War of the Rebellion: Serial 012 Page 1063 SKIRMISH NEAR FAIR OAKS. Chapter XXIII.

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heavy firing and the order to fall back, on discovering that the enemy were in force, a very careful examination could not be made. After entering the woods to the distance of about a quarter of a mile the, company which entered immediately to the right of the new field works, now nearly completed, on the Fair Oaks battle ground, came Ul)O~ a swamp some 30 yards in width from north to south, which was found impassable, but by dividing the company easily passed on dry ground. This company did not reach the termination of the swamp in its westerly direction before receiving the order to retire. The country toward the Williamsburg road from this swamp is often wet, but easily passable for infantry in dispersed order. With little labor it could be made passable for cavalry and artillery. The open country beyond the woods was seen by several companies, particularly those toward the left. Small detachments of the enemy were met after advancing about a quarter of a mile. They were driven in, and the regiment advanced until confronted by lines of earthworks similar to those on the Fair Oaks battle ground, but higher, and lined by men. Two companies toward the right report seeing batteries. One of them consisted of three gnus, supported by a considerable body of infantry and cavalry. The captain of this company reports that this force opened upon him in the manner laid down for street firing. The other battery appeared to be to the north of the railroad, with rifle pits run- ning from it southerly to the woods. These woods throughout are dense with underbrush, and it is impos- sible to see 10 yards in any direction, except when issuing upon trails which traverse them from north to south of which there are several. One grass-grown road was found wagon-width. Such a country gives, of course, great advantage to an enemy lying in ambush awaiting an advancing foe, and I presume there is little doubt that the advance of the regiment was discovered from the tops of the trees before it entered the wood. Of course, in such an affair, everything depended on indi- vidual exertion, not merely of captains, but of every officer, non-com- missioned officer, and soldier, the dense foliage soon concealing any one at the distance of a few yards from those on his right or left. This was ~he first time my men had niet the enemy, and the ardor with which they pressed forward under such difficulties and unseen dangers gives great promise of what they will do with the enemy in open country before them. Their charge, I believe, would be irresistible. The steadiness~ too, which they ev~nced under fire deserves commenda- tion. Four prisoners were brought in, and 39 of the rebels were seen to drop dead under the fire of the regiment. Company A was not in the skirmish, some 60 of its members having beemi summoned before a general court-martial, sitting here, as wit- nesses, and others being on details.* No reliable information concerning Captain Donovan can be obtained. First Lieutenant Rogers was wounded quite near the enemy while gal- lantly cheering his men on. He is either killed or a prisoner. Five of tIme killed are in camp; th~ remainder were left in the woods. Of the wounded 5 are seriously injured, and of those 3 dangerously. Yery respectfully, P. T. WYMAN, Colonel Sixteenth Massachusetts. Captain huBERT, Assistant Adjutant- General. List of casualties omitted shows 17 killed, 28 wounded, and 14 missing.