On our a left was a gap of 1 mile between us and the next support; on our right were no supports at all for a distance of 4 miles to the river. The militia and the howitzer remained at their posts with great gallantry in spite of the galling fire of the enemy, who were completely protected by Mr. Gregory's dwelling-house and outbuildings and fence, and the exceedingly defective location and construction of our breast-works which permitted the enemy to come up within 50 yards completely sheltered and unseen. For two hours the militia under Major Arched maintained their position against overwhelming odds, until being flanked on the right and left and the enemy occupying Lunette Numbers 26 in their rear, it became impossible to hold the position any longer, and the order to retreat was given. The militia then retreated to the city and took position on the heights at the top of Sycamore street and by the water-works.
I wish to bear full and explicit testimony to the steadiness and gallantry of the citizen soldiers who composed Major Archer's command. They stood to the breast-works like veterans and did not fall back until orders to do so, when they were surrounded on three sides, and almost entire cut off. Knowing how important it was to hold the position to the last minute, and expecting re-enforcement every moment. I delayed giving the order to retreat until it was evident that a minute or two longer would have rendered inevitable the capture or dead of every man in the breast-works. The salvation of the city of Petersburg is undoubtedly due the first place to the brave militia of the city; for, had they retreated five or ten minutes sooner, the artillery, which was the first to check the enemy's advance, instead of meeting them at the heights, on the south side of the city, would have been intercepted before they could cross the bridge, and the city would probably have remained in the enemy's hands. Major Archer's personal conduct was worthy of all praise, as was that of his command, whose severe losses will bear full testimony to their gallantry.
I would respectfully suggest that Mr. Gregory's house and outbuildings be burned forthwith. They afforded complete shelter to the enemy, who placed their sharpshooters in them, and in case of another attack, they will cause the loss of many more lives.
I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
R. E. COLSTON,
HEADQUARTERS FIRST MILITARY DISTRICT,
Petersburg, Va., June 14, 1864.
Brigadier General R. E. COLSTON:
GENERAL: Beyond the general expression of thanks to my whole command, contained in Special Orders,, Numbers 11, paragraph 7, June 12 instant, in which it is stated you were in temporary command of the forces on my right, and that you had reported the heroism of the militia, and which expressions included you, of course, I deem it you due that I should distance express to you,individually, my thanks for the efficient and gallant part you bore in the affair of the 9th. You tendered your service on the field in any duty which I would assign you. They were gratefully accepted, and I placed you in command