War of the Rebellion: Serial 012 Page 0694 THE PENINSULAR CAMPAIGN, VA Chapter XXIII.

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Numbers 11. Reports of Captain Henry Benson,

Second U. S. Artillery.


May 31, 1862.

SIR: I have the honor to report, for the information if the general commanding the Fifth Army Corps, that I joined the brigade of Brigadier-General Emory with my battery of horse artillery early on the morning of the 27th instant, in compliance with instructions of the evening previous. My strength was as follows: Four officers, 109 noncommissioned officers, mechanics, privates, &c., 141 horses, and six 3-inch rifled guns, with caissons and ammunition complete. Early in the afternoon I received orders from the general commanding to move the battery rapidly to the front. The battery was moved forward and placed in position as follows: One (right) section, under Lieutenant Barlow, was placed on the road to Hanover Court-House, whilst another, the center section, under the command of Lieutenant Chapin, was moved to a position in a large field to the left of the road leading to the railroad station. Both soon became engaged with the enemy's infantry. The left section, under command of Lieutenant Hains, was for the time held in reserve.

An order from the general commanding to move a section forward and shell the buildings at the railroad station was at this time partially executed. The enemy being in position in a dense woods on the left and in front of the center section, it was found necessary to force them from it before the section could move to the desired point. To effect this object I moved Lieutenant Chapin's section to a commanding position, one piece in the road and the other in a peach orchard to the left, and after a few well-directed discharges of canister and shell (percussion) routed the enemy from their cover.

About this time General Morell informed me that he had pushed skirmishers in the woods to the left and front of the section. The firing was that the section of Lieutenants Barlow and Hains had been moved forward and placed in position in a large field to the right of the Hanover road, and were engaged with the enemy's artillery and infantry. I now directed the fire of the battery (four guns) on the infantry in position in rear of a building (afterward used as a hospital) and on the right and left of the Hanover road. The enemy were soon forced to retire from their position in confusion. Lieutenant Chapin's section having joined me, I moved the battery to the right and a little in front of its former position. Intervals between the guns were increased and the caissons and detachments of the cannoneers' horses placed under cover of the woods, and then the fire of the whole battery was concentrated upon the enemy's artillery, which, after a sharp and well directed fire, were entirely silenced. One 12-pounder howitzer, which could not be removed in consequence of one of the team horses having been killed by a fragment of a shell, was taken possession of by some of the Seventeenth New York Volunteers- at least I understood such to be the case. As soon as our fire had silenced the enemy's guns the battery moved rapidly forward in pursuit with the cavalry on the Hanover road. Our fire was again opened on the retreating infantry in the vicinity of the Court-Hourse. The battery afterward returned to the enemy's first position and camped for the night.

Our loss during the day was 1 ordnance mechanic, Henry Krantz,