War of the Rebellion: Serial 012 Page 0425 Chapter XXIII. SKIRMISHES NEAR WILLIAMSBURG, VA.

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position for near three-quarters of an hour Governor Sprague came up and reported that Hooker's division was in the road behind Smith's division and could not get past, but had been stopped by order of General Smith. Under all these circumstances I deemed it worse than useless to try to hold our position at the junction of the roads in front of a strong earthwork and overwhelming force, and therefore gave directions to withdraw and take up a defensive position, which we had determined to try and hold at all hazards. General Hooker and staff soon after arrived, but his division was 2 miles behind, and the road before him crowded with troops.

I now return to General Emory. He, in accordance with my instructions, had crossed over from the Yorktown to the Lee's Mill road, and had cut off a battery supported by a regiment of Stuart's cavalry, encountered and drove them off toward the James River, where they were fired upon by their own gunboats, mistaking them for our troops. Smith's division not arriving, as was expected, having crossed over onto the Yorktown road, General Emory sent to ask for an infantry support, which I requested General Hooker to send him, and which he endeavored to do, but was unable to accomplish until early the next morning.

It will be seen that Hooker's and Smith's divisions changed places and how it came that the fighting was not ended the first day, for had Hooker not been delayed we could have taken possession of the empty earthworks before the enemy could have reoccupied them, and Stuart's cavalry have been cut off and captured by Emory and Smith.

After having made the best disposition of which the nature of the ground and the character of the force under my command would allow we awaited the arrival of re-enforcements, expecting every minute an attack from the enemy in front and on our right (and which, had be known our weakness, he would most certainly have made), until the arrival of the three army corps commanders, to the senior of whom I reported the condition of affairs and awaited further action.

The conduct of all during the affair was such as almost to forbid individualizing, but I feel it a duty to mention in particular the conduct of Captain Gibson and the officers and men of his battery, Lieutenant-Colonel Grier, Captain Davis and his company, Captain Sanders and his squadron, Generals Cooke and Emory, and Major Williams.

Colonel Burges was severely wounded while receiving a message which he was upon the point of carrying to the rear.

During the 5th my command was split up into fragments by the commanders, and I remained an idle spectator until the arrival of the general commanding.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Brigadier-General, Chief of Cavalry.

Brigadier General S. WILLIAMS,

Assistant Adjutant-General.


SIR: In my report of the engagement with the enemy had by my command on the 4th of May I neglected to mention the important services which were performed by Colonel W. R. Palmer, of the Corps of Topographical Engineers. I regret the omission the more, inasmuch