Today in History:

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


brought it to the afternoon before General Kearny's divisions was in position.

At 1 p.m. the enemy commenced a heavy artillery fire to the right, I afterward learned, at the White Oak Swamp Bridge. There was also an attempt made to cross at Brackett's Ford, but it was repulsed by the troops I sent to destroy the bridge and obstruct the road.

At 2 p.m. General Berry reported the enemy advancing in force on the Charles City road. At 3.30 p.m. the attack was made down the road on General Slocum's left. His artillery kept the enemy in check.

About 5 p.m. - perhaps a little earlier - General McCall's division was attacked by the enemy in large force, evidently the principal attack. In less an hour General McCall's division gave way. General Hooker, being on his left, by moving to the right repulsed the rebels in the handsomest manner and with great slaughter. General Sumner, who was with General Sedgwick in McCall's rear, also greatly aided, with his artillery and infantry, in driving back the enemy. They now renewed their attack with vigor on General Kearny's left, and were again repulsed with heavy loss. The attack continued until some time after night. This attack commenced at 4 p.m., and was pushed by heavy masses with the utmost determination and vigor. Captain Thompson's battery, directed with great skill, firing double charges, swept them back. The whole open space, 200 paces wide, was filled with the enemy. Each repulse brought fresh troops. The third attack was only repulsed by the rapid volleys and determined charge of the Sixty-third Pennsylvania, Colonel Hays, and half of the Thirty-seventh New York Volunteers.

When General McCall's division gave way, as I left satisfied that the attack on the Charles City road was not the serious one, I rode over to the open field in front of the house at Nelson's farm where General Sumner had his headquarters, to see for myself the situation of affairs, having previously ordered over Captain De Russy's battery to aid in checking the enemy. General McCall's troops soon began to emerge from the woods into the open field. Several batteries were in position and commenced firing into the woods over the heads of the fugitives in front. I placed Captain De Russy's battery on the right of General Sumner's artillery, with orders to shell the woods. General Burns' brigade was then advancing to meet the enemy and soon drove him back. Other troops began to return from White Oak Swamp Bridge, where they had been sent earlier in the day to sustain our defense of that point. Here, whilst looking on, I received a severe contusion on my left wrist, disabling my arm for several weeks.

Seeing that the enemy were giving way I returned to the forks of the road, where I received a call from General Kearny for aid. Knowing that all General Sedgwick's troops were unavailable, I was glad to avail myself of the kind offer of General Slocum to send the New Jersey brigade of his division to General Kearny's aid. I rode out far enough on the Charles City road to see that we had nothing to fear from that direction, and returned to see the New Jersey brigade enter the woods to General Kearny's relief. A battery accompanies this brigade. They soon drove back the enemy.

It was now growing dark. I sent by three different aides of the commanding general a detailed verbal statement of the events of the day and of our situation. From the exhaustion of the men, want of ammunition and provisions, uncertainty as to the force and position of the enemy, I also gave my opinion that the troops had better be withdrawn.