The headquarters camp at Savage's Station was broken up early on the morning of the 29th and moved across White Oak Swamp
As the essential part of this day's operation was the passage of the trains across the swamp, and their protection against attack from the direction of New Market
, as well as the immediate and secure establishment of our communications with the gunboats, I passed the day in examining the ground, directing the posting of troops, and securing the uninterrupted movement of the trains.
In the afternoon I instructed Gen. Keyes
to move during the night to James river
and occupy a defensive position near Malvern Hill
, to secure our extreme left flank.
Gen. F. J. Porter
was ordered to follow him and prolong the line towards the right.
The trains were to be pushed on towards James river
in rear of these corps, and placed under the protection of the gunboats as they arrived.
A sharp skirmish with the enemy's cavalry early this day on the Quaker
road showed that his efforts were about to be directed towards impeding our progress to the river, and rendered my presence in that quarter necessary.
The difficulty was not at all with the movement of the troops, but with the immense trains, that were to be moved virtually by a single road and required the whole army for their protection.
With the exception of the cavalry affair on the Quaker
road, we were not troubled during this day south of the swamp, but there was severe fighting north of it.
vacated his works at Fair Oaks
on June 29, at daylight, and marched his command to Orchard Station, halting at Allen's field, between Orchard and Savage's Stations.
The divisions of Richardson
were formed on
the right of the railroad, facing towards Richmond
holding the right, and Sedgwick
joining the right of Heintzelman
The first line of Richardson
's division was held by Gen. French
, Gen. Caldwell
supporting in the second.
A log building in front of Richardson
's division was held by Col. Brooks
with one regiment (53d Penn. Volunteers), with Hazzard
's battery on an elevated piece of ground a little in rear of Col. Brooks
At nine A. M. the enemy commenced a furious attack on the right of Gen. Sedgwick
, but were repulsed.
The left of Gen. Richardson
was next attacked, the enemy attempting in vain to carry the position of Col. Brooks
. Capt. Hazzard
's battery, and Pettit
's battery, which afterwards replaced it, were served with great effect, while the 53d Penn. kept up a steady fire on the advancing enemy, compelling them at last to retire in disorder.
The enemy renewed the attack three times, but were as often repulsed.
arrived at Savage's Station at an early hour on the 29th, and was ordered to cross White Oak Swamp
and relieve Gen. Keyes
As soon as Gen. Keyes
was thus relieved he moved towards James river
, which he reached in safety, with all his artillery and baggage, early on the morning of the 30th, and took up a position below Turkey creek
During the morning Gen. Franklin
heard that the enemy, after having repaired the bridges, was crossing the Chickahominy
in large force and advancing towards Savage's Station.
He communicated this information to Gen. Sumner
, at Allen
's farm, and moved Smith
's division to Savage's Station.
A little after noon Gen. Sumner
united his forces with those of Gen. Franklin
and assumed command.
I had ordered Gen. Heintzelman
, with his corps, to hold the Williamsburg
road until dark, at a point where were several field-works, and a skirt of timber between these works and the rail-road.
Through a misunderstanding of his orders, and being convinced that the troops of Sumner
at Savage's Station were ample for the purpose in view, Heintzelman
withdrew his troops during the afternoon, crossed the swamp at Brackett's ford, and reached the Charles City
road with the rear of his column at ten P. M.
On reaching Savage's Station Sumner
's and Franklin
's commands were drawn up in line of battle in the large open field to the left of the railroad, the left resting on the edge of the woods and the right extending down to the railroad.
, with his brigade, held the wood to the left of the field, where he did excellent service, receiving a wound, but retaining his command.
's brigade was thrown into the woods on the right and front.
At four P. M. the enemy commenced his attack in large force by the Williamsburg
It was gallantly met by Gen. Burns
's brigade, supported and reinforced by two lines in reserve, and finally by the N. Y. 69th, Hazzard
's and Pettit
's batteries again doing good service.
's and Bramhall
's batteries also took part effectively in this action, which was continued with great obstinacy until between eight and nine P. M., when the enemy were driven from the field.
Immediately after the battle the orders were repeated for all the troops to fall back and cross White Oak Swamp
, which was accomplished during the night in good order.
By midnight all the troops were on the road to White Oak Swamp bridge, Gen. French
, with his brigade, acting as rear-guard, and at five A. M. on the 30th all had crossed and the bridge was destroyed.
On the afternoon of the 29th I gave to the corps commanders their instructions for the operations of the following day. Porter
's corps was to move forward to James river
, and, with the corps of Gen. Keyes
, to occupy a position at or near Turkey Bend
, on a line perpendicular to the river, thus covering the Charles City
road to Richmond
, opening communication with the gunboats, and covering the passage of the supply-trains, which were pushed forward as rapidly as possible upon Haxall
The remaining corps were pressed onward, and posted so as to guard the approaches from Richmond
, as well as the crossings of the White Oak Swamp
over which the army had passed.
was ordered to hold the passage of White Oak Swamp bridge, and cover the withdrawal of the trains from that point.
His command consisted of his own corps, with Gen. Richardson
's division and Gen. Naglee
's brigade, placed under his orders for the occasion.
's division was on the right of the Charles City
On the morning of the 30th I again gave to the corps commanders
within reach instructions for posting their troops.
I found that, notwithstanding all the efforts of my personal staff and other officers, the roads were blocked by wagons, and there was great difficulty in keeping the trains in motion.
The engineer officers
whom I had sent forward on the 28th to reconnoitre the roads had neither returned nor sent me any reports or guides.
had been delayed-one by losing the road, and the other by repairing an old road-and had not been able to send any information.
We then knew of but one road for the movement of the troops and our immense trains.
It was therefore necessary to post the troops in advance of this road as well as our limited knowledge of the ground permitted, so as to cover the movement of the trains in the rear.
I then examined the whole line from the swamp to the left, giving final instructions for the posting of the troops and the obstruction of the roads towards Richmond
, and all corps commanders were directed to hold their positions until the trains had passed, after which a more concentrated position was to be taken up near James river
Our force was too small to occupy and hold the entire line from the White Oak Swamp
to the river, exposed, as it was, to be taken in reverse by a movement across the lower part of the swamp, or across the Chickahominy
below the swamp.
Moreover, the troops were then greatly exhausted, and required rest in a more secure position.
I extended my examinations of the country as far as Haxall
's, looking at all the approaches to Malvern
, which position I perceived to be the key to our operations in this quarter, and was thus enabled to expedite very considerably the passage of the trains and to rectify the positions of the troops.
Everything being then quiet, I sent aids to the different corps commanders to inform them what I had done on the left, and to bring me information of the condition of affairs on the right.
I returned from Malvern
's, and, having made arrangements for instant communication from Malvern
by signals, went on board of Com. Rodgers
's gunboat, lying near, to confer with him in reference to the condition of our supply-vessels and the state of things on the river.
It was his opinion that it would be necessary for the army to fall back to a position below City
Point, as the channel there was so near the southern shore that it would not be possible to bring up the transports, should the enemy occupy it. Harrison's Landing
was, in his opinion, the nearest suitable point.
Upon the termination of this interview I returned to Malvern Hill
, and remained there until shortly before daylight.
On the morning of the 30th Gen. Sumner
was ordered to march with Sedgwick
's division to Glendale
's farm” ). Gen. McCall
's division (Pennsylvania
reserves) was halted during the morning on the New Market
road, just in advance of the point where the road turns off to Quaker church.
This line was formed perpendicularly to the New Market
road, with Meade
's brigade on the right, Seymour
's on the left, and Reynolds
's brigade, commanded by Col. S. G. Simmons
, of the 5th Penn., in reserve; Randall
's regular battery on the right, Kern
's and Cooper
's batteries opposite the centre, and Dietrich
's and Kauerhem
's batteries of the artillery reserve on the left-all in front of the infantry line.
The country in Gen. McCall
's front was an open field, intersected towards the right by the New Market
road and a small strip of timber parallel to it; the open front was about eight hundred yards, its depth about one thousand yards.
On the morning of the 30th Gen. Heintzelman
ordered the bridge at Brackett's ford to be destroyed, and trees to be felled across that road and the Charles City
's division was to extend to the Charles City
road; Gen. Kearny
's left to connect with Gen. Slocum
's left; Gen. McCall
's position was to the left of the Long bridge
road, in connection with Gen. Kearny
's left; Gen. Hooker
was on the left of Gen. McCall
Between twelve and one o'clock the enemy opened a fierce cannonade upon the divisions of Smith
's brigade at White Oak Swamp bridge.
This artillery-fire was continued by the enemy through the day, and he crossed some infantry below our position.
's division suffered severely.
directed our artillery with great effect.
's battery, after losing many cannoneers, and Capt. Hazzard
being mortally wounded, was compelled to retire.
It was replaced by Pettit
's battery, which partially silenced the enemy's guns.
held his position until after dark, repeatedly
driving back the enemy in their attempts to cross the White Oak Swamp
At two o'clock in the day the enemy were reported advancing in force by the Charles City
road, and at half-past 2 o'clock the attack was made down the road on Gen. Slocum
's left, but was checked by his artillery.
After this the enemy, in large force, comprising the divisions of Longstreet
and A. P. Hill
, attacked Gen. McCall
, whose division, after severe fighting, was compelled to retire.
, in his report of the battle, says:
About half-past 2 my pickets were driven in by a strong advance, after some skirmishing, without loss on our part.
At three o'clock the enemy sent forward a regiment on the left centre and another on the right centre to feel for a weak point.
They were under cover of a shower of shells and boldly advanced, but were both driven back — on the left by the 12th regiment, and on the right by the 7th regiment.
For nearly two hours the battle raged hotly here. . . . At last the enemy was compelled to retire before the well-directed musketry-fire of the reserves.
The German batteries were driven to the rear, but I rode up and sent them back.
It was, however, of little avail, and they were soon after abandoned by the cannoneers. . . .
The batteries in front of the centre were boldly charged upon, but the enemy was speedily forced back. . . .
Soon after this a most determined charge was made on Randall's battery by a full brigade, advancing in wedge-shape, without order, but in perfect recklessness.
Somewhat similar charges had, I have stated, been previously made on Cooper's and Kern's batteries by single regiments, without success, they having recoiled before the storm of canister hurled against them.
A like result was anticipated by Randall's battery, and the 4th regiment was requested not to fire until the battery had done with them.
Its gallant commander did not doubt his ability to repel the attack,, and his guns did, indeed, mow down the advancing host; but still the gaps were closed, and the enemy came in upon a run to the very muzzles of his guns.
It was a perfect torrent of men, and they were in his battery before the guns could be removed.
Two guns that were, indeed, successfully limbered had their horses killed and wounded, and were overturned on the spot, and the enemy, dashing past, drove the greater part of the 4th regiment before them.
The left company (B), nevertheless, stood its ground, with its captain, Fred. A. Conrad, as did likewise certain men of other
I had ridden into the regiment and endeavored to check them, but with only partial success. . . .
There was no running.
But my division, reduced by the previous battles to less than six thousand (6,000), had to contend with the divisions of Longstreet and A. P. Hill, considered two of the strongest and best among many of the Confederate army, numbering that day 18,000 or 20,000 men, and it was reluctantly compelled to give way before heavier force accumulated upon them. . . .
states that about five o'clock P. M. Gen. McCall
's division was attacked in large force, evidently the principal attack; that in less than an hour the division gave way, and adds:
Gen. Hooker, being on his left, by moving to his right repulsed the rebels in the handsomest manner with great slaughter.
Gen. Sumner, who was with Gen. Sedgwick in McCall's rear, also greatly aided with his artillery and infantry in driving back the enemy.
They now renewed their attack with vigor on Gen. Kearny's left, and were again repulsed with heavy loss. . . .
This attack commenced about four P. M., and was pushed by heavy masses with the utmost determination and vigor.
Capt. Thompson's battery, directed with great precision, firing double charges, swept them back.
The whole open space, two hundred paces wide, was filled with the enemy; each repulse brought fresh troops.
The third attack was only repulsed by the rapid volleys and determined charge of the 63d Penn., Col. Hays, and half of the 37th N. Y. Volunteers.
's troops soon began to emerge from the woods into the open field.
Several batteries were in position and began to fire into the woods over the heads of our men in front.
Capt. De Russy
's battery was placed on the right of Gen. Sumner
's artillery, with orders to shell the woods.
's brigade was then advanced to meet the enemy, and soon drove him back.
Other troops began to return from the White Oak Swamp
Late in the day, at the call of Gen. Kearny
, Gen. Taylor
's 1st N. J. brigade, Slocum
's division, was sent to occupy a portion of Gen. McCall
's deserted position, a battery accompanying the brigade.
They soon drove back the enemy, who shortly after gave up the attack, contenting themselves with keeping up a desultory firing till late at night.
Between twelve and one o'clock at night Gen. Heintzelman
commenced to withdraw his corps, and soon after
daylight both of his divisions, with Gen. Slocum
's division and a portion of Gen. Sumner
's command, reached Malvern Hill
On the morning of the 30th Gen. Sumner
, in obedience to orders, had moved promptly to Glendale
, and upon a call from Gen. Franklin
for reinforcements sent him two brigades, which returned in time to participate and render good service in the battle near Glendale
says of this battle:
The battle of Glendale was the most severe action since the battle of Fair Oaks.
About three o'clock P. M. the action commenced, and after a furious contest, lasting till after dark, the enemy was routed at all points and driven from the field.
The rear of the supply-trains and the reserve artillery of the army reached Malvern Hill
about four P. M. At about this time the enemy began to appear in Gen. Porter
's front, and at five o'clock advanced in large force against his left flank, posting artillery under cover of a skirt of timber, with a view to engage our force on Malvern Hill
, while with his infantry and some artillery he attacked Col. Warren
A concentrated fire of about thirty guns was brought to bear on the enemy, which, with the infantry-fire of Col. Warren
's command, compelled him to retreat, leaving two guns in the hands of Col. Warren
The gun-boats rendered most efficient aid at this time, and helped to drive back the enemy.
It was very late at night before my aides returned to give me the results of the day's fighting along the whole line and the true position of affairs.
While waiting to hear from Gen. Franklin
, before sending orders to Gens. Sumner
, I received a message from the latter that Gen. Franklin
was falling back; whereupon I sent Col. Colburn
, of my staff, with orders to verify this, and, if it were true, to order in Gens. Sumner
He had not gone far when he met two officers sent from Gen. Franklin
's headquarters with the information that he was falling back.
Orders were then sent to Gens. Sumner
to fall back also, and definite instructions were given as to the movement which was to commence on the right.
The orders met these troops already en route to Malvern
Instructions were also sent to Gen. Franklin
as to the route he was to follow.
then received full instructions for posting the troops as they arrived.
I then returned to Haxall
's, and again left for Malvern
soon after daybreak.
Accompanied by several general officers, I once more made the entire circuit of the position, and then returned to Haxall
's, whence I went with Com. Rodgers
to select the final location for the army and its depots.
I returned to Malvern
before the serious fighting commenced, and after riding along the lines, and seeing most cause to feel anxious about the right, remained in that vicinity.
The position selected for resisting the further advance of the enemy on the 1st of July was with the left and centre of our lines resting on Malvern Hill
, while the right curved backwards through a wooded country towards a point below Haxall
's, on James river
is an elevated plateau about a mile and a half by three-fourths of a mile in area, well cleared of timber, and with several converging roads running over it. In front are numerous defensible ravines, and the ground slopes gradually towards the north and east to the woodland, giving clear ranges for artillery in those directions.
Towards the northwest the plateau falls off more abruptly into a ravine which extends to James river
From the position of the enemy his most obvious lines of attack would come from the direction of Richmond
and White Oak Swamp
, and would almost of necessity strike us upon our left wing.
Here, therefore, the lines were strengthened by massing the troops and collecting the principal part of the artillery.
's corps held the left of the line (Sykes
's division on the left, Morell
's on the right), with the artillery of his two divisions advantageously posted, and the artillery of the reserve so disposed on the high ground that a concentrated fire of some sixty guns could be brought to bear on any point in his front or left.
also had, with great exertion, succeeded in getting ten of his siege-guns in position on the highest point of the hill.
's division was placed on the right of Porter
; next came Kearny
; next Sedgwick
; next Smith
; then the remainder of Keyes
's corps, extending by a backward curve nearly to the river.
reserve corps was held in reserve, and stationed behind Porter
's and Couch
One brigade of Porter
's was thrown to the left on the low ground to protect that flank from any movement direct from the Richmond
The line was
very strong along the whole front of the open plateau, but from thence to the extreme right the troops were more deployed.
This formation was imperative, as an attack would probably be made upon our left.
The right was rendered as secure as possible by slashing the timber and by barricading the roads.
, commanding the flotilla on James river
, placed his gunboats so as to protect our flank and to command the approaches from Richmond
Between nine and ten A. M. the enemy commenced feeling along our whole left wing, with his artillery and skirmishers, as far to the right as Hooker
About two o'clock a column of the enemy was observed moving towards our right, within the skirt of woods in front of Heintzelman
's corps, but beyond the range of our artillery.
Arrangements were at once made to meet the anticipated attack in that quarter; but, though the column was long, occupying more than two hours in passing, it disappeared and was not again heard of. The presumption is that it retired by the rear, and participated in the attack afterwards made on our left.
About three P. M. a heavy fire of artillery opened on Kearny
's left and Couch
's division, speedily followed up by a brisk attack of infantry on Couch
The artillery was replied to with good effect by our own, and the infantry of Couch
's division remained lying on the ground until the advancing column was within short musket-range, when they sprang to their feet and poured in a deadly volley which entirely broke the attacking force and drove them in disorder back over their own ground.
This advantage was followed up until we had advanced the right of our line some seven or eight hundred yards, and rested upon a thick clump of trees, giving us a stronger position and a better fire.
Shortly after four o'clock the firing ceased along the whole front, but no disposition was evinced on the part of the enemy to withdraw from the field.
's brigade, having been detached from Richardson
's division, was stationed upon Couch
's right by Gen. Porter
, to whom he had been ordered to report.
The whole line was surveyed by the general, and everything held in readiness to meet the coming attack.
At six o'clock the enemy suddenly opened upon Couch
with the whole strength of his artillery, and at once began pushing forward
his columns of attack to carry the hill.
Brigade after brigade, formed under cover of the woods, started at a run to cross the open space and charge our batteries, but the heavy fire of our guns, with the cool and steady volleys of our infantry, in every case sent them reeling back to shelter and covered the ground with their dead and wounded.
In several instances our infantry withheld their fire until the attacking column, which rushed through the storm of canister and shell from our artillery, had reached within a few yards of our lines.
They then poured in a single volley and dashed forward with the bayonet, capturing prisoners and colors, and driving the routed columns in confusion from the field.
About seven o'clock, as fresh troops were accumulating in front of Porter
were sent with their brigades, as soon as it was considered prudent to withdraw any portion of Sumner
's and Heintzelman
's troops, to reinforce that part of the line and hold the position.
These brigades relieved such regiments of Porter
's corps and Couch
's division as had expended their ammunition, and batteries from the reserve were pushed forward to replace those whose boxes were empty.
Until dark the enemy persisted in his efforts to take the position so tenaciously defended; but, despite his vastly superior numbers, his repeated and desperate attacks were repulsed with fearful loss, and darkness ended the battle of Malvern Hill
, though it was not until after nine o'clock that the artillery ceased its fire.
The result was complete victory.
During the whole battle Com. Rodgers
added greatly to the discomfiture of the enemy by throwing shell among his reserves and advancing columns.
It was necessary to fall back still further, in order to reach a point where our supplies could be brought to us with certainty.
As before stated, in the opinion of Com. Rodgers
, commanding the gunboat flotilla, this could only be done below City Point
; concurring in his opinion, I selected Harrison
's Bar as the new position of the army.
The exhaustion of our supplies of food, forage, and ammunition made it imperative to reach the transports immediately.
The greater portion of the transportation of the army having been started for Harrison's Landing
during the night of the 30th of June and 1st of July, the order for the movement of the
troops was at once issued upon the final repulse of the enemy at Malvern Hill
The order prescribed a movement by the left and rear, Gen. Keyes
's corps to cover the manoeuvre.
It was not carried out in detail as regards the divisions on the left, the roads being somewhat blocked by the rear of our trains.
were not able to move out as early as had been anticipated, and Porter
found it necessary to place a rear-guard between his command and the enemy.
, of the 3d Penn. Cavalry, was entrusted with this delicate duty.
He had under his command his own regiment and Lieut.-Col. Buchanan
's brigade of regular infantry and one battery.
By a judicious use of the resources at his command he deceived the enemy so as to cover the withdrawal of the left wing without being attacked, remaining himself on the previous day's battlefield until about seven o'clock of the 2d of July.
Meantime Gen. Keyes
, having received his orders, commenced vigorous preparations for covering the movement of the entire army and protecting the trains.
It being evident that the immense number of wagons and artillery-carriages pertaining to the army could not move with celerity along a single road, Gen. Keyes
took advantage of every accident of the ground to open new avenues and to facilitate the movement.
He made preparations for obstructing the roads after the army had passed, so as to prevent any rapid pursuit, destroying effectually Turkey bridge, on the main road, and rendering other roads and approaches temporarily impassable by felling trees across them.
He kept the trains well closed up, and directed the march so that the troops could move on each side of the roads, not obstructing the passage, but being in good position to repel an attack from any quarter.
His dispositions were so successful that, to use his own words, “I do not think more vehicles or more public property were abandoned on the march from Turkey bridge than would have been left, in the same state of the roads, if the army had been moving towards the enemy instead of away from him. And when it is understood that the carriages and teams belonging to this army, stretched out in one line, would extend not far from forty miles, the energy and caution necessary for their safe withdrawal from the presence of an enemy vastly superior in numbers will be appreciated.”
The last of the wagons did not reach the site selected at Harrison
's Bar until after dark on the
3d of July, and the rear-guard did not move into their camp until everything was secure.
The enemy followed up with a small force, and on the 3d threw a few shells at the rear-guard, but were quickly dispersed by our batteries and the fire of the gunboats.
Great credit must be awarded to Gen. Keyes
for the skill and energy which characterized his performance of the important and delicate duties entrusted to his charge.
High praise is also due to the officers and men of the 1st Conn. Artillery, Col. Tyler
, for the manner in which they withdrew all the heavy guns during the Seven Days and from Malvern Hill
Owing to the crowded state of the roads the teams could not be brought within a couple of miles of the position, but these energetic soldiers removed the guns by hand for that distance, leaving nothing behind.
So long as life lasts the survivors of those glorious days will remember with quickened pulse the attitude of that army when it reached the goal for which it had striven with such transcendent heroism.
Exhausted, depleted in numbers, bleeding at every pore, but still proud and defiant, and strong in the consciousness of a great feat of arms heroically accomplished, it stood ready to renew the struggle with undiminished ardor whenever its commander should give the word.
It was one of those magnificent episodes which dignify a nation's history and are fit subjects for the grandest efforts of the poet and the painter.1
This movement was now successfully accomplished, and the Army of the Potomac was at last in position on its true line of operations, with its trains intact, no guns lost save those taken in battle when the artillerists had proved their heroism and devotion by standing to their guns until the enemy's infantry were in their midst.
During the Seven Days the Army of the Potomac consisted of 143 regiments of infantry, 55 batteries, and less than 8 regiments of cavalry all told.
The opposing Confederate army consisted
of 187 regiments of infantry, 79 batteries, and 14 regiments of cavalry.
The losses of the two armies from June 25 to July 2 were:
|Army of the Potomac,||1,734||8,062||6,053||15,849|
The Confederate losses in killed and wounded alone were greater than the total losses of the Army of the Potomac in killed, wounded, and missing.
No praise can be too great for the officers and men who passed through these seven days of battle, enduring fatigue without a murmur, successfully meeting and repelling every attack made upon them, always in the right place at the right time, and emerging from the fiery ordeal a compact army of veterans, equal to any task that brave and disciplined men can be called upon to undertake.
They needed now only a few days of well-earned repose, a renewal of ammunition and supplies, and reinforcements to fill the gaps made in their ranks by so many desperate encounters, to be prepared to advance again, with entire confidence, to meet their worthy antagonists in other battles.
It was, however, decided by the authorities at Washington
, against my earnest remonstrances, to abandon the position on the James
, and the campaign.
The Army of the Potomac was accordingly withdrawn.
It was not until two years later that it again found itself under its last commander at substantially the same point on the bank of the James
It was as evident in 1862 as in 1865 that there was the true defence of Washington
, and that it was on the banks of the James
that the fate of the Union
was to be decided.