by my command as the rear guard of the Army of the Potomac in covering the movement of the army from Harrison's Landing to Williamsburg from the 14th to the 19th instant:
After withdrawing from Malvern Hill, on the morning of the 7th instant, I received orders to hold the Haxall position to the last extremity, and having no infantry, General Sumner very kindly sent me the Irish Brigade, which I posted in the woods to the right of my position and in support of the batteries, at that time three in number, viz, Robertson's, Benson's, and Hazzard's. The cavalry brigade was posted as follows: The First and Sixth Cavalry on the left, near the river, on a line with the batteries and with the gunboat Port Royal, whose guns could sweep our entire front, while the Eighth Illinois and Eighth Pennsylvania Cavalry were in rear and to the left of the batteries in support of them.
My pickets were 1 1/2 miles to the front, in sight of the enemy's pickets on the opposite side of Turkey Creek, and extended some 3 miles from right to left. Besides this line of pickets, frequent patrols passed up and down all the roads leading from the front and right to my position. The enemy kept a strong picket force on Turkey Creek of cavalry and infantry, and made several attempts to drive my pickets back from their position; but knowing the great importance of not falling back at that time, my line was re-enforced and always maintained itself. In these affairs 1 or 2 men were wounded every day.
On the 14th instant instructions were received from you to send the Irish Brigade and Hazzard's battery to their respective commands, and also to extend my pickets on the first and second Long Bridge roads and on the Middle road. These instructions were immediately carried into effect, and left my command composed of the Second Brigade of Cavalry and the two Horse Batteries, Robertson's and Benson's. My line of pickets and scouts then covered a distance of some 15 miles, having numerous parties 4 and 5 miles out on all the roads leading into Harrison's Landing and the line of march of the army.
It was not possible for the enemy to have advanced in any direction without timely warning being given.
To confuse the enemy, I desired Captain Morris, of the Port Royal, to shell Malvern Hill, where they were posted. He complied with my request, and with such effect the rebels became much alarmed, doubled their pickets, and showed themselves in force on the hill, evidently expecting our sudden advance. Having succeeded in this, Captain Morris quietly fell back to his position on the left of my line.
In the afternoon of the 15th Captain John Rodgers, of the U. S. steamer Galena, arrived, and generously offered me any assistance I might want, and it was arranged that he should receive and keep in custody all persons in that neighborhood who could give information to the enemy of our movements.
Having then been notified that the last army corps had left Harrison's Landing on the morning of the 16th, I caused the timber of be slashed from the river to a point beyond the Haxall road, thus obstructing any passage for the enemy's artillery, and withdrew the main body of my command after dark to the position at Clarke's, near the second Long Bridge road. My pickets in front of Haxall's were not withdrawn until after midnight, and then took up a position west of our lines at Harrison's Landing, the reserves being held within the lines. The pickets on the first and second Long Bridge roads remaining in position, some of the enemy's vedettes came down the first Long Bridge road that night, but retired when fired upon.