War of the Rebellion: Serial 044 Page 0856 N. C., VA., W. VA., MD., PA., ETC. Chapter XXXIX.

Search Civil War Official Records

than a mile this side of Bottom`s Bridge. Before he got fairly in motion, his skirmishers came in contact with those of the enemy, and brisk firing commenced along an extended line. I immediately threw forward a couple of batteries and three regiments of infantry, and pushed on the skirmishers to develop the position and strength of the enemy, at the same time changing the line of a portion of Terry`s brigade. I discovered the enemy opposite my left, and shortly afterward Lieutenant Robinson, Fifth Pennsylvania Cavalry, brought in 2 prisoners, one a lieutenant, whom he took a mile to the right of that point. The lieutenant stated that he belonged to D. H. Hill`s division, and that he had crossed Bottom`s Bridge that morning. Finding the enemy in a very strong position in front, which he was not inclined to leave, and which it was too late to attack (it was now sunset), I ordered the troops to take up their position for the night at and in advance of the Cross-Roads, our outposts holding to within about 3 1/2 miles of Bottom`s Bridge. At about 2 a. m. the 2nd instant, Colonel A. Gibbs, of the One hundred and thirtieth New York, came to my wagon to report that he distinctly heard artillery and other troops crossing a bridge on our right an hour before. Colonel Gibbs, who is an experienced officer, and his brigade commander, Brigadier-General Terry, were so positive that a movement was going on to get in our rear, and so urgent that I should withdraw far enough to prevent it, that, joining their opinions with my certain knowledge that Baltimore Cross-Roads are equally assailable on all sides, and that from there the only of retreat was over a road as bad as any on the Peninsula from Fort Monroe to Bottom`s Bridge, I concluded to withdraw my main line 3 miles, to Baltimore Store, where there was a proper field to receive an attack. I returned with the main body and teams at daylight, leaving orders for Colonel West to hold his position two full hours, if possible, after the departure of the last of the main body. Shortly after, in accordance with a dispatch from you, I ordered him to hold the position as long as he could, and Colonel Grimshaw, with the Fourth Delaware and a section of artillery, to halt at the fork of roads a mile beyond Baltimore Store. Colonel West held it till near sunset of the 2nd instant, when he was attacked at and in front of the Baltimore Cross-Roads, and nearly enveloped by a force larger than my whole force. As soon as I learned that Colonel West was retiring before the enemy, I ordered Colonel Porter, with his two regiments, to Quall`s, to co-operate with Grimshaw, with directions to resist his advance step by step, and, if forced to retire, to fall back down the New Kent road. My main line was formed nearly parallel with that road, and about 600 yards from it. The enemy followed up West, and attacked Porter with great spirit. The latter, by a skillful arrangement of his troops, kept near enough to the enemy most of the time to hear their officers urging on the men, but experienced no loss. I succeeded in keeping perfect silence in my main line of battle, from which not a shot was fired. The rebels kept up a continual attack of about five hours` duration, and until near morning, wasting a vast quantity of ammunition, but stopping just short of the field I had prepared for them in front of my main line, and over the whole of which their shot and shell fell continually. The rebels were repulsed most handsomely, and the Richmond papers declare their troops retired in good order. The enemy showed himself over a long line during the 3rd and 4th