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[147]

General Hampton's report of the battle of Trevylian's depot and subsequent operations.

[Not only our gallant cavalrymen who rode with Hampton, but all interested in the truth, will thank us for printing the following report, which was not published by the Confederate authorities and is not in the Archive Bureau at Washington.

General Sheridan stated that he drove Hampton from the field and pursued him until he “took refuge behind strong fortifications and heavy infantry supports at Gordonsville” (twelve miles distant from Trevylian's). We knew at the time that there were no fortifications and no infantry at Gordonsville, and that instead of Sheridan's driving Hampton in that direction he was himself driven in just the opposite direction. But the report of the chivalric Hampton settles all of those questions.]

headquarters First division cavalry, July 9th, 1864.
To Lieutenant-Colonel Taylor, Assistant Adjutant-General:
Colonel — Having notified the General-Commanding, on the morning of the 8th June, that Sheridan, with a heavy force of cavalry and artillery, had crossed the Pamunkey, I was ordered to take one division in addition to my own and follow him. Supposing that he would strike at Gordonsville and Charlottesville, I moved rapidly with my division so as to interpose my command between him and the places named above, at the same time directing Major-General Fitz. Lee to follow as speedily as possible. In two days march I accomplished the object I had in view — that of placing myself in front of the enemy — and I camped on the night of the 10th in Green Spring Valley, three miles beyond Trevylian's station on the Central railroad, whilst General Fitz. Lee camped the same night near Louisa Courthouse. Hearing during the night that the enemy had crossed the Northanna at Carpenter's ford, I determined to attack him at daylight. General Lee was ordered to attack on the road leading from Louisa Courthouse to Clayton's store, whilst my division would attack on the road from Trevylian's station to the same point. By this disposition of my troops I hoped to cover Lee's left and my right flank; to drive the enemy back, if he attempted to reach Gordonsville by passing to my left, and to conceal my real design, which was to strike him at Clayton's store after uniting the two divisions. At daylight my division was ready to attack at Trevylian's — Butler's and Young's brigades being held for that purpose, whilst Rosser was sent to cover a road on my [148] left. Soon after these dispositions were made, General Lee sent to inform me that he was moving out to attack. Butler was immediately advanced and soon met the enemy, whom he drove handsomely until he was heavily reinforced and took position behind works. Young's brigade was sent to reinforce Butler and these two brigades pushed the enemy steadily back, and I hoped to effect a junction with Lee's division at Clayton's store in a short time. But whilst we were driving the enemy in front, it was reported to me that a force had appeared in my rear. Upon investigation I found this report correct. The brigade which had been engaging General Lee having withdrawn from his front, passed his left and got into my rear. This forced me to withdraw in front and to take up a new line. This was soon done, and the brigade which had attacked me in rear (Custer's) was severely punished, for I recalled Rosser's brigade, which charged them in front, driving them back against General Lee, who was moving up to Trevylian's, and capturing many prisoners. In this sudden attack on my rear, the enemy captured some of my led horses, a few ambulances and wagons and three caissons. These were all recaptured by General Rosser and General Lee; the latter taking in addition four caissons and the headquarter wagon of Brigadier-General Custer. My new line being established, I directed General Lee to join me with his command as soon as possible. The enemy tried to dislodge me from my new position but failed, and the relative positions of the opposing forces remained the same during the night. The next day at 12 M. General Lee reported to me, and his division was placed so as to support mine in case the enemy attacked. At 3.30 P. M. a heavy attack was made on my left, where Butler's brigade was posted. Being repulsed, the enemy made a succession of determined assaults, which were all handsomely repulsed. In the meantime General Lee had, by my directions, reinforced Butler's left with Wickham's brigade, whilst he took Lomax's brigade across to the Gordonsville road so as to strike the enemy on his right flank. This movement was successful, and the enemy, who had been heavily punished in front, when attacked on his flank, fell back in confusion, leaving his dead and a portion of his wounded on the field. I immediately gave orders to follow him up, but it was daylight before these orders could be carried out, the fight not having ended until 10 P. M. In this interval the enemy had withdrawn entirely, leaving his dead scattered over the whole field, with about 125 wounded on the ground and in temporary hospitals. We captured, [149] in addition to the wounded, in the fight and the pursuit 570 prisoners. My loss in my own division was 59 killed, 258 wounded and 295 missing; total 612. Amongst the former I have to regret the loss of Lieutenant-Colonel McAllister, Seventh Georgia, who behaved with great gallantry, and Captain Russel, of the same regiment, who was acting as Major. In the list of wounded were Brigadier-General Rosser, who received a painful wound in the first day's fight whilst charging the enemy at the head of his brigade, and whose absence from the field was a great loss to me; Colonel Aiken, Sixth South Carolina, who had borne himself with marked good conduct during the fight; Lieutenant-Colonel King, Cobb legion, who was wounded in a charge, and Major Anderson, Seventh Georgia. The enemy in his retreat crossed,the river at Carpenter's ford and kept down on the north bank of the stream. As he had a pontoon train with him, which enabled him to cross the river at any point, I was forced to keep on the south of the rivers so as to interpose my command between him and Grant's army, which he was seeking to rejoin. During several days, whilst we marched on parallel lines, I constantly offered battle, which he studiously declined, and he followed the northern bank of the Mattaponi and the Pamunkey until he gained the shelter of his gunboats on the latter at the White House, where he crossed during the night. Here he met a strong reinforcement with ample supplies, and after resting a day he moved down the river, thence across the country to the Forge bridges, where he crossed the Chickahominy. Chambliss' brigade, which had joined me two days previous, attacked him at this point and drove him some distance. Fearing that he might pass up the James river, through Charles City Courthouse and Westover, I took position that night so as to cover the roads from Long bridge to the latter place. The next morning, the 24th June, he drove in my pickets at Samaria church and advanced beyond Nance's shop. I determined to attack him, and to this end I ordered Brigadier-General Gary, who had joined me that morning, to move from Salem church around to Smith's store and to attack on the flank as soon as the attack in front commenced. General Lee left Lomax to hold the river road and brought Wickham to join in the attack. The necessary arrangements having been made, General Gary advanced from Smith's store and took position near Nance's shop. The enemy had in the meantime thrown up strong works along his whole line and his position was a strong one. As soon as Gary had engaged the enemy, Chambliss was thrown forward, [150] and, by a movement handsomely executed, connected with him, and the two brigades were thrown on the flank of the enemy. At the same moment the whole line, under the immediate command of Major-General Fitz. Lee, charged the works of the enemy, who, after fighting stubbornly for a short time, gave way, leaving his dead and wounded on the field. This advance of our troops was made in the face of a very heavy fire of artillery and musketry and it was most handsomely accomplished. As soon as the enemy gave way I brought up the Phillips and the Jeff. Davis legions, mounted, ordering them to charge. This they did most gallantly, driving the enemy for three miles in confusion. Robbins' battalion and the Twelfth Virginia cavalry were mounted and participated in a part of this charge, in which Lieutenant-Colonel Massie, commanding the latter, was wounded, whilst gallantly leading his men over the works of the enemy. The enemy were completely routed and were pursued to within two and one-half miles of Charles City Courthouse — the pursuit lasting till 10 o'clock at night. We captured 157 prisoners, including one colonel and twelve commissioned officers, and the enemy left their wounded, amounting to quite a large number, scattered over the ground upon which we had fought. My loss was six killed and fifty-nine wounded in my own division. The reports of losses from the other commands have not been sent to me. Sheridan retreated to Wyanoke Neck in order to cross the James river under protection of the gunboats, and I, in accordance with instructions from the General-Commanding, moved on the 26th June to the Pontoon bridge, with a view to cross and join the army on the south side of the James river. This closed my operations, which had for their object the defeat of Sheridan's movement in our rear.

The recent publications of the enemy, together with some of their orders which have been captured, show that Sheridan's object was to destroy Gordonsville and Charlottesville, with the railroad near those places; to unite with Hunter in his attack on Lynchburg, and, after the capture of that place, to move their joint forces to the White House on the Pamunkey, from which point they could join Grant or threaten Richmond. Sheridan was defeated at Trevylian's; was punished in the skirmishes at the White House and Forge bridges, and was routed at Samaria church. We captured 852 prisoners, whilst his loss in killed and wounded was very heavy. I beg to express my entire satisfaction at the conduct of officers and men in my command. Major-General Fitz. Lee co-operated [151] with me heartily and rendered valuable assistance. Brigadier-General Butler, who commanded my division a part of the time, General Rosser and Colonel Wright, in my own command, all discharged their duties admirably. The same may be said of Colonel Dulaney, who succeeded to the command of Rosser's brigade after General Rosser was wounded.

Brigadier-General Chambliss with his brigade rendered most efficient service, as did Brigadier-General Gary, both of these commands contributing largely to the success at Samaria church. The subordinate officers have sustained their superiors well, and the men could not have behaved better than they did. The artillery, under Major Chew, was admirably handled and did good service. I am under obligations to my staff for the very able assistance they gave me, and I take pleasure in expressing not only my obligations but my thanks to them. When the General-Commanding takes into consideration the disparity in numbers of the troops engaged, the many disadvantages under which my men labored, their hard marches, their want of supplies, their numerous privations, and the cheerfulness with which these were borne, he will, I trust, be satisfied with the results accomplished.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully,

Wade Hampton, Major-General.

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