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Doc. 24. operations around Richmond.

Report of Major-General Longstreet.

headquarters, near Richmond, July 29, 1862.
Colonel R. H. Chilton, A. A. General:
Colonel: In obedience to confidential General Orders, No. 75, and previously arranged plans, the division of Major-General D. H. Hill and my own were put in march, the former at two, the latter at three o'clock A. M., on the twenty-sixth, for the Mechanicsville turnpike, to await the progress of the command of Major-Generals Jackson and A. P. Hill. The two divisions, were in position in front of Mechanicsville bridge, at eight o'clock A. M., but some unavoidable delay in the movement of the troops on the other side of the Chickahominy, kept us in waiting until about three o'clock P. M., when the advance of Major-General A. P. Hill's command was discovered. The divisions were put in readiness to cross at any moment, and at six o'clock the enemy had been turned and driven back far enough to enable the head of our column to pass the bridges. Brigadier-General Hampton volunteered to give directions and positions to our heavy batteries, opposite Mechanicsville, now become useless, and to follow the movements of our troops down the river. The batteries followed our movements, and played upon the enemy's lines with good effect.

Ripley's brigade of D. H. Hill's division was thrown forward, and soon became engaged in a sharp fight with the enemy at Beaver Dam Creek, a stream from twelve to twenty feet wide, with perpendicular banks, from six to eight feet high. The enemy being very strongly posted behind this creek, with the bridges destroyed, these gallant troops could accomplish but little before night. A very handsome effort was made by them, however, to take the enemy's batteries. Major-General D. H. Hill's report will give particulars of the conduct of his troops at this point.

Some time after dark, the rear brigade of my own division succeeded in crossing the Chickahominy, and Pryor's and Featherston's brigades were ordered to Beaver Dam Creek, to relieve the portion of Major-General D. H. Hill's division in position there, the balance of the division remaining near the bridge in bivouac.

At early dawn, on the twenty-seventh, the battle was renewed with artillery and infantry. The brigade of General Wilcox and a battery were sent to the support of the brigades on Beaver Dam Creek, and were engaged principally with artillery, until seven o'clock, when the enemy abandoned his trenches and retired. The columns were delayed about an hour repairing the bridges, when the general advance was resumed. Three of my brigades, Wilcox's, Pryor's, and Featherston's, under Brigadier-General Wilcox, were put in advance, to move, when the ground would permit, in line of battle, supported by Pickett's brigade, the other two, Anderson's and Kemper's, some distance behind. It was soon discovered that the enemy had fallen back rapidly from his right, burning and otherwise destroying most of the property that he could not remove. The pursuit was steadily continued until one o'clock, when the enemy was discovered strongly posted behind Powhite Creek. The three brigades, under Wilcox, were advanced to the edge of the creek, to feel the enemy, and ascertain, as far as practicable, his strength. It was soon found that he was in full force. A message to this effect was received from Brigadier-General D. R. Jones, a few moments previous. The troops were halted in position to await the arrival of the other divisions.

Major-General A. P. Hill soon repaired the bridges at the mill, crossed the Powhite Creek, and took position for the attack. The columns under General Jackson, having a longer march, were not in position for some time after. Finally, these columns were reported in position, and the commanding general directed my brigades to be put in position on the right, to cooperate.

In front of me, the enemy occupied the wooded slope of Turkey hill, the crest of which is fifty or sixty feet higher than the plain over which my troops must pass to make an attack. The plain is about a quarter of a mile wide; the further side of it was occupied by sharp-shooters. Above these, and on the slope of the hill, was a line of infantry behind trees, felled so as to form a good breast-work. The crest of the hill, some forty feet above the last line, was strengthened by rifle-trenches, and occupied by infantry and artillery. In addition to this, the plain was enfiladed by batteries on the other side of the Chickahominy. I was, in fact, in the position from which the enemy wished us to attack him.

The attack was begun by Major-General A. P. Hill's division. My troops were drawn up in lines, massed behind the crest of a hill, and behind a small wood, three brigades in each position, and held in readiness, as the reserve. We had not been in position long, however, before I received an urgent message from the commanding general to make a diversion in favor of the attacking columns. The three brigades, under Wilcox, were at once ordered forward against the enemy's left flank with this view. Pickett's brigade making a diversion on the left of the brigades, developed the strong position and force of the ememy in my front; and I found that I must drive him by direct assault, or abandon the idea of making the diversion. From the urgent nature of the message from the commanding general, and my own peculiar position, I determined to change the feint into an attack, and orders for a general advance were issued. General R. H. Anderson's brigade was divided — part supporting Pickett's in the direct assault, and the other portions guarding the right flank of the brigades under Wilcox.

At this moment, General Whiting arrived with his division, put it into position at once and joined in the assault. The opportune arrival of this division occupied the entire field and enabled me to hold in reserve my rear brigade, (Kemper's.) Our gallant officers and men were moved forward in the face of three lines of infantry fire,

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Beaver Dam Creek, Md. (Maryland, United States) (3)
Powhite Creek (Virginia, United States) (1)

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July 29th, 1862 AD (1)
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