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Battle of Malvern Hill
Harper's Weekly Articles

The following article was transcribed from Harper's Weekly Journal of Civilization, dated July 26, 1862:

Battle of Malvern Hill

          where the enemy attached General McClellan on the afternoon of Tuesday, July 1. The General, anticipating the attack, had placed his cannon on a height in three rows of fifty pieces each, each row falling back when the pieces became heated. It was the fire of these pieces which so terribly decimated the army under Magruder. In our picture the reader will remark that the rebels are in the fore-ground, and the Union artillery in the back-ground. The following account of the battle we take from the Herald:

          The ground is for the most part open and undulating, presenting a splendid position for a battle-field. After the fight of the previous day, further to the front, our army fell back during the night and took up the eligible position the country afforded, until it was enabled on Tuesday night to fall back still further to Harrison's Landing. In the morning, anticipating a vigorous pursuit by the enemy, General McClellan himself established the lines of his army and personally placed his troops in position, prepared to meet the attack. The line formed a magnificent semicircle. General Keyes was on the extreme right, with a portion of his command. General Franklin's corps joined Keyes's left, and next in order from right to left were placed Sumner's corps, consisting of Richardson's and Sedgwick's division: Hientzelman's corps, embracing Hooker's and Kearney's divisions; next general Couch's division, which was detached from Keyes's command; while General Fitz-John Porter's corps, consisting of General Morell's divison and the regulars, formed the extreme left. The configuration of the country rendered the left almost certainly secure; for the lowlands beneath were completely commanded by our artillery and the gun-boats. The right, however, was not so secure, and that was the reason the position was found to be untenable afterward. The enemy did not get his pursuing troops in position until the afternoon. For several hours heavy cannonading was kept up on both sides -- our ponderous siege guns, which were ranged in a splendid position near the centre of our lines, pouring destructive volleys into the columns of the enemy as they were being brought forward and formed into line. After the artillery on both sides opened in the afternoon, the shot and shell filled the air, and a most terrific cannonading was kept up, with intervals, for hours. About half past three o'clock the enemy's skirmishers advanced near our centre, and the opposing lines in front of General Couch's position were soon hotly engaged. In this attempt to break our lines the enemy signally failed. He was speedily driven back at the point of the bayonet, and lost several colors, which we captured.

          Later in the afternoon the enemy brought out three light batteries, posted them near some barns in a wheatfield and opened a fierce fire on the same portion or our line. Several of our batteries in Hooker's and Kearney's divisions immediately returned the fire, and soon silenced those of the enemy. It was nearly sundown when the enemy made another attempt to pierce our lines in front of General Porter's and Couch's positions. A terrible cannonade was opened, and, simultaneously, heavy lines of rebels were pushed to the front under cover of the the artillery. Our troops met them in the most gallant style, and the battle raged fiercely for two hours or more, the tide gradually sweeping round from left to right. Heavy columns had been seen in the afternoon bearing to our right, and apprehensions were entertained that the enemy might burst out in the direction; but happily those painful apprehensions were not realized. The rebels hurled their forces, however, with fearful fury against our lines. General Couch, who had immediate command of that portion of the line, in the most gallant manner planted the colors of his regiment where he wanted them, and inspired his soldiers with confidence. No troops fought more bravely than those engaged in this battle. After the firing was running round to the right, General Porter sent to General Sumner for reinforcements, and several regiments, including the Irish brigade, were sent. This bold brigade headed by the intrepid General Meagher, arrived in front in time to render the most signal service. Lieutenant Colonel Burke, of the Sixty-third New York, is among the wounded. During the engagement it was a magnificent sight to see, amidst the bursting shells, infantry, artillery, and cavalry moving inside the semicircle, with remarkable celerity, to different parts of the field. General McClellan, accompanied by a portion of his staff, rode along the field , and was loudly cheered by our troops. In this battle, which closed soon after darkness set in, the rebels did not gain one inch of ground. We drove them back at every point with fearful loss. Where our artillery opened with grape and canister the killed and wounded rebels were actually piled upon each other. Several rebel regiments which came out in defiant line of battle were terribly cut up. The battle was brief, but bloody. The rebel loss must have amounted to several thousand. It is impossible to accurately estimate our own, as circumstances compels us to leave many on the field. It is believed, however, that one thousand will more than cover it.


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