The forces engaged on our side were the brigades of Generals Hampton, W. H. F. Lee, and Jones. We understand that the Yankees burned Kelly's Mill. The fight, on the whole, may be said to have begun in a surprise and ended in a victory. The latter is what we are accustomed to hear of confederate soldiers; the former we trust never to hear again.
The rebel press on the fight.
Richmond, June 12.The more the circumstances of the late affair at Brandy Station are considered, the less pleasant do they appear. If this was an isolated case, it might be excused under the convenient head of accident or chance. But this much puffed cavalry of the army of Northern Virginia has been twice, if not three times, surprised since the battles of December, and such repeated accidents can be regarded as nothing but the necessary consequences of negligence and bad management. If the war was a tournament, invented and supported for the pleasure and profit of a few vain and weak-headed officers, these disasters might be dismissed with compassion. But the country pays dearly for the blunders which encourage the enemy to overrun and devastate the land with a cavalry which is daily learning to despise the mounted troops of the Confederacy. It is high time that this branch of the service should be reformed. The surprise on this occasion was the most complete that has occurred. The confederate cavalry was carelessly strewn over the country, with the Rappahannock only between it and an enemy who has already proven his enterprise to our cost. It is said that their camp was supposed to be secure, because the Rappahannock was not believed to be fordable at the point where it was actually forded. What! do Yankees then know more about this river than our own soldiers, who have done nothing but ride up and down its banks for the last six months. They knew at least the weather was dry, the water low, and that fifteen or twenty thousand horse, confident from impunity and success, were on the other side. They could not have failed to know this much; and they were surprised, caught at breakfast, made prisoners on foot, with guns empty and horses grazing. Although the loss was insignificant, the events of that morning were among the least creditable that have occurred. Later some of the best officers sacrificed their lives to redeem the day. A very fierce fight ensued, in which, it is said, for the first time in this war, a considerable number of sabre-wounds were given and received. In the end the enemy retired, or was driven, it is not yet clearly known which, across the river. Nor is it certainly known whether the fortunate result was achieved by the cavalry alone or with the assistance of confederate infantry in the neighborhood. As the Southern troops remained masters of the field, and as they are believed to have taken at least as many prisoners toward the close of the day as they lost in the morning, they may be considered victors. But it is a victory over which few will exult. It resembles that other victory won at Kelly's Ford on the seventeenth of March. Both would have been well merited defeats if valor had not paid the price of conceit and carelessness. The ease with which the enemy outwitted the guard of the river on the first occasion was the prompter of Stoneman's incursion at the head of ten thousand horse into the heart of the State, which he accomplished without the slightest interference from the confederate cavalry. It is with pain that these reflections are made. They occur at this moment, not only to the present writer, but also to the whole public, and their utterance may have a wholesome effect. Events of this description have been lately too frequent to admit of the supposition that they are the results of hazard. They are the effects of causes, which will produce like effects while they are permitted to operate, and they require the earnest attention both of the chiefs of the government and the heads of the army. The enemy is evidently determined to employ his cavalry extensively, and has spared no pains or cost to perfect that arm. The only effective means of preventing the mischief it may do is to reorganize our own forces, enforce a stricter discipline among the men, and insist on more earnestness among the officers in the discharge of their very important duty.