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  Ingalls on Stewart's Raid and the Protection of White House Depot
Brig. Gen. STEWART VAN VLIET, Senior Quartermaster, Army Potomac, Hdqrs. near Richmond, Va.

WHITE HOUSE, VA., June 19, 1862.

GENERAL: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your telegram of the 17th instant, requesting me to furnish you with a detailed account of my arrangements for the protection of this depot on the 13th instant and the loss sustained in men and public property by the depredations of the rebels on that day within the limits of my command. I had already forwarded to General Williams the report of the services of the five companies of the Eleventh Pennsylvania Cavalry, under the command of Colonel Harlan, with my indorsements thereon. I now submit a copy herewith.

As a protective measure simply, without having supposed the enemy would make a movement so unaccountable, one company of Harlan’s regiment was sent to Garlick’s Landing on the evening of the 12th, where it remained until daylight of the 13th, when it scouted up the right bank of the Pamunkey as high as Hanover Ferry, where Captain Royall, of the Fifth Cavalry, was met, who reported all quiet in front. This company returned by the road to near Garlick’s, and it was there, while waiting the return of a guard sent to arrest the rebel miller, that it was overtaken by a sergeant and 4 men of the Fifth Cavalry, who had escaped during the attack on Royall, and who reported a rebel force rushing down in that direction. This company shortly afterward was overtaken by a superior force and compelled to give way slowly before it and to finally fall back to this point, exhibiting all the time as far as I can learn courage and good judgment. It reached here before sunset; so did the fugitives from the Fifth Cavalry, and all concurred in representing a large rebel force in pursuit and already very near the depot. The danger at that moment of an attack on our shipping, railroad, &c., seemed imminent. I had received a telegram from General Marcy informing me of the attack on Royall. I learned the fact at the same time from my own scouts. Before I could make proper reply to General Marcy the rebels had cut the connection of the wires at Tunstall’s. The force here was very small, not exceeding 600 men of all arms. I could only act on the defensive. I assumed, however, that the commanding general would send back an overpowering force from Dispatch Station, which was promptly done. With your timely advice and assistance, rendered in person, I immediately ordered out all of Harlan’s cavalry, except the company just returned, with orders to occupy and reconnoiter the rail and wagon roads toward Tunstall’s and to give notice of the approach of the enemy, which service Colonel Harlan directed in person in a prompt and vigorous manner. Wilson’s battery, First New York Artillery, of 3-inch guns, was posted on the plain, so as to command the roads by which the enemy would make his appearance. Colonel Butler, with a portion of his regiment, the Ninety-third New York, and Captain Hildt, with two companies of the Third Regular Infantry, were posted in rear to protect the battery or skirmish forward in pursuit.

The hospital convalescents, some 250, and some returning guards, employees, and citizens cheerfully and readily volunteered their services, and were armed and kept posted near the hospital and shipping to defend the depot from violence. All the officers and persons present behaved with great merit, and I doubt not would have gallantly defended the place in case of an attack.

In addition to those arrangements I called upon the gunboats under command of Captain Murray, who responded promptly, placing the boats in position off the depot to sweep the plain of any hostile force. To aid in this a signal officer was posted on the top of the White House, to give timely and proper signals to direct the fire of the boats. These dispositions being made, there remained nothing further during the darkness of the night but to wait. You have since learned the route pursued by the enemy; that he burned two Government schooners and some wagons at Garlick’s Landing, killing 2 or 3 men, making some prisoners, and dispersing the balance; that he fired on a down- train at Tunstall’s, killing 2 men, wounding 8, and making some more prisoners, but doing little or no damage to railroad or telegraph; that Generals Reynolds and Emory soon came up with a large force, gave pursuit, and followed the enemy to the Chickahominy, where farther pursuit was abandoned.

So far as this depot was directly concerned it lost the two schooners and some forage—amount unknown—and in all not to exceed 75 wagons. There were more trains lost, probably, but they were in possession of brigade quartermaster’s, serving with the army in front.

We are daily recovering wagons and animals which the rebels were unable to carry away. One man of the Eleventh Pennsylvania Cavalry was taken prisoner when he was sent in to Garlick’s to assist in the arrest of the miller. There were no other casualties of which I am informed.

With a depot stretching from Cumberland to this point, with three hundred ships crowded into so small a river, containing all our supplies, a much larger force would seem necessary to its protection. I have not been pressing for troops, because I hoped we could defend the depot with the force provided, and because I know the general commanding wishes every good soldier with him in front of Richmond.

I am, respectfully, your most obedient servant,

RUFUS INGALLS,

Lieutenant- Colonel, Aide-de- Camp, Commanding White House.

 

 

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