advantage to be gained by taking possession, with artillery, of Evelington's Heights, a plateau commanding completely the enemy's encampment. I forwarded this report at once to the commanding General, through General Jackson, and proceeded at once to the ground with my command, except one regiment of the Ninth Virginia cavalry, Colonel W. H. F. Lee, which was ordered down the road, by Nance's shop, and thence across toward Charles City Court-House, so as to extend my left, and keep a lookout toward Forge Bridge, by which I was liable to be attacked in flank and rear by Stoneman, should he endeavor to form a junction with McClellan. I found Evelington's Heights easily gained. A squadron in possession vacated without much hesitation, retreating up the road, the only road by which it could reach Westover, owing to the impassability of Herring's Creek below Roland's Mill. Colonel Martin was sent around farther to the left, and the howitzer brought into action in the River road, to fire upon the enemy's camp below. Judging from the great commotion and excitement caused below, it must have had considerable effect. We soon had prisoners from various corps and divisions, and from their statements, as well as those of citizens, I learned that the enemy's main body was there; but much reduced and demoralized. I kept the commanding General apprised of my movements, and I soon learned from him that Longstreet and Jackson were en route to my support. I held the ground from about nine A. M. until two P. M., when the enemy had contrived to get one battery into position on this side the creek. The fire was, however, kept up until a body of infantry was found approaching by our right flank. I had no apprehension, however, as I was sure Longstreet was near by, and although Pelham reported but two rounds of ammunition left, I held out, knowing how important it was to hold the ground until Longstreet arrived. The enemy's infantry advanced, and the battery kept up its fire. I just then learned that Longstreet had taken the wrong road, and was then at Nance's shop, six or seven miles off. Pelham fired his last round, and the sharpshooters, strongly posted in the skirt of the woods bordering the plateau, exhausted every cartridge, but had at last to retire; not, however, without teaching many a foeman the bitter lesson of death. My command had been so cut off from sources of supply, and so constantly engaged with the enemy, that the abundant supply which it began with on the twenty-sixth of June was entirely exhausted. I kept pickets at Bradley's store that night, and remained with my command on the west side of the creek, near Phillips's farm. General Longstreet came up late in the evening: he had been led by his guide out of his proper route. The next day, July fourth, General Jackson's command drove in the enemy's advance pickets. I pointed out the position of the enemy, now occupying, apparently in force, the plateau from which I shelled their camp the day before, and showed him the routes by which the plateau could be reached to the left, and submitted my plan for dispossessing the enemy and attacking his camps. This was subsequently laid before the commanding General. The enemy's position had been well reconnoitred by Blackford, of the engineers, the day before, from a close view, and further on this day (July fourth) demonstrating that his position was strong, difficult to reach, except with rifle cannon, and completely flanked by gunboats, all of which were powerful arguments, and no doubt had their due weight with the commanding General against renewing an attack, thus far of unbroken successes, against a stronghold, where the enemy had been reenforced beyond a doubt. The operations of my own command extended farther to the left, except one regiment, Cobb's legion cavalry, which was directed to follow up the enemy's rear on the River road, and the First North Carolina cavalry, which remained in reserve, near Phillips's farm. The remainder of the fourth and fifth July were spent in reconnoitring and watching the river. On the morning of the fifth, Colonel S. D. Lee, of the artillery, reported to me with a battery of rifle guns, (Squiers's Washington artillery,) to which I added Pelham's Blakely, which had just returned from Richmond, for attacking transportation on the river below the Federal forces. The point selected was Wilcox's Landing, which was reached after dark. The only transport which passed during the night was fired into with distant damage, but she kept on. On the sixth, the battery was augmented by two rifle pieces of Rogers's battery, and proceeded to Wayne's Oak, lower down the river. During that night and next day, (seventh,) the batteries commanded the river, seriously damaging several transports, and compelling the crews from two to take to their small boats for the opposite shore, leaving one transport sinking. The batteries were subject to incessant fire from the gunboats, which invariably convoyed the transports; but Colonel Lee, whose report is very interesting, says no damage was done to the batteries, demonstrating, as was done at the White House, that gunboats are not so dangerous as is generally supposed. On the afternoon of the seventh, the batteries returned to their camps, the men being much exhausted from loss of rest and continuous exertion. During the sixth, seventh, and eighth, the enemy persistently annoyed our pickets on the River road below Westover, and, with all arms of service, tried to compel us to retire from that position. Colonel Rosser, commanding Fifth Virginia cavalry, was present in charge of the post, and inspired his men with such determined resistance, arranging them so as to resist to the best advantage, that the enemy failed in the effort, within three quarters of a mile of his main body, and in his rear. At sundown on the eighth, it being decided to withdraw our forces from before the enemy's position, the cavalry covered the withdrawal of the
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.