War of the Rebellion: Serial 012 Page 0037 Chapter XXIII. GENERAL REPORTS.

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Cavalry, destroyed the South Anna Railroad Bridge at about 9 a.m. to-day. A large quantity of Confederate public property was also destroyed at Ashland this morning.

R. B. MARCY,

Chief of Staff.

Honorable E. M. STANTON,

Secretary of War.

In reply to which the following was received:

WASHINGTON, May 29, 1862.

Your dispatch as to the South Anna and Ashland being seized by our forces this morning is received. Understanding these points to be on the Richmond and Fredericksburg Railroad, I heartily congratulate the country, and thank General McClellan and his army for their seizure.

A. LINCOLN.

General R. B. MARCY.

On the 30th I sent the following:

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC, May 30, 1862.

From the tone of your dispatches and the President's I do not think that you at all appreciate the value and magnitude of Porter's victory. It has entirely relieved my right flank, which was seriously threatened; routed and demoralized a considerable portion of the rebel forces; taken over 750 prisoners; killed and wounded large numbers; one gun, many small-arms, and much baggage taken. It was one of the handsomest things in the war, both in itself and in its results. Porter has returned, and my army is again well in hand. Another day will make the probable field of battle passable for artillery. It is quite certain that there is nothing in front of McDowell at Fredericksburg. I regard the burning of South Anna bridges as the least important result of Porter's movement.

GEO. B. McCLELLAN,

Major-General.

Honorable E. M. STANTON,

Secretary of War.

The result of this brilliant operation of General Porter were the dispersal of General Branch's division and the clearing of our right flank and rear. It was rendered impossible for the enemy to communicate by rail with Fredericksburg or with Jackson via Gordonsville except by the very circuitous route of Lynchburg, and the road was left entirely open for the advance of McDowell, had he been permitted to join the Army of the Potomac. His withdrawal toward Front Royal was, in my judgment, a serious and fatal error. He could do no good in that direction, while, had he been permitted to carry out the orders of May 17, the united forces would have driven the enemy within the immediate intrenchments of Richmond before Jackson could have returned to its succor, and probably would have gained possession promptly of that place. I respectfully refer to the reports of General Porter and his subordinate commanders for the names of the officers who deserve especial mention for the parts they took in these affairs, but I cannot omit here my testimony to the energy and ability displayed by General Porter on this occasion, since to him is mainly due the successes there gained.

On the 20th of May a reconnaissance was ordered on the south side of the Chickahominy toward James River. This was accomplished by Brigadier General H. M. Naglee, who crossed his brigade near Bottom's Bridge and pushed forward to within 2 miles of James River without serious resistance or finding the enemy in force. The rest of the Fourth Corps, commanded by General E. D. Keyes, crossed the Chickahominy on the 23rd of May.

On the 24th, 25th, and 26th a very gallant reconnaissance was pushed by General Naglee with his brigade beyond the Seven Pines, and on the