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CH. XIV.]
THE CHICKAHOMINY CROSSED.

163 House, about five miles above, on the but Davis and his aiders and abettors river, at the head of navigation, with a were not disposed to yield an inch. connection, by the York River Railroad, Davis declared “that if, in the course with Richmond, had been abandoned of events, Richmond should fall-the by the rebels a few days before, on the necessity for which he did not see or approach of General Stoneman, who anticipate that would be no reason took possession of the place. It thence for withdrawing the army from Virforward was used as a permanent base ginia. The war could still be success for the landing of supplies during the fully maintained on Virginia soil for campaign,-supplies, which, we may twenty years." here mention, to the disgrace of those The left wing of the army, formed of concerned, were furnished with a lavish the corps of Keyes and Heintzelman, ness and prodigality hard to explain or led the way, as above stated, on the excuse.

19th of May, toward the Chickahominy Ou the morning of Monday, the 19th at Bottom's Bridge; the centre, Sum. of May, our army directed its course ner's corps, followed the line of the westward towards Richmond, the cap- railroad; and the right, consisting of

of which was so eagerly and, in Franklin's and Porter's corps, pursued measure, unreasonably longed for at the a course to the northwest. Stoneman, North, and the defence of which was so with his caralry, was in the advance. fixedly resolved upon by the rebels who The bridge over the Chickahominy was held it under their sway. It was too im. partly destroyed, but there was no reportant to their interests lightly to yield sistance made to the crossing of Stone. it; and hence men like Jeff. Davis, Gen. man, who reconnoitred the country Joe Johnson, and Stonewall Jackson, abore, preparatory to the right wing's gave all their ability and all their advance. On the 20th, the centre and energy to devise ways and means for left were at the Chickahominy, near repelling the advancing forces under the railroad bridge, and the next day McClellan.

the right encamped at Coal Harbor, “Recent disaster," it is true, as Davis where McClellan established head-quarsaid, “has spread gloom over the land, ters, about three miles from the river, and sorrow sits at the hearthstones of at New Bridge. our countrymen ; but a people, consci. On the 25th of May, Keyes' and ous of rectitude and faithfully relying Heintzelman's corps had crossed the on their Father in heaven, may be cast river, while on the right an important down, but cannot be dismayed.” Fort reconnaissance, followed by the capture Pula ki had been lost. New Orleans of the place, had been pushed to Mewas captured. Norfolk and Yorktown chanicsville, a village near the Chickahad been abandoned. The Merrimac hominy, five miles west of Coal Harbor, had been destroyed by their own hands. and about the same distance from Rich. In almost every direction gloom and mond. The corps of Keyes on the left despondency seemed to preponderate ; | held the advance beyond the Chicka hominy, being encamped on both sides Everything, however, was pushed on of the railroad, in the vicinity of Seven diligently, and only the completion of Pines and Fair Oaks, and the corps of the bridges was waited for in order to Heintzelman was in their, rear also along secure a perfect co-operation of the the railroad, in the neighborhood of whole army, and thus bring the enemy Savage's Station.

to a decisive engagement. A general In the advance in this quarter, Casey order was issued by McClellan, on the held the front, with his division, about 25th of May, requiring the troops 4,000 men, nearly all raw troops. His beyond the Chickahominy to hold them. force was stationed, the last week in selves in readiness for battle at a moMay, in the immediate presence of the ment's notice. Just on the eve, howenemy, within six miles of Richmond, ever, of the approaching great contest his pickets extending to within five near Richmond, McClellan received in. miles of that city. Couch s division of formation respecting a rebel force in Keyes' corps was next behind on the the vicinity of Hanover Court House, railroad. A line of pickets was ex- which might seriously endanger our tended across the narrow angle made communications, or interfere with Mc by the railroad and the river, the gene- Dowell's expected, and anxiously lookral lines of the left and right wings of ed for junction. By the com the army to the vicinity of New Bridge, general's direction, Fitz John Porter set the distance across between railroad out, early on the morning of the 27th of and river being about three miles. To May, to dislodge or defeat this force, secure the communication between the said to consist of North Carolina troops two wings, a large number of the troops from Newbern, under the rebel Gene

skilled in such labors, were ral Branch. Near Hanover Court 2. actively engaged in building House Porter drove the rebels, who, bridges across the Chickahominy, having been reinforced, made an attack which separated the two portions of the on the rear of our force. Porter tben army. The labors in this service were faced about and routed them completeexcessive, and pursued under peculiar ly.* The rebel force was estimated at difficulties, from the uncertain nature 8,000, of which more than 200 were of the stream, liable to sudden increase killed and between 700 and 800 made from rains, and always embarrassing prisoners. Our loss was reported at from the swamps and quicksands in 53 killed and 300 wounded and misswhich the structure must be built. The ing. McClellan spoke in the highest weather was bad, the roads muddy in terms of Porter's success, as not only proportion, and the water was, for the having dispersed Branch’s divisiva, ut season, unusually high in the river.* more especially as clearing and entirely Cu. XIV.1

* McClellan, in his report, says: “In view of the relieving the right flank of the army. peculiar character of the Chickahominy, and the liability of the bottom lands to sudden inundations, it * The railroad bridge over the South Anna was de became necessary to construct, between Bottom's stroyed by our men on the 27th of May. This was on Bridge and Mechanicsville, eleven new bridges, all long the direct line of communication between Fredericks and difficult, with extensive log-way approaches.” burg and Richmond.

MCDOWELL WITHDRAWN FROM MOCLELLAN.

165

McClellan had felt all along, .very day he wrote: “the president's order keeply, the being deprived of McDow- has been received, and is in process of ell's support, (see p. 138), and he was execution. This is a crushing blow to now hoping every day to have that us." Mr. Lincoln sent him word that general's aid and co-operation in view “every thing now depended on the of the direct assault to be made upon celerity and vigor of his movements, Richmond.* The government, on the to which McDowell answered, plainly 17th of May; ordered McDowell, with expressing his doubt as to the success Shields's division taken from Banks, to of the proposed movement. move toward Richmond and join Mc- President Lincoln, in virtue of his Clellan; at the same time he was to office, was commander-in-chief of the keep careful watch, and be ready to army and navy of the United States ; meet any sudden dash or attack upon and though he had no acquaintance Washington. The rebel General John. with military or naval science, yet he ston and his advisers seemed to under was full of anxious care on the subject. stand the position of affairs very well, He was eager in urging forward mat. and they knew that it was of the ters, and was greatly distressed in reutmost importance to them that Mc- gard to military movements in Virginia, Dowell should be kept at a distance just at this time. There was a sort of from Richmond. With great shrewd. terror hanging over him and others at ness, they resolved to dispatch Jackson Washington, lest the capital should be for the purpose of making a bold and suddenly assaulted and taken by the rapid raid upon Banks, being assured, rebels, and notwithstanding his deep apparently, that this would so frighten regard and respect for McClellan, he the authorities at Washington that did not trust to the judgment of the McDowell's further advance would be commandiny-general, and his positive immediately stopped, and McClellan's assurance that, if McDowell

862. calculations, based upon his co-opera- came at once to his assistance, tion, rendered void.

Richmond was sure to fall. On the The rebel plan was well laid. On 25th of May, Mr. Lincoln sent to Mcthe 24th of May, McDowell was order. Clellan, saying: “I think the time is ed to hasten to the help or rescue of near when you must either attack Rich. Banks. He obeyed of course; the same mond, or give up the job, and come to * The Prince de Joinville's remarks on the grievous

the defence of Washington.” McClel. mistake in preventing McDowell's advance are worth | lan gave every assurance of his readiquoting :-“ It needed only an effort of the will; the

ness and determination to go forward, two armies were united, and the possession of Richmond certain! Alas, this effort was not made. ... the fatal

greatly vexed and disappointed though error was on the point of being committed. Not only he was at McDowell's withdrawal. He did not the two armies unite, but the order came from Washington to barn the bridges which had been seiz was making all his preparations to fight ed. This was the clearest way of saying to the Army the enemy with such force as he had, of the Potomac and to its chief that in no case could and the

and the bitter struggle was now at they count on the support of the armies of Upper Virginia."

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Hardly had Porter and his brave by Johnston to his several division band returned from Hanover Court commanders, to move to the assault at House, when the right bank of the daybreak, on the day appointed. With Chickahominy became famous for the every facility of communication with hard-fougbt battle of the Seven Pines, Richmond, and with the various divi. or Fair Oaks, so called because of the sions occupying the roads commanding localities at two important stages of the the Union position, had the rebel plan conflict, its beginning and its end. On of attack been effectively carried out, the rebel side were the divisions of backed, as it was, by a greatly superior Hill, Longstreet, Huger and Smith; force, it could hardly have failed of and on ours, were the corps of Keyes entire success. The heavy rains, bow. and Heintzelman, with a portion of ever, which aided their purpose in one that of Sumner. Johnston, well aware way, hindered it in another. If reinof the critical position of affairs, and an forcements could not be readily brought xious to strike a blow which should be across the river to the Union lines, felt, took note of the advance of Casey's neither could the enemy take the field division (see p. 164) at and beyond as early as was intended. The divisions Seven Pines; and probably supposing of Smith, Hill, and Longstreat, howthat the corps of Keyes, to which it be. Ever, were in position to commence longed, was the only one which had yet operations by eight A.M. Huger, encrossed the Chickahominy, he thought tangled with his artillery in the mud by massing his forces in one furious on- and swamps, was not at hand, and set, to break the Union lines, and de- Longstreet, who had the direction of stroy this section of the army before a operations on the right, was unwilling junction could be made, by the com to go into action without his co-opera. pletion of the bridges, with the troops tion; hence the attack was deferred till on the other side of the stream. On early in the afternoon. the night of the 30th of May, there was. Meanwhile, Keyes had not been one of the most violent summer rain., unobservant or inactive. Expecting storme known to the country. Torrents an attack at any moment, he watched of rain drenched the earth, and the light earnestly the indications of hostile ning and thunder were fearfully grand. movements brought to him on the mordFrom their beds of mud, and the pelt ing of May 31st. Cars had been heard ings of the storm, our men rose to fight coming out from Richmond, and an aid the battle of the 31st of May.

of Johnston's had been taken prisoner In this state of things, the roads con. by our pickets. About eleven A.M., a verted into mud, the swamps flooded, body of the enemy was reported apand the river threatened with an un proaching. Casey prepared for imme usual rise, it appeared to be a compara diate action; and at one o'clock was as. tively easy thing for the rebels to des. saulted by the rebels with tremendous troy the exposed wing of the divided force and energy. They endeavored to army. Accordingly, orders were given crush his division utterly before help

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Ch. XIV.]

BATTLE OF SEVEN PINES.

167

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could be brought, and the troops fell all before them by one sweeping blow. back upon the second line, held by The attack was met by our troops with Couch's division. Couch tried hard to steadiness and unflinching determinaregain the lost position; but without tion. Notwithstanding the fierce on success; and he was driven back to slaughts of the enemy, renewed again wards Fair Oaks.

and again, our men stood nobly to their Our troops, with rare exceptions, be posts. Led on by brave and experienchaved excellently well, and a sort of ed officers, and freely using the

1862. line of battle being formed across the bayonet, toward midday they woods, perpendicularly to the road and finally and entirely repulsed the rebel the railroad, assault after assault was force. These filed in confusion and steadily resisted. Our left was protect- haste; but unhappily, if we may rely ed by the morasses of the White Oak on McClellan's opinion, the state of the Swamp, but our right ran the risk of roads prevented any effective pursuit being surrounded. A strong column of on our part. All that was accomplished the enemy advanced against the right, at the time was the re-occupying the and if it had succeeded in getting be- lines held previous to the battle. tween Bottom's Bridge and our troops! The losses on both sides were very who held beyond Savage's Station, the heavy. McClellan reported a total left wing would have been lost. But loss of 5,737; a few days afterwards he at this moment, six P.M., Sumner, who reported that the number would be at had been ordered by McClellan to be least 7,000. The total rebel loss was, ready to move to the scene of action, according to their reports, nearly 7,000. appeared, and effectually put a stop to Pollard's statement for the rebels is: rebel progress. Instead of merely pre- “ We had taken ten pieces of artillery paring to more, this brave commander and 6,000 muskets, besides other spoils; advanced directly, and saved an hour our total loss was more than 4,000; that of time. He succeeded in crossing the of the enemy is stated in their own news. river, and marched upon Fair Oaks, papers to have exceeded 10,000, an estiwhere he found Couch with his men. mate which is no doubt short of the The rebels made a fierce assault upon truth.” * Sumuer's command; but they were re. pulsed, and fled, thus closing the contest

* Prince de Joinville's remarks on the battle of Seven

Pines may here be quoted : “Such is the history of for that day. Night put an end to the this singular battle, which although complicated by battle; but dispositions were made for incidents superior to human will, must not be taken

otherwise than as a type of American battles. The its early renewal on Sunday morning,

conflict was a bloody one, for the North had lost 5,000 June 1st. Before Sunrise, the rebels men, the South at least 8,000; but the results were were pressing forward the attack. They

barren on one side as on the other. Although the losses

of the enemy were much greater than those of the appeared in large force from the woods Federals, the result was especially distressing to the in front, opened a heavy fire of mus. latter. They had lost a rare opportunity of striking a

decisive blow. These occasions did not return, and ketry at short range along the whole

therefore, in the circumstances in which they were ling and seemed determined to carry placed, the result was against them.”

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