No. 228. Report of Colonel S. Crutchfield,
Chief of Artillery, of the battle of Gaines' Mill and engagement at White Oak Swamp Bridge.
HDQRS. SECOND CORPS, ARMY OF NORTHERN VIRGINIA, January 23, 1863.
GENERAL: I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations of the batteries attached to your command in the battles around Richmond, commencing June 27:
On Friday, June 27, the Army of the Valley District moved toward Cold Harbor, but the advance division, under Major General R. S. Ewell, being misled by the guide, lost some time in regaining the proper road, which delay caused the batteries to be thrown some distance behind, as they had to be reversed in a narrow road in thick woods. this also, of course, checked the advance of troops and batteries behind, so that the artillery was very slowly massed on the left, where, as it turned out, it was eventually needed. The advance was first made by Major-General Ewell, his division turning off from the road to the right and forming its front oblique to the road. Captain A. R. Courtney's battery was put in position near the left to cover the formation of this line should the enemy advance during the maneuver. No attack was made by them, however, so this battery did not open, and when the division advanced it did so through woods and across a swamp, where it could not be followed by the battery, which was accordingly withdrawn as no longer needed in this position. The only batteries at this time up were those attached to this division [viz, those of Captain Courtney, J. B. Brockenbrough, and J. McD. Carrington], and among them there were not enough guns of a suitable character to engage the enemy's guns until the affair should become more general or other batteries get up with the remaining divisions. The infantry, however, turned off from the General Ewell, who became engaged with the enemy about 4 p.m. The batteries, unable to follow the same way, had to keep the road, which, being bad and narrow, prevented their passing the ambulances and wagons with which it was already crowded.
About 5 p.m., or perhaps a little later, the batteries of Captains Brockenbrough, Carrington, and Courtney were ordered in near the left to engage the enemy's guns, then firing heavily on our infantry. They went up in good style and under a hot fire; but so soon as they engaged the batteries of the enemy the fire of the latter grew wild and did very little damage. Our own practice was good, and our batteries wee soon enabled to fire advancing by half battery, which, together with the advance of our infantry, soon led tot the enemy's rapid retreat. The lateness of the hour, together with the smoke of the battle-field, ignorance of the ground beyond, the jaded condition of the horse, and the fact that the road was so obstructed as to forbid the rest of our artillery from closing up to the front, where alone it could be brought into action, effectually prevented that rapidity of pursuit and concentration of fire which a subsequent acquaintance with the nature of the ground and other circumstances proved would have resulted in extreme loss to and doubtless rout of the enemy.
In this affair we lost no guns disabled or captured. One of Captain Carrington's caissons was disabled by a shot from the enemy. We captured four guns, which were exchanged into the batteries of Capts. W. T. Poague, Jos. Carpenter, and Courtney.