Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 25.djvu/219

This page needs to be proofread.

t>\ and heard it. The incessant roar of musketry and the terrific cannonading presented .1 scene of awful sublimity. Whistling bullets and bursting shells, falling trees, clouds of smoke, lifting for a mo- in nt, and then a sheet of fire along the lines from 20,000 guns on either side, and then a rattling sound that has not died away before the batteries open again, and this repeated with slight intervals from 4 until 10 o'clock, can give you but a faint idea of the grand but fearful scene. It is impossible to fully appreciate it unless you had witnessed it; and some of you did. The news of that battle sent sorrow and distress untold to thousands of homes from the Potomac to the Rio Grande, while in the North and West there was many a vacant chair and aching heart.

The battle, with all its melancholy results, will stand forever a record of the heroic achievements of the Confederate infantry and the unequalled power of the Federal artillery ; and if in the tide of time these should be called to co-operate on any field our country need fear no foe.


Thus ended this fearful conflict, the last of the seven days' fight. The losses on each side were about equal, the Confederates suffering more, perhaps, in killed and wounded, as they were the aggressors and fought the Federals on their chosen ground. Our killed and wounded reached 3,000. The loss of the enemy, while heavy, was not so severe. Fitz-John Porter says: "It is not to be supposed that our men, though concealed by the irregularities of the ground, were not sufferers from the enemy's fire. The fact is that before they exposed themselves by pursuing the enemy the ground was literally covered with the killed and wounded."

Their own gun-boats helped in this slaughter, and inflicted little if any loss on our men. The thirty-two-pounder howitzers and siege- guns killed and demoralized the Confederates. Ours were raw troops, many of whom had never been in line of battle, and they confronted the regulars of the United States army. It requires ex- perience and drill to make efficient soldiers, even of material such as Hill and Magruder commanded that day.

General Holmes, commanding a division of 6,000 effective men, occupied a position on the River road on our extreme right. The day before, he had a slight engagement with Warren's Brigade, and suffered the loss of two killed and forty wounded, and his request for re-enforcements turned Magruder from his direct march to Frazier's Farm, and thus prevented a complete success on that field. In his