Today in History:

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


Numbers 34. Report of Captain Walter M. Bramhall,

Sixth New York Battery, of the battle of Malvern Hill.


CAPTAIN: I beg to submit for your consideration the following report of the movements of this battery since its departure from Fair Oaks, on the 28th ultimo:

At 6.30 p.m. the 28th ultimo I reported, by order of Brigadier-General Heintzelman, commanding Third Army Corps, to his headquarters at Savage Station, coming into position in the immediate vicinity. At 6 o'clock the next morning I was ordered to follow the column then moving down toward the White Oak Swamp Bridge. I marched that day to a point about 2 1/2 miles beyond the bridge, halting for the night near general headquarters. The following morning I moved forward to the position of General Hooker's division, and receiving from that general an order to continue the march toward the James River, I followed the column, arriving at noon in the place upon the bluff near the river, then occupied by the Artillery Reserve, reporting, as directed by General Hooker, to General Porter. At 3.30 p.m. by order of General Porter, I moved back upon the road up which we had come and came into battery upon--- Hill in a position to command the same road, co-operating with Lieutenant Ames' battery in our front and on the right, a battery of 10-pounder Parrotts and Captain Osborn's battery of four 3-inch guns on our left, with a support of two regiments of General Morell's division distributed among these several batteries. I remained in this position until the next morning, July 1,at 6 o'clock, when, by order of General Porter, I took up a position to the right of the road up which the army had marched 200 yards in front of a wood, to command either of two approaches which intersected on the side of the woods on which we lay. I was instructed that our pickets were a short distance in advance in the wood and upon both roads, and that if attacked they would retire through the wood and emerging at the junction of the two roads, fall back upon the main line.

At about 7 a.m. the pickets, having been attacked, fell back rapidly, and in few minutes the fire of the enemy fell among us and passed over our heads. Our pickets having retired in order and in the manner indicated I immediately opened fire upon the woods in front and on the right, firing at first at Hotchkiss case shot with 2 fuses. For a few minutes the enemy manfully withstood the fire, advancing and firing. At this time, the firing from my battery was very rapid, being at the rate of two shots a minute from each piece. That it was effective I am induced to believe from the the fact that after about five minutes the enemy's fire ceased almost entirely. Upon this we gradually increased the range and lengthened the fuses until we reached the 5 fuse, using both case-shot and shell, but mainly the latter, and scattering our fire generally through the woods. At this time, too, I used, for experiment's sake as much as for any other reason a half-dozen percussion shell (Schenkl's percussion) which we had found and appropriated at Fair Oaks. The result was a perfect success, every one bursting though some of them fell upon soft meadow-land. Our fire now grew very slow and deliberate, being maintained by order of an din the manner prescribed by Brigadier-General Griffin, in command at that point.

At about one hour after opening fire, being ordered to report to Brigadier-General Heintzelman, we ceased firing, and moved from our