[The following report does not appear in the printed volumes of Confederate Battle Reports, and has never, so far as we are aware, been in print.
It will be a valuable addition to our series of original reports.]
— Agreeably to verbal
instructions from the Commanding General
, the division of Major-General D. H. Hill
was, on the morning of the 31st ultimo, formed at an early hour, on the Williamsburg
road, as the column of attack upon the enemy's front on that road.
A brigade was placed on each side of the road to advance to the attack, and each was supported by one of the other brigades of the same division.
In advance of each of the columns of attack a regiment as skirmishers was deployed.
The plan for the forward movement was that fields should be passed by a flank movement of the regiments of skirmishers, and the woods in front once in our possession, the brigades were to advance rapidly, occupying them, and move steadily forward.
Abatis and entrenched positions were ordered to be taken by a flank movement of the brigades or brigade in front of them, the skirmishers engaging the sharpshooters, and the supporting brigade occupying the position of the brigades during the flank movement.
The division of Major-General Huger
was intended to make a strong flank movement around the left of the enemy's position and attack him in rear of that flank.
This division did not get into position, however, in time for any such attack, and I was obliged to send three of my small brigades on the Charles City
road to support the one of Major-General Huger
's that had been ordered to protect my right flank.
After waiting some six hours for these troops to get into position, I determined to move forward without regard to them, and gave orders to that effect to Major-General D. H. Hill
The forward movement began about two o'clock, and our skirmishers soon became engaged with those of the enemy.
The entire division of General Hill
became engaged about three o'clock, and drove the enemy steadily back, gaining possession of his abatis and part of his entrenched camp, General Rodes
, by a movement to the right, driving in the enemy's left.
The only reinforcements on the field in hand were my own brigades, of which Anderson
's and Kemper
's were put in by
the front on the Williamsburg
road, and Colston
's and Pryor
's by my right flank.
At the same time the decided and gallant attack made by the other brigades gained entire possession of the enemy's position, with his artillery, camp equipage, &c. Anderson
's brigade, under Colonel Jenkins
, pressing forward rapidly, continued to drive the enemy till night-fall.
The severest part of the work was done by Major-General D. H. Hills
division, but the attack of the two brigades, under General R. H. Anderson
--one commanded by Colonel Kemper
), the other by Colonel M. Jenkins
--was made with such spirit and regularity as to have driven back the most determined foe. This decided the day in our favor.
's brigade was held in reserve.
's did not succeed in getting upon the field of Saturday in time to take part in the action of the 31st.
Both, however, shared in repulsing a serious attack upon our position on Sunday, the 1st instant, Pickett
's brigade bearing the brunt of the attack and repulsing it.
Some of the brigades of Major-General Huger
's division took part in defending our position, but being fresh at the work did not show the same steadiness and determination as the troops of Hill
's division and my own.
I have reason to believe that the affair would have been a complete success, had the troops upon the right been put in position within eight hours of the proper time.
The want of promptness on that part of the field, and the consequent severe struggle in my front, so greatly reduced my supply of amunition that, at the late hour of the move on the left, I was unable to make the rush necessary to relieve that attack.
Besides the good effect produced by driving back such heavy masses of the enemy, we have made superior soldiers of several brigades that were entirely fresh and unreliable.
There can scarcely be a doubt about our ability to overcome the enemy upon any fair field.
Brigadier-General J. E. B. Stuart
, in the absence of any opportunity to use his cavalry, was of material service by his presence with me on the field.
The conduct of the attack was left entirely to Major-General Hill
The entire success of the affair is sufficient evidence of his ability, courage and skill.
I will refer you to his reports for particular mention of the conduct of his officers and soldiers.
I will mention Brigadier-General Rodes
, of that division, as distinguished for coolness, ability and determination.
He made one of the most important and decisive movements on the field, and held his command several hours after receiving a severe wound.
My own troops have been so often tried and distinguished on other fields that they need no praise from my lips.
A truer, better body of men never marched upon a battle-field.
I will mention, however, as distinguished for their usual gallantry and ability, Generals R. H. Anderson
, C. M. Wilcox
, Geo. E. Pickett
, R. E. Colston
, R. A. Pryor
, and Colonels Kemper
(commanding brigades), and Colonels Corse
and Sydenham Moore
--the latter twice shot, once severely wounded.
I desire also to mention the conspicuous courage and energy of Captain James Dearing
, of the Lynchburg
artillery, and his officers and men. His pieces were served under the severest fire, as his serious loss will attest.
, of General Hill
's division, also displayed great gallantry and skill in the management of his battery.
My personal staff--Majors G. M. Sorrel
, J. W. Fairfax
, P. T. Manning
, and Captains Thomas Goree
, Thomas Walton
, and my young aid, Lieutenant R. W. Blackwell
--have my kind thanks for their activity, zeal and intelligence in carrying orders and the proper discharge of their duties.
was slightly wounded.
I am indebted to General Wigfall
and Colonel P. T. Moore
, volunteer aids, for assistance in rallying troops and carrying orders during the battle of the 31st instant, and kindly aided in carrying orders during the several assaults made by the enemy on that day. I am also indebted to Colonel R. H. Chilton
for material aid. Dr. J. S. D. Cullen
, and the officers of his Department, kindly and untiringly devoted themselves to the wounded, They have none of the chances of distinction of other officers, but discharge the most important duties.
I refer to his report for the conduct of the officers of his department.
Detailed reports of the major-generals
, brigadiers and other commanders and chiefs of staff have been called for, and will be forwarded as soon as received.
Our loss invaluable officers and men has been severe.
, Fifth South Carolina; Jones
, Twelfth Alabama; Lomax
, Third Alabama, fell at the head of their commands, gallantly leading them to victory.
Three hundred and forty-seven prisoners, ten pieces of artillery,
five thousand small arms, one garrison flag and several regimental standards were taken.
A rough estimate of the loss on this part of the field may be put at three thousand killed and wounded. The loss on the part of the enemy may be put at a much higher figure, inasmuch as he was driven from his positions, and some half dozen attempts to recover them were successfully repulsed.
List of killed, wounded and missing.
| ||Officers.||Enlisted Men.||Aggregate.|
Headquarters Right Wing, June 11th, 1862.