Seven Days Battle - 1862
News Reports

Daily Dispatch: July 2, 1862. Post Beaver Dam Creek

The Daily Dispatch: July 2, 1862. The battles and the localities.

The readers of this paper have been posted from day to day, as well as it was possible to do so, upon the progress of the momentous struggle going on near this city, and which has shed such inside upon the Confederate arms. Yet, for a better under standing of it to those not familiar with the ground, we deem it proper to group together the main points of the narrative continued from day to day.

The Chickahominy is a stream rather above the slightly of a creek, and not fully up to that of a river, which meanders through the tide-water district of James river, in a line generally parallel to the James, at a mean distance of ten or twelve miles from that river, until it (the Chickahominy) reaches the lower end of Charles City county, when it abruptly turns southwardly and empties into the James. It is the northern boundary of both Henrico and Charles City. It is skirted generally by wide low lands, and in some parts considerable swamps. McClellan army had, a part of it, crossed to the South side of the Chickahominy, and were fortified on the Williamsburg road, and adjacent to it, to within seven miles of Richmond — the point where the battle of Seven Pines occurred. The enemy was also strongly posted for many miles on the North bank, the heights of which were fortified with great energy and skill from Meadow Bridge, his extreme right, to some two miles below Bottom's Bridge, a distance of about twenty miles.

Meadow Bridge is 6½ miles from and North of the city, and at that point the Central Railroad crosses the Chickahominy. The enemy were posted on the heights beyond. The York River Railroad crosses the Chickahominy about ten miles from Richmond, and about that distance below Meadow Bridge.--Mechanicsville is a mile beyond the Chickahominy, six miles from Richmond, and some two or three miles below Meadow Bridge. Other points which have become famous in the battles are in this order Ellyson's Mill, Beaver Dam, Powhite, or Hogan's farm, and Coal Harbor — all on the North bank, and covering a distance of some twelve miles.

On the South side, and South of the York River Railroad, are the following roads, so often referred to in the narratives given now, as well as in the battle of the Seven Pines, The Williamsburg road, which connects with the New Bridge and Nine Mile roads at and near Seven Pines, crosses the Chickahominy at Bottom's Bridge. The New Bridge road crosses the Chickahominy about eight miles from the city. Meadow Bridge is North, and the route of our victories being from thence down the southern line pursued on the Chickahominy, is brought up at Bottom's Bridge, due East of the city.

We find in the Enquirer, of yesterday, so brief and clear a review of our operations against the enemy in these localities, that we make it a part of this article:

"On Thursday at three o'clock Major General Jackson took up his flag of march from Ashland, and proceeding down the country between the Chickahominy and Pamankey rivers, he uncovered the front of Brig. Gen. Branch by driving off the enemy collected on the north bank of the Chickahominy river, at the point where it is crossed by the Brook Turnpike; General Branch, who was on the south bank, then crossed the river and wheeled to the right, down its northern bank. Proceeding in that direction, General Branch, in like manner, uncovered, at Meadow Bridge, the front of Maj. Gen. A. P. Hill, who immediately crossed. The three columns now proceeded en echelon--Gen. Jackson in advance, and on the extreme left, Brig. Gen. Branch (who was now merged with Gen. A. P. Hill.) in the centre, and Gen. A. P. Hill on the right, immediately on the river, Jackson, bearing away from the Chickahominy in this part of the march, so as to gain ground towards the Pamankey, marched to the left of Mechanicsville, while Gen. Hill, keeping well to the Chickahominy, approached that village and engaged the enemy there. The military talent exhibited by Gen. Hill in this approach and assault is worthy of great commendation, and has won imperishable honors for that gallant young officer, while the courage, ardor, and firmness of his officers and men in the assault of the enemy's earthworks at Ellyson's Mill have reflected the greatest glory upon the Confederate army. Driven from the immediate locality of Mechanicsville, the enemy retreated during the night down the river to Powhite swamp, and night closed the operations of Thursday.

"As soon as General Hill cleared the road at Mechanicsville, General Longstreet's corps d'armee, consisting of his veteran division of the Old Guard of the Army of the Potomac, and General D. H. Hill's division, debouched from the woods on the South side of the Chickahominy, and crossed that river at Mechanicsville. The position of our army on Friday nigh may be described as forming, with the Chickahominy, an acute angle: our left still in advance under General Jackson, lying over towards the Pamankey: General Hill occupying Mechanicsville and the centre, and General Longstreet with General D. H. Hill, composing our right, lying immediately along the Chickahominy.

"Friday morning the general advance en echelon again began; Gen. Jackson in advance and far to the left, gradually converging to the Chickahominy again; General A. P. Hill in the centre, and bearing towards new Coal Harbor; Gen. Longstreet and Gen. D. H. Hill coming down the Chickahominy to New Bridge. Arrived at Hogan's house, near New Bridge, Gen. Lee awaited the consummation of his magnificent strategy — courier after courier arrived informing him of the approach of each division. As soon as Jackson's arrival at Coal Harbor was announced, Gen. Lee and Gen. Longstreet, accompanied by their respective staffs, rode by Gaines's Mill and halted at New Coal Harbor here they joined Gen. A. P. Hill. Soon the welcome sound of Jackson's guns announced his arrival and that the Battle had begun.

"The enemy now occupied a singular position; one portion of his army on the South side of the Chickahominy, fronted Richmond, and was confronted by Gen. Magruder--the other portion on the north side, had turned their backs on Richmond, and fronted destruction in the persons of Lee, Longstreet, Jackson, and the Hills.

"These last were therefore advancing on Richmond with their backs to the city; such was the position into which General Lee had forced McClellan. The position which the latter here occupied, however, was one of great strength.

"Jackson having begun the contest, it was taken up by General A. P. Hill in the centre, and by D. H. Hill on the left; Longstreet, in reserve, supported immediately the centre under General A. P. Hill. From the beginning of the conflict, Jackson pressed up and D. H. Hill down the Chickahominy. Our wings were thus approaching each other, while our centre was driving the enemy back upon the river. From four o'clock until eight the battle raged with a display of the utmost daring and intrepidity on the part of the Confederate army. The enemy's lines were finally broken and his strong positions all carried, and night covered the retreat of McClellan's broken and routed columns to the South side of the Chickahominy. This retreat to the Richmond side of the river was continued through Friday night, and the morning of Saturday. Closely watched and pressed by our army, he held his fortified camp on the South side of the Chickahominy during Saturday, but evacuated it during the night, and resumed his retreat, taking direction towards James river.

"The operations of our army since Sunday morning have been principally on the Richmond side of the Chickahominy; on Sunday, however, Jackson commanded Bottom's Bridge, and though unable to cross it because it was under range of the guns of the enemy, prevented its use by the enemy, while he built himself another a above, where he crossed his army to the South side on Sunday evening, leaving General Stuart's cavalry on the North side.

"The retreat which began from the North side on Friday night, on yesterday changed into a flight; and the foot races of the armies of the Potomac are now being run down towards the James River, through Charles City. The position of the armies at the time of writing this, owing to McClellan's rapid movements and brilliant strategy, may be designated as decidedly shifting; indeed dissolving views are the principal parts of the flying Federal panorama.

"The result of the conflict thus far is a splendid tribute to the capacity of our Commanding General, Robert E. Lee. Henceforth his name is as immortal as history can make a man. The facts when analyzed, as we hope soon to be better able to do, will display a combination of strategy, prudence, vigor and sagacity in planning the attack, that have rarely been equalled in the history of military operation. We are proud of the pure patriot and modest General who has thus unhorsed the boasted 'Young Napoleon.'"

Posted By: Joe Elia
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