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The Gallant 10th

This article was published in the Berkshire Courier in June 1862. It refers to Unsurpassed Gallantry of the Massachusetts 10th

TENTH MASSACHUSETTS.

 

LETTERS OF THE CIVIL WAR.

 

The Berkshire Courier
Thursday Morning, June xx, 1862

 

The Battle of the Seven Pines
Unsurpassed Gallantry of the Massachusetts Tenth

 

    Further and fuller accounts of the great battle of Saturday and Sunday, in front of Richmond, show that our victory was most dearly won, and that the battle was prevented from becoming a terrible defeat only by the most persistent and plucky fighting ever witnessed.  And we are proud to say that no regiment did braver work, or stood up more unflinchingly in the most difficult and dangerous position than the Massachusetts Tenth.

 

    From its place near the rifle pits the Massachusetts Tenth was ordered into a piece of ground nearly surrounded with abatis and with the thick woods on its left, and the two regiments which had supported its left - the 93d and 102d Pennsylvania - were ordered to the right.  Thus the Tenth was left in a bad place and entirely without support.

 

    Colonel Briggs was informed of the approach of a body of rebels; but as he knew the position that Pecks regiments had held he deemed the report incredible, and went into the woods to see.  He had not far to go.  There they were, not only in the woods, but through it, and ere an order could be given they delivered their fire full in the rear of the 10th.

 

    Utter confusion was the result.  The regiment broke but it proved to possess that power which has been denied to volunteers, and claimed as the special attribute of old and so-called regular soldiers, namely, the power of regeneration.  It was rallied, and became once more a complete regiment, with only those out whose bodies lay upon the field.  Nay, they did it repeatedly.  Four different times they were broken on that day, and four different times the gallant 10th was rallied and went back into the fight.  Let some regular regiment beat that.

 

    After the brilliant fight of the 23d Pennsylvania, the enemy brought up a large reinforcement of fresh troops, and advanced again in the same good order that had been observed in his line throughout the battle.

 

    The 10th Massachusetts were hotly engaged.  Three batteries also played on the advancing line, and still it came on.  It seemed as if nothing could stop it.  The scene at this time was awfully magnificent.  The faint smoke of the musketry arose lightly all along the line just so that the heads of the men could be seen through it; sudden gusts of intense white smoke burst up from the mouth of the canon all around; bullets shredded the air, and whistled swiftly by, or struck into trees, fences, boxes, or with their particular chuck into men; and far up into the air shells burst into sudden flame like shattered stars, and passed away in little clouds of white vapor, while others filled the air with a shrill scream, and hurried on to burst far in the rear.  Every second of time had its especial tone, and every inch of space was packed with death.

 

    The fact that Gen. Caseys division was routed and driven back in panic by the first attack of the rebels is fully sustained and Gen. McClellans rebuke is proved to be fully merited, nor is its force at all diminished by the attempt to blame him for placing them in the front, since they happened to be in front only because the rebels chose to attack our lines at that point.

 

ADDITIONAL PARTICULARS

     Lieut. Howell, of Spratts 1st New York battery, who was wounded in the battle of Fair Oaks, states in extenuation of the disorderly retreat of a part of Caseys division, that the division was completely surprised.  The exterior line of pickets was at no point more than one thousand yards in advance, and could not have been pushed further without going into the open field in full sight of the enemy.  The enemy drove in the pickets without firing a gun, and within ten minutes after the first alarm were upon our main body.  For three hours General Caseys division, unsupported, kept the rebels at bay.  A small proportion of the men running, although they were encompassed on three sides by masses of the enemy, and constantly under a terrible fire.  Of the bravery and good conduct of the officers, naming especially Col..Bailey, Major Van Valkenburg, and Gens. Casey, Negley, and Palmer, Lieut. Howell speaks in the highest terms.  The rebels, he says, fought well.  They charged upon Bates battery with trailed arms and steady march, not firing a gun, closing their ranks as fast as they were furrowed by his deadly shot, and advanced until they took the guns, which they turned almost instantly upon our infantry.  Quite as large a proportion at least of our men skulked away from the field.  Lieut.. Howell with his two eyes saw the rebels knock out the brains of wounded soldiers with the butts of their muskets; saw them bayonet others; shoot prisoners who asked for quarter, and run their bayonets into poncho tents where they must have pierced the sick and wounded.

 

    The brigades of Gen. Daniel E. Sickles and Thomas Francis Meagher did some of the best fighting, and vied with each other in gallant deeds.  Gen. McClellan stated that the bayonet charges of these two brigades were the most stubborn, sanguinary, and signal of modern times.  Again and again they advanced with the cold steel, and were as vigorously met by the enemy.  In one place on the field of carnage, three men were found on each side, that had fallen by mutual thrusts.

 

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