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[496] it. It was then determined to attempt a movement to the left, so as to obtain a position on the high ground beyond, which commanded that of the rebel battery, and also opened a prospect of turning the right of the enemy's position. After much necessary delay, and after several reconnoissances had been made, a crossing was discovered over Kettle run: also, a road through the swamp, and a fording-place on Proctor's creek; but darkness coming on, the move was deferred until the morning. The rain continued, and the troops slept on their arms all night in a drenching rain. Headquarters were established on a cross-road off the pike, in the house of a woman, who lost her temper and scolded her negro girl and her children; who objected to doing anything for us, and who pays twenty dollars a year, Confederate money, rent for a house and a small farm; whose husband is in the rebel army, and stationed at Drury's Bluff, and whom the General promised to catch and return to her; who took her ducks, her pigs, her dogs, and her turkey-eggs to bed with her, lest they might “turn up missing” in the morning. The good woman never had seen an army in her immediate vicinity before, and evidently didn't like it. She was somewhat appeased when the General told her he would pay her for everything he took, and also twenty dollars apiece for several chickens “gobbled” by some of the passing troops. She was not so highly gratified when the General added “in Confederate money.”

From information received from prisoners and other sources it was ascertained that a portion of Beauregard's force marched up the pike last night and reached the intrenchment in front of Fort Darling. Had our troops been able to move promptly, as ordered, the capture of a portion of the rebel force would have been certain. While all this manoeuvring was going on, General Kautz with his cavalry slipped off, and ere this must have effected their object. Captain James Shafer of General Butler's staff, who was sent after the cavalry to communicate with them, and return at once and report progress, has not yet been heard from, and it is feared that he has been captured, though some incline to the belief that, finding the country with too many guerrillas around, he prudently decided to remain with General Kautz. A report came to General Butler that torpedoes had been planted on Dr. Howlett's farm, and Major Ludlow of the staff was despatched with several orderlies to hunt them up, with the characteristic instruction from the General, “If you find any, don't fire them, but send for me.” Major L. did not find torpedoes. This propensity of seeing and judging for himself is so strong in General B., that one who was on the Highland Light when the Commodore Jones was blown up, remarked to one of the General's staff also present, “For my sake Major, don't tell the General about the torpedoes, for he will want to take the Grayhound and explore the river himself.”

Captain West of General Smith's staff, with a party of men, went over to James river where a rebel schooner lay, made a raft of logs, went off to the boat, and set her on fire. It was thought that a torpedo was attached to her, and she had been floated down and anchored at that point.

In the fight of Monday last, the three Massachusetts regiments were encountered by General Hazard's brigade, of South Carolina, their regiments being the same numbers, Twenty-three, Twenty-five and Twenty-seven. They were badly whipped, and Captain Leroy Hammond, who was mortally wounded, told one of the surgeons, before his death, “If we had known you were veterans we wouldn't have charged so.” It was like retribution.

Friday dawned with alternate cloud and sunshine. General Butler's staff were early in the saddle, and galloped to the position of yesterday on the left of the pike. The disposition of the troops was at once made and the force put in motion. General Gillmore was to move from the left to the railroad at Chester Junction, thence up the road to turn their flank. General Gibbon's forces occupied the line between General Smith's left and General Ames' right, and to add to the force General Marston's brigade was ordered to cross Kettle run and Proctor's creek, and advance up the line of the railroad. General Turner had also been withdrawn from the right, as the bend in the river narrowed the line, and was transferred to the left of General Brooks' division. A portion of General Gillmore's command made a detour to the left of the railroad, in order to flank the enemy's position, while another portion moved directly up the line of the railroad to feign a direct attack. This movement was successfully accomplished, and the enemy forced to retreat.

Meanwhile skirmishing had commenced on the left of the pike about noon. The enemy were discovered up the pike in position, with two guns, from which they opened on us pretty lively. The wounded were carried to the rear, and everything betokened that the fight had begun in good earnest. Presently the line of skirmishers fell back, and commenced running out of the woods. It was ascertained that the “Rebs” advanced in a very thickly-formed line, and apparently in great force. This was really to cover their weakness, for our men were rallied and went into the wood again, when the enemy retired.

Headquarters General Butler, Half-Way House, Richmond and Petersburg pike, May 14, 1864.
As anticipated, the success of General Gillmore on our left, compelled the evacuation of the first line of works held by the enemy, which they did upon the advance of General Smith this morning, after a brief resistance. This line of works is formidable, and pierced at commanding points for artillery. It extends from beyond the railroad across to the James. Riding out to the right, from the high land on the river we could see the rebel works at Chapin's

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Benjamin F. Butler (4)
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