War of the Rebellion: Serial 080 Page 0765 Chapter LII. THE RICHMOND CAMPAIGN.

threw across company after company of re-enforcements, notwithstanding the enemy shelling the bridge furiously and a strong line of sharpshooters directing their fire on it, the difficulty of crossing being increased by not having been able to procure plank to floor it, and the only mode of crossing being upon the ties. I had in this manner crossed over in all 500, and placed them in position, when the enemy's skirmishers having fallen in with their line of battle, and the whole line arriving within close range of my rifle-pits (which I had almost entirely masked), were scattered before a withering fire from my infantry, which was totally unexpected. Falling back several hundred yards they reformed, and adding re-enforcements, which were rapidly sent forward, they again advanced to within about 100 yards of my rifle-pits and were again broken in confusion. This was repeated four times, each time with the same result, and the whole time my artillery firing on them with considerable precision and effect. At night-fall the enemy's skirmishers were within 150 yards of mine, and desultory skirmishing was kept up until 12 o'clock, when I discovered the enemy withdrawing from my front, and as soon as it was light I opened with my artillery on the rear of their line, then crossing Little Roanoke, causing them to retire from the road to the woods and to have great difficulty in getting off. At daylight I advanced my line of skirmishers half a mile, and discovered that the enemy had left quite a number of their dead on the field. In this advance 8 prisoners were captured. At 8 o'clock the enemy had entirely disappeared from my front, not, however, before they had replied quite briskly to my artillery for half an hour. I afterward ascertained the enemy's loss was at least 250, most probably 300, in killed, wounded, and prisoners. Of the dead left on the field I buried 42, among them several officers. My loss, 10 killed and 24 wounded.

The inexperienced troops to whom we are indebted for this remarkable victory over the enemy deserve the gratitude of both the army and the people for the gallantry and coolness displayed by them in meeting, with the resolution and unshaken firmness of veterans, the repeated charges of the enemy, so superior in numbers, equipage, and artillery.

I desire to make special mention of Colonel Henry E. Coleman, Twelfth North Carolina Regiment; Captain William W. Fraser, commanding artillery; Captain R. H. Fitzhugh, Corps of Engineers; Captain William C. Marshall, Stribling Artillery, whom I assigned to duty in the most exposed places, and who proved to me by their chivalrous conduct my confidence in their ability was not misplaced.

Colonel H. E. Coleman was at home wounded, but came forward and offered to take any position. I assigned him to one of the most important and responsible positions, which he held, though hotly engaged and severely pressed for four hours, when he was painfully wounded in the knee, and refused to leave even then, until assured of the confidence of his men in their ability to defend the position.

Hoping, general, my report may merit your approval and my command receive due credit for defending against such superior numbers so important a line of communication,

I have the honor to be, with great respect, your obedient servant,


Captain, Commanding Post.

Brigadier General JAMES L. KEMPER.