men, under the daring Captain Farley, soon gained the farther bank and scoured the woods, while the ever ready and indefatigable Blackford set to work to repair the crossing. It was dark, however, before it could be finished, and we slept on our arms until morning, finding ample corn for our jaded horses at Tunstall's Station. The conflagration raged fearfully at the White House during the entire night, while explosions of shell rent the air. I was informed that five thousand men held the place. Early the next morning, I moved cautiously down, catching the scatttered fugitives of the day before as we advanced, till, coming in plain view of the White House, at a distance of a quarter of a mile, a large gunboat was discovered lying at the landing. I took the precaution to leave the main body about two miles behind, and proceeded to the point with a small party and one piece of artillery. Colonel W. H. F. Lee, the proprietor of this once beautiful estate, now in ashes and desolation, described the ground, and pointed out all the localities to me, so that I was convinced that a few bold sharpshooters could compel the gunboat to leave. I accordingly ordered down about seventy-five, partly of the First Virginia cavalry, (Litchfield's company D,) and partly Jeff Davis legion and Fourth Virginia cavalry. They were deployed in pairs, with intervals of forty paces, and armed with rifle carbines. They advanced on this monster,--so terrible to our fancy,--and a body of sharpshooters were sent ashore from the boat to meet them. Quite a determined engagement of skirmishers ensued; but our gallant men never faltered in their determination to expose this Yankee bugaboo, called gunboat. To save time, however, I ordered up the howitzer — a few shells from which, fired with great accuracy, and bursting directly over her decks, caused an instantaneous withdrawal of the sharpshooters, and a precipitate flight, under headway of steam, down the river. The howitzer gave chase at a gallop — the more to cause the apprehension of being cut off below, than of really effecting anything. The gunboat never returned. The command was now entirely out of rations, and the horses without forage; and I had relied on the enemy at the White House to supply me with these essentials. I was not disappointed, in spite of their efforts to destroy everything. Provisions and delicacies of every description lay in heaps, and the men regaled themselves on the fruits of the tropics, as well as the substantials of the land. Large quantities of forage were left also. An opportunity was here offered for observing the deceitfulness of the enemy's pretended reverence for everything associated with the name of Washington; for the dwelling-house was burned to the ground, and not a vestige left, except what told of desolation and vandalism. Nine large barges, loaded with stores, were on fire as we approached; immense numbers of tents, wagons, and cars, in long trains, loaded, and five locomotives; a number of forges; quantities of every species of quartermasters' stores and property, making a total of many millions of dollars — all more or less destroyed. During the morning I received a note from the commanding General directing me to watch closely any movement of the enemy in my direction, and to communicate what my impressions were in regard to his designs. I replied that there was no evidence of a retreat of the main body down the Williamsburg road, and that I had no doubt that the enemy, since his defeat, was endeavoring to reach the James, as a new base, being compelled to surrender his connection with the York. If the Federal people can be convinced that this was a part of McClellan's plan — that it was in his original design for Jackson to turn his right flank, and our Generals to force him from his strongholds — they certainly can never forgive him for the millions of public treasure that his superb strategy cost the nation. He had no alternative left, and possessed with the information that his retreat was not progressing toward the York, the commanding General knew as well as McClellan himself that he must seek the only outlet left. It took the remainder of Sunday to ration my command, and complete the destruction of some property I was apprehensive the enemy might return and remove; but I sent, that day, a regiment, First Virginia cavalry, Colonel Fitzhugh Lee, across to observe the enemy's movements from Bottom's Bridge to Forge Bridge. On Monday, I moved my whole command in the same direction, except one squadron, Cobb's legion, which was left at the White House. Colonel Lee, First Virginia cavalry, was stationed near Long Bridge, and the remainder near Forge Bridge. The former reported the enemy's pickets visible on the other side, and at the latter place I observed a regiment of infantry and two pieces of artillery. The Napoleon was left with Colonel Lee, but it was disabled at the first shot, the trail breaking. The Blakely being disabled at Cold Harbor, left me with only a twelve-pounder howitzer, (one section being present.) Captain Pelham engaged the enemy across the Chickahominy with these, and after a spirited duel against one rifle piece and one howitzer, the enemy was driven from his position, with the loss of two men and two horses killed, we escaping unhurt. The infantry abandoned their knapsacks in their hurry to depart. I tried in vain to ascertain by scouts the enemy's force beyond, and it being now nearly dark, we bivouacked again. During the entire day, Colonel Lee, of the First, as also the main body, captured many prisoners; but none seemed to know anything of the operations of the army. One was a topographical engineer. At half past 3 A. M. the next morning, I received a despatch from Colonel Chilton, the hour of his writing being omitted, stating that the enemy had been headed off at the intersection of the Long Bridge and Charles City roads, and that his destination seemed, for the present, fixed, and expressing the commanding General's
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Foreign accounts of the fight.
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