- United States Army -- California and Texas Confederate States Army -- Virginia, Yorktown, Eltham's Landing, seven Pines or Fair Oaks.
I received at the age of seventeen an appointment as Cadet at West Point through my maternal uncle, Judge French, who was then in Congress. I fancied a military life, although it was not my father's choice. He occupied a high position in the medical world, and preferred I should adopt his profession; he offered me every inducement-even the privilege of completing my studies in Europe. I, nevertheless, adhered to my decision. Doubtless I had inherited this predilection from my grandfathers, who were soldiers under Washington. They were of English origin; had settled at an early period in Virginia, and after taking an active part in the War of Independence, emigrated to Kentucky, “the dark and bloody ground,” where they lived in constant warfare with the Indians. One of them was married in the Fort of Boonsboroa,the first fortification constructed in that State, the land of my nativity. I entered the Military Academy in 1849, and graduated in the Class of Sheridan, McPherson and Schofield, in 1853, when I was appointed Brevet Second Lieutenant in the Fourth  Infantry. I sailed from New York in November of that year to join my regiment in California, via Panama. On my arrival at San Francisco-at that time a small city built upon sandhills and flats, and distinguished for its foggy atmosphereI, together with one of my classmates, deemed it but proper that officers of the United States Army should go to the hotel in a carriage; but to our astonishment, on hailing a driver, we found the charge to be twenty dollars in gold. This aspect of affairs-our pay being only about sixty dollars a monthcompelled us to hold consultation with our brother officers and to adopt the only alternative: to proceed on foot to whatever quarters we desired to occupy. After having been stationed a short period at Benicia Barracks, I was directed to report for duty to Captain Judah at Fort Jones, Scott's Valley, in the northern portion of California. Colonel Buchanan was in command of my regiment, with Captain U. S. Grant as Quarter Master. It was at this post I formed a warm attachment to Lieutenant George Crook, now Brigadier General in the Army, and who has so signally distinguished himself as an Indian fighter. Although he completed his course at West Point a year before I graduated, his purse was not much longer than my own; it became therefore necessary for us to devise some plan to get along in this country of gold and extravagance. We concluded to associate ourselves with Doctor Sorrell and Lieutenant Bonnycastle in the organization of a mess, and, as we were fond of hunting and game was plentiful, to supply our own table with every variety thereof and to send the surplus to market for sale. This financial policy worked admirably, and since I had at the age of fifteen, during the absence of my father in Philadelphia, taken charge of his farm for one year with considerable success, Crook and I were led to secure land and sow a large crop of wheat. Just before the harvest, however, I was ordered in command of a detachment of Dragoons to serve as escort to Lieutenant Williamson of the Topographical Engineers, upon a surveying expedition in the direction of Salt  Lake. My duties were soon brought to a close by the receipt of an appointment as Second Lieutenant in the Second Cavalry, a new regiment organized in accord with an Act of Congress, in 1855, and commanded by Colonel Albert Sidney Johnston, with R. E. Lee as Lieutenant Colonel, George H. Thomas and W. J. Hardee as Majors. Lieutenant Philip Sheridan relieved me, and I returned to San Francisco en route to Jefferson Barracks, Missouri, the rendezvous of the regiment. At the former place I met, for the first time, in his bank, W. T. Sherman, who possessed as at present the same piercing eye and nervous impulsive temperament. Little indeed did I anticipate at that period the great theatre of life upon which I was destined so soon to be thrown as an humble actor with him and others just mentioned, and who have since become so distinguished and prominent as American soldiers. In the early Autumn of 1855 I sailed from San Francisco for New York, via Panama, and reported for duty at Jefferson Barracks, Missouri. Soon thereafter, if my memory betray me not, I received a draft for about one thousand dollars in gold, as my share of the profit in the wheat crop cared for by Lieutenant Crook and myself. In November I marched with my regiment to Fort Belknap, Texas, which place we reached about the middle of December. Shortly afterward, Camp Cooper was established on the Clear Fork of the Brazos. Major George H. Thomas was placed in command till the arrival of Lieutenant Colonel R. E. Lee, to whom I had become very much attached at West Point where he was Superintendent whilst I was a Cadet. My relations and duties were therefore most pleasant during my service at Camp Cooper. The Government had under advisement, at this period, the construction of a fort in that vicinity; it was Colonel Lee's custom to often ride over the country in search of a suitable location, and to request each day one or more of his officers to accompany him, in order to avail himself of their views in regard to the best point at which to establish this military post. Whilst riding with him upon one of these excursions, and enjoying  the scenery and balmy air as we passed over the high and undulating prairies of that beautiful region, the conversation turned upon matrimony, when he said to me with all the earnestness of a parent: “Never marry unless you can do so into a family which will enable your children to feel proud of both sides of the house.” He perhaps thought I might form an attachment for some of the country lasses, and therefore imparted to me his correct and at the same time aristocratic views in regard to this very important step in life. His uniform kindness to me whilst I was a Cadet, inclined me the more willingly to receive and remember this fatherly advice; and from these early relations first sprang my affection and veneration which grew in strength to the end of his eventful career. The latter part of that same year I was ordered to Fort Mason, situated near the Llano river, about forty miles distant from Fredericksburg. Colonel Albert Sidney Johnston was chief in command until sent to Utah. Although stationed with him but a short time, I became deeply impressed by the exalted character of this extraordinary man. Major George H. Thomas succeeded in authority; it was during my service as his Acting Adjutant that he specially won my high regard by his manliness and dignity. After the lapse of several months, and having grown weary of the routine duties of camp life, I determined to change the scene and start on a scouting expedition in search of the red men of the forests. Preparations were accordingly made, and I left Fort Mason on the morning of the 5th of July, 1857, in command of twenty-five men of Company “G” Second Cavalry, with an Indian guide, compass in hand and supplies for thirty days. I passed out upon the plains by the head of the Llano river, and marched thence to the country bordering on the Concha rivers. After an absence of ten days and an exploration of these different streams, I discovered an Indian trail, apparently about two or three days old, and indications warranting the belief that fifteen or twenty ponies belonged to the party  which was moving in the direction of Mexico, via the head waters of Devil's river. I was young and buoyant in spirit; my men were well mounted and all eager for a chase as well as a fray. It was soon apparent that we would be forced to pass over a portion of the staked plains or desert lying between the Concha rivers and Mexico; that in order to overtake the Indians we would most likely have great fatigue and privation to endure, as we could expect to find but little water during the pursuit. However, in the conviction that we could live for a short time wherever Indians could subsist, we began the chase on the morning of the 17th of July, marched about forty miles, and camped that night upon the dry plains without water or the sight of game, so frequently in view the previous day, and without even the chirp of a bird to cheer us on our journey, we knew not exactly whither. At early dawn the following morning the march was resumed; we passed during the day a water-hole utterly unfit for use, and went into bivouac that night with the same surroundings, fully fifty miles further out in the desert. Our canteens were now empty, and the outlook was somewhat dismal. At daybreak on the 19th, “to horse” was sounded and the journey continued. About noon a deer was seen bounding over the prairie, and with the sight went forth a shout of joy from the men, who then felt confident that fresh water was not very far distant. The trail had moreover become much more distinct; this encouragement, together with the hope of quenching their thirst, reinspirited the soldiers. A few hours later another pool was reached, but not of that purity which was desirable. The odor of the water was such as to oblige one to hold his breath whilst he partook of the distasteful but refreshing draught. The canteens were, notwithstanding, again filled, as well as the sleeves of all the waterproof coats we possessed. The pursuit was continued, and at dark we bivouacked after a forced march of probably sixty miles. Several of the horses began to show, by this time, great fatigue and leg-weariness. The following morning the  lofty peaks of the mountains near Devil's river could be seen afar off, and all possible speed was made as we recognized that the line between the United States and Mexico was not far distant. About noon we reached another stagnant water-hole near the foot of a range of hills in proximity to the rugged and mountainous country about the head waters of Devil's river, along the banks of which stream passes the stage road from San Antonio to El Paso. Here we discovered that another party of Indians had joined that of which we were in pursuit. The deserted camp indicated that there were not less than fifty warriors in number. They had eaten one of their mules or horses, and this sign, together with others about their bivouac, bore clear evidence that the party had become formidable. The trail from this point was not only much larger, but presented a fresher appearance. The arms of the men were therefore carefully inspected, every preparation made for action, and the chase quickly resumed. The horses were much fatigued, and some of them were scarcely able to keep their places in the line of march; consequently the pursuit was not as rapid as it had been the three days previous. The march over the hills and up the mountains increased moreover their legweariness to such extent that about 3 p. m. I abandoned all hope of overtaking the Indians before they crossed the Rio Grande, which river was then not far distant. This condition of the horses and the thirst of the soldiers led me to the determination to quit the trail and go immediately in search of fresh water. We were at this time well up on the high and rough range of mountains bordering on Devil's river, and after leaving the trail a distance of nigh one mile, I perceived on a parallel range about two miles off a few Indians waving a large white flag apparently hoisted from a mound. Orders from Washington had been issued before I left Fort Mason, notifying all United States troops that a party of Tonkaways were expected at the reservation, near Camp Cooper, and that they would, in the event of meeting a body of our soldiers upon the frontier, raise a white flag, upon which signal they were to be  allowed to pass unmolested. I therefore became convinced that these Indians were either the Tonkaways or a hostile body endeavoring by an infamous ruse to throw me off my guard, to entrap and massacre my entire party. Notwithstanding the condition of the men and the horses, I determined to pass over upon the ridge occupied by the red men, move toward them, and ascertain the meaning of this demonstration. I had at this time but seventeen men for action, the remainder having halted in rear, owing to the inability of their horses to advance further without rest. I moved across to the opposite ridge and, as a precautionary measure, formed line and marched forward in readiness to talk or fight. Every man was armed with an Army rifle and a six-shooter; a few of us had sabres and two revolvers, whilst I was armed with a double barrel shot-gun loaded with buck shot, and two Navy six-shooters. As we passed over a mound about one hundred and fifty or two hundred yards distant from the one occupied by friend or foe-we knew not which — the flag, seemingly a sheet, was still waving aloft and a few Indians were lounging about with every appearance of a party desirous of peace. The ground in that vicinity was rough and partially covered with a growth of Spanish bayonets which afforded a secure place of concealment. Feeling that in the event of an attack I had better chances of success mounted than dismounted, for the reason that my fighting force in the latter instance would have been lessened by the number of men required to hold and guard the horses in rear, and sharing the belief which generally prevailed in my regiment that twenty well-armed soldiers should be able to successfully engage four times their number of Indians, I continued to move forward slowly upon the immediate right of my line. When we were within about twenty or thirty paces of the mound occupied by the Indians, four or five of them advanced towards us with the flag; suddenly they threw it to the ground and fired upon us. Simultaneously from a large heap of dry grass, weeds and leaves,  burst forth, in our immediate front, a blaze of fire some thirty feet in height, and, with a furious yell, the warriors instantly rose up round about us, whilst others charged down the slope in our midst, even seizing some of our horses by the bridle reins. At the same moment a mounted party attacked the left of our line with lances. Thus began a most desperate struggle. The warriors were all painted, stripped to the waist, with. either horns or wreaths of feathers upon their heads; they bore shields for defence, and were armed with rifles, bows and arrows. The quick and sharp report of our rifles, the smoke and cracking noise of the fire, together with the great odds against us, the shouts of the soldiers and the yells of the Indians, betokened the deadly peril from which seemingly naught but a miracle could effect our deliverance. Each man, after discharging his rifle, drew his revolver and used it with terrible effect as the warriors, in many instances, were within a few feet of the muzzle of our arms. Stubbornly did my brave men hold their ground; again and again they drove the enemy back to the edge and in rear of the burning mass of weeds in our front, when finally the Indians charged desperately and forced our line back a few paces in the centre. Having discharged my shot-gun, I rode at once with revolver in hand to that point, rallied the soldiers, who again drove them back, whilst our horses, in some instances, were beaten over the head with shields. The contest was at such close quarters that a warrior bore off a rifle which had been used and hung by one of the men upon his saddle. Meantime the Indians as quickly as they discharged their arms, handed them to their squaws, who ran to the rear, reloaded and returned them. At this juncture I was pierced in the left hand with an arrow which passed through the reins and the fourth finger, pinning my hand to the bridle. I instantly broke the spear head and threw it aside. Unmindful of the fact that the feathers could not pass through the wound, I pulled the arrow in the direction in which it had been shot, and was compelled finally in order to free myself of it to seize the feathered in lieu of the barbed end.  Thus raged this hand to hand conflict until all our shots were expended, and it was found that owing to the restiveness of the horses we could not reload while mounted. We then fell back about fifty yards and dismounted for that purpose. Soon afterward arose from beyond the burning heap one continuous mourning howl, such as can alone come forth from the heart of the red man in deep distress. These sounds of sorrow revealed to me that we were in little danger of a renewal of the assault, and I was, I may in truth say, most thankful for the truce thus proclaimed. Two of our men had been killed and four, besides myself, severely wounded; we had also one horse killed and several disabled. Had the combat been renewed I would have had, after leaving a guard with the horses, but five or six men to fight on foot. Nightfall was approaching; the Indians gathered up their dead and wounded, and moved off toward the Rio Grande. Our thirst, which was great at the beginning of the combat, had now become intense from excitement and loss of blood. I therefore moved at once to Devil's river, where we bivouacked about 10 p. m., and sent a messenger to Camp Hudson for supplies and medical aid. Thus closed this terrible scene, and often since have I felt most grateful that our horses were so broken down, as but for their condition they would, doubtless, when beaten over the lead with shields, have become totally unmanageable, and have caused the massacre of my entire command. I attribute also our escape to the fact that the Indians did not have the self-possession to cut our bridle reins, which act would have proved fatal to us. We were nigh meeting a similar fate to that of the gallant Custer and his noble band. I learned after the fight, through other Indians as well as through my guide, that the party which attacked us were Comanches and Lipans. The exact number of their killed we were unable to ascertain, owing chiefly to the cover afforded by the Spanish bayonets, but we were confident at the hour  that it amounted to not less than nine or ten; we were equally certain that four to one were engaged against us. Lieutenant Fink came up the following day with a detachment of Infantry. Our troops returned to the scene of action and buried the dead, as I had neither pick nor shovel at the time of the encounter. Moreover I could not have delayed thereafter for any purpose, on account of the extreme suffering of the men for want of water. After a respite of a few days I marched to Fort Clark and there made a brief report of the affair, which is now, I presume, on file in Washington. General David E. Twiggs, commanding the Department, shortly afterwards published the following order:
I also afterwards learned through the Indian Agent that the Indians at the Reservation stated my command had killed nineteen warriors during the fight, and that General Twiggs's estimate was about correct in regard to numbers. The comparatively small loss we sustained is strong evidence that our shots proved most destructive, and that the Indians labored  under an intense excitement which caused them generally to miss their mark. The fact that we were mounted and above their level seems to have rendered their aim very imperfect, as shown by the circumstance that one of my wounded men whose horse had been killed, was pierced in the back with three additional arrows (one of which passed through his lung), as he was making his way to the rear of the line. Early in August I returned to Fort Mason, where not long afterwards I was promoted to the rank of First Lieutenant, assigned to Company “K,” and placed on duty at Camp Colorado, on the upper waters of the river of that name. In 1858 I re-established Camp Wood, on the Nueces river, about forty miles distant from its source, and at this post my company continued in the performance of the ordinary duties of soldiers upon the frontier till the declaration of war in 1861. In November, 1860, I was granted a leave of absence for six months, and on my arrival at Indianola I received an order directing me to report for duty as Chief of Cavalry at West Point. I immediately proceeded to Washington, and made application in person to Colonel S. Cooper, Adjutant General, to be relieved from the order and allowed to avail myself of the leave of absence already granted. I shall ever remember the astonishment of this old and most worthy soldier at my unwillingness to go to West Point. He turned quickly in his chair, saying: “Lieutenant, you surprise me; this is a post and position sought by almost every soldier.” I replied it was true, but I feared war would soon be declared between the States, in which event I preferred to be in a situation to act with entire freedom. He acceded to my request; before the expiration of my leave of absence hostilities were inaugurated, and my resignation was tendered to the United States Government. Shortly before the secession of the Southern States I returned to Camp Wood, and, although still on leave, accompanied my regiment to Indianola, where I bid my comrades a reluctant farewell. Kentucky being the land of my nativity, I  deemed it right I should first tender my services for her defence. Accordingly I went to Louisville in the early Spring of 1861, and subsequently to Frankfort. I met the Governor, Mr. Breckinridge and other prominent men of that Commonwealth; but after long debate and considerable delay, I became convinced that no decided action would be taken. I repaired at the latter part of April to Montgomery, Alabama, offered my services to the Confederate Government, was appointed First Lieutenant in the Army and ordered to Richmond to report to Colonel R. E. Lee, who had very recently assumed command of all the troops in Virginia by authority of the Governor of that State. During my long service in Texas I had had occasion to visit almost ever portion of that extensive and beautiful territory, and was able to form an idea of the future prosperity of that State. So deeply impressed had I become with its vast and undeveloped resources that I had, just prior to the war determined to resign and make it my home for life. Therefore when Kentucky failed to act, I entered the Confederate service from the State of Texas, which thenceforth became my adopted land. I arrived in Richmond about the 5th of May, sent my luggage to the hotel, and proceeded without delay to the office of Colonel Lee who had, I was informed, been recently promoted to the rank of Major General. He extended me a most cordial greeting, and, taking me by the hand, said: “I am glad to see you. I want you to help me.” I replied that I came to Richmond with that object, and inquired what duties he desired me to perform. He answered: “I wish you to go to Yorktown and report to Colonel Magruder.” I naturally asked at what time he desired me to leave. He turned his head, looked at the clock, and, with a smile, said he would like me to go before I dined. It was then about 11 a. m., and I well knew he meant early dinner. I went immediately to the Ballard House, ordered my trunk to the station, and left for Yorktown. On the train I could but contrast the surroundings of General Lee, as I had just  beheld him, with the quiet and peaceful scenes we had passed through together but a year or two before upon the frontier of Texas. His office was in the third or fourth story of, I think, the Mechanics' Institute; and he had around him, it seemed to me, every cobbler in Richmond, giving them instructions as to the manner of making cartridge boxes, haversacks, bayonet scabbards, &c. He was studiously applying his great mind to this apparently trivial but most important work. The Confederacy was destitute of such equipments at that hour, and it may be safely asserted that his labor in this regard and in the organization of our troops was the source, in a great measure, of the success of our arms in the engagements which soon followed. I arrived at Yorktown that afternoon about an hour before sunset, and reported to Colonel Magruder, whom, if I remember correctly, I found out upon the line of works around the town. He forthwith placed me in command of several batteries then in position. Upon my right and left, almost as far as the eye could extend, were infantry regiments in line of battle, and, in their front, officers delivering stirring and warlike appeals to the men. As no tent or quarters had been assigned me, I sent for my trunk and sat upon it in the sand a greater portion of the night, gazing intently every few minutes in the direction of Fortress Monroe, in the expectation momentarily of beholding the enemy. The following morning it was ascertained that the Federals were not within thirty miles of this line bristling with bayonets. The excitement therefore soon subsided, and the soldiers returned to their respective bivouacs. Such was my first night of service in the Confederate Army. Colonel Magruder assigned me to the command of the cavalry companies then at Yorktown, and directed me to drill and discipline them, and at the same time picket his front. These troops were from Virginia and as fine a body of men as that State sent to the war. I was only a First Lieutenant, and the companies were of course under the direction of  captains; a question eventually arose in respect to rank, and Magruder, unwilling to await action at Richmond, declared me Captain by his own order. Subsequently discussion arose touching the date of commissions of the Captains, and he at once, by the same process, declared me, Major. This settled all matters pertaining to authority, and I continued on outpost service, covering the front of Magruder's forces. Soon after the affair at Big Bethel, it became the custom of the enemy to send out every few days scouting parties of infantry in the direction of our position at Yorktown. I determined to go at night into the swamp lying between the James and York River roads, remain quietly under cover, and, upon the advance of such a party, to move out upon its rear, and capture it if possible. In accordance with this plan, I concealed my troops in the swamp several nights, when finally a battalion of infantry came forth upon the James River road. I moved out in the rear of the Federals, overtook and attacked them upon the same spot where Colonel Dreux, of Louisiana, had been killed. Our assault in rear produced great consternation, and the enemy ran in all directions through the woods. However, we killed several of their number, and captured some ten or fifteen prisoners whom we sent to Yorktown, where the infantry climbed to the house and tree tops to see the first “boys in blue” I presume many of them had ever beheld. Through orders from Richmond, these cavalry companies were then organized into a regiment. Colonel Robert Johnson was placed in command, and I was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. In this position I served until, I think, in July, when I was summoned to Richmond, appointed Colonel, and directed to organize the Fourth Texas Infantry Regiment from the detached companies which had recently arrived from that State, and were at the time in camp near that city. I remained there drilling this splendid body of young men and educating them in the duties of soldiers till September, when we were ordered to join the rightof General  Joseph E. Johnston's Army at Dumfries. Honorable L. I. Wigfall had been appointed Brigadier General and assigned to the command of the Texas brigade. Quarters were constructed by placing the tents on pickets with a chimney attached, which provision made the men comparatively comfortable for the Winter. I remained on the Lower Occoquan during the Winter of 1861-62, engaged in the instruction of my regiment in all its essential duties. I lost no opportunity whenever the officers or men came to my quarters, or whenever I chanced to be in conversation with them, to arouse their pride, to impress upon them that no regiment in that Army should ever be allowed to go forth upon the battle-field and return with more trophies of war than the Fourth Texas;--that the number of colors and guns captured, and prisoners taken, constituted the true test of the work done by any command in an engagement. Moreover, their conduct in camp should be such as not to require punishment, and, when thrown near or within towns, should one of their comrades be led to commit some breach of military discipline, they should, themselves, take him in charge, and not allow his misconduct to bring discredit upon the regiment; proper deportment was obligatory upon them at home, and, consequently, I should exact the same of them whilst in the Army. By perseverance in this system I experienced no difficulty in their management. One of the main obstacles to the attainment of strict discipline, in the training of volunteers, is the issuance of orders without satisfactory explanation as to their object. For example, the usual and important regulation, prohibiting lights or noise in quarters after ten o'clock at night, would be regarded by young recruits as unnecessary, and even arbitrary, unless the officer in command illustrated to them the necessity thereof, and made them understand that an Army in time of active operations must have sleep at night, in order to march and fight the following day; and that for this reason no soldier should be allowed to keep awake, say, six of his comrades in the same tent, nor be  permitted to create a disturbance, which would deprive his neighbors of rest, and render them unfit for duty the ensuing morning. On the 7th of March, 1862, I followed up the movement with my regiment back in the direction of Fredericksburg; en route, and, greatly to my surprise, I received information of my appointment as Brigadier General, and of my assignment to the command of the Texas brigade. General Wigfall, if I remember correctly, had been elected to the Senate. and regarded his services more important in that chamber than upon the field. This promotion occasioned me some annoyance, as Colonel Archer, who commanded the Fifth Texas, and to whom I was warmly attached, ranked me by seniority. He, however, came to my tent, spontaneously congratulated me upon my advancement, and expressed his entire willingness to serve under me. He gave proof of the sincerity of his professions by a subsequent application to be transferred to my division, after I was appointed Major General, and he was promoted to the rank of Brigadier. Moreover, some years later, when I assumed the direction of the Army of Tennessee, he applied for orders to report to me for duty. He was not only a fine soldier, but a man of sterling qualities, and whose nobility of character was unsurpassed. I had been stationed a few weeks in the vicinity of Fredericksburg, when orders were received to march to Yorktown, at which place we arrived a few days prior to the 17th of April, the date of General Johnston's assumption of the command of all the forces on the Peninsula. I was here placed in reserve with my brigade, which consisted of the First, Fourth, Fifth Texas, and Eighteenth Georgia Regiments, and continued the system of instruction and training already indicated. I had so effectually aroused the pride of this splendid body of men, as to entertain little fear in regard to their action on the field of battle. The 3d of May, “on information that the Federal batteries would be ready for service in a day or two,” the Commanding General ordered the Army to retreat. Accordingly, I marched  with my brigade, which formed part of Major General G. W. Smith's Division, upon the Yorktown road, in the direction of Williamsburg. At daybreak of the 5th the retreat was continued from Williamsburg towards Richmond, through deep mud, and in a heavy rain. Whilst in bivouac opposite West Point, General Whiting informed me that a large body of the enemy had disembarked at Eltham's Landing; that our cavalry was on picket upon the high ground overlooking the valley of York river, and instructed me to move my brigade in that direction, and drive the enemy back if he attempted to advance from under cover of his gunboats. Pursuant to imperative orders, the men had not been allowed to march with loaded arms during the retreat. On the 7th, at the head of my command, I proceeded in the direction of Eltham's, with the intention to halt and load the muskets upon our arrival at the cavalry outpost. I soon reached the rear of a small cabin upon the crest of the hill, where I found one of our cavalrymen half asleep. The head of the column, marching by the right flank, with the Fourth Texas in the front, was not more than twenty or thirty paces in my rear, when, simultaneously With my arrival at the station of this cavalry picket, a skirmish line, supported by a large body of the enemy, met me face to face. The slope from the cabin toward the York river was abrupt, and, consequently, I did not discover the Federals till we were almost close enough to shake hands. I leaped from my horse, ran to the head of my column, then about fifteen paces in rear, gave the command, forward into line, and ordered the men to load. The Federals immediately opened fire, but halted as they perceived our long line in rear. Meanwhile, a corporal of the enemy drew down his musket upon me as I stood in front of my line. John Deal, a private in Company “A,” Fourth Texas Regiment, and who now resides in Gonzales, Texas, had fortunately, in this instance, but contrary to orders, charged his rifle before leaving camp; he instantly killed the corporal, who fell within a few feet of me. At the time I ordered the leading regiment to change front forward on the first company, I also sent directions to the troops in  rear to follow up the movement and load their arms, which was promptly executed. The brigade then gallantly advanced, and drove the Federals, within the space of about two hours, a distance of one mile and a half to the cover of their gunboats. When we struck their main line quite a spirited engagement took place, which, however, proved to be only a temporary stand before attaining the immediate shelter of their vessels of war. Hampton's brigade, near the close of the action, came to our support, and performed efficient service on the right. Our loss was slight, whereas that of the enemy was quite severe. General Johnston states in his Narrative that if Northern publications of that period are to be relied upon, it was ten times greater than our own. The Commanding General of the Army, though correct in his assertion that the security of his march required the dislodgement of the enemy from its position south of Eltham's Landing, is in error in regard to the troops who bore the brunt of the combat, as will be seen by the following extract from the official report of Major General G. W. Smith, who at that time commanded the division:
Referring to the reports of the several commanders for details, it i only necessary for me to state that the Texas brigade, under command of Brigadier General John B. Hood, supported on the right by the Hampton Legion and the Nineteenth Georgia Regiment, of Colonel Hampton's brigade, were selected, and ordered forward by General Whiting, to drive the enemy from the woods then occupied in front of their landing. Late in the day the Tennessee brigade, commanded by Brigadier General Anderson, was placed in position to support and cover the left flank of the Texans. All the troops engaged showed the finest spirit, were under perfect control, and behaved admirably. The brunt of the contest was borne by the Texans, and to them is due the largest share of the honors of the day at Eltham. The Texas brigade lost eight killed and twentyeight wounded; in the other portions of the command there were twelve wounded and none killed.This affair, which brought the brigade so suddenly and unexpectedly under fire for the first time, served as a happy introduction to the enemy. The ensuing day the march was resumed to the rear and continued till we reached the Baltimore Cross-roads, in which  vicinity we bivouacked about five days; thence we retreated to a point near Richmond. About this juncture it was rumored that the Commanding General contemplated the abandonment of the Capital of the Confederacy. General McClellan, however, soon threw across the Chickahominy, to the south bank, about one-fourth of his forces, and the Confederate Army was ordered to make ready to assail this detachment. Major General G. W. Smith massed his division on the Nine Miles road the morning of the 31st of May. Longstreet and Hill assembled on the right, lower down on the Chickahominy; they attacked and were driving the enemy handsomely, when about 3 p. m. General Smith ordered General Whiting to advance through the swamp. The object was to assault, on his right flank, the enemy engaged against Longstreet. Law's brigade came in contact with the Federals as my troops would soon have done, had not General Johnston, in person, unfortunately changed my direction by ordering me to move off by the right flank, and join Longstreet's left. Shortly after I passed the railroad, a battery, to my surprise, fired upon us from the rear. I nevertheless continued to march by the flank; a few moments later, I heard roar upon roar of musketry in the direction of the ground I had just left. and naturally supposed our troops were firing into each other, by mistake. The undergrowth in the swamp through which we were passing was very dense, and the water waist deep in some places; consequently, our progress was not as rapid as I desired. Soon after this heavy firing in rear, Major S. D. Lee came to me in great haste with instructions to return forthwith, as our troops on the left required support, and, at the same time, informed me that General Johnston had been wounded. I immediately started back, but nightfall approached before I was enabled to rejoin Major General Smith, and render him the assistance I would have gladly afforded. The following day my brigade remained in line of battle without encountering the enemy; with this marching and counter-marching ended the part taken by my troops in the battle of Seven Pines or Fair Oaks.