War of the Rebellion: Serial 016 Page 0583 Chapter XXIV. CAMPAIGN IN NORTHERN VIRGINIA.

Search Civil War Official Records


Camp near Winchester, Va., October 8, 1862.

MAJOR: Of the part borne in the second battle of Manassas on August 30 last by this brigade, which, in the compulsory absence of General Toombs until late in the battle, I carried into action, I respectfully submit to you the following report:

At about 4 p.m. of August 30, in obedience to the order of General D. R. Jones, I put the brigade in line of battle, with its right resting on the road from Gainesville to Manassas and its left toward the right of General Kemper's command. Shortly afterward I was ordered by General Jones to advance in line of battle, keeping my distance from General Kemper. I ordered the brigade accordingly to advance, which it did for 1 1/2 or 2 miles, when it encountered the enemy's infantry. This advance was through fields and for a great part of the way under the shells of the enemy's artillery. When the line reached the Chinn house its position was such that the Twentieth Georgia Regiment had to go to the left of that house and the other regiments (the Second Georgia, the Fifteenth Georgia, and the Seventeenth Georgia) to its right. This caused a wide separation of the Twentieth from them. As the Twentieth was passing the house some officers of other commands met them, crying, "Come this way; your aid is needed; the enemy are close by." This drew me to the Twentieth, and when the regiment had passed the house I discovered the enemy a few hundred yards distant, almost, too, in our front, but a little to our left, in a pine thicket. To that thicket I carried the regiment, and on reaching it ordered them to charge it. The pines were found to be very dense and some of them of large size for a second growth. The regiment obeyed the order with alacrity, and advanced with as much rapidity as the thicket would admit of, receiving a heavy fire from the enemy and returning it without halting. The thicket proved to be one of considerable length, with its left resting on the dry bed of a small stream or branch. The enemy fell back as we advanced until we reached its lower end. There we obtained a good view of them and saw them running in complete rout-a huddled mass. From their appearance there must have been several regiments of them. They soon got out of sight by the speed they made under the fire in their rear. But on emerging into the open ground we also discovered a battery on the opposite side of the dry branch to which I have referred and not more than 400 yards off, which (the thicket being then clear of its own troops) opened its whole fire on us. I reflected a moment on what was best to be done. It appeared to me that to stay where we were was certain destruction; to retreat would be exposing ourselves for a long distance to the enemy's shells and might have other worse effects. I thought that upon the whole it was better to try to take the battery, especially as I could not see any infantry supports near it. I determined to make the attempt, and accordingly gave the order to charge the battery. This order was obeyed with a shout, and on the regiment went at a run. At about 50 or 60 yards from the front of the battery the level branch bottom terminated and the ascent of the hill on which the battery was placed commenced. The ascent for a short distance was rather steep, and then was considerably less so up to the guns, so that men lying down at the foot of the hill would be protected by the intervening little crest from the battery's fire. When the regiment reached the foot of the hill I ordered them to halt and lie down to recover their breath a little. This they did in about five minutes, during which time a terrific storm of missiles was passing just over their heads. I ordered them to