Report of Brig. Gen. Israel B. Richardson, U.S. Army, commanding First Division, of engagement at Peach Orchard, or Allen's Farm, battle of Savage Station, engagement at White Oak Swamp Bridge, and battles of Glendale, or Nelson's Farm (Frazier's Farm), and Malvern Hill.
PENINSULAR CAMPAIGN--SEVEN DAYS' BATTLES
O.R.-- SERIES I--VOLUME XI/2 [S# 13]
HEADQUARTERS RICHARDSON'S DIVISION,
July 6, 1862.
DEAR SIR: In compliance with order I have the honor to report the following as the part taken by my division in the several actions of Allen's Farm, Savage Station, Nelson's Farm, and Malverton:
On Friday, June 27, while in the intrenchments erected by my division in front of the station at Fair Oaks, and late in the afternoon of that day, I received orders from General Sumner, commanding the corps, to detach two of my brigades to the assistance of General Porter, on the opposite side of the Chickahominy. I was directed to remain with the remaining one to defend the intrenchments. The brigades of Generals French and Meagher were accordingly detached, under command of the former officer, and I remained with the brigade of General Caldwell and the batteries of Captains Hazzard and Pettit to hold the line at Fair Oaks. The operations of the command of General French and the stand that he made against the enemy, who were already pursuing the routed columns of General Porter, are fully set forth in the accompanying report of the former. His command returned to the division next morning, after performing the duty assigned to it. Saturday, June 28, I was ordered to get my division ready for a move, and accordingly the tents were struck, wagons packed and sent off to Savage Station, and late in the afternoon I was ordered to detach the brigade of General Meagher to that station, to report to Major-General McClellan for duty, which was done. The whole day and night were consumed in waiting orders to move. About daylight on Sunday, June 29, I left as a rear guard to the army with my two remaining brigades and my two batteries. On arriving at Allen's farm, distant some 2 miles, I was directed by General Sumner to form line of battle facing toward Richmond, and my left flank in connection with the right of Sedgwick, both of us being on the right of the railroad. I formed the line with General French's brigade in the front line and General Caldwell in second line. At the suggestion of General French I obtained permission of General Sumner to occupy a large house and some log buildings in front of my position as an advanced redoubt. This was done by Colonel Brooke with his regiment, the Fifty-third Pennsylvania. I also placed four pieces of Hazzard's battery on an elevated piece of ground a little in rear of Colonel Brooke's advance, and supported by two regiments. The two positions taken together I considered as a key to the whole position.
These arrangements had hardly been effected when the enemy made his appearance in our front in force, attacking the right of General Sedgwick's and the left of my division with great vigor. Colonel Brooke was soon engaged with the enemy's infantry and a battery of artillery which he now brought against us. The battery of Hazzard was now in full action. Only the limber-boxes had been retained by him (by my directions), and his caissons had been sent off to Savage Station. We soon brought them back, however, at a gallop before his supplies in the limbers had been exhausted. I also sent for Pettit's battery to come back from Savage Station, which it did about that time. The enemy in the mean time had made great efforts against the position of Colonel Brooke, but he bravely maintained himself, assisted by the battery, and was re-enforced also by a regiment of General Sedgwick's division, the Seventy-first Pennsylvania. Soon after the return of that portion of the artillery which had been sent for the enemy fell back and disappeared in the wood.
Soon after this General Sumner, commanding the corps, gave me in person the order to fall back to Savage Station with my command as fast as possible, which I proceeded to do. This movement was much expedited by means of the new road, which I had already caused to be cut through the woods in anticipation of the movement. On arriving at the hills in the rear of the station I met General Sumner, who directed me to form my line nearly opposite the road which had been cut for the purpose of crossing White Oak Swamp. This was about 4 o'clock in the afternoon. About that time the brigade of General Meagher came up and reported to me for duty. The different corps had already gained this new position when the enemy again made his appearance in our front, and immediately commenced opening with his artillery. This attack was opposed at first by the commands of Generals Franklin and Sedgwick, and at the order of General Sumner I detached parts of two of my brigades (Generals Caldwell's and Meagher's) to their assistance, also both of my batteries; soon after which I was directed by General Sumner to prepare with my remaining brigade (General French's) to repel an attack from the front, toward which a heavy column of the enemy was reported to be moving. I was re-enforced on my right by one brigade of General Smith's, and I deployed in line of battalions the brigade of General French to the front, the remaining parts of the brigades of Generals Caldwell and Meagher in the second and third line. The enemy was repulsed in his flank attack, but my front did not come into action.
Late at night I received an order to act as a rear guard with my division in covering the movement of the army across the White Oak Swamp, and also to take charge personally of the breaking up of the bridge across the creek, so as to make it impracticable for the passage of artillery. My march commenced about 1 o'clock on the 30th of June, and after marching until nearly daybreak in the morning, on coming up to the bridge I found the mass of stragglers from other parts of the army wedged in so as to be unable to move. I impressed them with the necessity of crossing as rapidly as possible or the enemy would be upon us and the rear of the army cut off. By the greatest exertions of myself and staff I succeeded in getting this mass over by sunrise and my own division, and the bridge was broken up and burned by about 10 o'clock a.m.
I was now directed by General Sumner to remain here until further orders, the division of General Smith being on my right and my own being at Glendale. Early in the afternoon, while our troops were resting, a heavy cannonade was opened by the enemy on the other side of the creek from a hill partly covered by timber. It appeared to be some three batteries, and they all opened at once. My division stood firmly. The battery of Hazzard's exhausting its ammunition, the captain being wounded and many men and horses disabled, it was replaced by the battery of Captain Pettit, which kept up continuous fire until night. After firing away all their ammunition these were now replaced by a battery of Franklin's division, which kept up a fire with two pieces until 12 o'clock at night, when I was ordered again to fall back to form the rear guard. Two of my brigades had been detached during the day, and I had only that of General French to cover the movement. The movement was again performed successfully, and during the next day my division was again placed in position at Malverton Hill, where I was again directed to detach two of my brigades to report to General Porter, leaving me with General French's brigade to again fall back in the night to Harrison's Landing, and brought off what remained of my division in good order.
During all these operations the patience, fortitude, and discipline of my division, both officers and men in general, showed conspicuously, and could not have been excelled.
I. B. RICHARDSON,
Brigadier-General, Commanding Division.
P. S.--My division, which had been reduced to a skeleton by the battle at Fair Oaks, June 1, had been filled up by three regiments. After losing 1,500 men by that battle, and by the several engagements of the last eight days, it has lost 1,500 more; and by this morning's report it numbers 7,000 men for duty. I cannot too much commend the admirable manner in which my three brigadier-generals-French, Meagher, and Caldwell--have done their duty with their brigades, and the skill with which Captains Hazzard and Pettit, with their batteries, kept down the fire of the enemy.
If anything can try the patience and bravery of troops it must be their fighting all day for five consecutive days and then falling back every night.
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