Today in History:

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


July 9, 1862.

CAPTAIN: I have the honor that, in obedience to orders from the brigadier-general commanding the division, on the afternoon of the 1st instant I felt my position on the right and moved rapidly with my command to report to General Fitz John Porter, who was then engaged with the enemy at Malvern Hill, on the extreme left of the position occupied by the army on that day.

On arriving at General Porter's headquarters, the general being in front, I reported to General Kearny, who was present. General Kearny told me the enemy were then moving in force toward the center and right, and advised me to return and resume my position. The action on the left appearing still to be very animated, I requested the signal officer at General Porter's headquarters to inform me of the state of affairs in General Porter's front. In a few moments it was reported to me that General Porter's right was weak, several regiments being out of ammunition. General Kearny then said, "I have no further advice to give; decide for yourself." I immediately led my column at a brisk pace to that part of the field where the firing was most vigorous and sustained. Not meeting an officer from whom I could receive orders I halted my men in a ravine partially under cover, and, accompanied by Major Stevens, Third Regiment, rode over the field from right to left, which was nearly a mile in extent, to find General Porter. Meeting an officer of his staff, I reported to him,and informing him of the position of the head of my column, returned to my command and awaited orders.

In a few moments General Porter arrived in person and directed me to support two batteries near a large farm-house on the right of the main road, and for this purpose to form my line en echelon, left in front. At the same time General Porter directed me not to pursue in case the enemy retired, but to hold my position at all hazards. The column was promptly deployed, every regiment springing into line with enthusiastic cheers-indeed, the same dashing spirit animated all their movements throughout the day.

I directed my left-flank regiment (Colonel Taylor, Third Excelsior) to be formed in line to the left and rear of the left battery. The Fifth, Colonel Charles K. Graham, the First and Fourth (forming one battalion), under Major Thomas Holt, and the Second, Colonel George B. Hall, were formed in line en echelon at 20 paces, so that the right-flank regiment (Colonel Hall's Second) was within supporting distance of the battery on the right.

A few moments after this formation was completed I was directed by an officer of General Porter's staff to report to General Couch, to relieve such of his regiment in front as would be indicated. I endeavored to find General Couch, but could not. However, it was not long before several staff officers came to me with messages from Generals Couch, Howe and Abercrombie, requesting me to relieve a number of regiments in front which were out of ammunition. As soon as precise orders could be obtained from General Couch Colonel Taylor's Third was sent forward, moving by the right flank, to relieve the Thirty-first Pennsylvania, which was in position in an open field in front of a belt of woods, behind which the right battery was posted. The Sixty-first New York was on the left, and both these regiments were engaging the enemy. Colonel Taylor promptly relieved the Thirty-first Pennsylvania and was soon warmly engaged, the enemy being in force on the other side of the edge of the woods in front and on his right. Giv-