Doc. 74.-the fight at Aldie, Va.
Aldie, Wednesday, June 17, 1863.The advance of General Gregg's cavalry command reached this place at about two o'clock this afternoon, where two brigades of the enemy, commanded by General Stuart in person, were found in possession. After three hours hard fighting they were forced to retire. The fight.  while it lasted, was one of the sharpest that has occurred during the war, and, as a consequence, the loss of officers and men on both sides is very heavy. The enemy's pickets were first encountered a little east of the village by companies H and M, of the Second New-York (Harris Light) cavalry, under the command of Lieutenant Dan Whitaker, and were by them driven through the town back to a ridge of hills half a mile to the west, extending across from the Middleburgh and Snicker's Gap road, where the rebel force was in position ready for action. The advance brigade under General Kilpatrick, immediately moved through to the westerly edge of the town. The First Maine, Colonel Douty, was sent off to a point half a mile to the left, and the Fourth New-York, Colonel Cesnola, to the right, to support a section of Andrews's battery placed on a rise of ground north of the Snicker's Gap road. The enemy at this time occupied the hill, as before stated, where they had four guns in position ; a line of their skirmishers occupied a fence on the eastern slope, and a long ditch, just in front of which were half a dozen stacks of hay, thus commanding both Middleburgh and Snicker's Gap roads. A stronger position could not well have been selected. When the exact position of the enemy had been ascertained by drawing their fire, General Kilpatrick rode up to the Second New-York, (Harris Light,) and said then was the time for them to wipe out the reflection cast upon them for their alleged misconduct in the fight of last week, at Brandy Station. He ordered them to charge into the valley and secure the haystacks; the ditch or ravine at the rear of the position had not then been discovered. Companies H and M, accompanied by Lieutenants Whitaker, Raymond, Martinson, Homan, and Stuart, moved off down the Middleburgh road, the fence to the right was quickly thrown down, and, with a dash, this forlorn hope rushed up to the hay-stacks. For the first time their fire was opened from the ditch a little to the rear of the hay-stacks. This was filled with rebel cavalry — many of them armed with rifles. Captain Grintar, with Lieutenants Mattison and Shafer, and company K, dashed up immediately to the support of these companies, F, I, D, and G, went to the right up the Snicker's Gap road a piece, turned to the left, crossed the field, and reached the scene of conflict in time to take an active part. The contest for twenty minutes at this point was about as spirited a scene as is often witnessed on a battle-field. The Sixth Ohio, Major Steadman, was sent up the road to the left to support the Harris Light, when the whole command, with the Major at its head, dashed into the fight just in time to decide the unequal contest. The rebels were forced to abandon their position, and all who were not killed or captured, fled precipitately up the hill. They made a short stand behind the fence, when a dash from a battalion of the Fourth New-York, called in from its position behind the battery, together with the other regiments already named, drove them pell mell over the hill. The First Maine, at about this time, was called in from the left, and, with the First Massachusetts, stationed on the Snicker's Gap road, to a position held by the second battalion of the Fourth New-York. The rebels, at this time, charged down the same road, and drove before them a squadron, when General Kilpatrick ordered the First Maine, Colonel Douty, First Massachusetts, Lieutenant-Colonel Curtis, and a battalion of the Fourth New-York, under Colonel Cesnola, to charge up the road. There was a little hesitancy at first, when General Kilpatrick, accompanied by Colonel Douty, of the First Maine, and Captain Costar, of General Pleasanton's staff, went to the front, and called upon the troops to follow. There was no hesitancy then. The Maine boys gave three cheers for General Kilpatrick, and the whole column made a dash up the road in the face of a terrible fire from carbines, rifles, and cannon, sweeping every thing before them. This virtually ended the fight. The rebels, after a little more skirmishing, fell back, and our forces to-night occupy their position. Colonel Cesnola was under arrest at the commencement of the action, but set such a gallant example to his men, by leading the first charge without his sword, that, upon returning to the road, General Kilpatrick released him from arrest, and placed upon him his own sword. He immediately after participated in the charge with the First Maine, First Massachusetts, and Fourth New-York, and has not been seen since. A sergeant of the regiment asserts that he saw the Colonel fall, and is sure that he was killed, and some of the rebel prisoners confirm this report. But the report of his death is not generally believed. In this charge General Kilpatrick had a horse shot under him, and Colonel Douty, of the First Maine, was killed. When returning from the charge, the body was found by Captain Vaughn, who had it properly cared for. Two shots struck him, probably at about the same time. The First Massachusetts captured the battle-flag of the Fourth Virginia cavalry. More than one hundred prisoners were captured, members, principally, of the First, Third, Fourth, and Fifth Virginia cavalry. They say they were under the command of General Stuart. Among the prisoners is one colonel, three majors, and a lot of line officers. The major and sixty men, who were stationed behind the haystacks, were nearly all captured. The major considered his position impregnable, not believing that any cavalry would date make a charge upon the place, swept as the whole field was by three lines of guns. The meeting of General Gregg's command was entirely unexpected by the rebels. Stuart had arrived thus far on a forced march into Maryland, having marched twenty-five miles this morning, and expecting to be on the road again in the evening. Two regiments had entered the town, and had pressed into their service all the blacksmith tools to be found; and when our advance-guard  approached they were busily engaged shoeing horses. To-day the command of Colonel Duffle passed through Thoroughfare Gap, after a brief fight, and to-night occupies Middleburgh, five miles from Aldie, and in the rear of Stuart's army. Stuart will have to fight to-morrow at a disadvantage, or, what is more probable, sneak off to-night. Captain Allen, of the Fourth New-York cavalry, came through the rebel lines with this news. During the engagement to-day General Gregg managed affairs in a manner reflecting the highest credit upon his profession. He was fortunate not only in having an efficient staff, but able commanders under him to execute all orders received.
Colonel Duffie's report.
headquarters First Rhode Island cavalry, near Centreville, June 18, 1883.sir: I have the honor to report that on the morning of the seventeenth instant I received from the headquarters of the Second brigade, Second cavalry division the following order. Colonel A. N. Duffie, First Rhode Island Cavalry: You will proceed with your regiment from Manassas Junction, by way of Thoroughfare Gap, to Middleburgh, there you will camp for the night and communicate with the headquarters of the Second cavalry brigade. From Middleburgh you will proceed to Union, thence to Snickersville; from Snickersville to Percyville, thence to Wheatland, and passing through Waterford to Nolan's Ferry, where you will join your brigade. In accordance with this order I left camp on the morning of the seventeenth instant with my regiment, two hundred and eighty strong, and proceeded to Thoroughfare Gap. At this place the enemy was met in force, and being much stronger than my command, I was obliged, in order to pass my regiment on to the Middleburgh road unseen, to make a demonstration on my left flank. This manoeuvre was successful; the enemy retired and I was enabled to gain the Middleburgh road. Nevertheless, they followed in my rear, but at a considerable distance, causing me no uneasiness. It was then half-past 9 o'clock A. M. At eleven o'clock, their skirmishers disappeared, and I proceeded unmolested until four o'clock P. M., when, approaching Middleburgh, my skirmishers again met and engaged the enemy, capturing his first picket in the road. I ordered Captain Allen, commanding the advanced squadron, to charge through the town. By this movement the rear-guard of General Stuart was cut off, and then a brisk cavalry fight ensued between his rear and my advance-guard. This engagement lasted half an hour, when the enemy was completely routed, and forced to retreat in the greatest disorder and confusion, scattering in every direction. Learning that Stuart with two thousand cavalry and four pieces of artillery had left town but half an hour before my arrival, and proceeded toward Aldie, I ordered that the different roads leading into the town be barricaded and strongly picketed, and instructed the officer commanding the outposts to hold the place at all hazards, hoping that after effecting communication with the brigade, which I supposed to be at Aldie, I should receive reinforcements. Captain Allen was selected to carry a despatch to General Kilpatrick, and directed to avoid as much as possible all main roads. The town was held by my command from half-past 4 to seven o'clock P. M., during which time the skirmishers had been constantly engaged. At seven, I learned that the enemy was approaching in force from Union, Aldie, and Upperville. Determined to hold the place, if possible, I dismounted one half of the regiment, placing them behind stone walls and the barricades. The enemy surrounded the town and stormed the barricades, but were gallantly repulsed by my men with great slaughter. They did not desist, but, confident of success, again advanced to the attack, and made three successive charges. I was compelled to retire on the road by which I came, that being the only one open to retreat, and with all that was left of my command I crossed Little River, north-east of Middleburgh, and bivouacked for the night, establishing strong pickets on the river. At ten P. M., having heard nothing from the despatch sent to General Kilpatrick at Aldie, I sent twenty men under an officer to carry a second despatch. I have since learned that Captain Allen succeeded in making his way through the enemy's lines to Aldie. The party bearing the second despatch was probably captured. At half-past 3 o'clock the next morning, eighteenth instant, I was informed by scouts, whom I had previously sent out, that the roads in every direction were full of the enemy's cavalry, and that the road to Aldie was held by a brigade with four pieces of artillery. Under these circumstances I abandoned the project of going to Union, but made up my mind not to surrender in any event. I directed the head of my column on the road to Aldie, when an engagement commenced at once, the enemy opening on both flanks with heavy volleys, yelling to us to surrender. I at once directed Captain Bixby, the officer commanding the advance-guard, to charge any force in his front, and follow the Aldie road to that point where it connects with the road to White Plains. This order was executed most admirably. Captain Bixby's horse was shot and.he himself wounded. We were then in an extremely hazardous position, the enemy being in front, rear and on both flanks, and were intermixed with us for more than an hour, till we reached the road leading to Hopeville Gap. I must freely praise the gallant conduct of the brave officers and men who were fighting side by side with overwhelming numbers of the enemy with the most determined valor, preferring rather to die than to surrender. I returned here exhausted at half-past 1 P. M.  to-day with the gallant debris of my much-loved regiment--four officers and twenty-seven men. My colors did not fall into the hands of the enemy, but were destroyed when they could not be saved, the color-bearer being captured. I can praise no one more than another, but I desire to call. your attention to the gallant conduct of all the officers and men of the First Rhode Island cavalry. I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
A. N. Duffie, Colonel Cavalry Regiment.
Captain Allen's report.
Middleburgh, where the regiment was then engaged with the enemy, to carry a despatch to General Kilpatrick at Aldie, accompanied by two men. I first attempted to proceed by the main road, but was halted and fired upon by a body of the enemy, who said they were the Fourth Virginia cavalry. I then returned toward Middleburgh, and leaving the road, attempted to make my way across the the country. I found the fields and woods in every direction full of bodies of the enemy; by exercising the greatest care I succeeded in making my way through them to Little River; here I encountered five of the enemy, and forced them to give me passage. Following the river down, I struck the main road about one mile from Aldie, and by inquiry, I learned that our pickets were on that road. I reached Aldie and delivered my despatch to General Kilpatrick at nine P. M. General Kilpatrick informed me that his brinade was so worn out that he could not send any reenforcements to Middleburgh, but that he would report the situation of our regiment to General Gregg. Returning, he said that General Gregg had gone to state the facts to General Pleasanton, and directed me to remain at Aldie until he heard from General Pleasanton. I remained, but received no further orders.
A National account.
The fight at Aldie, on Wednesday, which was noticed briefly yesterday, was far more desperate than was at first supposed here. The cavalry engaged on our side were the Second New-York, Sixth Ohio, First Massachusetts, and Fourth New-York, under command of Colonel Kilpatrick, and the First Maine, of Colonel J. J. Gregg's brigade; and a portion of General Fitz-Hugh Lee's brigade, under command of Colonel Rousseau, on the part of the confederates. Colonel Kilpatrick's command was leading the advance of our cavalry corps, moving from Fairfax Court-House to Aldie. The rebel force (cavalry and mounted infantry) had come from the direction of Snicker's Gap, arriving at Aldie some two hours before our force reached that point; and the rebels getting warning of the approach of Kilpatrick, posted themselves in commanding positions, and with their mounted sharp-shooters placed behind stone walls ready to pour a murderous fire upon our advancing column. Kilpatrick charged upon the rebel advance, and drove them furiously through the town, the rebels making a stand on the other side, where was posted a rebel battery of four guns on the road to Ashby's Gap; and the rebel cavalry posted themselves along the wooded hills and stone walls toward Snicker's Gap. Here desperate charges were made by our own and the rebel cavalry alternately, and after a fight of over three hours, and with varying success, the rebel force seemed to be gaining some advantage, when the First Maine regiment, Colonel onel J. J. Gregg's brigade for that purpose, came up to the contest, and by a desperate charge against the rebel battery of four guns and a regiment of mounted Mississippi infantry, the tide was turned in our favor, and the rebels were routed with loss — the horses galloping over the field riderless, and all of the foe that had not been killed being captured. But the victory was dearly bought by the loss of the gallant Colonel Douty, w ho fell mortally wounded. The fight lasted four hours, and some officers who participated and who have been in other fights say it was most desperate, such cutting and slashing with sabres not having occurred before in our encounters with rebel cavalry. As soon as the rebels Gap, and as they were in the direction of Ashby's Gap, and as they were going toward the latter, the First Rhode Island cavalry, Colonel Duffie, which had advanced through Thoroughfare Gap, intercepted the retreating rebels at Middleburgh, five miles from Aldie, and made a charge upon their rear, compelling the rebels to move yet faster toward Ashby's Gap, the Rhode Island boys following them up. Colonel Kilpatrick heard from the latter that they were still fighting at seven o'clock P. M., but no subsequent information as to the result of the contest at that point has yet been received. The force thus engaged was the advance of the rebel General Stuart's cavalry, who, it is alleged by prisoners, was advancing thus through Aldie with the expectation of making a new raid. Our loss is estimated at two hundred in killed, wounded, and missing. We captured over one hundred prisoners and a battle-flag belonging to the Fifth Virginia cavalry. Among the killed, besides Colonel Douty, were Captain G. J. Summatt, of the First Maine, and Lieutenants D. Whittaker and Martinson, of the Second New-York. The remains of the above were brought to this city in charge of Lieutenant E. W. Whittaker, (brother of Lieutenant W. killed,) aid to Colonel Kilpatrick, and Adjutant A. P. Russell, of the First Maine. The bodies will be embalmed by Drs. Brown and Alexander, preparatory to being conveyed to their late homes in Maine and Connecticut. The fact that the fight was so desperate is explained  by the importance of the position to be gained, that is, the commanding Gap at Aldie in the Bull Run and Catoctin ridge. General Pleasanton was pushing on at last accounts in the direction of Snicker's Gap. The names of the prisoners we captured are as follows: Captain R. P. Boston, Fifth Virginia cavalry; Major Carrington, Third Virginia; Captain F. R. Winser, after a desperate resistance; Captain L. B. White, Fifth Virginia, wounded; Captain Jones, Third Virginia; Lieutenant Boston, Fifth Virginia; Lieutenant Turnell, Fifth Virginia; Lieutenant Douglass, Fifth Virginia, and seventy-seven privates, principally from the Third and Fifth Virginia cavalry. Lieutenant Howard and Lieutenant Bagsdale, of the Fifth Virginia, were left on the field, suppose to be mortally wounded. A number of the privates of the rebels are known to be killed and wounded.