Headquarters in the Field
July 7, 1862
General Orders, No. 75
The general commanding, profoundly grateful to the only Giver of all victory for the signal success with which He has blessed our arms, tenders his warmest thanks and congratulations to the army, by whose valor such splendid results have been achieved.
On Thursday, June 26, the powerful and thoroughly-equipped army of the enemy was intrenched in works vast in extent and most formidable in character within sight of our capital. To-day the remains of that confident and threatening host lie upon the banks of James River, 30 miles from Richmond, seeking to recover, under the protection of his gunboats, from the effects of a series of disastrous defeats.
The battle, beginning on the afternoon of June 26 above Mechanicsville, continued until the night of July 1, with only such intervals as were necessary to pursue and overtake the fleeing foe. His strong intrenchments and obstinate resistance were overcome, and our army swept resistlessly down the north side of the Chickahominy until it reached the rear of the enemy and broke his communication with the York, capturing or causing the destruction of many valuable stores, and by decisive battle of Friday forcing the enemy from his line of powerful fortifications on the south side of the Chickahominy and driving him to a precipitate retreat. The victorious army pursued as rapidly as the obstructions placed by the enemy in his rear would permit, three times overtaking his fleeing column and as often driving him with slaughter from the field, leaving his numerous dead and wounded in our hands in every conflict. The immediate fruits of our success are the relief of Richmond from a state of siege; the rout of the great army that so long menaced its safety; many thousand prisoners, including officers of high rank; the capture or destruction of stores to the value of millions, and the acquisition of thousands of arms and forty pieces of superior artillery.
The service rendered to the country in this short but eventful period can scarcely be estimated, and the general commanding cannot adequately express his admiration of the courage, endurance, and soldierly conduct of the officers and men engaged. These brilliant results have cost us many brave men; but while we mourn the loss of our gallant dead let us not forget that they died nobly in defense of their country’s freedom, and have linked their memory with an event that will live forever in the hearts of a grateful people.
Soldiers, your country will thank you for the heroic conduct you have displayed—conduct worthy of men engaged in a cause so just and sacred, and deserving a nation’s gratitude and praise.
By command of General Lee:
R. H. Chilton
Source: The War of the Rebellion, Series 1, Volume 11, Part 2, pp. 500-501.
Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2017 February 28