|HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF NORTHERN VIRGINIA,
March 6, 1863.
||SIR: After the battle of Seven Pines the Federal Army,
under General McClellan, preparatory to an advance upon Richmond, proceeded
to fortify its position on the Chickahominy and to perfect the communications
with its base of supplies near the head of York River.
Its left was established south of the Chickahominy, between White Oak Swamp
and New Bridge, defended by a line of strong works, access to which, except
by a few narrow roads, was obstructed by felling the dense forests in front.
These roads were commanded for a great distance by the heavy guns in the
fortifications. The right wing lay north of the Chickahominy, extending beyond
Mechanicsville, and the approaches from the south side were strongly defended
by intrenchments. Our army was around Richmond, the divisions of Huger and
Magruder, supported by those of Longstreet and D. H. Hill, in front of the
enemy's left, and that of A. P. Hill extending from Magruder's left beyond
The command of General Jackson, including Ewell's division, operating in
the Shenandoah Valley, had succeeded in diverting the army of McDowell at
Fredericksburg from uniting with that of McClellan. To render this diversion
more decided, and effectually mask his withdrawal from the valley at the
proper time, Jackson, after the defeat of Frémont and Shields, was
re-enforced by Whiting's division, composed of Hood's Texas brigade and his
own, under Colonel Law, from Richmond, and that of Lawton, from the south.
The intention of the enemy seemed to be to attack Richmond by regular approaches.
The strength of his left wing rendered a direct assault injudicious, if not
impracticable. It was therefore determined to construct defensive lines,
so as to enable a part of the army to defend the city and leave the other
part free to cross the Chickahominy and operate on the north bank. By sweeping
down the river on that side and threatening his communications with York
River it was thought that the enemy would be compelled to retreat or give
battle out of his intrenchments. The plan was submitted.to His Excellency
the President, who was repeatedly on the field in the course of its execution.
While preparations were in progress a cavalry expedition, under General Stuart,
was made around the rear of the Federal Army to ascertain its position and
movements. This was executed with great address and daring by that accomplished
officer. As soon as the defensive works were sufficiently advanced General
Jackson was directed to move rapidly and secretly from the valley, so as
to arrive in the vicinity of Ashland by June 24.
The enemy appeared to be unaware of our purpose, and on the 25th attacked
General Huger on the Williamsburg road, with the intention, as appeared by
a dispatch from General McClellan, of securing his advance toward Richmond.
The effort was successfully resisted and our line maintained.
BATTLE OF MECHANICSVILLE.
According to the general order of battle, a copy of which is annexed, General
Jackson was to march from Ashland on the 25th in the direction of Slash Church,
encamping for the night west of the Central Railroad, and to advance at 3
a.m. on the 26th and turn Beaver Dam. A. P. Hill was to cross the Chickahominy
at Meadow Bridge when Jackson's advance beyond that point should be known
and move directly upon Mechanicsville. As soon as the Mechanicsville Bridge
should be uncovered Longstreet and D. H. Hill were to cross, the latter to
proceed to the support of Jackson and the former to that of A. P. Hill. The
four commands were directed to sweep down the north side of the Chickahominy
toward the York River Railroad, Jackson on the left and in advance, Longstreet
nearest the river and in the rear. Huger and Magruder were ordered to hold
their positions against any assault of the enemy, to observe his movements,
and follow him closely should he retreat. General Stuart, with the cavalry,
was thrown out on Jackson's left to guard his flank and give notice of the
enemy's movements. Brigadier-General Pendleton was directed to employ the
Reserve Artillery, so as to resist any approach of the enemy toward Richmond,
to superintend that portion of it posted to aid in the operations of the
north bank, and hold the remainder ready for use when it might be required.
In consequence of unavoidable delays the whole of General Jackson's command
did not arrive at Ashland in time to enable him to reach the point designated
on the 25th.
His march on the 26th was consequently longer than had been anticipated,
and his progress being also retarded by the enemy, A. P. Hill did not begin
his movement until 3 p.m., when he crossed the river and advanced upon
Mechanicsville. After a sharp conflict he drove the enemy from his intrenchments,
and forced him to take refuge in his works on the left bank of Beaver Dam,
about 1 mile distant. This position was a strong one, the banks of the creek
in front being high and almost perpendicular, and the approach to it over
open fields, commanded by the fire of artillery and infantry intrenched on
the opposite side. The difficulty of crossing the stream had been increased
by fellling the woods on its banks and destroying the bridges.
Jackson being expected to pass Beaver Dam above and turn the enemy's right,
a direct attack was not made by General Hill. One of his regiments on the
left of his line crossed the creek to communicate with Jackson and remained
until after dark, when it was withdrawn. Longstreet and D. H. Hill crossed
the Mechanicsville Bridge as soon as it was uncovered and could be repaired,
but it was late before they reached the north bank of the Chickahominy. D.
H. Hill's leading brigade, under Ripley, advanced to the support of the troops
engaged, and at a late hour united with Pender's brigade, of A. P. Hill's
division, in an effort to turn the enemy's left; but the troops were unable
in the growing darkness to overcome the obstructions, and after sustaining
a destructive fire of musketry and artillery at short range were withdrawn.
The fire was continued until about 9 p.m., when the engagement ceased. Our
troops retained the ground on the right bank, from which the enemy had been
Ripley was relieved at 3 a.m. on the 27th by two of Longstreet's brigades,
which were subsequently re-enforced. In expectation of Jackson's arrival
on the enemy's right the battle was renewed at dawn, and continued with animation
for about two hours, during which the passage of the creek was attempted
and our troops forced their way to its banks, where their progress was arrested
by the nature of the stream. They maintained their position while preparations
Were being made to cross at another point nearer the Chickahominy, Before
they were completed Jackson crossed Beaver Dam above, and the enemy abandoned
his intrenchments and retired rapidly down the river, destroying a great
deal of property, but leaving much in his deserted camps.
BATTLE OF THE CHICKAHOMINY.(*)
After repairing the bridges over Beaver Dam the several columns resumed their
march as nearly as possible as prescribed in the order; Jackson, with whom
D. H. Hill had united, bore to the left, in order to cut off re-enforcements
to the enemy or intercept his retreat in that direction. Longstreet and A.
P. Hill moved nearer the Chickahominy. Many prisoners were taken in their
progress, and the conflagration of wagons and stores marked the way of the
retreating army. Longstreet and Hill reached the vicinity of New Bridge about
noon. It was ascertained that the enemy had taken a position behind Powhite
Creek, prepared to dispute our progress. He occupied a range of hills, with
his right resting in the vicinity of McGehee's house and his left near that
of Dr. Gaines, on a wooded bluff, which rose abruptly from a deep ravine.
The ravine was filled with sharpshooters, to whom its banks gave protection.
A second line of infantry was stationed on the side of the hill behind a
breastwork of trees above the first; a third occupied the crest, strengthened
with rifle trenches and crowned with artillery. The approach to this position
was over an open plain, about a quarter of a mile wide, commanded by this
triple line of fire and swept by the heavy batteries south of the Chickahominy.
In front of his center and right the ground was generally open, bounded on
the side of our approach by a wood, with dense and tangled undergrowth, and
traversed by a sluggish stream, which converted the soil into a deep morass.
The woods on the farther side of the swamp were occupied by sharpshooters,
and trees had been felled to increase the difficulty of its passage and detain
our advancing columns under the fire of infantry massed on the slopes of
the opposite hills and of the batteries on their crests. Pressing on toward
the York River Railroad, A. P. Hill, who was in advance, reached the vicinity
of New Cold Harbor about 2 p.m., where he encountered the enemy. He immediately
formed his line nearly parallel to the road leading from that place toward
McGehee's house, and soon became hotly engaged. The arrival of Jackson on
our left was momentarily expected, and it was supposed that his approach
would cause the extension of the enemy's line in that direction. Under this
impression Longstreet was held back until this movement should commence.
The principal part of the Federal Army was now on the north side of the
Chickahominy. Hill's single division met this large force with the impetuous
courage for which that officer and his troops are distinguished. They drove
the enemy back and assailed him in his strong position on the ridge. The
battle raged fiercely and with varying fortune more than two hours. Three
regiments pierced the enemy's line and forced their way to the crest of the
hill on his left, but were compelled to fall back before overwhelming numbers.
The superior force of the enemy, assisted by the fire of his batteries south
of the Chickahominy, which played incessantly on our columns as they pressed
through the difficulties that obstructed their way, caused them to recoil.
Though most of the men had never been under fire until the day before, they
were rallied and in turn repelled the advance of the enemy. Some brigades
were broken, others stubbornly maintained their positional but it became
apparent that the enemy was gradually gaming ground.
The attack on our left being delayed by the length of Jackson's march and
the obstacles he encountered, Longstreet was ordered to make a diversion
in Hill's favor by a feint on the enemy's left. In making this demonstration
the great strength of the position already described was discovered, and
General Longstreet perceived that to render the diversion effectual the feint
must be converted into an attack. He resolved with characteristic promptness
to carry the heights by assault. His column was quickly formed near the open
ground, and as his preparations were completed Jackson arrived, and his right
division, that of Whiting, took position on the left of Longstreet. At the
same time D. H. Hill formed on our extreme left, and after a short but bloody
conflict forced his way through the morass and obstructions and drove the
enemy from the woods on the opposite side. Ewell advanced on Hill's right
and engaged the enemy furiously. The First and Fourth Brigades of Jackson's
own division filled the interval between Ewell and A. P. Hill. The Second
and Third were sent to the right. The arrival of these fresh troops enabled
A. P. Hill to withdraw some of his brigades, wearied and reduced by their
long and arduous conflict. The line being now complete, a general advance
from right to left was ordered. On the right the troops moved forward with
steadiness, unchecked by the terrible fire from the triple lines of infantry
on the hill, and the cannon on both sides of the river, which burst upon
them as they emerged upon the plain. The dead and wounded marked the way
of their intrepid advance, the brave Texans leading, closely followed by
their no less daring comrades. The enemy were driven from the ravine to the
first line of breastworks, over which our impetuous column dashed up to the
intrenchments on the crest. These were quickly stormed, fourteen pieces of
artillery captured, and the enemy driven into the field beyond. Fresh troops
came to his support and he endeavored repeatedly to rally, but in vain. He
was forced back with great slaughter until he reached the woods on the banks
of the Chickahominy, and night put an end to the pursuit. Long lines of dead
and wounded marked each stand made by the enemy in his stubborn resistance,
and the field over which he retreated was strewn with the slain.
On the left the attack was no less vigorous and successful. D.H. Hill charged
across the open ground in his front, one of his regiments having first bravely
carried a battery whose fire enfiladed his advance. Gallantly supported by
the troops on his right, who pressed forward with unfaltering resolution,
he reached the crest of the ridge, and after a sanguinary struggle broke
the enemy's line, captured several of his batteries, and drove him in confusion
toward the Chickahominy until darkness rendered farther pursuit impossible.
Our troops remained in undisturbed possession of the field, covered with
the Federal dead and wounded, and their broken forces fled to the river or
wandered through the woods.
Owing to the nature of the country the cavalry was unable to participate
in the general engagement. It rendered valuable service in guarding Jackson's
flank and took a large number of prisoners.
On the morning of the 28th it was ascertained that none of the enemy remained
in our front north of the Chickahominy. As he might yet intend to give battle
to preserve his communications, the Ninth Cavalry, supported by Ewell's division,
was ordered to seize the York River Railroad, and General Stuart, with his
main body, to co-operate. When the cavalry reached Dispatch Station the enemy
retreated to the south bank of the river and burned the railroad bridge.
Ewell, coming up shortly afterward, destroyed a portion of the track.
During the forenoon columns of dust south of the Chickahominy showed that
the Federal Army was in motion. The abandonment of the railroad and destruction
of the bridge proved that no further attempt would be made to hold that line;
but' from the position it occupied the roads which led toward James River
would also enable it to reach the lower bridges over the Chickahominy and
retreat down the peninsula. In the latter event it was necessary that our
troops should continue on the north bank of the river, and until the intention
of General McClellan was discovered it was deemed injudicious to change their
disposition. Ewell was therefore ordered to proceed to Bottom's Bridge to
guard that point, and the cavalry to watch the bridges below. No certain
indications of a retreat to James River were discovered by our forces on
the south side of the Chickahominy, and late in the afternoon the enemy's
works were reported to be fully manned. The strength of these fortifications
prevented Generals Huger and Magruder from discovering what was passing in
their front. Below the enemy's works the country was densely wooded and
intersected by impassable swamps, at once concealing his movements and precluding
reconnaiasances except by the regular roads, all of which were strongly guarded.
The bridges over the Chickahominy in rear of the enemy were destroyed, and
their reconstruction impracticable in the presence of his whole army and
powerful batteries. We were therefore compelled to wait until his purpose
should be developed.
Generals Huger and Magruder were again directed to use the utmost vigilance
and pursue the enemy vigorously should they discover that be was retreating.
During the afternoon and night of the 28th the signs of a general movement
were apparent, and no indications of his approach to the lower bridges of
the Chickahominy having been discovered by the pickets in observation at
those points, it became manifest that General McClellan was retreating to
the James River.
BATTLE OF SAVAGE STATION.
Early on the 29th Longstreet and A. P. Hill were ordered to recross the
Chickahominy at New Bridge, and move by the Darbytown to the Long Bridge
Maj. R. K. Meade and Lieut. S. R. Johnston, the Engineers, attached to General
Longstreet's division, who had been sent to reconnoiter, found, about sunrise,
the work on the upper extremity of the enemy's line of intrenchments abandoned.
Generals Huger and Magruder were immediately ordered in pursuit, the former
by the Charles City road, so as to take the Federal Army in flank, and the
latter by the Williamsburg road, to attack its rear. Jackson was directed
to cross at Grapevine Bridge and move down the south side of the Chickahominy.
Magruder and Huger found the whole line of works deserted and large quantities
of military stores of every description abandoned or destroyed.
The former reached the vicinity of Savage Station about noon, where he came
upon the rear guard of the retreating army. Being informed that the enemy
was advancing, he halted and sent for re-enforcements. Two brigades of Huger's
division were ordered to his support, but subsequently withdrawn, it being
apparent that the force in Magruder's front was covering the retreat of the
main body. Jackson's route led to the flank and rear of Savage Station, but
he was delayed by the necessity of reconstructing Grapevine Bridge.
Late in the afternoon Magruder attacked the enemy with one of his divisions
and two regiments of another. A severe action ensued and continued about
two hours, when it was terminated by night.
The troops displayed great, gallantry and inflicted heavy loss upon the enemy;
but, owing to the lateness of the hour and the small force employed, the
result was not decisive, and the enemy continued his retreat under cover
of darkness, leaving several hundred prisoners, with his dead and wounded,
in our hands.
At Savage Station were found about 2,500 men in hospital and a large amount
of property. Stores of much value had been destroyed, including the necessary
medical supplies for the sick and wounded. But the time gained enabled the
retreating column to cross White Oak Swamp without interruption and destroy
BATTLE OF FRAZIER'S FARM.(*)
Jackson reached Savage Station early on the 30th. He was directed to pursue
the enemy on the road he had taken and Magruder to follow Longstreet by the
Darbytown road. As Jackson advanced he captured such numbers of prisoners
and collected so many arms that two regiments had to be detached for their
security. His progress was arrested at White Oak Swamp. The enemy occupied
the opposite side and obstinately resisted the reconstruction of the bridge.
Longstreet and A. P. Hill, continuing their advance on the 30th, soon came
upon the enemy strongly posted across the Long Bridge road, about 1 mile
from its intersection with the Charles City road. Huger's route led to the
right of this position, Jackson's to the rear, and the arrival of their commands
was awaited to begin the attack.
On the 29th General Holmes had crossed from the south side of James River
with part of his division.
On the 30th, re-enforced by General Wise with a detachment of his brigade,
he moved down the river road and came upon the line of the retreating army
near Malvern Hill. Perceiving indications of confusion, General Holmes was
ordered to open upon the column with artillery. He soon discovered that a
number of batteries, advantageously posted, supported by an infantry force
superior to his own and assisted by the fire of the gunboats in the James
River, guarded this part of the line.
Magruder, who had reached the Darbytown road, was ordered to re-enforce Holmes,
but being at a greater distance than had been supposed, he did not reach
the position of the latter in time for an attack.
Huger reported that his progress was obstructed, but about 4 p.m. firing
was heard in the direction of the Charles City road, which was supposed to
indicate his approach. Longstreet immediately 'opened with one of his batteries
to give notice of his presence. This brought on the engagement, but Huger
not coming up, and Jackson having been unable to force the passage of White
Oak Swamp, Longstreet and Hill were without the expected support. The superiority
of numbers and advantage of position were on the side of the enemy.
The battle raged furiously until 9 p.m. By that time the enemy had been driven
with great slaughter from every position but one, which he maintained until
he was enabled to withdraw under cover of darkness.
At the close of the struggle nearly the entire field remained in our possession,
covered with the enemy's dead and wounded. Many prisoners, including a general
of division, were captured, and several batteries, with some thousands of
small-arms, taken. Could the other commands have co-operated in the action
the result would have proved most disastrous to the enemy.
After the engagement Magruder was recalled to relieve the troops of Longstreet
and Hill. His men, much fatigued by their long, hot march, arrived during
BATTLE OF MALVERN HILL.
Early on July 1 Jackson reached the battle-field of the previous day, having
succeeded in crossing White Oak Swamp, where he captured a part of the enemy's
artillery and a number of prisoners. He was directed to continue the pursuit
down the Willis Church road, and soon found the enemy occupying a high range,
extending obliquely across the road, in front of Malvern Hill. On this position
of great natural strength he had concentrated his powerful artillery, supported
by masses of infantry, partially protected by earthworks. His left rested
near Crew's house and his right near Binford's. Immediately in his front
the ground was open, varying in width from a quarter to half a mile, and,
sloping gradually from the crest, was completely swept by the fire of his
infantry and artillery. To reach this open ground our troops had to advance
through a broken and thickly-wooded country, traversed nearly throughout
its whole extent by a swamp passable at but few places and difficult at those.
The whole was within range of the batteries on the heights and the gunboats
in the river, under whose incessant fire our movements had to be executed.
Jackson formed his line with Whiting's division on his left and D. H. Hill's
on his right, one of Ewell's brigades occupying the interval. The rest of
Ewell's and Jackson's own divisions were held in reserve. Magruder was directed
to take position on Jackson's right, but before his arrival two of Huger's
brigades came up and were placed next to Hill. Magruder subsequently formed
on the right of these brigades, which, with a third of Huger's, were placed
under his command. Longstreet and A. P. Hill were held in reserve and took
no part in the engagement. Owing to ignorance of the country, the dense forests
impeding necessary communication, and the extreme difficulty of the ground,
the whole line was not formed until a late hour in the afternoon. The obstacles
presented by the woods and swamp made it impracticable to bring up a sufficient
amount of artillery to oppose successfully the extraordinary force of that
arm employed by the enemy, while the field itself afforded us few positions
favorable for its use and none for its proper concentration. Orders were
issued for a general advance at a given signal, but the causes referred to
prevented a proper concert of action among the troops. D.H. Hill pressed
forward across the open field and engaged the enemy gallantly, breaking and
driving back his first line; but a simultaneous advance of the other troops
not taking place, he found himself unable to maintain the ground he had gained
against the overwhelming numbers and numerous batteries of the enemy. Jackson
sent to his support his own division and that part of Ewell's which was in
reserve, but owing to the increasing darkness and intricacy of the forest
and swamp they did not arrive in time to render the desired assistance. Hill
was therefore compelled to abandon part of the ground he had gained after
suffering severe loss and inflicting heavy damage upon the enemy. On the
right the attack was gallantly made by Huger's and Magruder's commands. Two
brigades of the former commenced the action; the other two were subsequently
sent to the support of Magruder and Hill. Several determined efforts were
made to storm the hill at Crew's house. The brigades advanced bravely across
the open field, raked by the fire of a hundred cannon and the musketry of
large bodies of infantry. Some were broken and gave way, others approached
close to the guns, driving back the infantry, compelling the advanced batteries
to retire to escape capture, and mingling their dead with those of the enemy.
For want of concert among the attacking columns their assaults were too weak
to break the Federal line, and after struggling gallantly, sustaining and
inflicting great loss, they were compelled successively to retire. Night
was approaching when the attack began, and it soon became difficult to
distinguish friend from foe. The firing continued until after 9 p.m., but
no decided result was gained. Part of the troops were withdrawn to their
original positions, others remained on the open field, and some rested within
a hundred yards of the batteries that had been so bravely but vainly assailed.
The general conduct of the troops was excellent. in some instances
heroic. The lateness of the hour at which the attack necessarily began gave
the enemy the full advantage of his superior position and augmented the natural
difficulties of our own.
After seizing the York River Railroad on June 28 and driving the enemy across
the Chickahominy, as already narrated, the cavalry under General Stuart proceeded
down the railroad to ascertain if there was any movement of the enemy in
He encountered but little opposition, and reached the vicinity of the White
House on the 29th. At his approach the enemy destroyed the greater part of
the immense stores accumulated at that depot and retreated toward Fort Monroe.
With one gun and some dismounted men General Stuart drove off a gunboat which
lay near the White House and rescued a large amount of property, including
more than 10,000 stands of small-arms partially burned. Leaving one squadron
at the White House, in compliance with his orders, he returned to guard the
lower bridges of the Chickahominy.
On the 30th he was directed to recross and co-operate with General Jackson.
After a long march he reached the rear of the enemy at Mal-vern Hill on the
night of July 1 at the close of the engagement.
On July 2 it was discovered that the enemy had withdrawn during the night,
leaving the ground covered with his dead and wounded, and his route exhibiting
abundant evidence of precipitate retreat. The pursuit was commenced, General
Stuart with his cavalry in the advance, but a violent storm, which prevailed
throughout the day, greatly retarded our progress. The enemy, harassed and
closely followed by the cavalry, succeeded in gaining Westover, on James
River, and the protection of his gunboats. He immediately began to fortify
his position, which was one of great natural strength, flanked on each side
by a creek, and the approach to his front commanded by the heavy guns of
his shipping, in addition to those mounted in his intrenchments. It was deemed
inexpedient to attack him, and in view of the condition of our troops, who
had been marching and fighting almost incessantly for seven days under the
most trying circumstances, it was determined to withdraw, in order to afford
them the repose of which they stood so much in need.
Several days were spent in collecting arms and other property abandoned by
the enemy, and in the mean time some artillery and cavalry were sent below
Westover to annoy his transports.
On July 8 the army returned to the vicinity of Richmond.
Under ordinary circumstances the Federal Army should have been destroyed.
Its escape was due to the causes already stated. Prominent among these is
the want of correct and timely information. This fact, attributable chiefly
to the character of the country, enabled General McClellan skillfully to
conceal his retreat and to add much to the obstructions with which nature
had beset the way of our pursuing columns; but regret that more was not
accomplished gives way to gratitude to the Sovereign Ruler of the Universe
for the results achieved. The siege of Richmond was raised, and the object
of a campaign, which had been prosecuted after months of preparation at an
enormous expenditure of men and money, completely frustrated. More than 10,000
prisoners, including officers of rank, 52 pieces of artillery, and upward
of 35,000 stands of small-arms were captured. The stores and supplies of
every description which fell into our hands were great in amount and value,
but small in comparison with those destroyed by the enemy. His losses in
battle exceeded our own, as attested by the thousands of dead and wounded
left on every field, while his subsequent inaction shows in what condition
the survivors reached the protection to which they fled.
The accompanying tables contain the lists of our casualties in the series
Among the dead will be found many whose names will ever be associated with
the great events in which they all bore so honorable a part. For these, as
well as for the names of their no less distinguished surviving comrades,
who earned for themselves the high honor of special commendation, where all
so well discharged their duty, reference must necessarily be made to the
accompanying reports. But I cannot forbear expressing my admiration of the
noble qualities displayed, with rare exceptions, by officers and men, under
circumstances which demanded the exercise of every soldierly virtue.
To the officers commanding divisions and brigades belongs the credit for
the management of their troops in action. The extent of the fields of battle,
the nature of the ground, and the denseness of the forests rendered more
than general directions impracticable.
To the officers of my staff I am indebted for constant aid during the entire
period. Colonels Chilton and Long, Majors Taylor, Venable, Talcott, and Marshall,
and Captain Mason were continuously with me on the field. General Pendleton,
chief of artillery; Lieutenant-Colonel Corley, chief quartermaster;
Lieutenant-Colonel Cole, chief commissary; Lieutenant-Colonel Alexander,
chief of ordnance; Surgeon Guild, medical director; Colonel Lay and
Lieutenant-Colonel Harvie, inspectors-general, and Lieutenant-Colonel Stevens,
chief engineer, attended unceasingly to their several departments.
To the whole medical corps of the army I return my thanks for the care and
attention bestowed on the wounded.
R. E. LEE, General.
General S. COOPER, Adjutant and Inspector-General, Richmond, Va.
GENERAL ORDERS No. 75.
HDQRS. ARMY OF NORTHERN VIRGINIA,
June 24, 1862.
I. General Jackson's command will proceed to-morrow from Ashland toward the
Slash Church and encamp at some convenient point west of the Central Railroad.
Branch's brigade, of A. P. Hill's division, will also to-morrow evening take
position on the Chickahominy near Half. Sink. At 3 o'clock Thursday morning,
26th instant, General Jackson win advance on the road leading to Pole Green
Church, communicating his march to General Branch, who will immediately cross
the Chickahominy and take the road leading to Mechanicsville. As soon as
the movements of these columns are discovered, General A. P. Hill, with the
rest of his division, will cross the Chickahominy near Meadow Bridge and
move direct upon Mechanicsville. To aid his advance, the heavy batteries
on the Chickahominy will at the proper time open upon the batteries at
Mechanicsville. The enemy being driven from Mechanicsville and the passage
across the bridge opened, General Longstreet, with his division and that
of General D. H. Hill, will cross the Chickahominy at or near that point,
General D. H. Hill moving to the support of General Jackson and General
Longstreet supporting General A. P. Hill. The four divisions, keeping in
communication with each other and moving en échelon on separate roads,
if practicable, the left division in advance, with skirmishers and sharpshooters
extending their front, will sweep down the Chickahominy and endeavor to drive
the enemy from his position above New Bridge, General Jackson bearing well
to his left, turning Beaver Dam Creek and taking the direction toward Cold
Harbor. They will then press forward toward the York River Railroad, closing
upon the enemy's rear and forcing him down the Chickahominy. Any advance
of the enemy toward Richmond will be prevented by vigorously following his
rear and crippling and arresting his progress.
II. The divisions under Generals Huger and Magruder will hold their positions
in front of the enemy against attack, and make such demonstrations Thursday
as to discover his operations. Should opportunity offer, the feint will be
converted into a real attack, and should an abandonment of his intrenchments
by the enemy be discovered, he will be closely pursued.
III. The Third Virginia Cavalry will observe the Charles City road. The Fifth
Virginia, the First North Carolina, and the Hampton Legion (cavalry) will
observe the Darbytown, Varina, and Osborne roads. Should a movement of the
enemy down the Chickahominy be discovered, they will close upon his flank
and endeavor to arrest his march.
IV. General Stuart, with the First, Fourth, and Ninth Virginia Cavalry, the
cavalry of Cobb's Legion and the Jeff. Davis Legion, will cross the Chickahominy
to-morrow and take position to the left of General Jackson's line of march.
The main body will be held in reserve, with scouts well extended to the front
and left. General Stuart will keep General Jackson informed of the movements
of the enemy on his left and will co-operate with him in his advance. The
Tenth Virginia Cavalry, Colonel Davis, will remain on the Nine-mile road.
V. General Ransom's brigade, of General Holmes' command, will be placed in
reserve on the Williamsburg road by General Huger, to whom he will report
VI. Commanders of divisions will cause their commands to be provided with
three days' cooked rations. The necessary ambulances and ordnance trains
will be ready to accompany the divisions and receive orders from their respective
commanders. Officers in charge of all trains will invariably remain with
them. Batteries and wagons will keep on the right of the road. The chief
engineer, Major Stevens, will assign engineer officers to each division,
whose duty it will be to make provision for overcoming all difficulties to
the progress of the troops. The staff departments will give the necessary
instructions to facilitate the movements herein directed.
By command of General Lee:
R. H. CHILTON, Assistant Adjutant-General.
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF NORTHERN VIRGINIA,
April 7, 1863.
General S. COOPER,
Adjutant and Inspector General, C. S. A.:
GENERAL: I inclose herewith a map(*) of the field of operations of this army
before Richmond, which I desire to have put with my report of the battles
before Richmond, sent in to your office with my letter of the 12th ultimo.
I have the honor to be, with much respect, your obedient servant,
R. E. LEE, General.
GENERAL ORDERS No. 75.
HEADQUARTERS IN THE FIELD,
July 7, 1862.
The general commanding, profoundly grateful to the only Giver of all victory
for the signal success with which He has blessed our arms, tenders his warmest
thanks and congratulations to the army, by whose valor such splendid results
have been achieved.
On Thursday, June 26, the powerful and thoroughly-equipped army of the enemy
was intrenched in works vast in extent and most formidable in character within
sight of our capital. To-day the remains of that confident and threatening
host lie upon the banks of James River, 30 miles from Richmond, seeking to
recover, under the protection of his gunboats, from the effects of a series
of disastrous defeats.
The battle, beginning on the afternoon of June 26 above Mechan-icsville,
continued until the night of July 1, with only such intervals as were necessary
to pursue and overtake the fleeing foe. His strong intrenchments and obstinate
resistance were overcome, and our army swept resistlessly down the north
side of the Chickahominy until it reached the rear of the enemy and broke
his communication with the York, capturing or causing the destruction of
many valuable stores, and by the decisive battle of Friday forcing the enemy
from his line of powerful fortifications on the south side of the Chickahominy
and driving him to a precipitate retreat. This victorious army pursued as
rapidly as the obstructions placed by the enemy in his rear would permit,
three times overtaking his fleeing column and as often driving him with slaughter
from the field, leaving his numerous dead and wounded in our hands in every
conflict. The immediate fruits of our success are the relief of Richmond
from a state of siege; the rout of the great army that so long menaced its
safety; many thousand prisoners, including officers of high rank; the capture
or destruction of stores to the value of millions, and the acquisition of
thousands of arms and forty pieces of superior artillery.
The service rendered to the country in this short but eventful period can
scarcely be estimated, and the general commanding cannot adequately express
his admiration of the courage, endurance, and soldierly conduct of the officers
and men engaged. These brilliant results have cost us many brave men; but
while we mourn the loss of our gallant dead let us not forget that they died
nobly in defense of their country's freedom, and have linked their memory
with an event that will live forever in the hearts of a grateful people.
Soldiers, your country will thank you for the heroic conduct you
<ar13_501>have displayed conduct worthy of men engaged in a cause
so just and sacred, and deserving a nation's gratitude and praise.
By command of General Lee:
R. H. CHILTON, Assistant Adjutant-General
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