War of the Rebellion: Serial 016 Page 0424 OPERATIONS IN N. VA., W. VA., AND MD. Chapter XXIV.

Search Civil War Official Records

Numbers 59. Reports of Captain James F. Ryan, Sixty-third Pennsylvania Infantry, of the battles of Groveton and Bull Run.


Near Battle-field of Groveton, August 30, 1862.

GENERAL: I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations of the Sixty-third Pennsylvania Volunteers on yesterday, the 29th instant:

Early in the morning moved from Centreville with balance of the brigade (Robinson's, First Brigade, Kearny's division). Proceeding some 5 miles, the regiment was formed in line of battle and moved forward across open fields and creek to woods, through which we deployed. Ordered to support brigade commanded by Colonel Poe, which occupied a front to the right of that to which we had advanced. While in this position received a severe shelling from the batteries on the left of Colonel Poe's command. Our loss here was 2 men killed and 1 wounded. After being ordered to a position on the right, still supporting Colonel Poe, he having fallen back slightly, we were withdrawn and moved to the left. Rested in line of battle in edge of woods looking upon open fields.

After the lapse of about an hour General Kearny ordered Colonel Hays, with Sixty-third and One hundred and fifth Pennsylvania Regiments, to cross the field in front, deploy through woods to left, and intercept bodies of the enemy who were annoying General Hookers' right flank. This was done, and the regiments formed in line of battle at the railroad cut and rested. An error on the left in some other command and a confusion ensuing through some regiment firing into another, Colonel Hays was compelled to change his position to prevent the possibility of our being flanked by the enemy should he follow the broken and disordered troops flying past us. In a few moments order was restored, and we resumed our original position at the railroad cut.

Immediately after General Kearny ordered the Sixty-third, with the One hundred and fifth Pennsylvania and Twentieth Indiana, to proceed up the railroad cut, the Sixty-third in advance, deploy to the left, our right resting on the railroad, give the enemy a fire and charge them, and endeavor to drive them from their position on the railroad. In doing this we encountered a large force of the enemy rapidly coming down the railroad. Opening fire and then advancing at a charge, a terrible conflict ensued, which lasted over an hour, our loss being very severe. As the enemy took a position on the opposite side of the railroad, concealed by the ground thrown from the railroad cut, they could not be driven from the front, and we were subsequently forced to retire, being almost out of ammunition, and our effective force being reduced to one-half of the number with which we came upon the field.

I will here take occasion to mention our color-sergeant, William W. Weeks, who, notwithstanding the fearful shower of bullets rained upon us by the enemy from their cover, gallantly carried our colors to the front and there remained with them until wounded, when one of his guards, Corpl. John Huffman, Company I, caught them up, and bravely maintaining his position, received a shot which forced him to relinquish his charge to another of the color guard, Corpl. George Lang, Company E, who carried them safely off the field. Corporal Lang has since been promoted to sergeant and is now color-bearer.

Captain Fulton, Company H, reports the conduct of a stranger which deserves mention here. Private I. Conness, of Second New York Fire