Colonel Chilton “to press the enemy on my right,” stating that General McLaws's division “had gone in fresh.” [See copy filed, No. 8.] That division not having reached the wood bordering on the open field in advance, I despatched Major Hyllested, of the Zouave battalion, acting temporarily on my staff, to hasten it forward, and bring up two batteries of artillery, which I desired to have in hand for anything that might occur. Not being able to find the commander of the division, General McLaws, and it being near dusk, Major Hyllested gave the orders directly to the commanders of brigades. These brigades were in line of battle at Mrs. Carter's house, with an interval of about one hundred yards between them for the passage of artillery. These commanders, Kershaw and Semmes, with the gallantry and promptness which have characterized them on every occasion, advanced with their brigades at once; General Semmes to the right, and General Kershaw to the left, increasing their interval as they passed through the dense wood, which intervened between them and the enemy's position, and going into action on the right and left of the position occupied by myself. Their engagement with the enemy was not known to me until half past 8 o'clock, at which time Major Hyllested, who had gone still farther to the rear for the artillery, reported to me their advance to the front. These gallant leaders engaged the enemy with vigor and devotion, and, though the batteries were not carried, contributed much to the rout, panic, and demoralization which marked the enemy's escape from the battle-field at an early hour of the night. Previous to the arrival of General McLaws's division, I had sent for reenforcements, having determined to retain the ground we had gained in front, if possible, and to hold the strong position of the wood and ravine at all hazards, to guard against any reverse. Troops were sent me from General A. P. Hill's command, and two brigades kept at hand, to be used in case of necessity. I regret that I have been unable as yet to procure the reports of their commanders. Darkness had now set in, and I thought of withdrawing the troops; but as we had gained many advantages, I concluded to let the battle subside, and to occupy the field, which was done to within one hundred yards of the enemy's guns. Pickets were accordingly established by Brigadier-Generals Mahone and Wright, whose brigades slept on the battle-field in the advanced positions they had won. Armistead's brigade and a portion of Ransom's also occupied the battle-field. The enemy retreated precipitately during the night from this strong place, which he intended to occupy, and which he had commenced to fortify, having reached his gunboats, the latter taking part in the battle. He left on the battle-field his dead and wounded, spiked and abandoned two pieces of artillery, leaving caissons, ambulances, wagons, and large quantities of medical, commissary, and ordnance stores in our hands. He threw into the ravines a large amount of ammunition, and strewed the roads with thousands of muskets, cartridge-boxes, &c., in his flight down the river. [See paper No. 9, Colonel Cobb's letter.] He was forced to retire a greater distance from Richmond, and to relinquish a healthy and commanding position, which he has since attempted in vain to retake. Notwithstanding the strength of the enemy's position, his great numerical superiority, and the difficulties of reaching him, our loss in killed and wounded will compare favorably, in proportion to the number engaged, with that sustained in most of the previous engagements near Richmond. It will not exceed, I think, twenty-nine hundred (2900) killed and wounded, out of a force of twenty-six or twenty-eight thousand under my orders, engaged and under fire, whilst the loss of the enemy I estimate at between six and seven thousand from the fire of my troops alone. There was no infantry attack by General Holmes, on my right, as far as I can learn. The reports of the officers commanding on my left will doubtless make known their operations. The officers and men under my command fought generally with the greatest heroism and devotion, and though some confusion arose, from the great distance which had to be traversed, the narrowness of the field, and extreme severity of the enemy's fire, there were no evidences of panic, and the men were easily rallied and led to the field. My command, of three divisions, being separated from the wagons, had been almost constantly marching from Sunday morning until Tuesday evening, with little sleep and without food, it being deemed by me imprudent to block up a narrow road with a wagon train. They were ordered, after the battle was over, by their respective commanders, to the positions from which they went into action, to obtain supplies of food and water. The officers and men composing Jones's division deserve special commendation for the faithful and fearless manner in which they performed their perilous duties at the stations known as Garnett's and Price's farms, and for their impetuous gallantry as displayed in the actions of the twenty-seventh and twenty-eighth of June opposite Goulding's farm. In the brigade commanded by the gallant General Semmes, Colonels August and Cumming, Fifteenth Virginia and Tenth Georgia regiments, and Lieutenant-Colonel Waggaman, of the Tenth Louisiana, were particularly distinguished, the two former being wounded and the last taken prisoner. In reference to other highly meritorious officers of the line, I beg leave to refer to the enclosed paper, marked No. 12, containing the names of those who are specially noticed in the reports of the division, brigade, and regimental commanders. I cannot speak too highly of the conduct of the officers and men of the brigades attacking in front--Brigadier-General Mahone, commanding the Second brigade Virginia volunteers, and General Wright, Third brigade, both of Huger's division; Colonel Barksdale, commanding Third Mississippi brigade of Magruder's division; Colonel Norwood, Second Louisiana regiment, mortally wounded, commanding three
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Foreign accounts of the fight.
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