Today in History:

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


ous approaches to our position. The enemy, however did not move upon us in force, but directed his whole attack against General Sumner's position on our right, only throwing occasionally a few shell into the woods occupied by my command. Fortunately, though many shells fell within our limits, no one was killed, and but 2 men of the Eleventh Massachusetts Volunteers, who were on picket duty, were wounded.

Early in the day, the enemy having been repulsed on the right and not appearing in front of our position, I received an order to fall back along the line of the railroad in the direction of Savage Station, and subsequently to take a road leading across White Oak Swamp to the James River. At about 9 o'clock p.m., having crossed the swamp, my brigade encamped not far from Saint Paul's Church, and early in the day on the 30th took up a position on the left of a direct road from Richmond intersecting our line of march to the James River near Saint Paul's Church. Here again, under the instructions of the general commanding division, my brigade was placed in a position to meet an advance of the enemy upon the flank of the moving army.

About 3 o'clock p.m. the enemy moved upon General McCall's lines in our front, and having broken them, came down in great force upon our position. The Sixteenth Massachusetts Volunteers, being in position across and on the immediate left of the road along which the advance was made, received and repulsed the heaviest and most persistent attempts of the enemy to break the lines. The Twenty-sixth Pennsylvania Volunteers, on the left of the Sixteenth, were not hard pressed, and had not an opportunity to deliver its whole fire upon the enemy. The Eleventh Massachusetts was thrown upon the extreme left of our division lines, in anticipation of an attempt to turn our flank. As no such attempt however, was made in force, this regiment, did not become engaged during the day. The First Massachusetts and Second New Hampshire occupied a line in rear of the Sixteenth Massachusetts and the Twenty-sixth Pennsylvania Volunteers, but the steadiness and determination with which the first line met the enemy, not only checking his advance, but causing him to withdraw from this portion of the field, rendered any assistance at this time unnecessary from the second line.

It had now become nearly sunset; the fury of the battle had shifted to the right of our position, and the strength of the enemy was evidently broken in our front. I was ordered with the First Massachusetts to drive what there remained of the enemy from our immediate front. That gallant regiment, with the greatest enthusiasm and rapidity, advanced to the front, driving before it whatever enemy still remained upon the ground, and advanced to the crest of a hill something like a quarter of a mile from our lines. Upon this high ground the smoke of the battle had settled heavily and obscured our view; still, upon advancing in line, the left of a body of our troops in line of battle on the right could be seen. On the left somewhat nearer to our position, a column of infantry was moving by the flank to the right. Their colors were furled, and they wore the uniform of our troops, and were believed to be a regiment from the left of the Excelsior Brigade, moving to re-enforce the right of our position. Upon approaching nearer, however, this column halted, faced to its right, and fired a volley upon us. Fully assured still that it was one of our own regiments, I ordered the regiment to fall back under cover of the crest of the hill without returning the fire. Having withdrawn my men, I returned to assure myself of the facts of the case, and rode within about 100 yards of their colors,