previous next

Doc. 114. fight at Goose Creek, Virginia, October 22, 1861.

General Gorman's report.

Brigade Headquarters, near Edwards' Ferry, Oct. 26, 1861.
To Capt. Charles Smith, Assistant Adjutant-General, Brigadier-Gen. Stone's Division:
sir: I have the honor to communicate to the General commanding the division, the facts and events connected with my brigade, in the advance across the Potomac, made under his order. On the 20th inst., I received orders to detach two companies of the First Minnesota regiment to cover a reconnoissance on the Virginia [249] side of the Potomac. This order was obeyed, and they crossed, but were soon recalled. On the morning of the 21st, two other companies were ordered to cross and cover the advance of a party of cavalry under Major Mix--all of which was done, the party at the same time driving in the enemy's pickets. Orders were received by me to have the Second New York and First Minnesota regiments of infantry at Edwards' Ferry, on Monday, the 21st inst., at daylight, or as near that hour as possible. These two regiments arrived there at the time specified. I also ordered the Thirty-fourth New York Volunteers to proceed to the same point at as early an hour as possible, from Seneca Mills, eight miles distant. They arrived with great promptness at 11 o'clock A. M. During that day and night (the 21st) the entire brigade crossed the river, numbering about two thousand two hundred and fifty men. Just about the time I got the first regiment across, a severe battle commenced near Conrad's Ferry, distant five or six miles. Before the brigade got over, news of a repulse of our troops at Conrad's Ferry reached the General commanding, who sent me an order in writing to “commence intrenchments immediately” on the Virginia side. With the utmost despatch, intrenching tools were placed in the hands of the Seventh Michigan regiment, (whose guns were almost worthless,) who did good service; and very soon rifle pits were dug and other intrenchments were begun. From the commencement of the crossing on Monday, I was ordered in command of the troops at the ferry, and in charge of the means and manner of disposing of them, as the reinforcements arrived; also, of crossing them over the river.

On the arrival of Major-Gen. Banks on the 22d, I received the same order from him. I seized all the canal boats within two miles of the ferry, above and below, and all the flat, scow, and row boats to be found, and put seven canal and two scow boats into the Potomac from the canal, placing them in charge of Capt. Foote, Quartermaster of the Second New York State Militia, who managed the crossing with great energy, so that by Tuesday, the 22d inst., at 10 o'clock A. M., we had crossed four thousand five hundred--one hundred and ten or more of Van Alen's Cavalry, and two twelve-pound howitzers of Ricketts' battery, immediately in charge of Lieutenants Kirby and Woodruff. About 4 o'clock on the 22d inst., the enemy were seen advancing upon us in force. They immediately, and with great spirit and determination, attacked our outposts near the woods, adjacent to Goose Creek. to the left and in front of our lines, and about three miles from Leesburg. They numbered over three thousand infantry, with some cavalry in reserve. Our forces met the attack with equal firmness, and for a short time the firing was rapid, when the two pieces of artillery opened upon the enemy a well-directed fire, doing fearful execution, causing them to give way in confusion, and make a hasty return within their breastworks near Leesburg, suffering a loss of sixty killed and wounded, as ascertained from their wounded and from citizens in the vicinity. The loss in my brigade is one killed and one severely wounded, both belonging to Company I, First regiment Minnesota Volunteers. On the 23d, by the General's order, I directed further intrenchments around the white house, near the enemy's works. I also had the fences, yards, and lane barricaded and strengthened with logs, rails, old plows, wagons, and lumber. On the night of the 23d, about seven o'clock, the General ordered me again to proceed to the Maryland side and take charge of the crossing of artillery and more troops. On arriving, I started across four more pieces of artillery. A storm of wind, which had been prevailing nearly all day, seemed to forbid the possibility of further reinforcing from this side. Provisions were getting short; the artillery on the Virginia side were short of ammunition; the wind was setting strongly from the Virginia shore; the means of transportation were heavy scows and clumsy canal boats, managed by poles — when at 8 o'clock P. M., I received notice from MajorGen. Banks, that Gen. McClellan had ordered the withdrawal of the whole force from the Virginia to the Maryland side — and orders to proceed with all energy, but quietly, to make necessary arrangements on the Maryland side — and directed me to call to this work the boatmen and lumbermen of the First regiment of Minnesota Volunteers, as it was now evident that every thing depended on the energy, courage, and muscle of the boatmen to contend against the adverse wind-storm. This detail was made, to which were added one hundred men from Colonel Kenly's Maryland regiment, one hundred more from the Thirty-fourth New York Volunteers, and one hundred and fifty from the Seventh Michigan regiment. The plan being matured, the seemingly impossible enterprise was entered upon with a spirit and energy that knew “no such word as fail,” and between 9 o'clock P. M. of the 23d, and five o'clock A. M. of the 24th, every man, horse, and piece of artillery was safely withdrawn from the Virginia shore and landed on this side again without an accident or the loss of a man or horse, save the casualty of the fight. The fortitude, endurance, and energy displayed by the men detailed to perform this work, deserve the highest commendation. The Minnesota lumbermen performed their part with such skill as to merit special notice.

The courage and coolness of the officers and men of my brigade, in most part, as exhibited in their crossing the river, engaging the enemy, and their orderly withdrawal across again, give reliable assurance of their efficiency. It may not be improper here to say, that the result of this movement, as a reconnoissance, must prove highly beneficial to any future movement in that direction. Each order was strictly followed, and the desired result accomplished. Trusting [250] that I have performed satisfactorily the somewhat difficult and responsible duty to which Gen. Stone and Gen. Banks assigned me,

I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

W. A. Gorman, Brigadier-General.

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.
N. P. Banks (3)
Charles P. Stone (2)
W. A. Gorman (2)
Woodruff (1)
Charles Smith (1)
Elijah Ricketts (1)
J. Mix (1)
George B. McClellan (1)
Thomas Kirby (1)
Kenly (1)
A. H. Foote (1)
Doc (1)
Alen (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
23rd (3)
22nd (3)
21st (2)
October 26th, 1861 AD (1)
October 22nd, 1861 AD (1)
24th (1)
20th (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: