Southern Historical Society Papers/Volume 01/February/Alexander's Sketch of Longstreet's Corps
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Alexander's Sketch of Longstreet's Corps
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RECORDS OF LONGSTREET'S CORPS, A. N. V.
By General E. P. Alexander, Chief of Artillery.
The "Seven Days Battles."
[Continued from the Southern Magazine of June, 1875.]
On the morning of Monday, the 30th, the enemy in front of Magruder had disappeared, having crossed the swamp in the night—a part by the main road from Bottom's bridge, and a part by Brackett's ford. The column of General Jackson (Ewell's, Jackson's, D. H. Hill's and Whiting's divisions) commenced crossing the Chickahominy at a very early hour, and entered the Williamsburg road at Savage station just in front of General Magruder's command, who was thereupon ordered to move across to the Darbytown road and follow Longstreet.
This day was the crisis of McClellan's retreat, the Confederate forces now being within striking distance of him in the rear and upon his flank, while miles of his trains still blocked the roads. For their protection his troops were disposed as follows: Franklin's corps, with Richardson's division of Sumner's corps, and Nagle's brigade of Keyes' corps held the crossings of White Oak swamp, both against the approach of Jackson on the Bottom Bridge road, and of Huger on the Charles City road; the latter being opposed by Slocum's division of Franklin's corps, which was posted north of the Charles City road, covering also Brackett's crossing of White Oak swamp. The junction of the Long Bridge, the Charles City and the Quaker roads at Riddle's shop was covered by Kearney's division of Heintzelman's corps, with McCall's division of Porter's corps―the former upon the right, and connecting with Slocum's left at the Charles City road: the latter crossing the Long Bridge road a half mile in front of Riddle's shop. Nearly at right angles to the direction of McCall's line, and somewhat overlapped by it, but five hundred yards distant, was Hooker's division of Heintzelman's corps covering the Quaker road, which ran parallel to it several hundred yards in its rear. Sedgwick's division of Sumner's corps supported McCall, who, as well as Kearney, was formed, each with two brigades holding a front line, and the third (each division was composed of three brigades) in reserve. The country in front of these three divisions was open for several hundred yards, and afforded a fine field for their artillery, which was reinforced from the artillery reserve, and unlimbered in heavy force in front of a wood, in which the infantry lines were covered. Keyes' corps, and Sykes' and Morrel's divisions of Porter's corps, held Malvern Hill and its approaches, over which the whole of the Federal trains made their way towards the James, the rear wagons passing at four P. M. The principal effort of General Lee was directed against the position at Riddle's shop, against which Jackson's, Huger's and Longstreet's columns were all expected to co-operate. The battle which resulted is generally known in the South as that of
and at the North as Glendale; and, as only Longstreet's column was engaged in it, before proceeding to its details, it is necessary to glance at the operations during the day of the other Confederate divisions.
About 10 A. M. the head of the column under General Jackson reached the crossing of White Oak swamp and found the bridge destroyed, and a Federal battery (Hazzard's) posted to prevent a crossing. After considerable delay, twenty-three guns were quietly gotten into position, and at quarter before two suddenly opened upon the Yankee battery at a range of about a thousand yards.
Only four shots were fired in reply before Captain Hazzard was killed, and the battery so crippled that it was compelled to leave the field, abandoning one of its guns, which had been disabled. Seeing the field clear, General Jackson in person, with a regiment of cavalry under Colonel Munford, and a detachment of infantry skirmishers, crossed the swamp at the ford by the side of the bridge and advanced to get the abandoned gun. Before this could be accomplished, however, a second battery opened fire on this ford from behind a dense wood, which screened it from the view of the Confederate artillery, and the cavalry was forced to return through the swamp, a little ways below the bridge. An effort was now made to rebuild the broken bridge, but the enemy were able to fire upon it with accuracy, and the working party was driven off. Meanwhile, the Confederate batteries endeavored to silence this second battery by a random fire through the woods towards its position, but, as might have been expected, without success. The enemy replied with a similar fire from about eighteen guns, and a noisy conflict was maintained all the afternoon with very little loss on either side. The infantry and skirmishers remained across the swamp, but no further effort was made to force a passage, and the troops bivouacked that night where they were halted in the morning.The column under General Huger, on the Charles City road, marched at daylight from Brightwell's, Wright's brigade being detached and sent across White Oak swamp on the left to see that none of the enemy were left behind. Crossing near Hobson's, General Wright advanced his brigade down the north side until (about two o'clock) he met the column under General Jackson. He then returned, at General Jackson's request, and endeavored to force a passage at Brackett's crossing, but found it too well protected, and was compelled to ascend the swamp to a point opposite Fisher's, where he crossed by a cow path and rejoined Huger's division.
Meanwhile, the other brigades moved very slowly, skirmishing slightly, and cutting away trees which the enemy continually felled in their road. A scarcity of tools made this work so slow that it was late in the afternoon when Mahone's brigade, in the lead, reached Brackett's field and found the enemy (Slocum's divisions) posted behind a considerable swamp, which here falls into White Oak swamp. Mahone advanced a section of Moorman's battery, which drew a very severe fire on itself and the supporting infantry, and developed such a strong position that General Huger determined to turn it by a movement to his right. Night, however, had now come on, and the division bivouacked that night near Mrs. Fisher's.
The division of General Magruder was marched in the morning from Savage station across to Timberlake's store on the Darbytown road (three miles above Fussell's mill), a distance of about ten miles by the road traversed. Here, about two P. M., General Magruder received a note from General Lee (written under the impression, it seems, that his division was in supporting distance of Longstreet), ordering him to halt and wait further orders.
Meanwhile, General Holmes, with six thousand infantry and six batteries, had been from the defences on the James river, and at ten A. M. had taken position at New Market. Hearing here of the enemy's trains passing over Malvern Hill, General Holmes moved his command down the River road about four P. M., and ordered his chief of artillery, Colonel Deshler, to establish batteries to fire upon the enemy's columns. After some difficulty, Colonel Deshler got five pieces into position, and opened upon Malvern Hill. He was immediately replied to by thirty guns from the hill, and at the same time also the gunboats anchored in the river at Turkey Bend opened a severe fire, directed in their aim by signals from Malvern. After maintaining the unequal conflict for an hour, Colonel Deshler retired seriously punished, but bringing off his guns; and General Holmes, seeing the hopelessness of further efforts, withdrew his whole command. During this withdrawal, a stampede was caused by the heavy fire of the gunboats, among some artillery which had not been engaged and a cavalry battalion, which resulted in the abandonment of two guns and caissons in a road through the woods, where they were found and carried off by the skirmishers of Warren's brigade, which held that flank of the Federal line.
Shortly after the advance of General Holmes, General Magruder was ordered to move to his support, but he only arrived at New Market about dusk, after General Holmes had withdrawn, and therefore took no part in the affair.
It happened, therefore, from the above-mentioned circumstances, that the whole of the fighting at Frazier's farm or Riddle's shop fell upon Longstreet's command, of which A. P. Hill's division now numbered about eleven thousand, and his own division numbered about seven thousand. The greater part of the four divisions of Kearney, McCall, Sedgwick and Hooker were engaged on the Yankee side, averaging ten thousand each.
Early on the morning of the 30th, Longstreet and A. P. Hill resumed their advance upon the Darbytown road, the division of the former leading. Turning to the left on entering the Long Bridge road, the enemy's pickets were soon encountered, and on being driven in they disclosed the position of McCall and Kearney, as has been already described. Line of battle was at once formed by Longstreet's division, under command of General R. H. Anderson, in two lines, the first being composed of Pryor's, Wilcox's, Anderson's (commanded by Jenkins) and Kemper's brigades, in the order named from left to right; the second of Featherston's and Pickett's brigades in rear of the two wings of the first line. The centre of Jenkins' brigade rested on the Long Bridge road, on the right of which was a very dense and tangled wood, and on the left a succession of old fields and pine thickets. A. P. Hill's division was formed in close column near the road, three-fourths of a mile in rear.
The formation was complete and everything in readiness for an attack by two P. M., but General Lee, who was on the field with President Davis, directed that it should be delayed until Huger or Jackson should be heard from. About three P. M. there came from the left the sound of the artillery affair between Huger's advance at Brightwell's and Slocum's artillery, the character of which has already been stated. Supposing it to be General Huger's announcement of his being in position, Longstreet at once replied by ordering his artillery opened. In compliance with this order, Dearing's battery opened a cannonade which drew a furious and somewhat mischievous fire from the enemy's batteries, which nearly enfiladed the Long Bridge road. An hour passed in this artillery duelling produced no material result, as the intervening thickets hid the contending batteries from each other's view, and the firing was mostly at random. About four P. M., nothing definite being known of Huger and Jackson, but the lateness of the hour admitting no longer delay, General Longstreet assumed the offensive. As no one can go through the details of the action which followed without surprise at the fatal want of concert of action which characterized the many gallant and bloody assaults of the Confederates, it is perhaps best to say beforehand that it was but the pestilent mishaps of almost every offensive battle field which the army of Northern Virginia ever fought, and that its causes were perhaps not peculiar to any one. The wooded character of the country is the reason assigned by Generals Lee and Longstreet in their reports, and an insufficient staff organization was doubtless another source of much difficulty.
The order to move forward and attack was first received by Kemper's brigade, which held the right flank in the dense wood before mentioned, with its right regiment (the Seventeenth Virginia) thrown back to protect the flank. In hearing of the order to charge, through some misapprehension, the brigade started before General Kemper was able to wheel the Seventeenth into line with the others, and as it was impossible to control promptly so extensive a line in such tangled undergrowth, the remaining regiments were allowed to move on, and this one was directed to follow as soon as it could change its front. After advancing several hundred yards in good order, in spite of swampy ground and a sharp shelling of the woods by the enemy, the Yankee pickets were discovered retiring, on seeing which the line immediately cheered loudly and took the double quick in pursuit. This space soon brought them to the open field, across which were seen the Federal infantry and batteries. A terrible fire was now poured upon them, but without halting to reform the line, disintegrated and much reduced by the double quick through the woods, a charge was made upon a battery (Kern's) about three hundred yards distant (near Mitlock's house) supported by Seymour's brigade, the left brigade of McCall's division. The impetuosity of the charge broke the enemy's line and for a time the battery was in Kemper's possession, but the handful of men who gained it were unable to maintain it long before the heavy attacks in front and flank which fell upon them, as soon as their small force was appreciated, and they were soon to retreat. The Seventeenth Virginia following in rear of the rest of the brigade had also become much scattered in its rapid movements in the forest, but considerable portions of it came out in time to assist in covering the retreat of their comrades, whom the enemy pursued back into the woods. Here the regiments became so scattered that they were only collected together again after some hours, and they bore no further part in the action. The total loss in the brigade in this charge was four hundred and twenty-four, of whom one hundred and seventy-five were captured.
Meanwhile, about the time that Kemper had penetrated the enemy's lines, Pickett's brigade, under Colonel Strange, and Branch's brigade of A. P. Hill's division were hurried forward to his support. The difficulties of the forest, however, prevented their arrival in time to take advantage of his success, and after passing the fragments of this brigade in retreat, Branch and Strange (the latter on the right) became engaged within the wood with the pursuing enemy, and drove him back into the field. On the edge of this field Branch halted, where a projection of the wood placed him within range of the battery which Kemper had assaulted (Kern's), and opening fire upon it he succeeded in silencing it and driving off its cannoneers. Strange, emerging on the field about this time, made a gallant charge on the position, and, after a sharp affair with its supports, took the battery and held it permanently, turning its guns upon the enemy, and completely routing Seymour's brigade.
While these operations were taking place upon the right, the conflict had also been taken up upon the centre by Andrews' battery of Hill's division, and by R. H. Anderson's brigade under Colonel Jenkins. Moving forward at the same time with Pickett's brigade, Jenkins made his way through the woods, bearing more to the left and keeping his left flank upon the Long Bridge road, until he arrived near the edge of the wood, within three hundred yards of the enemy's batteries. Here a hot exchange of fire began with a battery and the Federal infantry drawn up in the wood and in a gully in rear of the guns, and a temporary halt was made while Chapman's battery (of three guns) was brought up; but it was hardly unlimbered before it was crippled and driven off. Nothing daunted by the overwhelming force in his front, Colonel Jenkins then ordered a charge, which was at once executed, with the utmost gallantry and success, capturing the battery (Cooper's), killing its horses, and turning its guns upon the enemy, and driving the infantry from their position and pursuing beyond it. This success, however, was obtained at a heavy sacrifice, and the force left in ranks was so reduced that the advance of the enemy's second line drove it back and retook the battery, the survivors falling back into the wood from which they had advanced, where a portion of them were rallied by Lieutenant-Colonel Steadman, of the Sixth South Carolina, and afterward joined in the charge of Wilcox's brigade.
Jenkins' brigade took into this charge 1,106 men, of whom 562 were killed or wounded and 27 captured.
On the repulse of Jenkins, Wilcox and Pryor, who were about being stretched out to the left to connect with Huger (who was still expected), were now ordered to attack directly in front. The brigades were formed in line, Pryor upon the left, and commenced their advance—Wilcox's centre resting on the Long Bridge road. Dense pine thickets entirely obstructed the view on the left of the road, and so interfered with the advance, that they could only be passed by breaking "by companies to the front." Gaining at length the edge of an open field, the enemy's line was discovered by Pryor's brigade, also in the edge of a wood, their right being brought by it obliquely forward. Both parties immediately opened all of their muskets upon each other, and an indecisive but bloody conflict ensued. Featherston's brigade was advanced to Pryor's support, and took ground on his left, and shortly afterwards, General Featherston being wounded, and his brigade and Pryor's badly cut up, Gregg's brigade of A. P. Hill's division was also sent to the left to protect against a flank movement which the enemy seemed to threaten. Only one of Gregg's regiments (the Fourteenth South Carolina) was sharply engaged, however, the rest of the brigade being disposed on the flank. This conflict was maintained in unabated fury until after dark, neither party making a charge.
Meanwhile Wilcox's brigade continued to move forward against the battery (Cooper's) which had been charged by Jenkins, with the exception of his left regiment (the Eighth Alabama), which became involved in the fight on the left and halted with Pryor's brigade. The remaining regiments, on clearing the woods, received a terrible fire from the guns and infantry on each side of the Long Bridge road, but without halting a moment they dashed upon the batteries at the double-quick in magnificent style, no longer in ranks, but holding well together and cheering, but not stopping to fire. On the right of the road (where Jenkins had charged before) the enemy did not wait for close quarters, and Cooper's battery was again taken. On the left of the road, the Eleventh Alabama had to traverse an open space of six hundred yards before reaching the battery in its front (Randall's), but advancing rapidly through a terrible discharge of canister and musketry, it pressed up to the very muzzles of the guns, where it exchanged one volley with the Fourth and Seventh Pennsylvania, of Meade's brigade (McCall's division), and then charged upon them with the bayonet. A desperate hand-to-hand fight occurred, in which the Alabamians were victorious, and drove their opponents into the woods a short distance in rear of the guns. No reinforcements, however, coming to their support, and being subjected to a severe cross-fire from the front and left, the ground affording no shelter, the battery could not long be held. The gallant regiment, therefore, at length retired, unpursued and slowly, from its bloody prize, and crossing the road, joined in the woods on the right the two regiments which had captured Cooper's battery, and which had also at last been compelled to retire, for lack of support, from heavy attacks by fresh troops. In this assault Wilcox's brigade carried in about 1,200 men (including the Eighth Alabama, which did not charge the batteries), and lost 455 killed and wounded, and 16 prisoners. The Eleventh Alabama (commanded by Captain Field, who received two wounds) lost forty-nine privates killed, and of its ten company commanders, five were killed outright, one was mortally, two were severely and one was slightly wounded. It entered the field 357 strong, and had 181 killed and wounded.
Having united the remnants of these regiments in the wood in front of Cooper's battery, which had been taken by the Ninth and Tenth Alabama, General Wilcox still exchanged musketry with the enemy, who remained in the woods behind the battery, and did not offer to re-occupy it.
Meanwhile the remainder of A. P. Hill's division having been moved forward, Field's brigade (with the exception of the Fortieth Virginia, which was sent to protect the right flank of Pickett's brigade, and was heavily engaged there) was ordered to renew the attack upon Randall's and Cooper's batteries. Archer's brigade was sent to the support of Pickett, and J. R. Anderson and Pender were held in reserve for a short time. Field formed in single line on each side of the Long Bridge road, the Fifty-fifth and Sixtieth Virginia on the right, and the Forty-seventh and Second Virginia battalion on the left. The whole line then rushed to the charge with a cheer, and in spite of a heavy fire which met them, they continued to advance with impetuosity and repossessed both Randall's and Cooper's batteries, and drove off their infantry supports; the two regiments on the right of the road pursuing them nearly a half mile.
This pursuit, however, exposed their flank and rear, and might probably have resulted in their capture by some troops, apparently from Hooker's line, who advanced with a battery from the direction of Willis Church and had nearly attained the Long Bridge road when Pender's brigade, which had been sent after Field on his charge, opportunely arrived. A Yankee column, moving by a flank at the double quick, approached within seventy-five yards of Pender, apparently not seeing the gray uniforms in the dusk, and was scattered by a single volley. After a sharp skirmish, the battery was also driven off, and Field's rear was secured. A little later, J. R. Anderson's brigade, the last reserve, was also advanced on Pender's left to Field's support, and being told that Field was in its front, allowed itself to be deceived by a Federal brigade, which approached it calling out, "don't shoot, we are friends," and finally delivered a volley which caused it much loss. Anderson, however, did not retreat, but ordering his men to lie down, he maintained a fire upon the enemy until after dark. Appreciating his danger, and favored by the arrival of Pender and Anderson, Field at length withdrew his line to unite with Pender, and cover the captured batteries, which he also took measures to remove. Even upon this line volleys of musketry were still exchanged so heavily that for a time much apprehension was felt for the result, and General A. P. Hill was endeavoring to rally a reserve of stragglers and to encourage the front line by raising loud cheers, when about nine P. M., the musketry very suddenly ceased on each side and the battle was ended.
Its results in killed and wounded can only be approximated. Longstreet and A. P. Hill lost probably 2,000 each, and the enemy probably also lost 4,000 men and eighteen guns, comprised in the three batteries which had been captured. A few prisoners only were captured on either side, but among the Federal prisoners was Major-General McCall, who, accompanied by three couriers and members of his staff, rode into the Forty-seventh Virginia after night fall. On discovering their position, General McCall and a courier surrendered. His adjutant, Major Bibble, was shot in attempting to escape, and the fourth person succeeded in galloping off.
Shortly after the cessation of the firing, General Magruder's division, very much jaded by its day's march, arrived on the field, having been recalled from New Market, where it had been directed, as before explained, to the support of General Holmes' attack. General Magruder was directed to relieve the divisions of Hill and Longstreet, to feel the enemy during the night, and to prepare to attack at daylight. The enemy was found to be still in position late in the night, but when a skirmish line was advanced in the morning it found but a small rear guard in its front, and soon met the skirmishers of General Jackson's column advancing from White Oak swamp. General Jackson's column being the freshest was now directed to pursue the enemy, on the road since known as the Quaker road, while General Magruder was ordered to advance toward Malvern Hill on a parallel road to the right.
Sending a regiment of cavalry in front as an advanced guard, General Jackson pushed the head of the infantry column close behind them, through the woods, and advanced rapidly upon Malvern Hill, fearing lest the enemy should escape. No sooner, however, did the cavalry show itself where the Quaker road debouches from the woods, on the open slopes of Crew's farm, than the position of the enemy was made apparent by a furious cannonade from heavy batteries posted to command all approaches and to enfilade the road. So perfectly was this done, that a single shrapnel killed two and wounded nineteen men of the First Texas Regiment. Receiving this heavy enfilade fire, the cavalry came back in confusion, while the infantry was thrown in the woods on the right and left of the road. A reconnoisance soon developed the great strength of the enemy's position and force. Preparations were at once made by General Lee to attack. Jackson's line was formed with Whiting's division on the left and D. H. Hill's on the right. Stafford's Louisiana brigade of Ewell's division held the centre between Whiting and Hill. The rest of Jackson's command was formed in a second line in rear of the first. On the right of D. H. Hill came in Armistead's and Wright's brigades of Huger's division, and on their right D. R. Jones' sub-division of Magruder's command, consisting of Tombs' and G. T. Anderson's brigades. The remainder of Huger's command (Mahone's and Ransom's brigades), and of Magruder's command (Barksdale's, Cobb's, Kershaw's and Semmes' brigades, the last two constituting McLaws' division), were disposed and used in support of Armistead, Wright and D. R. Jones. General Holmes, with his division, moved from New Market a short distance down the River road, and formed line of battle, but took no part in the action, deeming the enemy's position too strong for attack in that direction. Longstreet and A. P. Hill remained in reserve on the Long Bridge road. Owing to ignorance of the roads and topography and the dense forests which impeded communication, the whole line was not formed until late in the afternoon.
The Federal army was all concentrated upon the field, its divisions being in the following order from its left to right, viz: Sykes, Morell, Couch, Kearney, Hooker, Sedgwick, Richardson, Smith, Slocum and Peck. McCall was in reserve, in rear of Sykes and Morell. The artillery reserve was also present, and was so disposed with the division batteries that General McClellan states that "the fire of sixty guns could be concentrated on any point on the front or left" of his left wing, which was the flank attacked. The position was of great natural strength, and the Federal gunboats in the James were also able to throw their enormous projectiles over the whole ground occupied by the Confederates.
Considerable artillery firing had taken place during the day, and it was designed to precede the attack of the infantry with a heavy cannonade, but owing to the narrow debouchments of the roads on the plain, and the few good positions for guns, and more especially to the faulty organization of the artillery, no concentration of batteries was effected. Several batteries were put in action at different points and at different times, but being advanced singly against the entire array of superior displayed by the enemy, they were each soon disabled and driven off.
About 6 P. M. the attacks by the infantry were begun, and as their details are much confused, and, moreover, do not fall strictly within the limits of this narrative, they are passed over, and General Lee's brief but excellent and comprehensive report of this field is substituted:
"The obstacles presented by the woods and swamp made it impracticable to bring up a sufficient force of artillery to oppose successfully the extraordinary force of that arm employed by the enemy, while the field itself afforded us few positions favorable for its use, and none for its proper concentration. Orders were issued for a general advance, at a given signal, but the causes referred to prevented a proper concert of action among the troops. D. H. Hill pressed forward across the open field and engaged the enemy gallantly, breaking and driving back his first line, but a simultaneous advance of the other troops not taking place, he found himself unable to maintain the ground he had gained against the overwhelming numbers and numerous batteries of the enemy. Jackson sent to his support his own division, and that part of Ewell's which was in reserve, but owing to the increasing darkness and intricacy of the forest and swamp, they did not arrive in time to render the desired assistance. Hill was, therefore, compelled to abandon part of the ground he had gained, after suffering severe loss and inflicting heavy damage upon the enemy. On the right, the attack was gallantly made by Huger's and Magruder's commands. Two brigades of the former commenced the action" (Wright's and Armstead's), "and the other two were subsequently sent to the support of Magruder and Hill (D. H.) Several determined efforts were made to storm the hill at Crew's house. The brigades advanced bravely across the open field, raked by the fire of a hundred cannon and the musketry of large bodies of infantry. Some were broken and gave way, others approached close to the guns, driving back the infantry, compelling the advanced batteries to retire to escape capture, and mingling their dead with those of the enemy. For want of concert among the attacking columns their assaults were too weak to break the Federal line, and after struggling gallantly, sustaining and inflicting great loss, they were compelled successively to retire. Night was approaching when the attack began, and it soon became difficult to distinguish friend from foe. The firing continued until after 9 P. M., but no decided result was gained. Part of the troops were withdrawn to their original positions, others remained on the open field, and some rested within a hundred yards of the batteries which had been so bravely, but vainly, assailed. The general conduct of the troops was excellent―in some cases heroic. The lateness of the hour at which the attack necessarily began gave the enemy the full advantage of his superior position, and augmented the natural difficulties of our own."
The commendation bestowed by General Lee was indeed merited by no few of the gallant commands which faced the feu d'enfer of that terrible field. The dead of the Tenth Louisiana of Semmes' brigade were found next morning beyond the line occupied by the Yankee guns and among the outbuildings of Crew's settlement, which had been the very stronghold of their line. It happened to this brigade, as well as to some others of those who were in front after dark, that they were fired into from behind by those moving up in support. At the cessation of the fire, several fragments of different commands were lying down and holding their ground within a short distance of the enemy's line, and as soon as the fighting ceased an informal truce was established by common consent, and numerous parties from both armies, with lanterns and litters, wandered over the field seeking for the unfortunate wounded, whose groans and calls on all sides could not fail to move with pity the heart of friend or foe.
Morning broke with a heavy rain, and showed the enemy's position entirely deserted, his army having withdrawn safely during the night across Turkey Creek bridge, leaving on the field his killed, with three disabled guns and the usual number of scattered small arms.
His retreat was now secure, and he reached Harrison's bar, or Westover, a strong position on the James, previously selected, without further molestation, and immediately fortified it so vigorously, that when, on the 4th of July, the Confederates again came up, no chance of success was left to an assault. General Lee remained in its front for a few days, reconnoitering and offering battle, but it proved in vain, and on the 8th the army was withdrawn to the vicinity of Richmond.
The Confederate loss in the battle of Malvern Hill is reported at 5,062, of which 2,900 fell in Magruder's and Huger's divisions, and 2,162 in Jackson's command. The Federal loss did not exceed one-third of that number.
The total Confederate loss in the Seven Days Battles may be estimated at slightly above 17,000.
General McClellan reports his losses at 1,582 killed, 7,709 wounded, and 5,958 missing; total, 15,249.
The Confederates captured fifty-two pieces of artillery, and collected from the battle-fields over -five thousand stand of small arms, of which probably twenty-five thousand had been abandoned by the enemy. Including the sick and wounded, about ten thousand prisoners fell into the hands of the Confederates. The total casualties of Longstreet's brigades are given in the following table. The reserve artillery was not engaged:
- At Savage station a large hospital, with twenty-five hundred sick and wounded, fell into General Magruder's hands. Large quantities of stores had been destroyed here, and among them all medical supplies, even those necessary for the enemy's own sick. (See General Lee's report).
- Shortly after the commencement of this artillery duel, General Hampton, who commanded a brigade of infantry, in the leading division of Jackson's column, discovered, while reconnoitering, a crossing of the swamp, practicable for infantry, a short distance below the road; and, crossing in person, he made his way up a small tributary ravine which curved to the right and headed near the road some distance beyond the bridge, and found himself on the flank and rear of the infantry which supported the Federal batteries. He returned and explained the situation to General Jackson, and asked permission to take his brigade across and attack, but was refused and ordered first to build a bridge where he had crossed. This, though not necessary, was soon accomplished (it was only prepared for infantry, as it could not be approached by artillery), and its completion was reported to General Jackson, but he made no reply whatever to the report, and took no action upon it. My authority for this statement is General Hampton.
- It was never known in the Confederate army that the enemy had followed after Holmes' retreat at all, and it was therefore always supposed that some other Confederate battery had found and either appropriated these guns or sent them to Richmond along with those captured at Frazier's farm. They did, however, fall into the enemy's hands, and formed the foundation of a not very ingenious sentence in McClellan's address to his army, viz: "You have saved all your material, all your trains and all your guns except a few lost in battle, taking in return guns and colors from the enemy." The "few lost in battle" were fifty-two and these two were the only guns "taken in return."
- A large part of those captured fell into the hands of a brigade (probably of Hooker's division) which was in the very wood from which Kemper started, its line of battery being perpendicular to the original line of Kemper's brigade, and not twenty rods distant from his flank during the whole afternoon. A courier, bearing a message from the skirmish line to the line of battle, about fifty yards off, before the charge was made, lost his direction and fell into their hands; and after the charge, Lieutenant-Colonel Marye, and a number of men and officers of the Seventeenth in returning, as they thought to their original position, walked directly upon this brigade and were captured. Strange to say beyond making these captures, it took no part in the action, and its position was never known or suspected by the Confederates.
- The losses in Jenkins' own regiment, the Palmetto Sharpshooters, were perhaps never exceeded in the war in so short an affair—amounting to 44 killed and 210 wounded out of 375 engaged. Captain Kilpatrick's company had but one man left untouched, and two other companies but three each. Colonel Jenkins himself bore the marks of ten bullets on his person, horse and accoutrements.
- At one time, just after dark, both parties ceased fire under the impression that they were firing upon friends, and a Yankee officer of the Twentieth Indiana rode up to the Fourteenth South Carolina and asked the name of the regiment. He was captured, and all doubt being removed, firing was recommenced and continued until after all other parts of the field were silent. The Fourteenth South Carolina lost 76 men in this action out of about 200 engaged.
- The details of the charge of the 11th Alabama are obtained from General Wilcox's report and an account by General McCall (who was present in Randall's battery at the time), published in Report of Committee on Conduct of War, Vol. 1, page 588. In another report, Pennsylvania Reserves in the Peninsula, page 5, General McCall says of this affair: "Bayonets were crossed and locked in the struggle; bayonet wounds were freely given and received. I saw skulls crushed by the heavy blow of the butt of the musket, and, in short, the desperate thrusts and parries of a life-and-death encounter, proving indeed that Greek had met Greek when the Alabama boys fell upon the sons of Pennsylvania."
General Wilcox gives two instances of the desperate character of the fighting, as follows: "The sword and bayonet were freely used. Captain W. C. Parker had two successive encounters with Federal officers, both of whom he felled with his sword, and beset by others of the enemy he was severely wounded―receiving two bayonet wounds in the breast and one in his side, and a musket wound breaking his thigh. Lieutenant Michie had a hand-to-hand collision with an officer, and, having just dealt a severe blow to his adversary, he fell cut over the head with a sabre-bayonet from behind, and had afterwards three bayonet wounds in the face and two in the breast; all severe wounds, which he survived, however, for three days. Many of the men received and gave in return bayonet wounds." Reports of Army Northern Virginia, vol. 1, page 343.
- In this charge the bayonet was again freely used by the Sixtieth Virginia, Colonel Starke, who met the enemy in the wood, in rear of Cooper's battery. Colonel Starke, in his official report, says, "very many of the enemy fell before that formidable weapon. * * * I cannot close this report without mentioning the conduct of Private R. A. Christian, of Company I. Private Christian, in the bayonet charge, was assailed by no less than four of the enemy at the same instant. He succeeded in killing three of them with his own hands, though wounded in several places by bayonet thrusts; and his brother, Eli Christian, going to his aid, dispatched the fourth."
- The road generally called the Quaker road, since the battle of Malvern Hill, is more properly the Willis Church road. A small cross-road from the Long Bridge to the River road, entering the latter a half mile above where the Willis Church road comes in, after crossing Malvern Hill, was always known as the Quaker road before this period. A confusion of names arose, however, at this time, which has resulted in the general application of the latter name to the road by Willis Church. No accurate maps of this section of country and its roads existed at the time, and to that fact it is probably due that no force was directed to the right and sent to east of Turkey creek to cut the River road below the Turkey Creek bridge.
- Among the batteries thus advanced, the following are complimented in the official reports for their gallant behavior, viz: Pegram's, Carpenter's, Grime's, Poague's, Balthis', Reilly's and Moorman's.
- Swinton's Army of the Potomac, page 162.
- Jackson reports his total losses in his four divisions as 5,446; in Longstreet's division the loss amounted to 4,429; in A. P. Hill's, to 3,870. Partial returns of Magruder, Huger and Holmes indicate the amount of their losses to be about 3,500. Aggregate, 17,245.