Today in History:

42 Series I Volume XI-II Serial 13 - Peninsular Campaign Part II


ing, having been wholly unsupported. I ordered the fire reopened. The position was not very good for the matter in hand, but the renewed fire was continued until the rest of the army had retreated, and the enemy was nearer the only line of retreat than we were. I then ordered this battery, to retire, and when it was all to the rear I fell back about 400 paces with the Lancers, and found the enemy checked at the brow of the hill by a most brave handful of infantry-I was told part of the Ninth Massachusetts-and my First Cavalry, in line on the slope, a little in their rear. I then formed the Lancers, and ordered the First Cavalry to take post on the left of the infantry, but by an unhappy misconception of the order they advanced close upon their rear. While they were in motion Colonel Childs, Fourth Pennsylvania Cavalry, reported to me with an only squadron of his regiment in hand, expressing a noble devotion. I sent him to join the left of the First, and this was done with a precision and bravery which would have honored veterans. Thus was withstood, under a hot fire of infantry, the advance of the enemy at the brow of the hill. Then a battery of ours, which had been posted 400 or 500 paces in our rear in the obscurity of evening and of smoke and dust, opened a fire of shrapnel, which fell among us instead of the enemy. I then ordered the cavalry to retire, having been informed a second or third time that General Porter had ordered a retreat, and which he has informed me he had not done. The infantry were near the cover of a ravine leading to the rear, and retired at the same time. Having reached the hollow under and safe from the fire of our battery, I formed once more the First Cavalry and the Lancers. The enemy made no further advance.

It was a hard duty given this half of the Fifth Cavalry. Emulation of the habitual devotion of our artillery was a strong motive. I was determined on this occasion they should not be sacrificed not lose their guns.

The charge of the Fifth Cavalry failed to be carried home. The left squadron had but one officer present, the gallant Captain Chambliss, and when he fell it broke and threw the rest of the line into disorder. Its success, beyond enabling the batteries to get off, was impossible. It lost most severely and did not rally. The First Cavalry then retired in line, covering the retreat of the batteries. Its subsequent action has been given.

The Sixth Pennsylvania (Lancers), under its gallant colonel (Rush) and his fine officers, performed its duty handsomely. The reports of commanders are inclosed, with the lists of casualties. These show a loss of killed, wounded, and missing of 9 officers, 92 rank and file, and 128 horses.

I again have the pleasure of commending the bravery and ability with which my staff (Captain W. Merritt, Second Cavalry; First Lieutenant James P. Martin, Seventh Infantry, and Frank Beach, Fourth Artillery) performed their duties.

Privates B. F. King, Company D, Sixth Cavalry, and Adam Romer, Company B, Fifth Cavalry, performed services above their position as orderlies with intelligence, bravery, and promptness.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Brigadier-General, U. S. Army.

Captain FRED. T. LOCKE,

Asst. Adjt. General, Fifth Provisional Army Corps.