to Malvern Hill with three sections, of two rifled guns each, selected from the different batteries, to embarrass the enemy's retreat. Under this order one of my sections of two rifled guns, under Lieutenant Martin, went to the front, and by command of colonel Deshler i accompanied it, leaving four guns at New Market, it not being then expected that any more artillery would be ordered to the front. As the report was current that the enemy were fleeing in great panic, in company with Colonel Deshler we proceeded to the foot of malvern Hill, and with great difficulty placed five guns in position. Before this, however, was accomplished the enemy opened a very heavy fire upon us from his gunboats and some twenty-five pieces from Malvern Hill at a distance of 600 to 700 yards. Under these great disadvantages our five pieces responded vigorously to the enemy for an hour, when Colonel Deshler, seeing the utter hopelessness of the contest, and by your order, as I understood, withdrew them.
Of what occurred in our rear, either with cavalry, infantry, and artillery, including my four pieces, I heard nothing until after our engagement, which was then nearly dark; in fact, I supposed these four guns were still parked at New Market, where I left them under the command of Lieutenant Pegram, a gallant and accomplished officer, and one who has rendered meritorious service during the war.
Colonel Deshler has since fallen, a brave martyr to the cause, having been killed at the head of his command-where in action he ever was- at Missionary Ridge; but I am fortunate in having found his official report of this engagement, dated Swift Creek, July 15, 1862. I beg to refer you to the same. In it occurs the following extract:
It is with pleasure that I call to the favorable notice of the Department the gallant conduct of the few officers and men who were under my immediate command at the rifle battery. captain Branch, First Lieutenant Cooper, of French's battery, and First Lieutenant Coleman, of Brem's battery, served their pieces themselves, and did everything that men could do to encourage their men and make their fire effective under a very hot fire from a much larger number of the enemy's guns.
In view of these facts I respectfully ask that you will make such additions to you official report as simple justice to me demand. You will greatly oblige me by a copy of the same, addressed to Richmond.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
JAS. R. BRANCH,
Lieutenant-Colonel of Artillery.
Lieutenant General T. H. HOLMES,
Raleigh, N. C.
HEADQUARTERS NORTH CAROLINA RESERVE,
Raleigh, N. C., November 18, 1864.
Captain Branch was in nothing responsible for the misconduct of a part of his battery at Malvern Hill, and I take great pleasure in correcting the omission in my official report. His conduct, as also that of the section of his battery with which he served, was excellent and worthy of all praise, and I beg to adopt the report of the lamented Deshler as a part of my own.
Respectfully forwarded to the War Department.
TH. H. HOLMES,