Doc. 234. engagement at Dranesville, Va.
Instructions to General Ord.
Headquarters McCall's Division, camp Pierpont, Va., Dec. 19, 1861.General: You will please move in command of your brigade, at six A. M. to-morrow, on the Leesburg pike, in the direction of Dranesville. The First Rifles, Pennsylvania reserve, Lieutenant-Colonel Kane, have been ordered to form, right in front, on the pike near Commodore Jones's house, and await your arrival, when the commanding officer will report to you for further orders. Captain Easton's battery has been directed to form on the left of the Rifles. The captain will report to you for orders. Two squadrons of cavalry will also be placed under your command. The senior officer will report to you this evening for orders. Sherman, the guide, will likewise report to you for duty The object of this expedition is twofold. In the first place, to drive back the enemy's pickets, which have recently advanced within four or five miles of our lines, (leaving a force of about seventy cavalry at Henderson's,) and carried off two good Union men and threatened others; and secondly, to procure a supply of forage. It has to-day been reported to me that there is a force of about one hundred cavalry lying between Dranesville and the river. This force might be captured or routed by sending a regiment of infantry up the pike beyond their position, to strike their rear by a flank movement to the right, while your disposable cavalry (after picketing the cross-roads near Dickey's) might move near the river and attack them in front on the left. Should you not arrive at Dickey's in time to make this movement and leave the ground on your return before nightfall, it must not be undertaken, as I do not wish any part of your command to remain out overnight. The forage will be procured at Gunnell's, or at some other rank secessionist's in the neighborhood of Dickey's. Direct your quartermaster to confine the selection of forage to corn and hay. Captain Hall will have charge of the wagon train. The regiment intended to move forward from Dickey's (if you think proper,  Jackson's) might ride in the wagons as far as Dickey's, and there be fresh for the forward movement. I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
General Ord's report.
camp Pierpont, Va., December 21, 1861.sir: I have to report that, in obedience to the enclosed order I, at six A. M. yesterday, started toward Dickey's and Henderson's, about three miles this side of Dranesville, on the Leesburg pike, with my brigade, the First Rifles, Lieutenant-Colonel Kane, Easton's battery, and two squadrons of cavalry. I likewise heard that it was probable there was a respectable picket of cavalry in Dranesville, and that the pickets supposed by you to be near the river, behind Dickey's, had left. I then determined to send three companies of the Tenth and twenty cavalry with the foraging party to Gunnell's, between the pike and the river, and with the remainder of the force proceed to Dranesville, satisfied that, though I might be exceeding the letter of my instructions, should I find the enemy and pick up a few, you would not object. This I did, though Colonel McCalmont, hearing that there was a large force on our left, remained with his part of a regiment, and that detained the two regiments behind him, (I had sent for them;) but was obliged to enter Dranesville with my artillery and cavalry, and a small advanced guard only on the road, the First Rifles and Colonel Jackson's regiment flanking this column in the woods on the right and left. The cavalry picket in town fled, scattered, and remained in small squads, watching. While waiting in Dranesville for the regiments in the rear to come up, I posted my artillery and cavalry and Jackson's regiment of infantry and a couple of companies of the First Rifles, so as to cover the approaches, and sent for Colonel Kane's regiment to occupy the road in our then rear, my front being toward Centreville. This I did because, from the occasional appearance of a few mounted men on a slope behind some woods in a hollow to my left and front, and a broad mass of smoke in that neighborhood, I felt pretty sure that there was a force there preparing some mischief. As soon as Colonel McCalmont came up with his regiment, the Tenth, followed by Lieutenant-Colonel Penrose, the Sixth, and Colonel Taggart with the Twelfth, and while preparing to resist any attack and to cover my foraging party, I learned that the enemy, in force, had approached on the south side of the Leesburg pike, with fieldpieces and infantry, and had driven in my pickets, wounding two men. Thinking they would attack on both sides of the turnpike as I returned eastward, I ordered (to meet this expected attack) Colonel McCalmont's regiment on the left or river side of the road in the woods, left in front, and if the enemy showed himself on that side, to bring his regiment forward into line. Colonel Jackson's regiment, of which and its gallant colonel I cannot speak in too high terms, I ordered to flank the road in the same way on the right of the road in the woods, and do the same if the enemy showed on that side. Between these flanking regiments I ordered the Kane Rifles to meet the enemy (behind us) in the road, the cavalry to follow, and the artillery I took with me to post them and answer the enemy's artillery, which had opened fire on our (their) right, (the south,) directing the rear guard to cover the column of the Sixth and Twelfth regiments infantry in the road from cavalry. The artillery went at a run past the station I selected for them, capsizing one of their pieces. I brought them back, told the captain where to post his guns, and then went to remove the cavalry, then exposed in the road swept by the enemy, (whose attack was from a thickly wooded hill on our right flank, the south.) Their force, I saw, was a very bold one, very well posted, and the artillery was only about five hundred yards off, with a large force of infantry on both its flanks and in front, covered and surrounded by woods and thickets. Moving east with the cavalry, which was of no use here, I came to a place in the road, covered toward the enemy by a high bluff and dense thickets, which thickets I intended to occupy with infantry. Here I left the cavalry surrounded by dense forests, wherein they could neither fight nor be hurt. The accompanying sketch will show the ground. As I had at first thought the enemy would attack on both sides of the road, and moved my infantry to meet such an attack, and as their attack was confined to the right, it became necessary to change my front. As neither McCalmont nor Jackson had had time to come into line under first orders when I discovered this, and was moving by the flank, and as, before I placed the artillery and cavalry, I had seen the rifles closely engaging the enemy by a flank movement, covering themselves by some houses and fences, my right in meeting the attack thus became the village of Dranesville, my left the gorge and woods occupied by my cavalry on the Leesburg pike. After securing the cavalry, I found, by carefully observing the enemy's fire and battery, that their guns were in a road which could be enfiladed. I ordered Captain Easton to right the capsized gun and bring it to the spot from which this road could be raked; removed two other guns to this spot, gave the gunners the distance and elevation, observed the result, and finding, after a round or two, that the enemy's fire slackened and the gunners were raking the road beautifully, without being discomposed by the enemy's fire, I told them “to keep at that,” and determined to push the infantry forward. I found them (except the Kane Rifles, the Ninth, Jackson's, and the Tenth, the McCalmont regiment, which were as above stated) in the ditches, under fences, and covering 
|Plan of the battle of Dranesville.1|