The year is 1862 and the month is April, rain and mud hinder the march through the peninsula toward Yorktown and then towards Richmond. McClellan was the Union General in charge of this campaign and what a combination of troops it was. A daunting sight as the thousands of Northern soldiers marched towards Richmond. Major General John Magruder headed up the confederate troops on the Lower Peninsula knowing that they were less manned than the Yankees. Richmond was trying to fortify and create a temporary troop to protect itself from the impending Yankee troops. The vast combination of northern troops included the 24th NY, 7th Maine, 49th NY, 1st NY Infantries and the entire 33rd Regiment.
As the force moved onward to Richmond the Confederates withdrew and regrouped. Many of the Rebel pickets (which are those on the first lines similar to scouts of about 60 soldiers) had to leave their camps. The camps were used by the marching troops as they contained food and supplies. However, the other Rebels were firing, but from where? The 33rd and others were getting close, but it became necessary to see where the Confederate troops were exactly. General Davidson ordered the 33rd to pick someone and climb the tallest tree to look for the enemy lines. In the wooded area near Richmond, Lt. W. Long climbed the tree and look for the Confederate defense. The Rebels were keeping a steady rally of shots and cannon balls in the direction of the Yankees, holding them at bay.
The 33rd, Company C was chosen to set up picket lines as did the Confederates. The picket lines stack their guns. Capt. Henry Gifford was the officer in charge and was walking down the row of stacked guns. The rules are very strict about unmanned guns, but as typical someone typically forgets or thinks it is of no consequence to leave his gun loaded in the stack. How wrong it was as the stack fell over and a ball of shot went off hitting Capt. Gifford in the hand .Although the ball went right through the Capt.’s hand it was a grave injury and needed treatment. After a brief visit to the surgeon Capt. Gifford was sent back to the front.
The Union troops had a good meal and a good rest and were awoken to borage of canisters from the Confederate troops. Quickly jumping to their feet and searching for cover the Union soldiers reorganized. The 33rd companies A and B were quickly sent out as skirmishers while Company C set out to support the 1st New York. Shells were fired by the Union troops and the response from the Confederates was a hefty return of shells. The shells would be more effective if they were lobed with shrapnel and the Confederates fired with exploding shot. The fourth of July comes to mind as the “fireworks” were visible by both sides and shots were fired repeatedly. McClellan dropped back leaving regrouping as four companies to relieve the 7th Maine.
Page 2 of 2 - You might think these soldiers on both sides were shooting blindly not even knowing who was on the receiving end of their fire. This was not the case. In many instances as in this one the soldiers were in view of each other and fired repeatedly. When the guns stopped firing they began to shoot words at each other. The fighting became more personal when the Union troops noted the 8th, 9th, and 10th Georgians. Face to face with their combatants the soldiers now knew their enemies by sight and voice.