Every few days after the battle of Fair Oaks alarming reports were circulated that the enemy in large force was moving to different points to make an attack, as will be seen by the above and previous orders, although many more were sent verbally. The balloon was always called into requisition to ascertain the truth of these reports, and in almost every instance our troops, who would otherwise have been compelled to lie upon their arms for hours and perhaps days, in addition to other exposure consequent upon building earth- works, roads, bridges, &c., were allowed to return to their quarters on receiving a report from the balloon that the enemy was quiet. It often seemed to me that these false reports were circulated expressly to annoy and weary our forces, and so reliable did they sometimes appear that on several occasions I was required to take up a staff officer and point out to him the location of the enemy before our generals could be satisfied.
JUNE 13, 1862-8.15 p.m.
Chief of Staff:
My assistant at Mechanicsville reports that he has taken several observations this afternoon, and from appearances of smoke and troops he is of the opinion that the force opposite Mechanicsville is considerably strengthened.
I ascended from this point since my last dispatch and remained up until dark, but have nothing new to report.
T. S. C. LOWE.
The following reports of June 14 were of the greatest importance, and gave the commanding general timely notice of the intentions of the enemy and enabled him to use his facilities to the best advantage. Knowing that the enemy could, after a few days" work, fortify themselves sufficiently to hold our forces in check with a portion of their army, until the remainder would be at liberty to operate in another direction, General McClellan could make his final attack then before the enemy were any stronger, or he could fortify himself, or prepare for a retreat, or change of base, just as his facilities would permit. At all events, about two weeks later it proved that the enemy was so fortified that they held their position with but a small portion of their force, while the main body of their army was thrown against our right, which they overpowered and compelled the retreat to James River.
Near Gaines" House, June 14, 1862-9.30 a.m.
Chief of Staff:
GENERAL: I ascended at 8 and remained nearly one hour at an elevation of 1,000 feet. It was perfectly calm and many fields and camps were visible that I have not been able to see for a number of days past. In almost every field and on all available hills the enemy have large working parties throwing up earth- works and digging rifle-pits.
The camps and tents about Richmond seem to be much increased since my last good view beyond the woods. I can now count ten distinct earth-works around Richmond and can see embrasures in most of them, but cannot distinguish whether they have guns mounted in them or not. I am now marking upon the map the positions near as possible of the earth-works now building, and will send it in to-day.
Your very obedient servant,
T. S. C. LOWE,