War of the Rebellion: Serial 016 Page 0744 OPERATIONS IN N. VA., W. VA., AND MD. Chapter XXIV.

Search Civil War Official Records

ascertained that the main body of the enemy was at Centreville and Fairfax Court-House. A section of the Washington Artillery accompanied the movement, designed to attack the enemy on the Centreville and Fairfax Court-House pike. A position was gained by a difficult road commanding this road, which was completely occupied by the enemy with one continuous roll of wagons going toward Fairfax Court-House. It was discovered also that we were in sight of the sentinels of a camp, the dimension of which could not be seen. The artillery was placed in position just after dark and opened upon the road. A few rounds sufficed to throw everything into confusion, and such commotion, upsetting, collisions, and smash-ups were rarely ever seen. The firing continued as long as it seemed desirable, and the pieces and the command withdrew to camp for the night 2 miles north of Ox Hill, on that road.

Next morning I returned by way of Frying Pan, to connect with General Jackson and inform him of the enemy as far as ascertained. The head of his column was opposite Chantilly, and I disposed part of Robertson's brigade on his right flank, between him and Centreville, and reconnoitered in person; but no force but a small one of cavalry was discernible nearer than Centreville. Ox Hill was held by my cavalry until General Jackson came up, and having charged General Robertson with the care of the right flank, I first tried to force, with some skirmishers, our way down the turnpike toward Fairfax Court-House, but the wooded ridges were firmly held by infantry and artillery, and it was plainly indicated the enemy would here make a stand. General Jackson, being in advance, waited for Longstreet to close up. Meanwhile, with Lee's brigade, I moved round toward Flint Hill, directly north of Fairfax Court-House, to attack the enemy's flank. Passing Fox's Mill and following a narrow and winding route in the midst of a heavy thunder-storm, I reached the summit of the ridge which terminates in Flint Hill about dark, and discovered in my immediate front a body of the enemy, a portion of which was thrown out as sharpshooters to oppose our farther advance. Having thus discovered that Flint Hill was occupied by the enemy in force, and hearing about the same time some shots in my rear, I withdrew my command by the same road. As we approached the mouth of the road the advance guard, under Colonel Wickham, engaged and drove off a portion of an infantry regiment which had taken position on the steep embankment of the road to dispute our return, and the command continued its march, bivouacking that night in the neighborhood of Germantown.

Meanwhile a heavy engagement had taken place on Jackson's right, the enemy having penetrated to his flank by way of Millen's house. On the next day, the enemy having retired, Fairfax Court-House was occupied by Lee's brigade, and I sent Hampton's brigade, which had just reported to me, having been detained on the Charles City border until the enemy had entirely evacuated that region, to attack the enemy at Flint Hill. Getting several pieces of the Stuart Horse Artillery in position, Brigadier-General Hampton opened on the enemy at that point, and our sharpshooters advancing about the same time, after a brief engagement the enemy hastily retired. They were immediately pursued, and Captain Pelham, having chosen a new position, again opened upon them with telling effect, scattering them in every direction. They were pursued by Hampton's brigade, which took a few prisoners, but owing to the darkness and the fact that the enemy had opened fire upon us with infantry and artillery from the woods, he considered it prudent to retire, which was done with the loss of only 1 man. This proved to be the rear guard of Sumner's column retreating toward Vienna, and I after