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Chapter 2:

  • Off the Peninsula
  • -- sojourn at Ship Point -- up York river -- west Point -- organization of the Sixth Corps -- up the Peninsula -- artillery duel at Mechanicsville -- roster of the Sixth Army Corps in Peninsula campaign

Reaching Alexandria at nightfall we encamped in the old town, on a waste tract which sloped from the Cloud's Mills road toward Hunting Creek. On the south side of this old pike, under the guns of Fort Ellsworth, nearly opposite the old slave mart, whose warehouse and dismal pen had served during the previous winter respectively for guardhouse and prison of the provost, we tarried three days while arrangements were perfected for our embarkation and departure.

As the paymaster appeared upon the day following our arrival, the camp soon presented a curious scene to an observer, who might have witnessed incidents suggestive of a country fair,—the boys in groups surrounding venders of sundry wares, purchasing of the dealers or chaffing and badgering them. ‘Variety is the spice of life,’ and doubtless the bold soldier boys realized that the modification of the regular camp diet by the pies, cakes, chocolate, and beer, and the furbishing of old jokes and games, or the institution of new ones, imparted piquancy to the brief enjoyment of the halt by the old slave-pen. Whiskey enjoys the bad eminence of exaggerating the idiosyncracies of individuals, more than any other alcoholic beverage: if, for example, an individual is naturally deficient in judgment when sober, so that he might chance to undertake an impracticable enterprise, only dimly perceiving the difficulties attending its execution, under the influence of half a pint of whiskey not a vestige of these difficulties remains to him; he essays his task with sublime self-confidence. We noticed during our stay here, an artilleryman of one of the corps in town at the time, fruitlessly endeavoring to drive a pair of horses, one of which he was riding, through the door of a grocery store. No doubt the width of the aperture seemed ample for the purpose. A comrade [32] who observed the attempt, said that he himself, when in a similar condition, had driven a team down a flight of steps in a court leading from one street to another in a northern city. He declared that the descent seemed to him at the time only a gentle slope.

On a bright, balmy April afternoon, characteristic of that month in eastern Virginia, we broke camp, moving through the town, passing the Marshall house where Ellsworth fell, and Suttles's warehouse, whence Anthony Burns, a few years before, fled from servitude; we embarked from a wharf east of the warehouse. Our commander and his lieutenants sailed in a steamboat which bore our pieces and caissons, and convoyed a fore and aft schooner which carried the non-commissioned officers and privates, and on whose decks our horses were picketed from the galley to the forecastle. In the hold where we slept were also hay and grain for our steeds, rations for the boys, and some ammunition. Scarcely a ripple stirred the bosom of the Potomac where in its course it skirts the old town. Below the town, where Hunting Creek enters, its waters are agitated by the contribution of those of that tributary. Now on our right was Fort Lyons, whose embankment enclosed nine acres, whose guns commanded the water-route to the capital, and the contiguous land approaches. On our left were the fortifications of the Maryland shore.

On we sped by Vernon's sacred banks, a passing glance at mansion and tomb being vouchsafed to us; by Aquia Creek and old Fort Washington, which we were destined more than once in our career to repass. Passing upon our left Budd's Ferry, twenty-two miles below Alexandria, where were quartered during the winter of 1861 the First and Eleventh Massachusetts Volunteers, we pursued our course during the night down the historic river, ever widening in its path to the Chesapeake.

Morning found us ploughing the waves of the bay, in a damp, misty atmosphere. At daybreak there was a thin fog which in an hour was burned off by the sun; then followed a variable April morning, with sunshine and shower, the air being sufficiently clear to allow us to see upon the shore the peach blossoms which curiously, to our New England eyes, were already unfolded upon thousands of branches.

At a point on the Virginia shore below the mouth of the York, perhaps one fourth of the distance from that river to Fortress Monroe, [33] is an inlet called Poquosin River. This indentation, which has a nearly southern trend, is flanked upon the east by a headland called Ship Point. In this bay and off this peninsula we anchored on the 27th of April. The shores of the bay are low and flat, the adjacent waters are comparatively shallow. There were no wharves or piers built out upon the soft marl of the flats. Our debarkation was effected upon the following day by means of scows or coal hulks, a series of which were moored broadside to broadside from the shore to deep water, thus forming a roadway from ship to shore. When our carriages and camp equipage had been landed, our horses having previously been led ashore, we harnessed up and moved into camp upon the gray plain hard by.

Yorktown, the first objective point of McClellan's expedition, which had preceded us some three weeks from Alexandria and had landed at Fortress Monroe, lay to the northwest of our camp, across Warwick Creek, which runs abreast of the town nearly across the peninsula.

On the west side of this stream, occupying a line eleven miles long, strongly entrenched, was Gen. Magruder, having under his command a force variously stated, from 5,000 to 13,000 men.

McClellan reached the vicinity of the east bank of this stream April 4, 1862. He seems to have employed the succeeding thirty days in planting breaching batteries, and in placing in position heavy guns which had been ordered from Washington. His force must have been 100,000 strong, for 58,000 preceded him to Fortress Monroe, and as many more soon followed. When he was ready to open fire, May 4, it was found Magruder had retired. The division commanded by Gen. Wm. B. Franklin, during the brief period after our arrival at Ship Point, had not moved out to take position in the line of the besieging force.

Our battery had been occupied much as an artillery company in camp is wont to be: there were battery drills at stated times, there were the inevitable fatigue and police duty, the care of the horses, and the moments of absolute idleness. The drivers will well remember daily threading the mazes of the swamp thickets, distributing by three pairs and four, to find pools for watering the horses. A facetious comrade relates, that, being at the rear of the column of pairs of horses in charge of the officer of the day, he found, on reaching the watering-place, some distance from the [34] road, that the pools of water were all in the possession of other pairs, and he was obliged to wait until some had withdrawn to give his horses an opportunity. By the time his steeds had quenched their thirst, the other drivers, having reached the road and reformed, were on the return to camp. Our comrade avers that his off horse was so enraged at finding himself thus deserted by his fellow equines, that he set off at a gallop, and the driver, vainly endeavoring to hold him in, was obliged to spur on the saddle horse, so they made rapid progress for a few rods. Rounding a curve in the wooded road, the lieutenant, who was in ambush there, lurking to intercept any one who might be running his horses, hailed him, saying: ‘I've caught you; report to me when you have picketed your horses; you shall ride the harnesspole for this.’ The officer then trotted along to camp, leaving the driver following. The latter, reaching the picket-rope and hitching his horses, perceived that his superior was about to sit down to dinner; doubting the propriety of intruding upon the officers' mess, and deeming that his offence would be treated more leniently after the officer's appetizing meal, he deferred reporting till after dinner. The result fully justified the conclusion he had reached as to the mollifying effect of a full stomach; for after dinner, the lieutenant listened placidly to the man's explanation of the dust-raising, and dismissed him with an admonition, in lieu of the harness-pole.

Both cannoneers and drivers will recall the bathing in the bay, and the gathering of oysters from the flats.

We were upon parade, Sunday forenoon, May 4, when a general's orderly approached Capt. Platt, Company D, Second United States Artillery, chief of the artillery brigade of our division. After a moment's interval, the latter rode up to Capt. Porter, who was in position in front of his company; some words were exchanged, and Capt. Platt rode away. Our commander turned to his chiefs of sections, and with a smile exclaimed: ‘Yorktown's evacuated! By piece from the right, front into column!’ The remainder of the day was a busy season, being steadily employed in embarking the army corps upon such transports of various kinds suitable for the different arms of the service, as were available at this time and place. It was after nightfall and quite dark when the last of our horses was picketed upon the deck of [35] one of the old barges, to which we have alluded as having been used on our arrival for the improvisation of wharves. The uneasiness of the horses and the occasional breaking loose of an animal; the breathless curiosity of the men as to the destination of the corps; the dark haze through which surrounding objects were dimly viewed,—all tended to make the half hour preceding our departure a singularly impressive period in our history as a company. But the calm bearing and kindly manner of Col. Richard Arnold, Fifth United States Artillery, then inspector general of the corps, who superintended the embarkation of the artillery and its disposition on the transports, were inspirational, and the details were completed with surprising absence of friction, and without apparent difficulty.

Whither were we bound? Northward first, since our initial movement was in that direction. Later, we seemed to be leaving the Chesapeake. It must be York River that we have entered. Daylight removed any doubt that might have been entertained as to our whereabouts. And what a picture presented itself from the deck of any one of our transports,—the central feature being the motley array of crafts: grim black gunboats with frowning cannon, steamboats convoying schooners and barges at the end of long cables, upon the broad river which extended before and behind us like an inland lake, whose northern shore was a shifting panorama of undulating, verdant plantation and village, in sharp contrast to the nearer southern bank with its bluffs, now bare, now crowned with growth of wood. At this moment over and beyond these bluffs, half-way to the James, where McClellan's advance had been stopped near Williamsburg by works called Fort Magruder, Gen. Hooker's division was in action, stoutly resisted by Magruder's force. Ultimately the Confederate position was flanked by Gen. Hancock of Sumner's corps. But during nine hours, while we were sailing up the York, the ever brave men of Hooker's command, among whom were the First and Eleventh Massachusetts Volunteers, fought desperately and lost heavily; the Federal loss during the day is said to have been 2,228. Magruder retired during the night, leaving 700 of his severely wounded. The direction of his retreat would be necessarily northwest.

At sunset, when we approached the right bank of the York, [36] near the mouth of the Pamunkey, the gunboats having anchored somewhat below the point whither our transports were tending, the forces must still have been engaged at Williamsburg. It would then seem that the object of the expedition up the York, and the engagement of Franklin's division the next day, on the right bank of that river, must have been to intercept the Confederate force retiring from Yorktown, and to form a junction with McClellan's main army. A conversation audible to men in the vicinity of the speakers, between Gen. Franklin on the side of a steamboat and Col. Arnold on a barge alongside, rendered it probable to listeners that up to that moment no scheme for landing the artillery had been projected, unless in the mind of the colonel. But he proved himself then and afterward fertile in expedients, and he briefly detailed to his chief the main particulars of a plan which was subsequently carried out.

Now we saw from one of the foremost vessels, infantry and engineers landed in boats; the latter doubtless opened the inclined pathway up the side of the bluff. We saw later, cavalry horses let over the side of a vessel and taken one after another to the shore; so this arm of our corps must have been upon the plateau early in the evening, and have been deployed from the Pamunkey across to the York, where the gunboats lay.

Gradually the barges were moved into position as at Ship Point, so that, the infantry having gone ashore during the night, the guns, caissons, and all the wagons were landed.

At daybreak, our carriages, being upon the beach, were drawn up the side of the bluff, several pairs of horses other than those usually attached to each piece or caisson, being required for the purpose; this business was speedily despatched, when ‘Boots and saddles!’ was heard. We marched to the east, leaving the Pamunkey behind us, having the York upon our left, and before us across the open country was a thick wood.

Seemingly in less than one half-hour we were in position with infantry, and more artillery upon our right and left, and were ordered to shell the wood in our front. While our guns were thus engaged, the gunboats in the York were sending through the air their huge projectiles, which sounded in their course like the thundering noise of a heavy freight train. After an interval of rapid firing, during which time a captain of infantry with his [37] company reported to Capt. Porter under orders to support our battery, our captain directing him as to the disposal of his men, we were ordered to cease firing.

Breakfast had now been sent us from the landing. Later, firing was resumed at intervals. We occasionally saw ambulances coming from the direction of the wood, with their burdens. Sometimes a wounded soldier appeared, supported by two comrades; this practice, we fancy, was not long suffered to obtain. We retained our position till night. This was the first time our guns had been pointed at the enemy, and though he was invisible to us, never having reached our line, the innermost one, our company did all that it was commanded to do. The Federal loss in this affair is said to have been 200.

We encamped May 7, 1862, in a meadow four or five miles northwest of our position, on the day of the engagement, and relatively farther up the Pamunkey. On the following day, officers and men were gladdened by the sight, in camp, of Massachusetts soldiers of other commands, which had now reached this vicinity; for example, some officers and men of the Eighteenth and Twenty-second Volunteers. No doubt much correspondence, detailing the past incidents of their campaign, was indulged in by the privates, and perhaps by the officers. To-day we received notice of the organization of the Sixth Army Corps. We were now about thirty-five miles east of Richmond. Our next movement was to Brick House Landing, upon the Pamunkey.

The boys were in excellent health and spirits; the cheeks of most of them were ruddy and bronzed; their countenances bespoke hope and confidence. Undoubtedly they seemed capable of making more fatiguing marches, and of enduring greater hardships than had yet been required of them. For though a majority of the command were boys in years, we question if there were, as a whole, a hardier body of soldiers in the First Division of the Sixth Army Corps. The hopefulness and the general contentment grew out of a nearly universal confidence in our commander and his lieutenants.

The boys will remember the somewhat exciting sport, incident to pig-hunting and slaying in the reedy, sedgy, muddy marsh, along the Pamunkey, at the rear of Brick House,—unfortunate porkers, victims first of surprise, then of assault, and finally of the frying-pan or the camp-kettle. [38]

It was during our halt previous to marching to Brick House, when, as we have remarked, comrades of the Eighteenth and Twenty-second Massachusetts were in our camp, that McClellan's main army in its advance from Yorktown had reached a point near Roper's Church on the Williamsburg and Richmond road. These men belonged to Gen. Porter's Corps (Fifth), which, with the corps of Generals Sumner and Franklin (Sixth), was to form the right wing and to proceed by the way of Cumberland and of Whitehouse on the Pamunkey, striking the Chickahominy at New Bridge, while the left wing, consisting of the corps of Heintzelman and Keyes, kept the Richmond road to Bottom's Bridge farther down the Chickahominy Swamp.

During the next eight or nine days the advance guards reached these points, May 16, 17, 1862. The First Division of the Sixth Corps, consisting of twelve regiments of infantry, a regiment of cavalry and four batteries, one of which was the First Massachusetts, about the 17th of May was passing Whitehouse, hard by the landing which was to be our depot of supplies until the change of base.

Those in the column who were familiar with the story of Martha Custis and Washington's wooing, doubtless looked with interest upon the weatherworn and decaying building; but we fancy that a livelier attraction for the mass of the boys as they moved by in column, presented itself in a unique group of children, perched upon the fence in front of the mansion; the little elves actually had red, curly hair, along with mulatto features and complexion. Here was a strange phase of physical evolution occurring amid the direful revolution of the social system which produced these little creatures.

Our next camp was in the vicinity of Cold Harbor. The boys can see it now: a tract of ground sloping northerly from the road down to a swamp, in the edge of which was a spring; stunted pines grew here and there in a sterile soil. Two years leatr we struck the same ground and spent the night there. We thus anticipate, for comrades noticed the coincidence in 1864.

By the 20th or 21st of May we had advanced to Gaines' Farm. This place is nearly due west of Cold Harbor, on a broken plateau between the bottom lands of the Chickahominy and Pamunkey; it lies east of north from Richmond, on the road [39] leading from Bottom's Bridge up the Chickahominy via Cold Harbor to Mechanicsville, thence to Hanover court-house.

At this time Gen. Naglee's brigade of Keyes's corps crossed the Chickahominy near Bottom's Bridge and pushed forward without serious opposition to within two miles of the James, and within the next five days the entire left wing of the army occupied selected positions upon the south side of the river. On the 25th Keyes's corps was one mile in front of Savage's Station, which is on the York River Railroad. Keyes's position was fortified. Three days later, Casey's division of the Fourth Corps moved to a line which extended through a point one half mile beyond Seven Pines, where a new line of rifle-pits was commenced and timber felled in front of it. This corps, the Fourth, therefore, was not only on the extreme left, but occupied, at this moment, the most advanced position in McClellan's line. The Third Corps, which had been moved to a position within supporting distance of the Fourth, was in the rear of the latter. It was the advanced and seemingly isolated situation of the Fourth that doubtless led to the Confederate attack three days after Casey's advance.

Between one and two P. M., May 31, Naglee's brigade, after a spirited defence, was forced back from its position toward Seven Pines, by a division of the Confederate force which attacked it early after noon. A heavy rain fell the day before, swelling the waters of the several channels into which the swamp-creek is divided, and rendering the roads in the vicinity difficult of passage. A messenger who was sent to the commander of the left wing, Gen. Heintzelman, is said to have been delayed so that it was five o'clock before Kearney's division arrived, and after dark before the arrival of Gen. Hooker from White Oak Swamp.

During these days, while the movements of the left wing upon the south side of the river were conspiring to bring about the battles of Seven Pines and Fair Oaks in which they culminated, the right wing was still upon the north side, Sumner's Corps being upon the left of Franklin, six miles above Bottom's Bridge. This force consisted of the divisions of Generals Sedgwick and Richardson, each division having a bridge over the stream opposite its position.

At two o'clock on the 31st, these troops were ordered to cross without delay, and they immediately pushed forward to the [40] support of Gen. Heintzelman. In the meantime Naglee's brigade, reinforced by artillery under Col. Bailey and by a part of Peck's brigade, had been again forced back by overpowering numbers, and, after a gallant struggle, beyond the position in the morning of the troops commanded by Gen. Couch, which was far in Naglee's rear, and at this moment it was learned that a heavy column of Confederates was marching toward Fair Oaks station. This column was engaged by Gen. Couch with a portion of his division of Keyes's corps, but he was obliged to fall back one half mile; here learning of Sumner's approach, he at once formed a line facing Fair Oaks and prepared to hold it. It was now five P. M.; brave, impetuous Kearney now arrived before Seven Pines, deployed a brigade to the left so as to have a flank fire upon the Confederate lines, which retarded the pursuit in that direction, held the position until after dark, then, being separated by its movement from the main body, the brigade fell back, circuitously, the commander bringing the force in good order within the Federal lines. At six o'clock Gen. Sumner reached Gen. Couch's position, with Sedgwick's division; before his arrival, Gen. Devens, from the centre of Couch's line, made gallant efforts to regain portions of the lost ground. The road was so muddy that only one battery of Sedgwick's division (Kirby's) could be got in position; the First Minnesota being detailed for protection of the flank, the remaining infantry of the division was formed in line with the aforesaid battery in the centre. Now a tremendous fire was opened by the Confederates all along the line, and charges were made by them, though repulsed with heavy loss upon our side. At length Gen. Sumner ordered a charge, which was made with such vim and effectiveness that the opposing force was driven in disorder from his front. It is said that it was at this moment that Gen. Joe Johnston was wounded. Sumner's other division now appeared upon the scene, but night brought cessation from further strife on this day.

During the night, Kearney's, Couch's, and a portion of Casey's division were massed in the rifle-pits on the left, at Seven Pines, Hooker bivouacked in their rear. Sedgwick remained relatively in the same position as at dark; all his artillery that could be moved was brought up, and Richardson was placed on his left to connect with Kearney. French's brigade was placed along the railroad. [41] Howard's brigade formed a second line, and the Irish brigade, a third.

How at five o'clock on the morning of June 1, 1862, Confederate skirmishers and cavalry appeared in front of Richardson and were repulsed; how the Confederates, later, came on in full force, approaching rapidly in columns of attack, supported by infantry in line of battle on either side, appearing determined to crush, by this signal onslaught, the devoted troops that withstood them; how the Federal force sustained this shock as an immovable wall; how the indomitable Hooker, supported by Birney's brigade, attacking from the left with two regiments, pushed the Confederates before him, and a final charge being ordered, they fled, abandoning their arms; and finally how a bayonet charge from the right, led by Gen. French, completed the discomfiture of the Confederates,—are well known to the country; the result of all this being that our lines were re-established in their position of the 30th. If an opportunity presented itself of striking a decisive blow which would have given us the Confederate capital, it was not seized. The most trustworthy accounts make the loss on either side between five and six thousand.

Why the Sixth and Fifth Corps, mustering more than 30,000 men, were not brought from the north side of the river, has never been explained. The former, at the time Sumner crossed the river, lay upon his right; the first division at Gaines' Farm. Here was a hospital, in which were Confederate wounded, some of them severely injured, lying upon cots; others, whose condition was less serious, might be seen sitting about. They were physically a splendid set of men, and seemed to bear their misfortunes and sufferings with admirable fortitude. We recollect particularly one man who was wounded in the head, whom we saw lying upon the ground in the shadow of an old barn; he evidently suffered great pain, but not a groan escaped him; there was an occasional grating of the teeth, nothing more.

At this time, as earlier and later, from Union homes, boxes containing preserved fruit, salt fish, cakes, cheese, sometimes tobacco, and from country homes, perhaps, stockings and underwear, would reach some volunteer father, husband, brother, or son. Often, unfortunately, the contents would be spoiled by exposure during the inevitable delays in transporting them to the [42] front; but when they arrived in good condition, it was pleasing to see the generosity which prompted the recipients to share these luxuries from home with their comrades. At such times a flood of memories of the fireside would arise, and an interchange of kindly sentiment would occur, that would soften the asperity of camp life, and, altogether, cause the best side of human nature to present itself.

The management of the commissariat in these days seemed susceptible of a good deal of improvement, both in respect to preserving in good wholesome condition the bread and meat, and in regularly distributing it at necessary intervals. We shall have occasion to contrast unfavorably the seeming inefficiency of the subsistence department in this period, with its workings at a later time, when we were cut loose from our base of supplies, and were provided with no more ample means of transportation than in 1862.

Still, the very annoyances to which soldiers were subjected, in the way, for example, of bad biscuit or defective meat, were the means of developing much wit and linguistic sprightliness that otherwise had remained dormant. Some wag would declare that B. C., on the cracker-boxes of the time, denoted that the hardtack was made before the Christian era, and kindred jokes abounded at the expense of salt junk and desiccated vegetables. So also was culinary ingenuity stimulated; a variety of delectable dishes resulted,—army scouse, dingbats, flippers, succotash, etc.

Preventive measures enjoined upon the commands by the medical department, and, in the main, well carried out, in regard to cleanliness, the depth of sinks, and the burial of offal, were undoubtedly instrumental in lessening, comparatively, the disease and mortality rates in the camps along the Chickahominy; but the region is generally miasmatic, and the fact that the manure of the plantations had been dumped in the runs tributary to the river, and that a similar disposition was made of that which accumulated in the corrals of the army, would seem to indicate that immunity from disease must have been purchased by great vigilance and care.

Many soldiers will recall with gratitude the gifts, during this and later periods, of the United States Sanitary Commission; considering the peculiar diet of the men during the peninsula [43] campaign, the pickled onions, chow-chow, and other anti-scorbutics sent out by the Commission, were very valuable.

But this particular camp of our company at Gaines' Farm was healthy, despite the intensely hot weather of the day and the damp air at night. It was high and dry, and there was an abundance of pure water at hand. Later experience in the swamps of the south side taught us to set a reasonable value upon this site, as well as upon that at Mechanicsville, to which place we were ordered during the first week in June. This place is five or six miles farther up the Chickahominy. You have been generally ascending as you have come hither from Cold Harbor, crossing runs which make their way through winding ravines; each crossing brings you to a ridge relatively higher than the preceding. At length, crossing the road which intersects the Cold Harbor road and which, proceeding to the bottom lands, leads over Mechanicsville Bridge, you have before you and at your left, a hill which rises up boldly from the south, breaking off gently toward the Cold Harbor road and then slightly elevating toward the south side of that road. The section between the brow of the hill and the road is completely masked by the fore ridge and a piece of wood on the left. In front of the ridge, there is an unobstructed view for three miles or more, through an open country; across the Chickahominy one sees a similar ridge confronting the hill on which he stands. The blue pickets and the gray are ranged along the banks of this sluggish stream on their respective sides.

On this elevation our guns were brought into position. A redoubt constructed of earth and rails was built before each piece. The work of placing the posts and rails, and of throwing up the banks, being suitably distributed and completed, our camp was made in the edge of the woods to the left and rear. We rode out northwest on the Hanover road, down to one of those runs such as we had crossed in coming hither, to water our horses; we met two negroes of the neighborhood bearing on their shoulders bags of hoe-cake and bacon, which we purchased of them, the rogues asking with a grin, before seeing the money, if it was ‘silber.’ The hoe-cake forcibly suggested cold, unseasoned hasty pudding. Returning to camp, there was a little leisure to examine a long and very tall tobacco shed, which we, on our arrival, had observed near the road. The lower story seemed to [44] have been used for housing carts or wagons. Sixteen feet or more from the ground and thence to the gables, there were beams or stringers crossing at different stages; these in turn at each stage were themselves crossed at right angles by rods or poles, designed to hold the little shooks of tobacco that were laid astride them.

Whether a climb among the upper beams would reveal any of this useful article was immediately tested, and soon more bunches of clean, dark yellow, pure leaf than many of us had ever seen before were brought down, and eventually wrought into cigars and twists.

It was on the afternoon of the second or third day that the guns of a Confederate earthwork or small fort, plainly visible on the opposite ridge, began to play upon us, throwing shot over our guns to the lower ground, where were our shelters and baggage. The detachments were immediately called to their guns, which were loaded, and the compliments of our friends returned.

The aiming of our guns, and the firing, were under the direction of Lieut. Commanding McCartney. There was a lively interchange of civilities for a half hour. The shots from the other side, for the most part, passed over us, striking the ground in the rear. We saw two of the shots sent by our guns, when aimed by the lieutenant commanding, fall, as it appeared to us, pat, within the Confederate earthwork. At all events, after the shots in question from our side, there was silence on the other. We were ordered to cease firing. On Sunday, June 8, on the ridge across the river, to the east of the earthwork, there was a continued movement of Confederate troops along and over the ridge, which attracted the attention of the Federal troops which occupied a position on a hill east of the Mechanicsville Bridge road. We saw a crowd of Federal officers and soldiers watching from this hill the singular spectacle across the swamp. What was the significance of it, we never knew. It did not immediately result in any change of position on our part. It has been conjectured that this was a part of an ostentatious movement of troops, designed to convey the idea that Jackson was to be reinforced in the valley; while really Gen. Lee was contemplating the withdrawal of that army to augment the already large force which, drawn from the seaboard and elsewhere in Virginia, he concentrated, with Johnson's army for a nucleus, in front of Richmond.


Roster. Sixth Army Corps.

Maj. Gen. William B. Franklin, Commanding.

In the Peninsula Campaign, 1862.

First Division.

Maj. Gen. H. W. Slocum, Commanding.

First Brigade.—Col. A. T. A. Torbert, 1st, 2d, 3d, and 4th New Jersey Volunteers.

Second Brigade.—Col. J. J. Bartlett, 16th and 27th New York, 5th Maine, and 96th Pennsylvania.

Third Brigade.—Brig. Gen. John Newton, 18th, 31st, and 32d New York Volunteers, and 95th Pennsylvania (Gosline Zouaves).


Platt's D, 2d United States, 6 Napoleons.

Porter's A, Massachusetts, 4 10-pd. Parrotts, and 2 12-pd. Howitzers.

Hexamer's A, New Jersey, 4 10-pd. Parrotts, and 2 12-pd. Howitzers.

Wilson's F, New York, 4 3-inch Ordnance Guns.

Second Division.

Maj. Gen. William F. Smith, Commanding.

First Brigade.—Brig. Gen. W. S. Hancock, 5th Wisconsin, 49th Pennsylvania, 43d New York, 6th Maine.

Second Brigade.—Brig. Gen. W. H. Brooks, 2d, 3d, 4th, 5th, and 6th Vermont Volunteers.

Third Brigade.—Brig. Gen. Davidson, 33d, 77th, 49th New York Volunteers, and 7th Maine Volunteers.


Ayres's F, 5th United States, 4 10-pd. Parrotts, and 2 Napoleons.

Mott's 3d New York Battery, 4 10-pd. Parrotts, and 2 Napoleons.

Wheeler's E, 1st New York, 4 3-inch Ordnance Guns.

Kennedy's 1st New York Battery, 6 3-inch Ordnance Guns.

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