War of the Rebellion: Serial 016 Page 0431 Chapter XXIV. CAMPAIGN IN NORTHERN VIRGINIA.

Search Civil War Official Records

Numbers 64. Report of Lieutenant Colonel Nelson A. Gesner, One hundred and First New York Infantry, of the battles of Groveton and Bull Run.


September 4, 1862.

Report of the movements of the One hundred and first Regiment New York State Volunteers on the 29th and 30th of August 1862:

The regiment left Centreville for the scene of action early on the morning of the 29th and arrived there about 10 o'clock a.m., when the brigade moved forward in line of battle for about half a mile and halted near some woods. In a few minutes the regiment moved forward into the woods in line of battle, and going through them into a clearing were exposed to a heavy shelling from the enemy for about twenty minutes. At that time, by order of General Birney, who commanded in person, we marched back toward the woods by the left flank for about a quarter of a mile, when we halted and came to a front. We advanced some little distance and were soon under fire of the enemy, which was returned with spirit. At this time General Birney sent word that we were being flanked on the left, and we were ordered to march by the left flank and file left, and formed line of battle at right angles with the first line some 200 paces to the rear. In the execution of this order we had to cross a deep cut in the road and a small open space. Here we received a severe fire from the enemy and a number of men fell. After remaining in position for about an hour we were marched some distance to the rear and stacked arms. At 2 o'clock p.m. we were again moved forward, and took position in rear of Randolph's battery. We remained here an hour, when we were moved a short distance to the left, and remained there about an hour. We were then ordered to march forward and attack the enemy. We moved forward by the flank into the woods, and upon arriving near the enemy formed line of battle-the Fortieth New York and One hundred and first being together, the Fortieth being on our right. We then advanced, and soon the enemy opened a heavy fire of musketry on us. The line then halted and commenced firing. After a few minutes the order was given "Forward," and the regiment went on in splendid order, through a heavy fire, at a double-quick. The enemy could not stand the charge, but broke and fled (a few now and then turning to fire). After falling back some distance they came to a deep cut. Here they attempted to rally, and partially succeeded. We arrived too soon, however, and they again broke and fled. We continued to drive them before us, stopping now and then to fire a volley into them, until we had driven them clean out of the woods into the clear space beyond. Here we received a heavy cross-fire from the left at a distance of about 200 paces. I here turned, and found that my regiment in the charge had got somewhat scattered, and ordered a halt in order to reform. After remaining here half an hour, and continuing to fire upon and receive the fire of the enemy, I found that their fire was increasing and working more to our rear. not seeing any support on our left, and finding that the combined strength of the Fortieth and One hundred and first would not amount to over 250 men, I deemed it prudent to retire, and accordingly the command was given, and we fell back in good order, at quick-time. We halted in the center of the woods and took shelter behind a sort of rifle, built of fence rails, until we were ordered by General Birney to fall back and camp.