|Report on the actions of
The 15th Mass. at Fair Oaks or Seven Pines:
HDQRS. 15th REGT. MASSACHUSETTS VOLS.
In Camp at Fair Oaks, Va., June 3, 1862.
Excerpted from "The War of Rebellion", the official Army records of the American Civil War.
|I have the honor to report that on Saturday,
the 31st ultimo, I received orders for my regiment to be ready to march at a moment's
notice, with one day's cooked rations in haversacks and in light marching order. At 3
o'clock I left camp and took my position in brigade line, which was the extreme left of
At this time and for an hour previous very heavy firing was heard on the south side of the Chickahominy Creek. The brigade was immediately put in march, and we crossed the stream at the corduroy bridge and found the plain upon the south side partially overflowed, and we were obliged to wade through it, the water in some places coming up to the waists of the men; but they rushed through without hesitation, cheering as they went. The roads were very heavy from the recent rains, but the men pressed forward with alacrity and a portion of the way at double-quick, and I arrived on the field at about 5 o'clock, bringing in all my men.
I immediately formed line of battle in rear of the 82nd New York Volunteers. I had scarcely given the order to rest when a sharp fire of musketry commenced upon Kirby's battery, stationed a short distance to my right. I was ordered to go to the support of that battery, thereby relieving the 7th Massachusetts, Colonel Russell. I immediately formed line of battle in rear of the battery, and remained in that position some time. My men stood up manfully to the work, and three several times rushed forward and helped work the guns by extricating them from the mud into which they settled at each discharge.
At this time, after the fire had slackened somewhat, I was ordered to move by the left flank and to come into the rear and left of the 82nd New York Volunteers, and then to move forward at double-quick, passing their line to the front, and to occupy and hold the wood from which the enemy were being driven. My orders were promptly obeyed, the men charging bayonets into the woods with a terrific yell. I established my line by your command near the edge of wood, throwing out pickets to the front. The men rested upon their arms until morning without sleep, ready and anxious to renew the conflict at daybreak if necessary.
I desire to remark that my regiment behaved with great coolness and bravery during the entire action, obeying my orders as promptly as at dress parade. There was no one officer or private that showed any signs of trepidation or fear, but instead a fixed determination of all that their bayonets should drink deep of rebel blood before they should take the battery, which they attempted to do three several times, but were repulsed each time with great loss. As to the behavior of my command during this portion of the engagement I would respectfully refer you to Lieutenant Kirby, commanding the battery.
It gives me great pleasure to speak approvingly of the conduct of Major PHILBRICK, who had just assumed the duties of that position, showing conclusively that our confidence in him had not been misplaced; also of my entire staff. Surgeons BATES and HAVEN were indefatigable in their attendance upon the wounded. Chaplain SCANDLIN labored incessantly bringing the wounded from the field, often exposing himself to imminent danger by so doing. Too much praise cannot be awarded to Adjutant BALDWIN, who got up from a sick bed against my express wishes to render me what service he could. He was scarcely able to sit upon his horse, but he remained with me during the entire battle, conveying my orders with great promptness and precision. Where all did their duty so well it would be manifestly unjust to particularize any one or more of the line officers for individual notice, and I will therefore say that their behavior without exception during this engagement meets with my entire approbation and approval.
I have the honor to remain, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
JOHN W. KIMBALL, Lieutenant-Colonel, Commanding.