Today in History:

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


25th instant to the front of the redoubt at Fair Oaks. At 8.30 o'clock, agreeably to further orders, I sent four companies, under command of Major Stevens, to support the left of the First Regiment of Massachusetts Volunteers, who had a few moments previously advanced into the fallen timber in front toward the enemy's lines. At fifteen minutes before 9 o'clock I advanced with four companies from the right wing of my regiment to the right wing of the First Massachusetts, which had now become engaged with the skirmishers of the enemy. Advancing through the fallen timber and into a swamp covered with a dense growth of bushes I came upon four companies of the First Massachusetts and formed upon their right.

The fire to the left and in front was now quite severe, and the shots of the enemy fell thickly in our ranks. Sending messengers to the front and left I soon ascertained the position of the remainder of the First Massachusetts and then, with the detachment from my own regiment and the four companies of the First Massachusetts before mentioned, quickly advanced and formed a connection with their right. Major Stevens formed his detachment on the left of the First Massachusetts, and at the request of Major Chandler deployed Company B, armed with Sharp's rifles as skirmishers in front of that regiment .

The whole line then rapidly advanced through the fallen timber and underbrush and over the swampy ground on the right the enemy retiring but all the while keeping up a sharp fire in front and from the timber on the left, which was returned with spirit and good effect along the whole line. As we approached the margin of the wood the enemy were seen in considerable force flying in confusion across the open field in front. Several well-directed volleys were fired into the retreating foe before he could cross the open ground into the woods beyond. Officers and men were anxious to follow the retreating enemy, but the general commanding the brigade ordered that no farther advance be made, but to hold the line we then occupied at all hazards.

I should have mentioned that soon after I advanced with four companies from the right of my regiment the two remaining companies were ordered to join on the left and be detached under Major Stevens, which they did. The lie thus formed on the margin of the wood we occupied during the remainder of the day, being continually annoyed by the sharpshooters of the enemy, stationed in the woods to the left of our line. A portion of Company B was deployed as skirmishers,and did good execution upon the enemy lurking in the woods in that vicinity.

During the afternoon we were much annoyed by the fire of some pieces of our own artillery to the right of us, many shots from which fell very near us and some in our own ranks. Toward night the enemy brought down some pieces of artillery immediately in front of our line, but concealed from view by a narrow belt of bushes beyond the open ground, but the fire being directed to the right, we did not suffer therefrom. About 9.30 o'clock the four companies from my right wing were relieved and marched back to the redoubt at Fair Oaks, and about 11.30 o'clock the six companies on the left of the First Massachusetts were also relieved, and just as they were about to march back to the redoubt the enemy came out into the open field in front and there forming in line fired one volley without much effect, which being returned by a fire along our whole line was not repeated. Major Stevens then marched his detachment back to the redoubt, where my regiment remained in the trenches until 8 o'clock the next morning, when we were relieved, and the regiment marched into camp.