crossing can be made with but little difficulty. The right bank of the river we found to be firm above the water and gradually rising, until at a half a mile from the river the ground becomes quite elevated. The ground between the railroad and the road to Bottom's Bridge is swampy, and from the river to the rising behind Watson's house is too boggy and cut by ditches to allow the passage of horses, but infantry may get over it. The railroad bridge should be saved from further destruction, for which purpose General Casey, confirming my order to the sharp-shooters that 100 of them should hold the abutment on the west side, also ordered a sufficient number of experienced amen from the Eleventh Maine to repair the bridge during the night. When we arrived in the morning we found the bridge still burning, but finding their canteens too slow a process, the men passed the water in their caps and extinguished the flames. By observation we found the stream had overflown its banks, that it was rapidly falling, and actually fell 6 inches during the day.
I cannot conclude this very satisfactory report without referring, in terms of unqualified commendation, to the gallant conduct of all present at the reconnaissance of the railroad and Bottom's Bridges. Our troops, driving the enemy back from the railroad bridge, repulsed the cavalry and artillery sent to retake it, and examined the ground 600 yards beyond the western end. Up to their middle in water, they drove the enemy from the railroad to Bottom's Bridge, where, becoming concentrated, our artillery opened upon and scattered them. A complete and thorough description of the river and the surrounding country was obtained. The location of two of their batteries was discovered and the enemy was so much disheartened that the bridge and river were abandoned during the night. Ten or twelve of the enemy were reported killed by our infantry. The number killed by our artillery it is impossible to ascertain.
I regret exceedingly to close so very satisfactory a report with a notice of the conduct of those detailed from the Second Division to guard the bridge at night, and who in the most unceremonious manner ordered away the troops above referred to, who after taking the bridge from the enemy volunteered to remain and hold it and to rebuild during the night the portion that had been destroyed.
All of which is respectfully submitted by your obedient servant,
HENRY M. NAGLEE,
Captain HENRY W. SMITH,
BOTTOM'S BRIDGE, May 23, 1862-5.45 p.m.
GENERAL: I have just returned after a hard days' work. Under the within extraordinary order I marched my brigade to the point designated. Took the two companies of cavalry and a detachment of 170 of the Fifty-sixth New York. Went out the main road from the bridge toward Richmond to the road parallel with the Charles City road, and between it and the Chickahominy. Found nobody knew anything of it. With one company of the cavalry and 30 men I explored it, the above road, and found the road clear. Driving off detached portions of 10 to 30 cavalry, joined the balance of the detachment, which I had sent directly out from Bottom's Bridge. I then went out the road leading from Bottom's Bridge across the White Oak Swamp Bridge,