Today in History:

73 Series I Volume XI-II Serial 13 - Peninsular Campaign Part II


from the ravine by a flank march they deployed into line of battle in the field immediately in front of the headquarters of General Sumner, the Sixty-ninth, under the command of Colonel Robert Nugent, forming the first line of attack; the Eighty-eighth, under the command of Major James Quinlan, forming the second line; the Sixty-third, under the command of Colonel John Burke, forming the third line, and the Twenty-ninth Massachusetts Volunteers, being under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Barnes, forming the fourth line, Colonel Ebenezer Pierce having been previously wounded whilst coolly and gallantly sustaining his regiment in their position on the previous day at the passage of the White Oak Swamp in support of Hazzard's battery, and in co-operation with the other regiments of the brigade.

The advance of the regiments with a rapid step, displaying their colors, was marked by an alacrity and enthusiasm which found their expression in vehement cheers, which had the effect of rallying several fragments of regiments that had, after bravely sustaining themselves under an overpowering fire, been forced to retire from the front. A few minutes previous to our entering upon the immediate scene of action my brigade had the good fortune to meet you, general, accompanied by your staff, and you will permit me to say even in this report,which is addressed particularly to you, that your presence and directions were such as to increase the ardor and render still more efficient the disposition of the regiment, for whose good name and success I was at that moment responsible.

Closely under the fire of the enemy we were met by Brigadier-General Butterfield, who, grasping the distinctive green flag of the leading regiment of the brigade, exhibited the ardor of a general who was personally interested in its honor, and thereby renewed and re-excited the spirit of the advance. Coming in contact with the enemy, the Sixty-ninth poured in an oblique fire upon them with a rapid precision and an incessant vigor which had the effect of almost instantly staggering and silencing for some moments a fire which seemed to be almost overwhelming.

In the mean while the Eighty-eighth were thrown forward to the left of the Sixty-ninth, and their rapid and impetuous movement had the effect of outflanking the enemy and perfecting the success which the Sixty-ninth had already to so important an extent achieved. The oblique line thus formed by these two regiments was maintained with decisive resolution until the enemy fell back from the range of fire.

The other two regiments of the brigade (the Sixty-third New York Volunteers and the Twenty-ninth Massachusetts Volunteers) firmly preserved the second line of attack under a fire with was all the more trying to them inasmuch as they were not in a position to return or resist it, but at this time I ordered up the Twenty-ninth to support Major Robertson's battery. Shortly after an officer, who represented and stated himself to be an aide of General McClellan, rode up to me, and desired me earnestly to detail one of my regiments to accompany and support a battery of artillery, which was then going to relieve another, the ammunition of which had been exhausted.

Having only the Sixty-third at my disposal for this duty I at once ordered Lieutenant-Colonel Fowler to accompany and support the battery in question. Colonel John Burke, commanding the Sixty-third, having been severely wounded immediately on our coming under the musketry of the enemy and taken to the rear, the command of his regiment devolved on Lieutenant-Colonel Fowler. This officer, however, undertook to disobey the order I issued to support the battery, alleging that