Today in History:

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


same duty, and as it was yet early in the morning, we mounted our horses, rode over the road we were required to defend, and examined the country and the approaches over which the enemy would be most likely to advance. The direction of Quaker road is nearly perpendicular to the general course of James River and crosses at nearly right angles the principal highways leading out of Richmond between the river and the Williamsburg road. Numerous by-roads connect these most traveled highways with the Quaker road, and it was determined that I should establish my division on the one which falls into the last-named road near Saint Paul's Church, the right resting on this cross-road, and the line nearly parallel with and half a mile or more in advance of the Quaker road. A forest covered the area between my position and this road. On my right was Sumner's corps in a cleared field, occupying the position which I had supposed was assigned to Kearny, and Kearny remained near where I had left him early in the morning.

About 9 o'clock my line of battle was established, Grover on the right, Carr in the center, and Sickle's brigade on the left. In the mean time directions were given for all of my batteries to continue on their march to our proposed camp on James River,in order that they might be put in position there.

About 11 a.m. some of our army wagons were observed in our front, which on inquiry were found to belong to McCall's division, which was the first intimation I had received of his being in my neighborhood, and on examination I found his division drawn up in line of battle, his left resting 500 or 600 yards from my right, and stretching off in an obtuse angle with the direction of my own. The woods in which this division was found extended to the immediate front of my right wing, narrowing in width as it approached my position.

About 3 o'clock the enemy commenced a vigorous attack on McCall, and in such force that General Sumner voluntarily tendered me the services of a regiment, which was posted in an open field on my extreme right and under shelter from the enemy's artillery. This was the Sixty-ninth Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, under Colonel Owen.

Meanwhile the enemy's attack had grown in force and violence, and after an ineffectual effort to resist it, the whole of McCall's division, was completely routed, and many of the fugitives rushed down the road on which my right was resting, while others took too the cleared fields and broke, through my lines from one end of them to the other, and actually fired on and killed some of my men as they passed. At first I was apprehensive that the effect would be disastrous on my command, and was no little relieved when they had passed my lines. Following closely upon the footsteps of these demoralized people were the broken masses of the enemy, furiously pressing them on to me under cover of the woods until they were checked by a front fire of the Sixteenth Massachusetts Volunteers and afterward by a diagonal fire on their right and left flanks from the Sixty-ninth Pennsylvania Volunteers and the left of the Sixteenth Massachusetts Volunteers; also whenever the enemy ventured to uncover himself from the forest, a destructive fire was poured into him along my right wing.

After great loss the enemy gave way, and were instantly followed with great gallantry by Grover, at the head of the First Massachusetts Regiment, while the Sixty-ninth Pennsylvania Regiment heroically led by Owen, advanced in the open field on their flank with almost reckless daring.