A graphic story of the battle of May 5, 1862,
Related by Salem Dutcher and endorsed by General Longstreet— the truth of history. [from the Augusta (Ga.) Chronicle. ]
May 20, 1890.Editors Chronicle: The truth of history can only be made manifest by participants in its events giving in their experience before time removes them from the scene of action. The enclosed sketch (which it is hoped you will kindly publish) has been written to correct some misapprehensions about the battle of Williamsburg, Virginia, which was fought on May 5, 1862, and opened the stirring campaign of that year. To insure accuracy, it has been submitted to General Longstreet, the Confederate commander, and the response of that distinguished officer, by his permission, accompanies the sketch. Accompanying, also, is the statement of Colonel Mitchell, who was in the action as Captain Company A, Eleventh Virginia infantry, A. P. Hill's brigade, Longstreet's division. Colonel Mitchell has a contemporaneous history of the operations of his regiment in this and other actions, and on recovery of the document, now mislaid, it is understood will give some further account of this particular engagement. As no Georgia troops were engaged—though the Tenth Georgia (Colonel Phinizy's regiment) was in the stiff skirmish of the evening before, and on the 5th the Fifth North Carolina, our gallant friend, Captain Edge Eve's original command before he ‘jined the cavalry,’ suffered severely—it is particularly desirable the real facts should be known in this State.
Williamsburg, is received, and both have been carefully read and considered. Your account is a graphic illustration of the affair on our right, where the battle was really made; is as clear as any account of details of that battle that I have read, and, I am pleased to say, is perfectly fair. Early's attack against Hancock was counter to my advice, and was made after the battle was over. At best it was only the repulse of a single brigade, in which the successful party failed to pursue or venture out of his stronghold, while on our right we not only drove back the attacking parties, but took a portion of their artillery and pursued the retiring troops as far as was consistent with our orders as rear guard. With high respect, Your obedient servant,
battle of Williamsburg agrees substantially with your statement. It was certainly not a drawn battle, as we took the enemy's position and his guns and remained on the field, not leaving Williamsburg until the next morning. The loss in A. P. Hill's brigade was great, particularly in killed—the fatal casualties being in unusually large proportion. About half of Company A, Eleventh Virginia Regiment, were killed and wounded, and the regiment took two of the enemy's cannon to the right of the felled timber. Yours truly,
The battle of May 5th.
Editors Chronicle: In commenting in a recent issue of your paper on some inaccuracies in Barnes' History of the United States, Professor Derry instances his statement that Williamsburg was a Union victory. The Professor says this is erroneous, it being, in reality, a drawn battle.  Permit me to say that the exact truth of the matter is that the battle of Williamsburg was a Confederate success. The occasion of the battle was this: The Confederate army was on its march from Yorktown to its chosen field of battle near Richmond. McClellan, at the head of a powerful army, was in hot pursuit. He had one hundred and fifteen regiments of infantry, a strong force of cavalry, and some two hundred and fifty guns. Between the two at Williamsburg, the ancient colonial capital of Virginia, lay Longstreet's division, stretched across the road, with orders to keep back the Federal advance until the Confederate army had made good a day's march. This duty the division fully performed. Hooker's division, Kearney's division, and parts of Smith's, Couch's, and Casey's divisions were in turn hurled against that line of fire, but all alike in vain. Not one single Federal soldier in arms ever crossed that line until after daylight next morning, when Longstreet's division, having performed the duty assigned it, was well on its way to rejoin the main body.