Numbers 104. Report of Colonel Robert T. Preston, Twenty-eighth Virginia Infantry.
ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
Camp, July, 1861.
COLONEL: In obedience to your order the 23rd instant, that "commanders of regiments and of detachment troops of all arms serving with the command of Colonel Cocke, on the 21st instant, in the battle of Manassas, will immediately make report to the colonel commanding the Fifth Brigade of the services performed by their respective commands of that glorious," I have respectfully to report:
The Twenty-eighth Regiment Virginia forces, C. S. Army, under my command, was, in obedience to orders, marched from Camp Mason on the 17th instant, and at about 4 p. m. on the same day encamped upon the position assigned in on the right of the leading from Manassas Junction by Lewis' Ford of Bull Run and upon the right ground within about half a mile of Lewis' Ford, and was also intended to regard and defend the Island Ford of Bull Run, lying nearly a mile southeast of its position.
During the interval until the 21st the encampment was frequently changed for the purpose stated, and the regiment turned out under arms several times by night and day to repel expected attacks upon the position.
Colonel Withers having some days previously crossed Ball's Ford and taken position in the woods, I was ordered on the evening of the 19th instant to cross the ford and defend it in conjunction with his command against the attack of the enemy. I occupied the right of the road leading from Ball's Ford towards Centreville on the night of the 19th, and again on the night of the 20th instant. Both regiments on the nights referred to posted pickets along the Centreville road, and I also posted pickets upon the approaches to the Island Ford. For grated security I ordered Company K, Captain Deyerle, to take position with the advance picket, and make proper resistance before retiring upon my position.
During the early part of the night picket runners informed me that the pickets of a body of the enemy were posted within half a mile of our advance pickets. They also reported that they could hear a sound as of speeches made in the enemy's camp, responded to by laughter and cheers. At 2 o'clock on the morning of the 21st pickets reported the notice of large of the enemy and quantities of artillery passing over the turnpike in the direction of the stone bridge. The passing artillery was distinctly anile from my quarters.
At-o'clock a. m. the regiment was turned out under your order, and proceeded to occupy a position to resist the enemy if he should approach along the Centreville road. The two regiment were formed in line of battle, the Twenty-eighth resting on the right side of the road, parallel with and protected by the wood which intervened between their position and open ground. I subsequently caused the fence to be removed farther within the wood, so as to deprive the enemy of a material protection to his advance.
Two days before, in company with Captain Harris, of the Engineers, I made a personal reconnaissance of the Centreville road and approaches to the Island Ford of Bull Run, he explaining the topography of the ground around us.
After remaining in this position until - a. m., dispatching couriers