in a little while the ball was fairly opened.
So rapid was the rattle of the fire at this time, that the sound seemed to be without cessation — without pause or interval--one continuous rattle of rifles.
This fire was very severe, and wounded men now began to find their way to the rear — some on stretchers, others leaning on the shoulders of a comrade, and others again, with a brave pride, determined to help themselves and “go it alone.”
, for the reasons we have given, did not become engaged as soon as Gen. Grover
, and when the very heavy fire was heard on the latter's front the Excelsior
brigade was still only under the irregular picket-fire of the enemy's outer line.
By degrees, as they advanced, this fire became hotter, until it broke into the rattle of several thousands of rifles — a fire fully as intense and severe as that on the left.
's front it was straightforward work.
He had only to keep his men up to it and push on; and this was well and gallantly done.
advanced his line it was understood that Kearney
's line, which joined Hooker
's at that point, was to have been advanced also; but, as it did not keep up, Grover
's position became dangerous just in proportion to his apparent success; for his flank was left exposed to the attack of the rebels, who filled the woods in front of Kearney
To guard against mishaps in that quarter, and to establish the connection with Kearney
, he threw out on his left five companies of the Massachusetts Sixteenth, which regiment was held in reserve.
At about the same time, as the fire continued terribly severe in front, he placed a battalion of the New-Hampshire
Second on his extreme right, to strengthen his connection with Sickles
's left, and placed the remainder of the same regiment between the Massachusetts
First and Eleventh, where there was some appearance of weakness.
Thus strengthened in front, and provided against attack on his flank, he went on.
's brigade soon began, however, to push forward on Grover
's left, drove the enemy rapidly and easily before it, and advanced until they completed the line from Grover
's brigade (late Jameson
's) was subsequently pushed in between Berry
's and Grover
's, and continued the movement.
But the enemy was not at any time in great force beyond Grover
's left, so that the fight in that direction was not severe.
At half-past 9 our line was brought to a stand-still.
It was evident that the enemy was in great force along the whole line.
Near that hour the Fifth New-Jersey was sent out as a reserve to Sickles
, the Second New-York to reenforce his advance, and a regiment of Sedgwick
The Nineteenth Massachusetts was pushed in on his right, so as to extend his line to the railroad.
Still, with occasional intermissions of comparative quiet, the fire raged along the whole front of the two devoted brigades, and seemed even to rage with intenser fury, as it approached the road on which the Excelsior
brigade had advanced.
When the rebels found that our boys were not going to give way under any circumstances, they concluded to give way themselves.
Their disposition to do so first appeared in front of Grover
It was hailed with a hearty cheer by our boys, who pushed ahead, and, now that the machine was fairly started, went on with a rush.
In a few minutes they broke out into the open field, and the object was so far gained at that point.
A battery was sent down to Kearney
to play on the enemy's flank and shell the masses in retreat.
was not, however, permitted to hold the ground he had gained in quiet.
was made to dislodge him by a body sent to reenforce those previously driven out. A hard fight ensued, and the attempt was repulsed.
But while the enemy were thus driven on the left the right did not get along so well.
There the enemy's whole available force seemed concentrated in one endeavor to bear down the gallant Excelsior
Reenforcements were ordered there immediately, and Birney
's brigade went up the Williamsburgh
road at the double-quick.
As these regiments filed off, cheered by those they passed, a chorus of responsive cheers arose from Grover
's brave fellows away off on the left, as they drove the enemy before them.
's boys took it up in turn and made a stouter push at the foe. Every body seemed exhilarated at the sound.
after orderly rushed in to tell how Grover
was driving them, and others to say that Sickles
could hold his ground till Birney
could reach him.
Just at this exciting juncture the order was received from general headquarters to “withdraw gradually to the original line.”
They all believed that we were beaten on some other part of the line, and that we had gone too far ahead for safety, and all retired in good order and took up the line in the edge of the wood nearest to camp.
This was at about half-past 11 A. M.
and staff rode upon the field at one P. M., escorted by Capt. McIntyre
's squadron of regular cavalry and the First regiment New-York
volunteer cavalry, Col. McReynolds
He made his headquarters at Fair Oaks
, where Heintzelman
's had previously been, and there drew around him all the sources of information that such occasions furnish.
All were then in amazement at the recent unaccountable order; but he soon saw how affairs stood, and ordered very shortly after that the same advance should be again made.
The order was received with joy on every hand.
Once more they went forward in the same order in which they had already done so well.
, on the left, got in first again and rattled away; but the resistance there was not so tenacious as it had been, and he pushed through, still finding, however, enough resistance to keep up the interest.
, on the extreme left, found also no great resistance; but on the Williams-burgh road, in front of Gen. Sickles
, the fighting was harder than ever.
For nearly three quarters of an hour the hard fire was continued at this point.
Thus the battle stood at a little after two o'clock, when Gen. J. N. Palmer
's (late Deven
's) brigade, of Couch
's division, was ordered up to support Sickles
The vigilant and ever ready commander of the Fourth corps had put Couch
's division under arms when the firing first became warm on the left, and they had awaited their chance till now. They went up the road handsomely, the Massachusetts Tenth, commanded by Lieut.-Colonel Decker
, in advance, followed by the Rhode Island Second, Col. Frank Wheaton
; the New-York
Thirty-six, Col. Innis
, and the Massachusetts Seventh, Col. Russell
At the same time, battery D, First New-York artillery, (four rifled pieces,) Capt. T. W. Osborn
, was ordered up the Williamsburgh
road, to shell the woods beyond our advance.
It was expected that they would throw shell directly over our advancing line into the enemy's line and into his camp beyond.
Several of Capt. Osborn
's shells fell false, and exploded in the rear and even right in the ranks of our men. By this means, the Massachusetts Seventh, which was deployed in the woods as skirmishers, lost several men, and by one of these shells, Lieut. Bullock
, of that regiment, received a wound which will doubtless prove fatal.
This fire was immediately stopped.
The guns of battery K, Fourth United States artillery, Capt. De Russy
, were then sent up the road and into the wood, and took position right in the midst of Palmer
's brigade, and thence opened fire, which they kept up briskly for some minutes.
Meanwhile, there was an almost complete cessation of the musketry — fire.
At the same time, Gen. Sumner
began to shell the woods on his front, and the artillery-men had it all to themselves.
The continual push of the Excelsior
brigade and the fire of the artillery finally forced the enemy entirely through the woods, and our line now lay just in the farther edge of it. Thus we had gained our object, and there the battle rested for a time.
The fire now fell off into an occasional shot from skirmishers, and in that position matters continued until six P. M.
At about that hour, Gen. Kearney
's brigade against the enemy.
Pushing in on Grover
's left and between Grover
, he went at it in gallant style, and entirely cleared the woods.
The fire there was very fierce for several minutes, when it subsided, and shortly all was quiet again.
Soon after dark, large bodies of the enemy were brought up in front of the position held by Gen. Palmer
, and the rebels also pushed forward at that point a battery of field-pieces.
Arrangements were in progress to strengthen our position there, when at ten o'clock P. M., a large force was pushed in suddenly, and delivered a volley in the line of the Second Rhode Island and Tenth Massachusetts.
Some confusion ensued, but the men were soon rallied and repulsed this threatened advance, and drove the enemy back with considerable slaughter.
Among the list of wounded we find the following: Fred. Swain
, company D, head; James R. Buckner
, company F, arm broken — both of the Second Rhode Island.
Rebel account of the battle.
--Richmond Examiner, June 26.