Sunday, June 9, 2013

Major General George B. McClellan to Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton, June 1, 1862

FIELD OF BATTLE, June 1, 1862 – 12 o'clock.

Hon. E. M. STANTON, Secretary of War:

We have had a desperate battle, in which the corps of Sumner, Heintzelman, and Keyes have been engaged against greatly superior numbers. Yesterday, at 1, the enemy, taking advantage of a terrible storm, which had flooded the valley of the Chickahominy, attacked our troops on the right bank of that river.  Casey's division, which was in first line, gave way unaccountably and disunitedly [discreditably*]. This caused a temporary confusion, during which some guns and baggage were lost, but Heintzelman and Kearny most gallantly brought up their troops, which checked the enemy; at the same time, however, [General Sumner*] succeeded by great exertion in bringing across Sedgwick's and Richardson's divisions, who drove back the enemy at the point of the bayonet, covering the ground with his dead.

This morning the enemy attempted to renew the conflict, but was everywhere repulsed. We have taken many prisoners, among whom is General Pettigrew and Colonel Long. Our loss is heavy, but that of the enemy must be enormous. With the exception of Casey's division [our*] men behaved splendidly.  Several fine bayonet charges have been made. The Second Excelsior made two to-day.

Major-general, Commanding.

*These words in revised copy.  See McClellan to Stanto, Jun 5, 10:30 a.m., p. 751.
†See also general report, pp. 38-43

SOURCE: The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series I, Volume XI, Part I (Serial No. 12), page 749

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