SATURDAY | We'll visit Malvern Hill on this McClellan Poetry Day, the first of several excursions into this subject.
Malvern Hill was the culmination of the Seven Days battles in McClellan's first Richmond Campaign and it handed Robert. E. Lee his bloodiest defeat until Antietam (July 1, 1862). I wanted to begin our long poetic trek through Malvern Hill with excerpts from Col. Charles Sprague, who tried his hand at an epic verse in honor of the whole history of the 44th NY Vol. Inf. ("Ellsworth's Regiment"). The poem contains this interesting mistake:
As a second consecration, even holier and higher,
They at Hanover were christened with the red baptism of fire.
They were in those seven days' fighting which began at Malvern Hill,
Till the headlong rebel onslaught we repulsed at Gaines' Mill.
Following brave Fitz-John Porter whom his own Fifth Army Corps
Through the long years of injustice only honored all the more.
This excerpt comes from here and the mistake is that "Gaines' Mill" and "Malvern Hill" have been switched chronologically. Fifth Corps attacked and crushed Rebel forces at Hanover Court House before the Seven Days' battle; Malvern Hill ended the Seven Days. I'm not sure who made the mistake: the transcriber, the compositor, or the poet.
(I believe Hanover Court House was also later known as First Cold Harbor - a naming convention that must have intended a dig at "second" Cold Harbor.)
"The injustice" refers to the trumped-up charges against Porter lodged before Antietam which resulted in conviction in a court hand-picked by Porter's enemies. The conviction was reversed later.
I like this part of the poem:
Fifty years have passed above us, we have lived our lives since then,
And the "boys" who marched so gaily, now are sober, serious men.
"On the world's broad field of battle" we have waged another strife,
And have found our rest but broken "in the bivouac of life."