Today in History:

58 Series I Volume XI-II Serial 13 - Peninsular Campaign Part II


retired to its former position, where we remained until daylight. Our men, thoroughly exhausted from the fatigues they had undergone, slept soundly through a drenching rain-storm, wetting all to the skin. We were aroused from our slumbers by the uncommon noise of drums and bugles, and discovered that our battery was the sole occupier of the battle-field of the previous day. Not being anxious to fall into the hands of the enemy, Captain Hazzard immediately commanded the pieces to be limbered up,moving the caissons ahead of the battery, instructing me to keep a general supervision over all of them and see that the column was well closed up, he remaining in rear with two of the light 12-pounders, so as to be prepared to give the enemy a warm reception should they attempt to take us.

The battery moved off in remarkably order, the horses going at a walk until we had proceeded about a mile, when the command was given for the head of the column to move at a trot. The road being in a remarkably good condition we bowled along in fine style, hurrying up stragglers with the information that the enemy was in hot pursuit, saving probably many an able-bodied soldier from spending the balance of the sumner in a Southern prison. We found upon reaching the brigade across White Oak Swamp that preparations were being made to destroy it. We immediately crossed over and went into park on the top of the hill, congratulated by all hands the narrowness of our escape. Our horses were then fed, and our men, who were thoroughly tired out from fatigue and hunger, had a short chance to rest their weary limbs and satisfy their hunger.

About two hours after our arrival at Nelson's farm we were suddenly aroused (most of the men sleeping soundly at the time) by a perfect hail storm of artillery missiles, the enemy having opened upon us with at least, in my estimation, three batteries. My reason for so thinking is from the immense rapidity of their fire and the different kinds of projectiles thrown, some of which I picked up myself, finding them to be the Armstrong gun, 6-pounder rifled and 6-pounder smooth-bore; also pieces of railroad iron from 6 to 12 inches long.

Our battery immediately moved out of park, a perfect shower of missiles falling in our ranks and wounding our sergeant (Brennan) severely in the leg, also striking the staff of the guidon and breaking it to pieces. General Richardson rode forward and ordered the battery immediately into position on the left of Nelson's house. After taking this position, General Richardson directed four guns to be placed in a small gorge to the left and front of the first position, covering the bridge across the White Oak Swamp. We remained in that position about fifteen minutes, when an order came for the battery to retire. After having proceeded about 400 yards another order came, directing that the battery should occupy its first position and open upon the enemy immediately.

We commenced firing between 1 and 2 o'clock p.m., firing very rapidly and drawing the entire fire of the enemy's batteries upon us, no other battery being in position. The enemy was completely covered by a thick wood, and the only indication we had of their position was from the smoke of their guns. Their fire was very rapid and very precise, most of their shot and shell striking within 20 feet of the battery and a perfect shower of grape passing through the battery. Were it not for the splendid position we had, few of us would have left the battle-field that day without a serious wound. The brow of the hill forming a natural breastwork, our guns, just pointing over the top of the hill, were in a manner sheltered, and most of the solid shot fired by the