No. 13. Report of Brigadier General Willis A. Gorman, U. S. Army, of operations opposite Edwards Ferry, Maryland.
BRIGADE HEADQUARTERS, NEAR EDWARDS FERRY,
October 26, 1861.
I have the honor to communicate to the general commanding the division the facts and events connected with my brigade in the advance across the Potomac, made under his orders. On the 20th instant I received orders to detach two companies of the First Minnesota Regiment to cover a reconnaissance on the Virginia side of the Potomac, whereupon Colonel Dana sent forward Companies E nd K, who crossed the river, but were soon recalled. On the morning of the 21st who other companies of the same regiment crossed and covered the advance of a cavalry party under Major Mix, at the same time driving in the enemy's pickets.* Orders were received by me to have the Second New York State Militia and First Minnesota Volunteers at Edwards Ferry on Monday, the 21st instant, at daylight, or as near that hour as possible. These two regiments arrived there at the time specified. I also ordered the thirty-fourth New York Volunteers to proceed to the same point at as early an hour as possible from Seneca Mills, 8 miles distant. They arrived with great promptitude at 11 o'clock. During that day and night (the 21st the entire brigade crossed the river, numbering about 2,250 men.
Just bout the time I got the first regiments across a severe battle commenced near Conrad's Ferry, distant 5 or 6 miles. Before the brigade got over news of a repulse of our troops at Conrad's Ferry reached the general commanding, who sent me an order in writing to "commence entrenchments immediately" on the Virginia side. With the utmost dispatch entrenching tools were places in the hands of the Seventh Michigan Regiment (whole guns were almost worthless), who did good service, and very soon rifle-pits were dug and other entrenchments begun. From the commencement of the crossing on Monday I was ordered in command of the troops at the Ferry and in charge of the means and meaner of disposing of them as the re-enforcements arrived; also of crossing them over the river. On the arrival of Major-General Banks on the 22nd I received the same order from him. I seized all the canal-boats within 2 miles of the Ferry - above and below - and all the flat, scow, and row boats to be found, and put seven canal-boats and two scow-boats into the Potomac from the canal, placing them in charge of Captain Foote, quartermaster of the Second New York State Militia, who managed the crossing with great energy, so that by Tuesday, 22nd instant, at 10 o'clock a. m., we had crossed 4,500 men, 110 or more of Van Alen's Cavalry, and two 12-pounder howitzers of Rickett's battery, immediately under the charge of Lieutenants Kirby and Woodruff.
About 4 o'clock on the 22nd instant the enemy was seen advancing upon us in force. They immediately, and with great spirit and determination, attacked out outposts near the woods adjacent to Goose Creek, to the left and in front of our lines, and about 3 miles from Leesburg. They numbered over 3,000 infantry, with some cavalry in
*Reference to this skirmish is in General Stone's report (October.
29) of Ball's Bluff, No. 2, p.293.