When Rebels charged out of these woods during the latter stages of the Battle of Gaines' Mill on June 27, 1862, they were hot on the heels of Federal troops, preventing nearby Yankee artillery from immediately blasting away with canister.
|Lieutenant Charles Phillips witnessed the|
rout of the Union army at Gaines' Mill.
The Rebel attack was so overwhelming that Phillips was forced to abandon his cannon, galloping away on his wounded horse. When the animal was struck in the leg by an enemy volley, he tumbled to the ground and was stunned to see a Rebel flag planted on his cannon.
"By this time," Phillips wrote, "all was confusion, the road was filled with fugitives, the officers in vain trying to rally their men, and the thunder of artillery and musketry incessant."
Phillips, a 21-year-old Harvard law school graduate, reluctantly left behind his pocket testament, bridle, saddle and blanket to the Rebels. It could have been worse. In its defeat at Gaines Mill, the largest of the Seven Days' battles near Richmond, the Union army suffered 6,800 casualties.