Gen. Peck's Report
Headquarters, Intrenched Camp,
Seven Pines, Va.
On moving to the
"Seven Pines" on the 29th of May, I was ordered to occupy and guard
the left flank of the encampment with my command, this being regarded as the
weaker point of the line. The greater part of the day was occupied in making
extensive reconnaisances in the direction of "White Oak Swamp" and
the Charles City Road. A strong picket line was established from a mile to a
mile and a half in advance. Enemy's pickets were found in many places.
On the 30th, in
consequence of an attack upon Gen. Casey's pickets, my brigade and two
batteries were thrown out by direction of Gen. Couch upon the left of Gen.
Casey's division, where they remained several hours awaiting the enemy's
On the 31st, a little
after 11 A. M., heavy picket firing was heard in front. The falling of several
shells into the vicinity of my headquarters satisfied me that the enemy was
advancing upon Casey's division.
In accordance with
directions from General Couch, my brigade was at once placed on the principal
road connecting the Richmond Stage road with the Charles City road, for the
purpose of holding the left flank. A portion of Major West's artillery was
placed at my disposal and held in reserve. Being in position, with my right
resting near the artillery of the division, I sent out numerous parties in
every direction to gain information. At the opening of the engagement, I was
instructed by Gen. Couch to send the 93d Pennsylvania Volunteers, Col.
McCarter, to take position on the left of Casey's Division. The regiment moved
into line quickly, and held its ground as long as possible, falling back with
the general line on its right, but in excellent order.
1 P. M. Gen. Keyes, commanding 4th
Corps, detached the 55th New-York Volunteers, under Lieut. Col. Thomas, from my
command, and led them into position himself. – This regiment was placed in
support of one of the advanced batteries, and acquitted itself in a creditable
manner. It will be a matter of deep regret to Col. De Trobriand that he was
prevented by illness from participating in this engagement.
Later in the day General
Keyes dispatched the 62d N. Y. Volunteers, Col. Riker, to the support of
General Couch on the extreme right.
About 3 P. M. the 93d Pennsylvania
Volunteers rejoined me with colors flying, and was placed on the left of my
At this critical
juncture, Gen. Keyes sent an order for my two remaining regiments to move on
the main road in support of the front, which he countermanded immediately on
learning the advance of the enemy on the left, and the importance of the
position held by me with so small a force, unsupported by artillery.
About 3½ P. M. Capt.
Morris, Assistant Adjutant General, had an interview with General Heintzelman,
who inquired if I could press forward on the extreme left of the line. On being
informed that several roads connecting the Charles City road and the main road
to Richmond led into the road held by me he appreciated the importance of the
position, and directed me to hold it at all hazards.
About 4½ P. M. Generals
Heintzelman and Keyes informed me that the enemy was assailing our right flank
in great force, and urged me to push forward the regiments at a double-quick
for its support. I moved off at the head of the 102d Pennsylvania Volunteers,
Colonel Rowley, followed by the Ninety-third Pennsylvania Volunteers, Col.
McCarter, across the open fields, under the concentrated fire of numerous
batteries and of heavy musketry from the right. These regiments came into line
handsomely, pressed forward on the enemy, and contributed their best energies
to sustain their comrades so gallantly contesting inch by inch the advancing
foe. For about the space of half an hour our lines swayed forward and back
repeatedly, and at last, unable to withstand the pressure from successive
re-enforcements of the enemy, were compelled to fall back to the woods across
the main road.– Having remained near the main road with my Aid-de-Camp,
Lieutenant Stirling, until the troops had passed out of view, I pushed on in
the direction of the road leading to the sawmill.– Coming up with numerous
detachments of various regiments and a portion of the 102d Pennsylvania
Volunteers, with the assistance of Lieutenants Titus and Sterling (sic.
Stirling), of my staff, I rallied these men and was conducting them back toward
the Richmond road, when I met Gen. Kearny, who advised me to withdraw these
troops by way of the sawmill to the intrenched camp at this place. I stated I
did not feel at liberty to do so unless by his order, which he gave. I arrived
at this camp about 61/2 P. M., in company with Gen. Kearny. – Finding nearly
all the forces here I took position in the rifle-pit with Gen. Berry's Brigade.
During the night my troops were supplied with a proper allowance of ammunition,
provision were brought from the Chickahominy, the lines were strongly picketed,
and every preparation made to meet the enemy.
At daylight, on the 1st
of June, I was placed in command of the intrenchments. The force at hand was
not far from 10,000 men, with a large supply of artillery. Small detachments
and stragglers were collected and sent to their respective regiments. All
available means were employed to promote the comfort and efficiency of the
troops. Heavy working parties, relieved at intervals of two hours, were
employed until the morning of the 2nd extending and strengthening the whole
line of works. A six-gun battery was thrown up on the left of the line,
covering the approaches from the Charles City road. Before morning the guns
were in position. Another important work was constructed on the front, sweeping
the depression running obliquely toward the timber nearest the system of works.
A large force was busily engaged in slashing the timber in front, and on the
extreme left. Lieutenant Titus was sent with a party to obstruct all roads and
fords across White Oak Swamp. I directed two squadrons to reconnoiter carefully
at intervals of every two hours. Several regiments took part in a thorough
reconnaisance made by General Palmer. For these results I was mainly indebted
to the cordial co-operation of Generals Wessells, Naglee, Palmer, Berry, and
Devens, and Colonels Neill, Innes, Hayden, and Major West, Chief of Artillery.
It gives me great
pleasure to say that Major-General McClellan and Generals Heintzelman and Keyes
rode twice along the entire lines in the afternoon, to the great gratification
of the troops, who received them with unbounded enthusiasm.
It is a matter of much
regret that the 98th Pennsylvania Volunteers was not present at the battle,
being despatched on special duty with General Stoneman. It was unfortunate that
the exigencies of the occasion required the breaking up of my brigade
organization, and, in consequence I was only able to go into the last charge on
the right with about a thousand men. This small body, in conjunction with the
brave troops, hotly engaged, staggered the elite of the enemy, and checked his
powerful efforts for gaining the main road.– My effective force was reduced by
detachments to 2,000 men, of whom 41 were killed, 242 wounded, and 61
missing–making a total of 344, or about one-sixth of the command engaged.
Col. J. Lafayette Riker,
62d New-York Volunteers, fell while repelling a charge upon one of the
batteries. His bearing on this occasion, like that at the battle of
Williamsburg, was marked by great coolness and unflinching determination.
John E. Rogers, 93d Pennsylvania
Volunteers, was a promising officer, and fell gallantly breasting the storm.
The following named
officers were wounded, and deserve mention for their honorable conduct, viz:
Capt. John W. Patterson, Capt. Thos. McLaughlie, Adjutant Joseph Browne, Lieut.
William B. Keeney, of the 102d Pennsylvania Volunteers; Adjutant Leon
Cuvillier, Capt. J. S. Pfanmuller, Lieuts. T. Arnold, L. Israels, and Kranne,
of 55th New York Volunteers ; Capt. A. C. Maitland, Capt. Eli Daugharty, and
Capt. J. M. Mark of the 93d Pennsylvania Volunteers.
Lieut. M. McCarter, 93d
Pennsylvania Volunteers, was probably taken prisoner, and is doubtless safe.
The accompanying paper
presents the names of killed, wounded, and missing. It is a long list of
meritorious and brave men. They fought well, and their country will never be
unmindful of their faithful and patriotic services.
Cols. Rowley and McCarter
(both badly wounded) and Lieut. Cols. Thourot and Nevins maneuvered their
commands with skill, exhibiting most commendable alacrity, cheering and leading
their men on to the combat. Rowley would not quit his regiment and McCarter had
two horses wounded. Major Dayton, 62d New York Volunteers, Major Jehl and Capt.
Tissot, 36th New York Volunteers, Lieut.-Col. Kinkhead, Major Poland, Capts.
Fullwood and McLaughlin, Lieuts. Patchell, Reed, and Dain of the 102d
Pennsylvania Volunteers, Capt. Arthur and Adjt. Lewis of the 93d Pennsylvania
Volunteers, were distinguished for their energy, coolness, and bravery under
very trying circumstances. The gallant Capt. McFarland, 102d Pennsylvania
Volunteer was twice taken by the enemy and retaken by our troops. He came in
with the wounded Colonel and six men of the 6th South Carolina Regiment as
The officers of the
medical Department are entitled to the gratitude of all for their
self-sacrificing and untiring devotion to the wounded.
Major West, of the
Pennsylvania Artillery, I take especial satisfaction in commending for valuable
Privates W. C. Wall,
jr., and John Aiken, jr., are mentioned favorably by their regimental
Brigade Surg. S. R.
Haven, Lieuts. Silas Titus, and Daniel Lodor, jr., Aides; Quartermaster T. S.
Schultze, Commissary M. J. Green, and Samuel Wilkeson, of The N. Y. Tribune,
who volunteered his services, were constantly employed in the transmission and
execution of orders involving great personal risk.
Capt. Wm. H. Morris, Asst.
Adj.-Gen. and Lieut. Charles R. Sterling, Aid, deserve particular mention for
gallant conduct, with the 102d and 93d Pennsylvania regiments, in the rapid and
bold advance on the right. The horses of both officers were wounded.
My horse fell with me
after the third of fourth round, and no other being at hand Lieut. Sterling dismounted
and tendered me his own, which I was soon obliged to accept.
disadvantages of the position, the smallness of the force at hand, the
suddenness of the attack on several vital points, with overwhelming numbers,
and the fact that portions of the field were not taken by the enemy and that
the whole was soon recovered, this battle must be regarded as one of the most
severe and brilliant victories of the war.
respectfully, your obedient servant,
Daily Courier and Union, Saturday, June
by J. Tierney