but to operate, if a favorable opportunity offered, against the flank of the enemy in the bottom-land, Brigadier General P. St. George Cooke, doubtless misinformed, ordered it, as I have since learned, to charge between our infantry and artillery upon the enemy on our left flank, who had not yet emerged from the woods. This charge, executed in the face of a withering fire of infantry and in the midst of heavy cannonading, resulted, of course, in their being thrown into confusion, and the bewildered horses, regardless of the efforts of the riders, wheeled about, and dashing through the batteries, convinced the gunners that they were charged by the enemy. To this alone is to be attributed our failure to hold the battle-field and to bring off all our guns and wounded.
At this juncture the cheering shouts of Brigadier-Generals French's and Meagher's men were heard advancing to our support. Although they came too late to give us the aid required to drive back the already retiring foe, they gave renewed courage and confidence to our men, whose regiments formed under their protection and were all withdrawn that night, with the material and supplies, to the other side of the Chickahominy. Thus was accomplished, with defeat and heavy loss to the enemy, the withdrawal of the right wing of the army in execution of the orders of the major-general commanding. In these two severe contests of Mechanicsville and the Chickahominy the country has to deplore the loss of many gallant and brave men.
In so unequal a struggle (one to three) our losses may be considered as small. It can only be attributed to the skill of the officers and the bravery and discipline of the men.
For our success at the battle of Mechanicsville I desire especially to commend the admirable dispositions made by Brigadier-Generals Reynolds and Seymour, owing to which, with the skillful management of their men, the losses were few. In this latter respect (the excellent posting of his men) I also commend Brigadier-General Griffin. I desire to express my thanks for the service rendered by those in charge of our siege guns, referred to above, which had been previously moved across the Chickahominy to the command of Brigadier-General Smith, in checking by their destructive fire the enemy from advancing upon our left. At the battle of the Chickahominy I desire especially to call to the attention of the commanding general the conduct of Brigadier-General Sykes and of his brigade commanders, Colonel Warren, Lieutenant-Colonel Buchanan, and Major Lovell, who for hours, by the admirable disposition of their men, drove back the enemy and maintained their ground against fearful odds; to Brigadier-General Morell and his brigade commanders, Martindale, Butterfield, and Griffin, who yielded their position in the front only after their ammunition was expended and their regiments much cut up; to Brigadier-General McCall and his brigade commanders, Reynolds, Meade, and Seymour, who successively led their regiments into the thickest of the fight to support and relieve their exhausted commands; to Brigadier-Generals Newton and Taylor, who also conducted their regiments to the support of Morell and McCall; to Colonel Bartlett, commanding brigade, Slocum's division, who gallantly assisted General Sykes and repulsed charges of the enemy; to Captain Locke, assistant adjutant-general; Captains Kirkland and Mason, Lieutenants Monteith and McQuade, and Lieutenant Weld, members of my staff, the gallantry of all of whom was conspicuous, and whose services in carrying orders, conducting re-enforcements, directing batteries, and rallying troops were no less valuable than those of the commanders themselves; and to Dr. Lyman, medical director, for his prompt care and attention to the wounded.