seen to have been entirely deserted. The ground was covered with his dead and wounded, and his route exhibited evidence of a precipitate retreat. To the fatigue of hard marches and successive battles, enough to have disqualified our troops for rapid pursuit, was added the discomfort of being thoroughly wet and chilled by rain. I sent out to the neighboring houses to buy, if it could be had at any price, enough whiskey to give to each of the men a single gill, but it could not be found. The foe had silently withdrawn in the night by a route which had been unknown to us, but which was the most direct road to Harrison's Landing, and he had so many hours the start, that, among the general officers who expressed to me their opinion, there was but one who thought it was possible to pursue effectively. That was General T. J. Jackson, who quietly said, ‘They have not all got away if we go immediately after them.’ During the pursuit, just described, the cavalry of our army had been absent, having been detached on a service which was reported as follows: After seizing the York River Railroad, on June 28th, and driving the enemy across the Chickahominy, the force under General Stuart proceeded down the railroad to ascertain if there was any movement of the enemy in that direction. He encountered but little opposition, and reached the vicinity of the White House on the 29th. On his approach the enemy destroyed the greater part of the immense stores accumulated at that depot, and retreated toward Fortress Monroe. With one gun and some dismounted men General Stuart drove off a gunboat which lay near the White House, and rescued a large amount of property, including more than ten thousand stand of small arms, partially burned. General Stuart describes his march down the enemy's line of communication with the York River as one in which he was but feebly resisted. He says:
We advanced until, coming in view of the White House (a former plantation residence of General George Washington), at a distance of a quarter of a mile, a large gunboat was discovered lying at the landing. . . . 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 and Fourth Virginia Cavalry, and partly of the Jeff Davis Legion, armed with the rifled carbines. They advanced on this monster so terrible to our fancy, and a body of sharpshooters was sent ashore from the boat to meet them. . . . To save time 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 precipitous flight under headway of steam down the river. . . . 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, not a vestige left except what told of desolation and vandalism.