War of the Rebellion: Serial 012 Page 0572 THE PENINSULAR CAMPAIGN, VA. Chapter XXIII.

Search Civil War Official Records

to press the pursuit to the uttermost. I stopped the battery near the woods for the cavalry to pass, but just before the column entered the woods a brisk fire from riflemen, being a reserve, no doubt, to cover the enemy's retreat, opened from the dense woods near the Telegraph road, obliging the cavalry to retire. I was at this juncture in advance at the captured battery. I ordered the Horse Artillery at once into action; but before the order could be given Pelham's battery was speaking to the enemy in thunder tones of defiance, its maiden effort on the field, thus filling its function of unexpected arrival with instantaneous execution and sustaining in gallant style the fortunes of the day, keeping up a destructive fire upon the enemy until our infantry, having reformed, rushed forward, masking the pieces. I directed Captain Pelham then to take a position farther to the left and open a cross-fire on the Telegraph road, which he did as long as the presence of the enemy warranted the expenditure of ammunition.

Darkness soon closed upon the scene, and our troops were withdrawn from the field of victory to resume their march, not, however, until all the wounded (for whom we had no transportation) were removed to the houses of residents of Williamsburg.

I make no mention of what transpired on the left after General Longstreet's arrival, as I had no participation in it. The cavalry brigade (a battle during the whole of which it was exposed to the danger without the privilege of participating in the conflict) occupied the attitude of menace, by no means indispensable to the success, for the enemy, having a full view of the terrible "Black House," ventured not to the open ground, so essential to his own developmnet and artillery maneuver.

During the fire to which the cavalry was exposed several casualties occurred. Minute reports from regiments have not, however, been received, but will be forwarded as soon as obtained.

Major William H. Payne, Fourth Virginia Cavalry, upon whom devolved the command of the regiment (in consequence of Colonel B. H. Robertson's sickness and Lieutenant-Colonel Wickham's being severely wounded the day before), received a very severe, and I fear mortal, wound in the face, the command thereafter devolving upon Captain R. E. Utterback.

The Jeff. Davis Legion of Cavalry, commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Martin, had one man killed.

The Wise Legion Cavalry, under Colonel J. Lucius Davis, and the Third Virginia Cavalry, under Colonel Thomas F. Goode, all evinced under fire that unfaltering intrepidity which augurs well of their action whenever the opportunity of conflict may offer, and bore without a murmur from daylight until dark exposure to a drenching rain, which was a prominent attendant feature of the battle. I respectfully refer you to the reports of regimental commanders, to follow, for instances of individual courage and gallantry of their respective commands.

I will take occasion here to speak of the meritorious conduct of Colonel Jenkins, South Carolina Volunteers, in command at Fort Magruder, who, under the most trying circumstances, showed all the attributes of the gallant officer and heroic commander.

The names of the officers and batteries of artillery, who from time to time during the action performed such distinguished service in Fort Magruder and the redoubts, are unknown to me, but are doubtless mention in the reports of other commanders. I beg leave to accord to them the palm of well done, and to add that my aide, Captain Farley, who acted with the infantry, reports that these batteries had effectually silenced the artillery of the enemy before our infantry reached it.