to hold the bank of the river. Behind these Captains Marple and Pickering, Rogers and Harvey, Companies A, E, F, and K, of the One hundred and fourth, were placed at proper intervals to support them, and the remaining five companies of Colonel Davis' One hundred and fourth followed as a reserve. The Fifty-sixth were placed on rising ground parallel with the river and about three-quarters of a mile in rear.
A few shots at the pickets at the railroad bridge made them disappear. We had but scarcely entered the wood south of the railroad before we found ourselves in a thick jungle, the ground covered with water from 2 to 5 fee in depth, intersected in many directions with small currents. We soon found the main channel, which was from 30 to 50 feet in width, with from 4 to 6 feet water. After we had waded slowly along for some 400 yards several shot from our front and right indicated the presence of the enemy. Our men, accustomed to hunting picket off four of the enemy from the right bank and soon after several others from the border of the creek.
We then proceeded along the creek until about 300 yards of Bottom's Bridge, where we found the enemy in more force, and firing became more frequent. We gradually advanced, however, until we came upon the point of woods at the turn immediately in front of Bottom's Bridge, which we found was the center of a converging fire from the entire circumference of the circle made by the creek below the bridge. Here we maintained ourselves, but at a great disadvantage, the least exposure by any one drawing a dozen shots from the enemy. Our arms were superior, and we kept them at long range. They had before opened upon us with three pieces of artillery from a battery on rising ground at some distance from the creek, but their shot passed over the skirmishers in the swamp and over the One hundred and fourth, which had been gradually moved along parallel with the wood as they proceeded, and struck upon the ground occupied by the Fifty-sixth. Three other pieces had been brought down by the enemy to the railroad and opened upon our sharpshooters at the bridge. General Casey, who had come upon the ground in that vicinity, ordered down four pieces of Colonel Bailey's battery, which soon silenced and drove them off.
Some time prior of this four pieces were ordered to open from the ground to the left and slightly in rear of the Fifty-sixth, and two others from a point on the Bottom's Bridge road within 500 yards of the bridge, the skirmishers there fore the time being withdrawn. With these dispositions of our forces the work was accomplished, the enemy were silenced, and the reconnaissance completed.
We had but one man badly wounded. We found the railroad bridge to be 600 yards long, extending over a swamp through which the Chickahominy runs, the latter crossing the railroad bridge 30 yards from the east end of it, the river being at the crossing over which the bridge has been burned 75 feet wide, with a depth of 5 feet. The width of the swamp decreases very rapidly, so much so, that at a short distance below the bridge a point was found where the width of the river was but 35 feet, and where the causeways on both sides to connect with the bridge would not exceed in length 30 yards, and the whole, of a width of 40 or 50 feet, could be made in one day. The bottom of the river, of the swamp, and of the currents that intersect each other in every direction is hard, and the depth of water averages from 2 to 5 feet. We found the average width of the river to be but 35 feet, and that with the exception of the swamp at the railroad bridge it is seldom more than 100 yards wide, and that at many points between the bridges