Today in History:

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


Numbers 38. Report of Captain Thomas W. Osborn,

Battery D, First New York Light Artillery, of engagement at Oak Grove, or King's School-House, battle of Savage Station, engagement at Malvern Cliff, and battle of Malvern Hill.


CAPTAIN: In reporting the part taken by this battery in the late engagements before Richmond, and in the march from the position of General Hooker's division at the intrenchments to the bank of James River at Harrison's Landing, I would report that on the 25th of June, General Hooker's division having been engaged during the morning, I was ordered up about 3 p.m. in front of the redoubt, taking position on the right of the road and 500 yards from the woods. I commenced shelling the opposite side of the woods to protect the passage of Generals Hooker's and Kearny's troops through them, giving my guns 4 1/2 and up to 6 1/2 elevation, and using fuse from 5 to 7, being directed both as to elevation and direction by the lookout in the tree in front of our center redoubt. We threw 60 fuse shell, 55 case-shot, and 14 percussion shell. We used the ammunition originally prepared for the 3-inch wrought iron regulation guns, and the paper fuses worked very indifferently, but the percussion well. From the position of the battery we could not see the enemy, but the lookout reported to me that our shells did good execution on the column of the enemy as they were marching down the road from the direction of Richmond toward our forces.

On the 30th [29th] of June, about 6 a.m., we were ordered to take position behind the rear line of intrenchments, as General Hooker's division was at the time falling back from the front. I placed the battery 300 yards from the road on the right. We were subject during the engagement of the morning to the shelling of the enemy artillery, but as neither the enemy's artillery nor infantry approached us in such a manner that we could employ the battery without endangering General Sumner's corps on our right, I did not open fire. At 2.30 p.m. we were ordered to fall back. Having reached the corner of the open field in which Savage Station is, I was ordered, together with Lieutenant Nairn, Fourth New York Battery, by General Heintzelman, to report to General Smith, near the station.

At 4 p.m. General Smith moved forward, leaving the field, and we were ordered to report again to General Hooker. I then learned that General Hooker had retired from the left of the rear intrenchments to the left. I rode back to learn whether the passage was clear, but just as we reached the intrenchments they were being occupied by the enemy's skirmishers. I immediately reported this to General Sumner on the field, and found that Lieutenant Winslow had already placed the battery in an admirable position, 200 yards in rear of a perpendicular line from Savage Station to the main road and 300 yards from the road. I do not know the regiments which supported the battery, only that they belonged to Sedgwick's division.

At 5 p.m. the enemy opened fire on the infantry of Sedgwick's division lying this battery from a battery planted at the skirts of the woods to the right of the railroad and 1,400 yards from us. I directed the fire of the battery on it, and in few minutes silenced it, dismounting one piece.