War of the Rebellion: Serial 002 Page 0091 Chapter IX. ENGAGEMENT AT BIG BETHEL, VA.

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Numbers 7. Reports of Colonel J. B. Magruder, C. S. Army.


SIR: I have the honor to inform you that we were attacked by about 3,500 troops of the Federal Army, with several pieces of heavy artillery, firing grape shot, this morning at 10 o'clock, and at 12 1/2 routed them completely, with considerable loss on their side. the prisoner report their force to be 5,000. It was certainly 3,500. Ours about 1,200 engaged; 1,400 in all.

Mr. George A. Magruder, jr., a volunteer aide, who is as conspicuous for his gallantry as for his efficiency, will deliver this in person.

thirty-five hundred men are on my right flank; 10,000 on my left. Please send re-enforcements immediately. Yorktown and Williambsburg, in my rear, have troops quite insufficient in number to defend them.

I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Colonel, Commanding Hampton Division.


Bethel Church, June 10, 1861.

SIR: The enemy, thirty-five hundred strong attacked us at our post, and after a very animated conflict of two hours and a half was repulsed at all points and totally routed. Four companies of cavalry are now in hot pursuit toward Newport News. I cannot speak too highly of the devotion of our troops, all of whom did their duty nobly, and whilst in might appear invidious to speak particularly of any regiment or corps where all behaved so well, I am compelled to express my great appreciation of the skill and gallantry of Major Randolph and his howitzer batteries, and Colonel Hill, the officers and men of the North Carolina regiment. As an instance of the letter latter I will merely mention that a gun under the gallant Captain Brown, of the howitzer battery, having been rendered unfit for service by the breaking of a priming wire in the vent, and not being defended by infantry from the small number we had at our command, Captain Brown threw it over a precipice, and the work was occupied for a moment by the enemy. Captain Bridgers, of the North Carolina regiment, in the most gallant manner retook it and held it until Captain Brown had replaced and put in position another piece, and then defended, it with his infantry in the most gallant manner. Colonel Hill's judicious and determined action was worthy of his ancient glory, and Colonel Stuart, Major Montugue, Major Cary, Captains Walker and Atkinson, with every officer and every man under their command, did good service in the front of the fight.

The able and efficient manner in which Captains Douthatt, Phillips, and Jones, of the cavalry, performed, the duties of infantry, and Lieutenant Chisman, of the Wythe Rifles, in protecting the rear of the position, is deserving of high commendation.

There were many acts of personal gallantry, some under my own observation, and others which were reported to me, that I will take occasion to mention, in a subsequent communication. At present I expect another attack, and have no time.