From the Charleston Mercury, 6/9/1862
BATTLE OF THE SEVEN PINES.
(FROM OUR OWN CORRESPONDENT.)
RICHMOND, Friday, June 6.
McCLELLAN claims a victory at the battles of "Seven Pines." Of course, everything short of a total rout is a victory to him. Night and the delay of one corps saved him from that destruction which even he, unbounded liar as he is, would have been compelled to confess. The fighting of our men is beyond all praise. Mr. DAVIS, who loses no occasion of informing the world of his proximity to a battle, has announced his admiration of the gallantry of our men. It was never exceeded. The South Carolinians who were engaged, covered themselves with glory. Among the troops whose conduct in the battle is spoken of in the highest terms of praise, are Col. Jenkins' Regiment of Sharpshooters; the 5th South Carolina Regiment, Col. Giles, who fell in the thickest of the fight; the 6th South Carolina Regiment, Col Bratton; Mattison's Battalion, S.C.V., and the Hampton Legion. Jenkins' brigade swept steadily and gloriously over all obstacles. The Legion, in attempting to storm a strong work of the enemy, encountered a murderous fire, and was finally repulsed; but the list of casualties tells a tale of heroism; but the list of casualties tells a tale of heroism. The marvel is that in such a country the men could fight at all. Had the attack been made a day or two earlier, not a live Yankee would have been left this side of the swamp. But Johnston, worried by the newspapers, the President and Gen. Lee, declared he would not fight until he got ready. Hence the article in the Enquirer, asserting, very gratuitously, that there was perfect accord among our high officials.
Another golden opportunity was lost when 20,000 Yankees advanced to Hanover C.H., and Branch was left to his small discretion to attack them with a part of a brigade, to whose assistance, when overpowered, he refused to call reinforcements, though they were within a short distance. It is strange that a flank commanding two important railroads, possessing the advantages of an easy passage across the swamp, and the only firm, dry fighting ground in the neighborhood, should have been left to the most incompetent commanders in the whole army. Doubtless the Circumlocution Office, in its hesitation about confirming A. P. Hill's appointment as Major General, is not wholly guiltless in this matter.
An intelligent negro, who, with others, assisted in burying the Yankee dead, puts down their loss in killed alone at 2000 - a surprising statement, for the highest number of dead Yankees seen by any of those who have been over the field, as given to me, is 200, and all agree that our loss in wounded exceeded theirs considerably. But the negro's story may be true, for I hear that the Texan brigade took no prisoners whatever, and other brigades may have followed that example of mercy to our own people by retribution, which the brutality of Wool, Hunter and Butler fully justifies. Our own loss will not fall far short of the number given in my letter two days ago. The killed may not amount to 500, but the wounded may be estimated by the official report of the casualties in Rode brigade, which went in with 2500 and lost 1,092. It is true this brigade bore much of the brunt of the fight; but there were twelve or fifteen brigades engaged, and I have yet to hear of more than three or four regiments which did not suffer heavily.
The fight failed, it is said, of its legitimate results because the corps that was to have led off early in the morning did not. After waiting two hours Longstreet led off. The enemy were advertised and had full time to prepare. Whiting who was to have gone round, could just hold his own.
As it is, the only profit derived from the victory is the lesson of blood conveyed to the invader. "On to Richmond" is going to be no holiday work. The foe may reach these walls, but, if he does, he will come in ghastly plight. Could we get him out of the swamps and forests upon an open firm field, I should not fear the result. But we will have to fight him again on much the same ground, for we cannot permit him to perfect his trenches. Already he has had too much time. But our army is in better trim than before. Our artillery, cavalry, infantry, all are now in their proper position, with pickets, scouts and videttes posted and distributed as they never were before. The skies all still hang with thick clouds, but ere this letter reaches you the fateful day will, in all probability, have come and gone.
The river is said to be higher this morning than ever before, except on a single occasion - the water belongs six feet above the tops of the obstructions, to which no serious damage is yet reported. So great, indeed, is the freshet, that it is asserted that the Monitor is coming up to Richmond by way of the Petersburg Railroad. Let her come, say the people, and bombard as much as she pleases. If the city falls, our property is all confiscated. So what difference does it make? Better, a thousand-fold, destruction than Yankee possession. I am glad to see this feeling so rife among our people.
Dr. Cullen tells me that, at the time our men stormed the redoubts in the face of a terrible cannonade - the only instance of the kind that has occurred during the war - our own twenty-four pounders were up to their muzzles in mud. The Yankees were taught that, if Richmond falls at all, it will fall into the hands of those who love death most sincerely. They need their miniature bombs not against our caissons, for we had none there, but against our men. One poor fellow is now lying in Seabrook's Warehouse with his face literally blown out - the little bomb having exploded after it entered his mouth.
Capt. Elliott, of the Whig, is raising a battalion for special service in defence of the city - the Common Council offering twenty dollars a month bounty to each man who enlists for six months. Better organize a battalion, nay a brigade, for service in the hospitals. We do not need soldiers so much as nurses.
Nothing from Jackson to-day, nor from the lines around the city. Military operations are impossible in the present state of the roads, which are likely to remain as bad as they can be, judging from the watery skies which overhang us.
I take this method of answering two despatches sent me from Columbia, by Messrs. Guerry and McLees. They were handed, yesterday, by mistake, to my father, who made many enquiries in regard to L. P. Guerry and the dead of Mattison's battalion, but could learn nothing of either. The wounded from South Carolina are not all sent to the C. S. Hospital in Manchester, but are scattered among various private and public hospitals. The same may be said of the wounded of other States. Hence the difficulty of ascertaining with certainty the facts in regard to individuals in particular corps. There should be, and doubtless soon will be, a Central Depot of Information, to which persons can repair with the assurance of getting a reliable answer. Not an unreliable answer obtained after visiting twenty or more hospitals, two of which (Camp Winder and Chimborazo) are cities of sick, holding several thousand. The distance between Chimborazo and Winder is two miles in a direct line, and the Alms House Hospital, the next largest, is a mile to the right of this line, going west. Hence the difficulty of obtaining information.