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The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies

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OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 1, vol 11, Part 2 (Peninsular Campaign)
Page 518 THE PENINSULAR CAMPAIGN,VA. Chapter XXIII.

engaged the enemy across the Chickahominy with these, and after a spirited duel against one rifle piece and one howitzer the enemy was driven from his position with the loss of 2 men and 2 horses killed, we escaping unhurt. The infantry abandoned their knapsacks in their hurry to depart. I tried in vain to ascertain by scouts the enemy's force beyond, and it being now nearly dark, we bivouacked again.

During the entire day Colonel Lee, of the First, as to also the main body, captured many prisoners, but none seemed to know anything of the operations of the army. One was a topographical engineer.

At 3.30 a.m. next morning I received a dispatch from Colonel Chilton, the hour of his writing being omitted, stating that the enemy had been headed off at the intersection of the Long Bridge and Charles City roads and that his destination seemed for the present fixed, and expressing the commanding general's desire for me to cross the Chickahominy and co-operate with the forces on that side, suggesting Grapevine Bridge as the most suitable point. I asked the courier when it was written. He replied at 9 p.m., which point of time was after the heavy firing in the direction of White Oak Swamp Bridge had ceased, and I believe, therefore, that the status of the enemy referred to was subsequent to the heavy firing. I therefore started at once for Bottom's Bridge, 11 miles distant, pushing on rapidly myself. Arriving at Bottom's Bridge I found our troops had passed down. Galloping on to White Oak Swamp Bridge I found many on the march, and saw at one that from the lack of firing in front and the rapid rate of march the only was I could co-operate with the main body was by retracing my steps (fortunately the head of my column had not passed Bottom's Bridge) and crossing at the Forge Bridge to come up again on Jackson's left. I wrote a note to General Jacksons to apprise him of this intention and hurried back to carry it out.

I found upon reaching Forge Bridge a party of Munford's Second Virginia Cavalry, who informed me of the route taken by Jackson's column, and pushed on to join him, fording the river.

Passing Nace's shop about sundown, it was dark before we reached Rock's house, near which we stampeded the enemy's picket without giving in time to destroy a bridge further than to pull of the planks. I aimed for Haxall's Landing, but soon after leaving Rock's encountered picket fires,and a little way beyond saw the light of a considerable encampment. There was no other recourse left but to halt or the night, after a day's march of 42 miles.

As it was very dark very little could be seen of the country around, but I had previously detached Captain Blackford to notify General Jacksons of my position and find where he was. He returned during the night, having found our troops, but could not locate General Jackson's line. I ascertained also that a battle had been raging for some time and ceased about an hour after I reached this point. My arrival could not have been more fortunately timed, for, arriving after dark, its ponderous march, with the rolling artillery, must have impressed the enemy's cavalry, watching the approaches to their rear, with the idea on an immense army about to cut off their retreat, and contributed to cause that sudden collapse and stampede that soon after occurred, leaving us in possession of Malvern Hill, which the enemy might have held next day much to detriment.

It is a remarkable fact worthy of the commanding general's notice that in taking the position I did in rear of Turkey Creek I acted entirely from my own judgment, but was much gratified the next day on


Page 518 THE PENINSULAR CAMPAIGN,VA. Chapter XXIII.
OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 1, vol 11, Part 2 (Peninsular Campaign)
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