Sunday, July 1, 2012

July 1, 1862 (Tuesday): Malvern Hill

Battle of Malvern Hill-Sneden (

Turkey Island, July 1, 1862-2.45 a.m.
Brigadier General LORENZO THOMAS,
Adjutant-General U. S. Army.
GENERAL: Another desperate combat to-day. Our troops repulsed the enemy. I was sending orders to renew the combat to-morrow, fearing the consequences of farther retreat in the exhausted condition of the troops and being as willing to stake the last chance of battle in that position as any other under the circumstances, when I learned that the right had fallen back after dark and that the center was following.
I have taken steps to adopt a new line, the left resting on Turkey Island, and thence along a ridge parallel to James River as far as I have the force to hold it. Rodgers will do all that can be done to cover my flanks. I will probably be obliged to change this line in a few days, when I have rested the men, for one lower down, and extending from the Chickahominy to the James.
     If it is the intention of the Government to re-enforce me largely it should be done promptly and in mass. I need 50,000 more men, and with them I will retrieve our fortunes. More would be well, but that number sent at once will, I think, enable me to assume the offensive. I cannot too strongly urge the necessity of prompt action in this matter. Even a few thousand fresh men within the next twenty-four or forty-eight hours will do much toward relieving and encouraging this wearied army, which has been engaged in constant combat for the last five or six days.
     I must apologize for the probable incoherence of this letter. I am exhausted by want of sleep and constant anxiety for many days.
    Very respectfully, yours,

Major-General, Commanding.

Washington, D. C. July 1, 1862.
Major-General McCLELLAN:
Your telegram of last night, has been received and will be answered by the President. We have sent you 5,000 from McDowell's corps since Saturday that have reached Fort Monroe already, and I hope will be of use to you. Halleck has been ordered to send a corps of his army, 25,000 infantry, [and answered] that he will do so. Tucker is on the road to Corinth to arrange the transportation. I hope to have the within two weeks. Hold your ground and you will be in Richmond before the month is over.
Secretary of War.


JULY 1, 1862.
General HUGER:
    The major-general desires that you will immediately put your division which was not engaged on Armistead's left, as Magruder requires re-enforcements.
By order General Lee:

Assistant Adjutant-General.
JULY 1, 1862-Night.
General R. E. LEE, Commanding:
    The men in the fight are so entirely disorganized, arising principally from the darkness, that not an organized body exists. Pickets are absolutely necessary. General Wright writes that the battle-field is in our possession and the enemy is leaving, but says, "For God's sake relieve us." This must be done at once by fresh troops. Ours have not hand a morsel to eat for more than two days. General Longstreet, whom I believed last night, ought to send a division to hold the field, place pickets, and hold the woods. We may reap the fruits of our devotion yet if this is done. I send a courier, who will lead it to the battle-field.
     Very respectfully, &c.,

Major-General, &c.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- WASHINGTON, July 1, 1862-3.30 p.m.
It is impossible to re-enforce you for your present emergency. If we had a million of men we could not get them to you in time. We have not the men to send. If you are not strong enough to face the enemy you must find a place of security, and wait, rest, and repair. Maintain your ground if you can, but save the army at all events, even if you fall back to Fort Monroe. We still have enough in the country and will bring it out.


PETERSBURG, VA., July 1, 1862.
Richmond, VA.:
The pickets at Fort Powhatan report the Vanderbilt has passed up crowded with troops and more boats are coming up.
Major and Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.

ERIE, PA., July 1, 1862.
President of the United States:
In God's name, we pray you to call out 1,000,000 and suppress this rebellion, and never countermand the order until the last man is in the field, unless the rebellions should surrender unconditionally to our forces. We have had fathers and brothers slain. Great God! subdue the rattlesnake flag if it cost all we are worth. Answer.

And the country en masse.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 3, Various

Very little in the way of real time dispatches survives the Battle of Malvern Hill.  Pushed back against the James, the Union Army massed its artillery and inflicted staggering casualties on the Confederates.  Poor staff work and uncoordinated assaults made a difficult task impossible for the rebels.  McClellan spent a good part of the battle on the Galena.  The final message in this series, from A. H. Gray of Erie, Pa. was from a local merchant, who felt in the spirit of democracy he could make demands of the President, including a demand to answer. 

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