Numbers 11. Report of Colonel Beverly H. Robertson,
Fourth Virginia Cavalry.
HEADQUARTERS FOURTH VIRGINIA CAVALRY,
Near Meadow Bridge, Va., May 24, 1862.
SIR: I have the honor to state that, in obedience to orders received from Major-General Magruder, commanding the right wing. I proceeded yesterday afternoon with the Eighth and Ninth Georgia Regiments, one 8-pounder rifled gun from the Washington Artillery, and one 6-pounder howitzer, belonging to the Wise Artillery, both commanded by Captain T. L. Rosser, of the Washington Artillery, and a portion of the First and Fourth Virginia Cavalry, to reoccupy Mechanicsville, from which our cavalry force had retired on the day previous. The rifled gun, being speedily placed in position, opened fire upon the enemy's cavalry, drawn up on the opposite hill, doing considerable execution, as was plainly visible. The enemy soon opened a battery of six pieces and rapid firing was kept up for a considerable time. As our gun was completely sheltered, the enemy did not obtain its range, and hence few of no casualties occurred on our side. Later in the afternoon (about sundown) this piece was withdrawn and necessary arrangements made for renewal of hostilities in the morning.
Soon after daylight next morning an extended line of infantry skirmishers was seen advancing upon the river road, which was promptly met by our sharpshooters and speedily driven back behind the crest of a hill parallel to the turnpike. Heavy skirmishing with musketry then ensued for thirty minutes, when our howitzer opened upon a house in and behind which many of the enemy had sought shelter. They were soon put to flight, and, as well as I could judge, with considerable loss. By this time one of the enemy's batteries had opened a brisk fire, doing some damage to the horses of the howitzer, the location of which seemed to be accurately ascertained.
For some length of time the skirmishing between the infantry continued, the enemy being invariably driven back whenever they made their appearance. I then ordered an observation to be made from the top of a house by means of a ladder, and learned that two regiments of infantry and three pieces of artillery were marching to my left. I had scarcely ordered the Ninth Regiment, Colonel R. A. Turnipseed, forward to prevent my left flank being turned, when the enemy's artillery in that direction opened such a galling fire upon our howitzer that [it] was compelled to retire. I then ordered the whole line to fall back some 300 yard to a sheltered position in the woods, leaving the skirmishers to cover this movement, which they did effectually. The fighting had been kept up for about four hours, and the retirement was made in perfect order, and a new line of battle on the skirts of the woods rapidly established, under a terrible fire from the enemy's cannon, at a very short range. As soon as our two pieces had fairly commenced a rapid exchange of shots I received an order to withdraw my entire command to the other side of the Chickahominy, which was effected further loss.
The visible force of the enemy consisted of three regiments of infantry, two batteries of artillery, and one regiment of cavalry. Their loss must have been considerable. Five are known to have been killed to-day and two yesterday.
Our loss is as follows: Eight Regiment, Colonel L. M. Lamar, 2 wounded (1 mortally and left on the field); Ninth [Regiment], Colonel