Numbers 19. Report of Colonel M. C. Butler, Second South Carolina Cavalry.
JANUARY 6, 1863.
GENERAL: On the 24th of last month, I received your order to rendezvous the next at Brandy Station, on the Central Railroad, with a detachment from my regiment of 125 men and five days' rations. I reached the station at sunset with about 145 men, and joined the other detachments from your brigade, and continued with them until the evening of the 27th, when your ordered me with my own, together with the First North Carolina, First South Carolina, and Phillips' Legion detachments, to move upon the town of Occoquan by the Telegraph road and attack it. I drove in the enemy's pickets near the intersection of the Telegraph and Bacon Race roads, taking 4 prisoners, and marched into the town about sunset without resistance. I found and took possession of 5 United States Government wagons and 2 sutlers' wagons and teams loaded with forage, camp equipage, and sutlers' stores, which had been deserted by the teamsters, and took 12 or 15 prisoners, of the Seventeenth Pennsylvania Cavalry.
The next morning, soon after taking up the line of march in the direction of the Occoquan River, I received a verbal order from you at Greenwood Church to move with my regiment by a left-hand road to Bacon Race Church, where you would meet me. At this point I separated from the brigade, and not expecting to encounter the enemy in much force, I directed Lieutenant W. H. Perry, in command of the advance guard, to dash at his pickets, if not too strong, wherever he saw them, and endeavor to prevent their escape. We first met them about 1 mile from the church, and Lieutenant Perry very promptly dashed at and ran them upon their reserves of about a squadron, and skirmished with them until the remainder of the regiment came up. They continued to make some show of resistance, which induced the belief that their supports were near at hand; but as I confidently expected an attack to be made by some portion of our cavalry division on the roads leading parallel to the one by which I had advanced, and upon the point at which I was aiming, and that we would be mutual supports to each other, I ordered a charge, which was handsomely responded to. The enemy fled precipitately, and as my advance was about engaging his rear I discovered, 200 yards in front, a large force of cavalry and two pieces of artillery. They opened upon me a terrific fire of grape and canister, and, finding no attack at the points where I expected, I halted and retired a short distance. Apprehending that the enemy would take advantage of this opportunity to make a charge upon me, I wheeled about to resist it, during which time he continued to shell me with rapidity. Discovering no other demonstration on their part, and still expecting the attack to be made on my right, I retired a quarter of a mile on the Brentsville road and dismounted my sharpshooters, intending to move round and attack in the rear while the attack was being made in front; but I could hear nothing from you, and, waiting as long as I thought it prudent with my small force in the presence of a largely superior force of the enemy, I endeavored to retrace my steps, and found the road by which I had advanced occupied by the enemy. No alternative was left me but to make a circuit of 3 or 4 miles to extricate myself. This I did successfully, and reached the road by which I expected you to have advanced just as the rear of General W. H. F. Lee's
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