No. 62. Report of Brigadier General J. E. B. Stuart,
C. S. Army, commanding Cavalry Brigade.
HEADQUARTERS CAVALRY BRIGADE,
In Bivouac, May 10, 1862.
MAJOR:I have the honor to submit the following report of the battle of May 5, near Williamsburg:
At daylight, the 5th instant, I rode down to reconnoiter the ground, and beyond it, from which the enemy had been repulsed the evening before. I directed a company (Captain Hobson's) of the Fourth Virginia Cavalry, near by, to proceed cautiously down the Telegraph road and reconnoiter the position and movements of the enemy. It had not proceeded far before meeting with one of the enemy, who surrendered on the spot, and I returned to question him. I had scarcely emerged from the woods when a brisk fire was opened by the enemy's skirmishers along the edge of the woods to my left. Appreciating at once the danger of the company which had just started down the Telegraph road, diverging from the other at this point, I asked who would volunteer to run the gauntlet to bring back Captain Hobson's company. Captain W. E. Towles my volunteer aide, promptly accepted the service and performed it with credit and success. As he returned with the company he found the enemy's infantry in his road, but, nothing daunted, he seized the musket of the nearest one and bore it off in triumph, with an entire regiment of the enemy's infantry close to his left. Thus began the battle of Williamsburg, which terminated so gloriously to our arms. The enemy did not push forward as if attacking in earnest, but lingered at the edge of the woods, firing at long range. I therefore believed, and so reported to General Longstreet, commanding the rear portion of the army, that it was intended merely to annoy our rear and delay our march. I nevertheless held my cavalry in hand ready to dash upon any force that might debouch into the open ground in front of Fort Magruder. The firing from the woods continued obstinately for several hours without any indication of an advance and the long-range rifles of the enemy were beginning to tell upon the garrison of Fort Magruder. General Anderson deployed some skirmishers in front and endeavored to dislodge the enemy, but they were forced to retire. The enemy still did not venture to the front; but a battery of rifled pieces opened near the edge of the woods upon the open space, and, holding my cavalry near the two redoubts to the right of Fort Magruder, I assumed the direction of the pieces in those redoubts during the rest of the day, and I will here pay a merited tribute to the excellence of the execution done by them, commanded by Captain W. Robertson Garrett, who, notwithstanding the hail-storm of bullets and shells, kept up an accurate and incessant fire upon the enemy's battery until it was silenced, and then upon his line after the brigades of infantry in the woods to the right had driven the enemy to the edge of the woods near the Telegraph road. When the enemy took this position I directed the left pieces of Fort Magruder to enfilade his line, which from their situation could be done. That brave and gallant officer Colonel Jenkins replied that he was just going to do it. The artillery thus gave most essential aid to our infantry in their advance of triumph over every position the enemy took until he was entirely routed. Antecedent to the rout, however, occurrences of importance should be narrated, for which I, from a stand-point observing the entire field, had peculiar facilities.