Chaffins Farm, December 13, 1863 9.15 p. m.
Maj. T. O. CHESTNEY,
MAJOR: Your dispatch is received and its directions shall be complied with. The last information I have received of the strength and movements of the enemy is in a dispatch from signal corps. It states that the enemy crossed Forge Bridge about daylight, and attacked the cavalry at Charles City Court-House, about an hour by sun, capturing nearly the whole command. Major Robertson escaped. The enemy's force is estimated at 400. I presume Forge Bridge was picketed; my orders were positive to that effect. The dispatch from signal corps informs me that the enemy retired about 10 a. m. today toward Forge Bridge.
As soon as I heard of the capture of Major Robertsons command, I sent out Lieutenant-Colonel Berkeley, with about 150 men, to picket in my front. He is at New Market, with a picket on the river road and one on the Long Bridge road where it is crossed by the Central or Darbytown road. This guards all the approaches, I think, to Richmond and this point, excepting the Charles City and Williamsburg roads, which Colonel Shingler is directed to watch and hold. I also ordered Colonel Shingler to watch, as far as the capacities of his command would allow, the defiles of the Chickahominy until a cavalry force could be procured to take the place of that captured. I hope General Elzey will be able to furnish me with this cavalry.
I feel exceedingly indignant at what I suppose to be a complete surprise, and somebody should suffer for it. I have directed Major Robertson to report all the facts of the case to me, and they shall be forwarded to you. I have just learned from the signal corps that two brigades of Yankees landed on Friday at Newport News.
I am, major, yours, respectfully,
P. S.-Colonel Shingler sent out a scout to ascertain the where-abouts and strength of the enemy to-day, and I am expecting to hear from him.
-The war of the rebellion: a compilation of the official records of the Union and Confederate armies.; Series 1 - Volume 29 (Part II)
A few notes: The Lieutenant-Colonel Berkeley referred to is Lieutenant-Colonel Norbonne Berkeley, commanding the 8th Virginia in Hunton's brigade. Elzey is Major General Arnold Elzey, commanding the Department of Richmond. The department included many of the "odds and ends" units that guarded the eastern approaches to Richmond. He also commanded the units at Drewry's Bluff and Chaffin's Farm, which includes the Pamunkey Artillery.