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BATTLE OF MALVERN HILL.

412

[SECT. XI.

to grape and canister from the artillery, and musketry from the infantry. If that were carried, another, and still another more difficult remained in the rear.

Not without reason did Hill express to Lee his disapThe Confederates proval of the attack about to be made; nev ordered to carry it. ertheless, Lee ordered the position to be carried.

During the afternoon the Confederate artillery opened, but it was only in feeble force and in detail. It was at once silenced by the national guns. Magruder had come up, and was ordered to take post on the right of Hill, who was on the right of their line.

At six o'clock the enemy suddenly opened with the whole strength of his artillery, and at once began pushing forward columns of attack. "Brigade after brigade," says McClellan in his report," formed under cover of the woods, started at a run to cross the open space and charge our batteries, but the heavy fire of our guns, with the cool and steady volleys of our infantry, in every case sent them reeling back to shelter, and covered the ground with their dead and wounded. In several instances our infantry withheld their fire until the attacking columns, which rushed through the storm of canister and shell from our artillery, had reached within a few yards of our lines. They then poured in a single volley and dashed forward with the bayonet, capturing prisoners and colors, and driving the routed columns in confusion from the field."

Lee, who was momentarily expecting that his batteries would break the national lines, had ordered his division commanders to advance as soon as they should hear Armistead, who was in position to see the effect of the fire, charging with a yell. Hill thought he heard the signal about an hour and a half before sunset, and at once advanced, but soon found that he

Failure of their assault.

CHAP. LV.]

413

could not stand before the tempest. Magruder, on his right, was making a desperate attack. It was the noise of his advance that was mistaken by Hill for the signal yell. Magruder also found that it was utterly impossi ble to rush through the sheet of fire. No impression whatever could be made. Malvern Hill absolutely quiv. ered under the concussions of the cannonade. Shells from the gun-boats in the river were bursting overhead. The Confederate general was uselessly and unjustifiably sending his men to be massacred. Until dark he persisted in his efforts to seize the position, but every one of his attacks was repulsed with horrible loss. Not until after nine o'clock did he give up his attempt, and the artillery cease its fire.

BATTLE OF MALVERN HILL.

the

The battle was followed by a dark and stormy night, Awful night after hiding the agony of thousands who lay on the blood-stained slopes of Malvern Hill, and in the copses and woodlands beyond. The rain came down in torrents.

Neither Jackson, nor Longstreet, nor A. P. Hill had taken part in this attack. It was made by D. H. Hill and Magruder. Some of their men slept through the tempestuous night within one hundred yards of the na tional batteries. With inexpressible astonishment, when day broke, they cast their eyes on the hill from which they had been so fearfully repulsed. Their Their enemy had vanished-the volcano was silent.

Among the Confederates every thing was in the most dreadful confusion. One of their generals says: "The next morning, by dawn, I went off to ask for orders, when I found the whole army in the utmost disorder. Thousands of straggling men were asking every passer-by for their regiments; ambulances, wagons, and artillery obstructing every road, and all together in a drenching rain, presenting a scene of the most woeful and heart-rending confusion."

414

RETREAT TO HARRISON'S LANDING.

[SECT. XI.

The Retreat to

Seventh Day, Wednesday, July 2d. Harrison's Landing.-Not even in the awful night that followed this awful battle was rest allotted

McClellan retreats

ing.

to Harrison's Land- to the national army. In less than two hours after the roar of the conflict had ceased, or ders were given to resume the retreat, and march to Harrison's Landing. At midnight the utterly exhausted soldiers were groping their staggering way along a road described as desperate, in all the confusion of a fleeing and routed army. There was but one narrow pass through which the army could retreat, and though the distance was only seven miles, it was not until the middle of the next day that Harrison's Landing was reached. The mud was actually ankle-deep all over the ground. The last of the wagons did not reach the selected site until after dark on the 3d of July. The rear-guard then moved into their camp, and every thing was secure. The paralyzed Confederates made a feeble pursuit, and on the 8th went back to Richmond.

army.

Not without profound reluctance was the order to Indignation in the continue the retreat to Harrison's Landing obeyed. General Kearny, than whom there was not a more noble soldier in the whole army, exclaimed, in a group of indignant officers, "I, Philip Kearny, an old soldier, enter my solemn protest against this order to retreat. We ought, instead of retreating, to follow up the enemy and take Richmond. And, in full view of all the responsibility of such a declaration, I say to you all that such an order can only be prompted by cowardice or treason."

The French princes left the army early the next morn The French princes ing. Its condition was, to all appearances, abandon the army. desperate. They went on board a steamer, and soon after departed for the North.

The Committee of Congress on the Conduct of the War,

CHAP. LV.]

415

referring to these events, declare, "The retreat of the army from Malvern to Harrison's Bar was very precipitate. The troops, upon their arrival there, were huddled together in great confusion, the entire army being collected within a space of about three miles along the river. No orders were given the first day for occupying the heights which commanded the position, nor were the troops so placed as to be able to resist an attack in force by the enemy, and nothing but a heavy rain, thereby preventing the enemy from bringing up their artillery, saved the army from destruction."

Perilous condition of the national

army.

There had been sent to the Peninsula about one hundred and sixty thousand men (159,500). On the 3d of July, after this great army had reached the protection of the gun-boats at Harrison's Landing, McClellan telegraphed to the Secre tary of War that he presumed he had not "over 50,000 men left with their colors." Hereupon President Lincoln (July 7) went to Harrison's Landing, and found that there were about 86,000 men there.

Its condition at the close of the campaign.

THE CONFEDERATE TRIUMPH.

Lee, in his report, says: "The siege of Richmond was raised, and the object of a campaign, which had been prosecuted after months of prep

aration, at an enormous expenditure of men and money, completely frustrated. More than 10,000 prisoners, including officers of rank, 52 pieces of artillery, and upward of 35,000 stand of small- arms, were captured. The stores and supplies of every description which fell into our hands were great in amount and value, but small in comparison with those destroyed by the enemy. His losses in battle exceeded our own, as attested by the thousands of dead and wounded left on every field, while his subsequent inaction shows in what condition the survivors reached the protection to which they fled."

Lee's report of the Confederate triumph.

CLOSE OF THE PENINSULAR CAMPAIGN. [SECT. XI.

General McClellan remained at Harrison's Landing

Withdrawal of the

the Peninsula.

until the 4th of August, when he received national army from an order to withdraw his army to Acquia Creek, to aid in repelling the Confederate movement toward Washington. Most reluctantly did he comply with this order. The bulk of the army moved by land to Fortress Monroe. The general left that place on the 23d of August, and reached Acquia Creek the next day.

416

Thus ended the great, the ill-starred, the melancholy Peninsular expedition. It had no presiding

Total failure of

was an

campaign.

the Peninsular genius, no controlling mind. There v incredible sluggishness in the advance; it actually gave the Confederates time to pass their conscription law and bring their conscripts into the field. The magnificent army, which had been organized with so much pageantry at Washington, and moved down Chesapeake Bay with so much pomp, had sickened in the dismal trenches of Yorktown, and left thousands upon thousands in the dark glades and gloomy marshes of the blood-stained Chickahominy. It is the testimony of the corps commanders that they were left as best they might to conduct the fatal retreat. The general was importunately demanding of the government more troops-never using all that he had. Countless millions of money had been wasted, tens of thousands of men had been de stroyed.

From the inception of the campaign to its end, military audacity was pitted against military timidity, promptness against procrastination, and the result could not be other than it was. The Confederates at Centreville, in inferior numbers and in contemptible works, held McClellan at bay. They did the same at Yorktown, though he had much more than ten times their strength. Their au dacity culminated in their march to the north bank of the

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