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Rebellion Record: a Diary of American Events: Documents and Narratives, Volume 5. (ed. Frank Moore), Doc. 9.-the battle of West-point, Va. Fought May 7, 1862. (search)
ful plain, which is surrounded on three sides by dense woods and on the fourth by the river, on the south side of the Pamunkey River, and about half a mile southward from West-Point. The reason why we landed here is obvious. Had we landed on the ot from Yorktown and remained in the centre of the river, while some of our light-draft gunboats took a trip up the rivers Pamunkey and Metaponey to capture a portion of the rebel mosquito fleet, which were brought into use for carrying our men from thnt a participant. The following is a private letter from an officer in our army to his father: South side of Pamunkey River, opposite West-point, Va., Thursday, May 8, 1862. my dear Father: By the time you receive this, the press will havthroughout the day. General Franklin's division left Yorktown on Monday, and landed same night upon the south side of Pamunkey River, opposite West-Point, in presence of the pickets of the enemy. Sharp firing commenced immediately after our landing,
locally designated the Seven Pines, where Casey's division was posted in an open, swampy field, behind a single line of infantry epaulements; in front there was a heavy forest and a screen of dense undergrowth. Gen. Couch's division was encamped in his rear, his right resting in front of Fair Oaks station, about six miles due east of Richmond. Gen. Keyes commanded both divisions; and Gen. Heintzelman's corps was in the rear, within supporting distance, feeling out toward the left. The Pamunkey River to White House Point, and the York River Railroad to Fair Oaks, constituted our base. You will readily perceive the merits of the rebel design. By suddenly hurling upon our weak and exposed left overwhelming masses of their best troops it was apparently quite easy to crush it before assistance could be thrown over the river. If crowned with success, the relative attitudes of the armies would be reversed. The enemy would have become the assailing party, our whole army would be put u
en and children,) living in a horrible condition, in sheds, and without the common necessaries of life. These people were residents of Elizabeth City county, and sent here by Gen. Magruder on account of their Union proclivities. I at once decided to remain and hold possession of the place, protect the people, and prevent a further destruction of property by the rebels, until the arrival of the commanding officer of the naval division. On the fifth instant we seized a schooner in the Pamunkey River, and also the C. S. sloop Water Witch, recently abandoned by Capt. Thomas Jefferson Page. During the day, I secured much information regarding the movements of the rebel army, which was transmitted to the proper authority. On the sixth, the naval vessels arrived, conveying the division of Gen. Franklin. During the evening I received information that the enemy would attempt to destroy the town during the night, which I at once reported to the commanding officer, and received orders to
Sixth Pennsylvania cavalry, New-Bridge, Va., May 31, 1862. I have the honor to report to you, as the Military Agent of the State of Pennsylvania, the active duty my regiment has been doing, knowing you would like to know what all your Pennsylvania regiments in the Army of the Potomac are doing in the way of active service. We were detached from the reserve brigade of cavalry, on the twenty-second May, by the order of General McClellan, to make a reconnoissance around and about the Pamunkey River, from Piping Tree Ferry to Hanover Town Ferry. We had three squadrons on picket at these ferries, and the balance of the regiment was used for scouting. We found on the twenty-third instant, the enemy were very strong at Hanover Court-House, and instantly sent word to Gen. Porter. Upon which information Gen. Porter ordered us to destroy all the ferries and bridges along the Pamunkey, which the squadrons that were picketed along the ferries instantly did. On the evening of the t
he First, Fourth, and Ninth Virginia cavalry, a part of the Jeff Davis Legion, with whom were the Boykin Rangers and a section of the Stuart horse artillery, on the thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth of June, made a reconnaissance between the Pamunkey and Chickahominy Rivers, and succeeded in passing around the rear of the whole of the Union army, routing the enemy in a series of skirmishes, taking a number of prisoners, and destroying and capturing stores to a large amount. Having most su soon after engaged near the Old Church two squadrons of the enemy's cavalry, whom they dispersed by a charge, killing and wounding about forty of them, and taking a number prisoners. The force then proceeded down to Putney's Landing, on the Pamunkey River, where three large steam transports were lying, loaded with commissary and ordnance-stores for McClellan. These they captured and burned with the stores, there being no means of conveying them away. This accomplished, the cavalry proceede
terminated. It was now ascertained from prisoners that Stonewall Jackson had not joined Lee. Hence it was inferred that he was sweeping down the banks of the Pamunkey to seize the public property, and cut off our retreat in that direction. Gen. Stoneman's command was moved swiftly down to watch operations there, and orders welear but warm. At three o'clock A. M. Major-Gen. Jackson took up his line of march from Ashland, and proceeding down the country between the Chickahominy and Pamunkey rivers, he uncovered the front of Brig.-Gen. Branch by driving off the enemy collected on the north bank of the Chickahominy River, at the point where it is crossed pal avenues of supply and escape. The disposition of our forces was such as to cut off all communication between McClellan's army and the White House, on the Pamunkey River; he had been driven completely from his northern lines of defences; and it was supposed that he would be unable to extricate himself from his position without