No. 8. Report of Colonel John H. Taggart, Twelfth Pennsylvania Reserve Infantry.
HEADQUARTERS TWELFTH REGIMENT, THIRD BRIGADE, McCALL'S DIVISION, PENNSYLVANIA RESERVE CORPS, Camp Peirpoint, December 21, 1861.
GENERAL: Pursuant to orders from brigade headquarters, the regiment under my command, numbering 575 officers and men, marched out upon the Dranesville pike yesterday morning between 6 and 7 o'clock, took position on the left of the brigade, and advanced towards Dranesville. Nothing of special importance occurred until about 1 mile west of Difficult Creek, when the scouting parties reported that a considerable force of the enemy, numbering about four regiments, were drawn up on a field about 1 mile to the left of our line, apparently watching our movements. I immediately halted my regiment upon receiving this information and formed line of battle facing the enemy, but as showed no disposition to engage, after waiting some time the regiment was again put in march towards Dranesville.
On approaching the village our flanking parties were driven in by a large force of the enemy who were posted in the woods, a dense thicket of pines, on our left. Our scouts reported that they had been fired on by troops concealed in the woods. The fire was returned, when the enemy in large numbers showed themselves and pursed our scouts for some distance towards the left of my regiment, which was instantly halted and formed into line to receive the attack on the turnpike road. My right rested on the hill leading into Dranesville, and the left opposite a brick house on the left of the pike, and behind which the enemy appeared to be in force.
At this juncture Adjt. S.b. Smith was dispatched to you on the right of the brigade, informing you of the state of affairs. Your immediate presence at the scene of attack, and the timely support of the other regiments of the brigade, the Kane Rifle Regiment, the cavalry force, and Easton's battery, are facts which came under your own notice, and therefore need no further mention from me.
Before the regiments had got fairly into position the enemy opened with a heavy fire of shot and shell, which fell thick and fast in the vicinity of the left of my regiment. The shells at first exploded in our rear, tearing up the ground and splintering the fences in every direction, but fortunately did no damage to the men under my command. After firing about fifteen minutes the enemy succeeded in getting a better range, and the shells burst over our heads, but without injury, the men on the left, the most exposed portion of the regiment, being ordered to lie flat on the ground.
Easton's battery now opened upon the enemy from our left with such effect that the firing from the enemy ceased for a tie, and we were relieved from the most annoying situation in which a soldier can be placed, that of receiving a fire from the enemy without returning it, which we could not do, as the enemy were entirely hidden from view. The conduct of the men during the time they were under fire, nearly all of them for the first time, was most commendable. There was no flinching, and the line was preserved unbroken.
At this time, by your orders, I dismounted, leaving my horse in the road, and on foot conducted the charge of my regiment into a dense woods opposite the right wing for the purpose of capturing the enemy's battery. We advanced into the woods as rapidly as the nature of the