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[449] capturing, small detachments of the enemy's cavalry, mostly of the lancers, Colonel Rush.

Passing Bethesda Church, I sent the Blakely gun, of the horse artillery, and a portion of my command, under Colonel Martin, off to the left, to see if any force was about Old Church. Colonel Martin found nothing but some flying cavalry, and I continued my march by way of Beulah Church, taking several prisoners en route to Cold Harbor, where I found General Jackson. He directed me to take position on his left, in reserve. I kept a squadron in observation down the Old Church road, down the Despatch road, and made dispositions for action whenever opportunity might offer.

Owing, however, to the nature of the ground, the position in a wood and the steadiness of our troops, the cavalry proper had no hand-to-hand conflict with the enemy, though subject to the severe ordeal of a raking artillery fire from guns beyond its reach. Videttes, placed on our left, kept me advised of the enemy's operations; and, about five or six P. M., a movement of artillery was observed, and reported, on the road from Grapevine Bridge. The only artillery under my command being Pelham's “Stuart's horse artillery,” the twelve-pounder Blakely and Napoleon were ordered forward to meet this bold effort to damage our left flank. The Blakely was disabled at the first fire — the enemy opening simultaneously eight pieces, proving afterward to be Weed's and Tidball's batteries. Then ensued one of the most gallant and heroic feats of the war. The Napoleon gun, solitary and alone, received the fire of those batteries, concealed in the pines, on a ridge commanding its ground; yet not a man quailed, and the noble Captain directing the fire himself, with a coolness and intrepidity only equalled by his previous brilliant career. The enemy's fire sensibly slackened under the determined fire of this Napoleon, which clung to its ground with unflinching tenacity. I had an opportunity of calling General Jackson's attention to the heroic conduct of the officers and men of this piece, and later, he, by his personal efforts, reinforced it by several batteries of rifle pieces, which, firing, advanced in echelon, about dark, and drove the enemy from his last foothold on the right. I received information that General D. H. Hill was pursuing the enemy down the road at the point of the bayonet.

Expecting a general rout, I immediately joined my cavalry, and dashed down the road leading by Dr. Tyler's, to its intersection with the White House road, about three miles. It was quite dark; but no evidence of retreat, or other movement, could be detected on that road; so, leaving a squadron for observation at that point, I returned to Cold Harbor with the main body, late at night. Early in the morning that squadron was so burdened with prisoners, mostly of the regular army, (among others, Major Deloizier Davidson, commanding Fourth United States infantry,) that I had to reinforce it. Being sent for by the commanding General at his headquarters, New Cold Harbor, I galloped up, leaving my command prepared for instant service. I received from the commanding General instructions to strike for the York River Railroad at the nearest point, so as to cut the enemy's line of communication with the York, and intercept his retreat. General Ewell's division (infantry) was put in motion for the same object, and Colonel Lee, of the Ninth, with his regiment, preceded him as advance guard, finding, en route, two fine rifle pieces, abandoned by the enemy.

With the main body of my cavalry I pursued a parallel route, and, arriving near Despatch, passed the head of General Ewell's column, and pushing a squadron of Cobb's legion (cavalry) rapidly forward, surprised and routed a squadron of the enemy's cavalry — they leaving, in their hurried departure, the ground strewn with carbines and pistols. They fled in the direction of Bottom's Bridge. I directed the immediate tearing up of the track, and cutting the wire, which was done in a very few minutes, and the result reported to General Ewell and the commanding General. General Ewell decided to await further orders at Despatch. I determined to push boldly down the White House road, resolved to find what force was in that direction, and, if possible, to rout it.

A train of forage wagons, with a few cavalry as escort, was captured before proceeding far, and, farther down, several sutlers' establishments. The prominent points on the road were picketed by cavalry, all of which fled at our approach; and long before the column of cavalry had marched half way to the White House, the flying pickets had heralded the approach of what, no doubt, appeared to their affrighted minds to be the whole army of the valley; and from the valley of the Pamunky a dense cloud of smoke revealed the fact of flight and destruction in the path of a stampeded foe. All accounts agreed that Generals Stoneman and Emory, with a large command of cavalry, infantry, and artillery, had gone in the direction of the White House, where Casey was said to be in command.

I found no resistance until I reached Tunstall's Station. Here I found a vacated field-work, and captured a cavalry flag near it. This work, as well as the evidence of recent encampments along the line of railroad, showed that one of the great results anticipated from my late expedition — the detaching a large force to protect the enemy's line of communication — had been accomplished. At the crossing of Black Creek, near this place, the enemy had a squadron drawn up, on the farther bank, in line of battle, and what appeared to be artillery on a commanding height beyond. He had destroyed the bridge over this difficult stream, whose abrupt banks and miry bed presented a serious obstacle to our progress. The artillery was ordered up to our front, and a few well-directed rounds of shell dispersed the squadron, as well as disclosed, in a scrambling race, an adroitly formed ambuscade of dismounted men on the banks of the stream, and produced no reply from what was supposed to be artillery. A small party of dismounted

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R. S. Ewell (4)
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Weed (1)
Robert O. Tyler (1)
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