War of the Rebellion: Serial 016 Page 0323 Chapter XXIV. CAMPAIGN IN NORTHERN VIRGINIA.

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unhealthy business. Feeling certain that the rebels had been completely checked and defeated in their attempts to flank us and drive us from the field, and that we could now securely hold it until morning, by which time we could rally our scattered forces and bring up sufficient fresh troops to enable us to gain a complete victory on the morrow - I felt certain that the rebels had put forth their mightiest efforts, and were greatly cut up and crippled - I therefore determined to look up my little brigade and bring it forward into position, when we would be ready in the morning to renew the contest, and renew the great, glorious drama of the war. I left the field about 8 o'clock p.m. in possession of our gallant boys, and with Lieutenant Este and Niles started back in the darkness, and was greatly surprised, upon coming to where I expected to find my brigade, with thousands of other troops, to find none. I kept on half a mile farther in painful, bewildering doubt and uncertainty, when I found you, general, and first learned from you, with agonizing surprise, that our whole army had been ordered to retreat back across Bull Run to Centreville.

Comment is unnecessary. I felt that all the blood, treasure, and labor of our Government and people for the last year had been thrown away by that unfortunate order, and that most probably the death-knell of our glorious Government had been sounded by it. The highest praise I can award to the officers and soldiers of my brigade, in all the hard service and fighting through which we have passed, is that they have bravely, cheerfully, patiently, and nobly performed their duty. Colonels Cnatwell, of the Eighty-second Ohio, and Zeigler, of the Fifth Virginia, deserve particular mention for their coolness and bravery in the long and desperate fight of the 26th with the rebels at the railroad. In the death of Colonel Cantwell the country, as well as his family, have sustained an irreparable loss. No braver man or truer patriot ever lived. He constantly studied the best interests of his soldiers and of the country, and his men loved, obeyed, and respected him as a father. Truly the loss of such an officer in these trying times is a great calamity.

I avail myself of this opportunity to return my thanks to the members of my staff, Captain Baird, Flesher, and McDonald, and Lieutenant Cravens and Hopper, for their promptness, bravery, and efficiency in the transmission and execution of orders. Captain Baird, unfortunately, in attempting to return to me on the field on the evening of the 30th, after dark, in company with one of my orderlies, Corporal Wilson, Company C, First Virginia Cavalry, took a wrong path, which led into the enemy's lines, and they were both captured and are still prisoners. My brigade surgeon, too, Major Daniel Meeker, is always at his post, whether in field of danger, camp, or hospital. His superior science, skill, and patient industry have proved the greatest blessing to our sick and wounded soldiers.

Lists of my killed, wounded, and missing have been sent you.*

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

R. H. MILROY,

Brigadier General, Commanding Indepdt. Brigadier, First Corps, Army of Va.

Major T. A. MEYSENBERG,

Assistant Adjutant-General.

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*Embodied in revised statement, p.251.

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