Report of N. Michler, Major of Engineers, U.S. Army
On the 2d, it was again moved to near Leary's, about a mile in rear of
Old Cold Harbor, and on the road from Old Church Tavern to Gaines' Mill.
During the whole day columns of troops were in motion, the weather being
excessively warm and the dust very intense. The morning of the 3d
witnessed a most gallant assault by the army along its entire front. The
order of the different corps from right to left was as follows: Fifth,
Ninth, Eighteenth, Sixth and Second. The attack, though furious at
every point, failed in its object to drive back the enemy across the Chickahominy,
both lines of battle at the time being parallel to that stream. Early on
the morning I was directed to make a reconnaissance along the Second Corps
line and ascertain its position and strength. Later in the day was sent
to examine the line of battle of the Eighteenth Corps, and
that of Birney’s division, of the Second Corps, to the right of the latter,
and subsequently occupied by the Ninth Corps.. Never were two lines of
battle more closely arrayed against each other, separated by distances
varying from 40 to 100 yards, each waiting in silent and unwavering determination
the fierce attack of the other but neither willing to take the initiative.
Both contending forces had already experienced most deadly repulses. Not
a portion of the person could be exposed for a moment; the unerring shot
of the sharpshooter warned all against rising above the hastily constructed
intrenchments. All lay close to the ground, it being necessary to crawl
along on hand and knees to reach the line. Having carefully examined the
position of the works in company with Captain Farquhar, U. S. Engineers,
who had arrived with the Eighteenth Corps, on the staff of Maj. Gen. W.
F. Smith, I reported to the commanding general the impossibility of successfully
storming the position of the enemy in front of that corps, in consequence
of its great strength, and there being no suitable place in the rear to
mass troops for the attack. Already three desperate attempts had been made
to force the positions and each was repulsed with very heavy loss. The
army was directed to intrench its line and render it as strong as possible.
Major Morton, U. S. Engineers, who had been assigned, upon reporting for
duty on the North Anna, to the Ninth Corps, took charge of the works on
its front. Lieutenant Howell, with a company of the U. S. Engineer Battalion,
was 'sent to the Sixth Corps to construct batteries and covered ways, and
Lieutenant Mackenzie, with a company of the same command, to report to
the Second Corps to attend to the same duties. The latter officer remained
superintending the works on that front until the 10th, when he was placed
in command of the Second Connecticut Volunteer Artillery. From the 4th
to the 9th, inclusive, various changes in the disposition of the troops
were made. On the last of these days the right was refused back, resting
near Madelon oh. the Matadequin Creek ; thence passing by Woody's and about
half a mile in front of Old Cold Harbor in a very direct line to Parker's
Mill, with one division of the Fifth extending beyond the left of the Second
down the left bank of the Chiokahominy and covering Bottom's Bridge.
The two armies remained closely confronting each other during this time
each strongly intrenched in his own position.
[Source: The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official
Records of the Union and Confederate Armies Series I, Volume LXVII,