No. 183. Report of Colonel Roderick Matheson,
Thirty-second New York Infantry, of the battle of Gaines' Mill.
HDQRS. THIRTY-SECOND REGIMENT NEW YORK VOLS.,
Harrison's Bar, James River, July 5, 1862.
SIR: I would submit the following statement of facts as my report of the doings of the Eighteenth and Thirty-second Regiments of the Third Brigade at the battle of the Chickahominy, on Friday, the 27th day of June, 1862:
The Third Brigade, after crossing the Chickahominy on the 27th day of June last, passed to the support of General Porter, and arrived upon the field of battle about 4 o'clock p.m. By your order I took command of the Eighteenth and Thirty-second Regiments, to dispose of them as in my discretion I deemed best. I immediately relieved two regiments who were occupying a position upon an eminence in front of a belt of woods protecting the enemy's front and line in that locality. This position the Eighteenth and Thirty-second maintained for more than two hours and a half, when I was compelled to send my adjutant to report our want of ammunition.
Information reached me that a portion of the Thirty-first Regiment was plying in a deep cut on the left of our position. I sent Lieutenant-Colonel Pinto to bring them up to the relief of the Eighteenth. He failing to find them I went myself, and found the whole of the Thirty-first in a ravine in the rear of the Eighteenth. I ordered Colonel Pratt forward, which he did promptly in line of battle. At this juncture Colonel Pratt fell, wounded in the head, and was taken from the field.
By this time the enemy appeared upon our right flank in heavy force, which compelled me to change my original purpose. I instantly led the Thirty-first forward to meet them, when we were soon engaged with them, which position was held, holding in check their advancing brigades until sufficient time had been given for my other line to change front. I then ordered to major commanding the Thirty-first to retire firing and take up his position behind the fence lying along the road, forming a junction with the Eighteenth and Thirty-second Regiments, but the enemy appearing immediately in rear and upon our left flank, all our support on the left having been driven out of the woods, we were again compelled to retire, which they all did in good order, and formed in line of battle on the brow of the hill across the road leading to Woodbury's Bridge, where we remained until order to return to camp.
Too much praise cannot be bestowed upon the gallant conduct of the officers and men engaged, and I would here pay just tribute to the gallant conduct of Capts. Theodore C. Rogers and George Barry, of the Eighteenth, who fell mortally wounded while in the full discharge of their duty, and to Lieutenant H. G. Goodno, of the same regiment, who was severely wounded in the neck; also to Captain Whittock, of the Thirty-first Regiment, who fell mortally wounded when endeavoring to rally his men for a renewed attack upon the enemy's line.
All of which is respectfully submitted.
S. W. WALDRON, jr.,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Third Brigade.