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Doc. 77.-battle of Oak Grove, Va.

Despatches from General McClellan.1

redoubt No. 3, Wednesday, June 25--1.30 P. M.
Hon. E. M. Stanton, Secretary of War:
we have advanced our pickets on the left considerably, to-day, under sharp resistance. Our men have behaved very handsomely. Some firing still continues.

Geo. B. Mcclellan, Major-General Commanding.

redoubt No. 3, Wednesday, June 25--3.15 P. M.
Hon. E. M. Stanton, Secretary of War:
The enemy are making desperate resistance to the advance of our picket-lines. Kearney, and one half of Hooker's are where I want them. I have this moment reinforced Hooker's right with a brigade and a couple of guns, and hope in a few minutes to finish the work intended for today. Our men are behaving splendidly. The enemy are fighting well also. This is not a battle, merely an affair of Heintzelman's corps, supported by Keyes, and thus far all goes well, and we hold every foot we have gained. If we. succeed in what we have undertaken, it will be a very important advantage gained. Loss not large thus far. The fighting up to this time has been done by Gen. Hooker's division, which has behaved as usual, that is, most handsomely. On our right, Porter has silenced the enemy's batteries in his front.

G. B. McClellan, Major-General Commanding.

redoubt No. 8, Wednesday, June 25--5 P. M.
Hon. E. M. Stanton, Secretary of War:
The affair is over, and we have gained our point fully, and with but little loss, notwithstanding the strong opposition. Our men have done all that could be desired. The affair was partially decided by two guns that Capt. Dusenbury brought gallantly into action under very difficult circumstances. The enemy was driven from his camps in front of this, and all is now quiet.

G. B. McClellan, Major-General Commanding.

Report of Colonel Cowdin.

headquarters First regiment mass. Vols., camp at Fair Oaks, Va., June 26.
Wm. Schouler, Adj.-Gen. of Massachusetts:
General: In accordance with orders from the Brigade-General commanding the First brigade, I left my camp at Fair Oaks yesterday morning, and proceeded command to the front into the fallen timber, where I deployed the regiment as skirmishers, throwing out advanced pickets in front of my line, and supported by the remainder of the brigade, advanced for the purpose of driving in the enemy's pickets and advancing our lines of main pickets through a swamp into an open field, a distance of about three quarters of a mile.

After advancing about one third of the distance, our advanced pickets became engaged and drove the enemy's pickets back on to their reserve, where they made a determined stand. I now sent for support, as had been previously agreed, and was promptly joined by the Second New-Hampshire regiment, than which a more reliable one cannot be found in the service. Our right at this time rested in the direction of the Richmond and Williamsburgh turnpike, and our left towards Gen. Kearney's division.

Moving forward my regiment, we became engaged with the enemy's reserve picket in considerable force, and drove them back, step by step. At this time we met with a severe loss, by the wounding of Second Lieut. Joseph H. Dalton, immediately followed by that of Captains Wild, Carruth and Chamberlin, and Second Lieutenants Thomas and Parkinson, who were carried to the rear, besides quite a number of non-commissioned [230] officers, leaving two companies under the command of corporals.

After a brisk encounter of about an hour I ordered my whole line to move forward, which they did with a shout, the enemy giving way before us, bearing with them most of their killed and wounded. We drove them through the open fields and swamp, wading in many places nearly to our waists in mud and water, and establishing our line of pickets as previously indicated by the Commanding General, but not without quite a serious loss.

The officers and men under my command deserve the highest praise for their attention to and prompt obedience to orders.

I have the honor to remain,

Very respectfully your ob't servant,

Robert Cowdin, Colonel Commanding First Reg't Mass. Vols.

A National account.

camp on Fair Oaks battle-field, Va., Thursday, June 26, 1862.
To enable you to comprehend the action, I will report its history circumstantially. It was fought on Fair Oaks Farm, nearly a mile in front of the battle-field of Fair Oaks. The latter derives its title from the railway station. But Fair Oaks Homestead is a mile south of the station, and south of the Williamsburgh stage-road. The fight, in military parlance, was an “affair.” I am almost tempted to denominate it the Battle of Casualties. Wherefore? Six hundred and forty brave men were killed and wounded — and we gained a barren victory. Its true result was a reconnaissance of some value, which might have been better made, (it seems to me,) by a single courageous man. The operation was intended to be highly important, but under the present circumstances its real value is obscured in a sea of uncertain speculation.

Knowledge of the situation is necessary to an understanding of the affair. You will bear in mind that Gen. Porter's batteries, on the east bank of the river, command several important rebel batteries on this side including those on James Garnet's farm and at Old Tavern. By referring to your maps, you will discover that the Williamsburgh stage-road, and the Richmond and York River Railroad, run almost parallel at Fair Oaks station. The deviations will not affect the general description. By running a line due south from Fair Oaks station, you will intersect the Williamsburgh road at Hooker's camp. Given the enemy's line of intrenchments, a mile, or perhaps more, in advance, and you have the figure of an irregular parallelogram of which the east end is occupied by Hooker's command, the west by the enemy. In front of Hooker there is a wide field and entanglement, which is our territory; a belt of timber and thicket, perhaps five hundred yards wide, which has been bloodily debated now some twenty-five days; still further beyond, another broad field, intersected by the stage-road and railroad, and commanded by rebel rifle-pits, and a redoubt near the railroad.

For reasons best understood by himself, Gen. McClellan thought it desirable to advance our lines at this point — to the other side of the woods — at the risk of a general engagement. (You will also observe that it is the point in our lines nearest Richmond on its direct lines of communication.) Gen. Heintzelman was accordingly ordered to push Hooker's division into the disputed territory, and hold a line near the enemy's esplanade. Porter's batteries, meantime, had opened a furious bombardment upon the enemy at Garnet's farm and Old Tavern, fixing their attention rather closely to those points. Generals Sickles's and Grover's brigades deployed right and left, and moved into the forest in line of battle, Grover being commander on the actual field of battle, with orders to report to Gen. Hooker, who posted himself on the edge of the timber to watch the whole line. The Nineteenth Massachusetts, Col. Hinks, (of Sumner's corps,) was thrown out in line to protect the right flank, and Kearney's division was advanced to protect the left, General Robinson's brigade joining Grover's. Hooker's Third brigade, commanded by Col. Carr, Second New-York volunteers, (not Second New-York State Militia,) was ordered to remain behind the intrenchments in support.

Our force advanced cautiously, but with great difficulty, through the heavy swamps and thickets, skirmishers in front, until the rebel pickets were ousted. A brisk engagement opened immediately with their supports. They were speedily forced back, but rallied upon strong reenforcements, and the battle became general. It was impossible to distinguish anything but smoke and mounted officers dashing back and forth along the line. The furious tumult within the woody recesses was a sufficient assurance of hot strife. The firing on both sides was very heavy, and it was as easy to distinguish the respective volleys as it is to distinguish between two human voices — our own being sharp and ringing, those of the enemy dull and heavy, like the reports of shot-guns. Our men were armed with Spring-field and Enfield guns, the enemy with Harper's Ferry muskets, which their officers prefer. I was impressed that the enemy were most numerous. Gen. Grover was so satisfied of the fact that he notified Gen. Hooker. He begun to think that it would have been wiser had he brought Colonel Wyman's Sixteenth Massachusetts regiment into battle. He had left him in reserve on the edge of the wood, consoling him with the remark that his regiment “had won glory enough at Fair Oaks.” Sickles commanded not only his brigade, but each of his regiments, leading and inspiring each with his own fiery ardor.

The first reports of picket alarms had hardly subsided before ambulances, loaded with wounded, began to debouch from the forest, and it was not a great while before a long procession of bloody forms upon stretchers followed them. A half-hour or more, perhaps, after the first attack, the fire extended across Hooker's entire line, to Hinks's flanking regiment, which was as hotly engaged as its neighbors. The fire gradually increased in intensity, indicating the arrival of new [231] combatants from the other side. Birney's brigade was then deployed in line of battle as reserves. Meanwhile two of our batteries opened gingerly, and hurled a few shells over the combatants, to disturb the enemy's supports, but the firing was not effective and it soon ceased. Not long after the fight had extended along the whole line, there was a perceptible change in the enemy's mode of firing. It appeared to me like heavy skirmishing fire, but our own continued in a steady stream and was sustained until the rebels had been driven clear back to their lines. Our gallant fellows, however, pushed forward steadily under a murderous fire, and evinced no symptoms of weakness, while the enemy as constantly retired until they reached the edge of the timber, when they retreated in disorder to their advanced rifle-pits. When about to follow in mad pursuit, our line was suddenly halted by order of superior authority. The lads burst into a series of jubilant cheers of triumph that rang through the forests like a concert of trumpets. Alas! how many of their gallant comrades had been left in the dismal swamps, weltering in their gore.

But there had been an incomprehensible misconception of orders. It might have proved disastrous had not Gen. Grover taken a responsibility. While he was pressing back the enemy, he received an order to recall the troops. Remarking that there was a misunderstanding, he determined to push onward until an explanation could be made. Fortunately, he had time to achieve victory, and somewhat later he was again ordered to fall back. Gen. McClellan, who had remained at headquarters to communicate with General Porter and our left wing, now appeared upon the field, and ordered the reoccupation of the conquered territory. Birney's brigade had already returned to camp, and Grover and Sickles's were resting on our side of the timber, having left a powerful picket in front. Part of Couch's division was sent forward, and a section of De Russy's battery, consisting of two Napoleon guns, was advanced. During the afternoon one ineffectual effort was made by the enemy to recover lost ground, and a desultory picket-firing and considerable sharp-shooting was going on all along the line. The battery was vigorously worked, and the rifle-pits were soon cleaned out. An hour before sunset, a strong force of the enemy suddenly appeared on the left of Hooker, and sharply attacked Robinson's brigade, but they were soon driven back, with mutual loss. At sunset the day was ours, indisputably. Birney's brigade relieved Robinson, and Couch's division remained on the field. We had conquered a better position, and fatigue-parties were ordered to intrench the lines under cover of darkness. It was a dearly-bought victory.

Our new line was established over half a mile in advance of our old intrenchments, in a position which menaced the enemy in his vital points. It was apparent that he must come out and drive us away, or be driven back upon Richmond. During the entire afternoon Gen. McClellan sat upon the parapet of the redoubt — where bullets had whistled rather dangerously during the fight — awaiting developments, and apparently pleased at his success. When the labor of the day closed, it was supposed that a general attack would be made upon us in the morning, and the men were urged to work earnestly in the trenches. Until ten o'clock at night, it was profoundly quiet in every direction. At that hour a thundering volley, commencing at the quadrilateral, rolled along our front, close down to the left of Kearney's line. Bullets rattled through the foliage of the forest like hail. An instant later our troops were swarming at the defences like angry bees. Simultaneously there was a vicious response from our picket supports, and a big battle seemed looming up in the darkness. It was awfully sensational during some three or four minutes, when silence asserted itself again. After that furtive effort to steal revenge for defeat, the rebels concluded to let us alone, and, with the exception of occasional picket-firing, our camps were not disturbed again until about daybreak, when the irritated enemy repeated the experiment of the night before. Unfortunately for both sides, the result was rather sanguinary. Our men had laid upon their arms all night, and at three o'clock were in line of battle, awaiting attack. It did not come — for sufficient reasons, as you will see.

At eight o'clock the mystery was explained. Gen. McClellan had tidings that Stonewall Jackson was moving swiftly down the isthmus, between the Pamunkey and Chickahominy, to crush his right flank. It was necessary to yield part of the fruits of the sanguinary field of Fair Oaks Farm, and dispositions were made to repel any attempt the enemy might make to assist Jackson. Our pickets, powerfully supported, were left upon the conquered field, and to this hour (three o'clock P. M.) no effort had been made to dislodge them. We understand it, however. It is interpreted by an awful cannonading on our right wing, indicating that the hero of the valley has struck against McCall and his Pennsylvania reserves. It is the most terrific cannonading ever heard. We now look for battle to open in front immediately.

The affair of Fair Oaks Farm, considered in the light of a mere victory, although it was bravely won, was most dearly purchased. I am informed that our casualties amount to the shocking total of six hundred and forty men — including the night's tragedies. Of these about sixty were killed, and perhaps seventy-five to one hundred are missing. But the latter may report themselves soon. The enemy had no opportunity to capture prisoners. The rebel loss does not appear to have been half so severe. They had more killed, but fewer wounded. The explanation is obvious. They bushwhacked and our men fought in line of battle. They sought the cover of trees and skirmished successfully, while our troops were exposed. Many of our casualties may be charged to sharp-shooters posted in trees. It is surprising that our officers did not adopt the crafty tactics of the enemy. We captured a [232] few Georgians and Louisiana volunteers, including a Louisiana major, of Blanchard's brigade.

The strength of the enemy opposed to us has not been satisfactorily ascertained. The prisoners assert that Longstreet's division and part of Huger's were in the field. It is probable, as we know that Longstreet's and Huger's divisions, supported by Hill's corps, hold that line.

We lost no prominent field-officers, but many line-officers were wounded — several killed. Two of Hooker's aids had horses killed under them, and Lieut. Whiting, aid to Gen. Robinson, lost an arm. Colonel Morrison, a volunteer aid, was also wounded. The most painful misfortune of the day was the mortal wounding of Lieut. Bullock, of the Seventh Massachusetts, who was struck in the back by a fragment of one of our own shells, while he was leading his company to support the battery. Massachusetts again suffered heavily. The First regiment lost ten killed and one hundred and nineteen wounded; the Seventh, two killed, fourteen wounded; the Eleventh and Sixteenth suffered somewhat, and the Nineteenth lost some forty-five men. Sickles's and Robinson's brigades also suffered severely. But the casualty lists will appear in the papers before this can reach you.

The conduct of officers and men throughout was admirable. There was little opportunity for conspicuous exhibition of gallantry. But the field was far more trying than an ordinary battle. Men could not be subjected to a severer test of courage, endurance, and discipline. But our gallant volunteers gave evidence of qualities which inspires the Commander-in-Chief with perfect confidence in them. Surely they have been tried in fire and have not been found wanting. Yorktown, Williamsburgh, Fair Oaks and Fair Oaks Farm attest their unflinching firmness and courage.

Among the few incidents of the battle which deserve conspicuous attention, it is pleasant to rescue from oblivion one involving a humble private. Charles Blake, company E, Seventh Massachusetts, was severely wounded in the shoulder, but not disabled. He was sent to the field-hospital, and when his wound was dressed, he resumed his musket and pushed into the fight again, against the remonstrances of the surgeon. Not long afterwards he was brought back on a stretcher with a disabling wound in the leg.

During the afternoon Gen. McClellan took a seat on the parapet of a redoubt in front of Hooker's intrenchments. Several Brigadiers, staff-officers, and others, were clustering near him when a peculiar whistle, something of a prolonged chirp of a very big cricket, was heard. Every body began to “duck,” I'm sure I did, and a moment after a three-inch shell whisked directly over our heads. Another, at the same instant, passed a few feet to the right of us. Neither exploded. The first lodged in the clay a few feet beyond us, and was exhumed by a soldier. I am quite positive that Gen. McClellan dodged. Even old iron-sided Heintzelman squirmed behind the magazine. No more explosions annoyed us. One of our lieutenants had his clothing cut by seven balls. Two struck him fairly in the chest. He wore a steel-plated vest, which undoubtedly saved his life. He frankly confesses that when he discovered the first ball did not hurt him, he “was ten times as brave” as he had been. It is probable that the rebels shoot at the legs of our men, under a belief that their breasts are protected by steel-plated vests.

Another 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. Sickles'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. This [233] 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. Sickles'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 road. To the left of the road, in the order in which they are named, the Fifth, First and Third were formed. Sickles's left stretched about three hundred yards to the left of the road. Grover'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 troops. 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.”

Gen. Sickles, 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. On Sickles'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.

When Grover 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.

Berry'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 left. Robinson'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's division. 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.

Grover was not, however, permitted to hold the ground he had gained in quiet. An attempt [234] 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 brigade. 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. Sickles's boys took it up in turn and made a stouter push at the foe. Every body seemed exhilarated at the sound. Orderly 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.

Gen. McClellan 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. Grover, 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. Kearney, 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 led Birney's brigade against the enemy. Pushing in on Grover's left and between Grover and Robinson, 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, June 26.
It was generally expected that a fierce and general engagement would have taken place at our lines yesterday, and from every indication and preparation the surmise seemed to be well founded; but, although all were on the tiptoe of expectation, yesterday passed, like many others, without the realization of the much looked for and desired event. Early in the day cannonading, both from our own and the enemy's positions, [235] took place from the right, left, and centre, but, on the two latter points, operations were nothing more than a fierce and artistic artillery duello, in which the enemy were decidedly worsted. Their artillery, bearing upon Garnett's and Christian's farms, were particularly active, and seemed anxious for a response. This was not long in forthcoming, and they were accordingly shelled from their several positions with much ease and with evident loss.

They repeatedly returned to the charge, however, yet our artillery received them with such accuracy as to drive them, pell mell, into the woods, and causing the abandonment of camps to the right of the Mechanicsville bridge. An artillery duel also took place upon the York River Railroad, between six and seven miles from the city, at which place also the enemy were endeavoring to erect breastworks in the woods. Being informed of this, some pieces of the First Virginia artillery proceeded within shelling distance, and, by superior execution, silenced the enemy's guns and stopped their excavations. But the most serious and important transaction at our lines yesterday took place on the Williams-burgh road.

The enemy, advancing their lines, suddenly fell upon our pickets, and, owing to superior numbers, drove them in upon our supports. The advance of the enemy was composed of Sickles's and another brigade. Informed of the state of things, the First Louisiana was sent forward to reconnoitre and find the enemy's force, position, and intentions; but to do this their journey lay across a large open field, and while advancing the cowardly enemy screened his forces in the thicket, and having caught the gallant First Louisiana in ambuscade, delivered a murderous fire, which struck down dozens of the valiant fellows. But not dismayed at this reception and their heavy loss, the brave men instantly dressed their line, dashed at Sickles's hirelings with their bayonets, and routed them.

Still opposed to greater numbers than their own, the First Louisiana was quickly supported, we are informed, by the Third, Fourth, and Twenty-second Georgia regiments, of Wright's brigade, who held a large force of the enemy at bay for two hours before our forces were got into position, and appalled the enemy by their formidable front. Except in the First Louisiana, we hear of few casualties, and this arose from the fact that they were the victims of a trap laid by the Yankees, and were too heroic to fall back when discovering it. Col. Shivers, Major Nellegan, and many men were wounded, Lieut. Gilmore and some others being killed. This loss arose purely from an esprit du corps, which prompted them to remain and stand fast, though opposed by vastly superior numbers.

It is said, however, that when the Louisiana closed their broken ranks and charged upon the enemy's masses, that it was so terrible that they gave way in disorder. This conduct is perhaps akin to that which extracted the expression of Gen. Bosquet when witnessing the brilliant and famous charge of the English Light Brigade at Balaklava, namely: “That is magnificent, but is not war.” The conduct of the Louisianians and Georgians is highly spoken of; nothing can detract from their superior qualities as soldiers and patriots, but an excess of bravery characterizes their movements. The loss of the Louisianians is reported at fourteen officers and two hundred men killed and wounded, but this we believe is much of an exaggeration.

Subsequent to this brilliant but unfortunate transaction, an artillery force was moved to the front, and a fierce conflict ensued, completely silencing the Yankee batteries in the woods, which had advanced to occupy the disputed ground. Captain Huger's battery, we are informed, was conspicuous in the affairs of the day at the right, and retired from the fray with much honor and little loss. The best evidence of their success is in the fact that the enemy retired and did not reply.

Our pickets were particularly successful yesterday in capturing intruders upon our lines, and effected important seizures. Among others, we may mention the arrival in our midst of two women, who were discovered endeavoring to penetrate our lines, evidently for no praiseworthy intention. These women are of low caste, and would pass very well, in time of peace, for mother and daughter; but, as it proves, they are perfect strangers to each other as to relationship, but are evidently leagued together in some clandestine enterprise, and neither can give any satisfactory account of their vocations or residencc. Their mysterious appearance at our outposts yesterday was more than sufficient to warrant arrest, and their answers give good evidence of treasonable intention.

It is generally expected that operations of great moment will take place to-day, but whether the severe skirmishes of yesterday will culminate in a general action is a point impossible to determine; but should this be the case, we are fully sure that all our preparations will result in brilliant victory, despite the traps, ambuscades, and petty cunning of the enemy, evinced on many occasions as on yesterday.

As Gen. McClellan may claim the severe skirmish of yesterday as another “Federal victory,” we will simply say that the brave Louisianians were opposed to no less than seven Yankee regiments, as the following prisoners captured by them testify; for, in addition to the seizure of Capt. James McKernan, of the Seventh New-Jersey, there are also the following visitors to Libby's warehouse: One sergeant, two corporals, two musicians, six privates — in all, twelve prisoners--part of Sickles's Excelsior brigade, Seventh New-Jersey, Nineteenth Massachusetts, Second New-York, and Fifth New-Jersey, taken at the old battle-ground of the Seven Pines. Three were wounded.

--Richmond Examiner, June 26.

1 further reports of this engagement will be given in the Supplement.

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