HEADQUARTERS, Yorktown, June 12, 1861.
SIR: I beg leave very respectfully to make the following report of my scout:
On Sunday afternoon, the 9th of June, 1861, I procured the corn and oats on the Back River road as ordered, and had the wagons returning to camp in two hours and a quarter from the receipt of the order. I was then joined by one company of North Carolina Infantry, one piece of the howitzer battery, and a detachment of Captain Douthatt’s cavalry, as I supposed, to assist me in making observations near Hampton, on the Back River. I approached New Market Bridge at 5 o’clock p.m., planted the howitzer so as to sweep the bridge, deployed my infantry in open order on my right flank in ambush, so that they could rake the road. The cavalry I posted in the rear, and threw out vedettes on each of my flanks to avoid a surprise.
In this position I waited for the appearance of the enemy. I of course had no idea of endangering my command by engaging the enemy if in force. I was too weak. In a few moments alarm guns were fired by a chain of sentinels extending from New Market Bridge to Fort Monroe. In a few moments a force advanced from Hampton (supposed to be a battalion of infantry, but marching in detached companies), whilst at the same time one or more companies approached by the road leading from Newport News. These forces were each advancing upon New Market Bridge from opposite directions, thinking I had crossed the bridge with my command. Upon observing their approach with a glass, I quietly retired from my position to a point in the rear three-quarters of a mile. The enemy approached the bridge, and when they suddenly came in sight of each other they (each mistaking the other for me) opened fire, and kept it up for some five minutes before they discovered their error. I was sitting on my horse near the bridge, and saw the firing plainly with my glass, but did not at the time know the cause, although I suspected it. At dusk I took up the march for Bethel Church, the enemy following me, and the next morning the fight opened.
I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
W. H. WERTH.
Colonel J. B. MAGRUDER, Commanding Division.
One of the prisoners taken (since dead) stated that in this brush there were six killed and thirteen wounded, and corroborated all the above statements of my report.
W. H. WERTH.
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.