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PATRICK HENRY'S BIRTH PLACE.
“Gaines' Farm.”_Liberty Hall.–Battle of Seven Pines.-Fair Oaks.—Rapid rise of the Chickahominy.--The Gaines Estate. -An aged Negro.—Golden's Farm.-Camp Lincoln.—Letter from an Officer.
DAVIDSON's brigade again moved from Beaver Dam Creek, on the 26th of May, down the left bank of the Chickahominy (the enemy throwing a few shells at them as they marched), and encamped on “Gaines' Farm,” where they remained until the 5th of June, performing picket duty and building corduroy roads. Not far from here was "Liberty Hall," where Patrick Henry was born, May 29, 1736. The building, which his father had used as a grammar school; was now appropriated for a National Hospital, and the little farm on which Patrick had commenced life in company with his young wife, the daughter of a neighboring farmer, occupied by our troops.
General Keyes' corps, followed by that of General Heintzelman, had now crossed the Chickahominy, the remainder of the army still resting on the left bank. General Casey's division held the extreme
BATTLE OF SEVEN PINES.
advance; his pickets being within five iniles of Richmond. Relying upon the sudden and rapid rise of the river preventing our crossing over more troops, Gen'l Johnston, then commander of the rebel forces,
Liberty Hall, Birth-place of Patrick Henry. hurled his whole army upon these two corps on the morning of the 31st, with the expectation of annihilating them. Casey's Division, which bore the brunt of the attack, was forced back from their rifle-pits and second line of battle, after fighting for several hours and losing 1,443 men.
The courageous Sumner, who, notwithstanding the freshet, had crossed his corps, now drove fiercely at the enemy, and saved the left wing from destruction. Yet the whole force was obliged to fall back nearly two miles, owing to the overwhelming numbers and impetuous onslaught of the rebels. Here they maintained their ground, refusing to yield an inch
BATTLE OF FAIR OAKS.
more, and the fighting ended for the day. This was known as the battle of Seven Pines.
The enemy renewed the conflict on the morrow, attacking General Sumner at “Fair Oaks,” from which the second day's struggle derives its name. They were everywhere repulsed, and compelled to retreat back to their stronghold, followed by our victorious troops to within four miles of the capital, when, for a second time, it was given up for lost. “The enemy," wrote General McClellan to the Secretary of War, after the close of the contest, "attacked in force, and with great spirit, yesterday morning, but are everywhere most signally repulsed with great loss. Our troops charged frequently on both days, and uniformly broke the enemy. The result is, that our left is within four miles of Richmond. I only wait for the river to fall to cross with the rest of the force and make a general attack. Should I find them holding firm in a very strong position, I may wait for what troops I can bring up from Fort Monroe. But the morale of my troops is now such that I can venture much. I do not fear for odds against me. The victory is complete, and all credit is due to the gallantry of our officers and men.”
The Thirty-third, at the commencement of the conflict, was doing picket duty near one of the bridges which were being constructed over the Chickahominy. So sudden was the rise in the river, that the force which proceeded at two o'clock Sunday morning to relieve the pickets stationed near 112
THE GAINES ESTATE.
the bridge three hours previous, found them nearly surrounded with water. Some were standing up to their arm-pits in the now new channel, and others, having lost their footing, were clinging to trees, for dear life. Boats were obtained, and they were rescued from their perilous position. At 3 o'clock, General Brooks came down to the river with his Brigade, the second in Smith's Division-Davidson's being the third, and Hancock's the first,— to cross over and render what assistance he could on the opposite side. By this time the bridge was most of it swept away, and the General, instead of attempting to cross, set his men to repairing it. At sunrise the river had overflowed to the width of half a mile, and he experienced much difficulty in getting his troops back to dry land again. All day Sunday the heavy roar of artillery and sharp firing of musketry could be heard. Just at night, General McClellan, accompanied by General Hancock, rode down to the right of the Thirty-third, where they remained until dark, watching the progress of the battle.
Dr. Gaines, the owner of the farm on which the Regiment was now encamped, possessed one of the finest estates in Virginia. One wheat field alone comprised four hundred and fifty acres. In the rear of his dwelling, furnished in the most costly manner, was a picturesque grove, which furnished a cool retreat for the officers during the intense heat of the mid-day. In front was an extensive garden, abounding in flowers and shrubs of native and foreign