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The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies

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OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 1, vol 12, Part 2 (Second Manassas)

About 3 p. m., the enemy having disclosed his movement on Jackson, our right wing advanced to the attack. I directed Robertson's brigade and Rosser's regiment to push forward on the extreme right, and at the same time all the batteries I could get hold of were advanced at a gallop to take position to enfilade the enemy in front of our lines. This was done with splendid effect, Colonel Rosser, a fine artillerist, as well as bold cavalier, having the immediate direction of the batteries. The enemy's lines were distinctly visible and every shot told upon them fearfully. Robertson's brigade was late coming forward, and consequently our right flank was at one time somewhat threatened by the enemy's cavalry, but the artillery of Captain Rogers with a few well-directed shots relieved us on that score. When our cavalry arrived on the field no time was lost in crowding the enemy, the artillery being kept always far in advance of the infantry lines. The fight was of remarkably short duration. The Lord of Hosts was plainly fighting on our side, and the solid walls of Federal infantry melted away before the straggling, but nevertheless determined, onset of our infantry columns. The head of Robertson's cavalry was now on the ridge overlooking Bull Run, and having seen no enemy in that direction, I was returning to the position of the artillery enfilading the Groveton road, when I received intelligence from General Robertson at the point I had just left that the enemy was there in force and asking re-enforcements. I ordered the two reserve regiments (Seventh and Twelfth) rapidly forward, and also a section of artillery, but before the latter could reach the point our cavalry, by resolute bravery, had put the enemy, under Buford, to ignominious flight across Bull Run, and were in full pursuit until our own artillery fire at the fugitives rendered it dangerous to proceed farther.

In this brilliant affair over 300 of the enemy's cavalry were put hors de combat, they, together with their horses and equipments, falling into our hands. Colonel Brodhead, First Michigan, died from his wounds next day. He was cut down by Adjutant [Lewis] Harman, Twelfth Virginia Cavalry. Major Atwood and a number of captains and lieutenants were among the prisoners.

The further details of this fight will be found in the accompanying reports of Brigadier-General Robertson and Colonel T. T. Munford. The latter, as well as his lieutenant-colonel, J. W. Watts, Major [C.] Breckinridge, and lieutenants [R. H.] Kelso and [W.] Walton were wounded in the action, conspicuously displaying great gallantry and heroism. The Second Virginia Cavalry suffered most.

Nothing could have equaled the splendor with which Robertson's regiments swept down upon a force greatly outnumbering them, thus successfully indicating a claim for courage and discipline equal to any cavalry in the world.

Night soon ensued, and as the enemy's masses of infantry had not retreated across Bull Run I was anxious to cut off that retreat. Upon the enemy's position after dark, however, infantry only could move, and I was anxious for Brigadier-General Armistead to attack from a position he took after dark directly on the enemy's flank, and urged it. He, however, doubted the policy of night attack with his command, especially as there was danger of collision with our own infantry, and I did not feel authorized to order it, particularly as there was time to communicate with the commanding general, which was promptly done. The attack was not made.

Before daylight next morning the cavalry was in the saddle and after the enemy, but met with nothing but stragglers until we came within


OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 1, vol 12, Part 2 (Second Manassas)
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