Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 25.djvu/220

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page needs to be proofread.


216 Southern Historical Society Papers.

report he says: " I moved my division to a point on the River road half a mile below the upper gate of Curl's Neck and there remained during the night, in line of battle, but I deemed it out of the ques- tion to attack the strong position of Malvern Hill from that side with my inadequate force."

In his official report of the battle, Longstreet said: "A little after 3 P. M. I understood that we would not be able to attack the enemy that day, inasmuch as his position was too strong to admit of it." Writing long years afterwards in the Century Magazine, he says: "As our guns in front did not engage, the result was the enemy con- centrated the fire of fifty or sixty guns upon our isolated batteries and tore them into fragments in a few minutes after they opened, piling horses upon each other and guns upon horses. Before night the fire from our batteries failing of execution, General Lee seemed to abandon the idea of an attack. He proposed to me to move around to the left, with my own men and A. P. Hill's Division, turn- ing the Federal right. I issued my orders accordingly for the two divisions to go around and turn the Federal right, when, in some way unknown to me, the battle was drawn on. We were repulsed at all points with fearful slaughter, losing 6,000 men and accomplish- ing nothing."

Swinton, who refers to our army as "that incomparable body of men, the glorious infantry of the Army of Northern Virginia," says of Malvern Hill: " Lee never before or since that action delivered a battle so ill-judged in conception or so faulty in its details of exe- cution."

In referring to the Quaker road, I have doubtless raised the in- quiry on many a mind here, " What would have been the effect had General Magruder not mistaken the order, or had there been only one road known by that name? " I am unable to say; and not hav- ing been educated a soldier, I do not presume to criticise. With the knowledge of the roads and the country, gained since that time, and the experience of the years after the battle, I will venture to say that had Magruder followed on the Willis church road and the (Federal map) Quaker road, and occupied the position of D. H. Hill, so that that officer, together with Early and Ewell, could have extended our left until it encircled Malvern Hill, the enemy would have been taken in flank and forced to give battle on ground more advantageous to us, or to make his retreat over the single road across Turkey Island creek.

The depositions of three intelligent citizens and soldiers of Hen-