|Report on the actions of
The 15th Mass. during Battle of the Seven Days:
HDQRS. 15th REGIMENT MASSACHUSETTS VOLS.
Camp near Harrison's Landing, July 5, 1862.
Excerpted from "The War of Rebellion", the official Army records of the American Civil War.
|SIR : I have the honor to report that on
Friday, June 27, 1862, at 2 o'clock p.m., I was ordered to move my regiment as rapidly as
possible from camp near Fair Oaks, and take a position on the right of the 82nd New York
Volunteers, this being the extreme right of Gorman's brigade. Remained in this position
until about 5 o'clock p.m., when I was ordered to report immediately to General Burns,
which I did, taking a position on the left of his brigade, in support of the Seventh New
York Volunteers. We remained in this position about half an hour, during which time a very
hot skirmish was going on directly in front, in which the front lines and artillery only
Was then ordered to report immediately to General Smith on the right of the line, which I did, moving my regiment a part of the way at double-quick. Reporting to General Smith at 8 o'clock, was ordered at once to enter a rifle pit to the left of the front, thereby relieving the 5th Wisconsin Volunteers, who were ordered to the front, where a most terrific engagement was going on.
Was then ordered to leave the pit and advance in line of battle to the front, in order to relieve the troops whose ammunition had been expended. When but a few rods in advance of the pit the order was countermanded, the report having been received that the enemy had been repulsed and driven from his position in much confusion. After receiving the thanks of General Smith I returned to 'camp by his order, reporting to General Sumner.
Although not actually engaged with the enemy in any part of the day's fight, I cannot but think that it was owing to the timely arrival of my regiment on the right, thereby permitting re-enforcements to go to the front at this critical time, that the tide of battle was turned and the success made complete to our arms. My loss was 2 wounded, which will be shown in the recapitulation of casualties.
At 6 o'clock p.m. on Saturday, the 28th ultimo, was ordered to have everything packed and in readiness to move at a moment's notice. At 8.30 o'clock p.m. I reported in person to General Sedgwick for orders by order of Lieut. Church HOWE. Was ordered by General Sedgwick to proceed immediately and as rapidly as possible to Savage Station and report there to General Marcy, chief of staff. I left camp precisely at 9 o'clock, and proceeding by way of the railroad, reported to General Marcy at 10.30 o'clock. By his orders bivouacked my regiment near station until morning, there to await further orders.
By orders of General Williams my regiment was ordered at 9 o'clock a.m. to report immediately at the station, for the purpose of destroying ammunition and stores collected there. Such was the quantity and weight of material to be destroyed, that the utmost exertions of my entire force were required to accomplish the desired end before the arrival of the division to the general of which I was ordered to report.
At 4.30 o'clock p.m. was ordered to form in line of battle on the hill as reserve, the enemy having appeared in front and opened on us with artillery. The engagement becoming general, was ordered by General Sumner to advance to the front at double-quick. With cheers the men advanced, and with an unbroken line soon reached the woods, there to relieve the 106th Pennsylvania Volunteers, then somewhat disordered, and occupy a position to the right and rear of the 82nd New York Volunteers and to the left of the 20th Massachusetts Volunteers. This position I was ordered to hold, throwing out my pickets 300 yards to the front.
About 9 o'clock p.m. was ordered to withdraw quietly, leaving my pickets, and report to Colonel Sully, commanding brigade, near my original position. When advancing to the front the men, by order of General Sumner, threw knapsacks and blankets off, and were not allowed to recover them on their return, by order of Colonel Sully. In this engagement my loss was 3 wounded, which will be shown in the recapitulation of casualties.
On Monday, 30th ultimo, at 2.30 o'clock p.m., was ordered to form my regiment in the open field in front of headquarters at Nelson's Farm, heavy firing of artillery having opened on the right. After remaining about half an hour in this position was ordered to move to the right and report to General Dana. After proceeding half a mile in this direction was ordered to form my regiment in the field near the road. At this time Colonel Suiter took command of the brigade. At about 4 o'clock p.m. was ordered to the left of General Richardson's line of battle, forming a right angle with his line, in order to protect his left flank. At about 5 o'clock p.m. was ordered to return to my original position, a severe engagement having opened at that point.
On the road I received orders direct from General Sedgwick, through Lieut. Church HOWE, to use the utmost speed in reaching the field, as more troops were greatly needed at this critical moment. Almost exhausted by fatigue and heat, my men, unable to move rapidly, still came in good order, and forming in the field advanced, by order of General Sumner, to the front. After advancing some 300 yards was ordered by General Burns to move by the right flank to the rear and support of Colonel Baxter. The firing becoming very heavy on the extreme left, was ordered by General Burns to proceed to the left of the 1st Minnesota Volunteers and then move forward to that point where the fire was the hottest. On reaching the front I relieved the 69th Pennsylvania Volunteers, whose ammunition had become exhausted.
Before my arrival the fire had slackened and soon ceasing altogether was not renewed at that point. I remained in this position until 12 o'clock, when being ordered to withdraw quietly, did so, taking in my pickets. The loss to my regiment during this engagement was 6 wounded, which will be shown in the recapitulation of casualties.
On Thursday, July 1, at 11 o'clock, the enemy having appeared in force, I was ordered to form in line of battle on the hill at Malverton as a reserve to the 1st Minnesota and 82nd New York Volunteers. When in this position received a severe fire from the enemy's artillery, and was soon ordered out of range and under cover of the woods. Remained in this position until 1 o'clock a.m. July 2, and was then ordered to withdraw quietly, taking in my pickets.
Of the conduct of my command during the five days of labor and fatigue I have but to say that they all, officers and men, evinced a disposition to perform the arduous duties assigned them to the utmost of their ability and strength, and although not at any time under severe fire, advanced when ordered upon points of apparent danger with that same spirit and determination which they have ever shown in former engagements.
I have the honor to be, captain, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
JOHN W. KIMBALL, Lieut. Col. Fifteenth Massachusetts