previous next

[100] battery already in position, and of their serried ranks near twenty times his own in number, he advanced to the charge; for a time he was covered by a clump of trees, but passing these he came directly in front of the enemy, within easy distance, and made his charge upon them. The result, of course, could not be questioned. “For one ball of his” there were twenty of the enemy, and there could be no expectation but to be ultimately cut to pieces, but he could sell his forces for their utmost value, and he did. The enemy, in fact, recoiled from the intense severity of his onset, but recovering they began to bear him back. Gen. Bee, with his brigade, then came to his support. That again checked the current for an instant. Col. Bartow then came. That again impeded its resistless progress; but the disparity was still too great. Their forces were driven down to the Warrenton turnpike, then across it, and back to the woods, one hundred yards below. When Hampton's Legion came with this a charge was made, which drove the enemy back to the road. From this they were able to recover, and drove our forces back in turn; again they rallied and drove back the enemy, but extending to the left they forced us back again. Jackson and Cocke had also come to maintain the unequal strife, and in the midst of fearful carnage strove to hold their own against overwhelming numbers.

Then it was, whilst the victory wavered in the balance, and hope seemed almost gone, that the gallant Second, with Kemper's battery, and the Eighth, of bonham's brigade, under a previous and well-timed order of Gen. Beauregard, came, sweeping every thing before them, the fore flying from their deadly fire and fierce charges.

On the other flank Smith, too, marched with four regiments, fresh from the railroad, to the vicinity of the enemy, put them to flight and commenced the pursuit.

Each in turn had met the successive enfilading columns of the enemy, until at length he had no other enfilading columns to advance. The pluck of our men began to tell against even overwhelming numbers. Their batteries, which they had advanced to the eminences east of the Warrenton road, and near a mile within the line of battle which we took at first, became the objects of attack. The assault was fearful, but the defence was stern and bloody. From Rickett's battery every horse was killed, and even to-day there lie around the place where it stood the bodies of one hundred of the enemy. It was taken twice, but retaken again; and it was only when the regiments of Cols. Cash and Kershaw had cleared the land to the left that the effort to retake it was abandoned. The guns were turned at once upon the enemy, and helped to drive them from the field. Not far to the right the same tragedy was enacted to the same result. The line of the enemy cut in two at this point was never formed again. One portion retreated by the Warrenton turnpike, in the direction of Centreville; the others made again the detour round by Sudley's Ford; both made for Centreville; and as they went along the turnpike back, the play of Kemper's battery was as admirable as is often seen. The road is broad and straight for at least three miles. He planted his battery upon it. He was animated to his utmost skill and power by his sense of wrongs. The enemy for months has held and abused his home in Alexandria; and, as he ploughed the road along which they were forced to travel, I fear he did not ask for mercy on the souls of those he sent to their account.

The regiments of Kershaw and Cash, with Kemper's Battery, followed to within a mile of Centreville. The road was strewed with plunder, and at the Hanging Bridge, on Cobb's Creek, they took twenty-one guns, which had become jammed, and which, together with the horses which they were all too hurried to unhitch, were taken and sent back.

I spoke, last night, of the movement of Generals Jones and Bonham upon the batteries in front of them, but I did not state the full effect of their exertions. They followed on to within sight of Centreville. The enemy had preceded them, and had encamped. Alarmed at their approach, he struck his camp again, worn as he was, and did not stop until far beyond Fairfax. Whether he stopped this side of Alexandria or Washington, does not appear. In his route, he left equipage and baggage, and four of his guns at Centreville, which he had not the spirit even to attempt to save. The number of guns now taken is reported to be fifty-one, and as a conclusive indication of what is the true import and effect of our action, it may be stated that yesterday the Confederate flag was run up at Fairfax. That night the town was in possession of a detachment of our cavalry, and tonight it will be occupied by a force sufficient to hold it.

In further evidence of the demoralization of the enemy, it was stated this morning by a gentleman of official position and character in Alexandria, that he left that town unchallenged last night, that he came to our own pickets unquestioned, and that the rumor was, the volunteers whose term of service had expired, have resolved to leave; that it is determined to prevent them, and that the regular soldiers are now called out to keep them in subjection. This is probable. In a house to-day where some forty of the wounded enemy had crept, and where they have since been lying without food or attendance, I met a lad who said the coming of many of the troops was entirely involuntary; that their term of service having expired, they demanded their discharge, but were told they must fight the battle, and that then they would be paid. If not willing to fight, they must do it anyhow.

I mentioned yesterday that much depended on the opportune arrival of Col. Elzey with his brigade. In reference to the time I was mistaken; his was a portion o the command of

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)
hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
J. L. Kemper (3)
Kershaw (2)
Cash (2)
William Smith (1)
Rickett (1)
Frank Jones (1)
Claiborne F. Jackson (1)
Arnold Elzey (1)
Cocke (1)
M. L. Bonham (1)
Barnard E. Bee (1)
G. T. Beauregard (1)
Francis S. Bartow (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: