War of the Rebellion: Serial 005 Page 0309 Chapter XIV. BALL'S BLUFF AND EDWARDS FERRY, VA.

Search Civil War Official Records

well concealed by the woods, and having no reason to believe my presence was discovered, and no large number of the enemy's tents being in sight, I determined not to return at once, but to report to yourself, which I did, by directing Quartermaster Howe to repair at once to Edwards Ferry to state these facts, and to say that in my opinion I could remain until I was re-enforced.

The means of transportation between the island and the Virginia shore had been strengthened, I knew, at daybreak, by a large boat, which would convey 60 or 70 men at once, and as the boat could cross and recross every ten minutes, I had no reason to suppose there would be any difficulty in sending over 500 men in an hour, as it was known there were two large boats between the island and the Maryland shore, which would convey to the island and the Maryland shore, which would convey to the island all the troops that could be conveyed from it to the Virginia shore.

Mr. Howe left me with his instructions at about 6.30 a. m., and during his absence, at about 7 o'clock, a company of riflemen, who had probably discovered us, were reported on our right upon the road form Conrad's Ferry. I directed Captain Philbrick, Company H, to pass up over the slope and attack them, while Captain Rockwood, Company A, was ordered to proceed to the right and cut off their retreat in the direction of Conrad's Ferry, and accompany Captain Philbrick as he proceeded to execute the order. Captain Philbrick's command proceeded over the slope of the hill, and the enemy retreated down on the other side, taking the direction of a corn field in which the corn had lately been cut and stood in the shocks. The first volley was fired by them from a ditch or trench, into which they retreated. It was immediately returned by our men, and the skirmish continued hotly for some minutes. I had ordered Captain Forehand, Company G, to re-enforce Captain Philbrick but a body of rebel cavalry being reported on our left, I directed Captain Philbrick to return to the wood, lest he might be cut off from the main body of the detachment. This he did in god order.

On returning to the wood I remained waiting for an attack for perhaps half an hour. At the end of this time, as my messenger did not return, I deemed it prudent to join Colonel Lee, which I did; but after remaining with him upon the bluff a short time, and having thoroughly scouted the woods, I returned to my first position.

I was rejoined at 8 a. m. by Quartermaster Howe, who reported to me that I was to remain where I was, and would be re-enforced, and that Lieutenant-Colonel Ward would proceed to Smart's Mill with the remainder of the regiment, that a communication should be kept up between us, and that 10 cavalry would report to me for the purpose of reconnoitering. For some reason they never appeared or reported to me, but I have since learned they came as far as the bluff. If they had reported to me, they could have rendered excellent service. I directed Quartermaster Howe to return at once and report the skirmish that had taken place, and threw out a company of skirmishers to the brow of the hill, and also to my right and left, to await the arrival of more troops.

At about 10 o'clock Quartermaster Howe returned and stated that he had reported the skirmish of the morning, and that Colonel Baker would shortly arrive with his brigade and take command. Between 9