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BATTLE OF GAINES' MILL.
a vigorous action on the right, where the regulars were posted. The enemy attacked fiercely, charging repeatedly, but were as often repulsed. Jackson's forces had joined the rebel divisions of the day before, that morning; Jackson himself was in command of the entire force, and his peculiar tactics were soon displayed
In this, as in all the other battles fought by that General, the great bulk of his troops were massed, and hurled, with terrible force, first upon one wing, and if he failed to break that, upon the other, or upon the centre, till one or other was broken, and his victorious legions could crush the divided and shattered fragments. This method of attack was often tried during that day's battle, and for several hours seemed likely to succeed ; under the terrible fire of Porter's heavy artillery, however, the columns of Hill, Anderson, and Pickett,* went down like grass before the mower's scythe, till at last they could not be brought up to face the certain death which awaited them, but fled in disorder. Gen. Cobb next advanced with his reserves of North Carolina and Virginia troops, but they met with the same fate, and though in the interim the broken ranks of Hill's and Anderson's divisions had been reformed, and again brought forward, they could make no impression on the masses of Porter's force, who held firmly their position.
It was at this time, that, believing the victory was within his grasp,
Gen. McClellan sent across the river and into action, Slocum's and Richardson's divisions, all that could be spared from the force necessary to guard the retreat, and prepared to sustain the final shock of a last attack, which it was evident Jackson would make, before night should end the conflict. That able General had meantime brought up all his reserves, and seeing that the left wing, which had been largely composed of artillery, had become thoroughly wearied, and their ammunition nearly exhausted by their incessant firing,
BATTLE OF GAINES' MILL.
he hurled his fresh troops upon it with such terrific force that it gave way and disbanded, and the disorder grew and extended till it reached the centre. There was no panic, the men did not run, but slowly and deliberately marched off the field, in spite of the remonstrances of their officers; and the battle, so near a victory, became a defeat.
The enemy soon began to press hard upon the retreating troops, and a cavalry charge, ordered in the hope of arresting Jackson's advance, failed to stop them. Happily it was fast growing dark, and after a retreat of a mile, the disbanded and discouraged troops were met by the fresh brigades of French and Meagher, which checked their progress, and putting a few of the retreating guns in battery, they opened their fire upon the advancing foe, and once more drove him back.
This battle, one of the severest of the campaign, was fought with very unequal forces; Gen. Porter had not, including the divisions of Slocum and Richardson, brought up just at night, and the latter not actively engaged, more than thirty-five thousand men under his command during the day, and Gen. J. G. Barnard, Chief-of-Engineers, of the army of the Potomac, states that only twenty-seven thousand were actually engaged in the fight. The enemy's force, which comprised nearly every man that could be spared from Richmond, was not less than sixty thousand.
The policy of Gen. McClellan in dividing his force, and thus fighting the entire rebel army with hardly a third of his own, or indeed of fighting him at all on the north bank of the Chickahominy, when he might have had so much greater advantages in a battle on the south side of that stream, has been severely criticised by eminent military authorities, who were spectators of the battle, or participated in it. It is said also that Porter's position was not so well chosen as it might have been, his left being inadequately protected. His loss in the .battle was very heavy, exceeding nine thousand in killed,
wounded and missing, of whom it was said over four thousand were prisoners. Among them was General Reynolds. The rebel loss was certainly not less than this. The dead and severely wounded, were left on the field, and twenty guns which could not be brought off, the horses being killed, were abandoned to the enemy; during the night, the whole of Porter's command passed the Chickahominy, destroying the bridges after them.
The rebel commanders supposed the Union troops were falling back to White House, and Jackson and Stuart pushed on, the next morning, - Saturday, June 28,- to the Pamunkey, to intercept them, and complete their defeat. The time gained by this mistake of the rebels, was diligently improved by the Union army. They were undisturbed by the enemy, except a brief cannonading of Smith's division, a part of Sumner's corps, stationed near Garnett's, in the morning. The division fell back out of range, and were not further molested. Meanwhile, Stoneman and Casey had sent off all that could be shipped of the supplies from White House, and destroyed what could not be removed, and had left nothing but ruins for the foe, while they made good their escape to Yorktown ; the locomotive and train having performed all that it could, in the way of transporting supplies, was run into the river over the broken railroad bridge, and the cars and their contents destroyed, the head-quarters at Dr. Trent's and the camps were abandoned, only after all that was of value was destroyed. The long train was pursuing its way in orderly haste to the James river at Turkey Bend, and the head of the line had already reached its halting place. The army corps of Generals Sumner and Franklin, had been left at Fair Oaks Farm, with orders to evacuate on the 29th, and fall back slowly to protect the train.
It was not till the morning of the 29th, -Sunday, - that Gen. Lee began to comprehend fully Gen. McClellan's design ;
SAVAGE STATION AND WHITE OAK SWAMP.
but as soon as he perceived it, he sent D. H. Hill and Longstreet, with twelve brigades, to pursue the Union forces which he supposed to be flying. But the bridges were down, and the crossing required time. At two o'clock P, M., however, their advance attacked Sumner and Franklin, about a mile and a half above Savage's Station, not far from the old battle ground of the Seven Pines. The action was a severe one, continuing till late in the evening, but they were finally repulsed, with heavy loss. During the night, Generals Sumner and Franklin fell back to White Oak Swamp bridge.
It only remained now to guard the rear of the train, and the sick and wounded, from the attacks of the enemy, who was known to be in pursuit, and who could attack them in their rear, or could approach the White Oak Swamp and Quaker roads, by the Charles City, Central, and New Market roads. Sumner and Franklin were detailed to protect them from the pursuit of the enemy by the Swamp road, and Heintzelman, with Hooker and Kearney's divisions of his own corps, Sedgwick’s from Sumners, and McCall's to guard the entrance of the cross roads, while Porter and Keyes were in the front, and in communication with the gun-boats on the James.
About 11 o'clock, Monday, June 30, Jackson, with the divisions of D. H. Hill, Whiting, and Ewell, attacked Sumner and Franklin at White Oak Swamp. The Union forces had crossed White Oak Creek, and burned the bridge ; the enemy had a large park of artillery, and the battle thus commenced was waged with great fury till night, but Sumner and Franklin held their ground, and prevented his advance ; Sumner, as brave a commander as any in the army, plead hard to be allowed to pursue the enemy, whom he had already driven back, but Gen. McClellan would not allow it.
Later in the day, Heintzelman was attacked by the main body of the enemy, under Longstreet and A. P. Hill, on the New Market road ; Gen. McCall's division suffered severely,
GLEN DALE TURKEY BENDMALVERN HILL.
and broke in disorder, the General himself being taken prisoner ; Hooker and Kearney came up to its relief, and repulsed the enemy, after a very severe action, nearly annihilating Hill's own division. This is known as the battle of Glendale.
A third attack was made the same day, upon the corps Fitz John Porter, at Turkey Bend, but the foe was utterly discomfited by his powerful and well placed artillery and the shells thrown by the gun-boats, and fled in disorder. The long and wearisome retreat, fraught with so many dangers and perils and so much slaughter, was at last concluded, and the army, worn out with fatigue, after a brief labor in fortifying the only weak portion of their line of defences, sank into a deep slumber.
Few positions possess greater natural strength than that which their commander had selected, and with the aid of the gun-boats, it was impregnable against the attack of the enemy; but the rebel leaders, goaded to desperation at their failure to destroy the Union forces during their retreat, determined to attack it. The firing at long range, commenced about ten o'clock a. M., but without much effect. Every attempt of the enemy to approach nearer, was, however, repelled with great promptness; about 3 o'clock P. m., the rebel force was brought up to a closer position, and repeatedly attempted to charge upon the Union batteries, but was mowed down by hundreds with the most terrible slaughter, the converging fire of three hundred cannon from the Union batteries, and the hundred pound shells from the gun-boats, producing such wholesale destruction, that though infuriated by whisky, and urged forward by their leaders, by the most frantic appeals, the rebel line at last broke and fled, utterly demoralized, leaving the field strewn with thousands of the dead. So ended the battle of Malvern Hill. Again were the inhabitants of Richmond agitated with the fear that their capital was doomed to destruction, and many days passed away before the inaction of the