War of the Rebellion: Serial 012 Page 0360 THE PENINSULAR CAMPAIGN, VA. Chapter XXIII.

Search Civil War Official Records

assistance on the night of the 7th without attracting the attention of the enemy. The guns being too small to effect the enemy's forts, it was thought best to waste no more ammunition. As will be seen by the list of casualties, Davidson's brigade suffered far more than any other in this corps. They conduct of that brigade and of Wheeler's battery was excellent. They captured 3 prisoners and killed many of the enemy. Lieutenant Swan and Bugler Brown, of the Seventh Maine, were captured by the rebels.

I am happy to be able to report acts of extraordinary coolness which were performed in Captain Wheeler's battery, Smith's division, on the 6th instant. The enemy opened with a 10-pounder Parrott. One of its projectiles, a percussion shell, passed through the corner of a limber ammunition-chest, exploded 29 cartridges and 2 case-shot in one compartment,and set fire to the packing tow in the other compartment of the chest. Sergt. David L. Smith and Artificer James H. Hickox promptly passed water upon the burning tow, which Private William H. Kershner pulled out with his hands, and thus prevented the explosion of all the remaining ammunition. With such artillerists we have everything to expect.

The artillery of the Second (Smith's) Division was under the chief direction of Captain R. B. Ayres, whose dispositions were excellent.

The artillery of the First Division (Couch's) was under the chief direction of Major West, First Pennsylvania Artillery, whose zeal and activity have been constant.

Yesterday afternoon I reconnoitered closely the one-gun battery opposite Smith's right. I observed the enemy digging to extend his defenses about it. This morning at 3 o'clock a.m. (at which hour this report of operations concludes) I received the order of Major-General McClellan to stop the enemy's working.

Owing to the unusual coldness of the weather and the rains our men have suffered considerably. The badness of the roads has made it next to impossible to get forward supplies. No complaints, however, have been heard, and every officer and man of this corps seems devoted to the great task before us.

The engineers, Comstock, Merrill, and Bowen,have been actively engaged in reconnoitering the enemy's position and the country occupied by this corps. No country I have been in seems more difficult to learn, and in finding out my exact situation the troops have been severely taxed. I have been cordially seconded by all the superior officers, and they and the men have shown an extraordinary activity and cheerfulness under the trying circumstances of cold, wet weather, bad roads, and short rations.

With every means to make reconnaissances it has required many days to discover the position and apparent strength of the enemy's lines in front of the army corps. Our knowledge is yet far from perfect. Enough has been ascertained to be certain they are exceedingly strong, and I have learned that thousands of slaves have been long occupied in their construction.

Inclosed is a list of the casualties, stating the divisions and regiments to which the killed and wounded belonged and the dates of their injuries. It will be seen that up to this time we have lost 2 killed and 19 wounded.

I have the honor to be, sir, your most obedient servant,

E. D. KEYES,

Brigadier-General, Commanding Fourth Corps.

Brigadier General S. WILLIAMS, A. A. G. Army of the Potomac.