Numbers 33. Report of Brigadier General Alexander S. Webb, U. S. Army, commanding Second Division.
HDQRS. SECOND DIVISION, SECOND ARMY CORPS,
October 16, 1863.
SIR: I have the honor to submit the following report of the action of the 14th instant at Bristoe Station:
The Second Division debouched from the woods west of Broad Run at about 2 p.m. Lieutenant-Colonel Morgan, chief of staff, Second Corps, reported to me that the enemy had a battery north of the railroad to my left and front. The First Minnesota was deployed as skirmishers on the left of the column and opened fire at once, showing that skirmishers of the enemy were close to my left flank. The commanding officer reported two columns of the enemy coming down on my left flank.
As I had then seen a line of battle of the enemy's infantry, apparently following the Fifth Army Corps, whose rear guard was just disappearing in the wood beyond Broad Run, I moved my column to the right, determined to prevent their seizing the hill west of Broad Run and south of the railroad. Having taken a position with my line on the railroad with Lieutenant Brown's battery (B, First Rhode Island Artillery), on the hill just mentioned, and my right resting near Broad Run, I prepared to move to the right with the object of connecting with the Fifth Army Corps, and ordered Lieutenant Brown to follow up this movement to the right, seizing the best points for his battery in rear of the column. I gave the order to move by the right flank, in the face of the enemy, and had crossed over Broad Run with half of my right brigade (the First, Colonel F. E. Heath, Nineteenth Maine Volunteers, commanding), when the general commanding the corps directed me to hold only to Broad Run. By a movement to the left at a double-quick, my line was placed in position along the railroad with its right about 150 yards from Broad Run.
The Second Brigade, Colonel D. W. C. Baxter commanding, had been detached as wagon guard and was not in this engagement. My line, therefore, consisted of only two brigades in line, the First, Colonel Heath commanding, on the right, and the Third Colonel James E. Mallon, Forty-second New York Volunteers, commanding, on the left.
The enemy attacked immediately with a strong line of battle, preceded by a very strong line of skirmishers. The skirmishers halted upon the rise of ground immediately in front of the railroad and distant only 50 yards, after receiving the fire of only a small portion of the line. The commissioned officers of the division were conspicuous at this time for their endeavors to make the men reserve their fire for the line of battle. The enemy's line came up, charged to the railroad, and was driven back.
As there was a large number of deserted huts in an old camp in my front, the enemy's sharpshooters became very annoying, and it became necessary to send out a line of skirmishers, which surrounded and captured about 250 rebels.
The left of that portion of the enemy's line which attacked my front, overlapping my right, crossed the railroad and fired into my rear. The Eighty-second New York Volunteers, suffered more severely than any other regiment from this fire, as they held the right of the line. This regiment was under command of Major Baird, since the colonel (reinstated by the President of the United States,