Federal artillery enjoyed outstanding fields of fire at Malvern Hill. But the terrain here in front of the West House had wrinkles and hollows that could offer protection to attackers. Union General Darius N. Couch of the Fourth Corps, commanding on this side of the road, pushed his infantry in front of the cannon to defend this ground.
Couch and his three brigade commanders (Howe, Abercrombie, and Palmer) had a combined 88 years of army experience. Their men each received 60 rounds of ammunition. They needed all of it, as Confederate infantry swarmed up the front of the hill from the Parsonage (marked by the chimney ruins 300 yards to your front). Toward dusk, men from Stonewall Jackson's wing of the Southern army joined the fray. They established a firing line on the ridge 200 yards in front of you. Both sides blazed away until well after sunset, without decisive results.
"We piled them (the enemy) one above another, heap upon heap, dead and wounded in an indistinguishable mass; they could not get formed before they were torn to pieces." Unidentified 10th Massachusetts Infantry soldier