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Battle of Savage Station, VA
in the American Civil War

Online Books:
The seven days' battles in front of Richmond, an outline narrative of the series of engagements which opened at Mechanicsville, near Richmond..., by Edward Alfred Pollard (Correspondent of the Cincinnati Commercial), 1862

Report of Henry M. Naglee, brigadier-general, of the part taken by his brigade in the seven days, from June 26 to July 2, 1862, Army of the Potomac, by Henry Morris Naglee, 1863

Union Battle Summary

Savage Station, Va., June 29, 1862 - While the battle was in progress Magruder made a number of feints against various portions of the Union line south of the river, but the only serious result produced by his demonstrations was to prevent reinforcements being sent to Porter. By McClellan's holding the north side of the Chickahominy as long as he did Lee came to the conclusion that the Federal commander was solicitous about his line of supplies via the White House on the Pamunkey river, and that all of his efforts would be directed to regain the old depots. As a matter of fact the reverse was true, for Gen. Casey had received orders on the 25th to defend the White House to the last moment, when he was to destroy such stores as could not be removed, embark his troops on the transports, drop down the York river and ascend the James to the new base. Earlier in the month the topographical engineers had mapped the country between White Oak swamp and the James, and on the 18th a number of transports, with supplies of all kinds, were ordered to be sent up the James under protection of the gunboats. On the night of the 27th, after the battle of Gaines' mill, McClellan called his corps commanders to his headquarters, explained his plans and gave them their orders. Keyes was directed to move his command at once across White Oak swamp and take position to cover the movement of the rest of the army. By noon on the 28th he was on the south side of the swamp, covering all the roads by which a flank attack was likely to be made. That morning Franklin's corps was subjected to a severe cannonade from the enemy's guns across the river and from a battery that had been established during the night at Garnett's farm. To get out of range he withdrew his command to the edge of the wood on Golding's farm, where his left division connected with Sumner's line. Soon afterward he was charged by two Georgia regiments, but the attack was repulsed with a loss of several killed and wounded and about 25 captured. During the day a detachment of Cobb's Georgia legion had a skirmish with the pickets of the 8th Ill. cavalry at Despatch Station, on the Richmond & York River railroad.

At 8 o'clock that evening McCall was ordered to cross the swamp and join Keyes. Franklin, Sumner and Heintzelman were directed to evacuate the intrenchments at Fair Oaks and fall back to a position near Savage Station, where Slocum's division was already in reserve, hold that line until dark on the evening of the 29th to cover the withdrawal of trains, and then relieve Keyes and McCall, who would move to a new position in advance. Early on the morning of the 29th Magruder discovered that the works at Fair Oaks were abandoned and immediately moved forward to attack. About 9 o'clock he came up with Sumner's rear-guard at Allen's farm, 2 miles west of Savage Station, and opened fire with both artillery and musketry. Sumner threw Kirby's, Pettit's and Hazzard's batteries into position in a few minutes to return the fire, which they did with such good effect that in a short time the enemy's guns were silenced. The fight lasted for two hours, during which time Magruder made three desperate charges, but each time he was repulsed with heavy loss. Sumner reached Savage Station at noon and soon afterward learned that the enemy was advancing against him in force. He sent Heintzelman to hold the Williamsburg road and a skirt of timber between it and the railroad, and then formed his own and Franklin's corps in line of battle, with Smith's division on the right to hold the railroad. At 4 p.m. the Confederates advanced on the Williamsburg road, where they met with no resistance, as Heintzelman, through some misunderstanding of orders, had withdrawn his command and was then on his way across White Oak swamp by the Brackett's Ford road. The assault was met by Burns' brigade of Sedgwick's division, reinforced by two lines in reserve and the 69th N.Y., the famous Irish regiment. A little while before sunset the enemy made an assault along the whole lines. Hazzard's, Tompkins', Pettit's, Kirby's, Osborn's and Branhall's batteries met the rush with a murderous fire of canister, followed by a steady and continuous roar of musketry for half an hour, when the Federals made several charges in quick succession that forced Magruder to give way, leaving the road to the swamp open. No detailed report of the loss at Savage Station was made. The Confederates admitted a loss of 4,000, and claimed that Sumner lost 3,000. That night Sumner and Franklin crossed the swamp and destroyed the bridge about 5 a.m. on the 30th.

Source: The Union Army, Volume 5, Cyclopedia of Battles, 1908


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