Sunday, January 15, 2017

Battle of Seven Pines May 31, 1862: Hill's Attack Part 1

~Orders of Battle~
Union Forces

BG Erasmus Keyes IV Corps Army of the Potomac
approx 5,700 men

BG Silas Casey 3rd Division
BG Henry M. Naglee's Brigade

11th ME Inf                        6 stands
104th PA Inf                        6 stands
100th NY Inf                        6 stands

BG Innis N. Palmer's Brigade

85th NY Inf                        6 stands
81st NY Inf                        6 stands
98th NY Inf                        6 stands
92nd NY Inf                        6 stands

BG Henry W. Wessell's Brigade

101st PA Inf                        5 stands
85th PA Inf                         5 stands
96th NY Inf                        5 stands

H btty 1st NY  Arty        2 stands        x4   3 inch ord
A btty 1st NY  Arty        6 stands        x3   12 lb napoleon

Confederate Forces

MG D. H. Hill's Division
approx 8,500 men

Col. George B. Anderson's Brigade

27th GA Inf                   6 stands
28th GA Inf                   6 stands
4th NC Inf                     6 stands
49th VA Inf                 2 stands

BG Samuel Garland's Brigade

5th NC Inf                   2 stands
38th VA Inf                  4 stands
23rd NC Inf                   4 stands
24th VA Inf                   5 stands
2nd FL Inf                     4 stands

BG Robert Rodes's Brigade

6th AL Inf                      6 stands
12th MS Inf                    4 stands
4th VA Inf BN                4 stands
5th AL Inf                      4 stands
12th AL Inf                    4 stands

BG Gabriel Raines's Brigade

13th AL Inf                      6 stands
26th AL Inf                      6 stands
6th GA Inf                       6 stands
23rd GA Inf                     6 stands

The situation on the peninsula was desperate. So far the Confederate Army were forced to withdrawal in the shadow of the advancing Army of the Potomac. The earlier Battle of Williamsburg was fought as a delaying action until the brigades could center in on Richmond. Now that the Federal Army was near enough to hear the church bells in town. Confederate President Jefferson Davis, Virginia Governor John Letcher voiced their concerns to Davis' recently appointed military advisor Robert E. Lee. Lee met with Confederate General Joseph E Johnston. Something needed to be done about the Federal Army. McClellan felt confident that he would be able to surround the Confederate capitol and lay siege. His aim was to starve them out by isolating them from the rest of the Confederacy. McClellan made his headquarters at White House, Virginia in the home of William Henry Fitzhugh Lee. The Son of Confederate General Robert E. Lee.  McClellan used the location of White House Landing and its access to the Pamunkey River to bring up supplies and reinforcements to begin his siege of Richmond. General Joseph E. Johnston had other plans. An attack in force was set. Rain on the 30th caused the Chickahominy River to swell over its banks. This divided the Federal Army and isolated BG Erasmus Keyes IV Corps on the south side of the river. Johnston's attack was set for the morning of the 31st. Orders where misunderstood. Formations got lost in the early morning hours and confusion reigned supreme. The Battle opened with the four brigades of MG Daniel Harvey Hill's Division emerging from the treeline east of the town of Seven Pines and slammed into the Division of BG Silas Casey.

The Wiliamsburg Stage Road can be seen running from left to right of the battlefield.  BG Silas Casey's Division was set up behind earthworks and abatis on the right side of the map. The center of the Federal line was held by Battery H 1st NY Artillery. On the left side we have MG D.H. Hill's Division set to emerge from the woods. The two brigades north of the road are Anderson and Garland. the Brigades of Rodes and Raines are south of the road.

Brigadier General Silas Casey with his troops.

BG Erasmus Keyes with his IV Corps Headquarters.

view of the Federal Line looking south.

BG Naglee with his brigade

H Battery, 1st New York Artillery.

The Confederate Army in the wood line.

The 81st and the 85th NY Infantry Regiments. Part of BG Innis Palmer's Brigade deployed behind the fixed positions.

Part of Palmer's Brigade deployed in advance of the prepared positions. The  Confederate Forces can barely be seen in the distance.

BG Robert Rodes Brigade with the 12th Mississippi Infantry in the lead.

Attempt at a Pic of BG Robert Rodes with his brigade

BG Gabriel Raines Brigade in support.

MG Daniel Harvey Hill and his Headquarters.

General Hill shifts uncomfortably in his saddle as his lower back pain kicks in.

BG George H. Anderson's Brigade with part of Samuel Garlands brigade behind them in support.

27th and 28th GA Infantry regiments. Part of Anderson's Brigade.

BG Robert Rodes.

Turn 1. Confederate Initiative.  General  D. H. Hill orders his divisions to advance. Anderson's Brigade north of the Williamsburg Stage Road emerges from the treeline. The Brigade of BG Robert Rodes  also emerges from the treeline south of the Williamsburg Stage Road. The supporting Brigades also advance through the woods. The Federal Line holds its position.

Rodes Brigade emerges from the woodline.

Pressing his brigade forward.

Anderson's Brigade breaks through the woods into the clearing. 

Union Troops in advance of the main line.

Turn 2 Federal Initiative. Seeing the Confederate force emerge from the woods in front of them, The Federal Forces make ready to receive the attack. H btty NY Artillery attempts to open fire but has a misfire.

Pressing the advance. The movement cost is different from moving in the open and moving in rough terrain such as a forest.  To continue to move in brigade formation, there is a bit of holding the lead regiments back in order for the brigade to reform.

The second line of Brigades in the attack

General Hill waves his troops onward.

27th Georgia Infantry Regiment from Anderson's Brigade. They slow their advance in order to give the other regiments time to reform after leaving the woods. 

"Steady Men, Load and wait til they are in range!" General Casey rides along his line motivating his men to stay ready.

Turn 3. Confederate Initiative. General Hill continues to press his advance. In order to get maximum effectiveness of his brigades, he presses closer. The Federal Battery in the front opens fire on Anderson's Brigade. Casualties are taken from the 4th NC Infantry.

Raines and Garland's Brigades emerge from the trees.

Hill with the advance.

Turn 4. Confederate Initiative. More of the same movements. Hill pushes hard. The Union line waits. Only the Federal Battery in the front continues to fire. the 4th NC infantry take more casualties.

I attempted to give the battle some depth of grandeur by taking this pic from behind and above the Federal Line. This would be looking west down the Wiliamsburg Stage Road.

The view from the Confederate side looking East towards the town of Seven Pines.

The Confederate Lines open up in a jog. then break out into a run as the brigades quickly reform and advance. All at once, from the the masses of southern soldiers, a low rumble grows until it becomes a clear and distinct shrill yell. The piercing hoots and yeps of the Rebel Yell overwhelm all other sounds on the field. The Federal soldiers in line feel the hair stand up on their necks as the approaching horde surges toward them with fixed bayonets.
To be continued.

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