Numbers 92. Report of Brigadier General Henry W. Wessells,
U. S. Army, commanding Second Brigade, of operations June 24-July 2.
SECOND BRIGADE, PECK'S DIVISION, Camp near Harrison's Landing, Va., July 12, 1862.
SIR: In compliance with instructions of yesterday I have the honor to report the movements of this brigade since the 24th ultimo, at which date it was encamped at Poplar Hill, and composed of the Eighty-fifth, Ninety-second, and Ninety-sixth New York Volunteers, the Eighty-fifth, One hundred and first, and One hundred and third Pennsylvania Volunteers, with the Eighty-first and Ninety-eighth New York Volunteers temporarily attached. Having prepared that camp for defense at the crossings of White Oak Swamp by extensive slashing and rifle pits the brigade moved from its position across the White Oak Swamp on the 28th of June, and bivouacked same day on the Charles City road near the place known as the "Blacksmith's Shop."
On the following day, at sundown, the movement in this direction was resumed on a cross-road, accompanied by Regan's and Morgan's batteries, arriving early on the morning of the 30th at the farther side of the large opening near Haxall's Landing, and in the evening of that day crossed the open plain or field and encamped on this side of the clearing.
On the day following the brigade changed position, being placed in line of battle and for defense near the road to Harrison's Landing and on the high ground at this extremity of the large plain referred to, on which were parked the several wagon trains of the army. The march of the several corps of the army, with their artillery and wagon trains, was commenced during the night, and all passed the point occupied by this brigade at about 10 o'clock on the morning of July 2, the rear being handsomely covered thus far by Averell's cavalry and Buchanan's brigade of regular troops.
Averell's command then moved forward, my own brigade shortly following, and the Eighty-fifth New York Volunteers was detailed as a rear guard for the wagons. As it had now rained for some hours the condition of the road (cut up by such a multitude of wheels) began to be difficult, and the movement was very slow. At a mile and a half I passed Naglee's brigade, of the same division, which in turn fell in rear. Having halted my brigade in the field near this camp it was passed by Naglee's brigade, he moving to this side of the creek, now forming a portion of the front of our present position. The crossing was here very difficult, but one wagon passing at a time, and the number had accumulated to near a thousand. The rear guard was followed up by a force of the enemy, consisting of cavalry, infantry, and two pieces of artillery. Some skirmishing ensued, without loss, except 2 men missing from the Eighty-fifth, and the infantry, supported by Gregg's cavalry, retired to the vicinity of the wagon train. Miller's battery, of four brass pieces joined, the brigade before the commencement of the march.
It being found impracticable to cross the wagons that night I was directed to remain as a guard, and at once placed the several regiments in the best position for defense, under the immediate supervision of the commanding officer of the division. Two shots were fired into the plain from the enemy's field guns, but were silenced by a few rounds from one of the gunboats. The rain continued most of the night and several hundred wagons remained on the following morning. Addi-