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By W. T. ROBBINS, COLONEL, C.S. A.
THE battle of Seven Pines," or Fair Oaks," had been fought with no result. The temporary success of the Confederates early in the engagement had been more than counterbalanced by the reverses they sustained on the second day, and the two armies lay passively watching each other in front of Richmond. At this time the cavalry of Lee's army was commanded by General J. E. B. Stuart, and this restless officer conceived the idea of flanking the right wing of the Federal army near Ashland, and moving around to the rear, to cross the Chickahominy River at a place called Sycamore Ford, in New Kent County, march over to the James River, and return to the Confederate lines near Deep Bottom, in Henrico County. In carrying out this plan, Stuart would completely encircle the army of General McClellan. At the time of this movement the writer was adjutant of the 9th Virginia cavalry. When the orders were issued from head-quarters directing the several commands destined to form the expedition to prepare three days' rations, and the ordnance officers to issue sixty rounds of ammunition to each man, I remember the surmises and conjectures as to our destination. The officers and men were in high spirits in anticipation of a fight, and when the bugles rang out "Boots and Saddles," every man was ready. The men left behind in camp were bewailing their luck, and those forming the detail for the expedition were elated at the prospect of some excitement. "Good-bye, boys; we are going to help old Jack drive the Yanks into the Potomac," I heard one of them shout to those left behind.
On the afternoon of June 12th we went out to the Brooke turnpike, preparatory to the march. The cavalry column was the 9th Virginia, commanded by Colonel W. H. F. Lee, the 1st Virginia, led by Colonel Fitz Lee, and the Jeff Davis Legion, under Colonel Martin. A section of the Stuart Horse Artillery, commanded by Captain Pelham, accompanied the expedition. The whole numbered twelve hundred men. The first night was passed in bivouac in the vicinity of Ashland, and orders were issued enforcing strict silence and forbidding the use of fires, as the success of the expedition would depend upon secrecy and celerity. On the following morning, at the break of dawn, the troopers were mounted and the march was begun without a bugle blast, and the column headed direct for Hanover Court House, distant about two hours' ride. Here we had the first sight of the enemy. A scouting party of the 5th U. S. Cavalry was in the village, but speedily decamped when our troops were ascertained to be Confederates. One prisoner was taken after a hot chase across country. We now moved rapidly to Hawes's Shop, where a Federal picket was surprised and captured without firing a shot. Hardly had the prisoners been disarmed and turned over to the provost guard when the Confederate advance was driven in upon the main body by a squadron of Federal cavalry, sent out from Old Church to ascertain by reconnoissance whether the report of a Confederate advance was true or false. General Stuart at once ordered Colonel W. H.F. Lee, commanding the regiment leading the column, to throw forward a squadron to meet the enemy. Colonel Lee directed Captain Swann chief of the leading squadron of his regiment, to charge with the saber. Swann moved off at a trot, and, turning a corner of the toad, saw the enemy's squadron about two hundred yards in front of him. The order to charge was given, and the men dashed forward in fine style. The onset was so sudden that the Federal cavalry broke and scattered in confusion. The latter had a start of barely two hundred yards, but the Confederate yell that broke upon the air lent them wings, and only a few fell into our hands. The rest made their escape after a chase of a mile and a half. Now the road became very narrow, and the brush on either side was a place so favorable for an ambuscade that Captain Swann deemed it prudent to draw rein and sound the bugle to recall his men. Stuart, who had been marching steadily onward with the main body of the Confederate column, soon arrived at the front, and the advance guard, which I had all along commanded, was directed to move forward again. I at once dismounted the men, and pushed forward up a hill
in my front. Just beyond the hill, I ran into a force of Federal cavalry drawn up in column of fours, ready to charge. Just as my advance-guard was about to run into him, I heard their commanding officer give the order to charge. I fell back and immediately notified General Stuart of the presence of the enemy. Captain Latan, commanding a squadron of the 9th Virginia, was directed to move forward and clear the road. He moved up the hill at a trot, and when in sight of the enemy in the road gave the command to charge, and with a yell the men rushed forward. At the top of the hill, simultaneously with Latané's order' to charge, a company of Federal cavalry, deployed as skirmishers in the woods on the right of the read, were stampeded, and rushed back into the woods to make good their retreat to their friends. The head of Latané's squadron, then just fairly up the hill, was in the line of their retreat and was separated from the rest of the squadron, cut off by the rush of the Federals, and borne along with them up the road toward the enemy. I was riding at the side of Latan, and just at the time when the Federal company rushed back into the road. Captain Latané fell from his horse, shot dead. The rush of the Federals separated myself and six of the leading files of the squadron from our friends, and we were borne along by the flying Federals. Although the Federal cavalry both in front and rear were in full retreat, our situation was perilous in the extreme. Soon we were pushed by foes in our rear into the ranks of those in our front, and a series of hand-to-hand combats ensued. To shoot or to cut us down was the aim of every Federal as he neared us, but we did what we could to defend ourselves. Every one of my comrades was shot or cut down, and I alone escaped unhurt. After having been borne along by the retreating enemy for perhaps a quarter of a mile, I leaped my horse over the fence into the field and so got away.
Now came the rush of the Confederate column sweeping the road clear, and capturing many prisoners. At this point my regiment was relieved by the 1st Virginia, and Colonel Lee continued the pursuit. The Federals did not attempt to make a stand until they reached Old Church. Here their officers called a halt, and made an attempt to rally to defend their camp. Fitz Lee soon swept them out, and burned their camp. They made no other attempt to stand, and we heard no more of them as an organized body, but many prisoners were taken as we passed along. We had surprised them, taken them in detail, and far outnumbered them at all points. The Federal forces, as we afterward learned, were commanded by General Philip St. George Cooke, father-in-law to General Stuart, to whom the latter sent a polite message. The casualties in this skirmish were slight-one man killed on each side, and about fifteen or twenty wounded on the Confederate side, mostly saber-cuts.
We halted for a short time at Old Church, and the people of the neighborhood, hearing of our arrival, came flocking out to greet us and wish us God-speed. They did not come empty-handed, but brought whatever they could snatch up on the spur of the moment, rightly spur of the moment, rightly supposing that anything to allay hunger or thirst would be acceptable to us. Some of the ladies brought bouquets, and presented them to the officers as they marched along. One of these was given to General Stuart, who, always gallant, vowed to preserve it and take it into Richmond. He kept his promise.
We were soon far in rear of McClellan's army, which lay directly between us and Richmond. It was thought probable that the Federal cavalry was concentrating in our rear to cut off our retreat. We kept straight on, by Smith's store, through New Kent County to Tunstall's station, on the York River Railroad. I had been in charge of the Confederate advance-guard up to the time when Colonel Fitz Lee came to the front with the 1st Virginia, relieving the 9th of that duty. When well down in New Ken County, General Stuart sent for me again to the front. Hurrying on, I soon reached the head of the column, where I found the general, and was directed by him to take thirty men as an advance-guard, and to precede the column by about half a mile. Further, I was directed to halt at the road running from the mills to the White House long enough to cut the telegraph wire on that road; thence to proceed to Tunstall's station on the York River Railroad, at which place, the prisoners bad informed the general, a company of Federal infantry was posted. At Tunstall's station I was directed to charge the infantry, disperse or capture them, cut the telegraph, and obstruct the railroad. Here was our point of danger. Once across the railroad, we were comparatively safe. But in possession of the railroad, with its rolling-stock the enemy could easily throw troops along its line to any given point. However, no timely information had been furnished to the Federal general. We moved with such celerity that we carried with us the first news of our arrival. Pushing forward at a trot, and picking up straggling prisoners every few hundred yards, the advance-guard at length reached the telegraph road. At this point we overtook an ordnance wagon, heavily loaded with canteens and Colt's revolvers. The horses had stalled in a mud-hole, and the driver, cutting them out from the wagon, made his escape. The sergeant in charge stood his ground and was captured. Here was a prize indeed, as in those days we were poorly armed. In order to save time, a man furnished with an ax was sent to cut the telegraph wire, while the rest of the party was engaged in rifling the wagon. While these operations were in progress a body of Federal cavalry, suddenly turning a bend in the road, made their appearance. As soon as the Federal officer in command saw us he called a halt, and, standing still in the road, seemed at a less to know what to do. His men drew their sabers, as if about to charge, but they did not come on. By this time the telegraph had been cut and the wagon disposed of. Our men were hastily mounted and formed into column of fours, with drawn sabers, ready for any emergency. There we stood, eyeing each other, about two hundred yards apart, until the head of the main Confederate column came in sight, when the Federals retreated down the road leading to the White House. One man of the Federal party was sent back along the road to Tunstall's station, now only about half a mile off. I supposed, of course, that this messenger was sent to warn the Federal troops at Tunstall's of our approach. I was, however, afterward informed that he galloped through Tunstall's but never stopped, and when some one called to him, "What's to pay?" He dashed along, calling out, at the top of his voice, ''Hell's to pay!"
The road now being clear, we marched on briskly, and arriving near the station charged down upon it with a yell. We could see the enemy scattered about the building and lounging around before we charged them. The greater part scattered for cover, and were pursued by our people. I pushed straight for the station-house, where I found the captain of the company of infantry, with thirteen of his men, standing in front of the building, but with no arms in their hands. Only one of them seemed disposed to show fight. He ran to the platform where the muskets were stacked, and, seizing one of them, began to load. Before he could ram his cartridge home, a sweep of the saber, in close proximity to his head, made him throw down his gun, and, jumping into a ditch, he dodged under the bridge over the railroad and made his escape. I had no time to pursue him; but, turning to look after the others met the captain, who, sword in hand, advanced and surrendered himself and his company as prisoners of war. I then proceeded to obstruct the railroad. To do this effectually, I caused a tree to be cut down which was standing on the side of the road. It fell across the railroad. In addition to this, I placed across the an oak-sill about a foot square and fourteen feet long. I had barely time to do this before a train from the direction of Richmond came thundering down. At this time General Stuart, with the main body, arrived at the station. The engine driver of the coming train, probably seeing the obstructions on the track and a large force of cavalry there, suspected danger, and, being a plucky fellow, put on all steam, and came rushing down. The engine, striking the obstructions, knocked them out of the way and passed on without accident. General Stuart bad dismounted a number of his men, and posted them on a high bank overlooking a cut in the road, just below the station, through which the train was about to pass. They threw in a close and effective fire upon the passing train, loaded with troops. Many of these were killed and wounded.
It was now the second night since leaving camp, and the well-filled haversacks with which we started from camp had long since been empty. The march had been so rapid that there was little opportunity of foraging for man or beast. Except a little bread and meat, brought out to the column by the country people as we passed along, we had had nothing since daybreak. The men were weary and hungry, and the horses almost exhausted by the long fast and severe exercise. As soon as a proper disposition had been made of the prisoners and of the captured horses and mules, the column moved on. Down through New Kent County, to a place called New Baltimore, we marched as rapidly as our condition would permit. I was still in the command of the advance-guard, marching some distance ahead of the column, and had orders to halt at this point, and await the coming up of the main body. Fortunately, an enterprising Yankee had established a store here, to catch the trade of all persons passing from McClellan's army to his base of supplies at the White House. He had crackers, cheese, canned fruits, sardines, and many other dainties dear to the cavalryman; and in the brief hour spent with him we of the advance were made new men. I fear little was left to cheer and to invigorate those in the rear. The main body arriving, "forward" was the order-straight down through New Kent to Sycamore Ford on the Chickahominy.
A beautiful full moon lighted our way and cast weird shadows across our path. Expecting each moment to meet the enemy, every bush in the distance looked like a sentinel, and every jagged tree bending over the road like a vidette. Marching all night, we arrived at the ford between daybreak and sunrise; and here our real troubles began. To our chagrin, we found the stream swollen by recent rains almost out of its banks, and running like a torrent. No man or horse could get over without swimming, and it happened that the entrance to the ford on our side was below the point at which we had to come out on the other side. Therefore, we had to swim against the current. Owing to the mud and mire, it was not practicable for any number of horses to approach the river at any point except by the road leading to the ford. We therefore tried it there for two long hours. The 9th Cavalry made the trial. After repeated efforts to swim the horses over we gave up, for we had crossed over only seventy-five men and horses in two hours. While we were trying to reach the opposite bank Stuart came up, and, finding crossing at this point impracticable, rode off to find another farther down the river. At a point about one mile below, known as Forge Bridge, he succeeded in throwing across one branch of the river a bridge strong enough to bear the artillery, and upon which the men, having been dismounted, could walk. Here the approach on our side was higher up stream than the point at which we would come out on the other side. So the horses were formed into a column of fours, pushed into the water, and, swimming down stream, they easily lauded on the other side. After a few horses had been crossed in this manner we found no difficulty, the others following on quite readily. The column was now upon an island formed by the two branches of the Chickahominy, and to reach the mainland it was necessary to cross the other branch of that river.
This was, however, accomplished, but with some difficulty. The ford at this crossing was at that time very deep, and the river out of its banks and overflowing the flats to the depth of about two feet for at least a half-mile. At this place the limber to a caisson stuck fast in the mud, and we left it.
On leaving the river, General Stuart directed me to take charge of the rear-guard, and, when all had crossed, to burn the bridge. In accordance with these orders, I directed the men to collect piles of fence rails, heap them on the bridge, and set them afire. By my orders the horses had been led some distance back from the river into the brush, where they were concealed from view. The men were lounging about on the ground when the bridge fell in. I was seated under a tree on the bank of the river, and at the moment that the hissing of the burning timbers of the bridge let me knew that it had fallen into the water, a rifle-shot rang out from the other side, and the whistling bullet cut off a small limb over my head, which fell into my lap. The shot was probably fired by some scout who had been following us, but who was afraid to fire until the bridge was gone. With a thankful heart for his bad aim, I at once withdrew the men, and pushed en after the column When I came to the ford, I found it necessary to swim the horses a short distance, it having been deepened by the crossing of such a 1 large body of horse. Soon the column was in sight, and the march across Charles City County to the James River was made as vigorously as the jaded horses were able to stand. The men, though weary and hungry, were in foe spirits, and jubilant ] over the successful crossing of the Chickahominy. About sunset we neared the James, at the plantation of Colonel Wilcox. Here we rested for about two hours, having marched into a field of clover, where the horses ate their fill. In the twilight, fires were lighted to cook the rations just brought in by our foragers.
We were now twenty-five miles from Richmond, on the "James River Road." Had the enemy been aware of our position, it would have been easy for him to throw a force between us and Richmond, and so cut us off. But the Federal general was not well served by his scouts, nor did his cavalry furnish him with accurate information of our movements. Relying upon the mistakes of a the enemy, Stuart resolved to march straight on into Richmond by the River road on which we now lay. To accomplish this with the greater safety, it was necessary for him to march at once. Accordingly, I was ordered to take the advance guard and move out. As soon as the cravings of hunger were appeased, sleep took possession of us. Although in the saddle and in motion, and aware that the safety of the expedition depended on great vigilance in case the enemy should be encountered, it was hard to keep awake. I was constantly falling asleep, arid awaking with a start when almost off my horse. This was the condition of every man in the column. Not one had closed his eyes in sleep for forty-eight hours.
The full moon lighted us on our way as we passed along the River read, and frequently the windings of the road brought us near to and in sight of the James River, where lay the enemy's fleet. In the gray twilight of the dawn of Sunday, we passed the "Double Gates," "Strawberry Plains," arid " Tighlman's gate" in succession. At "Tighlman's" we could see the masts of the fleet, not far off. Happily for us, the banks were high, and I imagine they had no lookout in the rigging, and we passed by unobserved. The sight of the enemy's fleet had aroused us somewhat, when "Who goes there?" rang out on the stillness of the early morning. The challenger proved to be a vidette of the 10th Virginia Cavalry, commanded by Colonel J. Lucius Davis, who was picketing that road. Soon I was shaking hands with Colonel Davis arid receiving his congratulations. Then we crossed the stream by the jug factory, up toward "New Market" heights, by the drill-house, and about a mile beyond we called halt for a little rest and food. From this point the several regiments were dismissed to their respective camps.
We lost one man killed and a few wounded, and no prisoners. The most important result was the confidence the men had gained in themselves and in their leaders. The country rang out with praises of the men who had raided entirely around General McClellan's powerful army, bringing prisoners and plunder from under his very nose. The Southern papers were filled with accounts of the expedition, none accurate, and most of them marvelous.
10 Facts: Malvern Hill
Fact #1: Malvern Hill was the last of the Seven Days' battles.
On June 26, 1862, less than a month after taking command of the newly-christened Army of Northern Virginia, Gen. Robert E. Lee put his troops on the offensive. Over the next week, attacking Confederates drove their blue-clad counterparts from strong positions outside Richmond, unraveling Gen. George B. McClellan's scheme to capture the Confederate capital. Bloody fighting at places like Beaver Dam Creek, Gaines' Mill, Savage's Station, and, on June 30, Glendale altered the tempo and tenor of the war in Virginia.
The morning of July 1, 1862, found Lee's army once again threatening the retreating Army of the Potomac. The Yankees, however, held a strong defensive position on a gently sloping eminence just two miles north of the river, called Malvern Hill, inviting Lee to strike. The Confederates launched a series of uncoordinated assaults that ran headlong into the well-placed Federal artillery. When darkness fell, Lee's men had failed to dislodge the Yankees, who withdrew that night. Lee did not pursue the Seven Days battles were over.
Fact #2: The Battle of Malvern Hill, was the first time during the Seven Days that the entire Army of the Potomac was united on the same field.
Lee's unexpected and violent assaults in the last week of June 1862, caught Gen. George B. McClellan completely off guard. Almost immediately, "Little Mac" determined that he could no longer take Richmond, and set his army into full-blown retreat to the James. Along the way, elements of the Army of the Potomac made brave stands, attempting to slow Lee's advance—but McClellan never deployed the bulk of his army to check the Rebel offensive.
On July 1, 1862, all five Federal corps were in the same place at the same time for the first time that week. The open nature of Malvern Hill itself allowed the Yankees to deploy the entirety of their immense army in a way they hadn't since the seven days began. However, elements of three corps were detailed to guard the Federals' right flank, and consequently, saw no action. Even with all his troops in one place, McClellan did not utilize his whole army.
Fact #3: General McClellan did not direct his army during the battle.
Once McClellan determined to withdraw, the Federal commander seemingly abdicated all responsibility for managing his army while they struggled to cope with Lee's relentless advance. He spent most of June 30 aboard the gunboat Galena while the Army of the Potomac staved off disaster at Glendale.
While McClellan was on the field during most of the Battle of Malvern Hill, his role not much more active that it had been previously. In the early hours of July 1, McClellan met with his favorite subordinate, Gen. Fitz John Porter to discuss the disposition of his troops, before again retiring to the Galena—presumably to prepare the army's supply base at Harrison's Landing. The commanding general returned to the field later, but was content to let Porter and his other corps commanders manage the battle on their own. Unlike the battle the previous day, however, McClellan's subordinates had a clear view of the battle plan, and, with Porter serving as de facto army commander, the Young Napoleon could be assured that plan would be carried out.
Fact #4: Faulty maps significantly delayed the Confederates’ arrival at Malvern Hill.
To strike the Federals a Malvern Hill, Lee needed to mass the disparate elements of his army. Lee dashed off orders to his commanders, directing them to approach Malvern Hill by two main axes of advance—Carter’s Mill Road and Willis Church Road. Unfortunately for the Confederates, the map their commanding general used when planning this relatively simple maneuver incorrectly labeled the Willis Church Road, the "Quaker Road." This, it seems was a colloquial name for a number of roads which, presumably, lead to a nearby Quaker meeting house. Thus, local guides shepherding Lee’s troops led them down the wrong road and away from the battlefield. The confusion was eventually sorted out, but caused the Confederates an hours-long delay.
Fact #5: The "farcical" performance of the Confederate artillery allowed the Union artillery to dominate the battle.
Taking advantage of high ground north of Malvern Hill, Robert E. Lee ordered the placement of two "grand batteries"—massive arrays of his artillery—in support of the left and right wings of his army. Lee believed fire from these massed cannon would converge on the Union center and weaken the Yankees' ability to resist the force of the infantry assault that was to follow.
The out-gunned Confederate artillery played almost no role in the Battle of Malvern Hill. Rob Shenk
Unfortunately for the Confederates, logistical problems kept all but a fraction of Lee's artillery from ever reaching the field, and those that did were put into action piecemeal. Embittered division commander Gen. Daniel H. Hill went so far as to call the performance of the Confederate batteries "most farcical." Union artillery—as many as 40 cannons massed in the center of the Federal position—made quick work of suppressing their Rebel counterparts. With the Confederate guns no longer a major factor, Yankee gunners directed their attention to the lines of gray-clad infantry advancing up the slopes of Malvern Hill, thus dominating the battle.
Fact #6: The nature of the terrain forced the two wings of Lee's army to wage two separate battles.
The elevated plateau known as Malvern Hill consisted of large open farm fields ranging from the steep slopes of Malvern Cliffs on the west to the Western Run, on the east. The Willis Church Road, which runs roughly north to south, bisected the Union position on the crest of the hill. To the west of this road, the land is a gentle rise from the northern portion of the field to the crest of Malvern Hill, near the Crew House. The Confederates on this portion of the field under Benjamin Huger and John Magruder made their advance while being constantly exposed to Federal artillery and small arms fire which devastated their ranks.
The eastern portion of the field, "Stonewall" Jackson's front, is broken by awkward projections of woods and steep swales. These features allowed the Jackson's men to advance toward the Union line out of sight of the Federal gunners on the crest of the hill, but they were also completely cut off from their comrades west of the road. Unable to see—let alone support—one another the two wings of Lee's army were left to fight separately.
Advancing in this swale, "Stonewall" Jackson's Confederates were concealed from Union artillery deployed in front the West House, seen here. Douglas Ullman, Jr.
Fact #7: Despite the dominant role of Union artillery, Confederate infantry inflicted significant casualties on the Federals.
Col. Henry J. Hunt's well-placed Union artillery rained great destruction upon the Confederate infantry, but Lee's troops continued their advance, even getting into effective range for their rifled and smoothbore muskets to endanger the Union gunners. As a result, nearby Yankee infantry—such as Charles Griffin's Fifth Corps brigade or the Irish Brigade—was rushed forward to drive off the Rebels and protect their artilleryman from small arms fire.
This was especially true on Stonewall Jackson's front, where the topography allowed the Confederates to advance out of sight of the Union artillery. Gen. Darius Couch's division of blue-clad foot soldiers—including a brigade of New Yorkers under Gen. Daniel Sickles—rushed down the slope to check this advance.
This challenges the simplistic view of Malvern Hill as merely a battle between Confederate infantry and Union artillery. However, as historian Bobby Krick points out, given the negligible role played by the Confederate artillery during the battle, it is more than likely that a good portion of the more than 3,000 Union casualties at Malvern Hill were the result of these infantry fights.
Fact #8: The much-heralded Irish Brigade earned its reputation at Malvern Hill.
Since its formation, the Union army's Irish Brigade had received a great deal of attention from the Northern press, much of it self-promotion on the part its commander, Gen. Thomas Francis Meagher. However, apart from a handful of troops who had been engaged at First Bull Run, most of these Irish soldiers had yet to see significant action. On July 1, 1862, that began to change.
As Confederate attackers came closer and closer to the Federal gunners on Malvern Hill, Union infantry were sent forward to drive them back. Among the units called upon for this duty was the Irish Brigade, which was thrust into battle late in the day to stave off the last Confederate attacks at Malvern Hill. From that moment on, the Irish Brigade's began to back up its early war hype with solid battlefield performances.
Fact #9: Though victorious, the Federals withdrew after the battle, effectively ending McClellan's campaign to take Richmond via the Peninsula.
The Union victory at Malvern Hill, while a morale booster for the Army of the Potomac, did nothing to alter the circumstances facing the men in the ranks of the Federal army. Their back was to the James River, their supply lines vulnerable, and they were exhausted from a week's worth of hard marching and heavy fighting. So, despite an excellent performance, early the next morning the Yankees continued their retreat to Harrison's Landing, twelve miles away. The campaign to take Richmond via the Peninsula was over.
In fact, George McClellan had made up his mind to abandon this movement against Richmond as early as the night of June 26. McClellan, who called the retrograde motion of his army a "change of base," lavished praise upon his army for their "survival against adversity." Stopping the Confederates at Malvern Hill merely allowed the Yankees the chance to complete their retreat to the safety of their supply base, and deny Lee the chance to destroy the Federals once and for all.
Fact #10: The Civil War Trust has saved hundreds of acres at Malvern Hill.
Over the years, the Civil War Trust and its partners have preserved hundreds of acres of the Malvern Hill battlefield. Add these to the 130 acres previously owned by the National Park Service, and visitors can now walk the entire length of the Confederate attack and appreciate just how greatly the ground itself impacted this important 1862 battle.
Malvern Hill Plantation
Malvern Hill stands on the north bank of the James River in Henrico County, Virginia, USA, about eighteen miles southeast of Richmond. On 1 July 1862, it was the scene of the Battle of Malvern Hill, one of the Seven Days Battles of the American Civil War.
The name referred primarily to the house built by Thomas Cocke in the 17th century, which remained in his family for many years. It was named after the Malvern Hills in England. The historic home was gutted by a fire in 1905 and all that now remains are end gables, including a fireplace. Nevertheless, the ruins are architecturally significant as the remains of one of few known cruciform design houses in Virginia. "The one surviving chimney is perhaps the finest example of seventeenth century diaper brickwork in the state."
The home site figured in three wars. Lafayette camped there twice in 1781 during the American Revolutionary War. Virginia militia also camped there in the War of 1812. However, it is best known as the site of bloody American Civil War Battle of Malvern Hill in 1862.
Nearby stood the Malvern Hill manor house built for Thomas Cocke in the 17th century. The Marquis de Lafayette camped here in July-August 1781, and elements of the Virginia militia encamped nearby during the War of 1812. During the Civil War, 1 July 1862, Gen. Robert E. Lee attacked Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan's Union Army of the Potomac here as it retreated to the James River from the gates of Richmond. Although he dealt Lee a bloody defeat, McClellan continued his withdrawal to Harrison's Landing. The Malvern Hill house survived the battle as a Federal headquarters but burned in 1905.
Erected 1999 by Department of Historic Resources. (Marker Number V-4.)
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Colonial Era &bull War of 1812 &bull War, US Civil &bull War, US Revolutionary. In addition, it is included in the Battlefield Trails - Civil War series list. A significant historical date for this entry is July 1, 1862.
Location. 37° 23.706′ N, 77° 15.007′ W. Marker is near Granville, Virginia, in Henrico County. Marker is at the intersection of New Market Road (Virginia Route 5) and Malvern Hill Lane, on the right when traveling west on New Market Road. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Henrico VA 23231, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 2 miles
of this marker, measured as the crow flies. The Fergusons of Malvern Hill (within shouting distance of this marker) Aggy's Freedom Suit (within shouting distance of this marker) Seven Days Battles (approx. 1.2 miles away) Advantages of Terrain (approx. 1.2 miles away) A Place of Refuge (approx. 1.2 miles away) Battlefield Landscape (approx. 1.2 miles away) The Crew House (approx. 1.2 miles away) Battlefield of Malvern Hill (approx. 1.2 miles away).
Related markers. Click here for a list of markers that are related to this marker. Battle of Malvern Hill by Markers
Also see . . .
1. Malvern Hill. National Register documentation for Malvern Hill. The entry includes a topographical map indicating the location of the ruins. (Submitted on July 27, 2008, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.)
2. 23rd PA at Malvern Hill - July 1st 1862. This page has pictures of the Malvern Hill House including one photograph of the ruins as they are today. (Submitted on June 2, 2014, by David Graff of Halifax, Nova Scotia.)
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. It was originally submitted on July 27, 2008, by Kathy Walker of Stafford, Virginia. This page has been viewed 1,534 times since then and 30 times this year. Photos: 1. submitted on July 27, 2008, by Kathy Walker of Stafford, Virginia. 2. submitted on July 9, 2010, by Forest McDermott of Masontown, Pennsylvania. &bull Craig Swain was the editor who published this page.
Editor&rsquos want-list for this marker. Photos of the Malvern Hill ruins. &bull Can you help?
Malvern Hill - History
Sites near Hereford & Worcester
The 2000 year old ramparts are still clearly visible today, making the hill look a little like a giant layered wedding cake.
|360 degree panoramic view from the top of British camp|
Originally it was thought to have been a purely defensive feature which people retreated to in time of trouble.
Now excavations at the nearby fort on Midsummer Hill suggest that they were occupied permanently.
|360 degree panoramic view from Millennium Hill|
If this is true it was probably home to 4,000 people, and was occupied for between four and five hundred years.
What did the Romans ever do for us?
The coming of the Romans meant the end of hill forts, but the start of one of the great Malvern legends.
Popular folklore has it that the Ancient British chieftain Caractacus made his last stand at British Camp.
The legend says that he was captured after a heroic fight and transported to Rome, where he so impressed the Emperor Claudius that he was given a villa and a pension.
Unfortunately, like many legends, it's unlikely to be true.
Caractacus was captured by the Romans, but if the account of his final battle by the Roman historian Tacitus is accurate then it's unlikely to have taken place at British camp.
|Caracticus played his final card and chose a site for a battle so that the approaches, the escape routes, everything, was awkward for us and to his sides advantage. On one side there were steep hills. Where ever approaches were gentle he piled boulders into a sort of rampart. In front of him flowed a river of doubtful fordability and squadrons of armed men were in position on the defences.|
Even given the River Severn's habit of flooding it takes a huge stretch of the imagination to describe it as being in front of British camp.
Experts now generally agree that Caractucus's last stand took place near Church Stretton.
As any good journalist knows the facts never get in the way of a good story, and the legend still continues to this day.
Elgar was sufficiently taken with it to compose his cantata Caractacus in 1898.
Even if they didn't make a last stand their the Ancients Britains are probably responsible for the name Malvern, or moel-bryn meaning "the bare hill".
The top most layer of British camp is however not Iron Age, but a Norman motte fortification.
On the ridge of the hills running north to south is the Shire Ditch, which dates to the 13th century.
If you make the walk along the ridge you will also come to Clutter's Cave, also known as Giant's Cave or Waum's Cave, after the spring that once lay beneath it.
And The Irish Brigade
In the spring of 1861, Colonel Michael Corcoran, an Irishman commanding the 69th New York State Militia, was in the process of being court-martialed by the state for refusing to parade his regiment before the visiting Prince of Wales in New York City. While he waited, Confederate forces fired upon Fort Sumter and the Civil War began. Needing every available man, the state dropped the charges and Corcoran led his men to Virginia and the Battle of First Bull Run.
Although the battle was a Union defeat, the 69th N.Y.S.M. served gallantly and provided a strong rear guard during the retreat to Washington.
Unfortunately, among the casualties was Colonel Corcoran, who was captured and spent about a year in a Confederate prison before being paroled.
After Bull Run and President Lincoln’s call for 300,000 men to quell the rebellion Captain Thomas Francis Meagher of the 69th N.Y.S.M.’s Company K, (who was an agitator for Irish independence and had been transported to Tasmania by the English for his part in the Irish Rebellion of 1848 but had escaped and made his way to New York) decided to create a purely ethnic Irish brigade with the newly formed 69th New York State Volunteers, commanded by Colonel Robert Nugent, as its core regiment.
As the 69th Volunteers were the first regiment to reach it’s quota of men, with many joining from the old 69th Militia, it was designated the First Regiment of the Irish Brigade and was joined in November 1861 by the 63rd and the 88th New York Regiments at Camp California near Alexandria, Virginia.
These regiments were made up mainly of the poor and working class immigrant Irishmen, some fresh “off the boat”, who were trying to create a new life for themselves in their adopted country.
They enlisted for many reasons. Some joined out of patriotic fervor to help preserve the Union, for Old Ireland and New America, some joined to gain military knowledge to take back to Ireland to fight the English and gain Irish independence, some just enlisted for the chance of regular pay and food in hard economic times, or later in the war, for the large bounties that were offered and could reach as much as $700, which was about ten years wages for a laborer back in Ireland, and some just joined for the craic, for the fun of it and a chance for some adventure and excitement.
But not many joined up to free the slaves as the freed blacks who would come north would be in direct competition with the Catholic Irish who were at the bottom of the social / economic ladder in a predominantly Protestant and, some would say, anti-immigrant America.
As 1861 came to an end and the newly formed regiments went into winter camp, the Union army was reorganized and the Irish Brigade became the 2nd Brigade, 1st Division, 2nd Corps of the Army of the Potomac.
Over the course of the war the 69th and the Irish Brigade fought with distinction in every campaign of the Army of the Potomac, all too often with devastating consequences.
During the spring of 1862 they were heavily involved in the Peninsular Campaign and the Seven Days Battles, where they gained a reputation as fierce fighters at Fair Oaks Station and Malvern Hill and helped provided a solid rear guard for the whole army during the retreats to the James River.
It has been said that it was Confederate General Robert E. Lee, after enquiring about the green flag he saw in the Union ranks at Malvern Hill, and being told it belonged to the 69th New York, allegedly stated, “Ah yes..that Fighting 69th.” The nickname stuck and the Regiment has carried it proudly ever since.
In June 1862 the Brigade was strengthened when it was joined by a new regiment, the 29th Massachusetts.
On September 17th 1862, at the Battle of Antietam, still mainly armed with .69 smooth bore muskets, firing “buck and ball”, and rallying to General Meagher’s cry of ”Raise the colors, boys, and follow me!” the Brigade assaulted the Sunken Road taking heavy losses, with the 69th loosing about 60% of their numbers.
Gen. Meagher was injured when his horse was shot from beneath him, but the Brigade held its ground on the field until relieved by General Caldwell’s brigade.
After Antietam the Brigade camped near Harpers Ferry where it was refitted and was joined in October by it’s fifth regiment, the 116th Pennsylvania. While not wholly Irish by any means, many were of Dutch origin, the men of the 116th were a welcome addition to the ranks of the Brigade.
Just before the Battle of Fredericksburg the 29th Massachusetts was replaced by the 28th Massachusetts, and it was the 28th who, on December 13th 1862, carried the only green regimental flag as the Irish Brigade charged up the hill and into the mouths of the Confederate muskets and artillery on Marye’s Heights.
The battle was a disaster for the Union and particularly for the Irish Brigade, who suffered terrible casualties. After the battle only about 260 out of 1200 men of the Brigade were still able to fight.
It is likely that the Ancient Britains were responsible for naming Malvern, or moel-bryn meaning “the bare hill”.
The Malvern Hills that dominate the surrounding Worcestershire and Herefordshire landscape bear testament to their presence in the area with British Camp, an immense Iron Age hill fort whose 2000 year old ramparts remain clearly visible today.
Originally thought to have been a purely defensive feature for people to retreat within in times of trouble, recent discoveries have suggested that the fort was in fact permanently occupied over a period of five hundred years, at any one time the home to a 4,000 strong tribe.
Hill forts continued to dominate the English landscape right up until the arrival of the Romans when, one by one, they fell to the might and persistence of Roman civil engineering siege tactics.
Popular local folklore recalls how the Ancient British chieftain Caractacus made his last stand at British Camp. The legend tells that Caractacus was captured after a heroic fight and transported to Rome, where he so impressed the Emperor Claudius that he was released, given a villa and a pension.
However the legend is unlikely to involve British Camp. Yes, it is recorded that Caractacus was captured by the Romans, taken to Rome and eventually released, but if the account of his final battle by the Roman historian Tacitus is accurate, then it is unlikely to have taken place at British Camp. Tacitus describes “a river of doubtful fordability” in his events of the battle, the likes of which can only be found several miles away from Malvern. The top ramparts of British Camp are not in fact Iron Age, but a Norman motte fortification.
The Normans arrived in Malvern shortly after the Battle of Hastings, and work started on a monastery in what was then known as Malvern Chase in 1085, a chase being an area of unenclosed land where wild animals are kept for hunting purposes. Originally built for thirty monks on land belonging to Westminster Abbey, the Great Malvern Priory evolved over the next few hundred years.
The fortunes of the priory changed however when in the 1530s King Henry VIII, short of cash, decided to plunder the funds of the Popes Catholic monasteries. Any opposition was quickly brushed aside by Thomas Cromwell, and in 1539 the Malvern monks surrendered their lands and buildings. These were subsequently sold on to various people with the exception of the church, which remained the property of The Crown.
Lack of funds over the next couple of centuries resulted in hardly any repairs or maintenance being carried out to the priory. This shortage of funding meant that there was not even enough money to remove and replace the ‘Popish’ medieval glass, which still remains.
In the 1600s the English Civil War raged across the country including nearby Worcester: Malvern however, surrounded by the dense forest of Malvern Chase, emerged relatively unscathed.
Local boy and world renowned composer Sir Edward Elgar, who lived in Malvern for some years, recorded local history and legend for posterity when he released his Cantata Caractacus in 1898.
The town of Malvern prospered significantly during the Victorian era, a key date being 1842, when Doctors James Wilson and Gully set up their water cure establishments in Belle Vue at the centre of town enabling visitors to ‘take the waters’. Both Charles Dickens and Charles Darwin arrived in town to sample the water for themselves.
The reputation of the purity of Malvern water was firmly established when in 1851 J Schweppe & Co. presented it to the world at the Great Exhibition held in Hyde Park, London. More recently, water from the Holywell Spring is now bottled and marketed as Holywell Malvern Spring Water, and is available for sale at cafes, restaurants and shops in the town alternatively you can sample it free of charge at any of the 70 or so natural springs in the area.
The names and locations of the natural Malvern springs can be found at www.malverntrail.co.uk/malvernhills.htm
View our interactive map of Museums in Britain for details of local galleries and museums.
Castles in England
Try our interactive map of Castles in England to browse our huge database.
Browse our interactive map of the Battlefield Sites in Britain for details of nearby sites.
Malvern is easily accessible by both road and rail, please try our UK Travel Guide for further information.
The Mystery of Private Edwin Jemison
This vulnerable young private’s face has long been an icon of the Civil War. For years he was misidentified and the manner of his death remained unknown. The recent discovery of an eccentric veteran’s horrific tale of his demise seemed to bring closure. But was it a lie?
The haunting photograph of Private Edwin F. Jemison, Company C, 2nd Louisiana Volunteers, killed at Malvern Hill,has appeared in countless books and articles.His obvious youthful innocence has conjured up strong emotions in many who had seen the photo.To many, his face is a tragic icon of the Civil War,and a symbol of the lost generations and lives cut short by all wars.But despite the image’s popular use,a mystery surrounds the Confederate soldier.
Details of his life can be found in numerous records—he was born in 1844, one of five children born to Robert and Sarah Jemison the family lived near Monroe,La.and he enlisted in the 2nd Louisiana when he was 16 years old. It is how he died that eludes us.And we want to know—we want to learn his fate.That he died during the Peninsula campaign as his regiment attacked Union positions in the July 1, 1862,Battle of Malvern Hill is an established fact. A misconception perpetrated in 1906, however, has led many scholars astray as to the exact cause of his death.
Two almost identical accounts claim Private Jemison’s life was snuffed out by a cannonball. One report was relayed by his niece,Mamie Jemison Chestney,in a family history she compiled for her own nieces and nephews.In it,Chestney states: “While his [Private Jemison’s] parents knew where he died, it was many years before they knew the details. One day my father introduced himself to a man as they sat before a hotel.The man repeated the name and said it was the first time he had heard that name since 1862 that a young soldier of that name had been fighting beside him at the Battle of Malvern Hill and been decapitated by a cannon ball. Questions proved it was Uncle Edwin.”
The other account appeared first in the Atlanta Constitution on March 26, 1906, headlined as “Soldier’s Blood Spouted on Him, Captain Moseley Meets Brother of Wartime Comrade,” and then again on April 19,1906, in the National Tribune.The account was retitled “His Head Blown Off, a Former Wearer of the Gray Tells of the Tragic Death of a Comrade During a Desperate Charge on the Union Lines at Malvern Hill.” The article described an old soldier, identified as Captain Warren Moseley,telling the tale of a grisly death at Malvern Hill to a large group of fascinated listeners.While Moseley is speaking, a man emerges from the crowd and says that the soldier whose death is being so graphically detailed was his brother, Edwin F. Jemison.To get at the truth, both the Chestney and the newspaper accounts need to be closely examined.
Mamie Jemison Chestney was a schoolteacher and published author and an avid genealogist who traced and recorded her family history.As both an author and a teacher, she would have understood the importance of fact-finding and the accuracy of sources,and the many letters she wrote to her cousin regarding her family history show attention to detail. Keeping this in mind,we can assume that the source for her story about her Uncle Edwin was reliable.The source,her father R.W.Jemison Jr.,was the younger brother of Private Jemison.In looking at the story relayed to Chestney by her father, and comparing it to the story in the newspaper, it can easily be deduced that the man R.W. Jemison spoke to was Captain Warren Moseley.
Captain Moseley was a longtime resident and police officer of Macon,Ga.,the same town in which the Jemisons lived. Despite his claim that he had not heard “that name since 1862,” it is virtually impossible that a police officer like Moseley had not heard the name Jemison in Macon.To begin with,Private Jemison’s father and his brother Samuel were both prominent attorneys,as well as the city attorneys for Macon.As such,their names appeared countless times in newspapers in both Macon and Atlanta.In 1879 city attorney R.W. Jemison Sr. committed suicide in downtown Macon. The incident was much talked about in the newspapers,and as a police officer,Captain Moseley almost certainly would have known about it.
After R.W.Jemison Sr.’s death,Samuel Jemison took over his father’s position. When Samuel died in 1886,his death and funeral were also well-documented in the local newspaper. Captain Moseley must have heard the name “Jemison” since 1862, on some occasion or another.
R.W.Jemison Jr.stood to gain nothing from the story he related to his daughter about his brother’s death,so we can assume he was telling the truth.The question is whether Captain Moseley was telling the truth when he said he witnessed the death of Private Jemison at Malvern Hill.
Taking a look at the version of the story that appeared in the 1906 newspapers is the first step in uncovering who Captain Moseley was and what his motivation might have been. In part, the story says that during the attack at Malvern Hill, Moseley claimed he was “wondering who it was who stood foremost in a charge of a Louisiana brigade with fixed bayonet,advancing up the hill and across a clover patch,when a shell from a gunboat in the bay took off his head and spattered his brains and blood all about the uniform of Captain Moseley, himself advancing through the thick rain of shot with his Georgia brigade.”
Within the article, Moseley is quoted as saying:“I turned suddenly at the terrible concussion caused by the proximity of the shell’s trail of death and saw that man standing headless, with bayonet drawn as in the charge, his blood spurting high in the air from the jugular vein,and it seemed to me an hour before he reeled and fell, still holding on to his gun.To me that was one of the most horrible sights of the period. I went back and looked at him after the fight to assure myself that it was not a dream of frenzy in those exciting moments. He was there as I had seen him fall, and more than 40 years have passed with that picture forever impressed on my memory.”
Captain Moseley then states that he had “long tried to learn who the private was.”A listener in the crowd of gentlemen on the street corner asked where the Louisiana brigade had entered the fight, and when Captain Moseley went over this part of the story again, a little chapter adding another event to the stories of the ’60s was closed.“That was my brother,” claimed the man.
The listener in the crowd is identified as R.W.Jemison.The article states that “it was his brother’s blood that had been mingled with Captain Moseley’s on the uniform of the latter at Malvern Hill when the one was killed and the other was badly wounded in the rain of shells.”The article concludes with the awkward sentence,“Both Captain Moseley and Mr. Jemison have been citizens of Macon many years, but they had not known all of this one of the many unwritten tragedies of the civil war.”
Captain Moseley drew such a vivid picture of a soldier’s battlefield death that not only was he able to convince a crowd of listeners of what he saw but he also managed to persuade R.W. Jemison that the soldier in question was his own brother.He was a gifted storyteller,but was his story of Malvern Hill the truth,or just a means of getting attention?
On August 5,1861,Moseley enlisted in Company H,4th Georgia Infantry.Company H was initially known as the “Baldwin Blues,” a tribute to the infantrymen’s home of Baldwin County.Moseley stated under oath in his pension application, dated September 12,1910,that he was captured near Winchester,Va., in 1862 and held for three months at the prison at Point Lookout,Md.,at which time he was exchanged.
By 1863, Moseley was back in the Army as a member of Company A of the 4th Georgia Reserve Cavalry, a militia unit. He was promoted to captain of Company A,giving him the rank he used with such good effect during the postwar years.He surrendered at Milledgeville,Ga., in April 1865.
The information Moseley gave in his pension application is supported by the information in The Roster of the Confederate Soldiers of Georgia,which states that Moseley was “wounded and captured at Strasburg,VA June 1,1862.Exchanged at Point Lookout, MD, about September 1862. Wounded at Chancellorsville,VA. May 3, 1863.Elected Captain Co.A,4th Regt.Ga. Reserve Cavalry April 1863. Surrendered at Milledgeville, Ga.” Of greatest interest to this story are the dates the Roster gives for Moseley’s capture and release. The Battle of Malvern Hill was on July 1,1862. Moseley had been captured exactly one month before that fight and was not exchanged until two months after. Moseley could not have been at Malvern Hill, for he was enduring the mosquitoes at Point Lookout at that time.
Even if Moseley had been at Malvern Hill, he would not have been positioned close to the unfortunate Private Jemison. Moseley’s 4th Georgia was at least a quarter of a mile from Private Jemison’s 2nd Louisiana.He simply could not have been next to Jemison, getting covered with Jemison’s blood.Moseley,it seems,embellished his wartime record.
But why would he do so? What kind of man was Captain Moseley? It is clear from newspaper accounts of his life as a Confederate veteran that he was a man who reveled in this role,attending numerous reunions and using his veteran status to earn some money. Moseley, in essence, spent a good deal of his postwar life as a “professional veteran.”
For example, in June 1892 it was reported in the Atlanta Constitution that Moseley would be attending the 4 th Georgia annual barbecue and picnic in Jeffersonville.He would be one of the event’s attractions, and the paper said he would “wear the coat which shows by its numerous bullet holes the number of wounds he received during the war in the service of the south.”
In November 1905 there was another Confederate reunion in Macon, this time much larger than the one in Jeffersonville in 1892. The event had been carefully planned for many months. Moseley was given authority to organize the cavalry element of the reunion.Hoping to have 500 cavalrymen attend, he encouraged veterans and sons of Confederate veterans to participate.The newspapers promised that the parade would feature a cavalry charge, and the Atlanta Constitution noted “the fact that Captain Moseley will be in charge is assurance of a most interesting affair.This veteran was engaged in nineteen battles, and was wounded eight times. He will wear a uniform which he possessed during the war.”
When the parade was over, according to the newspaper: “Moseley and his cavalrymen formed at the foot of Cherry Street and charged up to Cotton Avenue. All the old men in this troop rode as in their younger days, and they seemed to warm up to that rugged heat of excitement always evident among the men on the eve of battle.The war whoop sounded and the men were off.At breakneck speed, they dashed down the paved street, flashing old-time sabers. The crowds fell in behind them and yelled themselves hoarse.”
At the reunions Moseley would tell tales of his life during the war. One such story was recorded in various newspapers in December 1900.The incident described by the newspapers occurred at the Augusta veterans’ reunion and revolved around a strange tale told by Moseley concerning a “Hoodoo hat.”At the “battle of Winchester,” said Moseley, a Yankee was shot through the head, the bullet passing through his hat. A soldier of Moseley’s 4th Georgia saw the fine hat,picked it up and wore it. Two hours later that man was killed, shot through the head, the bullet passing through the same hole as the bullet that had killed the Yankee. Despite two men having been killed by shots through the hat,another 4th Georgia infantryman picked it up,and he too was struck in the head by an enemy bullet.Yet another 4th Georgia soldier picked up the hat and was shot in the head the next day.The tale concluded that this hat,despite having four previous wearers shot through the head while wearing it,was still “a fine one,”but no one would pick it up again and it was left on the field.This story sounds far-fetched,but as a great piece of entertainment, it likely captivated all those Moseley told it to.
Moseley also used his status as a Confederate veteran to make some extra money. In newspapers across the country in 1904 and 1905, an advertisement appeared featuring two “famous Confederate Veterans,”along with their photographs, who “use and recommend” Duffy’s Pure Malt Whiskey. Moseley was one of those famous veterans, and he was quoted as saying:“I never felt better in my life,and I owe it all to Duffy’s Pure Malt Whiskey. I was wounded eight times during the war and after General Lee’s surrender returned home completely broken down. My wounds gave me a good deal of trouble, and I had attacks of extreme weakness, with great loss of blood. Doctors said nothing would enrich my blood and build me up so quickly and thoroughly as Duffy’s Pure Malt Whiskey. I took nothing else.Although past 65,I am in perfect physical and mental condition and devote twelve hours a day to my business.”
Moseley’s role as celebrity veteran hit a high note when he was appointed to the staff of General A.J.West, commander of the North Georgia Brigade of the United Confederate Veterans.As recorded in the Atlanta Constitution on December 16, 1906:“Captain Warren Moseley of Macon who was last week made an aide-de-camp on the staff of General A.J.West,is among the few very striking typical Confederate soldiers left to enjoy the annual reunions of the Georgia Division. He entered the war as a private in the fourth regiment Georgia volunteers, from Milledgeville, was engaged in nineteen battles and skirmishes, wounded eight times during the war,was a prisoner many times,and as often exchanged.He was given a captain’s commission by Governor Joseph E.Brown and toward the end of the war operated in north Georgia and Tennessee under Colonel J.J. Findlay,where bushwhackers were fought. Captain Moseley has since the war been a citizen of Macon and has served on the Macon police force for a long period.His devotion to the veterans’reunion and the commemoration of the courage and bravery of southern soldiers make him at once a loyal Confederate. His appointment to the position mentioned is generally appreciated in Macon. He will serve on General West’s staff with the rank of Major.”
In May 1907, there was a national reunion in Richmond,Va.,of both Union and Confederate soldiers who had participated in the 1862 fighting for the Confederate capital.The gathering was held just a year after Moseley’s meeting with R.W.Jemison Jr. Considering the fact that Moseley could not have been at the battles for Richmond, his account reads like a rather grand tall tale.
The June 1,1907,Atlanta Constitution report on the Richmond reunion quotes Moseley as saying:“At that time the ladies of this city gave several church bells in order that they might be broken up and used to make cannon for the Confederate army.There was enough metal in the bells to make three cannon.About twentyfive pounds were left, and the remainder was used in making buckles for the soldiers’ belts.These latter contained the letters ‘C.S.’The price of the belts was $100. We were then operating in the valley of Virginia.I came down here with ten prisoners.A number of beautiful young ladies met me,and told me I might have one of the belts. I wear today the same pair of trousers I had on when I was wounded in the thigh and leg.I was also wounded several other times. I have not been here in forty-four years. I went down to the battlefield of Seven Pines [May 31–June 1, 1862] yesterday, where our brigade first went into the fight.I went to King’s school house,near Frayser’s farm [June 30,1862], where I found a house from which we fought full of bullet holes. I then went down to the swamp and found twelve pounds of shot and shell. I also found a broken saber,which was evidently broken over the head of one of the enemy.”
A few months later,Moseley again appeared in the Atlanta Constitution discussing Frayser’s Farm,another battle fought near Richmond in 1862.In an August 15 article he discusses a photograph that was given to him.The photo is of the “Frazur house, made by the Yankees shortly after the famous battle of the Seven Pines, in June 1862.” It was presented to Moseley by “Ira Watson,one of the Federal soldiers who fought in the trenches before the old house at the time it was held against a large force of Yankees by Warren Moseley,Ace Butts,T.F. Mappin and York Preston, until General Doles reached the point with a sufficient force of men to drive back the enemy.These four men killed more than eighty federal soldiers and officers in the trenches from the attic of this house and lost only one companion,York Preston, who was mortally wounded by parts of the chimney falling upon him when it was knocked away by a shell.”
The reunion at Richmond would be one of Moseley’s last.He died on December 17,1912,and was buried in Rose Hill Cemetery in Macon. Ironically, despite Moseley’s devotion to the Confederacy and avid participation in veteran affairs,he lies in a grave beneath a tombstone that does not indicate his military service.
There is little doubt that Captain Moseley and R.W. Jemison Jr. met on an afternoon in Macon and talked about the Battle of Malvern Hill.And there is little doubt that Captain Moseley gave a graphic account of a young soldier’s death. But it can be easily seen that he made up his story about Malvern Hill.He had become a professional veteran,living in the glory of the past,basking in the attention and adoration he received from younger generations.
It is unlikely that the circumstances of Private Jemison’s death will ever be fully known,and this passage from his obituary will have to suffice to describe his last moments:He “sustain[ed] himself in the front rank of the soldier and gentlemen until the moment of his death. Bounding forward at the order ‘Charge!’ he was stricken down in the front rank, and without a struggle yielded up his young life.” Regardless of details, what we do know for certain is that he was a brave young man who died a soldier’s death on the battlefield,and his photographic legacy of war’s awful cost will resonate forevermore.
For further reading, see: Extraordinary Circumstances: The Seven Days Battles, by Brian K. Burton and Echoes of Thunder: A Guide to the Seven Days Battles, by Matt Spruill III and Matt Spruill IV
Originally published in the May 2007 issue of America’s Civil War. To subscribe, click here.
Willis Church Parsonage
Frustrated by his failure at Glendale, Robert E. Lee gathered his army on July 1, 1862, for a final effort to destroy the Union army. But on this day, unlike his previous efforts during the Seven Days, Lee did not have a Union flank or a strung-out marching column to attack. Before him stood the powerful Union rear guard, arrayed on the plateau of Malvern Hill, about a half mile in front of you.
The Willis Church parsonage (the ruins behind you) became an important landmark on July 1. Before the attacks, division commander D.H. Hill met with his officers near the house. Colonel W. Gaston Meares of North Carolina was killed by a shell in the yard. Confederate artillery attempted to take position in nearby fields. Lee watched from a blacksmith shop that stood across the Willis Church from you.
Erected by Association for the Preservation of Civil War Sites, Inc.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: War, US Civil. A significant historical month for this entry is July 1814.
Location. 37° 25.118′ N, 77° 14.827′ W. Marker is in Glendale, Virginia, in Henrico County. Marker is on Willis Church Road 0.2 miles from Carter Mills Road, on the right when traveling south. Marker is located in the Malvern Hill Battlefield Unit of the Richmond National
Battlefield Park. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Henrico VA 23231, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. The Gathering Storm (here, next to this marker) Battle Commences (a few steps from this marker) Methodist Parsonage (within shouting distance of this marker) Battle of Malvern Hill Trail (within shouting distance of this marker) Malvern Hill Trail (within shouting distance of this marker) Twilight Action (within shouting distance of this marker) The Battle of Malvern Hill (about 500 feet away, measured in a direct line) Infantry Against Infantry (about 500 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Glendale.
More about this marker. The bottom left of the marker contains a picture of the Willis Church Parsonage with the caption, “The Parsonage, as it appeared in 1885, was the home of the pastor of the Willis Church. On July 1, 1862, the house stood in plain view of the Union artillery on Malvern Hill. Fire destroyed the parsonage in 1988. (Drawing from Battles and Leaders.) Next to this is a picture of the church with the caption, “The Willis Church is shown here as it appeared shortly after the war. For weeks after the battles in this area the church served as a field hospital. The current church stands on the site of the wartime structure, about a mile north of here. (Drawing from Battles and Leaders.) The right of the marker features a map of a hiking trail of the Malvern Hill Battlefield that passes the site of the marker. It has a caption of “From here a 2 mile trail leads to Malvern Hill, tracking the route of Confederate attacks during the last of the bloody Seven Days battles. The map depicts the open and wooded areas as they appeared in 1862.”
Also see . . .
1. Malvern Hill. CWSAC Battle Summaries. (Submitted on January 1, 2009, by Bill Coughlin of Woodland Park, New Jersey.)
2. Malvern Hill Battlefield Podcast. National Park Service website. (Submitted on January 1, 2009, by Bill Coughlin of Woodland Park, New Jersey.)
War of the Rebellion: Serial 013 Page 0955 Chapter XXIII. REOCCUPATION OF MALVERN HILL.
3 were reported to me killed and 22 captured, with their horses, arms, and equipments.
First Sergt. James Cahill, Company C, Fifth U. S. Cavalry, was the first to cross the bridge with 5 men. He was quickly followed by Captain White with a squadron of the Third Pennsylvania, who pursued the enemy three-fourths of a mile on the other side. Lieutenant Byrnes and Captain Custer took the road to the left toward Malvern Hill, chasing, shooting, or capturing all the pickets that came from that direction, while Lieutenant McIntosh held the reserve a good position to act in any direction. Learning from the prisoners that the enemy were made aware of our intentions the night before, and that a camp of infantry and artillery, on my right, and the First North Carolina Cavalry, on my left, were within a short distance, I concluded to withdraw, the object of the reconnaissance having been accomplished. This was done without accident. I have no loss to report, excepting 2 horses killed.
I beg leave to commend the gallant and spirited conduct of Captain Custer and Lieutenant Byrnes, also of Lieutenant McIntosh, Fifth United States, and Captain White, of the Third Pennsylvania Cavalry. First Sergt. James Cahill, before mentioned, with 5 men pursued and captured 7 or 8 prisoners. All the officers and men displayed great steadiness and spirit. I am particularly indebted to Lieutenant King, my acting assistant adjutant-general, and Lieutenant Hess, Third Pennsylvania Cavalry, and Rumsey, First New York Artillery, my acting aides on the occasion, for their readiness in carrying my orders and placing the squadrons and guns in position.
I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
WM. W. AVERELL,
Brigadier General S. WILLIAMS,
Adjutant-General Army of the Potomac.
HEADQUARTERS FIRST CAVALRY BRIGADE, August 6, 1862.
SIR: I have the honor to report that the cavalry operations of 4th instant were confined to the usual picket duty. Nothing was seen of the enemy on any of the roads. Yesterday I proceeded with 200 men from the Fifth United States and 200 from the Third Pennsylvania Cavalry, accompanied by Gibson's battery, under command of Lieutenant Pendleton, out to Saint Mary's Church, first Long Bridge road. From here I sent a squadron which had been on picket at this point all night to vedette the road that leads past Nance's Mill, at the cross-roads, about 1 mile farther on the road to Long Bridge road. I left one section of this battery with a cavalry support and proceeded with the balance of my command to White Oak Swamp Bridge, leaving Long Bridge on my right going out. The pickets sent out to this bridge report that it is destroyed.
Upon arriving at White Oak Swamp Bridge I posted my artillery in positions commanding the approaches from all sides. One squadron of cavalry crossed the bridge the others were posted at the different positions of advantage. They captured 22 cavalrymen and killed 3. They belonged to the Tenth Virginia, and were on picket duty. After remaining here half an hour, and capturing almost the entire rebel picket, I returned with my command to camp, without again seeing the enemy.
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