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Chapter 4:

While these new regiments were forming, the North Carolina regiments already transferred to the army of Virginia were engaged in the famous Peninsular campaign and the battles around Richmond. Just a few, weeks after the battle at New Bern, McClellan's army began to land at Fort Monroe preparatory to its ascent of the peninsula. On the 4th of April, 1862, his troops began to move against the Confederate works, held at that time by Gen. J. B. Magruder with about 11,000 men. General Magruder had spent much time and work upon the construction of parallel lines of fortifications across the peninsula. However, the Confederate commander-in-chief, General Johnston, after an examination of the works and of the whole ground, decided that it was not feasible to attempt to hold the peninsula, flanked as it was by water; and the forces there, and those sent to their aid after McClellan began to move, were placed under orders to withdraw gradually upon the approach of the Union army, but to strike, if need be, and to protract the giving up of the lines as long as possible.

Accordingly, on the nearer approach of McClellan the Confederates fell back upon the Warwick line of defenses. On the 16th of April, at Lee's Mill, or Dam No. 1, the first sharp trial of strength between the opposing forces took place. Gen. W. F. Smith's division was ordered to [47] attack the Confederate works there, the object being, according to General McClellan,

to force the enemy to discontinue his work in strengthening his batteries, to silence his fire, and to gain control of the dam existing at this point. Letter to Adjutant-General Thomas, April 19th.

Smith brought up his three brigades, Brooks', Hancock's and Davidson's, and during the morning kept up a vigorous artillery fire. Then, at 3 o'clock, under cover of a sharp artillery and musketry fire, two attacking and two supporting companies of the Third Vermont regiment crossed the stream and rushed gallantly for the Confederate works. The part of the works immediately in their front was occupied by the Fifteenth North Carolina regiment, Col. R. M. McKinney. The regiment at the time of the Federal attack was not on its lines, but was about 200 yards in the rear, engaged on some heavy intrenchments that it had been ordered to make. When the pickets gave the alarm, the Fifteenth rushed to its arms and advanced to meet its assailants, who on reaching the unoccupied line had partly taken refuge behind the earth thrown from the Confederate rifle-pits,1 and opened upon the North Carolinians, as they advanced, an accurate and deadly fire. The fire was promptly returned and several volleys exchanged. Colonel McKinney of the Fifteenth was killed in the advance. The Seventh Georgia and other adjoining regiments, none knowing the strength of the attacking party, rushed to the aid of the North Carolinians, and in a few moments the little band of Vermont men was driven back with a loss of 83 men.

At 5 o'clock a more formidable attack was made by the Sixth Vermont, in conjunction with the Fourth Vermont. Colonel Lord, of the Sixth Vermont, says: ‘The companies . . . advanced fearlessly and in perfect order ... with a view of taking the rifle-pits of the enemy at the point of the bayonet. Before this could be accomplished, [48] and at a distance not exceeding 30 yards, a most rapid, galling and destructive fire was opened, telling with fearful effect upon our men who were advancing to make the assault.’ As a result of this heavy fire, all the Federal regiments participating were soon withdrawn. The total Federal loss in this engagement was 165. The Fifteenth North Carolina lost its colonel, of whom General McLaws said, ‘He was pure in all his thoughts and just in all his acts.’ In addition, 12 men were killed and 31 wounded.

In this retreat up the Peninsula, retiring from one intrenchment to another, the North Carolina soldiers, in common with all their comrades from other States, suffered unusual hardships. General Magruder gives this account of the situation in the trenches: ‘From the 4th of April till the 3d of May this army served almost without relief in the trenches. Many companies of artillery were never relieved during this whole period. It rained almost incessantly. The trenches were filled with water. No fires could be allowed. The artillery and infantry of the enemy played upon our men almost continuously, day and night. The army had neither coffee, sugar nor hard bread, but subsisted on flour and salt meats, and these in reduced quantities, and yet no murmurs were heard. .... I speak this in honor of those brave men whose patriotism made them indifferent to suffering, disease, danger, and death.’ Gen. E. P. Alexander, in commenting on this report, declares: ‘These statements are not exaggerated in a single word. The trenches filled with water as fast as they could be opened and could not be drained. Yet the continual firing compelled the men to remain in them. .... A hand or head could not be exposed for a moment without receiving a ball from the telescopic target rifles of the sharpshooters. The trenches were so hastily constructed that they barely afforded room for the line of battle to crouch in. .... In many places they became [49] offensive beyond description. Fires were strictly forbidden by day and night. The sick lists increased by thousands, and cases occurred where men actually died in the mud and water of the trenches before they could be taken out to the hospitals.’ Then General Alexander adds a fact that shows the intense earnestness with which these men were imbued:

Not only were there no murmurs or complaints, but in the midst of all this, the terms of enlistments of a large part of the army expired, and they at once re-enlisted ‘for three years or the war.’ Southern Historical Society Papers.

By May 4th the retreating Confederates had reached the line of fortifications around Fort Magruder, just below the old town of Williamsburg. On that day the Federal cavalry and infantry pressed the Confederate rear so closely that the trains became imperiled. Hence, the battle fought there on the 5th of May was not from Confederate choice, but from the necessity of the hour. The Northern reports, and indeed many Northern writers, show an entire misconception of the purpose of this battle. They seem to think that it was part of Johnston's purpose to hold permanently the Fort Magruder line. Keyes says in his official report: ‘If Hancock had failed, the enemy would not have retreated.’ This is far from the true state of affairs. As Colonel Maury observes: ‘General Johnston had no intention of tarrying at Williamsburg, nor was the place defensible, for the enemy now had control of both York and James rivers, on each flank, and intended to push Franklin's division, kept on transports . . . rapidly up the York river in the vain hope of getting in our rear.’ General Johnston says:

It was an affair with our rear guard, the object of which was to secure our baggage trains. Johnston's Narrative.

General Webb, of the Federals, observes:
The demonstration of the Union cavalry the previous afternoon, and Hooker's pressure the next morning, compelled them to face [50] about to escape being run over at will by their pursuers. The Peninsula, in Civil War Series.

General Magruder had been ordered not to stop in Williamsburg at all. Gens. G. W. Smith and D. H. Hill were ordered to resume the march at 2 a. m. on the 5th, and Longstreet was to cover the trains. Accordingly, General Smith moved at the hour appointed, and General Hill's infantry was just filing into the road to follow his trains when he was stopped by the news that a battle was imminent in the rear. His division spent most of the day on the campus of William and Mary college, waiting to see whether Longstreet would need help, for a heavy downpour of rain had fallen on the night of the 4th, flooding the low swampy road, and

part of the trains were stalled on the ground where they stood during the night. From Manassas to Appomattox.

At daylight on the 5th, Anderson, of Longstreet's corps, seeing the condition of things and believing that a struggle would be necessary to save the wagon trains, re-manned the redoubts on the right of Fort Magruder and as many on the left as the heavy rain permitted him to see. Two redoubts on the left were not seen, and perhaps could not have been occupied if seen, for that long line of works had been designed for an army to hold, not for a rear guard division fighting for time to save its stores.2 These were the two redoubts afterward seized by Hancock, and were the scene of the Fifth North Carolina regiment's bloody fight.

Hooker attacked Longstreet manfully at 7 o'clock on the 5th. However, as General Webb of the Federal army chronicles, ‘he lost ground until Kearny came up’ about 2 o'clock. Subsequently Couch arrived, but the three divisions never gained an inch from Longstreet's [51] sturdy fighters. When reinforcements began to reach the Federals, Longstreet sent to D. H. Hill for one brigade, and at 3 o'clock Hill's whole division moved back to be in supporting distance, but only two of his regiments were actively drawn into the battle on the right. Longstreet's division contained few North Carolinians. The Thirteenth, Col. A. M. Scales, and the Fourteenth, Col. P. W. Roberts, and Manly's battery, were the State's sole representatives in that part of the battle. Both of these regiments were in Colston's brigade. Colston was not put in till late in the afternoon. The Thirteenth went to A. P. Hill's right and was suddenly and fiercely attacked. It, however, under the stimulating example of Colonel Scales and Lieutenant-Colonel Ruffin, held its own till the close of the contest. The Fourteenth was deployed in a skirt of woods on A. P. Hill's left, and remained under fire for several hours, behaving with conspicuous bravery. Longstreet reports: ‘Brigadier-General Colston, though last upon the field, was hotly engaged until darkness put an end to the struggle,’ and he compliments both Scales and Roberts on ‘having discharged their difficult duties with marked skill and fearlessness.’

Manly's North Carolina battery made an enviable record in this battle. Five of its guns were posted in Fort Magruder, and one under Lieutenant Guion was in a redoubt. When Webber's battery, afterward captured, was trying to get in position, Manly's guns, the first of which was fired by Sergeant Brooks, largely aided the infantry in so disabling it that it never rendered effective service. Longstreet's fight for time was a marked success in that he held his own all day and captured five of the enemy's guns.

On General Longstreet's left, Hancock had, during the uproar of battle, crossed Cub Dam creek and entered the first of the unoccupied redoubts, already mentioned as being on the left of Fort Magruder. Having the first [52] one, he then, in the amusing language of the Comte de Paris, ‘seeing no enemy, fearlessly proceeded to march into the next.’ This put his force directly on the Confederate flank, in a position of strength, ‘having a crest and natural glacis on either flank, and extending to the woods on the right and left,’ and

entirely commanding the plain between me and Fort Magruder. Hancock's Report.

As Hancock had five regiments and Cowan's battery of six pieces and Wheeler's of four, he felt strong enough, as he was so advantageously posted, to proceed ‘to make a diversion in favor of that portion of our forces which were engaged with the enemy directly in front of Fort Magruder.’ Up to that time the Confederates had been so absorbed in the hard fight in front that
Hancock's maneuver had been executed before its dangerous significance became apparent. Peninsular Campaign.

Webb adds, ‘By this movement on our right, the enemy were forced to pay special attention to Hancock.’ ‘The occupation of these two redoubts on his extreme left,’ says Lossing,
was the first intimation that Johnston had of their existence, and he at once perceived the importance of the position, for it was on the flank and rear of the Confederate line of defense, and seriously menaced its integrity. Civil War in America, II, 382.

Hancock soon got his batteries to work, and, says the Regimental History of the Fifth regiment, was ‘seriously annoying our troops by an enfilading fire.’ So, to counteract Hancock's ‘diversion,’ Early's brigade of D. H. Hill's division, all of which division ‘had been waiting to see whether Longstreet needed any further support,’ was moved toward the left, and its officers, says General Longstreet, made a reconnoissance in their front. As a result of this reconnoissance, ‘General Early,’ says General Johnston,
sent an officer to report that there was a battery in front of him which he could [53] take, and asked authority to do so. The message was delivered to General Longstreet, who referred the messenger to me, we being together. I authorized the attempt, but desired the general to look carefully first. Johnston's Narrative, 122.

General Hill's report is virtually the same, for he says:
He (Early) soon reported to General Longstreet in person that there was a Yankee battery in his front on the edge of a wood, and asked leave to take it. General Longstreet approved the move, and directed me to accompany it. It is proper to add that General Longstreet says that General Hill made this request.

Generals Hill and Early then rode to the front and examined the ground in front of them, declares Early in his report. General Hill also says in his report,
I reconnoitered the ground as well as I could. Colonel Maury, evidently writing without carefully reading these reports, asserts that no reconnaissance was made.

General Hill evidently understood that this brigade was to wage just such a battle as the right was then making—a rear guard engagement to gain time, and that in addition it was to prevent the enemy on Longstreet's left from flanking him, and that the battery the brigade was to assail was not to be carried by direct assault but by ‘getting in rear of the battery by passing through the woods to its left.’ This was the plan he had in view, for he says, ‘I directed this wing (the Fifth and the Twenty-third North Carolina) to halt as soon as the stream was crossed and undergrowth penetrated, to get the whole brigade in line, and sent my adjutant, Major Ratchford, to General Early to know whether he had gotten over. We had not halted five minutes (waiting to reform the line) when I heard shouting and firing, and a voice which, above the uproar, I took to be General Early's, crying, “Follow me!” ’ The advance of that part of the brigade made it necessary for Hill to direct ‘the right wing to move rapidly forward, and I went myself in [54] advance of it.’ If the batteries were to be charged across the open, the quicker the better. He adds,

I regretted that our troops had gone into the open field where the ground was so heavy . . . and where they were exposed for half a mile to the full sweep of the Yankee artillery, but it was now too late to change the order of things, and there was some hope of a direct attack, if made rapidly. Hill's Official Report.

Below in his report, he again says, ‘I have always regretted that General Early, carried away by his impetuous and enthusiastic courage, advanced so far into the open field.’

General Longstreet says of the attack: ‘General Hill ordered the advance regiments to halt after crossing the streamlet and get under cover of the woods until the brigade could form, but General Early, not waiting for orders or the brigade, rode to the front of the Twenty-fourth Virginia regiment, and with it made the attack. The gallant McRae, of the Fifth North Carolina, seeing the Twenty-fourth hotly engaged, dashed forward nolens volens to its relief. The other [two] regiments, seeing the confusion of movements and of orders, failed to go forward.’3 But these regiments were not as entirely inactive as General Longstreet and others have thought. General Hill says that, seeing that the woods on the left were full of the enemy, and ‘that a column moving across the field would be exposed to a fire in flank,’ he ordered these regiments to change direction to the left and clear the woods. The regiments were imperfectly drilled and the ground densely wooded, and before they succeeded in carrying out the maneuver it was too late for them to assist the attack of the Twenty-fourth Virginia and the Fifth North Carolina.

The charge made by the Fifth North Carolina, led by Col. D. K. McRae, Lieut.-Col. J. C. Badham, Maj. P. J. Sinclair and Adjt. J. C. McRae, will be a lasting monument [55] to the heroism of North Carolina troops. This regiment, on clearing the woods, changed direction to the left and, lapping wings with the Twenty-fourth Virginia, rushed upon Hancock's strong line. The Regimental History gives this account of the charge: ‘In front of the redoubt were five regiments of infantry supported by a battery of ten pieces (Cowan 6, Wheeler 4), with clouds of skirmishers in their advance. The charge of the Fifth has rarely been surpassed in the history of war. Pressing on from the first in the face of the battery, entering in the plunging fire of the infantry, wading into a storm of balls which first struck the men on their feet and rose upon their nearer approach, it steadily pressed on.... Officers and men were falling rapidly under the withering fire of grape, canister and musketry. Lieutenant-Colonel Badham was shot in the forehead and fell dead.. Major Sinclair's horse was killed and he was disabled. Captains Garrett, Lea and Jones were all shot down, as were many of the subalterns Among them were Lieut. Thomas Snow, of Halifax, who was killed far in advance of his company, cheering on his men; and Lieutenants Boswell, Clark and Hays.’

Four hundred and fifteen men of this regiment answered to morning roll-call on that day; before night, the blood of 290 fed the soil of that bleak hill. Such losses are rarely chronicled. The Light Brigade at Balaklava took 600 men into action and lost only 247. Twenty-four commissioned officers of the Fifth regiment led their men up that slope; only four came out unhurt. No wonder that their antagonist for that day, General Hancock, said, in a generous burst of enthusiasm for such daring, ‘Those two regiments deserve to have immortal inscribed on their banners.’

Whether the Fifth and Twenty-fourth would have succeeded in routing Hancock had they not been ordered to fall back, or had the other two regiments pushed rapidly to their assistance, must, as General Hill says, ‘forever [56] remain an undecided question.’ Colonel McRae evidently thought they would. However, the student of the Confederate war history knows from the slaughter at Malvern Hill and Boonsboro, at Gettysburg and Fredericksburg, how well-nigh impossible it is for the most dauntless infantry to drive an American foe from an artillery and musketry crowned plateau. Even if the rest of the brigade had come when sent for, it hardly seems possible for two regiments, already crippled by many casualties, numbering together ‘not over 1,000’ before any loss, aided by only two fresh regiments, all without any artillery, to have put to flight five full regiments and ten pieces of artillery, posted on a crest, sheltered in part by a redoubt, and commanded by so good a soldier as Hancock. Moreover, a careful reading of Hancock's report shows that what McRae took for a retreat of Hancock's artillery was simply the retirement of his guns, one by one, to his original and stronger line, made in obedience to an order from General Smith and showing no signs of disorder. Colonel McRae confirms this when he says in his report, ‘the battery had been retired en echelon with great precision, and there was no such manifest disorder as would justify storming the redoubt.’ Colonel Maury, of the Virginia regiment, says: ‘Had the regiments been allowed to go on, the redoubt would have been captured without further loss.’ That this is a mistake is shown by McRae's report. He says: ‘I had previously sent my adjutant to General Hill, announcing my loss and the danger of my position, and earnestly begging for reinforcements; but finding my force too small and the position fatally destructive, I did not wait his return, but ordered my command to fall off down to the cover of the fence, and immediately after I received the order to retire.’

Colonel Maury in this same article, blames the Confederate commander for not bringing up his whole division to extricate the two regiments from their perilous position [57] and to support them; but he forgets that the commanding officer was under positive orders from General Longstreet ‘not to involve us so as to delay the march after night,’ and it was nearly dark when the assault was fairly joined.

In commenting on the battle, General Longstreet says:

The success of General Hancock in holding his position in and about the forts with five regiments and two batteries against the assault of the Fifth North Carolina and Twenty-fourth Virginia was given heroic proportions by his chief, who christened him ‘The Superb,’ to relieve, it is supposed, by the picturesque figure on his right, the discomfiture of his left. But reading between the lines, the highest compliment was for the two Confederate regiments. From Manassas to Appomattox.

Draper, the New York historian, adds:
The manner in which the Confederate rear guard turned upon their pursuers at Williamsburg and gave them a bloody check will always exact the applause of military critics. Civil War in America.

On the 7th of May, at Eltham's landing, nearly opposite West Point, Va., Franklin's division of McClellan's army disembarked from transports for the purpose of getting in the rear of Johnston's retreating army. The purpose, however, was frustrated, for Franklin found G. W. Smith on the ground, and Whiting's division attacked him there. Captain Reilly's battery and Colonel Pender's Sixth North Carolina regiment were under fire, but not seriously engaged.

The next battle in Virginia was at Slash church, near Hanover Court House, on the 27th of May. This, with the exception of one regiment, was purely a North Carolina fight. The Confederate force, one brigade and two attached companies, was commanded by Gen. L. O'B. Branch, of North Carolina, and of the seven regiments present all were from the same State except the Forty-fifth Georgia, Col. T. M. Hardeman. This brigade, after [58] its engagements around New Bern, had been ordered to join Jackson in the valley, but on its way was stopped at Hanover Court House, and kept on lookout duty there. General McClellan, expecting General McDowell to join him in a movement on Richmond, threw forward his right wing under Gen. Fitz John Porter to crush Branch's force out of his path.

Porter had in his command Morell's division and Warren's brigade. Branch's force consisted of his own brigade—the Seventh North Carolina, Col. R. P. Campbell, the Eighteenth, Col. R. H. Cowan; the Twenty-eighth, Col. J. H. Lane; the Thirty-seventh, Col. C. C. Lee; and the Thirty-third, Lieutenant-Colonel Hoke; and also two temporarily attached regiments, the Twelfth North Carolina, Col. B. O. Wade, and Forty-fifth Georgia—in all seven regiments—and Latham's North Carolina battery, that joined him the night before the battle. In view of the hard fight that Branch gave him, it is not surprising that General Porter, writing the day after the battle, should say that Branch's force ‘comprised about 8,000 Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia troops.’ But for General Webb, writing in 1881, and claiming to have ‘sifted’ and ‘collated for careful investigation the new material gathered by the war department, and now for the first time made a basis of the history of that time,’4 to say—for him to say in the face of such a claim as that—‘that Branch's command must have been about 10,000 strong’ is, as the Federal General Palfrey sweetly says in commenting on some of McClellan's figures,

one of those extraordinary, inconceivable, aggravating things that stirs up everything that is acrid in the nature of those who follow his career. Antietam to Fredericksburg, p. 39.

What was the Confederate strength? Branch, in his congratulatory order to his brigade (July 24th), states that his total force was ‘about 4,000.’ This would make [59] his seven regiments average about 600 men to the regiment, a high average for Confederate regiments, and especially for those that had been over as much territory as Branch's. Even McClellan, with his fondness for big numbers on the Confederate side, admits

the regiments (Confederate) will not average over 700 men. Rebellion Records, XI, I, 271.

Some of the regiments that opposed Branch that day reported fewer than 600. Porter does not state his numbers. General Webb says that Porter had
about 12,000 men. Peninsula Campaign.

Probably, as Porter had one whole division (Morell's) and one brigade (Warren's), this is not far wrong. General Warren gives the number in each of his regiments, and the aggregate is 2,705; his regiments averaging 653 men each. In Morell's division there were fourteen regiments (eleven infantry, two cavalry, one sharpshooters), three batteries, and two companies of sharpshooters. Putting these regiments and batteries at the same as Branch's (600 to the regiment), they aggregate 8,700, and with Warren's make a total force of 11,405 at the very least—nearly three times the Confederate force.

At the approach of the two forces, General Branch advanced Colonel Lane with the Twenty-eighth North Carolina, and a section of Latham's battery, under Lieutenant Potts, to support his pickets. The regiment soon became heavily engaged with Porter's van, the Twenty-fifth New York regiment, and drove it back, inflicting heavy loss. Pressing the Twenty-fifth they encountered Butterfield's5 entire brigade. Helped by a friendly wood, Lane maintained his position for some time. However, in spite of the efforts of his two guns, Butterfield's force was soon overlapping both his wings, and so Lane gave orders to retire along a fence. All the horses of one of Pott's guns had been disabled, and he was [60] forced to leave this piece. Lane says of the fight of this section: ‘Never were two guns served more handsomely.’ On their retreat toward Hanover Court House, this regiment found the enemy between it and the rest of the brigade and lost many prisoners. However, Webb's assertion that ‘it was almost entirely captured,’ is far wide of the mark, as Lane reports that it reached its brigade on the Chickahominy with 480 men.6 Colonel Lane says of his retreat: ‘Already exhausted from exposure to inclement weather, from hunger, from fighting, it was three days before the regiment, by a circuitous route, rejoined the brigade . . . where it was wildly and joyfully received. It was highly complimented by Generals Lee and Branch for its behavior on this masterly retreat.’

While Lane was engaged with Butterfield, Branch advanced his other regiments toward Peake's crossing and found the enemy stationed across the road. Branch thus describes his movements:

My plan was quickly formed, and orders were given for its execution. Lee with the Thirty-seventh was to push through the woods and get close to the right flank of the battery. Hoke, as soon as he should return from a sweep through the woods on which I had sent him, and Colonel Wade, of the Twelfth, were to make a similar movement to the left flank of the battery, and Cowan (Eighteenth) was to charge across the open ground in front, Latham meanwhile bringing his guns to bear on their front. Hoke, supported by Colonel Wade, had a sharp skirmish, taking 6 prisoners and 11 horses, but came out too late to make the movement assigned to him; and Lee having sent for reinforcements, I so far changed my plan as to abandon the attack on the enemy's left, and sent Lieutenant-Colonel Hoke to reinforce Colonel Lee, relying on the front and right attack. Colonel Cowan, with the Eighteenth, made the charge most gallantly; but the [61] enemy's force was much larger than supposed, and strongly posted, and the gallant Eighteenth was compelled to seek cover. It continued to pour heavy volleys from the edge of the woods, and must have done great execution. The steadiness with which the desperate charge was made reflects the highest credit on officers and men. . . . The combined attack of the Eighteenth and Thirty-seventh compelled the enemy to leave his battery for a time and take shelter behind a ditch bank. Official Report.

This attack fell on Martindale's Second Maine regiment, Forty-fourth New York, some detachments of the Ninth and Twenty-second Massachusetts and of the Fourth Michigan, and what Lane had left of the Twenty-fifth New York, all supporting a section of Martin's battery. The Federal line was broken and the gunners driven from their pieces. General Martindale says: ‘The battle had now lasted for quite an hour, and although the center of my line was broken, under a cross fire that was entirely destructive and unsupportable, still the Second Maine on the right and the largest body of the Forty-fourth New York on the left, maintained their ground without flinching. (It is now disclosed that they were assailed by four times their number.)’7 Federal reinforcements soon arrived. Generals Porter and Morell hastened personally to the firing, and at this crisis sent in the Thirteenth and Fourteenth New York and Griffin's battery to reform Martindale's broken line. The Ninth Massachusetts and Sixty-second Pennsylvania were hurried back from toward Hanover. Their line of march threw them on Branch's left flank and rear, and, already far outnumbered before the arrival of this new force, Branch was left no option except to retreat. The Seventh North Carolina and Forty-fifth Georgia, which had been held in reserve and not at all engaged, covered [62] the Confederate retreat Branch's loss, including Lane's, was 73 killed, 192 wounded, and about 700 captured. If Porter's report, ‘of the enemy's dead we buried about 200,’ be true, he must have buried some twice. The Federal loss was 62 killed, 223 wounded, and 70 missing.

General Lee sent his congratulations to General Branch, in which he used these words: ‘I take pleasure in expressing my approval of the manner in which you have discharged the duties of the position in which you were placed, and of the gallant manner your troops opposed a very superior force of the enemy.’

Closely following Hanover Court House came Seven Pines, with a list of casualties at that time thought appalling. There, as at Hanover, an officer from North Carolina directed the fiercest and most protracted part of the contest; for, says Gen. Cadmus Wilcox, ‘Seven Pines, the successful part of it, was D. H. Hill's fight’ General Longstreet, who commanded the whole right wing, says: ‘The conduct of the attack (on the Confederate right) was left entirely to Major-General Hill. The entire success of the affair is sufficient evidence of his ability, courage and skill.’

The Confederates in front of Richmond were apprehensive that the force under McDowell would be added to that under General McClellan, and thereby give him strength enough to overpower them and take Richmond. To prevent this, Johnston, learning that two of McClellan's army corps, those of Keyes and Heintzelman, were on the south side of the Chickahominy, determined on an immediate attack upon them. In order to get an intelligible idea of the part of the North Carolina troops in this great battle, it will be necessary first to take a glance at the whole field.

Casey's division of Keyes' corps was nearest to Richmond. This lay behind earthworks, strengthened by an unfinished redoubt, on the Williamsburg road, west of [63] Seven Pines. Behind Casey, at a distance of about a mile and a quarter, Couch was in position on the same road, his right extending out toward Fair Oaks on theNine-mile road. Kearny's and Hooker's divisions, forming Heintzelman's corps, were in rear of Couch. The rest of the Federal army was north of the Chickahominy.

General Johnston's battle plan was simple, and if all of it had been carried out as effectively as a part of it was the result must have been disastrous to McClellan. Longstreet, who commanded the entire right, was to send in D. H. Hill's division in a front attack on Casey on the Williamsburg road, and support that attack by his own division. Huger was to move on the Charles City road, parallel to Hill, and make a flank attack synchronous with Hill's front attack. G. W. Smith, in charge of the left wing, was to keep Sumner's corps, north of the river, from reinforcing Keyes, and if not attacked early, he was to assist the right wing. For various reasons, not in the province of this writer to consider, only a part of the plan was carried into effect. Huger never made the flank attack, and in the first day's fight only one of Longstreet's brigades got into close action, although Hill's division was fighting Casey, Couch and Kearny. On the left wing, the line of battle was never formed until the head of Sumner's corps was in position to receive it.

On the day appointed, D. H. Hill, after vainly waiting from early morning until 1 o'clock for the flank movement and for the left wing, was ordered by General Longstreet to attack Casey's works with his division of four brigades. Garland and G. B. Anderson formed the left of the attacking column, and Rodes and Rains the right. ‘After more than two hours of very hard fighting,’ says Gen. G. W. Smith,

these four brigades, unaided, captured Casey's earthworks. Battle of Seven Pines, p. 149.

Then, aided after 4 o'clock by R. H. Anderson's brigade of Longstreet's [64] corps,8 they broke Couch's line and forced the three divisions of Casey, Couch and Kearny back to their third line, capturing eight pieces of artillery and gathering from the field over 6,000 muskets.

General Casey, who sustained the first attack, says:

To be brief, the rifle-pits were retained until they were almost enveloped by the enemy, the troops with some exceptions fighting with spirit and gallantry. The troops then retreated to the second line, in possession of General Couch's division. ... On my arrival at the second line, I succeeded in rallying a small portion of my division, and with the assistance of General Kearny, who had just arrived at the head of one of his brigades, attempted to regain possession of my works, but it was found impracticable. The troops of General Couch's division were driven back, although reinforced by the corps of General Heintzelman. The corps of Generals Keyes and Heintzelman having retired to the third line by direction of General Heintzelman, I there collected what remained of my division. Official Report.

The Federal reports and many subsequent historical writers speak persistently of the ‘overwhelming numbers’ of the Confederates engaged in the defeat of their left. There is little difficulty in showing by the official reports that this is a mistake. On the Federal side the divisions of Casey, Couch and Kearny were engaged. General Heintzelman, the senior Federal officer on their left, says: ‘Couch's, Casey's and Kearny's divisions on the field numbered but 18,500.’9 Each of these division commanders reports, without itemization, that he had engaged ‘about 5,000’ men. This, of course, would make the total 15,000 men, as opposed to Heintzelman's 18,500. Five thousand may be right for the strength of Kearny, but it seems that there must be some mistake in the [65] reports of Casey and Couch. These two divisions made up Keyes' corps, and it so happens that on the very morning of the battle, May 31st, Keyes sent in to the government his certified return of men present in his corps. He reports as present, but sick, etc., 1,074, and as ‘present for duty’ in those two divisions on that day, 17,132;10 his two division commanders report, at 1 o'clock of the same day, and with no march and no battle intervening, that between them they had only 10,000 men. How on that peaceful May morning 7,132 men could, between morning and 1 o'clock, disappear, ‘vanish into unsubstantial air’ and not be missed, is difficult to understand. But grant that they did, and that Couch and Casey were right, and that they and Kearny together had but 15,000 men, still were they not outnumbered.

General Hill had only four brigades that day in his division, Ripley's being absent. In their official reports, his brigadiers report their forces that morning as follows: Anderson reports that he took into action 1,865; Garland, 2,065; Rodes, 2,200. Rains states no numbers; nearest field returns, May 21st, give him 1,830. Total, Hill's division, 7,960. R. H. Anderson, of Longstreet's division (same field return), 2,168. Total Confederate force engaged on the right in the first day's battle, 10,128. So, taking the lowest estimate that the Federals make, they were evidently not outnumbered, but outnumbered the Confederates by at least 5,000 men.

With the front attack of Garland and Anderson went the Fourth, Fifth and Twenty-third North Carolina regiments. These moved at once into a nerve-testing conflict. The Fourth was under command of Maj. Bryan Grimes. Major Grimes, after speaking of the regiment's wading through pools of water waist-deep, in which many of the wounded were drowned, thus described the advance: ‘The enemy also had a section of a battery (two pieces), which was dealing destruction to my left [66] wing, while my center and right wing were being mowed down by grape and canister from the redoubt; but the men steadily advanced in admirable order. The enemy fled from the field pieces on my left, and we concentrated our whole attention on the redoubt.’ Other regiments joining, they charged heavily on the redoubt and yet did not gain it the first time. After a most obstinate defense this redoubt was taken, ‘the enemy fleeing.’ Of the second attack on the redoubt the Regimental History says: ‘When the second charge was ordered, the regiment passed over the same ground over which it had charged only a little while before. It was appalling to see how much the line had been reduced in numbers. The heavy compact line of half an hour previous was now scarcely more than a line of skirmishers, but they moved with the same boldness and determination as before. The ground was literally covered with the bodies of their dead and wounded comrades, yet they moved steadily forward, directing their fire with telling effect until within a few paces of the fortifications, when the enemy broke and ran for their lives. . . . But little was said. All felt that mighty deeds had been accomplished. They knew the terrible price that they had paid for the advantage won.’

The regiment had gone into action with 678 men. Major Grimes and one other were the only unhurt officers in the regiment. Out of 25 commissioned officers, 23 were killed or wounded. Of the men, 74 were killed and 265 wounded. From such a record as this, we can understand that Major Grimes had, as General Anderson said, ‘led his regiment into the thickest of the fight.’ After three color-bearers had been killed, Major Grimes seized and ‘brought out of action its tattered but honored flag.’

In the other brigade on the left, the Fifth North Carolina, reduced by its bold charge at Williamsburg to 800 men, (commanded first by Colonel McRae and then by [67] Lieutenant-Colonel Sinclair), and the Twenty-third North Carolina, under Colonel Christie, did their full duty. The Twenty-third became separated, the three right companies being detached, but were, says Colonel Christie, ‘gallantly led by Lieut.-Col. R. D. Johnston across the Williamsburg road, and, co-operating with the Fourth North Carolina, charged in the direction of the battery in the redoubt, officers and men acting nobly, but suffering terribly.’ Although all its field officers and two-thirds of its captains were down, the regiment fought on till night closed the struggle. The loss in the Twenty-third was not so large as in the Fourth, but was severe. ‘Colonel Christie and Lieutenant-Colonel Johnston,’ writes General Garland, “were both disabled while doing handsome service. Maj. E. J. Christian was killed.” The total loss in this regiment was 18 killed and 145 wounded. The Fifth lost 1 killed and 26 wounded. ‘This entire brigade,’ reports General Garland, ‘was in front of the fight, receiving the first shock of the enemy's fire.’

While this ensanguined conflict was raging on the right, little was done on the left until about 5 o'clock. Then Hampton's, Pettigrew's and Whiting's brigades attacked the infantry and artillery of some of Couch's regiments that had been driven in their direction and heavily reinforced by Sumner's corps, which had hastened across the Chickahominy. In Hampton's attack, the Sixteenth North Carolina was thrown into line of battle immediately in front of a Federal battery, and went forward under a galling fire from these guns as well as from small-arms. ‘On reaching,’ says the Regimental History, ‘within fifty feet of the enemy's guns, we found ourselves confronted by a miry swamp, covered with timber felled toward us, and the limbs sharpened.’ This almost insurmountable barrier stopped the gallant advance, and the regiment lay down so close to the enemy that he could not bring his guns to bear on it. At nightfall, [68] the regiment was withdrawn. Its brave colonel, Champ P. Davis, had, however, fallen in the action.

Colonel Pender's Sixth North Carolina regiment arrived on the field somewhat in advance of Whiting's other regiments. Colonel Pender was ordered to move forward, with the assurance that the rest of the brigade would speedily support him. He advanced rapidly, and his skirmishers drove back the first line of the enemy from their position near Fair Oaks. He crossed the road leading from Fair Oaks to Grapevine bridge, and had moved some distance to the front when his attention was called to a large force massed in column by company in a field near the road, and also near the swamp where Pettigrew and Hampton were wounded. In the fog of the evening, the enemy had failed to make out Pender's colors. At a glance Pender saw that the enemy was situated so far to his left and rear as to make his capture almost a certainty should their officers at once recognize him and intervene between his command and the rest of his brigade. So, without even replying to the officer who pointed out the troops, and with the born soldier's quickness of perception and promptitude of action, he instantly ordered, ‘By the left flank, file left, double quick!’ In an instant his splendidly drilled and disciplined regiment had changed direction, and was moving in double time to place itself across the front of its foes. The moment the line fairly attained its new bearing, Colonel Pender commanded, ‘By the right flank, charge!’ Before the Federals realized the intent of the movement, his men were pouring volley after volley into their unformed ranks. ‘Under the suddenness and fury of the attack,’ says Judge Montgomery,

the foe reeled and staggered, while the glorious soldier withdrew his force and rejoined his brigade, which was just coming up. Memorial Address.

In the general advance which followed, the Sixth regiment, entirely unprotected by the swamp that partly [69] covered the assault of the other troops, fought its way to within eighty yards, says Major Avery, of the enemy's line, and there stubbornly held its own until after dark, when it was ordered by the brigade commander to retire, being the first of its brigade to enter the battle and the last to be withdrawn.

During the progress of this battle, Colonel Pender's coolness, quickness and readiness of resource so impressed President Davis, who was on the field, that riding up to Colonel Pender, he said, ‘I salute you, General Pender.’ Colonel Pender afterward said to a friend, ‘My promotion on the field for good conduct realized the dream of my life.’

When General Smith saw his brigades hotly engaged, and some of them badly repulsed, he moved Hatton's brigade and Colonel Lightfoot's Twenty-second North Carolina regiment, which had been in reserve, into action. General Smith accompanied these troops, and he bears testimony to the courage of their attack: ‘The troops moved across the field with alacrity, and the precision of their movement in line of battle has been seldom equaled, even on the parade ground.’ Then, describing their dashing advance to within a short distance of the enemy's line of fire, he says:

Very seldom, if ever, did any troops in their first battle go so close up to a covered line under so strong a fire, and remain within such a distance so long. Official Report.

Of the behavior of the Twenty-second here, one of its officers says: ‘In all my reading of veterans and coolness under fire, I have never conceived of anything surpassing the coolness of our men on this field.’ In this action General Pettigrew was desperately wounded. As he, thinking that he was mortally wounded, refused to be moved from the field, generously saying that others less severely wounded needed more attention than he, he was taken prisoner. His captors, however, ministered sympathetically to his [70] needs, and he recovered. The North Carolina losses on this portion of the field, so far as they can be made out, were as follows: In the Sixteenth, 17 killed and 28 wounded; in the Sixth, 15 killed and 32 wounded. The Twenty-second does not report its loss separately, but Major Daves states it at 147.11

During General Smith's action, Guion's section of Manly's battery was active just in rear of Whiting's brigade, and one of his limbers bore to the rear the Confederate commander-in-chief, General Johnston, when he was wounded just at nightfall. Leaving out the Twenty-second, the total North Carolina loss at Seven Pines was, as far as reported, 125 killed and 496 wounded.

The movement of great lines of battle, the fierce onset, the bloody repulse, the bold strategy of generals, the immortal courage of desperate men—these are the glorious side of battle. But there is a woeful side to which attention is rarely directed. William R. Gorman, a talented musician of the Fourth North Carolina, gives a glimpse of the dark side of this stern passage at arms. He writes:

How calm and still is everything since the grand battle of Seven Pines! Nature smiles sweetly, and the birds sing as enchantingly as though no deeds of blood and carnage had been perpetrated near this now peaceful spot..... I went to the hospital and did all I could to alleviate the horrible suffering, till late at night. What sights I witnessed! Piled in heaps lay amputated arms and legs—an awful scene, while from the bloody masses of flesh around the surgeons went up such piercing cries that the blood almost chilled around the fountain of life. . . . Though chloroform was administered, the pain was so intense that it had no effect, and the poor wretches broke the stillness of night with cries so heartrending that it seemed to me the very corpses trembled. And such a sight when the surgeons' tasks were done—arms and legs piled up like cord-wood! Our [71] regiment lost 375 men, and to-day cannot start 400 for duty. Our Living and Our Dead.

After General Johnston's wound at Seven Pines, General Lee was put in chief command of the Confederate forces. Wishing to strike McClellan a decisive blow, and thus relieve the pressure on Richmond, Lee began to devise means to increase his army. Hence his attention was at once directed to the fifteen North Carolina regiments already mentioned as raised by Governor Clark for the defense of his own State against the Federal army at New Bern, and then in camp in North Carolina, but not yet armed. Major Gordon, who is thoroughly familiar with the affairs of the adjutant-general's office at that time, gives the following account of the negotiations for these regiments:

On or about the night that General Martin received his commission as brigadier-general, the governor of North Carolina received a communication from the war department of the Confederate States giving him in full the plan of the campaign to crush McClellan's army, and asking the governor's co-operation with the North Carolina troops in camp, but not then turned over to the Confederate government, and also attempting to reconcile him to the moving of all the other troops in the State to the State of Virginia. The statement above that the war department would communicate the plans of one of the most famous campaigns of the world more than a month before a shot was fired, might, without explanation, seem incredible. The State of North Carolina had at this time fifteen regiments, each nearly 1,000 strong, and none of them turned over to the Confederate government. These troops were raised on the governor's call for the defense of the State, and he could have kept them for that service if so disposed. This was the only body of reserve troops in the Confederacy, at least no other State had anything approximating to it, so it was very important for General Lee to receive this reinforcement. Hence every plan was fully made known to the governor of North Carolina. In brief, the plan, as told me by my [72] chief, was to concentrate everything that could be taken out of North Carolina and elsewhere against General McClellan's army, and crush it before Burnside could move from New Bern. . . . The governor was informed that the defense of his State would be an easy matter after the defeat of McClellan's army, and would not be overlooked. The governor and adjutant-general went into the plan heart and soul, and did everything in their power to make it a success; they, and they alone, knowing what the Confederate government and General Lee expected them and North Carolina to do. About this time the State received a shipment of arms from England (2,400). . . . They were given to the troops now waiting for them. The Confederate government now came promptly to the assistance of the State in arming the troops at Camp Mangum, and before the 1st of June, every one of them was armed and ready for service. The troops serving in the State were gradually and quietly withdrawn and sent to Virginia. . . . When the struggle commenced at Richmond, General Lee was fearful that Burnside would find out the defenseless condition of North Carolina and move forward. Every night he telegraphed, ‘Any movement of the enemy in your front to-day?’

Organization of the Troops.

At the close of the Seven Days battles only two regiments of infantry, the Fiftieth and the Fifty-first, were left in the State, and the forces of the enemy on the coast could, had they been apprised of the heavy movement of troops, have swept without opposition over all of the State. A people less brave and patriotic would never have consented to incur such a risk with so strong an enemy at its doors. The governor exposed his own capital to save that of the Confederacy. He finally left only one regiment of infantry, one of cavalry, and two or three batteries of artillery between him and an army then estimated to be about 20,000 strong. At the close of this campaign North Carolina had forty regiments in Virginia. The fifteen regiments sent to Virginia were not sent back to the State after Malvern Hill, but General [73] Martin was ordered home to organize new regiments for its local defense.

Preceding and preliminary to the great approaching battles around Richmond, occurred Jackson's remarkable campaign of 1862 in the Shenandoah valley. Jackson's matchless soldiership and almost inspired energy brought new zeal to the Southerners, whose enthusiasm had been somewhat chilled by the reverses in North Carolina and in the Mississippi valley. Only to Kirkland's Twenty-first North Carolina regiment and Wharton's battalion of sharpshooters was accorded the honor of representing North Carolina in ‘Jackson's foot-cavalry,’ and participating in his brilliant victories. The sharpshooters were regular members of the Twenty-first regiment until after the battle of Winchester, on the 25th of May. Then two companies were detached and organized as sharpshooters, and under the gallant Col. R. W. Wharton did fine service to the close of the war.

On the approach to Winchester, the Twenty-first, then in Trimble's brigade, was in advance, and at daylight of the 25th was ordered to enter the town. Two of the companies under Major Fulton had been detailed for special service the night before, and did not succeed in rejoining their regiment until the severest part of the fighting was over. The other regiments of the brigade followed closely behind Kirkland, who moved toward the town in double-time. Just as he reached the suburbs of the town, a Federal line rose from behind a stone wall parallel to the road, and poured into the Carolinians a fire as destructive as it was unexpected. The regiment instantly charged the wall but failed to carry it, and took refuge behind a wall almost parallel to the one that sheltered its antagonists. The Twenty-first Georgia regiment, however, seeing the situation of its comrades, dashed hastily into the flank of the Federals, and, assisted by Kirkland's men, drove them through the town. In the midst of a wild ovation that the citizens [74] of Winchester gave Jackson's soldiers, and while every form of edible was being thrust upon the hungry North Carolinians, General Trimble ordered them to follow and protect Latimer's battery wherever it went. As this battery was pressing the retreating enemy, and moving rapidly oftentimes, the regiment was led a dance over the twelve miles intervening between Winchester and Martinsburg, where the industrious artillerymen finally rested.

In the furious fire at the stone wall Colonel Kirkland was wounded, Lieutenant-Colonel Pepper wounded so seriously that he died in a few days, and Captains Hedgcock and Ligon killed. The total loss of the regiment in the battle was 21 killed and 55 wounded.

At the battle of Cross Keys, on the 8th and 9th of June, the Twenty-first was held in reserve to support Courtney's battery, but the two companies of sharpshooters, deployed as skirmishers, opened the action. General Trimble says of the regiment: ‘The Twenty-first North Carolina, left to support this battery, was exposed to the effect of the terrific fire, but under cover of the hill, happily escaped with few casualties. When the battery was threatened with an infantry force, this regiment .was called and readily took its place to repel the enemy's attack, and stood modestly waiting to do its duty as gallantly as heretofore.’

From June 25th to June 28th, some of the regiments of Gen. Robert Ransom's North Carolina brigade, in conjunction with Gen. A. R. Wright's Georgia brigade and other troops, were involved in some sharp minor engagements with Gen. Philip Kearny's division of stout fighters on the Williamsburg road, in the neighborhood of King's schoolhouse. The regiments taking most part in these affairs were the Twenty-fifth, Colonel Rutledge; the Forty-ninth, Colonel Ramseur; the Twenty-fourth, Colonel Clark; the Thirty-fifth, Colonel Ransom, and the Twenty-sixth, Col. Z. B. Vance. At the schoolhouse battle, [75] the Twenty-fifth was under fire for several hours and repelled all efforts to break through its lines. General Ransom reports: ‘The regiment behaved admirably, and I am proud to bear witness to its unwavering gallantry.’ The Forty-eighth was thrown out to support Colonel Doles' regiment of Georgians, and at French's house rose and charged and drove back a superior force very handsomely, losing, however, nearly 100 men. The North Carolina losses in these three days were 26 killed and 85 wounded. [76]

1 Ibrie's official report.

2 Colonel Maury, in his article on Williamsburg in Southern Historical Society Papers, seems to overlook this fact when he censures the Confederate leaders for not occupying all these redoubts.

3 From Manassas to Appomattox.

4 Preface to ‘Peninsula Campaign.’

5 Not Martindale's, as Lane reports.

6 Regimental History.

7 This ‘four times their number’ was, as seen above, only Cowan's and Lee's regiments.

8 Kemper's brigade of Longstreet's was sent Hill, but came too late for active service.

9 Official Report.

10 Rebellion Records, Vol. XI, Part 3, p. 204.

11 Regimental History.

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