The Union army was withdrawing across the Chickahominy River south to the James River, when Griffith’s Mississippi Brigade (including the 13th), part of Magruder’s Division, was ordered to attack the Union rear guard.
It was Sunday, June 29, 1862. A warm day with clear skies.
Griffith’s brigade was supporting, in the rear, as the division moved east along the York River railroad and the Williamsburg Road to contact with the enemy.
Griffith, on horseback, was hit in the thigh by a fragment of an enemy shell. He was taken to Richmond where he died later that evening. The 13th’s Col. William Barksdale, as the brigade’s senior officer, assumed command.
Magruder, alleged to be under the influence of morphine he had taken for indigestion, halted and called for reinforcements. Gen. Lee rode over about noon and explained that Gen. Jackson was supposed to support Magruder by attacking the Union forces across the Chickahominy from the north.
Magruder’s men, with Barksdale’s brigade in rear support, continued east about three miles, straddling the railroad tracks all the way, with the “Land Merrimac,” an armored 32-pounder Brook naval cannon pushed slowly by a locomotive, in their center. They finally reached the vicinity of Savage’s Station and a Union hospital camp. Jackson didn’t show, but they fought anyhow.
“We drove the enemy from his second stand and run him so closely,” Hubbert continued, “that he was compelled to stop and give us battle, which he did at about 5 p.m.”
“A bloody and obstinate engagement ensued” until sundown, Spartan Band Private Albert Wymer Henley reported, though the 13th was not directly engaged.
The fight was a stalemate, with about 1,500 killed, wounded and missing on both sides.
The 13th slept that night in a deserted Yankee camp among the dead and wounded “in quite a rainstorm,” Hubbert recorded, “but we picked up Yankee Blankets enough to shelter our selves from the rain.”
The next morning, Monday, “We struck up a line of march for the right of our army which rested on the James River,” Hubbert continued.
“We marched all day and camped on the battle ground of [Gen.] D.H. Hill who fought a severe battle that evening. We arrived on the battle field about 10 p.m. and again slept among the dead and wounded who were so numerous that it was difficult to walk in the dark.”
In the morning, on Tuesday, the first day of July, the new Barksdale’s Mississippi Brigade, including his old 13th Regiment, would be in their first real fight of the war.