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SECOND DAY'S BATTLE AT FAIR OAKS.
down to the relief of Abercrombie, where Cochran's U. S. Chasseurs and Neill's Twenty-third Pennsylvania were fighting desperately. Then came heavy volleys of musketry enfilading the National right, when Sedgwick ordered the gallant General Burns to deploy the Sixty-ninth and Seventy second Pennsylvania to the right, himself leading the Seventy-first and One Hundred and Sixth Pennsylvania in support of Gorman. The strife there was intense, For a moment the National line was bent and seemed ready to break, but the clear voice of Burns calling out—“Steady, men, steady !" gave them such inspiration that they broke into loud cheers, and held the position firmly. In the face of their terrible volleys the Confederates pressed on, and charged Brady's battery, whose murderous fire of canister, poured into their compact ranks, made fearful lanes, and sent them back in confusion to the woods in their rear. It was at about this time (sunset) that General Johnston, the Confederate Chief, was seriously wounded by the fragment of a shell, and was carried from the field, leaving that wing in charge of General G. W. Smith, who was also disabled soon afterward.
Undismayed by their repulse and the loss of their Chief, the Confederates again advanced, just as darkness came on, and endeavored to outflank Sumner's right, where General Dana had joined Gorman. After fighting heavily for some time, Sumner ordered a bayonet charge by five of his regiments.' This was bravely performed. The regiments leaped two fences between them and their foes, rushed upon the Confederate line and broke it into dire confusion. It was now eight o'clock in the evening, and the battle of Saturday, May 31, ceased. Richardson's division and Sumner's artillery, which had been mired near the Chiekabominy, came up during the evening; and Kearney's brigades, that had been driven to the White Oak Swamp, also rejoined the army lying on the battle-field of Fair Oaks.
The conflict was renewed by the Confederates early in the morning“ with Richardson's brigade. The latter was on the alert.
His troops were prepared for battle when, at three o'clock, his foes drove in their pickets. He posted a battery of 10-pounder rified Parrott guns, under Captain Hazard, so as to command an open field on his right front; and directly in front of his line he placed the brigade of General French, and a regiment of General 0. 0. IIoward's brigade. The remaining regiments of Howard's brigade formed a second line, and the Irish brigade of General Thomas F. Meagher, with eighteen pieces of artillery, formed the third. The battle was now begun by General Pickett, supported by General Roger A. Pryor, with a part of Huger's division, which did not get up in time to join in the battle on the previous day. Pryor fell upon French, and Howard went to his support. Mahone came up to the aid of Pryor. Finally Meagher was ordered to the front, and after a desultory conflict of nearly three hours, in which a part of Hooker's command was engaged, and General IIoward lost his right arm, the Confederates fell back, and did not renew the contest. They remained on the ground of Casey's camp during the day, as a cover
• June 1,
* Thirty-fourth and Eighty-second New-York, Fistoenth and Twentieth Massachusetts, and Seventh Michigan. The first three were of Gorman's brigade, and the two latter of Dana's brigade.
HOOKER LOOKS INTO RICHMOND.
to the movement of their munitions of war and camp equipage to their lines at Richmond, and at evening they went in that direction themselves.
On the following morning Heintzelman sent Hooker with a strong reconnoitering party toward the Confederate capital. He went within four miles of the city without meeting any armed men, excepting a few pickets. On hearing of this temerity, McClellan ordered him back
Casey's camp, where, at the house of George Turner, he established his head-quarters, and fortified it; and orders were given to throw up a line of strong intrenchments in front of Fair Oaks, to protect the army while building bridges over the Chickahominy.: Hooker established a hospital at a house near Fair Oaks Station, around which the tents of the sick and wounded were soon grouped. The losses in The BATTLE OF FAIR Oaks or THE SEVEN PINES were very heavy, and about equal on both sides, amounting in the aggregate to about seven thousand each. This was heavy, when it is considered that not more than fifteen thousand men on either side were engaged in the conflict. Casey's division, that so gallantly withstood the first shock of battle, lost one-third of its number. The whole affair was managed on the part of the Nationals without any controlling end, for the Commander-in-Chief was
1 His order was—"General Ilooker will return from his brilliant reconnoissance; we cannot afford to lose his division."
2 This was the appearance of Jooker's head-quarters when the writer sketched it, at the close of May, 1866. In the foreground, on the right, is seen a part of the fortifications cast up there, and the trees in front of the two buildings, under which was Casey's tent.
3 McClellan's Report, page 113. The General gave as a reason for recalling Hooker, that the bad state of the roads would not warrant an attempt to march on Richmond, or hold a position so near it. It was the opinion of several of his general officers that had Hooker been allowed to press on, with the supports at hand, he could have gone into Richinond, for the Confederates were disheartened by the loss of their chief, and demoralized by the events of the two preceding days. McClellan said on the same day, in a dispatch to the Secretary of War: "The morale of my troops is now such that I can venture inuch. I do not fear odds against me."
4 Both titles aro correct, and yet the use of them ns synonyms in describing the battle would give an erroneous impression. In front of the place known as The Seven Pines, and at Fair Oaks Station-positions but a short distance apart-the heaviest engagements of the great battle were fought on the saine day, and partly by the same troops.
6 Among the National officers killed or disabled in this battle were Colonel Bailey and Major Van Valkenburg, of the artillery, and Colonels Riker, Brown, Ripley, and Miller, of the infantry. Among the wounded were Generals Naglee, Devens, Howard, and Wessels, and Colonel Cross, of the Fifth New Hampshire.
* This division, though composed in a large degree of raw troops, performed wonders of prowess, as wo have seen; yet, in consequence of misinformation, it was exposed to severe public censure by McClellan's first dispatch to the Secretary of War, in which he said that it “gave way unaccountably and discreditably." Convinced of his error, the General so informed the Secretary a fow days afterward, and, in a degree, made reparation for the injury.
JACKSON JOINS LEE NEAR RICHMOND.
not near the field, and scarcely knew what was going on there until all fighting had ceased on the second day.
For nearly a month after the battle just recorded, the Ariny of the Potomac lay along the line of the Chickahominy, a few miles from Richmond, in a very unhealthful situation,' quietly besieging the Confederate capital, and apparently preparing to take it by storm. In the mean time the Confederates concentrated their forces there for its defense. “Stonewall Jackson," having accomplished his purpose in the Shenandoah Valley, crossed the Blue Ridge, and, by a series of quick and inexplicable movements, made himself and his troops appear almost ubiquitous, and so puzzled the authorities at Washing
ton and the Generals in the field, that it seemed to them that he was as likely to be then sweeping down the Shenandoah Valley as to be moving toward Richmond. That he was somewhere between the Rappahannock and Shenandoah, and the city of Richmond, with thirty or forty thousand troops,
one could doubt.
“Neither McDowell, HOSPITAL AT FAIR OAK8.
who is at Manassas, nor Banks and Fremont, who are at Middletown,” the Secretary of War telegraphed to McClellan, so late as the 24th of June, “appear to have any accurate knowledge on the subject.” The fact was, that on the 17th Jackson commenced a march of his main body toward Richmond, leaving a brigade of cavalry and a battery at Harrisonburg, to watch the movements of the Nationals in the Valley, and on the 25th be arrived at Ashland, sixteen miles from Richmond, with about thirty-five thousand men, preparatory to a blow on McClellan's right. Robert E. Lee had succeeded Joseph E. Johnston in command of the Army of Northern Virginia, and was now 'concentrating his troops to resist McClellan.
The position of the Army of the Potomac was now peculiar and unfortunate, and required great skill and caution in its management. So long as it was inactive, it was necessary to hold a large force behind the Chickahominy, for the protection of its line of communication with its supplies at the
1 The tronps on the Richmond side of the Chickahominy were soon strongly intrenched in the vicinity of Fair Oaks and the Seven Pines. Keyes was on the extreme flank, by the White Oak swamp. On his right was Heintzelman, and still farther to the right Sumner occupied ground on both sides of the railway. Still farther to the right was the division of Franklin, that crossed on the 5th of June. The line presented nearly four miles of front. The line of intrenchments was at an average distance from Richmond, in a direct line, of about five miles. The country was mostly level. In wet weather a greater portion of it was a swamp, and in dry weather it was dotted with stagnant pools.
Fitz-John Porter's corps remained behind the Chickahominy, his right resting near Meadow Bridge, well up toward the Central Virginia railway-crossing, with Stoneman's cavalry scouting on his flank, to watch the approaches between him and the Pamunkey to the line of communication with the depot of supplies at the White House.
? In this picture a good representation is given of the army wagon, used by thousands during the war.
PUBLIC EXPECTATION DISAPPOINTED.
White House, on the Pamunkey. Had that base of supplies been changed to a point on the James River immediately after Rodgers drove the Confederate gun-boats to Richmond, and held that highway, it would doubtless have given a great advantage for maneuvering against that capital. Now, it was necessary, in order to move forward, either to thus change the base or to throw the entire army across the Chickahominy, vigorously attack the Confederate lines, and, if unsuccessful, then to make the base on the James, as was afterward done by. compulsion. This was the alternative presented to the Commander-in-Chief, and his habitual indecision, which seemed chronic in his character, caused a delay until his foe would no longer permit him to consider.
During the three weeks' siege of Richmond public expectation was kept constantly on the alert, by frequent assurances that the decisive battle would be fought “to-morrow.” On the 2d of June, the day when Hooker looked into Richmond, the Commander said: “I only wait for the river to fall to cross with the rest of the force and make a general attack.” Anxious to give him every possible support, the President ordered five regiments at Baltimore to join him; placed the disposable force at Fortress Monroe at his service, and notified him that McCall's division of McDowell's corps would be sent to him by water from Fredericksburg as speedily as possible. In reference to that notification the General said in a dispatch :* “ I shall be in perfect readiness to move forward and take Richmond the moment McCall reaches here, and the ground will admit the pas
a June 7, sage of artillery."
The loyal people were delighted by this assurance; and when it was known that McCall's forces had arrived at the White House, a few days later, they expected immediate intelligence of the fall of Richmond, for word had come that Jackson and Ewell had just been fighting Fremont and Shields near the upper Shenandoah, so that these forces were yet withheld from Lee. But already McClellan had telegraphed the dampening intelligence—“I am completely checked by the weather. The Chickahominy is in a dreadful state; we have another rain-storm on our hands.” In the same dispatch there was a sentence ominous of an indefinite delay. It ran thus—“I present for your consideration the propriety of detaching largely from Halleck's army [in the Mississippi Valley] to strengthen this”-an operation that would require two or three weeks at least. The Secretary of War gave him cordial assurance of his desire to give him every possible aid, and informed him that preparations were made for sending to him the remainder of McDowell's corps, that officer being directed to co-operate fully with him. But the terms of that co-operation, which was simply that McDowell should retain an inde
6 June 12, 18.
© June 10.
1 It seems proper here to remark that in his Report, made more than a year later, General McClellan says that a dispatch to him, received from the Secretary of War on the 15th of May, inforining him that McDowell had been ordered to m:rch to his assistance by the shortest route from Fredericksburg, rendered it impossible for him to use the James River as a line of operations. " It forced me,” he said, “ to establish our depots on the Pamunkey, and approach Richmond from the north.” It was eleven days before that dispatch was sent that Rodgers went up to Drewry's Bluff; and General Barnard, the Chief Engineer of the Army of the Potomac, says that the decision to make “the depot of supplies on the Pamunkey, and approach Richmond from the north,” was made at Roper's Church, on the 11th, or ten days before the receipt of the dispatch from the Secretary of War.
? See pages 896 and 897,
pendent command, were so offensive to McClellan that he answered—“If I cannot control all of his troops I want none of them, and would prefer to fight the battle with what I have, and let others be responsible for the result.”
This dispatch was written just after a most mortifying event had occurred. General J. E. B. Stuart, one of the most active of the Confederate cavalry officers, had on that and the previous day made a circuit entirely
around the Army of the Potomac, with fifteen hundred cavalry and four pieces of horse artillery. He attacked and dispersed two squadrons of the Fifth Regular Cavalry at Hanover Old Church, under Captain Royall, and sweeping around almost to the White House, by Tunstall's Station, seized and burned fourteen wagons and two schooners laden with forage at Garlick's Landing, above the White House, on the Pamunkey; captured and carried away one hundred and sixty-five prisoners, and two hundred and sixty mules and horses; rested three bours, and during the night crossed the Chickahominy, near
the Forge Bridge, on hastily provided ones, and then leisurely returned to Richmond, on the morning of the 15th, by the Charles City road. This was the first of many similar but far more destructive raids, by both parties during the war. It produced great commotion in the Army of the Potomac, but on the night of the 14th, McClellan reported “all quiet in every direction.”
For ten days longer all was quiet on the Chickahominy; but during that time the Confederates were taking measures to strike a blow at the Army of the Potomac, which, when it was given, came near being a fatal one. Stuart's raid was more a reconnoissance for information than an expedition for destruction. It was determined to draw Jackson quietly from the Shenandoah Valley, and have him suddenly and unexpectedly strike the right flank of McClellan's army near Mechanicsville, and uncover the passage of that stream, when a heavy force would join him, sweep down the left side of the Chickahominy toward the York River, and seize the communications of the
J. E. B. STUART.
1 Dispatch to the Secretary of War, June 14, 1862. In that angry dispatch he made an ungenerous insinu. ation of inordinate ambition on the part of a brother officer. McDowell had politely telegraphed to him his desire to have McCall's division of his own corps placed so as to join him immediately on his arrival. Because of this request, which was in accordance with orders from the War Department on the 8th, the angry General said—" I do not feel that, in such circumstances as these under which I am now placeil, General McDowell should wish the general interest to be sacrificed for the purpose of increasing his command." Already loyal newspapers had intimnted that it was possible that MeDowell might take Richinond without waiting for Mc. Clellan, but there is no evidence that the former had any such intentions. Nor could the latter have been moved by such purely personal considerations, for in the same dispatch he said, “ you know I have none."
? Portions of the First, Fourth, and Ninth Virginia cavalry, and two squadrons of the Jeff. Daris Leglun.