Malvern Hill is barely 900 yards wide here at its narrow crest, leaving room for only a small number of the nearly 200 cannon available to the Union army on July 1. The defenders placed between two and three dozen pieces of artillery across the hill and waited. When Confederate artillery appeared on opposite fields, the better-posted Union cannon blasted them into silence. Soon the gunners turned their attention to attacking Confederate infantrymen, firing with devastating accuracy into the unprotected masses charging up Malvern Hill's gentle slope.
"As soon as they made their appearance from the woods, our artillery opened on them with terrible effect. The air over their heads was filled with the smoke of bursting shells whose fragments plowed the ground?.Half way across the field, and already their ranks show many a gap?."
Charles A. Phillips, 5th Massachusetts Light Artillery
One battery on the crest fired 1,392 rounds from its six cannon during the afternoon, demonstrating the remarkable intensity along the entire Union line.