War of the Rebellion: Serial 002 Page 0412 OPERATIONS IN MD., PA., VA., AND W.VA. Chapter IX.

Search Civil War Official Records

Zouaves, who had charged and fallen back. Moving in column by platoon along the slope of the hill under the fire of the enemy's batteries we lost one color-bearer and several of our men. The regiment was here filed to the left along a ravine, then marched up the hill, and formed in line of battle near its summit, directly in front of the enemy's position. The regiment was at once ordered to charge, and moved gallantly on, exposed to a sharp fire, up to a fence intervening between if, and the enemy's works. Here some little confusion occurred, the position of the enemy not being clearly understood, so rapid had been our movements, and the regiment halted, firing and loading under the cover of the fence. An order given at this time not clearly heard, a portion of the line fell back to reload. They were at once rallied to the fence, when the regiment was formed in line of battle and led on by Colonel Willcox in advance of our center, the regiment, responding to the wave of his cap with a cheer, cleared the fence, and charged down the slope upon the enemy's battery.

A heavy and well-directed fire was at once opened upon us from his batteries and by his infantry, screened by the woods on both our flanks. The regiment moved bravely on, the fire becoming very destructive. The enemy being hid from view, and their fire coming from every direction, the line was broken, and the men in detachments, guided by their officers, when the enemy could be distinguished and fired with the utmost coolness and precision. At this time heavy masses of the enemy advanced along the road near their battery to our right, and, flanking us, their fire become actually murderous. The men stood it coolly, and advancing, divided as they were, into the line of woods, answered his fire. The enemy's fire being continuous from every quarter, their infantry advancing on us through the wood in great force, our officers and men falling all about us, the regiment unsupported in rear or flank, there was but one thing to be done, and, gathering what we could about the colors, we fell back and reascended the acclivity to the spot from whence our first charge was made. Here we rallied as many of the men of the regiment as was possible, and endeavored to collect stragglers from other regiments.

In the hope that we could more successfully stop fugitives by retiring more from the line of fire, we fell back and continued our efforts to reform. The enemy now appearing in overwhelming strength on the right, we moved on to our bivouac of the morning, near Centreville, which was occupied by the regiment in comparatively good order.

After two or three hours' rest in obedience to orders, the regiment took up the line of march in good order for Washington.

Inclosed I transmit a list of the casualties of the day.* The loss is heavy, and occurred mostly in front of the enemy's batteries. The loss of the officers is very large proportionately to the men, and is sufficient proof not only of their gallantry, but of the murderous fire that the regiment sustained. No troops could have maintained their formation for any length of time under such a fire. Hurried into action after a march of twelve miles over an exceedingly road, with but little water and no time for rest and refreshment, our fatigued men evinced a courage, coolness, and endurance that entitle them to the highest praise.

The regiment went into the action four hundred and seventy-five men and twenty-five commissioned officers strong, and returned with a loss of nine officers and one hundred and eight men killed, wounded, and


*Embodied in division return, p.405.