On the afternoon of the 5th Colonel S. D. Lee, of the artillery, reported to me with a battery of rifle guns, Squires' Washington Artillery, to which I added Pelham's Blakely, which had just returned from Richmond, for attacking transports on the river below the Federal forces. The point selected was Wilcox's Landing, which was reached after dark. The only transport which passed during the night was fired into with evident damage, but she kept on.
On the 6th battery was augmented by two rifle pieces of Rogers' battery, and proceeded to Wayne Oaks, lower down the river.
During that night and next day (7th) the batteries commanded the river, seriously damaging several transports and compelling the crews from two to take to their small boats for the opposite shore, leaving one boat sinking. The batteries were subjected to incessant firing from the gunboats, which invariably convoyed the transports, but Colonel Lee, whose report is very interesting, says not damage was done to the batteries, demonstrating, as was done at the White House, that gunboats are not so dangerous as is generally as is generally supposed.
On the afternoon of the 7th the batteries returned to their camps, the men being much exhausted from loss of rest and continuous exertion.
During the 6th, 7th, and 8th the enemy persistently annoyed our pickets on the river road below Westover, and with all arms of service tried to compel us to retire from that position. Colonel Rosser, commanding Fifth Virginia Cavalry, was present in charge of the post, and inspired his men with such determined resistance - arranging them so as to resist to best advantage - that the enemy failed in the effort within three-quarters of a mile of his main body and in his rear.
At sundown on the 8th, it being decided to withdraw our forces from before the enemy's position, the cavalry covered the withdrawal of the infantry, and prevented the enemy having any knowledge of the movement.
At daylight on the 9th the cavalry proceeded above Turkey Island Creek with the view to establish a line of cavalry outposts from the vicinity of Shirley across by Nance's shop to the Chickahominy.
On the 10th a portion of the cavalry was left on this duty, and the remainder, by direction of the commanding general, marched to a reserve camp.
I regret that the very extended field of operations of the cavalry has made this report necessarily long. During the whole period it will be observed that my command was in contact with the enemy. No opportunity resulting first from the nature of the positions successively taken by the enemy in woods or behind swamps and ditches, he taking care to change position under cover of night, the distance being so short - only fifteen miles - as to be marched in one night. Added to this was the uncertainty of whether the enemy would attempt the passage of the Chickahominy where I awaited him, or under cover of a demonstration toward Chaffin's Bluff he would gain the James. The country being obscurely wooded and swampy his facilities for effecting the latter were great.
The portion of the cavalry operating under my instruction on the Richmond side of the Chickahominy was under the command at first of Colonel Rosser, and afterward of Colonel Lawrence S. Baker, First North Carolina Cavalry. The latter made a gallant charge on the 30th ultimo at Willis' Church with his and a portion of Colonel Goode's command, but were repulsed with some loss. Their reports, inclosed, will give particulars of their operations.