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son's corps, summoned from the Valley, to not far from 70,000 men. In order to mask this concentration, Whiting's division, consisting of Hood's Texas brigade and his own, had been sent off from Richmond to Jackson; to whom also the brigade of Lawton had been ordered up from the South. When all things were ripe, Jackson moved, by order, rapidly and secretly from the Valley to Ashland, facing our extreme right, whence he was directed to advance" so as to flank our right, holding Mechanicsville. Moving on at 3 next morning," he was directed to connect with Gen. Branch, immediately south of the Chickahominy, who was to cross that stream and advance on Mechaniesville; while Gen. A. P. Hill, lower down, was to cross near Meadow Bridge so soon as Branch's movement was discovered, and move directly upon Mechaniesville, where on the Rebel batteries on the southern bluffs of the Chickahominy were to open ; Longstreet's division following in support of Hill, while D. H. Hill's in like manner supported Jackson; thus only Huger's and Magruder's divisions were left in front of our left and center, immediately before Richmond.
Jackson was unable to reach Ashland quite so soon as had been anticipated; Bo that A. P. Hill did not cross the stream to attack us till 3 p. M." His advance had been discovered three hours before; so that our pickets were called in before it, and the regiment and battery holding Mechaniesville fell back, fighting, on a strong position across Beaver Dam creek. Here Gen. McCall's Pennsylvania Reserves, which had recently been sent down to reenforce "June 25.
Advancing rapidly and resolutely, in the face of a destructive tire, which they could not effectively return, the leading brigades of A. P. Hill's, and ultimately of D. H. Hill's and Longstreet's divisions, attacked our position and attempted to turn our left, but were repulsed with fearful carnage. Jackson being vainly expected to arrive and assail our right, it was not turned; and night fell on a decided and animating success of our mainly green soldiers, though the fi<rlitin<; did not cease till after dark, and the Rebels remained in force not far from our front. Our total loss in r
this affair had been less than 400; ■while that of the Rebels must have been many times larger; and when, near the close of the battle, fresh troops came up to relieve the exulting Reserves, they refused to give place, but, replenishing their ammunition, lay down on their arms to await the encounter of the morrow.
Before daylight." however, an order from Gen. McClellan (who had learned, meantime, that Jackson was approaching) directed the evacuation of their strong position, and a retreat to Gaines's Mill—an order easy of execution had it arrived three or four hours earlier, but very difficult now, as the Rebel attack was renewed a few minutes afterward. The Rebels were repulsed, however, though our men were retiring at the time; Meade's, Griffin's, Reynolds's, and Morell's commands moving steadily off the field as if on parade; our dead all buried, our wounded and arms brought away, with the loss of no caisson, hardly of a musket, by a little after 7 A. M.; leaving the Rebels unaware for the moment that there was no longer an enemy before them. Before noon, each regiment and battery had taken up the new position assigned it, at Gaines's Mill, and was ready to receive the now eagerly advancing Rebels. Meantime, our trains and siege-guns had, by order, been sent off across the Chickahominy during the night.
Gen. McClellan had been" with Fitz-John Porter, behind the Mechanicsville defenses, at 10 p. M.—an hour after the triumphant and sanguinary repulse of their assailants. Four hours later, he sent orders for their prompt evacuation. This he
must have done under the correct impression that they were about to be overwhelmingly assailed in front by the Hills and Longstreet, and in flank by the yet fresh division of Jackson. In other words, it was now plain that the Rebel chiefs had resolved to precipitate the bulk of their force on our right wing, crushing it back on our center by the sheer momentum of their columns.
This striking a great army on one end, and rolling it up on itself in inextricable confusion, carnage, and rout, is no novelty in warfare. The Allied Emperors tried, it on Napoleon at Austerlitz; our strategists attempted it on the Rebels at first Bull Run. It is a critical manceuver; but likely to succeed, provided your antagonist passively awaits its consummation. (" Hunting the tiger, gentlemen," explained the returned East Indian to his associates at the United Service Club, "is capital sport—capital— unless the tiger turn3 to hunt you; when it becomes rather too exciting.")
Gen. McClellan, as usual, believed the Rebels were assailing or threatening him with twice as many men as they had, supposing them to have 175,000 to 200,000 troops in his front; when they never, from the beginning to the end of the war, had so many as 100,000 effectives concentrated in a single army, or within a day's march. Even had he been outnumbered, as he supposed, by a Rebel force on either flank nearly or quite equal to his whole army, he should have quietly and rapidly concentrated, and struck one of those assailants before it could be supported by the other. Had he chosen thus to rush upon Richmond, on the morning
BATTLE OP GAINES'S MILL.
of the 2Gth, directing Porter to make as imposing a demonstration and detain the enemy as long as he could, then to withdraw across the Chickahominy with the least possible loss, burn the bridges, and defend the passage till night-fall, he might have gone right over the 25,0u0 Rebels between him and Richmond, taken that city, and then turned in overwhelming force on the 50,000 Rebels in his rear, pressing Porter. But, deceived and faint-hearted, he stood perplexed and hesitating between the real and overwhelming attack on his right and the imposing but hollow succession of feints and alarms on his left, letting two-thirds of Lee's entire force crush one third of his own, while 60,000 good men and true stood idle between the Chickahominy and Richmond, watching and guarding against 25,000 Rebels. Only Slocum's division of Sumner's corps was seasonably sent to the aid of Porter, raising his total force to harely 35.000 men, who were to resist the desperate efforts of 50,000 Rebels, directed by Lee, and led on to assault our position by Longstreet, the Hills, Stonewall Jackson, and Ewell.
Though the Rebels had quickly diseerned and sharply pursued our withdrawal from the Mechanicsville defenses, arriving in front of our new position soon after noon," it was 2 P. M. before A. P. Hill, who had been awaiting Jackson's arrival, advanced and opened the battle. The Rebels were received with heroic bravery by Sykes'a regulars, who confronted them, by whose fire they were staggered and temporarily repulsed. Meantime, Longstreet, who
had been ordered to make a feint on our left, had perceived the necessity of converting that feint into a determined attack; but, before his dispositions had been completed, Jackson arrived and formed his division on Longstreet's left; while D. H. Hill, on the extreme Rebel left, had forced his way through a swamp and some abatis, driving out our skirmishers; and now Ewell came into action on Jackson's right, and two of Jackson's brigades were Bent to the relief of A. P. Hill, who was being worsted. Lee's whole force being thus brought into action, a general advance from left to right was ordered and made, under a terrific fire of cannon and musketry from both sides.
Porter had a strong position, on ground rising gradually from the ravine of an inconsiderable stream, screened in part by trees and underbrush, with Morell's and Sykes's divisions in front, and McCall's forming a second line behind them; and his cavalry, under P. St. George Cooke, in the valley of the Chickahominy, watching for a Rebel advance in that quarter. The siegeguns of Porter's corps, which had been withdrawn across the Chickahominy during the night, were planted in battery on the right bank of that stream, so as to check the advance of the Rebel right, and prevent their turning our left. Porter was unaccountably in want of axes, wherewith to cover his front and right with abatis; his request for them to Gen. Barnard not reaching McClellan till too late. "When he next called, they were furnished, but without helves; and, while these were being supplied, the opportunity for using axes was PORTER DEFEATED
17 June 27
AT GAIXES'S MILL. 157
lost little ground, telegraphed again to McOIellan that his position was critical, when French's and Meagher's brigades of the 2d corps were ordered to cross to his support. They moved promptly and rapidly; but, before they could reach the held, the Rebels, rallying all their forces, just at sunset, for a last desperate effort, had stormed our intrenchments both on the left and on the right, and driven back their defenders with mutual carnage, capturing several of our guns.
Porter, seeing his infantry beaten, now called into action all his reserved and remaining artillerv, and thus bringing at once about 80 guns into action, was covering the retreat of his infantry and dealing fearful retribution on their assailants, whose advance was suddenly checked; when Gen. Cooke, without orders, undertook to charge, with a battalion of cavalry, the right ilank of the Rebels advancing on our left, and still covered in good part by woods. This charge being met by a withering fire of musketry, amidst the roar of a hundred belching cannon, resulted in instant rout: the frightened horses, whether with or without the consent of their ridere, wheeling abruptly and crashing through our batteries: leading our gunners to suppose, for the moment, that they were charged by regiments of Rebel horse. "To this alone," says Fitz-John Porter, in his report, "is to be attributed our failure to hold the field, and to bring off all our guns and wounded."
In another moment, the cheering shouts of French's and Morell's men were heard, as they advanced rapidly
"Qen. Jockson officially reports the losses of his corps in this battle at 589 killed, 2,«71
to the front. Rallying behind these two fresh brigades, our wearied, decimated regiments advanced up the hill down which they had recently been driven, ready to meet a fresh attack, had one been attempted. But the enemy, perceiving that they were confronted by fresh combatants, and not knowing our force, halted for the night on the field they had so hardly won.
During that night, our forces were by order withdrawn, unmolested, across the Chickahominy, losing three guns, that were run off a bridge into the stream, in addition to 19 that they had left on the battle-field.
Our loss in this action, though not specifically rsported, probably exceeded 0,000 killed and wrounded: among the former were Cols. Samuel W. Black, 62d Pa., McLean, of the 83d, Gove, of the 22d Mass., Maj. N. B. Rossell, 3d regular infantry, and many other brave and valuable officers. The 11th Pennsylvania Reserves, Col. Gallagher, and 4th Js". J., Col. Simpson, while enveloped in the smoke of battle, having too long maintained their position in the farthest front, found themselves at last completely enveloped by overwhelming forces of the enemy, and compelled to surrender; and Gen. John F. Reynolds, of the 1st brigade of Reserves, with his Adjutant, Capt. Charles Kingsbury, were taken prisoners just at dark, riding into a Rebel regiment, which they supposed to be one of their own. Altogether, our losses in this desperate action were hardly less than 8,000 men; those of the Rebels being probably about two-thirds as many."
j wounded, and 24 missing: total, 3,284. The 'other division and corps commanders make no