Press enter after choosing selection

Battle Before Richmond

Battle Before Richmond image
Parent Issue
Public Domain
OCR Text

Corroípondent of the N. Y. Times. i'lELD OF UaTTLK BEPORE KlCHMOND, SuniUy A. M., June 1, 18G2. ) A battlü bufore Richmorui lias at bist put to ihc test the rebel bonst as to wliat tlicy woulJ do with General McCle.lan's irmy wlien they sliould gat it beyonci t!je protection of the gunboats. Tliough the adviiritage of a suddeu movement, ngíunst the woakest pomt in our unes, gave the enemy a tetnporarv success, the final result has Dttt been sucb as to afford onconragenjent tu their dishuartoned and deuioraüzed troops, or occasion any fes re as to our ultímate possession of the rebel capital. The attaele commenced shortly beioro 1 o'clock on Saturday, on the left wing of the anny, on the furher side of the Cbiekahomiuy where the advance posi tiou was held by the diviion of Goiieral Casey, much the weakest in the army, compoud almost entinly of raio regiments, and reduced by dsease (o an effective force of some 6,000 men. THE POS1TION HELD BY GENERAL CASEY Was on the Williamsbui'ir stage road, within six or scvon miies of Richmond, aud oq a line so extended at the front tliat the troopa required to maintain picket guards of sufficient strengjth, made uo slight draft on his weakened forces. ïho right of the line was In !(1 by the First Brigade, under Gen H. M.-Neglee, II is pickets exteuded acrosa t!ie railroad (running parallel with tlie Williamsburg road, about a inile to the riglit) to mar the sixth mile-post from Itiehniond, and so on furthir to the riglit and a liitle to the rear uutil within a short disiance ot a point on the Cliiokahotniny, whcre (íen. Suugoer bad tbrown a bridge across the stream, and was hourly expeeted to cross to completa the lino of pickets to tilt' i iver. The entire of Gen. Casey's position, held by the Seeond Brigade, Gen. Wassill's (ï'oniurly Gen. Kei m 's) exteuded froni Gen. Neglee's lines to the left a short dit,tance across the WiHiamsburg road, wliere ït jciinecl the Third Brigade, Gen. Palnier's, s'rotching soine distance further to tlio left, aud joined the lines of Gen. Couohj who guardutl the lefi flank, the niain portion of his forces being a short 'distaiice to the rear of Casev, on tho Williauisburg road. THE NATURE OF THE O ROUND. The position occupied by the mnin body of these two dj visuras was a clearing of about one mile square, furrounded on the left and ihe front by a foresi, iu whieh Geu Daaay'a piekets were stationed. On the riglit, a, wooded B.wamp dividid Úu clearing from a similar opening in the forest,, along the railroad, vihicli was oecupied by Gen. Neglee with his brigade. Justbeyond tho wonds to the l'ront were similar clearings with woods on tlieir further side, whara the rebe.s hiy eoncea'ed, their pieketg oecupying the edgc of the forest, and sep arated from our piekets by the width of the fields, formiiig a sort of neu'ral gronud betweeu the two armies, over wliich eaeh kept close watch lest his neighbor should take possessioa. TUE BNBMY KECOXNOITERINÜ. Our proxiuiity to the rebels was evi dently annoyii:g tó them, and on Tliursday, and again on Friday, theymadeanunBucoessful attempt, witb a foroe of a few hundred, to drive in tho piekets and dis cover what nii-ehiof was plotting behind the belt of woods sheltering Gen. Casey from their view. Their attack was res olutcly met by the piekets, who feil back on the reserves aud held tbeir grouud, defeating the purpose of the enemy. Meanwhile General Casey wasactively at nork seleeting his position, a largo furcu of men bMng busy, uuder the s!;illful direction of Lieutenant K. W. West, of bis staff, diggiug rifle pits and feiling trees for abattis. A siiuilar line of defensive works had been comtuenccd and partially completed at G neral Casey's former position. at the Seven Pines, three miles further to the rear, and just back of these was a line of eajthwork.s, constructed by General Couch, and more carefully construeted Fniling iu the two attempts to gather information by forcing back Gen. Ca.-ey s piekets, the rebels apparently resolved upon au advance in f once upon the left wing of the army, doubtles detennining to arive it bevond the Chifikahominy, should the opportunity ofler, and put themselves in a position to turn General McClellan's left flank. THB ATTACK ON SATL'UDAY. Shortly after uoon the grand attaek conimenced, Gen. '■ asey's picketa being driven in all along the front, after a spirited resistance, the rebels advnncing in force along three roads - the Wüliamsburg road to our left, the railroad in the centre, and the ' Ninc-mi'e road." as it is called on the right. With his feeble división greatly weakened by extensión, Gen Casoy had no backboae to oppose to this sudden attaok But no tbnuirlit of yielding his ground entered the mind of the old snldier, scarred with the woundü of Mexico and disoiplined to danger by a hundred His troops were immediately for ed info position, the three brigades mamtaiuing their relative positinns on the right left and centre, and as thorough preparations were made for resisting the attaek as its suddenness would admit of. Regan's New York Battery was sta ioned just lothe risht of the VVilliainsburg road, Bates' Battery of Napoleon guns further to the left aerogs the road and Fitrh's Battery three or four hundred 3"ards to the rear, the last. sending its sliell over the heada if our troivjis at the eneniy beyond. ïhe fourth battery was near the railroad, further to the right. ïhe vigor with whioh tho onomy pressed ('orward to the attaek ind'cated the oonfiilonce of superior Btrength. A battalion of tworegiments pressed against Gen. Noglee on the riglit, anotlu'r feil on Gen. Wassell at the centre, and a third on Gen Palmer to the left pouring ia at once, a tire bot and heavy, and advanoing with grent resolution in face of the steady flre of cauistcr and grape from tlie guns iu front, and shell from those further to the rear, inowiug dowh tbeir ranks in all direcüois. The rtbdi hacl but litttle artillery, and were ovuk-ntly disposod to make gnod the deficiency by pïestuiig to close quarters with their superior forces, to bear down at once by weight of numhers tlie fceble skeleton reghnents of tbree or four hundred ineu wli i eomposed the advance división. Most of Oasey's troops were thrown fovward to the edge of tbe woods in front of the position to meot the advance of the rebela, a few regiinents being left be hind the partially coinpfeted rifle pits, a short distanc" to tbo rear. Thns a di visión, nuarly new to warfure, was sud denly exjxised, in an open fie!d, to tlie heaviest of tire from an euomy coverud to a considerable estent by tho woods through whicli thuy were udvincing. - Offieer af'tur officer feil, or wa borne f rom the field a wounded man ; the men dropped by scores, and the usual nuuibei of weak jointed ones were fallmg to the rear 33 n t in spite of the rapid thinning of their ranks, the regiments gonerally held their ground until the eneiny suoceeded in pushing around on the left flank, and poured in an enfiladiug fire from that direction. The sixty rounda of ammuuition with which tliey entercd the fight were nearly exhaustcd, and 110 moie was at hand. AIUUVAL OF REINFOIiCEMENTS. Mcantimeone of General Ccuch'a brig ades, commauded by General Abercroiu bic, was ordered up to the support of [ieneral Neglee on tho right, General IVvens, of the same división, Bustaining General Wassell on the centre, and Gen3ral I'cck, with the reraainiiig brigade, supporting General Palmer on the left. V hen General Cascy's troops wcrc forced to give way, tho rebels feil upon thüso brigades of Oouch's división, vvho disputo! every inch of ground until sustained by General Kearuey, pressing up tho Williamsburg road with reiuforceinents to meet them, supported by the división of General Hooker in his rear. Pressing rapidly forward General Kear ney advuneed along the Willramsburg road to within a 'short distancc of our original position, where he bivouacked for the night in front of the enemy. It was along this Williamsburg road that thf niain attack was made, and liere our troops were forced back for half a injle more, befare tho amval of General Heiützelman's eorps, the teoble brigades of Cssey s división, averaging lesa tlimi 2,000 men, being conipletely brokcn up, niany, if Dot most of the officers killed, wouiided or missing, and the privates scatteivd through the woods and along the road. Bravely and well did Gen. Casey do his duty, pressing on to the ex treme front and eheering on his men, regardless of the storm of fire and hail ihat raged about him, eutting down bis officers on ali pides, but strangely cscap'mtf his ovvn person. Bravely and well did most of his office. s stand bv him, until, oue after nnother, they were borne from the üeld dead or wounded. TUK LOSS OF ARTILLÜKY. Col. Bailey, Chief of Artiilery was shot eariy ia tho afternoon, thu ball striking him in the head aud causing his (lealh lifter a short penod of insensibility. Major Van Vaulkenberg, the second iu oii.iiiand of the First New York Artiilery, was killed, Adjutant Wm. Ramsey wounded, while every battory but ono lost its quota of men, and soms of them lost nearly all their h .rses. Bates' Battery of Napoleon guns - 12-pound brass pieoes - whieh nas to the front, was deprived of locomotion and stuck fast in the mud, was lefi behind in the retirenii-iit of our troops, but not until Gen had taken it upon himself to sue tliat several of the pieces were spiked. In additkm to tliis, the 3-inch Parrojt gun of Battery H, was disabled by a shot, and feil into the hands of tho enemy. The Pennsylvania Rjserve Battery, o' Couch's división, also lost one of their guns - these eight pieces of ordnance constituting our entire loss, so far as 1 could learu. oen. sumner's 'advance. Mcantime General Sumner had sucpeeded in briuging b s troops acr-ss 'the Chiukakouiiny, and was advatieiiig on the right to niamtain our position there, wtiero loss grouud had bceu lost. Alter several d;tys of labor, General Sumner had thrown two bridges across the preek betweeu Bottom's Bridge and New Bridge, where local reports held it to be iinpossiblo to find any foundañou for piles to biipport the superstructures. üiiu of these bridges was some two milos above Bottom's Bridge, the other a nnle luither up the stream. Tho lnvver of thse was cnrried away duriuii the heavy storm of Fridny night, und General gumt:er was obliged to depend upon a single shpky structure for the passage of these troops, who nearly all, however, succeedtd in crossing that night, the head of the column reached ihe Nice-mile Road, along which the rebels were pressing our troups, at about 7 o'clock, holding the eneiny in check for the üight, preventiug them frum fullowiug up ia ttiat direction the advantagu they had gaiued during thö day, THE FIGHT ON SUN'Di.Y. Flushod with their seeming victory on Saturduy, the rebels avvoke witb confideucu on 8unday to follow up thair movements, sure of driviug us this time to the Chiekahoininy aud bevond. But they mudu the unfoituuate mistake of' estunating the streugth of our reserves by the weakness of our advance. Mout bitierly did they payf'ir their mistake. Pressing eagtrly for ward with coutideuce of victory they were met by the trained troops of Heiutzelman and 8umner, whose unyieldii.g columns check'-d oholr tieiee issnult aud turued the tide of battlo everywhere against them, forc iiKj tltem at the potnt of the bayonet on tutvuds Rtchmund It was their turn now to break and run, and iheir loss of the Sabbath lelt them little cause to rejoiee over tho tnÜini gaiu of 8ifrurdj. Terriblv did the rebels suffer on this, as well as ihe previous day, trom the well direced üre of our artiilery, piling the y round WÜh the sfiui. Terrible also were the frequent ciiarges of our solid culuniiis. piessing them b;iek, step by step, to the last point of enclurance, when they broke andran, ingloi ou.sly leaving behind thuin many of their men and officers, as well as privaten, prisoners in our hands. OUR LOSS IN KILLED AND WOUNDED. That the loss is very severo, and particularly so in the matter of officers, there is no matter of duubt. Tho diffieulty of ligh'ly eBtimatiug our loss is j also enchanped by the fact that many of thoso falling were unavoidably left upon tho ground gubsequently oecupiod by the enemy in his firstwcccísfxil attaol T!" Tiumber of these we eannot learu untr regimental rolla nre compnred. It is siuccr:iy to bo regretteU, in view of tíntales wo havo of the barbarous treatmep.1 of vroundcd by the rebels, wheii once they fall into their hands, that neeessity should have compelled any tü be left upon the field, to recoive '■' the tender merciesof tüe wicked." That the rebel loss was greuter bv fur than our owu I do not doubt Besiifes our superiority in ttrtülery, oursniall arn.s were mucli more effective, haviug all the Buperiority in fata] power, wliioli the Minie ball bas over the round rifle ball. The wounda inflicted by the enemy wero inainly by the latter. Had the leuden hail in which our men were obligad to stand no long, been eomposed of conieal nstead of round shot, irany more Hachéis wouid b. mournihg over the lost, and many more homes draped iu funeralgweods. THE CASÜALT1ES OP SAÏÜUDAY. Of those who ontered into into close range of the enemy 's guns, seareely oue of the offieers that I saw eseaped without soino mark of the eneruy's bullets on cluthes or person, wheu uo postive wound was inflictd. Gen. Neglee was struek four tunes by balls that pierced his elothes, iulleoting slight bruises on his person. Uf the line of officers not positively wounded, Col. 0. H. Van Wyok, of the Fifty ,-iixth New York Kegiment, seerns to have met with the nlot narrow escape, betog struck by a speat shell whieh doubled up bis sword slieath, aud severo ly bi uised his left kuee. Had the shell been neafer i's initial veloeity, the Colonol would liuve lost a p;iir ot limbs, of cssential service to a man of hia active habits; and had it exploded, üongress would have bccu minus ouo of lts working memliora Gen. Casey's son-in-Iaw, Col. Hunl, reoeivod a ball through the flesliy pact of h.s thigli, inllieting a wouud more painful thap dangorous. Besides the guus, General Casey lost al' his camp equipago, his tents being pitehea apon the ield ol' battlt) n sueh near proximity to the rebel3 os to reuder their loss i i e v i ! a b 1 e i'i CiSO of the siightest yioldiög of his troops. The Generala in bis división mast ala" havo lost thüir eiFects, which, fortmiately wei e of no great vülue, all tlie baggAiJs of tho fticci-s, as wi-11 is the kitapsocks if the ioldioro, haring been some days before oi-(iered to the o'lier pido of the Chicka iiominy. witli the wago s, Qaarternras ters' stores and (.vcryiliing nol absolutely indispensable. So the loss was sligbtj except in the di.-appearauce ol papers of considerable valué, which were left iu tlio teuts. No man who knows Gen. Casey can do otberwiso tlian Hympathise with him in the rnisf.irlunos of disease and disaster which havo left him with but the -kele ton of a división now able to muster Bcarcely moie, if, indeed, as tnuch, as the strength of a brigade. Oecupyhig the uiust expoeed osit ion on oui' lines, lus raw troops found ;heinselves in tha bat tle of Saturday before they had fairly waruicd to tlicir work, subjeoted to a niusUetry fire of more tlian ordinarv in tensity, the balls poiiring in upon them a constaut shower, :v;.parently from all dircetious, whizzing and buzzing through ;he air with a murderous spitefulness' - Overborne by numbers, failing in sup)ort, they fjave way, but not until they lad lu-M the enemy in check a sufficient .ength of tune to give our reserves au op portaoity to press forward to retriuve the Fortunes of tho day, which thoy did nobly.


Old News
Michigan Argus