Numbers 14. Report of Brigadier General J. E. B. Stuart,
C. S. Army, commanding Cavalry Brigade.
HEADQUARTERS CAVALRY BRIGADE, Talleysville, Va., May 13, 1862.
MAJOR: On the 3rd instant my command was intrusted with the duties of rear guard upon the withdrawal of our forces from the Peninsula, to take place that night.
Owing to the peculiar difficulties of the ground I established my line across the Peninsula along Skiff Creek, allowing our forces to pass through. It was after daylight before the rear of the infantry passed me. Lieutenant-Colonel Wickham, Fourth Virginia Cavalry, occupied the left, on the Telegraph road, from Yorktown to Williamsburg, with Colonel Goode, Third Virginia Cavalry, and a section of mountain howitzers. I held the center just at Blow's Mill, and posted Lieutenant-Colonel Martin, of the Jeff. Davis Legion, at Lee's Bridge, over Skiff Creek, which he effectually destroyed before the enemy reached it. (I had already disposed the First Virginia Cavalry, Colonel Fitz. Lee, along the York River above.)
About noon the enemy advanced rapidly with a strong force of cavalry, artillery, and infantry along the Telegraph road. Their cavalry advance was checked by Lieutenant-Colonel Wickham, but they soon opened upon him a fire of artillery, which obliged him to retire. I received notice of this move of the enemy, but as there was evidence of advance in my immediate front, I was deterred from my first intention of crossing quickly to the enemy's rear with my right wing of cavalry. The country along that road was exceedingly unfavorable for cavalry operations. I had just sent a dispatch to the general, informing him of my position and the enemy's movement, when the courier returned to me with the information that the enemy was just above us on the road and came near capturing him. Convinced that it was a small scouting party, from the rapidity of its movement, I detached Colonel Goode, with 100 men, and started them in pursuit.
Colonel Goode came upon the enemy's cavalry in the woods at the intersection of a by-road leading from the Telegraph road into my road. A spirited conflict ensued, in which the enemy's cavalry, after repeated charges, were entirely routed, and betook themselves to the shelter of artillery and infantry, posted farther on, leaving 8 dead in the road, besides the many wounded and riderless horses following in their wake. Colonel Goode's gallant conduct and the bravery of his men deserve the highest praise. He captured the enemy's flag and withdrew, bringing every wounded man (four) in in a very orderly manner. I came up with the remainder of my force just at this juncture, and finding that the enemy had pushed forward their infantry to the road in my immediate front, and had a piece of artillery bearing upon my right flank from a concealed position in the woods, I sent the mountain howitzers across to take position, and turned across the field with my column, so as to return by the James River beach, the only route open. The mountain howitzers performed well, but the effect upon the enemy concealed in the woods could not be seen. The enemy's artillery had a fine target and kept up incessant firing, but without any damage whatever.
I arrived at Williamsburg, by the Beach road, too late for that portion of my brigade with me to share the honors of the signal success