HEADQUARTERS CAMP BETHEL,
Bethel Church, June 10, 1861.
SIR: The enemy, thirty-five hundred strong attacked us at our post, and after a very animated conflict of two hours and a half was repulsed at all points and totally routed. Four companies of cavalry are now in hot pursuit toward Newport News. I cannot speak too highly of the devotion of our troops, all of whom did their duty nobly, and whilst in might appear invidious to speak particularly of any regiment or corps where all behaved so well, I am compelled to express my great appreciation of the skill and gallantry of Major Randolph and his howitzer batteries, and Colonel Hill, the officers and men of the North Carolina regiment. As an instance of the letter latter I will merely mention that a gun under the gallant Captain Brown, of the howitzer battery, having been rendered unfit for service by the breaking of a priming wire in the vent, and not being defended by infantry from the small number we had at our command, Captain Brown threw it over a precipice, and the work was occupied for a moment by the enemy. Captain Bridgers, of the North Carolina regiment, in the most gallant manner retook it and held it until Captain Brown had replaced and put in position another piece, and then defended, it with his infantry in the most gallant manner. Colonel Hill’s judicious and determined action was worthy of his ancient glory, and Colonel Stuart, Major Montugue, Major Cary, Captains Walker and Atkinson, with every officer and every man under their command, did good service in the front of the fight.
The able and efficient manner in which Captains Douthatt, Phillips, and Jones, of the cavalry, performed, the duties of infantry, and Lieutenant Chisman, of the Wythe Rifles, in protecting the rear of the position, is deserving of high commendation.
There were many acts of personal gallantry, some under my own observation, and others which were reported to me, that I will take occasion to mention, in a subsequent communication. At present I expect another attack, and have no time.
I am extremely indebted to the two brothers Robert H. and William R. Vaughan, my acting commissary and quartermaster, for the most gallant and efficient services, no less than to my youthful aides, Mr. George A. Magruder, jr., and Hugh Stannard, who were always in the front of the fight, and upon whom I request the Government to bestow commissions, as they are desirous of entering the regular service.
In the hurry of this communication I may have omitted to mention many gallant men.
I have the honor to be, very respectful, your obedient servant,
J. BANKHEAD MAGRUDER,
Col. R. S. GARNETT.
Number of killed and wounded on our side–one killed and seven wounded. Enemy–ten dead bodies found, as reported to me, and perhaps fifty wounded. Three prisoners. Our force, all told, about one thousand two hundred men. Enemy–three thousand five hundred, with 18 and 24 pounder guns, besides light guns. J. B. M.
The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. Series I, Vol. II. With additions and corrections. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1902.