“A Furious Charge Was Made
Upon Our Line”
We fell back to the Ashland Road and retreated over the Chickahominy across Half Sink Bridge, the retreat being covered by the 1st and 3rd Virginia Cavalry. Lomax's Brigade lost heavily and ours considerably. The former lost two or three guns, I forget which.1 The gallant captain of artillery, [Major James] Breathed, was twice sabred that day but killed two or three Yankees and got off.2
The enemy, turning down Brook Turnpike crossed Brook Creek, (leaving us behind as unworthy of further notice) and entered the third, (or outer), line of fortifications going into camp on the farm of my most excellent friend, Mr. John Stewart—Brook Hill. That night two infantry brigades occupied the second line of fortifications which mounted a number of heavy guns.
This obstinate fight [Yellow Tavern] lasted until about 5 p.m. and considering the great disparity of numbers, was one of which we had no cause to feel ashamed. But its effect was very bad, demonstrating, as it did, to the men that our cavalry with its paucity of arms of improved patterns and half-starved horses couldn't hope to contend successfully with the larger, splendidly mounted and equipped command of Philip Sheridan, Major General. He had an entire brigade armed with Spencer's splendid breach-loading rifle which fired accurately 600 yards and seven successive shots without reloading. Many others had the Henry gun, a sixteen-shooter (firing 16 successive shots after one loading), and all the rest Sharpe's splendid single-shooter rifle. About half of our men had captured Sharpe's carbines or his barrels with a miserably made Rich