Doc. 203.-the fight near Greenwich, Va.
Fairfax Court-House, May 31, 1863.Yesterday morning, between seven and eight o'clock, a portion of the brigade of Acting General De Forest, stationed at Kettle Run, were startled by the report of artillery firing somewhere in close proximity. The train from Alexandria, consisting of ten cars loaded with forage, had passed about half an hour prior, and the idea was immediately suggested that the rebels were firing on the train, which was a correct impression, the whole train being entirely destroyed. Colonel Mann ordered detachments of the First Vermont and Fifth New-York cavalry to proceed in the direction of the firing, each taking a separate route. The force combined numbered in the neighborhood of one hundred and sixty men. The detachment of the Fifth New-York, after proceeding two miles, and on approaching a hill, were fired upon by the enemy's artillery. One shell exploded in the solid column, but fortunately doing no further damage than killing the horse of Lieutenant Boutelle. The order was then given to fall into line and charge; but owing to the nature of the situation it was impossible to execute the manoeuvre, and they accordingly retired to a piece of woods, where line was formed. The enemy now showed by their movements that they had no disposition to fight, making a retrograde movement toward Warrenton, and while rapidly retiring fired a shot or so, without, however, inflicting any injury. After a close and eager pursuit, the Fifth New-York came up with the enemy's rear-guard and immediately commenced skirm shing, keeping up quite a brisk firing with their pistols. At this juncture the First Vermont, under command of Lieutenant-Colonel Preston, came up and joined the Fifth, and immediately the whole body charged through the woods, the rebels being in rapid flight, and were pursued about two miles and a half, until the enemy, turning a lane, brought their artillery into position and commenced firing. Seeing the necessity for silencing the battery, Lieutenant Barker, of the Fifth New-York, asked for volunteers to follow him in an effort to take the guns. About thirty men promptly responded, and, placing himself at their head, he charged furiously, and was met when a short distance from the guns with a murderous discharge of grape and canister, which mowed down a great number of the men. Lieutenant Barker himself was wounded in two places by grape-shot, but still went onward until he crossed sabres with the enemy over their guns. In the mean time, Lieutant Dimick, of the Fifth New-York, was despatched to order up the Vermont troops, and the whole command again charged, Lieutenant Hazleton, of the First Vermont, leading the charge, and captured one of the enemy's guns. The enemy were still going as rapidly as their horses would bear them. A desultory fire was kept up with small arms, inflicting some damage on the enemy; but they succeeded in carrying off their wounded in major part. By this time our horses gave evident symptoms of exhaustion, having traversed at full speed a large extent of territory, and being never of superior endurance, (a living thesis on the value of serviceable horses for cavalry,) and, it being useless to attempt to overtake, the pursuit was relinquished. There is no doubt had the troops been provided with horse such as are adapted to the use of cavalry — not such scrubs as the Government furnish — few, if any, of the rebels would have escaped. Mosby was in command in person, his force about one hundred strong, inclusive of the artillery. The object of his errand was to destroy the train, for which he paid a heavy penalty in the loss of his artillery (twelve-pound howitzer taken from the Federals at the battle of Ball's Bluff) and in the loss of his men in killed, wounded, and prisoners. The Fifth New-York ably sustained its claim to the title of the “fighting Fifth ;” nor were the First Vermonters behindhand; and if all was not accomplished that was expected, the responsibility rests on the shoulders of the negligent officials, to call them by no more severe term, who permit such horses to be palmed off by dishonest contractors on the Government. The secret of Mosby's plan of recuperating his band after being once destroyed, is explained. Picked men from different regiments are sent to him, and thus the vacancies occasioned by the casualties of battle are filled. Lieutenant Hazleton, of the First Vermont, who led the charge which captured the gun, deserves a particular mention.