Battles of Gaines' Mill and Malvern Hill

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Report of Capt. William H. Battey, Thirty-Eighth Georgia Infantry, of the battles of Gaines' Mill and Malvern Hill

[Official Records of the War of the Rebellion]


Camp Near Gordonsville, Va., July 27, 1862.

CAPTAIN: In obedience to orders received from you I have the honor to make the following report of the part my regiment bore in the late series of actions before Richmond. Not being in command in the commencement of the battle of June 27, and my attention being chiefly directed to my company, I, of course, am not able to furnish as complete a statement of that portion of the engagement as I otherwise would have been

At about 5 o'clock of the evening of the above-mentioned day the order was passed down our line to accelerate our pace, which my regiment promptly obeyed, casting away all articles which encumbered them; thus, alternately marching and double-quicking, we entered the battle-field. Here we formed line with the rest of the brigade, our right flank toward the enemy. We then marched in column in the direction our right previously occupied, and, by the execution of the movement "Forward into line," found ourselves in line of battle face to face with the enemy at the distance of about 300 yards. Thus we marched under a most terrific fire to within about 180 yards of a body of 4,000 or 5,000 regulars. It was here that our colonel and major were wounded and the command devolved upon me.

In obedience to orders received from Captain Lawton I commanded my men to "Fire and load lying," which order they promptly executed until nearly all the cartridges were expended. At this critical point of the engagement we were directed by the above-mentioned officer to charge, he leading in gallant style. My regiment executed the above-mentioned command with such good-will that it passed completely through that portion of the enemy opposed to it and carried a battery of five pieces beyond.

Our loss was very severe, but my command bore it like veterans, and never in the entire engagement was there the least visible hesitation among them. My officers and men all behaved so well that it is impossible to distinguish those worthy of being mentioned.

In the action of July 1 (Battle of Malvern Hill) my regiment was not actively engaged, but were nevertheless exposed to a very severe shelling for some time, losing a few men.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Captain, Comdg. Thirty-eighth Regiment Georgia Vols.

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