During this period, both of the high commanders were unaware of the severity of the battle.
Hill, whose four brigades had been fighting alone for almost four hours, sent a message to Longstreet requesting reinforcements, but Longstreet sent forward only Richard Anderson's brigade. Gen Robert Rodes went down wounded in the desperate fighting around Seven Pines. John B.
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Gordon of the 6th Alabama , a future major general, took over command of Rodes's brigade. Most of the officers in the 6th Alabama went down, although Gordon himself survived the battle without an injury despite his clothing and canteen being pierced by several bullets.
Gordon also glimpsed his year-old brother Augustus, a captain in the regiment, laying among a pile of dead and dying men with a chest wound, but with the battle raging, had no time to stop and tend to him Augustus Gordon ultimately survived his injury. Also wounded was Brig. Gen Gabriel Rains , a few days shy of his 59th birthday and one of the oldest officers in the Army of the Northern Virginia.
Command of his brigade devolved on Col. Alfred Colquitt of the 6th Georgia, who would eventually be appointed permanent commander of the brigade. Thaddeus S. Lowe , who had established two balloon camps on the north side of the river, one at Gaines's Farm and one at Mechanicsville.
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Lowe reported on May 29 the buildup of Confederate forces to the left of New Bridge or in front of the Fair Oaks train station. Lowe observed Confederate troops moving in battle formation and this information was relayed verbally to McClellan's headquarters by 2 p. On June 1, Lowe reported that the Confederate barracks to the left of Richmond as being free from smoke. Darius N. Couch , and Brig. Hill organized a flanking maneuver, sending four regiments under Col. Micah Jenkins from Longstreet's command to attack Keyes's right flank. The attack collapsed the Federal line back to the Williamsburg Road, a mile and a half beyond Seven Pines.
Meanwhile, another of Longstreet's brigades under Col. James L. Kemper , arrived on the field and charged the Union lines, but artillery fire forced them to retreat. During the evening, Longstreet himself arrived on the field along with the remaining four brigades of his division, as well as the three brigades of Huger's division. On the Union side, Brig. Just before Hill's attack began, Johnston received a note from Longstreet requesting that he join the battle, the first news he had heard of the fighting.
Johnston went forward on the Nine Mile Road with four brigades of Whiting's division and encountered stiff resistance from Brig. Gen Charles Devens brigade of Couch's division. Meanwhile, the commander of the II Corps, Brig. Gen Edwin V. Sumner , had brought his command into action from its entrenchments north of the Chickahominy.
When told that crossing the rain-swollen river was impossible, Sumner replied "Impossible!? Sir, I tell you I can cross. I am ordered! Gen William W. Burns 's brigade of Brig. Gen John Sedgwick 's division, which contacted Brig. Gen Wade Hampton 's brigade. After Hampton managed some initial success in forcing back Burns, the latter was quickly reinforced by the other two brigades of Sedgwick's division.
Robert Hatton , one of the Army of Northern Virginia's newest brigadiers, having just been promoted from colonel of the 7th Tennessee a few weeks earlier, was shot in the head leading his brigade into action and died instantly. Hampton meanwhile was shot in the ankle, and Brig. Gen J. Johnston Pettigrew gravely wounded and left for dead on the field, later being taken prisoner by Sedgwick's division. Repeated assaults on Sedgwick's line were unsuccessful, and the latter's artillery also pounded Whiting's troops, who had no artillery to answer back.
Hampton was forced to stretch his brigade's line to near breaking point to prevent his left flank from being overlapped. Meanwhile, Whiting's brigade, commanded by Col. William D. Pender , attempted to attack the Union artillery off to the right, but was cut off by Sedgwick's infantry.
With darkness approaching, over casualties, and most of his officers killed or wounded, Whiting called off the attacks. Sedgwick's division had lost less than men. Two of Magruder's brigades reached the field at dusk, but had no involvement in any of the fighting. Whiting's fifth brigade, the famous Texas Brigade of Brig. Hood , had not fought either; it had been sent off to reinforce Longstreet and was stationed in the woods some distance to the west of Fair Oak Station. The most historically significant incident of the day occurred around dusk, when Johnston was struck in the right shoulder by a bullet, immediately followed by a shell fragment hitting him in the chest.
He fell unconscious from his horse with a broken right shoulder blade and two broken ribs and was evacuated to Richmond.
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Smith assumed temporary command of the army. Smith, plagued with ill health, was indecisive about the next steps for the battle and made a bad impression on Confederate President Jefferson Davis and General Robert E. Lee , Davis's military adviser. After the end of fighting the following day, Davis replaced Smith with Lee as commander of the Army of Northern Virginia.
During the night of May June 1, scouts in Israel Richardson's division reported two Confederate regiments camped only about yards away. Richardson declined to make a risky night attack, but had his troops form a line of battle just in case. By daybreak however, the enemy regiments had withdrawn from their exposed location. At AM, the Confederates resumed their attacks. Two of Huger's three brigades, commanded by Brig. Gen Albert G. Blanchard was held in reserve assaulted Richardson's division and momentarily drove part of it back, but Richardson's men rallied. They were reinforced by Brig.
Gen David Birney 's brigade of Kearny's division, which had not been engaged the previous day as Birney had accidentally taken the wrong road and gotten lost. He was arrested by Heintzelman for disobeying orders and the brigade was temporarily commanded by Col. Hobart Ward of the 38th New York Heintzelman attempted to have Birney court-martialed, but a military tribunal cleared him of all charges and he was restored to command of his brigade two weeks later.
After fierce fighting, Huger's division was forced to retreat.
88th New York: Fair Oaks 1st June – Irish in the American Civil War
In his official report of the battle, Mahone stated his casualties at men. Armistead's report did not give a casualty figure, but his losses were undoubtedly heavy as well. On the Union side, total losses in Richardson and Birney's outfits numbered men, including Brig. Gen Oliver O. Howard , whose right arm was shattered by a Minie ball, necessitating an amputation that kept Howard out of action for months.