Second Lieutenant Julius M. Swain’s Report on May 25, 1864
HEADQUARTERS WILD’S BRIGADE,
Wilson’s Landing, Va., May 25, 1864.
CAPTAIN: I have the honor to report that this post was attacked yesterday at about 1.30 p.m. by a force of the enemy’s cavalry, supposed to be over 3,000 strong, under the command of General Fitzhugh Lee. From 2 till 6 o’clock they fired incessantly upon our line. My station is on the bank of the river, within 10 yards of the left of our rifle-pits, and during three hours of the attack served as a prominent mark for the enemy. I sent Private Mott with 1 man on the gun-boat, and until 5 o’clock we were enabled to direct the fire of the guns and communicate with Sergeant Walker at Fort Powhatan. Our flag was in sight, but we were screened from view by a projection of the river bank. A detachment of the enemy, numbering about 100, afterward gained possession of the heavy-timbered point on the river, not more than 70 yards from the station, and opened fire upon us so fiercely that we were forced to abandon our post and seek protection behind the earth-works. After half an hour’s delay, I opened station on board a transport near the wharf, and was enabled to direct the fire from the gun-boat so successfully that they materially checked the enemy’s movements on our right. About 7 o’clock the enemy retired, leaving 20 of their dead and several wounded on the field. The small detachment under my command worked successfully throughout the attack and received the thanks of the general commanding.
I wish to recommend to your favorable notice second-class Private Mott, who flagged several messages under fire, and then, as afterward on the gun-boat, behaved in a manner creditable alike to himself and our corps.
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
JULIUS M. SWAIN,
Second Lieutenant and Signal Officer.
Capt. L. B. NORTON,
Chief Signal Officer, Dept. of Virginia and North Carolina.