HEADQUARTERS YORKTOWN, June 12, 1861.
SIR: I had the honor to transmit by Mr. Hugh Stannard a short account of a battle with the enemy at Bethel Bridge on the 10th. This was written on the field, and I had not then had time to ascertain the number of killed and wounded on the other side. I think I report ten killed and many wounded. I have now to report that eighteen dead were found on the field, and I learn from reliable citizens living on the road that many dead as well as a great many wounded were carried in wagons to Hampton. I think I can safely report their loss at from twenty-five to thirty killed and one hundred and fifty wounded. I understand the enemy acknowledge one hundred and seventy-fire killed and wounded. It is a source of great gratification to me to be able to say that our own loss as far as heard from was only one killed and seven wounded, but too much praise cannot be bestowed upon the heroic soldier whom we lost, He was one of our who volunteered to set fire to a house in our front which was thought to afford protection to our enemy and advancing alone between the two fire he fell midway, pierced in the forehead by a musket ball. Henry L. Wyatt is the name of this brave soldier and devoted patriot. He was a member of the brave and gallant North Carolina regiment.
I omitted to mention in my hurried dispatch of the 10 the name of Captain Jones, of- Cavalry, who rendered important service before and during the battle. I regret to say that one of his vedettes was cut off by the enemy, and is presumed to have been taken prisoner.
I cannot omit to again bring to the notice of the general commanding-in-chief the valuable service and gallant conduct for the First North Carolina Regiment and Major Randolph, of howitzer batteries. These officers were not only prompt and daring in the execution of their duties, but most industrious and energetic in the preparation for the conflict. The firing of the howitzer batteries was as perfect as the bearing of the men, which was entirely what it ought to have been. Captain Bridges, of the North Carolina regiment, retook in the most daring manner, and at a critical periods of the right, the work from which Captain Brown of the artillery, had withdrawn a disabled gun to prevent its falling in to the hands of the enemy, and which work had been subsequently occupied by the enemy. This work was soon again occupied with another piece by Captain Brown, who resumed and effective fire. Captain Bridgers deserves the highest praise for this timely act of gallantry.
The Louisiana regiment arrived after the battle was over, having made a most extraordinary march. They returned to Yorktown the same night, making a distance of twenty-eight miles. It was not thought prudent to leave Yorktown exposed any longer. I therefore occupied the ground whit cavalry, and marched the remainder of my force to Yorktown. We took several prisoners, among them some wounded.
Our means of transportation were exceedingly limited, but the wounded enemy were carried our own wounded to farm houses in our rear, where the good people, who have lost almost everything by this war, and who could see the smoking ruins of their neighbors’ houses, destroyed by the enemy both in his advance and retreat, received them most kindly and bound up their wounds. I also ordered the humane Captain Brown to bury as many of the enemy’s dead as could be found near our camp, which was done.
The cavalry pursued the enemy for fire miles, but were stopped by the bridges across Back River at New Market, which was destroy by the flying enemy after crossing it.
I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. B. MAGRUDER,
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.