general thomas f. meagher's
peninsular campaign report No. 2
MEAGHER'S BRIG., RICHARDSON'S DIV.,
LIEUTENANT: In compliance with the order received by me yesterday from the general commanding the division I have the honor to report to him through you the action of the brigade which I command in the following engagements: Allen's Farm Gaines' Mill, Savage Station, Nelson's Farm, Malverton.
On Friday, the 27th of June, at 5 o'clock p.m., being encamped at Fair Oaks Station, I received orders to move my brigade immediately to the support of General Fitz John Porter, who had been engaged with the enemy for several hours, and who was at the time mentioned forced back by overpowering numbers. On receiving the orders to move forward my brigade I was directed by the general of the division to report to Brigadier-General French, whose brigade was also ordered to the support of the forces engaged with the enemy at Allen's Farm. Marching rapidly to the Chickahominy, the two brigades crossed Woodbury's or Alexander's Bridge. The head of the column had just appeared on the opposite side when an immense cloud of dust, through which teams and horsemen hastily broke, indicated something more than a repulse to our arms. These teams and horsemen were followed by crowds of fugitive stragglers on foot, whose cry was that "they had been cut to pieces."
At this critical moment Brigadier-General French ordered me to throw forward and deploy one company of the Sixty-ninth, Col. Robert Nugent commanding, and with fixed bayonets to drive back the runaways. Captain Felix Duffy's company was accordingly thrown forward and deployed and the resolute and impetuous spirit with which they discharged their duty under the command of their experienced and gallant captain had the effect of almost instantly checking a rout which if not arrested at that moment would have been attended with the most fearful consequences, thus driving back the fugitives and steadying the broken masses of the Union forces that had been engaged all day. The column, of which my brigade formed the right and rear, came upon the hill where the main hospital of the Union army had been established and where the greater portion of our broken and retreating forces were assembled. My brigade reached the summit of this hill in two lines of battle--the Sixty-ninth and Eighty-eighth the first, the Sixty-third and Twenty-ninth the second line of battle--and having reached it, despite of the cavalry, artillery., and infantry that were breaking through them, preserved an unwavering and undaunted front. Our advance, which was repeatedly assailed by the shells and the round shot of the enemy, did not halt until commanded to do so by General Fitz John Porter, who gave the command in person. At this time the firing of the enemy suddenly ceased on our front and opened on our right, in consequence of which General Porter directed me to move my brigade obliquely to the right and so relieve the regulars under Brigadier-General Sykes, occupying the ground which these splendid troops had so gallantly maintained all through the desperate conflict of the day and long after their ammunition had been exhausted. Nothing more was seen or heard of the enemy through the night.
In this position my brigade remained until, under orders of Brigadier-General French, the column under his command recrossed the Chickahominy, which it did before sunrise the following morning. The Eighty-eighth New York Volunteers, the fourth regiment of the brigade, under Colonel Baker, was ordered by the general commanding the column on the other side to keep in rear of the column, to defend the passage of the wounded and stragglers, until the bridge had been thoroughly destroyed, which work had already commenced when, accompanied by my staff, I crossed the river in rear of my brigade.
Returning to our intrenched camp at Fair Oaks, the brigade rested until 10 o'clock on the night of Saturday, the 28th of June, when I received orders to march my brigade instantly to Savage Station, and there report to the general-in-chief. The Sixty-ninth New York Volunteers, Col. Robert Nugent commanding, did not accompany the brigade, being on picket duty in front of the camp at Fair Oaks. The other three regiments of the brigade took up and held a position at Meadowy Station indicated by General Williams, the adjutant-general of the Army of the Potomac, until ordered to report and return to Brigadier-General Richardson, which they did about 4 o'clock on the afternoon of the 29th of June.
Being temporarily placed under arrest until 8 o'clock the following day, I respectfully refer the general commanding the division to the report of Col. Robert Nugent, the senior colonel of the brigade, who had command of the same during the engagement at Savage Station on the evening of the 29th ultimo and who commanded the brigade on the march through the White Oak Swamp.
It gives me the heartiest satisfaction to bear witness to the able and intrepid manner with which Colonel Nugent fulfilled the duties which devolved upon him during my arrest; and it may not be inopportune for me to say that no colonel with whom I am acquainted is more deserving of honorable mention, and I most cordially recommend him to the favorable notice of the general commanding the division.
In relation to the engagement at Nelson's Farm and Malvern, in which my brigade suffered severely but most worthily behaved, I shall furnish you with a report within the next hour.
I cannot close this report, however, without commending to the favorable consideration of the general commanding the division the following <ar13_72>officers, who served on my staff during the engagement on Allen's Farm. [Gaines' Milli: Capt. William H. Hogan, of the Second Battalion New York State Artillery; Lieut. John J. Gosson, of the Sixty-ninth New York Volunteers; Lieut. Temple Emmett, of the Eighth-eighth New York Volunteers; Lieut. James B. Turner, of the Eighty-eighth New York Volunteers, and Capt. Malachi Martin, the assistant quartermaster of the brigade, who with the heartiest alacrity volunteered his services on the occasion and fearlessly rendered me the most valuable assistance. Maj. Thomas O'Neil, also of the Second Battalion New York State Artillery, rendered me the most gallant service, and in fulfillment of one of my orders at the close of the engagement, when I had dispatched him to one of the regiments on my right, was, I fear, taken prisoner by the enemy; at all events, since then we had no tidings of him. I deeply regret his absence, for a more daring soldier I sincerely believe does not exist.
I have the honor to be, lieutenant, very truly, your obedient servant,
Lieut. C. STUART DRAPER,
Asst. Adjt. Gen., First Division.
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