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Longstreet: From Manassas to Appomattox
10c - Fighting Along the Chickahominy.
Retreat—Lee's Bold Initiative—Lee and his Lieutenants planning Battle—The Confederates' Loss at Mechanicsville—Gaines's Mill—A. P. Hill's Fight—Longstreet's Reserve Division put in—McClellan's Change of Base—Savage Station—Longstreet engages McClellan's Main Force at Frayser's Farm (or Glendale)—President Davis on the Field—Testimony of Federal Generals—Fierce Bayonet Charges— "Greek meets Greek"—Capture of General McCall—McClellan's Masterly Retreat.


Before noon of the 30th, Jackson's column encountered Franklin, defending the principal crossing of White Oak Swamp by the divisions of Richardson and W. F. Smith and Naglee's brigade. About the same time my command marched down the Long Bridge road and encountered the main force of McClellan's army posted at the Charles City cross-roads (Frayser's Farm, or Glendale). My division was deployed across the Long Bridge road in front of the divisions of McCall and Kearny, holding the division of A. P. Hill at rest in the rear, except the brigade under Branch, which was posted off to my right and rear to guard against Hooker's division, standing behind the Quaker road, in threatening position on my right flank. The ground along the front of McCall and Kearny was a dark forest, with occasional heavy tangles, as was the ground in front of Hooker. The front of Slocum, along the Charles City road, was something similar but offering some better opportunities for artillery practice and infantry tactics.

As Jackson and Franklin engaged in artillery combat my division advanced under desultory fire of skirmishers to close position for battle, awaiting nearer approach of Jackson and signal of approach of our troops on the Charles City road. In the wait the skirmish-lines were more or less active, and an occasional shot came from one of the Federal batteries.

During the combat between Jackson and Franklin, Sedgwick's brigades under Dana and Sully were sent back to reinforce at the crossing, but upon the opening of the engagement at Frayser's Farm they were brought back on the double-quick.

After a time reports of cannon fire came from the direction of Charles City road, signalling, as we supposed, the approach of Huger's column. To this I ordered one of our batteries to return salutation. The senior brigadier of the division, R. H. Andersen, was assigned to immediate supervision of my front line, leaving his brigade under Colonel M. Jenkins. While awaiting the nearer approach of Jackson or the swelling volume of Huger's fire, the President, General Lee, and General A. P. Hill, with ,their staffs and followers, rode forward near my line and joined me in a little clearing of about three acres, curtained by dense pine forests. All parties engaged in pleasant talk and anticipations of the result of a combination supposed to be complete and prepared for concentrating battle,—Jackson attacking in the rear, Huger on the right flank, A. P. Hill and myself standing in front Very soon we were disturbed by a few shells tearing and screaming through the forests over our heads, and presently one or two burst in our midst, wounding a courier and killing and wounding several horses. The little opening was speedily cleared of the distinguished group that graced its meagre soil, and it was left to more humble, active combatants. Near the battery from which the shots came was B. H. Andersen's brigade, in which Colonel Jenkins had a battalion of practised sharp-shooters. I sent orders for Jenkins to silence the battery, under the impression that our wait was understood, and that the sharp-shooters would be pushed forward till they could pick off the gunners, thus ridding us of that annoyance; but the gallant Jenkins, only too anxious for a dash at a battery, charged and captured it, thus precipitating battle. The troops right and left going in, in the same spirit, McCall's fire and the forest tangle thinned our ranks as the lines neared each other, and the battle staggered both sides, but, after a formidable struggle, the Confederates won the ground, and Randol's gallant battery. Sedgwick's division reinforced the front and crowded back the Confederate right, while Kearny's, reinforced by Slocum, pushed severely against my left, and then part of Hooker's division came against my right. Thus the aggressive battle became defensive, but we held most of the ground gained from McCall. In his official account, General Heintzelman said,—

' ' In less than an hour General McCall's division gave way. General Hooker, being on his left, by moving to the right repulsed the rebels in the handsomest manner and with great slaughter. General Sumner, who was with General Sedgwick, in McCall's rear, also greatly aided with his artillery and infantry in driving back the enemy. They now renewed the attack with vigor on Kearny's left, and were again repulsed with heavy loss. The attack continued until some time after night.
" This attack commenced at four P.M. and was pushed by heavy masses with the utmost determination and vigor. Captain Thompson's battery, directed with great skill, firing double charges, swept them back. The whole open space, two hundred paces wide, was filled with the enemy. Bach repulse brought fresh troops.
"Seeing that the enemy was giving way, I returned to the forks of the road, where I received a call from General Kearny for aid. Knowing that all of General Sedgwick's troops were unavailable, I was glad to avail myself of the kind offer of General Slocum to send the New Jersey brigade of his division to General Kearny's aid. I rode out far enough on the Charles City road to see that we had nothing to fear from that direction."

General McCall reported,—

" I had ridden into the regiment to endeavor to check them but with only partial success. It was my fortune to witness one of the fiercest bayonet charges that ever occurred on this continent. Bayonet wounds, mortal and slight, were given and received. I saw skulls smashed by the butts of muskets, and every effort made by either party in this life-and-death struggle proving indeed that here Greek had met Greek. The Seventh Regiment was at this time on the right of the Fourth, and was too closely engaged with a force also of great superiority in numbers to lend any assistance to the gallant few of the Fourth who were struggling at their side. In fine, these few men, some seventy or eighty, were borne bodily off among the rebels, and when they reached a gap in the fence walked through it, while the enemy, intent on pursuing those in front of them, passed on without noticing them.
" It was at this moment, on witnessing this scene, I keenly felt the want of reinforcements. I had not a single regiment left to send to the support of those so overpowered. There was no running, but my division, reduced by the furious battles to less than six thousand, had to contend with the divisions of Longstreet and A. P. Hill (considered two of the strongest and best among many of the Confederate army, numbering that day eighteen or twenty thousand men), and it was reluctantly compelled to give way before heavier force accumulated upon them. My right was, as I say, literally forced off the ground by the weight simply of the enemy's column. "

His account is incorrect in the estimate of numbers and the two divisions. Hill was not put in until a later hour, and encountered the troops of Kearny and Slocum. Hill's orders were to hold the line gained until Jackson and Huger approached, to warrant more aggressive battle. Magruder's march had been directed to succor Holmes.

In his official account, General Holmes wrote of parts of his cavalry and artillery, " whose conduct was shameful in the extreme." He reported his casualties :

" Daniel's brigade, 2 killed, 22 wounded; Walker's brigade, 12 wounded ; artillery, 15 wounded.
"The strength of the enemy's position and their imposing numbers were such that to attempt an attack upon them with my small force, unsupported, would have been perfect madness ; for to have done this would have required a march of over three-quarters of a mile up a steep hill destitute of cover. I accordingly withdrew about nine P.M. to a position somewhat in advance of that occupied in the morning."

In his account of the fight, General Kearny wrote,—

" At four P.M. the attack commenced on my line with a determination and vigor, and in such masses, as I had never witnessed. Thompson's battery, directed with great skill, literally swept the slightly falling open space with the completest execution, and, mowing them down by ranks, would cause the survivors to momentarily halt; but, almost instantly after, increased masses came up, and the wave bore on. . . .
" In concluding my report of this battle, one of the most desperate of the war, the one most fatal, if lost, I am proud to give my thanks and to include in the glory of my own division the First New Jersey Brigade, General Taylor, who held McCall's deserted ground, and General Caldwell."

A. P. Hill's division was held at rest several hours after the battle was pitched (Branches brigade on guard on my right retired, and Gregg's on my left). Under our plan, that Huger was to assault the Federal right and Jackson the rear, the battle joined; Hill was to be put in fresh to crown it. As night approached without indications of attack from either of those columns, Hill was advanced to relieve the pressure against my worn troops. At the first dash he again grasped and held Randol's battery, that had been the source of contention from the first onset. Field's brigade pushed on through the enemy's line, and, supported by Pender's and Branch's, drove back reinforcements coming to their succor from one of Sedgwick's brigades; pushed Caldwell's off to Kearny's position, where, with the additional aid of part of Slocum's division, Kearny succeeded in recovering his own ground and in putting Caldwell's brigade into part of McCall's original right, leaving the Confederates holding part of McCall's first line, Field's brigade some little distance in advance of it. Archer and Branch, on Field's right, made strong that part of it. Gregg's brigade on the left made little progress beyond holding most of the ground taken by the first assault. The battle thus braced held its full and swelling volume on both sides. My right, thinned by the heavy fighting and tangled forest, found a way around the left of the contention, then gravitating towards its centre. In this effort Hooker's division came against its right flank. By change of front a clever fight was made, but Branch's brigade, ordered for service at that point, had been withdrawn by General Hill to support his centre, so that Hooker pushed us off into closed ranks along our line in rear and back ; but his gallant onset was checked and failed of progress. General Hooker claimed that he threw Longstreet over on Kearny, but General McCall said that by a little stretch of the hyperbole he could have said that he threw Longstreet over the moon. To establish his centre, Hill sent in J. B,. Andersen's brigade astride the Long Bridge road, which held the battle till the near approach of night, when McCall, in his last desperate effort to reinforce and recover his lost ground, was caught in the dark of twilight and invited to ride to my head-quarters. Friends near him discovered his dilemma in time to avert their own capture, and aggressive battle ceased. The artillery combat, with occasional exchanges of shots, held till an hour after the beat of tattoo.

It was the Forty-seventh Virginia Regiment that caught and invited General McCall to quarter with the Confederates. Although his gallant division had been forced from the fight, the brave head and heart of the general were not fallen till he found himself on his lonely ride. He was more tenacious of his battle than any one who came within my experience during the war, if I except D. H. Hill at Sharpsburg.

In years gone by I had known him in pleasant army service, part of the time as a brevet lieutenant of his company. When the name was announced, and as he dismounted, I approached to offer my hand and such amenities as were admissible under the circumstances, but he drew up with haughty mien, which forbade nearer approach, so that the courtesies were concluded by the offer of staff-officers to escort him to the city of Richmond.

It was during this affair that General Holmes's division advanced against the Federals at Turkey Bridge with a six-gun field battery and engaged, and was met by the fire of thirty field guns and the gunboat batteries, which drove him to confusion, abandoning two guns. Earlier in the day, Magruder's column had been ordered by a long detour to support the fight at Frayser's Farm, but the trouble encountered by Holmes's division seemed serious, and caused the Confederate commander to divert Magruder's march to support that point, through which a resolute advance might endanger our rear at Frayser's Farm. After night Magruder was called to relieve the troops on the front of my line. His march during the day was delayed by his mistaken guide.

The Confederates claimed as trophies of the battle ten pieces of artillery, some prisoners, and most of the field from which McCall's division had been dislodged. Holmes's division lost two guns in the affair at Turkey

Bridge, but other Confederates secured and afterwards made better use of them. Meanwhile, the Federals were anxiously pushing their trains to cover on the river, and before noon of July 1 all, except those of necessary ammunition, ha.d safely passed the field selected for their Malvern Hill battle. Colonel Fairfax, who was sent to quicken the movements of General Jackson's column describes his ride as follows:

" MY DEAR GENERAL,—At your request, I write what I recalled to your mind not very long ago, of my awakening and ride to find Lieutenant-General Jackson after the battle of Frazier's Farm in 1862. After conducting Major-General Magruder, with his division, to your line of battle, relieving your troops under cover of darkness, I was very tired, having been in the saddle all day. I had finally fallen asleep 'mid the mournful groans of the suffering soldiers under the surgeons' saw and knife, when you came and laid down on my blanket and upon me, and whispered in my ear, ' Are you very tired ?' Believing you had work for me, I quickly answered, ' No !' 'Can you find General Jackson?' was asked. I replied, 'I will try." To the question, ' Which way will you go,' I made answer, ' Over the white-oak swamps to the left of where we fought to-day.' ' No ; not that way!' you said, decisively. Then I suggested, ' Round by Seven Pines Battle-field.' 'Yes,' you agreed, 'that is the way ; tell General Jackson that General Lee has a courier taken with orders from General McClellan that he will attack in the morning ; bring General Jackson up as early as you can ;, take a courier with you.' After a long ride, I reached General Jackson at his camp on the side of the road near the swamp, about half an hour after sunrise. I delivered your order and started on return to you, when General Jackson called, ' Which way are you going?' I replied, 'Across the swamps on this road.' General Jackson said, 'You must not go that way.' ' General' I declared, 'I believe the enemy have gone.' But General Jackson insisted that I must wait until the bridge was repaired and go with his escort. I rode to the swamp, and found his escort there. As soon as the last plank was placed, I rode over, the escort following.
"Very truly yours, "JNO. W. FAIRFAX."
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