Robert E Lee

courtesy General Officers of the Civil War

Lee moved quickly, restructuring his forces. In a move both politically and militarily motivated, Lee again moved regiments around. This time he put state regiments together into brigades. The 35th Georgia was placed with the 14th, 45th, and 49th Georgia Regiment's to form a new brigade, along with the 3rd Louisiana, and placed under the command of General Joseph Reid Anderson. Anderson was a West Point graduate and part owner of the Tredegar Iron Works in Richmond, Virginia. Anderson's mostly Georgia brigade was placed with the Virginian regiments under Gen Field's, the North Carolinian brigade under Gen Branch, and South Carolinian's under Gen Gregg. Also forming the new Division were the North Carolinian regiments under Gen Pender and the mostly Tennessee brigade (one Alabama and one Georgia) under Gen Archer.

A P Hill

Joseph Anderson

courtesy General Officers of the Civil War

These 6 brigades formed a new "Light Division" and placed under the command of newly promoted Major General Ambrose Powell Hill. AP Hill had graduated West Point in the class of 47, schooling alongside classmates who would become some of most notable leaders of the Civil War. In particular, his roommate and close friend in his early school years, was a young man by the name of George B McClellan, now commanding the enemy forces around Richmond. In his sophomore year, Hill's life would be forever changed, when on a trip to New York City, he contracted a venereal disease. This condition would later cost him the hand of his sweetheart, Ellen "Nelly" Marcy, who then dated, and later married, the same George B McClellan.

For the first three weeks of June, Hill's new division trained and built earthworks south of the Chickahominy River, east and west of the Mechanicsville bridges. In a letter on June 8, 1862, Capt White of Company B wrote home that his troops were stationed at Camp Reserve. On June 23rd, Hill joined General's James Longstreet, Daniel Harvey Hill, and Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson in Lee's headquarters to plan an attack. On the 25th, the men of the 35th were given two day's ration, and that afternoon, the Light Division was on the move. By the next morning, the Light Division was massed in the woods, southeast of Mechanicsville. The original plan of attack was for Hill to wait for Jackson to arrive northeast of Mechanicsville with his division before advancing into the town. But Jackson was running way behind schedule, and by 3 pm, Hill could wait no longer. His lead troops pushed into Mechanicsville, which the Union Army only lightly resisted, choosing instead to fall back to the fortified heights overlooking the town to the east. Swinging to their right, the brigades were ordered to make an assault on the entrenched Union 5th Corps under Union General Fitz John Porter.

Anderson's Georgia third brigade held the left flank of the division line. To their right, Archer, Field, and Pender lined up their respective regiments, with Gregg and Branch in reserve. Facing the Georgian's were the 1st, 5th, 8th, the 13th Pennsylvania Reserves (6 companies), companies C and G of the Berdan sharpshooters, and the 1st Pennsylvania battery. These were the men of the 3rd Division 1st Brigade under General John Fulton Reynolds.

John F Reynolds

courtesy General Officers of the Civil War

Their position across the Beaver Dam Creek was formidable. One soldier from the 13th Pennsylvania, known as the Bucktail Regiment, because of the bucktail's each soldier wore in his cap, wrote "Thus we were on the extreme right of the Army of the Potomac, and in the Fifth Corps, then commanded by Fitz John Porter. Our position was naturally a strong one. On the front of our camp was a swamp which was almost impassable, and a dam having been built at the road backed the water over a large scope of land which made it still worse so that it was a great protection to the extreme right of our regiment. The left of regiment extended to the Mechanicsville and Richmond road, and was joined by the fifth reserves. A large ravine extended to the creek, thus cutting off all chances of crossing at that place. Our camp was on an elevation of at least fifty feet above the creek, and the ground was covered with a heavy growth of timber...The village of Mechanicsville was situated about half a mile in our front, and the Chickahominy river an our left and running in a diagonal direction with our line. Our picket line was an one aide of the river --- a narrow sluggish stream --- and those of the enemy on the opposite side. A bridge crossed the river on the Richmond road, and at-night the pickets on both-sides were advanced to the ends of the bridge and very often would converse with each other, and exchange coffee, sugar, etc. for which the enemy would give us tobacco....Our picket duty while here was attended to with extreme caution on both aides, and each party were always on the alert. We all realized that a great battle was about to take place. We had already learned that If "eternal vigilance was the price of Liberty," and each watched the other at all times both night and day….. Monday and Tuesday (23 and 24) we continued working on our rifle pits, and finished them on the 25th."Holland, William A., "The Old Bucktails--Their History", Duncannon Record, August 24, 1988

At 6 pm the order to advance was given. The brigade's on Anderson's right made initial contact with the enemy, but soon the Georgian's emerged from the trees and were under fire. As dusk began to fall, the 35th was fully engaged and the only regiment of Hill's Division to successfully cross the chest high, fifteen foot wide swamp surrounding the creek, and establish a beachhead on the Union side. Under infantry fire from the Pennsylvanian's and Capt Mark Kern's Napoleon's firing double canister into their forces, the 35th held tediously to their captured territory. The 14th and 49th Georgia attempted to aide the 35th, but were driven back. The attack was doomed from the beginning. The fortified Union line was too strong, and without the forces of Jackson present, the attack soon stalled. Eventually Hill's division began to crumble and fall back under the severe fire. Unable to be supported, the 35th now found themselves in danger of being cut off, and retreated back across the creek and swamp. Holland of the Bucktail Regiment wrote "About 4 o'clock the Rebels made their appearance in our front, and commenced a brisk skirmish with a portion of the First Regiment Penn. RVC who soon retired to their works on our right. I saw a heavy column of Rebel infantry coming in our front, and instantly our artillery opened on them, they being too far off for our rifles, as we lay behind our pits. Soon, however, the engagement became general, and on our left the firing was very heavy, it being the second brigade of our Division engaged there. Toward evening the Rebels came down to the opposite side of the swamp in our front, but no sooner did they do so than we let loose on them with our rifles with terrible effect and in the meantime the artillery firing was very heavy. Battery B did good service, and when darkness closed the fighting for the day the groans of the Rebels were almost heart-rending. I found it almost impossible to sleep." Holland, William A., "The Old Bucktails--Their History", Duncannon Record, August 24, 1988

As night fell, the defeated Confederates went about the task of gathering their wounded and burying the dead. It would be called the Battle of Mechanicsville, or "Beaver Dam Creek" and it cost the 35th dearly. 18 more of their men were killed and another 61 were wounded. Company C was especially damaged , losing Captain David Henry and 1st Lt Hope Roberts, both killed, and 2nd Lt Solomon Johnson, who was injured with a compound fracture of his left ankle. The division adjutant also fell. In a book written about the Christian revival of the Southern Army, Rev. E. W. Yarbrough, a chaplain in the Confederate Army was quoted "Our Adjutant, J. H. Ware, was killed. As Colonel Thomas bent over him, the heroic youth grasped his hand and delivered his dying message: 'My dear Colonel, tell my mother that I fell in the discharge of my duty, and died happy."

In its first two engagement's alone, the little Georgia regiment had seen a little over ¼ of its men become casualties of war. Total casualties in this battle for the Confederacy were nearly 1300, while the entrenched Union suffered only about 400.

Below is a list of regiments in Hill's Light Division during the Seen Day Campaign

Hill's (Light) Division Major General Ambrose P. Hill
Attached to Longstreet's Command June 29th-July 1st.

First Brigade Brig. General Charles W. Field
40th Va. Colonel J.M. Brockenbrough
47th Va. Colonel Robert M. Mayo
55th Va. Colonel Francis Mallory
60th Va. Colonel William E. Starke

Second Brigade Brig. General Maxcy Gregg
1st S.C. Colonel D.H. Hamilton
lst S.C. Rifles Colonel J. Foster Marshall
12th S.C. Colonel Dixon Barnes
l3th S.C. Colonel O.E. Edwards
14th S.C. Colonel Samuel McGowan

Third Brigade Brig. General Joseph R. Anderson
Colonel Edward L. Thomas
14th Ga. Lt. Colonel Robert W. Folsom
35th Ga. Colonel Edward L. Thomas
45th Ga. Colonel Thomas Hardeman
49th Ga. Colonel A.J. Lane
3rd La. Battalion Lt. Colonel Edmund Pendleton

Fourth Brigade Brig. General L. O'B. Branch
7th N.C. Colonel Reuben P. Campbell
18th N.C. Colonel Robert H. Cowan
28th N.C. Colonel James H. Lane
33rd N.C. Lt. Colonel Robert F. Hoke
37th N.C. Colonel Charles C. Lee

Fifth Brigade Brig. General James J. Archer
5th Ala. Battalion Captain A.S. Van de Graaf
l9th Ga. Lt. Colonel Thomas C. Johnson
lst Tenn. Lt. Colonel J.C. Shackelford
7th Tenn. Colonel John F. Goodner
14th Tenn. Colonel W.A. Forbes

Sixth Brigade Brig. General William D. Pender
2nd Ark. Battalion Major W.N. Bronaugh
16th N.C. Lt. Colonel John S. McElroy;
22nd N.C. Colonel James Conner
34th N.C. Colonel Richard H. Riddick
38th N.C. Colonel William J. Hoke
22nd Va. Battalion Captain J.C. Johnson

Artillery Lt. Colonel Lewis M. Coleman
Md. Battery Captain R. Snowden Andrews
S.C. Battery (German Arty.) Captain William K. Bachman
Va. Battery (Fredericksburg Arty.) Captain Carter M. Braxton
Va. Battery Captain William G. Crenshaw
Va. Battery (Letcher Arty.) Captain Greenlee Davidson
Va. Battery Captain Marmaduke Johnson
Masters's Battery Captain L. Masters
S.C. Battery (Pee Dee Arty.) Captain D.G. McIntosh
Va. Battery (Purcell Arty.) Captain W.J. Pegram

35th Georgia Index