No. 213. Report of Colonel Thomas L. Rosser,
Fifth Virginia Cavalry, of operations June 28-July 10.
HEADQUARTERS FIFTH VIRGINIA CAVALRY, Camp Cary, July 26, 1862.
GENERAL; In pursuance with your instructions I habitually kept my command during the battle well in hand and as near the enemy as possible.
On June 28 my scouts came in and reported the enemy in considerable force near Willis' Church, and also that he was moving small bodies of troops in the direction of James River. This I reported at the time to General Huger.
The next morning I started out on a scout in the same direction and met Colonel Baker, with his own regiment (the First North Carolina) and Third Virginia, returning to his camp, having been unsuccessful in an attack upon the enemy near Willi's Church, where he found the enemy in great force, his attack being met with infantry, artillery, and cavalry. My scouts on the right found the enemy extending his lines in that direction, and succeeded in recapturing 15 horses belonging to the First North Carolina, that the enemy had taken in Colonel Baker's engagement early in the morning. This was also reported to General Huger.
That night, Sunday, 29th ultimo, my pickets were strongly
re-enforced and the Hampton Legion, to the junction of the River and Long Bridge roads and remanded there during the night.
Next morning, about 8 o'clock, my pickets were driven in on the Long Bridge road, near Willis' Church. I at once moved down with my entire command, and after some skirmishing succeeded in
re-establishing my pickets. I then dismounted one company and deployed them as skirmishers, giving them a squadron for support, and sent them forward, and after driving in the enemy's picket still pressed upon him, and, strange to say, this gallant little band, commanded by Captain Bullock, of my regiment, drove them back within a few hundred yards of their main force, and was still pressing upon them when General Longstreet's advance came up, and with his infantry and artillery attacked them upon the line to which I was holding them.
My pickets upon the River road about this time reported the enemy advancing in that direction, and General Longstreet ordered me to take my command over in that way. After re-establishing my pickets on that road I made a reconnaissance with a portion of my command to the front,and found the head of the retiring column moving hurriedly and confusedly in the direction of James River. It was then just coming on Malvern Hill. I reported this at once to Generals Longstreet and Holmes about 1 p.m. For some reason or other no attention was paid to this report. I then reported to General Lee, who came to see for himself, and who ordered General Holmes to move at once to this position and attack the enemy. But as General Holmes did not arrive until late in the day (about 5 p.m.), and by marching his troops down the River road the dust revealed the movement to the enemy, and gunboats were sent up the river, which opened a heavy fire upon Holmes' advancing column, which drove him back. I then withdrew my command to cover and sent scouts in the direction of the river to observe the movements of the boats. My quartermaster, Captain Taylor,