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Saturday, August 31, 2013

Raid of August 1863. Pt. III : From the New York Times

OPERATIONS ON THE PENINSULA.; Particulars of the Recent
Reconnaissance to Bottom's Bridge. 
Correspondence of the New-York Times. 
CAMP NEAR WILLIAMSBURGH, Va., Saturday, Aug. 29, 1863.
The cavalry arm of the service in this Department has been kept in constant activity since May. Gen. FOSTER assumed command. Besides our raids toward Weldon. N. C., and through the counties east of the Chowan River, we have just returned from a reconnoissance to the very doors of Richmond. 
A cavalry brigade composed of the Fifth Pennsylvania and First New-York Mounted Rifles, commanded by Col. B.F. ONDERDONK, Of the latter regiment, moved from this point on the 25th inst. to discover, if possible, the amount of rebel force between our pickets and the intrenchments(sic) about Richmond. The Fifth Pennsylvania regiment, Lieut.-Col. LEWIS, took the advance. When at Burnt Ordinary, some twelve miles from this place, we came upon a rebel picket of five men, and a squadron of the Fifth charged -- following the rebels in a spirited chase for five miles. The following day the Mounted Rifles showed the way, charging into New Kent Court-house and driving a party of Secesh out of the place. The rebels lost one man killed and two wounded. 
We rested at the Court-house two hours, and pushed on rapidly. Our advance guard kept continually charging small squads of the enemy's cavalry who appeared at intervals on fast horses, running for dear life and the Chickhominy River. 
The command again halted to rest weary horses and men within seven miles of Bottom's Bridge. Toward evening the First and Third battalions of the Mounted Rifles, the advance commanded by Major WHEELLAN the whole under Lieut.-Col. PATTON, raced for Bottom's Bridge. When about two miles from our starting-point, a running fight occurred with a squadron of the enemy's cavalry. We kept up the run in the blinding dust and hot sun until we arrived at Bottoms Bridge, thirteen miles from the rebel capital. Here we found a force of rebel infantry wellintrenched. We dismounted skirmishers [???] some spirited sharp-shooting. 
The rebels had gained sufficient time on their fresh horses to tear up the planks of the bridge. The object of the expedition being accomplished, the column moved about and leisurely returned to bivouac with the remainder of the brigade. Not a sign of a rebel appeared in our rear, and our sleep was undisturbed. Our men were covered with dust, and our horses nearly worn out. The rebels lost one man killed near Bottom's Bridge. We left his body with people along the road. 
We have greatly the advantage of the rebel cavalry in the use of the breech loading rifle. They, of course, are obliged to load from the muzzle, and can shoot but one volley from their double-barreled shot-guns before we are on to them. 
We were not disturbed during our return until we arrived at a place called Slatersville, four miles this side of New Kent Court-house. At this place the pickets of the Fifth Pennsylvania were attacked, and one man killed and one wounded. A portion of the Fifth chased the rebels back to the Court House. Maj. WHEELAN, of the Mounted Rifles, then advanced beyond the Court House, deploying his battalion in a beautiful manner as skirmishers. We found a dead rebel sergeant on the field, the rest having precipitately. We returned to camp, at this place, without further occurrences of interest. 
The Mounted Rifles did not lose a man. The Fifth lost but(?) one. The rebel loss was three killed and three captured. 
An intelligent refugee, who has just arrived from Richmond, says that our raid created great excitement in the city, every able-bodied man being obliged to turn out and shoulder a musket. C.

-New York Times of September 6, 1863

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