War of the Rebellion: Serial 005 Page 0319 Chapter XIV. BALL'S BLUFF AND EDWARDS FERRY, VA.

Search Civil War Official Records

Devens, with his command, moved inland again. At this time the remaining men of the Twentieth, under Major Revere, joined us.

Major Revere had during the morning brought round from the other side of the island a small scow, the only means of transportation excepting the whale-boat, holding 16, and the two skiffs, holding 4 and 5, respectively, with which we crossed in the morning. At 2 o'clock the detachment of Baker's brigade and the Tammany regiment had arrived. and Colonel Baker, who disposed the troops under his command. The 318 men of the Twentieth were in the open space, the right up the river. The Fifteenth were in the edge of the woods on the right; a part of the California (Baker's) regiment on their left, touching at right angles our right.

One company of the Twentieth, under Captain Putman, was deployed as skirmishers on the right in the woods; one under Captain Crownin-shield on the left. Captain Putnam lost an arm in the beginning of the engagement and was carried to the rear. His company kept their ground well, under Lieutenant Hallowell. The Fifteenth had before this, after the arrival of General Baker, fallen back the second time in good order, and had been placed by General Baker as above mentioned.

The enemy now opened on us from the woods in front with a heavy fire of musketry, which was very effective. They fired low, the balls all going within from 1 to 4 feet of the ground. three companies of the Twentieth were kept in reserve, but on the open ground, exposed to a destructive fire. It was a continual fire now, with occasional pauses of one or two minutes, until the last. The rifled cannon was on the left in the open ground, in front of a part of Baker's regiment, exposed to a hot fire. It was not discharged more than eight times. The gunners were shot down in the first of the engagement, and I saw Colonel Lee carry a charge to the gun with his own hands. The last time that it was fired the recoil carried it down the rise to the edge of the bank. The men of the Twentieth Regiment behaved admirable, and all that were left of them were on the field after the battle was declared lost by General Baker. They acted, at least all under my command, with great coolness and bravery, and obeyed every order implicitly; and even after the intimation had been given that we must surrender in order to save the men that were left, they cheerfully rallied, and delivered a well-directed fire upon two companies which we came upon which had just advanced out of the woods. We were slowly driven back by their fire in return, and covered ourselves with the slight rise mentioned above.

We now tried to induce the colonel to attempt an escape, and got him down the bank unhurt. I turned to collect the remnant of my company, and when I returned to the bank they told me that the colonel (Lee), major, and adjutant had got into a small boat, and were by this time safely across. Feeling at ease then about them, I collected all that I found of the Twentieth, and gave permission to all those who could swim, and wished to, to take the water, and sent over reports and messages by them. I then ordered those of the regiment who could not swim, and wished to, to take the water, and sent over reports and messages by them. I then ordered those of the regiment who could not swim to follow up the river, in order to get them out of the murderous volleys which the enemy were pouring down on to us from the top of the bank. About 20 of the Twentieth Regiment, 20 of the Fifteenth, and 40 of the Tammany and California regiments followed us. We went up as farads the large mill, where I found, by means of a negro there, a small sunken skiff in the mill-way, and induced him to get it out of water and down to the river. It was capable of holding 5 men, and I