War of the Rebellion: Serial 012 Page 0441 Chapter XXIII. SKIRMISHES NEAR WILLIAMSBURG, VA.

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conveyed to me that the cavalry was moving to the right, as if for the purpose of gaining my rear, I determined to fall back about a hundred yards, in order to gain a position to meet this movement of the enemy. I directed Lieutenant Elbert, with the second division of the squadron, to face the woods to the right, and repel any attack made from that direction.

The first division, under Lieutenant McLean, I had drawn up across to road, facing to the front. I then sent our a party of skirmishers to scour the woods on our right. Information of what had been seen was conveyed to the general commanding by Captain Currie, his assistant adjutant-general, who had been with me up to this point. After waiting a short time, and seeing no evidence of an attack, I again ordered the squadron forward. At the recent headquarters of General Magruder, situated on a commanding eminence, with an earthwork in front, I again discovered the pickets of the enemy, strongly posted in the work and in rear of the building. I halted the squadron and moved my skirmishers forward, but on their being fired upon with carbines or muskets, and not being able to return the fire with pistols, our only fire-arms, I recalled them. I then sent Lieutenant Elbert with a detachment to the left and one with a non-commissioned officer to the right, under cover of the woods, to gain, if possible, their rear without being seen, with directions to charge if they found the picket unsupported by a strong force; but the enemy discovered this movement and retreated. From this point I continued to move slowly but steadily forward, supported by the brigade of Brigadier-General Hancock, which had in the mean time come up, occasionally seeing a few of the enemy's cavalry, who invariably fled at our approach.

By direction of Brigadier-General Hancock, I sent a detachment, under Lieutenant McLean, to prevent, if possible, the destruction of a bridge over a stream to our left, but the bridge had been destroyed before he reached the place. He was fired upon by the enemy's pickets from the opposite side of the stream. I continued on this road to its intersection with the Yorktown and Williamsburg road, at which point I met the advance from the right wing of the army, and where I received an order from the general commanding the division to halt. The officers and men of my command executed with promptness and to my entire satisfaction all that I required of them during the day.

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


Captain, Fifth Cavalry, Commanding Fourth Squadron.

Captain L. D. H. CURRIE,

Adjt. General Smith's Div., Hdqrs. Smith's Div., Camp Hancock, Va.

Numbers 13. Report of Brigadier General Lafayette McLaws,

C. S. Army, commanding division.


SIR: About 3 p. m. on the 4th instant I received notice from the commanding general, General Johnston, that he led one of the brigades of my command (General Semmes) into the redoubts in front of Williamsburg, as the enemy were reported as advancing and in close proximity.