Malvern Hill

Ye elms that wave on Malvern Hill

In prime of morn and May,

Recall ye how McClellan’s men

Here stood at bay?

While deep within yon forest dim

Our rigid comrades lay –   Some with the cartridge in their mouth,

Others with fixed arms lifted South –

Invoking so

The cypress glades? Ah wilds of woe!

The spires of Richmond, late beheld

Through rifts in musket-haze,

Were closed from view in clouds of dust

On leaf-walled ways,

Where streamed our wagons in caravan;

And the Seven Nights and Days

Of march and fast, retreat and fight,

Pinched our grimed faces to ghastly plight –   Does the elm wood

Recall the haggard beards of blood?

The battle-smoked flag, with stars eclipsed,

We followed (it never fell!) –

In silence husbanded our strength –

Received their yell;

Till on this slope we patient turned

With cannon ordered well;

Reverse we proved was not defeat;

But ah, the sod what thousands meet! –

Does Malvern Wood

Bethink itself, and muse and brood?

We elms of Malvern Hill

Remember every thing;

But sap the twig will fill:

Wag the world how it will,

Leaves must be green in Spring.

Herman Melville

Published in: on July 1, 2012 at 6:15 am  Comments Off on Malvern Hill  
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July 1, 1862: Battle of Malvern Hill

The closing battle of the Seven Days saw the Army of Northern Virginia assaulting the Army of the Potomac at Malvern Hill on the James River.  The entire Army of the Potomac minus a division holding the Union supply depot at Harrison’s Landing on the James.  Malvern Hill was shorn of trees and supplied excellent firing lines both for Union land artillery and for Union naval gunfire.  Unwisely Lee decided upon a direct frontal assault upon this formidable position.  The attacks launched by Huger’s division and D.H. Hill’s division were bloodily repulsed by Union artillery, superbly directed by Colonel Henry Hunt, with the Union infantry largely passive spectators.  After the War, D. H. Hill, summing up the battle of Malvern Hill, said:  It wasn’t war;  it was murder.  Confederate casualties were 5, 650 to Union casualties of 2,214.  Here is General Lee’s report written on March 6, 1863: (more…)

Published in: on July 1, 2012 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on July 1, 1862: Battle of Malvern Hill