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not of much account; and even their commander did not consider the matter serious until a vedette reported the enemy advancing in force, about the same moment that two shells came hissing over their heads; when, dropping the axes and spades wherewith they were felling trees for abatis and digging rifle-pitB, our soldiers at the front hurriedly stood to their arms as our pickets came running in.
Gen. Casey promptly sent forward Spratt's battery of 4 3-inch rifled guns to a position in front of his rifle-pits, and ordered up Gen. Naglee's infantry brigade, consisting of the 56th and 100th New York, 11th Maine, and 104th Pennsylvania, to its support; while he disposed his 7 remaining regiments and 3 batteries on cither side of a small redoubt, which he had hastily constructed, expecting to hold his ground until the arrival of reenforcements; and ordered his artillery to open on the advancing enemy.
But the odds were too great. The three brigades of Rhodes, Garland, and Anderson, were immediately in his front; while that of Rains, by a flank movement, was coming in on his left. The 104th Pennsylvania, which he had sent forward to the support of his pickets, came rushing back in confusion, and went to the rear in disorder, having lost heavily by the Rebel fire; and, though musketry and artillery were doing fearful execution on either side, it was plain that we must soon be overwhelmed.
Seeing that the enemy were closing in on him on both wings, Gen. Casey ordered Gen. Naglee, with what remained of his brigade, to charge bay
onets and drive them back; which was done, but under a musketry fire that mowed down our men by hundreds. Here fell Col. James M. Brown, of the 100th New York, and Col. Davis, of the 104th Pennsylvania, whose Major also was mortally wounded; and, our flanks being again enveloped, Rains having gained the rear of our redoubt, and firing thence on the flank of our infantry, Casey's division was driven back in disorderly retreat upon Couch, with the loss of G guns. Col. G. D. Bailey, Major Van Valkenburg, and Adjt. Ramsey, of the 1st New York artillery, were killed, while endeavoring to save the guns in the redoubt; which were t'.ie next moment seized by Rhodes, and turned upon our flying columns. To the credit of this shattered division be it recorded, that, under a fearful enfilading fire from Rains, in addition to that thundered on their rear from Rhodes, they brought off" three-fourths of our guns.
The storm of battle now fell upon the 93d Pennsylvania, Col. McCarter, 55th New York, Lt.-Col. Thourot, 23d Pennsylvania, Col. NeilJ, and 61st, Col. Rippey, of Couch's division, who were sent forward by Keyes to the relief of Casey, on the right, where they fought gallantly and lost heavily. The 7th Massachusetts, Col. Russell, and 62d New York, Col. J. L. Riker, were afterward sent to reenforce them; but were pressed back upon Fair Oaks by the enemy's overpowering advance, and there, uniting with the 1st U. S. Chasseurs, Col. John Cochrane, and 31st Pennsylvania, Col. Williams, held their ground until the advance of Gen. Sumner's corps, which had with great difficulty made 1-15
SUMNER'S CORPS BAVES THE DAY.
its way across the swollen Chickahominy, checked the Rebel advance in that direction.
Brig.-Gen. Peck, who held the left of Couch's position, had been divested of most of his regiments aforesaid, which were successively ordered up to the front by Couch or Keyes, until, at 4£ p. M., he led the 102d Pennsylvania, Col. Rowley, and 93d, Col. McCarter, to the aid of our crumbling right, and was for half an hour sharply engaged with the triumphant enemy near Seven Pines, losing some ground, but encamping very near his field of conflict.
Ileintzelman was promptly summoned to the aid of Couch; but there was an unaccounted-for delay in the reception of the message, and some of his regiments did not rush to the front quite so impetuously as a good portion of Couch's, especially the 55th New York (De Trobriand's Frenchmen), made tracks for the rear. It was a quarter past 3 o'clock before Ileintzelman came fairly into the fight; Jamison's Maine and Berry's Michigan brigades eagerly pushing to the front
On the Rebel left, Gen. Smith's attack was delayed by Johnston, who was there in person, until 4 P. it., listening for the sound of Longstreet's musketry, which, for some atmospheric reason, he failed to hear. It was now too late for complete success, though his men fought desperately. The Richmond and York River Railroad, near its crossing of the Nine-mile road, runs for a considerable distance on an embankment 4 or 5 feet high, forming an effective breastwork, behind which onr men held stubbornly and fought gallantly.
Gen. Abercrombie, with live regiments, was at Fair Oaks (the crossing aforesaid), instructed to hold the position at all hazards. Here fell Gen. C. Devens, severely wounded; while of the Gist Pennsylvania, Col. Rippey, Lt.-Col. Spear, and Maj. Smith fell dead, and 27 of the line officers were either killed or wounded; and near this point, at sunset, Gen. Jo. Johnston, the Rebel Commander-in-chief, was struck in the side by a shell and badly wounded, breaking two ribs in falling from his horse, so that he was disabled for service for several months. Gen. G. W. Smith succeeded him in command; but lie was very soon disabled by a paralytic stroke, and removed from the field. One of the last Rebel charges on this part of the field was led by Jefferson Davis in person.
Hearing vaguely of trouble on the left, McClellan, still at New Bridge, had ordered Sumner, who had Sedgwick's and Richardson's divisions, to cross to the relief of Couch; and Sedgwick, with the advance, reached the field on our right an hour and a half before sunset, just as the triumphant Rebels had turned Couch's left, interposing between him and Heintzelrnan (who, in coming up, had swayed to the right), with intent to sever and defeat our two corps on the south of the Chickahominy. But Sedgwick, advancing rapidly, interposed at the critical moment, and, forming in line of battle in tho edge of a wood, with a large open field in his front, commenced a fire of canister from his 24 guns on tho head of the enemy's advancing column, which staggered it; and then, moving forward his whole division in line of battle, he completely swept the field, recovering much of the ground that had been lost. At nightfall, Richardson's division, having also crossed over, came up on the left of Sedgwick, connecting with Birney's brigade of Ileintzelman's corps on his left; thus making all secure in that quarter.
At 6 P. M., Abercrombie, farther to our right, still desperately fighting, had been compelled to give ground, and seemed about to be enveloped by an overwhelming force; when the long-expected succor arrived. Gorman's brigade, leading Sedgwick's division, deployed into line of battle along the crest of a hill in the rear of Fair Oaks, and advanced down a gentle slope to the iield where Col. Cochrane's IT. S. Chasseurs and Neill's 23d Pennsylvania were fighting against heavy odds. At this moment, a furious enfilading fire of musketry was received on our right, indicating an effort to turn us on that flank, and repeat the sharp lesson of Casey's disaster. Gen. Sedgwick instantly directed Gen. Burns to deploy the 69th and 72d Pennsylvania to the right, himself holding the 71st and 106th in support of Gorman. The Rebels attacked with great fury, stampeding two or three battery teams, so that for a moment our lines
'Gen. McClellan, in his elaborate report on this campaign, after relating Gen. Sumner's arrival on the battle-field, with Sedgwick's division, says:
"The leading regiment (1st Minnesota, Col. Sully) was immediately deployed to the i ight of Couch to protect the flank, and the rest of the division formed in line of battle; Kirov's battery near the center, in an angle of the woods. Ouo of Gen. Conch's regiments was Bent to open communication with Gen. Heintzelman. No sooner were these dispositions m:ide, than the enemy catne on in strong force, and opened a heavy fire along the line He made several charges, but was repulsed with great loss, by
seemed to waver; but Burns's calm, full-voiced order, "Steady, men, steady 1" evoked a thundering cheer, followed by volley after volley of musketry, under which the enemy advanced steadily, and were charging Kirby's battery, when he poured into their close ranks a murderous fire of canister, which sent them rapidly to the woods in their rear.
Meanwhile, Dana's brigade had come into line on Gorman's left, and the Rebels renewed, as darkness fell, their attempt to outflank our right, extending their left farther and farther; but in vain. Gens. Sumner, Sedgwick, Dana, whose horse was killed under him, Burns, and Gorman, each exerted himself to the utmost to animate and encourage their men. Dana's wing was gradually advanced as the Rebels extended their left, and the battle swayed more and more to our right, until our line was nearly at right angles with that on which we had been fighting two hours before. And thus the fight raged on until after 8 o'clock; when the Rebels desisted and fell back, leaving us in undisputed possession of the ground whereon the final struggle was made.*
Sumner's heavier artillery had been left stalled in the swamps of the Chickahominy, as his infantry hur
the steady fire of the infantry and the splendid practice of tho battery. After sustaining the enemy's tiro for a considerable time, Gin. Sumner ordered live regiments (the 34th New York, Col. Smith, 82d New York, Lt-Col. Hudson, 15th Massachusetts, Lt.-Col. Kimball, 20th Massachusetts, Col. Lee, 7th Michigan. Waj. Richardson, the three former of Gen. Gorman's brigade, tho two latter of (Ion. Dana's brigade) to advance and charge with bayonet. This charge was executed in tho most brilliant manner. Our troops, springing ovor two fences which were between them and the enemy, rushed upon his lines, and drove him in confusion from that part of the field. Darkness now ended the buttle for that day."
McCLELLAN PAILS TO IMPROVE HIS OPPORTUNITY. 147
ried forward to the battle. It was extricated during: the night, brought forward, and properly posted by morning; when Gen. McClellan also had arrived; but, alas! without the corps of Fitz-Jolm Porter and Franklin, which, could they but have come up on the Xew Bridge road during the night, might have converted Casey's demolition into a Rebel overthrow. It does not appear that even
"Gcii. McClellan, in his report, states that the still rising- Chickahominy floated the log-way approaches to Gen. Sumner's brigade, after that officer had crossed his corps, so as to render them impassible j hence he [McClellan] was obliged to send his hor.se around by Bottom's Bridge, six miles below, in returning to Ills headquarters. He adds:
"The approaches to New and Mechauicsville bridges were also overflowed, and both of them were enlila&ed by the enemy's batteries established upon, commanding bights on the opposite aide. These batteries were supported by strong forces of the enemy, having numerous ride-pits in their front, which would have made it necessary, even had the approaches been in Hie best possible condition, to have fought a sanguinary battle, with but little prospect of success, liefore a passage could have been secured.
"The only available means, therefore, of uniting our forces ut Fair Oaks, for an advance on Richmond soon after the buttle, was to march the troops from Meehanicsville, and other points on the left bank of the Chickahominy, down to Bottom's Bridge, and thence over the Williamsburg road to the position near Fair Oaks, a distance of about twenty-three (2:i) miles. In the condition of the roads at that time, this march could not have been m.ido with artillery in less than two days ; by which time the enemy would have been secure within his inirenchtnents around Richmond."
It is hard for non-military readers to appreciate admiringly the Generalship which confessedly exposes one wing of an army for two days to the entire force of its adversary, without assistance in any form from tiio other. If there bo any military reason why Gen. McClellan should have thrown two corps across the Chiekahommy on his left, within a few miles of Richmond, without 6'imultaneously, or for five nays thereafter, pushing over his right also, and seizing the commanding hights which were enWaded by the enemy's batteries, no indications of them appear in his report: which, with reference to following up our advantage of the 1st, naively says:
an attempt was made to bring them forward.10
In the morning," McClellan awaited an attack, which he says was made at 6 A. M., on the left of Sumner's corps, by Gen. Pickett, supported by Gen. Roger A. Pryor's brigade of Iluger's division; to which French's brigade, on our side, stood opposed. The fight between them was noisy, but not very bloody: due caution and
"An advance involving the separation of the two wings by the impassable Chickahominy would have exposed each to defeat in detail.'
That Gen. McClellan greatly over-estimated the Btrength of the Rebel batteries and their supports opposite Fitz-John Porter and Franklin, and the difficulty of crossing there, is mado plain by his dispatch, four days later, to the War Department, as follows:
"HEADQUARTERS AtlMY OF THE POTOMAC, [
"nkw Bridge, June 5, 1802. J "Rained most of tho night: has now ceased, but is not clear. Tho river still very high and troublesome. Enemy opened with sevoial batteries on our bridges near hore this morning: our batteries seem to have pretty much silenced them, though some firing still kept up. The rain forces us to remain in statu yuo. With great difficulty, a division of infantry has been crossed this morning to support the troops on tho other side, should the enemy renew attack. I felt obliged to do this, although it leaves us rather weak here. G. B. Mcclellan*,
"Major-General Commanding. "Hon. E. M. Stanton, Secret try of War.''
Gen. J. G. Barnard, chief engineer, in his report of tho campaign, says:
"The repulse of tho Rebels at Fair Oaks should have been taken advantage of. It was one of those occasions which, if not seized, do not repeat themselves. We now know the state of disorganization and dismay in which tho Itebel army retreated. Wc now know that it could have been followed into Richmond. Had it been so, there would have been no resistance to overcome to bring over our right wing. Although we did not then know all that we now do, it was obvious at that time that, when the Rebels struck the blow at our left wing, they did not leave any means in their hands unused to secure success. It was obvious enough that they struck with their whole force; and yet we repulsed them in disorder with three-fifths of ours. We should havo followed them up at tiie same time that wo brought over the other twofifths."