No. 175. Report of Colonel Andrew W. Evans, First Maryland Cavalry, commanding Third Brigade, Cavalry Division, Army of the James, of operations January 30.1
HDQRS. THIRD BRIG., CAVALRY DIV., ARMY OF THE JAMES,
January 31, 1865.
CAPTAIN: I have the honor to report that I proceeded, in compliance with instructions of the 29th, with 35 officers and 806 men of this command, at daylight yesterday, by Charles City Cross-Roads, to Long Bridge, on the Chickahominy. I found that stream very high and not
fordable. There are two sloughs at that point, with about ten feet of water in each, and although a few men were successfully ferried across, I judged it extremely dangerous to attempt a passage by swimming a large body of horses. I then sent a battalion of [First] New York Mounted Rifles, under Major Hamilton, to Bottom’s Bridge, with instructions to send a scouting party of an officer and ten men as far as Baltimore Cross-Roads. An attempt was made to send a similar party to the same point by Long Bridge, but it was found impracticable. I was under the impression that by the river road Bottom’s Bridge could be reached in four miles, but Major Hamilton was obliged to make a considerable detour to cross White Oak Swamp. At the bridge (so called) over this he surprised a small picket of the enemy’s cavalry and captured three men, one of whom was wounded before he would surrender. At Bottom’s Bridge a picket of about a dozen men was found, but by a mistake our advanced guard charged to the bridge, where horses were seen, capturing one man there, and the remainder of the enemy’s party, who were on a neighboring hill, managed to make their escape. Two men, however, came in and delivered themselves up as deserters. The scouting party sent across the river, under Captain Purdy, New York Mounted Rifles, proceeded to within three-quarters of a mile to Baltimore Cross-Roads. They were obliged to swim the river. They captured five men, who acknowledged themselves to be soldiers on furlough, but Captain Purdy was only able to mount one of them, and being in a hurry to recross the swamp before dark, he was obliged to leave the other four behind. Major Hamilton, with his command, rejoined the main body at the junction of the Long Bridge road with the road to Haxall’s Landing and Shirley, a position to which I removed at dark. The entire command then returned by the same road to camp, meeting no one whatever until reaching our picket.
I believe I am justified in asserting, from the report of scouts and detached parties, from personal observation, and from information from other sources, that no force whatever of the enemy has moved eastward upon the peninsula for a long time past except very small scouting parties. Captain Purdy reports meeting and conversing with a citizen from Barhamsville, whom he knew personally, who confirmed this statement, and added that a party of seventy-five men, of Company E, New York Mounted Rifles, had been up at that village on last Thursday from Williamsburg. It is hardly necessary to mention, although I was not informed of it when I started out, that no bridges are now standing over the Chickahominy. The river is now high, banked full, and nowhere fordable for twenty-five miles above Long Bridge and below to its mouth. The stream is somewhat rapid, and there is much ice in the swamp. At Long Bridge the river was evidently falling, but Captain Purdy reported oar rise at Bottom’s Bridge, between the two lines of his crossing. The bottom of the ford at Long Bridge is not very bad. White Oak Swamp Bridge is a corduroy road, which has been broken up and partly swept, away, but the crossing is good. Bottom’s Bridge can be repaired in a short time.
I am much indebted to Colonel Summer for his advice and assistance.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
A. W. EVANS,
Colonel First Maryland Cavalry, Commanding Brigade.
Headquarters Cavalry Division.
- The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Volume XLVI, Part 1 (Serial Number 95), pp. 371-372 ↩