Editor’s Note: This article was transcribed by Jackie Martin.
FITZ. LEE’S CAVALRY, July 4, 1864.
TO THE EDITOR OF THE EXAMINER:
It will no doubt be gratifying to the plundered citizens along the line of the Richmond and Danville railroad, to learn that General Wilson and his band of thieves suffered severely on his return, near Reams’ depot, at the hands of Generals Fitz. Lee and Mahone.
On the 29th June General Mahone, having gotten a portion of his command in position out of sight, and without the knowledge of the enemy, on the road along which they were marching, succeeded in giving them a heavy and unexpected volley, which threw them in considerable confusion, and thus, in the beginning, giving us a little the advantage. The enemy, however, soon dismounted a large number of his cavalry and threw them, with terrible vim, against Mahone’s veteran infantry—evidently attempting to break through his left and join Grant by the shortest route and quickest time possible.
Fitz.Lee, coming up at this juncture, moved Wickham’s brigade along a by-path through the pines, and quickly dismounting the First and Second regiments Virginia cavalry, commenced a vigorous attack upon their flank. The battle now became general nearly all around them, the infantry and cavalry (dismounted) formed a junction, and the artillery of each pouring a storm of shot and shell along their entire line. They made another desperate attempt to break through General Mahone’s line, and drove him back a short distance, but without gaining any important result or position. The Third and Fourth regiments Virginia cavalry, who were held in reserve, were ordered to his support, but before reaching the ground received an order not to go any farther, as General Mahone could then hold his position. The Yankees, finding it impossible to escape with their trains and stolen plunder, parked their ammunition wagons and a few abandoned caissons on the road and set fire to them. A little lower down they placed their pack-mules, ambulances, fancy wagons, and a large number of very fine stolen buggies and carriages, cut the horses loose, and the panic-stricken drivers fled in confusion. Colonel Owen, with his regiment, supported by Captain Ould, commanding Fourth Virginia, was now ordered to give them a mounted charge, which he did in General Stuart’s style, putting them to the most complete, utter and disgraceful rout we have ever witnessed, capturing a large number of prisoners, horses, wagons, &c., &c., and following them in full speed nearly to Stony run. General Lomax’s brigade, which had also been engaged during the main attack, but not mentioned before in this, on account of the writer’s not knowing what part they bore, and, consequently, fearing a misrepresentation, now moved to the front and followed them to Jarratt’s depot.
The road on which they fled was literally covered with Colt’s pistols, Sharp’s rifles, Spencer’s, Burnside’s, and a new pattern 14-shooter, rifles, sabres, blankets, fine silk shawls and dresses, silver spoons, cups, knives, forks, hams, chickens, turkeys, and every other imaginable article that plunderers could steal from harmless citizens and ladies. The captures made by both Generals Lee and Mahone were not less than two thousand prisoners, fourteen pieces of artillery, fifty wagons, thirty ambulances, seven hundred horses, one hundred and fifty mules, seven hundred negroes, five thousand rifles, four hundred and fifty saddles, and over fifty sets of excellent artillery harness, besides General J. H. Wilson’s headquarter wagons and ambulances, official papers, uniform, sash, and many other little tricks invented and made only by Yankee ingenuity. His headquarter wagon and cooking and table ware were turned over to Colonel Owen. Our casualities were very slight; that of the enemy not known. Major Breathead, chief of artillery in Fitz.Lee’s division, was dangerously, if not mortally, wounded. He is a most excellent artillerist, and his loss would be mourned by the whole division. Query: Wonder if General Wilson still disregards Confederate cavalry, as he said he did in the presence of Dr. Pryor, or would he like to meet Rosser and Hampton again at Ashland, or Fitz.Lee and Mahone at Reams’?
- “Fitz. Lee’s Cavalry.” Richmond Examiner. July 7, 1864, p. 1 col. 3 ↩