Doc. 115.-General Naglee's reconnoissance, on the Chickahominy, Va., May 24.
Gen. Keyes's headquarters, Saturday, May 24.This morning a reconnoissance was made in force upon our left wing, for the purpose of ascertaining the strength of the rebel troops in the neighborhood of “the Pines,” some eight and a half miles from Richmond. The reconnoissance was conducted by Brig.-Gen. Naglee, and consisted of infantry and cavalry force. The One Hundred and Fourth Pennsylvania, Col. Davis, and the Fifty-second Pennsylvania, Colonel Dodge, constituting the advanced guard. Besides those in the advance, there were engaged the Eighth Pennsylvania cavalry, Col. Gregg, and Battery H of the First New-York artillery, commanded by Capt. Spratt. The advance was made to the right and left of the old stage-coach road leading to Richmond, companies from the two advanced regiments being deployed as skirmishers through the woods on either side, as also companies from the Eighth Pennsylvania cavalry, who acted conjointly with the infantry skirmishers from the same regiments, advanced in front, and a short distance behind these followed the battery alluded to and a strong infantry reserve. At about ten o'clock the command was halted by General Naglee, a short distance this side of Mr. Higgins's house, behind which the rebels had two batteries planted, from one of which guns commenced to play on us as we advanced. Our battery was immediately got into position. The One Hundred and Fourth Pennsylvania occupied the left of the road, covered by a dense wood, while the Fifty-second Pennsylvania were stationed on the right, similarly protected. The firing was opened by the rebels with shell, to which our guns replied by a quick and rapid discharge of grape and shell. The shots of the rebels fell far wide of the mark, while their shells, in many cases, either did not explode at all, or exploded in the air. On our own side the shells were thrown with remarkable accuracy, and exploded just in the nick of time, doing great havoc among the rebels. The force of the rebels was composed of five hundred of Stuart's old cavalry and a regiment of Tennessee infantry, together with the two batteries named, comprising eight or ten guns. Our cavalry at one time made a charge upon that of the rebels, in which we completely routed them with severe loss, a number of them being seen to relax their hold on the bridles of the horses, which were subsequently led away by the comrades of the wounded. Sharp skirmishing also took place between the soldiers of the One Hundred and Fourth Pennsylvania regiment and the Tennessee regiment, which was deadly in its effect upon the rebel force. About an hour after the firing of the first musket, the morning was occupied by an exchange of shots between the artillery force on either side, the rebels shifting their guns from one position to the other, just as often as they were driven from the post occupied by them by the accuracy of our fire. Finally, unable to maintain their position any longer, the enemy's guns were moved to the right and out of sight. Our skirmishers were again advanced, and cavalry and infantry deployed through the woods,  who drove in the rebel pickets as rapidly as they were met. These being halted at intervals, our battery was again advanced, and shell, in the way of “feelers,” were distributed with a liberal hand through the woods on all sides. Finally, it being reported that the rebel troops could not be found for a distance of several miles beyond, the reconnoissance was halted for the day. All this time the rain was falling in torrents. The soldiers were standing in mud and water up to their shoe-tops, and most, if not all of them, were drenched to the skin. The reconnoissance was admirably conducted by General Naglee, and the movements were made by him with the greatest precaution. The point now held by our troops is of the greatest importance to us, and the manner in which it was secured reflects much credit upon all who participated in the action of to-day. The Ninety-third Pennsylvania regiment, Col. McCarter, was on the ground during the fight, acting as a portion of the reserve.