Today in History:

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


About 4 in the afternoon I was ordered to face to the rear and move in line of battle through the woods between the railroad and the stage road to Savage Station. Approaching the station I was directed by General Heintzelman to counter-march and move briskly toward the Charles City road across Brackett's Ford, over the White Oak Swamp, throwing out flankers on the line of march. Crossing the swamp at sunset the head of my column reached the Charles City road soon after dark, and having reported to the brigadier-general commanding the division, I was ordered to bivouac with the division near the road in an opening skirted by woods on all sides. A few pickets were thrown out in front and toward the James River.

On the morning of the 30th I was directed by the brigadier-general commanding the division to reconnoiter the country in front of the Quaker road toward James River, and especially with reference to intersecting roads leading from the front. Accompanied by Colonel Carr, commanding Third Brigade, and Captain Chester, of my staff, I made a careful examination of the line as far as Malvern Hill. While returning heavy cannonading on the right admonished me that an engagement had begun in the vicinity of the Charles City road. Hastening to my command, I found it moving under Colonel Taylor to a position covering the Quaker road, along which our train was passing. General McCall was in front and to the right. The brigadier-general commanding the division assigned me the left of the line of battle, embracing my own and the Third Brigade, which was formed on the outskirts of a belt of woods covering the Quaker road and commanding an opening extending to a small stream in front. On the left the woods encircled the opening, and through this timber, as well as in front to another belt of timber, flankers and skirmishers were thrown out. My left requiring support, I directed the Second New York too form on Colonel Taylor's left, and latter in the day the Eleventh Massachusetts reported to me with orders to cover the left flank. It was not long after these dispositions were made before General McCall became engaged. A considerable body of his troops falling back on my line, and mistaking us for the enemy, poured several volleys into us Our colors, were promptly displayed along the line, and through the exertions of Major Holt (First Regiment) and Major Stevens (Third), with a company of Berdan's Sharpshooters, which were in front, these fugitives were driven back to their line. From a lookout which I established in a tall tree, in charge of Corporal Bowen, Company D, and Private Patrick Connor, Company E, Third Regiment,and also from the reports of my skirmishers, confirmed by my own observations, I ascertained that the enemy's reserves were moving against our right in a line of battle almost perpendicular with my front. This I caused to be reported to the brigadier-general commanding the division, with the suggestion that a battery of artillery, supported by my left, might be advantageously thrown forward, so as to assail the enemy in the rear and on his right flank.

At this moment my second regiment was ordered to report to General Sumner, and learning that the First and Sixteenth Massachusetts, of this division, were also sent to support our position on the right, I reluctantly relinquished the design of moving my left forward, even without artillery. Each regiment as it was successively posted on my left flank (Third Excelsior, Second New York, and Eleventh Massachusetts), by throwing forward skirmishers and flankers, captured numbers of prisoners-at least 150 in all-and among these the field and some of the line offices, together with the colors of---Regiment.