Today in History:

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


time sent a regiment (the Twentieth Massachusetts) to hold the line of woods about 600 yards to the front on the other side of the farm. My brigade occupied this position about four hours, during which time they were exposed to a sharp artillery fire.

About 11 o'clock a.m. of the 29th instant I received an order from the brigadier-general commanding corps to hasten my command by regiment with all possible dispatch down the railroad to Savage Station. Here I formed my brigade in obedience to orders on the left of Richardson's division, fronting the north, and detached the Forty-second New York Volunteers about 1,000 yards in the woods to the front, to observe the enemy and resist this approach. This regiment, as well as the Twentieth Massachusetts, lost several men by the enemy's shells, and the whole line was exposed to the sharp fire of artillery.

About the middle of the afternoon I discovered a long line of the enemy's skirmishers emerging from the woods far off on our left into the open field, a portion of which we occupied. I could not conceal my surprise and astonishment at this, as I had supposed that portion of the woods was occupied by a portion of another corps of the Army of the Potomac. Batteries were promptly placed in position by the brigadier-general commanding corps, and a line of battle formed on that flank by a portion of the corps which was rapidly advanced into the edge of the woods, and I was ordered to support the right by two of my regiments, the Seventh Michigan and the Twentieth Massachusetts. The enemy were found in these woods in great force, and the battle raged here with violence until after dark, at which time the enemy were repulsed.

I was just leading my remaining regiment (the Nineteenth Massachusetts Volunteers) to the support of my two regiments on the right, when at about 9 p.m. I received an order to recommence the retreat, and immediately recalled my four regiments. The brigade marched about 10 p.m. across White Oak Swamp, and crossed the bridge at the swamp at about dawn of day of the 30th instant, slept on their arms about two hours, and then resumed the retreat, halting at Nelson's farm.

About noon of this day a very heavy artillery fire was heard on our right at the White Oak Swamp, where General Franklin was posted with three divisions to hold the place. Soon after this an artillery fire commenced in our front. About 2 p.m. I was ordered to go with my brigade and with the First Brigade, under Colonel Suiter, to re-enforce General Franklin. Assuming command of these two brigade, I directed Colonel Lee, the senior officer, to assume command of my own brigade.

On arriving at White Oak Swamp I was ordered to place one of my brigades on the left of French's brigade and hold the other in reserve. After remaining in this position about two hours a very heavy fire of artillery and musketry was heard in the position we had left two hours ago. Messengers came to me almost every moment from General Sumner to hurry up my command by regiments in

double-quick time and to make all possible haste. Very many men broke down on the road, and those who arrived at Nelson's farm, although in excellent spirits, showed the marks of great fatigue. The regiments were formed and marched into the woods as rapidly as they arrived. The first three which arrived were under command of Colonel Lee. The last one which arrived was the First Minnesota, which I formed myself and marched forward to the woods. The first line, under Colonel Lee, advanced beyond support and was subjected to a tremendous fire. One of the regiments broke, but was afterward rallied, which compelled the Twentieth Massachusetts,