The enthusiasm of the troops was most gratifying, as it evidenced how anxious they were to meet the enemy, not to retire from him.
I beg leave to call attention to the promptness with which General Kershaw placed his men into the various positions he was directed to occupy and the readiness with which he seized on the advantages offered by the ground as he advanced to the front over, to him, an entirely new country. His command obeyed his orders with an alacrity and skill highly creditable to the gallant and obedient soldiers composing it.
Much credit is also due to General Semmes for the disposition of his troops made before my arrival, whereby the main work was saved to us without struggle.
To the cavalry, under Colonels Davis and Wickham and Major Butler, of Hampton's Legion, much praise must be given for their inspiring hand-to-hand encounter with the cavalry of the enemy. Their gallantry was rewarded at the time by the enthusiastic cheers of those who saw their charge.
Colonel Wickham, although wounded in the side with a sword thrust, continued on the field and in the saddle until it was evident no more duty was required of him against the enemy.
Owing to the march being resumed on the same night the troops were relieved from the works, and the cavalry being since absent from my vicinity, I have been unable to get a return of our losses or to form an estimate of those of the enemy. I believe, however, that our loss will not exceed 10 in killed, wounded, and missing. The cavalry took 6 or more prisoners, and one wounded man was found on a box of one of the caissons. The number of the enemy killed is not known, but is believed to be considerable.
Major Edwards, commissary of my command, was particularly active and exposed in carrying out my orders, and Major Goggin, inspecting officer; Major McLaws, quartermaster; Captain Read, chief of artillery; Captain McIntosh, assistant adjutant-general; Captains Atkinson and Henley, volunteer aides, and Lieutenant H. L. P. King, aide-de-camp, were active and useful in placing troops in position and bringing them forward from the rear.
The commanding general was, however, upon the ground himself, and I acted under his guidance. The knowledge of his presence inspired of itself a feeling of confidence, and I believe gave an impulse to all our actions.
Brigadier-General, Commanding Division.
To the ADJUTANT-GENERAL, Right Wing.
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF VIRGINIA, May 23, 1862.
I rode upon the field merely to ascertain if any additional force would be required, and, although present, interfered in no manner with Brigadier-General McLaws' command. The whole action was directed by him.
J. E. JOHNSTON,