fork of White Oak Swamp, where we encountered the enemy's pickets, posted a short distance in advance of the crossing. The passage over the swamp here was over a log bridge, the approach to which was thoroughly destroyed by felling of trees, the bridge itself being torn up and thrown in masses across the road. I ordered my line of skirmishers to advance, and drive in the enemy's pickets, while Lieutenant Luckie, of the Third Georgia regiment, was ordered to move up the swamp, and find a pathway, which, my guide informed me, was half a mile distant, cross over, if possible, and reconnoitre the enemy's position, and give me a speedy report of his observation. I also ordered Colonel Doles, whose regiment (the Fourth Georgia) was in advance, to send down a strong party below the road, and attempt a crossing, which I learned from the guide was practicable, about three fourths of a mile below the bridge. In the mean time, I had advanced my line of skirmishers up to the margin of the swamp, (here about half a mile wide,) driving the enemy's pickets before us. In this advance we captured two of the enemy's pickets, who informed me that the main body of the enemy had left their camp on the opposite side of the swamp, near the fork, and were in rapid retreat toward White Oak Bridge, (across the main swamp,) then about six miles distant. Lieutenant Luckie having returned, and the result of his reconnoissance confirming the prisoners' statements, I ordered the column forward, and driving the pickets and rear guard of the enemy before us, we rushed across the broken bridge, and ascending a hill on the opposite side, found ourselves in the deserted camp of the enemy. Here we captured several prisoners and a large quantity of small arms, tents, and camp equipage, commissary and quartermaster's stores, which, in their haste, the enemy had failed to destroy. We also captured a large number of intrenching tools, and a very considerable quantity of medical stores. Leaving a small guard here to take charge of the prisoners, and to protect the public property in the camp, I passed on; and for three hours my march lay through a succession of the enemy's camps, in all of which immense quantities of small arms were found, with considerable amounts of commissary and quartermaster's stores. All along, the route of the flying foe was strewed with guns, knapsacks, cartridge-boxes, clothing, and ammunition. Moving forward rapidly, I captured quite a large number of prisoners; but owing to some misunderstanding of orders, they were moved off to Richmond in the evening, without proper lists having been retained, under command of Lieutenant Lumpkin, of company M, same regiment. I am, consequently, unable to give you the exact number. At half past 2 o'clock P. M., I reached White Oak Bridge, where I met General Jackson, who, with his command, had just arrived. I reported to him for orders, and he directed me to move along up the swamp, and, if possible, effect a crossing — the enemy being in large force, and obstinately disputing the passage over White Oak Bridge. In obedience to these instructions, I retraced my steps for about one mile, when, through the assistance of my guide, I discovered a crossing over the swamp, which had evidently been used by a portion of the enemy's forces. I threw forward Captain Green's company, (C,) of the Third Georgia regiment, and Captain Armistead's company, (C,) of the First Louisiana regiment, as skirmishers, on the right and left of the woods respectively, and moved my column on. Accompanying my line of skirmishers, I soon discovered the enemy had destroyed the bridge, and had completely blockaded the road through the swamp by felling trees in and across it. Pushing the skirmishers through the creek and over the network of fallen timber, I soon discovered the pickets of the enemy, posted in the margin of the swamp, and protected by a rail fence and ditch in front. My line of skirmishers steadily advanced, and, driving the enemy's pickets from their position, took possession of it. From this point I was enabled to make a good reconnoissance of the enemy's position and force. I ascertained that the road debouched from the swamp into an open field meadow, commanded by a line of hills, all in cultivation, and free from timber. Upon this range of hills the enemy had posted heavy batteries of field artillery, strongly supported by infantry, which swept across the meadow by a direct and cross fire, and which could be used with terrific effect upon my column while struggling through the fallen timber in the road through the swamp. Two prisoners, whom we captured here on picket, confirmed by their statements my own observations of the enemy's fortified position, and, having no artillery with me to support my infantry while crossing, I determined to withdraw from this point, and seek a crossing higher up the swamp. Skirting along the northern margin of the swamp about three miles, I discovered a cow trail, which led across, not far from, and in rear of, Fisher's house, on the Charles City road. This trail I took, and at dark halted my brigade for the night, on the Charles City road, near to Fisher's house. Having reported to General Huger in person, I received orders from him that night, instructing me to move, early in the morning, down the Charles City road, supporting General Armistead's brigade, which would move down in advance of me. This order was countermanded next morning, (Tuesday, July first,) and I was instructed to follow General Armistead's brigade, which was directed to move across from the Charles City road, in the direction of James River, skirting along the west side of the Quaker road, and closely watching the right of that road. After marching about two and a half or three miles, I halted my brigade, having found General Armistead's brigade halted upon the intersection of the road we were moving along with the Long Bridge road. Here I remained nearly an hour, waiting for the command in front of me to move forward. Between eight and nine o'clock A. M., I again moved forward, and following General Armistead's brigade, I crossed the Long Bridge road near to the battle-field of the day
This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
Foreign accounts of the fight.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.
An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.