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 THE FIFTH NEW-YORK ZOUAVES.

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Date d'inscription : 29/06/2006

MessageSujet: THE FIFTH NEW-YORK ZOUAVES.   Lun 22 Aoû - 7:30

The Part They Took in the Battles Before Richmond.

Published: July 25, 1862



The following private letter, written by an officer of DURYEE's Zouaves, who were mentioned in the official reports for gallantry on the field, gives a graphic picture of the part which that regiment sustained so nobly in the battles before Richmond:

CAMP NEAR HARRISON's LANDING, JAMES RIVER, July 7, 1862.

MY DEAR FRIEND: Yours of the 2d, containing envelopes directed to yourself, came to hand yesterday. I should hardly have been able to write you had you not been so thoughtful, as I have lost everything excepting the clothes on my back.

Just before the battle of the 27th, I put my knapsack in one of the company wagons, with a number of others, and have not seen it since. I have the satisfaction of knowing that it did not fall into the hands of the rebels. The heat is perfectly awful, and will probably cause some sickness among our almost worn-out troops. On the night of the 26th heavy firing was heard in the direction of Mechanicsville, and we knew that MCCALL's Division was engaging the enemy. Our whole division was marched out about two miles on the road, and lay under arms all night, ready to support the Pennsylvanians if necessary. The next morning at 3 o'clock we marched back to camp, slung our knapsacks, and taking everything possible away with us on our backs, commenced a movement entirely unaccountable to us. We fell back, as far as Cold Harbor, destroying everything in the shape of commissary stores that we could not take along, and finally formed in position to receive the onset of the enemy, who we knew would soon be up.

This was about 10 o'clock A.M., and our regiment was drawn up in line of battle in a little hollow on the side of the hill, where we could be protected in a measure from the artillery practice of the rebels. We lay here in the hot sun for two hours before any signs became manifest of the enemy's appearance; suddenly our pickets came running in from the woods below us; the "rebs" run up a section of a battery, renumbered, and opened upon us, while a regiment of infantry came to the edge of the woods and pelted away, while we returned the fire with interest, compelling them to seek the cover of their favorite underbrush. We then lay down under cover of the swell of ground, and for two hours listened, with feelings better imagined than described, to an incessant crash of artillery, the humming of shells, whistling of solid shot, and scream of grape and canister. At 3 o'clock the rebel guns were nearly silenced, and our regiment was drawn some distance off to the left of our original position, and drawn up in a narrow lane somewhat protected by thatch fences on either side. In our rear were planted six Napoleon guns, which bad done splendid execution so far, and soon we saw a rebel regiment advancing, under cover of the woods, by the flank, evidently intending to get to our rear if possible. This whole battery immediately opened upon them with grape and canister at short range, and with horrible execution; they were completely mowed down at every discharge, and were scattered in utter confusion. Two of our men were killed and two wounded by this battery, in consequence of their firing at such a low range. In about twenty minutes the rebels came out of woods again, and no sooner did our Colonel see them than he ordered us out into the field. when the men went out with a rush and a yell, rallying around their colors, which were planted in front, and the way the rebels skedaddled for the woods was a caution to all rash individuals. The ground was covered with their dead and dying, and I distinctly remember seeing one unfortunate seesch drop as I took my rifle from my shoulder, as he was making the tallest kind of time for the woods.

Our men fired with great rapidity, and as the rebels were crowded among the trees and underbrush, scarcely a shot failed of effect. Here Capt. PARTRIDGE, of Co. I, was shot deal, by rashly explosing himself in front of all the men; but the man that shot him in turn received the contents of fifteen or eighteen rifles, and fell like a log. Capt. BURNETT, Capt. WINSLOW, Acting Major, together with Lieut.-Col. DURYEA and Acting Brig.-Gen. WARREN, behaved with the greatest gallantry, and have won the entire confidence of the men. Not one of them was injured, although they remained mounted during the day; but their escape was almost miraculous. Major HULL's fine horse was shot from under him. Col. WARREN's was wounded three times, but did not drop. He himself had his cap shot off with a rifle ball, but was not injured. I do not believe there is a Staff in the army equal to ours. The regiment had now been under fire four or five hours; we had lost a great many in killed and wounded, and the men were so exhausted as to be scarcely able to stand; and as another regiment came up to relieve us, we fell back on the hill, where we expected a little rest.
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MessageSujet: Re: THE FIFTH NEW-YORK ZOUAVES.   Lun 22 Aoû - 7:31

In less than five minutes. Col. WARREN came dashing up, and ordered Col. DURYEA to march us on to the field again, and although our pieces from constant use had become so foul that half of them were until for service, and the regiment (what there was lef, of it) could hardly walk, we were taken back under fire of the enemy, and kept there until dark, supporting a battery of artillery of ten pieces, which fired forty rounds to each piece, holding the enemy in cheek until all of our forces had left the field. We now fell back a mile and a half, where our division bivouacked for the night.

The stories circulated by some of the reporters about a second Ball Run panic, are entirely false. The teamsters, ambulance drivers and ammunition wagoners, together with, the sick and wounded became frightened at one time, But, owing to the vigorous exertions of one or two Generals, and a squadron of cavalry, who shot right and left, whichever refused to obey, order was restored in ten minutes, and our passage across the Chikahominy was as [???] as could be desired. Eigth of our company were killed and eleven wounded. The regiment lost [???] in killed, and 115 wounded, probably as many, if not more, than any regiment on the field, as we were more exposed, and under fire larger than any of them. At one o'clock at night we crossed the Chikahominy and marched to within two miles and a half of Savage's Station. We remained here the next day, the [???], awaiting the enemy, and at six o'clock we started for -- we didn't know where. We reached Savage's Station at 8 o'clock, where we expected to stop, but as soon as the sick could be [???] together and sent off, and arrangements made, we marched off and kept on all night, through rain and mud, stopping every five minutes for a wagon train, finally arriving at White Oak Swamp at sunrise of the 20th. We immediately drew up in line of battle, expecting the rebels would be right down upon us, but we remained there until the next morning, (30th,) while the whole of our [???], excepting the rear-guard, had passed up the road to the James River, and then followed slowly in the wake.

KEARNEY, "the one-armed devil," covered the retreat splendidly. His artillery was planted in every position where there was a possibility of taking the rebels, whose [???] to capture our trains led them to expose themeselves to certain death. There was fighting all day long of the 30th. We arrived at a place [???] the Crossroads, about noon, and immediately went out on picket duty in the woods. We remained on duty that day and night, and all the next day and night, (the 1st of July.) On the afternoon of the 1st, our artillery was planted on a hill with all our wagon trains in the rear, and infantry to support in case of necessity, when the rebels under [???] came out in immense force with considerable artillery, and charged with desperate energy up to the very mouth of our cannon, but we deliver back with terrible loss. Eighteen pieces of artillery were captured, with some four hundred prisoners and several stand of colors. They retreated in confusion, and that was the last we saw of them.

All night our trains were pushing for the James River, and the next morning at 2 o'oclock, we started, our division bringing up the rear. The road was crowded with the wounded and sick stragglers by thousands, sutlers' wagons, and followers of the army. At 8 o'clock the rain commenced to fall in torients, and in less than half an hour the roads were almost impassable, and every man was wet through. I shall never forget that day. Such mud, such roads, such a looking army; wagons stuck fast, drivers beating their worn-out horses [???] over the head, [???] endeavoring to extricate themselves, while the most disheartened expression sat upon the countenance of all. About 12 o'clock, we filed off into a large open field, [???] deep in water, where we stacked arms, built large [???], dried our clothes as much as possible, and [???] down for the night, vainly endeavoring to woo some sleep, the [???] beating upon us, and the water rising slowly on all sides, but It was almost impossible. The next morning the "rebs." came up with a [???] within short [???] and pitched the shot and shell among us very carelessly. We immediately fell into line and started for the enemy, but before we got there a cheer was heard, the artillery suddenly ceased, and we learned that the Seventh Virginia, (Union) had taken two pieces at the point of the [???].

We are now camped on a pleasant [???] by a muddy creek, trying to get a little rest after the [???] duties of this past ten days. I have been [???] a dozen times since we left our last camp, but the excitement has been so great I didn't have time to think about it, and now I am comparatively well.

Yours, E.O.W.

http://www.nytimes.com/1862/07/25/news/the-fifth-new-york-zouaves-the-part-they-took-in-the-battles-before-richmond.html?pagewanted=2
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