Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

meritorious conduct in the late fight, and to dis- them now. Had I had the full information I play the fact that, although these regiments were now have in regard to the troops above named not sufferers in the late engagement at Williams- when I first telegraphed, they would have been burgh, having been detached by Gen. Heintzel. specially mentioned and commended. I spoke man to guard the left flank, by their steady and only of what I knew at the time, and I shall reimposing attitude, they contributed to the success joice to do full justice to all engaged. of those more immediately engaged. And I as

Geo. B. MCCLELLAN, sure you, sir, that with such material, command

Major-General Commanding. ed by such sterling officers, nothing but success

ORDER OF BRIG.-GENERAL COUCH, can crown our efforts when the occasion requires. I have the honor to enclose the report of Gen. D.

HEADQUARTERS Corch's DIVISION, B. Birney, who commanded the noble brigade, of

CAMP NEAR NEW-KENT COURT-Hlouse, Va., May 14, 1862. which these two regiments form a part.

Gen. GENERAL Order No. 37. Birney commands two New-York and two Maine

The Brigadier-General Commanding desires to regiments.

express his thanks to the division for the heroic It is peculiarly appropriate, after having rencourage and fortitude displayed by them at the dered justice to the regiments and Colonels, to battle of Williamsburgh, Va., on the fifth inst. bring Gens. Jameson and Berry to the especial

Gen. Peck, with his brigade, consisting of the attention of yourself and citizens at home, who Sixty-second New-York, Ninety-third Pennsyllook to them for noble deeds, to illustrate their vania, One Hundred and Second Pennsylvania, annals ; and I am proud to state that they have Fifty-fifth New-York, and Ninety-eighth Pennamply filled the full meed of anticipated distinc- sylvania, had the good fortune to be in advance : tion.

and arriving on the battle-ground at a critical Gen. Berry, charged with the left wing of our time, won a reputation greatly to be envied. line of battle, evinced a courage that might have

Gen. Devens, with his brigade, hurried for. been expected of him, (when, as Colonel of the ward. The Second Rhode Island and Seventh Fourth regiment of Maine volunteers

, he nearly Massachusetts were pushed to support Gen. Peck saved the day at Bull Run,) and also a genius for at a trying period of the fight, and were faithful war and a pertinacity in the fight that proved

to their trust. The Tenth Massachusetts was him fit for high command — for he was inost sent to the right to support Gen. Hancock, and severely assailed on the left, and had most dif- did good service. The General Commanding ficult rifle-pits and abattis to face and carry.

deeply regrets the absence at Warwick of the Gen. Jameson, who commands the First bri- Thirty-sixth New-York. gade, (One hundred and Second, Sixty-third and

Graham's brigade came up too late to share in Fifty-seventh Pennsylvania volunteers, and Eigh- the glory of the fight, but not too late to assure ty-seventh New-York,) forming the rear of the the Division-General that they were ready for column on the march from camp, on the fifth any duty which soldiers could be asked to per. inst., used vigor in bringing up his men, under form. every difficulty, and was with me under severe

Friends! we have gained the confidence of our fire when he arrived, and gave guarantee of a re-country; let us in future battles, as in the last, solution that promised success, in case daylight, show that we can face our rebel foes, and whip reinaining to us, he had been advanced to the at them, too. By order of tack of Fort Magruder, and those works which

Brigadier-General Couch. the enemy evacuated to us during the night, and

Francis A. WALKER, A. A.G. which he was the first to enter at daylight.

Official WM. H. Morris, I have the honor, sir, to be your obedient

Captain, A.A.G.
servant,
P. KEARNEY,

NEW-YORK "EVENING POST" NARRATIVE,
Brigadler-General Commanding Third Division
Heintzelman's Corps.

YORKTOWN, VA., May 8, 1862.

Amazed by the proportions and strength of MCCLELLAN'S TRIBUTE TO HIS TROOPS. the rebel fortifications at Yorktown, the Northern CAMP, 19 MILES FROM WILLIAMSBURGH,

public could hardly have expected that at a point May 11, 1962.

so near as Williamsburgh our army would enHon. E. M. Stanton, Secretary of War: counter works of the same elaborate and formida

Without waiting further for official reports, ble character, and meet a stout and protracted which have not yet reached me, I wish to bear resistance on the part of the retreating enemy. testimony to the splendid conduct of Hooker's The march to Williamsburgh, which began at an and Kearney's divisions, under command of Gen. early hour on Sunday, the fourth instant, was Heintzelman, in the battle of Williamsburgh. made with much caution, and yet with a rapidity Their bearing was worthy of veterans. Hooker's which quite astonished the fleeing foe. The division for hours gallantly withstood the attack prisoners, taken at one point and another upon of greatly superior numbers, with very heavy the road, all expressed the greatest surprise at loss. Kearney's division arrived in time to re- our hasty advance, “never dreaming," as one restore the fortunes of the day, and came most marked to me," that we would so soon venture gallantly into action. I shall probably have oc- beyond Yorktown." casion to call attention to other commands, and The weather has been dry for some days, and do not wish to do injury to them by mentioning the roads were in tolerably fair condition. The

fields were barren until three or four miles be want of infantry, after a sharp and unprofitable yond Yorktown, where there were signs of culti- skirmish. He had imprudently approached the vation and many acres of thrifty wheat. The very works of the enemy, and charged them withhouses were, with searcely an exception, aban- out any adequate support, and the result was a doned. White flags - a plea for protection repulse, with the loss of a gun and a dozen were floating from some of them; and in one in- wounded men. His troops fell back to the old stance, where a mother and her little ones re- church before referred to, and that building was mained, each waved a white handkerchief in a made a hospital for his injured as well as for Hanner so touching and plaintive that the stout. those of Emory's command. Here, too, our priest hearts in our ranks were affected by the sight. soners, some score or more, were detained, and I made a request for a cup of cold water, which a bevy of contrabands of all shades, who had was promptly supplied, my excuse for tarrying a come to our lines during the day, with their ef. moment at this house. Both mother and child- fects upon their backs, were balted for the night. ren were trembling at the sight of our armed While the surgeons were busy in the church, hosts, but the good woman assured me that her the venerable walls of which were soon crimsoned trust was in the Lord, and she knew that he with blood, the prisoners and contrabands were would protect her. The father had fled; two or quartered around blazing fires. The former were three negro servants remained, but were in great several of them officers of intelligence - one a trepidation. The buildings and fences were well graduate of Yale College, another a well-known preserved, and in the garden were pretty flowers, New-Orleans merchant. They bore their capture the first I had seen on the march. Yet to an in- with considerable equanimity, while the contraquiry for luncheon the mother replied that she had bands were as merry and loquacious as though nothing in the house but a little hominy, and that it they had reached the goal of their highest amhad long been impossible to procure a supply of bition. provisions. She earnestly deprecated the war; During the night Hooker's and Smith's divisions and well she might, for her little household had pressed forward to their respective destinations felt its terrors most keenly.

on the left and right, in front of the enemy's works The corps d'armée of Heintzelman and Keyes at Williamsburgh. Slowly but steadily they had first moved forward, the divisions of Hooker marched by the old church, with its surroundand Smith taking the lead, the former by the road ing fires. At midnight it began to rain, and the from Yorktown and the latter by a road from darkness, before oppressive, became absolutely Warwick Court-House, which joined the Wil- impenetrable. As the companies filed by, they liamsburgh road at the Cheesecoke Church, an were at once lost to view, and speedily the moistantiquated building used by the “Oldside Bap- ened earth began to quiver under the tramp of tists,” erected in colonial times, and some six the troops. Far away to the left Hooker's men miles from Yorktown. Here again the divisions approached the enemy's position, while to the cenparted, Hooker going to the left and Smith ad. tre and right Smith's division formed in front of vancing to the right. Of course both were pre- his forts. ceded by cavalry and artillery, and on the after

“ From camp to camp, through the soul womb of night, noon of Sunday, at a distance of not more than The hum of either army stilly svunds, two or three miles from the church, there were

That the fixed sentinels almost receive two considerable skirmishes. In the first of

The secret whispers of each other's watch." these, to the left, Gen. Emory was in command, A dark, dreary morning, with torrents of rain, and had with him Gilson's battery, detachments found the contending armies face to face. Flushed of the First and Sixth regular cavalry, including with their repulse of Stoneman, the rebels early the McClellan dragoons, under Major Barker, and began to advance their pickets on the left, and as the Third Pennsylvania cavalry, Col. Averill. quickly the determined Hooker drove them back. Meeting the enemy's cavalry, they were thorough. Bramhall's and Smith's batteries, both from Newly routed by one of Gilson's guns, which he fired York, were soon in action, but their progress was himself with rare coolness and precision, and a thwarted by the condition of the roads. The charge of the dragoons and the Third Pennsylva- former was eventually lost, after a gallant defence, nia cavalry, a volunteer regiment, which, under the horses being unable to move the guns. It the control of the accomplished and fearless was retaken on Tuesday. Throughout the mornAverill, is fitted to render most efficient service. ing looker struggled manfully against the rain, On the right, at Whittaker's mill, Gen. Stoneman, the mud, and the rebels, who appeared on the chief of cavalry, with three batteries and portions left in great strength. Gen. Heintzelman was on of the First and Sixth regular cavalry, also Farns- the field much of the time, and pronounces the worth's Eighth Illinois cavalry, captured a fine contest extremely severe; other experienced offitwelve-pounder gun, which had been moved from cers represent it as terrible beyond precedent. an earthwork and drawn to the edge of the pond. Grover's, Patterson's, and Sickles's brigades were Here also Frank Lee, a captain in the Thirty- battled with a fury, under odds, and with a second Virginia infantry, was made prisoner. slaughter which had well- nigh exhausted and

A couple of miles further on, and beyond Whit- driven them from the field, after the artillery had taker's house, which subsequently became the withdrawn, but for the timely arrival, at two headquarters of our generals, Stoneman was met o'clock, of Kearney's division, consisting of the hy a strong force of the enemy, and fell back, for brigades of Berry, Birney, and Jameson. These

2

[ocr errors]

good troops, though weary with long and rapid so long and faithfully served his country, reached marching, under the sturdy lead of licintzelman, the plateau to the rear of headquarters.” Couch's were not long in turning the tide in our favor, division also appeared. Now, too, the artillery though it cost them, especially the Scott Life- and cavalry held in reserve drew near to the Guard and Mozart regiments of New-York, a scene of action, and prepared for an immediate heavy outlay of life.

engagement. Several additional batteries were Troops of less experience and hardihood would sent forward. Ayres was throwing his screechhave tinched where these faced the music with a ing missiles far into the enemy's ranks, and Mott stubbornness which must have surprised the opened an “infernal fire” on the centre, whilo enemy.

far on the right and left the din of our guns was Meantime Smith's division was doing nobly on incessant, the tumult of battle loud and furious. the right and centre. Hancock's brigade, com- Yet messengers, their steeds posed of the Fifth Wisconsin, Forty-third New

“ Bloody with spurring, fiery.red with haste," York, Forty-ninth Pennsylvania, and Sixth Maine regiments, was on the extreme right, while flew to headquarters with the report that on our Brooks's Vermont brigade occupied the centre, left the desperate enemy was again pressing us and both bore the heat of battle most nobly. in, while from the right Hancock sent for reënEvery few moments couriers brought tidings of forcements without delay. The sombre clouds, the steadiness of these fine brigades, and our ex- dispensing their copious waters upon the marpectation that they would do themselves great shaled armies, were not darker than our proshonor during the day was by no means disap- pects now appeared ; but the arrival of additional pointed. Everywhere the enemy found them arinies, their careful placing and strength, and stern and determined combatants, and worthy the knowledge that the main body of our force their exalted reputation.

could not be far behind, inspired fresh confidence At headquarters, Whittaker's house, a sightly in our ranks. The battle waged savagely. Men locality opposite the centre of our lines, between never fought more doggedly. Death was never which and the enemy's works there was a narrow met with more of genuine heroism. The vacanwood, Gens. Sumner, Keyes, and Heintzelman cies in the lines were speedily filled, the enemy were in frequent consultation. The former, was met shot for shot and gun for gun. The though few troops of his corps were upon the army of the Potomac, long drilled, long in waitfield, by virtue of his rank was in command. ing, eager to avenge the slaughter and repulse at The active duties of the day were, however, per- Bull Run and Ball's Bluff, knew no such word formed by Keyes and Fleintzelman, who were in- as faii. defatigable, and by their clear comprehension of When the firing was the most terrific, and the the exigencies of the contest added, if possible, anxiety the most intense, there came from the to their excellent fame as commanders. The rear of our ranks a sound which seemed for the Union army boasts of no better soldiers than moment to subdue the roar even of the artillery. these two gallant and popular men. Whatever All eyes and ears were turned to discover its of unnecessary delay there may have been in origin, which proved to be the approach of Gen. bringing forth reēnforcements during the day, it McClellan and staff. Throughout the day he cannot be attributed to them.

had been momentarily expected, and his opporAt four o'clock in the afternoon the battle was tune coming was hailed with long and enthusiat its height. The scene from headquarters at astic cheering. Regiment after regiment, as he that time was exciting and imposing beyond de- was quickly recognised, gave utterance to a welseription. Skirting the woods to the left, to the come of which Napoleon might have been proud. right, and before us, forming a half-circle two or | Arriving at headquarters, he — without disthree miles in extent, were thousands of our in-mounting from his horse held a brief consulfantry men, pouring a steady fire into the dense tation with Gen. Keyes, and approving his forests, where the enemy was steadily advancing. course, and especially his order for reënforceFrom my horse I could see the smoke of the ments to Gen. Hancock, joined him in a ride muskets gracefully curling among the tall trees throughout our lines. His appearance was and hear the crackling reports, which at every everywhere the signal for an outburst of the moment announced the severity of our attack, wildest applause. He wore a plain blue coat, and brought forth the prompt response of the and had his cap enveloped in a glazed covering: confederates; and now for the first time the rebel The rapidity of his ride to the field had well artillery began to be effective in the centre of our spattered him with mud, and the drenching rain lines. The hissing shells were thrown nearer, had penetrated his every garment. He, however, and with greater precision, and even burst be showed no signs of fatigue, and it was not until yond headquarters, to the consternation of some he had in person familiarized himself with the of the youthful aids-de-camps who had never entire field, and by critical observation studied been under fire, and to the greater alarm of the the exact position of the enemy, that he accepted women and children yet remaining in the house. the shelter of a room which had been reserved

Now, also, our own reserves were coming up for him at headquarters. Gen. Keyes had, in person, driven back a mile Thus matters stood at nightfall, when word or two and urged them forward. Casey's divi- came that Gen. Hancock had met the enemy in a sion, headed by that venerable officer, who has bayonet charge and thoroughly routed' hiin,

taking possession of all the works on the right of as by a tomahawk. Brave fellows who a few our lines, and handsomely flanking the rebel hours before had stood erect and strong, were forces on their left, a result Gen. Keyes had been bent and exhausted, and as pale and haggard as hoping for since noon, and which he thought though long in hospital. From hearts which at likely, as it prov to greatly annoy and alarm noon, or later, had beaten high and responsive the enemy. This masterly movement, crowned to the dictates of a lively and courageous patriotwith such complete success, elated our troops, ism, the warm life-blood was rapidly oozing, and and was hailed at headquarters as a harbinger of covered with a blanket or sheet many a cold body early victory. Words of warm congratulation awaited the grave. Ah! how much of the vain were sent to the dashing Pennsylvanian by the glory of war vanishes before the carnage of the Commanding General, and the reënforcements, battle-field ! How much of its stern and unadvanced by order of Gen. Keyes, soon reached poetic reality is found in the hospital! What the fortifications, placing the holding of them faithful messengers of pain and death are the beyond all question, and insuring the spirited shot and the shell ! Hancock a quiet night.

During the day a number of prisoners had In the centre and to the left our troops rested fallen into our hands, and some deserters bad on their arms. Wet, weary and hungry, with come to our lines. These were confined for the many depressing obstacles to overcome, they night in an outbuilding near to headquarters. were nevertheless ready and even clamorous for Those who conversed with them found them an advance. Neither the darkness nor the damp- mainly ignorant and disconsolate. All admitted ness chilled their buoyant spirits, and in their the strength and excellence of our army, but eagerness to defend the old flag they quite forgot none could give any good reason for the abandonthe risks and dangers of their bivouacs. Through- ment of Yorktown, which they concurred in proout the long night it required all the authority of nouncing the best fortified place in Virginia. The the officers to keep them from dashing pell-mell prisoners were chiefly from North-Carolina, and into the enemy's lines, and everywhere discom- professed to have been in Virginia but a few fiting him, at the point of the bayonet, after the weeks. They were unable, or failed, to give us thrilling example of Hancock.

much information of the position of the enemy at By four o'clock in the afternoon the large Williamsburgh. Indeed, during the day our genbarn adjacent to headquarters, which had been erals had attained no satisfactory intelligence, prepared for the reception of our wounded, began save from the ingenious contrabands, scores of to be filled with the victims of the deperate con- whom hovered about headquarters, and imparted, flict, chiefly brought in from the right and centre in their curious way, all they could of the rebel of our lines, Gen. Hooker's division being too movements. Gen. Keyes had frequent interviews far away. The arrangements of the rude hospital with them, and it was by a comparison of their were tolerably good, and the surgeons worked stories that he gained the knowledge of the counactively and well. By nine o'clock the wounds try to the right of the enemy's lines, whereby of upwards of one hundred sufferers had been Gen. Hancock was enabled to undertake the carefully dressed, and after that hour few if any flanking movement and his brilliant charge, which were brought in the darkness, the storm, and turned the day in our favor. Gen. Keyes recondition of the fields and woods making it marked that he had never been deceived by the impracticable. I have frequently seen the torn contrabands, and I am convinced that they are victims of war, and witnessed with admiration generally truthful and well disposed, though often heroic endurance, but never have I seen such too ignorant to intelligently impart what they patience under dreadful agony as that now dis- know. played by our bleeding volunteers. With barely With the morning of Tuesday the sunshine an exception they stood their tortures without a came, and the air was clear and bracing. Though murmur, and while undergoing delicate and pain- everything was wet and soppy, and the mud alful amputations, give utterance to little if any most fathomless, all felt that if the fight had to complaint.

be continued it would be under much better cirThe wounds were mostly from musketry, and cumstances than on the previous day. But the spoke well for the accuracy of the enemy's fire. silence of the night had been generally interpretThe suffering of the men was aggravated by the ed to indicate the withdrawal of the enemy, and sorry condition of their clothes, which, on the there was no surprise when a messenger from straggling march and in the dripping woods, had Gen. Hooker announced that all the forts on the become as wet as though soaked in the sea. It left had been abandoned and were possessed by would seem to be proper that, besides surgical him, and when from Gen. Hancock we learned instruments and medicines, the hospitals should that the foe was nowhere in sight. be provided with fresh clothing, that the poor The news created much discussion as to the fellows, wounded under such circumstances, may plan of the enemy, if he had any, and all who had be made comfortable, rather than from necessity tarried at headquarters were out at an early hour left in a condition which, even under ordinary eager for the developments of the day. I was circumstances, would be very unpleasant. amused to see the Count de Paris struggling Of shell wounds there were several shocking through the mud to the corn-crib, bag in hand,

A man lost both legs, one had his arms to procure feed for his horse, and Col. Astor giv. broken like pipe-stems, and snother was scalped ling directions as to the grooming of his tine animal, which had stood in the rain all night, while killed by a round shot. Here and there pools of he warmly denounced the adhesive character of clotted blood showed where the dead and dying the “sacred soil."

cases.

soldiers had lain, and the bodies of a number reIn the hospital the wounded were compara- inained as they had fallen. Ever and anon a tively comfortable, and I thought the occasion a musket, a coat, a sword on the ground, indicated good one to secure their names, but red tape the hasty withdrawal of its owner, and his deterwould not permit it. The doctors feared I would mination to suffer no impediment in his fight. disturb the patients, and so, by their own neglect The wheat, which had grown to the height of and their interference with others, many an anxi- a foot in most of the fields where the severest ous parent is kept in painful suspense, tremu- fighting took place, was of course sadly trampled, lously awaiting a report which, whether favorable and it is doubtful whether the liberal infusion of or not, would at least be a source of relief to human blood which the earth received will be thousands.

sufficient to restore the crop to a vigorous growth. At nine o'clock General McClellan and staff As there was no rebel cavalry or artillery engaged left headquarters for the battle-field. It was my at this part of the field, few dead horses were to privilege to accompany the party. Going to the be seen. Here and there one, probably the propright, we soon reached the scene of Hancock's erty of a colonel or a major, was stretched in brave exploits, and examined the formidable death, or lingering in a miserable existence, from works which had fallen into his hands, and the which it were a kindness to relieve it by a wellobstacles he had so nobly overcome on the previ- directed shot. ous afternoon. The enemy had evidently thought The forts on the right, taking Fort Page as the him an easy prey, and a man with less resolution centre-piece of the works, were shrewdly located and deliberate courage would have fallen back, at and admirably built, but poorly defended. One least until reēnforcements came up; but not so or more of them had not been used to any extent. Gen. Hancock. Waiting until the rebel brigade Rifle-pits were abundant, and are more popular with which he had been contesting the ground, with the rebel engineers than with ours. They inch by inch, left its shelter, and on the open were, however, considerably exposed and used to field, a broad and beautiful expanse, undertook little rpose. The forts were not unlike those to advance rapidly upon him, he had recourse to of our construction near Washington, and were, the bayonet, and led the splendid charge which as we learned from the contrabands and prisonmust forever be honorably associated with his ers, built, like those at Yorktown, by the negroes, name. It was a marvellous encounter, and our under the superintendence of overseers, some of men speak highly of the bearing of the foe. The whom, according to the contrabands, were cruel field was literally strewn with the dead and dy- task-masters. Mention was made of one, who ing, and it is believed that the enemy nowhere continually lashed the poor blacks, repeating a suffered so severely. His force is said to have hundred times a day: “Not a spadeful of earth consisted of North-Carolina, Georgia, and Vir- shall be wasted.” Most of the contrabands have ginia troops.

worked upon the fortifications, and one cause of Already our troops had begun the solemn work their rejoicing at the arrival of our army is, that of burying the rebel dead on the right. The they will no longer, in all probability, have to bodies had, many of them, been gathered from labor so severely, and in a line for which they are the field, and conveyed to different points where not especially fitted and certainly have no taste. pits had been dug for their reception. I halted Passing on to the centre fort, called Fort Page, at several of these to look at the mangled remains. we found it occupied by Neal's (late Birney's) Death had found the unfortunate victims in vari- Twenty-third Pennsylvania regiment, which, havous attitudes. One was in the act of raising his ing come up in the night, with Graham's brigade, gun to fire, and had stiffened in the same position of Casey's division, as a reserve to Gen. Hancock, - another was opening his cartridge-box and had early scoured the field. had died in the attempt - a third was evidently The great fort was much damaged by our artilretreating, and had fallen with his back to our lery fire. Only a siege-gun remained in it. Sevadvance — a fourth clasped his hands to his pistol eral broken caissons and some ammunition had and so received the fatal shot. The wounds were been left. The trees around were many of them eren inore singular and repulsive than I had splintered by our shells, and the barracks on the noticed in our hospital. Several were shot in the Williamsburgh side were more or less shattered. mouth, some through the face. By the bursting Our men were exploring them, finding bacon, of a shell, one had his head blown off, another flour, and hominy, garments, muskets, and filth. had his back fairly broken, and still another had The barracks, like all on the road from Yorktown, his heart torn to pieces. Already the blackness were better built and altogether more substantial of corruption darkened many of the faces, and it than those occupied by our troops during the seemed imperatively necessary that the bodies winter. Indeed, they were quite commodious should be put under the earth as speedily as and comfortable houses. possible.

A drive to the left afforded an opportunity to The barns, fences, and trees near the battle-examine the ground upon which Hooker had field were sadly injured, and even the brute crea. made his desperate stund, and performed, if not tion had suffered in the conflict, for at one point so brilliant, as heroic service as Hancock. At one I saw the remains of a young colt which had been lo'clock in the morning the eagle-eyed Gen. Jamo

a

« ZurückWeiter »