No. 81. Report of Captain James Brady,
Battery H, First Pennsylvania Light Artillery, of the defense of Bottom's Bridge and the Railroad Bridge over the Chickahominy, June 27-29.
HDQRS. LIGHT BATTERY H, FIRST PA. RES. ART., Camp Harrison, July 11, 1862.
SIR: I have the honor to transmit a report of the operations of my battery whilst guarding the Chickahominy during the retirement of the right wing to the west bank of the stream and change of base of the Grand Army:
On the afternoon of Friday, the 27th ultimo, orders were received from Major West to proceed to Bottom's Bridge and report to General Naglee, which were obeyed. Reporting in person, I received orders to post one section of my battery adjoining and covering the bridge, and the other section at the railroad bridge, about a half mile up the stream, and to hold these points at all hazards, which was obeyed. Lieutenant Fagan was left in command of the section at Bottom's Bridge. The other section, at the railroad bridge, under my immediate command, had one gun posted on the embankment behind a small curtain hastily thrown up. The second gun was placed in a redoubt on an elevated knoll covering the surrounding swamps, the bridge, and the position on the track.
Thus posted, at daylight on Saturday morning signs of the enemy's approach became apparent from the concourse of stragglers and wounded soldiers that came over the bridge. Orders were received from General Naglee to prepare for firing the bridge. The burning of Dispatch Station now gave evidence of the enemy's presence. The orders were obeyed, and the bridge was wrap in flames almost simultaneously with the enemy's appearance in force on the opposite bank, preparing to feel our strength by opening with a battery from an eminence supported by cavalry. Soon Mr. Fagan, at Bottom's Bridge, responded to the challenge, and presently the guns of my section at the railroad bridge, getting the enemy's range, joined issue. In a few minutes the enemy withdrew, declining to renew the contest, although the challenge was repeated by throwing the iron gauntlet into their camps.
During the afternoon of Sunday signal was given to clear the track, as the train, loaded with ammunition, had been fired, and was about being run into the Chickahominy. The burning train, rushing over the bridge, exploded on reaching the creek, throwing fragments thousands of feet high.
Retiring with the infantry to Bottom's Bridge that evening General Naglee ordered the battery to join the corps, which was obeyed, reporting to our chief, Major R. M. West, the following morning, ready for service.
Captain, First Pennsylvania Res. Arty., Commanding Battery.
Adjt. JOSEPH BENSON.
HDQRS. OF ARTY., FOURTH CORPS, July 12, 1862.
Captain Brady performed his arduous march well, reporting to me with his battery in excellent fighting trim.
ROB'T M. WEST,
Major, Pennsylvania Artillery, Commanding.