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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

The Mounted Rifles did not lose a man. The Fifth lost
but(?) one. The rebel loss was three killed and three

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.

-from the New York Times of September 6, 1863

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