The War of the Rebellion: a Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies
Series I - Vol. 11 - Chapter XXIII - Page 561 & 562
BATTLE OF WILLIAMSBURG, VA.
No.58. Report of Brigadier General William H. Keim,
U.S. Army, commanding Second Brigade.
HDQRS. KEIM'S BRIGADE, CASEY'S DIVISION,
Williamsburg, Va., May 8,1862.
CAPTAIN: Owing to severe indisposition I followed my brigade slowly, it being in temporary command of Colonel Howell on May 5. When I arrived the Eighty-fifth Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers was in front, then the One hundred and third Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, Major Gazzam commanding; next the One hundred and first Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, Colonel Wilson. The Ninety-sixth Regiment New York Volunteers, Lieutenant-Colonel Gray commanding, had been ordered by General Sumner to protect the Eighth New York Battery and after the regular battery of Robertson. The brigade advanced to the support of General Palmer's brigade. The Eighty-fifth Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, Colonel Howell, was in advance of General Palmer's brigade over the fence into the woods under a brisk fire of the enemy. At that time, when the fire was hot and heaviest, General Keyes rode up and addressed my brigade a few spirit-stirring remarks, who heartily cheered the general and resumed the work of destruction with more zeal.
General Palmer being called off, I assumed command of the Ninety-second (Colonel Anderson's) and the Ninety-third (Lieutenant-Colonel Butler's) Regiments New York Volunteers. I ordered Colonel Howell to the front to relieve the Ninety-third Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, who immediately encountered a sweeping fire, which was returned with spirit and effect. The One hundred and first Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, Colonel Wilson, I ordered to the left of the clearing across the road as a reserve. The One hundred and third Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, Major Gazzam commanding, was also ordered to the front, to support General Peck. I was assigned the command of the left, General Peck the center, and General Devens the right. About 5.30 the musketry fire had nearly ceased, the battery in front keeping up its fire until dark,two hours afterward.
Taking into consideration that the men had only one day's rations since Sunday morning, no overcoats, woolen or gum blankets, they evinced a spirit of endurance and heroic courage worthy of veterans, and the men and officers are entitled to praise for their arduous and successful efforts. The troops remained under arms all night, rainy and unpleasant. I was with General Peck and General Couch during the night. Sounds were heard of cutting wood, and commands were given to "Forward, march," which induced a belief that the enemy were about evacuating. At daybreak I ordered a company of Colonel Howell's regiment to reconnoiter toward the fort. Everything appeared quiet, when some cavalry from Williamsburg rode downward into the fort, so they withdrew. After the cavalry left the fort the effort was renewed and were steadily advancing, when General Heintzelman rode up and ordered my men back, he entering the deserted forts first which my brigade had aided materially to conquer.
My staff officers, Captain N.L. Jeffries, assistant adjutant-general, and Lieutenant Stewart, jr., aide-de-camp, rendered me efficient aid.
The state of my health must be the apology for this imperfect report.
WM. H. KEIM,
Captain HENRY W. SMITH,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Casey's Division.
Series I - Vol. 11 - Chapter XXIII - Pages 913 - 916
BATTLE OF FAIR OAKS OR SEVEN PINES
No.92. Reports of Brigadier General Silas Casey,
U. S. Army, commanding Second Division.
HEADQUARTERS GENERAL CASEY'S DIVISION,
Poplar Hill, Henrico County, Va., June, 1862.
CAPTAIN: In obedience to directions from the general commanding the Fourth Corps I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations of my divisions of my division in the battle of the Seven Pines, on the 31st ultimo:
I occupied with my division the advanced position of the army, about three-fourths of a mile from the cross-roads at the Seven Pines, where I caused rifle pits and a redoubt to be thrown up; also an abatis to be commenced about one-third of a mile in front of the pits, and parties were employed upon these works on the morning of the 31st. Previously to occupying my last position I had occupied the cross-roads, and had there also caused an abatis to be cut and earthworks to be commenced.
On the 29th, the day on which I moved my camp forward, and also on the 30th, my advanced pickets had been attacked by bodies of the enemy; on the former day by a force of 300, and on the next by one of 400 in number. The pickets on the first day succeeded in driving the enemy back in confusion, killing and wounding a number, with a loss on my part of but 2 killed and 2 wounded. Major Kelley, of the Ninety-sixth Regiment New York Volunteers, was one of my killed. The major was in command of the pickets at this point, and by his gallant conduct animated the men to the firm resistance offered.
In the attack of the 30th I ordered the One hundredth Regiment New York Volunteers to move to the support of the pickets. With the assistance of this regiment, under command of Colonel Brown, they succeeded in repelling the attack, the enemy leaving 6 of his dead upon the ground.
On the morning of the 31st my pickets toward the right of my line succeeded in capturing Lieutenant Washington, an aide of General Johnston, of the rebel service. This circumstance, in connection with the fact that Colonel Hunt, my general officer of the day, had reported to me that his outer pickets had heard cars running nearly all night on the Richmond end of the railroad, led me to exercise increased vigilance. Between 11 and 12 o'clock amounted vedette was sent in from the advanced pickets to report that a body of the enemy was in sight, approaching on the Richmond road. I immediately ordered the One hundred and third Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers to advance to the front, for the purpose of supporting the pickets. It was soon afterward reported to me by a mounted vedette that the enemy were advancing in force, and about the same time two shells were thrown over my camp. I was led to believe that a serious attack was contemplated, and immediately ordered the division under arms, the men at work in the rifle pits and abatis to be recalled and to join their regiments, the artillery to be harnessed up at once, and made my dispositions to repel the enemy. While these were in progress the pickets commenced firing.
I directed Spratt's battery of four pieces 3-inch rifled guns to advance in front of the rifle pits about one-fourth of a mile, in order to reply with advantage to the enemy's artillery, which I knew was in battery in front of my picket line, and also to shell the enemy as soon as the withdrawal of the pickets and their supports should permit. I supported this battery by the One hundred and fourth Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, the Eleventh Regiment Maine Volunteers, and the One hundredth Regiment New York Volunteers, of the First Brigade, and the Ninety-second Regiment New York Volunteers, of the Third Brigade. I placed Captain Bates' battery, commanded by Lieutenant Hart, in a redoubt; Captain Regan's battery in rear and on the right of the rifle pits, and Captain Fitch's battery in rear of the redoubt. The Eighty-fifth Regiment New York Volunteers occupied the rifle pits on the left and the Eighty-fifth Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers those in the right. The One hundred and first Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers were posted on the right of these regiments, and the Eighty-first, Ninety-eighth, and Ninety-sixth Regiment New York Volunteers were advanced to cover the left flank. For several days the Fifty-second Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers had occupied a position on the Nine-mile road as a support to my advanced pickets on my right flank, and the Fifty-sixth Regiment New York Volunteers had held a position on the railroad. I made no change in the positions of these last two regiments.
About fifteen minutes after these dispositions had been completed I directed the advanced battery to open on the artillery and advancing columns of the enemy. In a short time after the One hundred and third Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, which at the first alarm had been ordered to the support of the pickets, came down the road in some confusion, having suffered considerable loss from the fire of the rebel advance.
The enemy now attacked me in large force on the center and both wings, and a brisk fire of musketry commenced along the two opposing lines, my artillery in the mean time throwing canister into their ranks with great effect. Perceiving at length that the enemy were threatening me upon both wings, for want of re-enforcements, which had been repeatedly asked for, and that his column still pressed on, I then, in order to save my artillery, ordered a charge of bayonets by the four supporting regiments at the center, which was executed in a most gallant and successful manner under the immediate direction of Brigadier-General Naglee, commanding First Brigade, the enemy being driven back. When the charge had ceased, but not until the troops had reached the edge of the wood, the most terrible fire of musketry commenced that I have ever witnessed. The enemy again advanced in force, and the flanks being again severely threatened, a retreat to the works became necessary.
To be brief, the rifle pits were retained until they were almost enveloped by the enemy, the troops with some exceptions fighting with spirit and gallantry. The troops then retreated to the second line, in possession of General Couch's division. Two pieces of artillery were placed in the road between the two lines which did good execution upon the advancing foe.
On my arrival at the second line I succeeded in rallying a small portion of my division, and with the assistance of General Kearny, who had just arrived at the head of one of the brigades of his division, attempted to regain possession of my works, but it was found impracticable. The troops of General Couch's division were driven back, although re-enforced by the corps of General Heintzelman.
The corps of Generals Keyes and Heintzelman having retired to the third line by direction of General Heintzelman, I there collected together what remained of my division.
The Fifty-second Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers and the Fifty-sixth Regiment New York Volunteers were under the particular direction of Brigadier-General Naglee, and I refer to his report for further mention of them.
General Naglee behaved with distinguished gallantry through the engagement, having a horse killed under him and receiving four contused wounds from musket-balls. Generals Palmer and Wessells encouraged by their example their men to do their duty on the field. General Wessells had a horse shot under him and himself received a wound in the shoulder.
Lieutenants West and Foster, my aides-de-camp, were active through the day, affording me much service and behaving gallantly. Captain Davis, of the provost guard of my division, acted as my aide a portion of the time, rendering much assistance and conducting himself in a gallant manner. I also feel much indebtedness to my medical director, Dr. Crosby, for the energy he evinced in collecting the wounded and his promptness and skill in collecting the wounded and his promptness and skill in providing for them.
I have inclosed a list of the killed, wounded, and missing, as also the reports of the commanders of brigades, to which I refer.
I cannot forbear mention of the severe misfortune suffered by the division and the service in the loss of Colonel G. D. Bailey, my chief of artillery abandoned. Colonel Bailey was an officer of thorough military education; of clear and accurate mind; cool, determined, and intrepid in the discharge of his duty, and promising with riper years to honor still more the profession to which he was devoted. About the same time, also, fell Major Van Valkenburgh, of the First Regiment New York Artillery, a brave, discreet, and energetic officer.
Under the circumstances I think it my duty to add a few remarks with regard to my division. On leaving Washington eight of the regiments were composed of raw troops. It has been the misfortune of the division in marching through the Peninsula to be subjected to an ordeal which would have severely tried veteran troops. Furnished with scanty transportation, occupying sickly positions, exposed to the inclemency of the weather at times without tents or blankets, and illy supplied with rations and medical stores, the loss from sickness has been great, especially with the officers; yet a party from my division took possession of the railroad bridge across the Chickahominy, driving the enemy from it, and my division took the advance on the 23rd of May, and by an energetic reconnaissance drove the enemy beyond the Seven Pines.
Notwithstanding all these drawbacks, and the fact that there were not 5,000 men in line of battle, they withstood for three hours the attack of an overwhelming force of the enemy without the re-enforcement of a single man at my first line. The Fifty-fifth Regiment New York Volunteers reached my second line just before it was evacuated.
If a portion of the division did not behave so well as could have been wished, it must be remembered to what a terrible ordeal they were subjected. Still, those that behaved discreditable were exceptional cases. It is true that the division, after being nearly surrounded by the enemy and losing one-third of the number actually engaged, retreated to the second line. They would all have been prisoners of war had they delayed their retreat a few minutes longer.
In my humble opinion, from what I witnessed on the 31st, I am convinced that the stubborn and desperate resistance of my division saved the army on the right bank of the Chickahominy from a severe repulse, which might have resulted in a disastrous defeat. The blood of the gallant dead would cry to me from the ground on which they fell fighting for their country had I not said what I have to vindicate them from the unmerited aspersion which has been cast upon them.
I remain, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Brigadier-General Volunteers, Commanding Division.
Captain C. C. SUYDAM,
Series I - Vol. 11 - Chapter XXIII - Page 926 -928
BATTLE OF FAIR OAKS OR SEVEN PINES
No.95. Report of Brigadier General Henry W. Wessells,
U. S. Army, commanding Second Brigade.
HEADQUARTERS WESSELLS' BRIGADE, CASEY'S DIVISION,
Near Savage Station, June 3, 1862.
LIEUTENANT: I have the honor to report the part taken by this brigade in the action of the 31st ultimo, near the Seven Pines, in front of Richmond. Between 12 and 1 o'clock p. m. our pickets posted in front were attacked by the enemy. I at once, pursuant to instructions from the brigadier-general commanding the division, sent forward the One hundred and third Pennsylvania Volunteers, Major Gazzam, to their support. As the firing soon indicated a formidable advance of the enemy I at once ordered the brigade under arms and formed the line of battle in accordance with the instructions of the division commander. The One hundred and first Pennsylvania Volunteers, Lieutenant-Colonel Morris, was placed on the right of the Richmond road perpendicular to it, the right flank of the battalion extending into the woods and in rear of the newly-constructed rifle pits. The Eighty-fifth Pennsylvania Volunteers, Colonel Howell, in rear of the rifle pits, extended from the redoubt across the Richmond road to near the left of the One hundred and first. The Ninety-sixth New York Volunteers, Colonel Fairman, was placed in advance of the rifle pits and to the left of the Eighty fifth. The One hundred and first and in such manner as to observe the Eighty fifth. The One hundred and third being too far to the front for my immediate supervision, its movements were left to the judgment of its commander, whose report is herewith inclosed.
The increase of musketry soon told that the One hundred and third was engaged. Driven from its position, it fell back firing and again made a stand. Assailed by overwhelming numbers from the front and flank, it again fell back to a new position. Here the enemy approached from the right, and, exposed to a terrific fire from the front and both flanks, its flag-staff shot away, the regiment again fell back, followed by the enemy, who was seen to emerge from the woods in front and advance toward the One hundred and first. The enemy's fire was directed with great precision and effect on this regiment, which, however stood fast and returned the fire with coolness and rapidity. Hoping the One hundred and first would be able to maintain its position I crossed to the road in the rear of the Eighty-fifth, which was now occupying the rifle pits, amid a terrific fire from the front, and which was constantly and effectually returned. The Ninety-sixth New York Volunteers, which up to this time had gallantry maintained its position, was forced to fall back to the line on the left of the rifle pits, where it again opened fire and continued with great effect until again forced back by a terrific fire from the front and flank, enfilading completely the rifle pits occupied by the Eighty-fifth and One hundred and first Lieutenant-Colonel Morris, One hundred and first, in order to protect his right, which was assailed by a terrific fire from that flank, caused the right wing of his battalion to change front to that direction and for some time succeeded in holding the enemy in check, until he fell severely wounded and was borne from the field, when the regiment, assailed by overwhelming numbers, was forced to fall back.
The Eighty-fifth and Ninety-sixth, having fallen back, were again formed on the left of the road in rear of the camp in the fallen timber, and delivered their fire with great effect, but being again flanked and overwhelmed, were compelled again to retire. The right wing of the One hundred and first, after retiring, deployed to the left, and passing the left wing opened its fire, and for some time maintained its position, but was at length compelled to fall back. Considerable disorder here ensued, the fallen timber and irregularity of the ground preventing the companies and battalions from preserving their alignment. Different regiments were intermingled and the line put in confusion. Colonel Howell gallantly rallied a part of his regiment and regained the rifle pits, but was again driven back. The troops fell back slowly, but with some disorder, carrying with them their arms. They were rallied, however, by the efforts of Captain Jeffries, assistant adjutant-general of this brigade, and marched all in good order (except the sick, numbering over 300, who abandoned the camp at the commencement of the action and fled in the direction of the Chickahominy River in great disorder) to a suitable camping ground, where the line was formed, ammunition sent for across the river, and information sent to Generals Heintzelman, Keyes, and Casey of the position of the troops.
After the brigade had retired I reported to Brigadier-General Keyes, by whom I was directed to reform the line on the right of Devens' rifle pits, and having been driven from that position in the same manner as before, with my horse killed under me and a severe contusion in the shoulder from a musket-ball, I fell back near sunset with retreating fragments of other brigades and halted at this camp.
The casualties are as follows: Thirty-four killed; 271 wounded; 55 missing.
The actual effective strength of the brigade, as appears from the morning reports, was 2,061. Of these 200 comprised the working party on the fortifications; a like number was detailed on picket, which, with the usual details and extra-duty men, made our actual strength in action less than 1,500 men.
During the engagement I was ably assisted by Captain Jeffries, assistant adjutant-general; Lieutenants Williams and Dawson, acting aides-de-camp, who were with me in the thickest of the fight.
I desire also to notice the conduct of Dr. Rush, acting brigade surgeon, who nobly discharged his duty from first to last.
H. W. WESSELLS,
Brigadier-General, U. S. Volunteers, Commanding.
Lieutenant B. B. FOSTER, A. A. A. G., Casey's Division.
Series I - Vol. 18 - Chapter XXX - Page103
No.30. Report of Major Alexander W.Taylor, One hundred and first Pennsylvania Infantry, of engagement at Kinston, December 14.
HDQRS. 101ST PENNSYLVANIA VOLUNTEERS, New Berne, N.C., December 24,1862.
CAPTAIN: As commander of the One hundred and first Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers during the engagement near Kinston, on Sunday, the 14th instant, I have the honor to submit the following as my report:
When the firing commenced in the morning, by order of the general the One hundred and first Regiment was drawn up in line of battle on the right of the road near the wood. We remained in this position until ordered by the general forward and to the right of the road in rear of the Ninety-sixth New York.
Soon after, by order of Colonel Heckman, we were moved forward and to the left to the support of a battery of the Third New York Artillery. We remained with this battery until the close of the engagement.
During the entire engagement the conduct of the regiment was all that could have been desired.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Major One hundred and first Pennsylvania Volunteers.
Captain ANDREW STEWART,