War of the Rebellion: Serial 107 Page 0045 Chapter LXIII. RECONNAISSANCE TO THORNTON'S MILLS, VA.

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the battle commenced, of their attempt to cross it for the purpose of attacking on our left flank, the undersigned knows nothing. But this the undersigned does know, that a large force of the enemy did proceed under cover of a wood within about 600 yards of our intrenchments, evidently with the intention of emerging from the wood in line of battle parallel to our intrenchments, and of attacking us in front, but after getting into the wood parallel to our intrenchments, or nearly so, they were fired on by- Battery, and although the privates were urged by every kind of language by their officers to attack us, they could not be prevailed on to do so, and at last retired the same way they came in evident trepidation and confusion. While this force was forming immediately in our front, another large force of the enemy emerged from the valley and entered the wood, evidently for the purpose of acting as a reserve to the first in the attack on our front. On the retirement of the se two forces the battle ceased and the whole force of the enemy retired. After the First- mentioned force entered the wood, the undersigned explained to this regiment their object in doing so; that being nearer to them and immediately opposite to them, and the declivity of the hill in our front being less then in almost any other part of the intrenchments, there could be no doubt their first attack would be upon us, and he particularly cautioned his men not to fire until he gave the word of command to do so. And during the whole period of the cannonading and the above- mentioned movements, the undersigned watched the countenances and bearing of his men and he is pleased to say that without exception officers and privates appeared cheerful and indeed anxious for the enemy to make the contemplated attack, and many of them expressed their wishes to that effect. In the early part of the action Major A. C. Jones, with Company A and a portion of Company B, was sent on detached service by your order.


Colonel Forty- fourth Regiment Virginia Volunteers.


Commanding Fifth Brigade.


OCTOBER 20, 1861 - Reconnaissance from Dranesville to Herndon Station and Thornton's Mills, Va.

Report of Captain John G. Parke, U. S . Topographical Engineers.

DRANESVILLE, October 21, 1861.

SIR: I have the honor to transmit herewith a sketch* of reconnaissance made during a part of yesterday by a small party under my charge: Our general direction was to the south of the junction of the two pikes at Dranesville, and route extended to within sight of the railroad in the vicinity of the two stations, Herndon and Thornton's Mills. The roads are good, generally smooth, nearly level to the pike, ad thence gentle descents toward the railroad. THE road is timbered throughout to within a short distance of the railroad. Just to the west of the stream near Herndon smooth, open fields extend on both sides of the road and off to the railroad on the south. Nearing Thornton's Mills the road appears to be less traveled than the one to Hernson, although it has been lately used in the transportation of hay and fodder by the enemy to the southward. There are several bridle paths and wood roads