us and pressing closely upon our rear. I posted Captain Holland with his company about 300 yards from the ford, directing him to obstruct the road and cover the retreat of our main body, and ordered Captain Wister to destroy the bridge at the mill hospital. These were difficult and hazardous duties, and were performed with the coolness of veterans, and probably saved us from entire destruction.
Our loss in this morning's fight and retreat was more than half what remained from the previous day's work. We could not bring off our dead and wounded, and every man who gave out in the double-quick was necessarily captured. My men are terribly exhausted, several having fainted in the heat of the sun while forming this line of battle.
I have here 6 officers and 125 men. Owing to our exposed positions our loss in prisoners will be largely out of proportion to the killed and wounded. I hope that many men will yet find their way to their command. I will forward a complete list of losses as soon as it can be made out.
I have the honor to be, general, most respectfully, your obedient servant,
Major, Commanding Rifles.
Brigadier General JOHN F. REYNOLDS,
Commanding First Brigade.
HEADQUARTERS FIRST RIFLES, P. R. V. C.,
Haxall's, on James River, July 1, 1862.
GENERAL: I have the honor to report that I went into action on the evening of the 27th with 150 men and 6 officers, all exhausted with the three battles and rapid marches of the preceding thirty hours. I could not have saved even this remnant of my command but for the protection afforded by the intrenchments, the construction of which your ordered and supervised. No troops or batteries could have held my position, which was the key to the whole line, without such protection.
My position on the field of Gaines' Hill was on the right of the First Brigade. The enemy were concealed by the woods in front, except their batteries, which I could see at a distance of 500 yards. I directed my fire chiefly upon these, compelling them frequently to change position, and finally silenced them entirely. The Fifth Regiment, on my left, the conduct of which afforded a constant example of courage and discipline, answered the enemy's infantry with the most terrific musketry firing of the day.
Our position was unchanged throughout the action, lasting nearly four hours. The battalions upon our right one after another disappeared, leaving an interval of 500 yards between us and a battalion of regular infantry, which, driven from the woods, where it had met the enemy, was reformed again and again to meet the attack, but finally retired also.
At this time, one hour before sunset, my ammunition was nearly spent, though it had been carefully used. General Reynolds sent me word that he was looking for a battalion to relieve mine. No relief could be found, and we continued on the field. The enemy, finding our fire slackened, came out of the woods and formed for a charge. We gave them a volley which staggered them, and the Fifth Regiment, having also reserved their fire, moved up with a rush and a cheer to