War of the Rebellion: Serial 012 Page 1050 THE PENINSULAR CAMPAIGN, VA. Chapter XXIII.

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Report of Col. Robert Nugent, Sixty-ninth New York Infantry. finQus. SIXTY-NINTH REGT., N. Y. V., MEAGHERS BnIG., Camp near Pair Oaks, Va., June 17, 1862. CAPTAIN: Understanding that a rumor is current to the effect that the retreat of the pickets of Hookers and Richardsoiis divisions before the enemy on Sunday last [15th], and the disasters consequent thereon, including the death of the assistant adjutant-general of Sickles brigade, were caused by a panic among those of the latter division, I desire, as general field officer of the day on that occasion, to deny emphatically such an ill-founded and mischievous statement. Lu compliance with an order from division headquarters on Sunday I instantly made a thorough investigation into the particulars of the affair, and examined closely the officers of Company A, Eighty-eighth Regiment New York Volunteers, and Companies C and E, [Twenty- ninth] Massachusetts Volunteers, the only companies of this division which retreated, together with two of their subordinate officers, a copy of which evidence I embodied in the report which I had the honor to transmit to headquarters. From those statements and from what I personally saw and learned from several others I believe the facts of the case to be simply these: First. The three companies above referred to, being on the right of Hookers pickets, were attacked almost siniultaneously with Hookers; the enemys fire first coming on their left. In each instance the eom- panies fired on the enemy, in some cases two or three rounds~ before conimencing to fall back, which they at length did slowly and in as good order as the nature of the ground would permit. Before they broke through the wood, 1, in company with several officers, observed from the r~mpart a small body of cavalry advance into the woods far on the left, then almost immediately reappear in disorder~ and in particular I noticed a riderless horse aniong them, which, since learning the death of Captain Palmer, assistant adjutant- general of Sickles brigade, I infer belonged to that lamented officer. Secondly. The statements of the commandants and lieutenants of above-named companies agree in the positive assertion that they were attacked under the cloak of the thunder-storm by an overwhelming force of rebels, in detached bodies, varying from 40 to 15; that the pickets ~)romptly delivered their fire, and only retired behwe a force it was vain to think of resisting; that they did so retire after and not before those on their left was apparent to every one who witnessed the affair on Sunday. It should be also mentioned that when the pickets had fallen back I ordered Major Cavanagh, field officer of the day for Meagher~s brigade, to proceed at once to the scene of action. On his arrival he ordered them at once to deploy and advanced them to their former positions. The time from the first fire till they resumed their proper places on the picket line could not have beemi more than thirty minutes. To his astonishment, Major Cavanagli could not find a single picket on the left of our mn, and it was only on his return that he mnet Cap- tain Hopper and a part of one of the New Jersey reghnents, who in- (mired where the left of our line was, with the intention of occupying it; a fact, which, when reported to me, led me to conclude that the pickets on our left had retreated on the main body of their division. That there was not only no panic, but a very serious attack on our