War of the Rebellion: Serial 012 Page 0623 Chapter XXIII. ENGAGEMENT AT WEST POINT, VA.

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Numbers 8. Report of Brigadier General John Newton,

U. S. Army, commanding Third Brigade.


West Point, Va., May 8, 1862.

SIR: I have the honor to report the result of the action with the enemy on the 7th instant:

Early on the morning of that day, the division having landed at this place the night previous, I made, as far as time permitted, and examination of the ground upon which we had landed, and aided by information obtained from Captain Jay, of the Twenty-seventh New York Volunteers, whose gallant conduct during the day deserves honorable mention, I became satisfied that the map of the locality furnished us was entirely incorrect in a military point of view, in consequence of which it became necessary to change the location of my brigade to the right of the position, which, with the approval of the general commanding the division, was done at once.

A little before 9 a.m. the pickets commenced firing on the front of the right of our position, and I immediately directed Captain Hexamer's battery to harness up and proceed to that point. Pickets then signaled the enemy approaching in large force, with cavalry and artillery, upon the right, which was occupied by my brigade. I immediately disposed of the infantry and Captain Hexamer's battery so as to prevent the debouch of the enemy's cavalry and artillery upon the plain occupied by our forces. In the mean time the firing of musketry in front became very quick and rapid and in heavy volleys, indicating the presence of a large force before us. After a gallant and obstinate resistance our pickets and several reconnoitering parties which had been sent out were driven in by overwhelming forces. The pickets fell back in good order, and, being re-enforced by two regiments, were again sent forward. By 11 a.m. the force of the enemy engaged had become so great that my men were forced back to the edge of the woods, retiring slowly and in excellent order.

Being now satisfied that the attack was made by the enemy with serious intentions and in full force, I threw into the woods in front of the right four regiments, with directions to feel the enemy and maintain their ground at all hazards. I am happy to say that this was effected, and that for three hours, until 3 p.m., when the action terminated, my position was firmly held, when the enemy slowly retired.

My object from the commencement was to hold the woods in front of the right, through which the only practicable road to our position passed, and to prevent the enemy deploying his cavalry and artillery upon the clear space; and in this, owing to the steadiness of the artillery, under the command of Captain Hexamer and Lieutenant Upton, I was successful.

General Slocum, who commanded the left and center of the division, generously furnished me with all the assistance I required, the enemy not having seriously attempted his position. The troops engaged on our side were the Thirty-first and Thirty-second New York Volunteers, six companies of the Eighteenth New York, three companies of the Sixteenth New York Volunteers, three companies of the Twenty-seventh New York Volunteers, the Ninety-fifth Pennsylvania Volunteers, six companies of the First Jersey, and the Fifth Maine Volunteers.