Adjutant and Inspector General Reports
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
Camp Winfield Scott, near Yorktown, April 19, 1862.
Brig. Gen. I. Thomas,
Adjutant General, U.S.A.
GENERAL: I have the honor herewith to transmit reports explanatory of the operations of General W. F. Smith's division in the affair of the Burnt Chimneys, on the 16th inst. The report will explain the transaction with sufficient clearness. There are a few points to which I would call the attention of the Secretary. The object of the movement was to force the enemy to discontinue his work in strengthening his batteries, to silence his fire, and gain control of the dam existing at that point. All these purposes were fully and handsomely accomplished. Between the time when Lieut. Noyes crossed and that when the skirmishers of the 3d Vermont crossed the stream, the enemy had by some means considerably increased the depth of water. It should be understood that a dense forest comes up to the very edge of the stream on the enemy's side, effectually concealing everything from view, and completely covering the rebel infantry.
The purposes of crossing the skirmishers was to ascertain the real state of the case on the enemy's side. There was no other way of obtaining the information. The loss sustained in accomplishing this is to be regretted, but was small in comparison with the importance of the object in view. The accompanying map will show the great importance of the position held by General Smith. The conduct of the officers and men on the 16th was admirable and deserves the highest commendation. It was the fortune of Mott's battery (Third New York Artillery) and the Vermont regiments (Brooks' brigade), particularly the 3d, 4th, 5th, and 6th, to be especially exposed. Their con duct was admirable and worthy of veterans.
I am, sir, very respectfully, Your obedient servant,
GEO. B. McClellan,
Major General, Commanding
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