War of the Rebellion: Serial 080 Page 0734 OPERATIONS IN SE. VA. AND N.C. Chapter LII.

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On the 24th I marched at 4 a.m., in advance, along the Richmond and Danville Railroad, halting every few hours and sending out parties to destroy the track, stations, water-tanks, &c. Marching in this manner we reached Keysville. We halted for the night and again sent out heavy working parties to destroy the road.

On the 25th marched at 4 a.m., still in advance, and halting to destroy the road, I detached a squadron to Johnson's Saw-Mill, about three miles across the railroad, which my men destroyed. This mill and another private mill, with the company mill, three in all, were the only resources the enemy would have from whence to get timber to repair the road. They were all completely destroyed. We continued on, via Drake's Branch Station to Roanoke Station, where we halted for three hours and worked vigorously, destroying the road and brigade. This done we marched on to the Staunton River, arriving in front of the enemy's position at the bridge, driving their pickets from the depot as we approached. Here a halt was made, and after the enemy's position had been reconnoitered by the commanding generals, I was ordered to dismount my brigade and advance on the right upon the bridge; I was also ordered to have a detail provided with light combustible material, to be carried along, with which to fire the bridge. This was done. My advance was, with one squadron of the Fifth Pennsylvania Cavalry, deployed as skirmishers, the remainder of that regiment supporting the skirmishers, while the Third New York was kept to the left and rear in reserve. Our advance was not opposed, except by artillery fire, for some distance nor until we were within musket-range of the bridge, where a sharp fire was opened upon us, both from the bridge and from the opposite side of the stream. As the Second Brigade advanced on the opposite side of the railroad, and as soon as artillerists got the range of the bridge, the enemy at the end of the bridge nearest us grew very unsteady, and I thought a direct and rapid charge down the railroad would frighten them away. This I tried with two companies of the Third New York, but found the fire of artillery and musketry so well directed at the railroad from the end of the bridge, and across the stream on both sides of the road, that I was forced to come down and join the main body on the flat below. We worked our way, skirmishing to within about 200 yards of the main bridge, where we came to a small bridge, underneath which the lines of the two brigades (First and Second) became united. Under cover of this bridge I formed an assaulting party and directed it up the embankment, in the hope that by a quick move we might obtain possession of the main bridge sufficiently long to fire it. The men tried repeatedly to gain a foothold on the railroad, and to advance along the sides of the embankment, but could not. The height of the railroad embankment enabled the enemy from their position down by the water's edge, across the stream, to sweep the sides and track with a terrible fire, while they were in a position of complete security. We held all the ground we took until the order came to withdraw which was received about 11 p.m., through an aide-de-camp of General Wilson. The loss of the brigade, as will be seen by reports of regimental commanders, was 5 officers and 19 men; of the men 9 are known to have been killed. Our wounded were all brought away from that field.

On the 26th started at sunrise, following General Wilson's division, the Second Brigade in rear, and marched about ten miles, halted two hours, then continued on until 10 p.m. Of the 27th and 28th I kept no account, excepting that at about dark on the 28th we came to Stony Creek and formed General Wilson's division engaged with the enemy.