War of the Rebellion: Serial 087 Page 0235 Chapter LIV. THE RICHMOND CAMPAIGN.

Search Civil War Official Records

The attack on Gregg was made by five brigades of Hampton's cavalry, and was persevered in until some time after dark. I desired to send infantry to Gregg's assistance, seeing that he was being pressed very vigorously, but I feared a renewal of the attack in my front, and I therefore trusted to General Gregg to hold his own, and I was not disappointed. About 5 p. m. I sent Major Bingham, of my staff, to communicate with General Warren or Crawford, to state what had occurred, and to say that unless the Fifth Corps moved up and connected with me, I could not answer for the result, as I was pressed by the enemy in heavy force. Unfortunately, Major Bingham was captured by the enemy in attempting to execute my order, and though he subsequently escaped saw neither General Warren nor Crawford.

At 5.20 p. m. I received a dispatch from Major-General Humphreys, chief of staff, telling me that our signal officers had discovered the enemy moving down the Boydton plank road, undoubtedly concentrating against me. The dispatch further stated that my orders to withdraw the following morning were unchanged. I gave to Captain Mason, the staff officer who brought me this report, full information as to my position, and he left me shortly before dark. Soon after I sent two of my staff to represent to the major-general commanding the exact condition of affairs as follows: Having moved in the morning, by order, without any reserve ammunition, I found myself seriously crippled for lack of it. This was particularly the case with the batteries, only on of which had a fair supply of ammunition, and this battery had lost both officers, and had but three men left per gun. The other batteries had expended nearly every round of ammunition. My command had been moving and fighting till after dark, and as a consequence was in considerable disorder. Quite a heavy rain was falling, and the wood road to Dabney's Mill,, my only communication with the rest of the army, was seriously threatened by the enemy, and was becoming very bad. It was a question with me whether ammunition could be brought up and issued during the night, and I did not think my command could make a strong fight in the morning without it. Between 6 and 7 p. m. I received a dispatch from Major-General Humphreys stating that immediately on the return of Captain Mason, Ayres' division, of the Fifth Corps, had been ordered to my support, but had halted at Armstrong's Mill, which was as far as it would be able to get. The dispatch also authorized me to withdraw that night if I thought proper, but stated that if I could attack successfully in the morning with the aid of Ayres' and Crawford's divisions, the major-general commanding desired me to do so.

Though these re-enforcements were offered to me, the question of their getting to me in time, and of getting ammunition up in time to have my own command effective in the morning was left for me to decide, and I understood that if the principal part of the fighting in the morning would be thrown upon these re-enforcements it was not desired that they should be ordered up. They would at least have been called upon to do the fighting until my own command could have replenished their ammunition, which I was quite certain would not be in time to resist an attack at an early hour in the morning. The cavalry, a considerable proportion being armed with repeating rifles, had almost wholly exhausted their ammunition; and General Gregg did not think it practicable to get ammunition up and issued to the men during the night. I was of the opinion that the necessary preparations to meet successfully the enemy's attack in the morning could not be made, and I understood from Major Mitchell that the major-general