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Doc. 47. the battle of Leesburg, Va. Rebel official report of the engagement,

Headquarters Seventh Brigade, Leesburg, Va., Oct. 31, 1861.
Colonel: I beg leave to submit the following report of the action of the troops of the Seventh Brigade in the battle of the 21st and 22d inst., with the enemy at Leesburg, Va.:

On Saturday night, the 19th inst., about seven o'clock P. M., the enemy commenced a heavy cannonading from three batteries, one playing on my intrenchment, (known as Fort Evans,) one on the Leesburg turnpike, and one on Edwards' Ferry. Heavy firing was also heard in the direction of Dranesville.

At twelve o'clock at night I ordered my entire brigade to the burnt bridge on the turnpike. The enemy had been reported as approaching from Dranesville in large force. Taking a strong position on the north side of Goose Creek, I awaited his approach.

Reconnoitring the turnpike on Sunday morning, the courier of General McCall was captured, bearing despatches to General Meade to examine the roads leading to Leesburg. From this prisoner I learned the position of the enemy near Dranesville. During Sunday, the enemy kept up a deliberate fire, without any effect.

Early on Monday morning, the 21st instant, I heard the firing of my pickets at Big Spring, who had discovered that, at an unguarded point, the enemy had effected a crossing, in force of five companies, and was advancing on Leesburg. Captain Duff, of the Seventeenth regiment, immediately attacked him, driving him back, with several killed and wounded.

On observing the movements of the enemy from Fort Evans, at six A. M., I found that he had effected a crossing both at Edwards' Ferry and Ball's Bluff, and I made preparations to meet him in both positions, and immediately ordered four companies of infantry, (two of the Eighteenth, one of the Seventeenth, and one of the Thirteenth,) and a cavalry force to relieve Captain Duff, the whole force under the immediate command of Lieutenant-Colonel W. H. Jenifer, who was directed to hold his position till the enemy made further demonstration of his design of attack. This force soon became warmly engaged with the enemy, and drove him back for some distance in the woods.

At about ten o'clock, I became convinced that the main point of attack would be at Ball's Bluff, and ordered Colonel Hunton, with his regiment — the Eighth Virginia Volunteers--to repair immediately to the support of Colonel Jenifer.

I directed Colonel Hunton to form line of battle immediately in the rear of Colonel Jenifer's command, and to drive the enemy to the river; that I would support his right with artillery. About twenty minutes past twelve o'clock M., Colonel Hunton united his command with that of Colonel Jenifer, and both commands soon became hotly engaged with the enemy in his strong position in the woods. Watching carefully the action, I saw the enemy was constantly being reinforced, and, at half-past 2 o'clock P. M., ordered Colonel Burt to march his regiment — the Eighteenth Mississippi--and attack the left flank of the enemy, while Colonels Hunton and Jenifer attacked him in [131] front. On arriving at his position, Colonel Burt was received with a tremendous fire from the enemy, concealed in a ravine, and was compelled to divide his regiment to stop the flank movement of the enemy.

At this time — about three o'clock--finding the enemy was in large force, I ordered Colonel Featherston, with his regiment — the Seventeenth Mississippi--to repair, at double quick, to the support of Colonel Burt, where he arrived in twenty minutes, and the action became general along my whole line, and was very hot and brisk for more than two hours, the enemy keeping up a constant fire with his batteries on both sides of the river.

At about six o'clock P. M. I saw that my command had driven the enemy near the banks of the Potomac; I ordered my entire force to charge and drive him into the river. The charge was immediately made by the whole command, and the forces of the enemy were completely routed, and cried out for quarter along his whole line. In this charge the enemy was driven back at the point of the bayonet, and many killed by this formidable weapon. In the precipitate retreat of the enemy on the bluffs of the river, many of his troops rushed into the water and were drowned; while many others, in overloading the boats, sunk them, and shared the same fate. The rout now — about seven o'clock--became complete, and the enemy commenced throwing his arms into the river. During this action, I held Colonel Wm. Barksdale, with nine companies of his regiment, the Thirteenth Mississippi, and six pieces of artillery, as a reserve, as well as to keep up a demonstration against the force of the enemy at Edwards' Ferry. At eight o'clock P. M. the enemy surrendered his forces at Ball's Bluff, and the prisoners were marched to Leesburg. I then ordered my brigade (with the exception of the Thirteenth regiment Mississippi, who remained in front of Edwards' Ferry) to retire to the town of Leesburg and rest for the night. On Tuesday morning I was informed by Colonel Barksdale that the enemy was still in considerable force at Edwards' Ferry. I directed him to make a thorough reconnaissance of the position and strength of the enemy and attack him. At two o'clock P. M. he gallantly attacked a much superior force in their intrenchments, driving them to the bank of the river, killing thirty or forty and wounding a considerable number. About sundown, the enemy being strongly reinforced and stationed in rifle pits, Colonel Barksdale wisely retired with his regiment to Fort Evans, leaving a guard of two companies to watch the movements of the enemy, who, evidently expecting a renewed attack, retired during the night and recrossed the river at Edwards' Ferry. On Wednesday morning, finding my brigade very much exhausted, I left Colonel Barksdale with his regiment, with two pieces of artillery and a cavalry force, as a grand guard, and I ordered the other three regiments to fall back toward Carter's Mill, to rest and be collected in order. Colonel Hunton, with his regiment and two pieces of artillery, was halted at a strong position on the south bank of the Sycolin, about three miles south of Leesburg. I would here state that, in an interview on Monday night with the commissioned officers of the Federal army taken prisoners, I am convinced that they expected to be recaptured either during the night or the next day, and, as the captured officers refused their parole not to take up arms against the Southern Confederacy until duly exchanged, I ordered the whole number to be immediately marched to Manassas. This parole was only offered to give them the liberty of the town, as I did not wish to confine them with the privates.

In the engagement on the 21st of October, which lasted nearly thirteen hours, our loss from a force of seventeen hundred and nine, aggregate, was as follows:--

Eighth regiment Virginia Volunteers.--Commissioned officers, four wounded; non-commissioned officers, three killed, two wounded; privates, five killed, thirty-seven wounded. Total, eight killed, forty-three wounded. Since dead of wounds, three privates and one lieutenant taken prisoner.

Thirteenth regiment Mississippi Volunteers.--Commissioned officers, (22d,) one killed; privates, three killed, two wounded. Total, four killed, two wounded. One private taken prisoner.

Seventeenth regiment Mississippi Volunteers.--Commissioned officers, one wounded; privates, two killed, eight wounded. Total, two killed, nine wounded.

Eighteenth regiment Mississippi Volunteers.--Commissioned officers, seven wounded; non-commissioned officers, two killed, six wounded; privates, twenty killed, fifty wounded. Total, twenty-two killed, sixty-three wounded.

Total loss, killed and wounded, one hundred and fifty-three. Taken prisoners, two. Total, one hundred and fifty-five.

The force of the enemy, as far as I have been able to ascertain, was five regiments and three pieces of artillery at Ball's Bluff, and four regiments, two batteries, and a squadron of cavalry at Edwards' Ferry, numbering in all about eight thousand troops. In addition to this force, three batteries of long range were constantly firing on my troops from the Maryland side of the river.

The loss of the enemy, so far as known, is as follows: thirteen hundred killed, wounded and drowned. Captured seven hundred and ten prisoners; fifteen hundred stand of arms; three pieces of cannon; one stand of colors; a large number of cartridge boxes, bayonet scabbards, and a quantity of camp furniture.

Among the killed of the enemy was General Baker, formerly senator from Oregon, and several other commissioned officers.

Among the prisoners taken were twenty-two commissioned officers, the names of whom have already been furnished. [132]

General C. P. Stone commanded the Federal forces until three o'clock A. M., on the morning of the 22d, when he was superseded by Major-General N. P. Banks.

The engagement on our side was fought entirely with the musket; the artillery was in position to do effective service should the enemy have advanced from his cover.

The enemy were armed with the Minie musket, the Belgian gun, and Springfield musket; a telescopic target rifle was also among the arms found.

In closing my report I would call the attention of the General commanding to the heroism and gallantry displayed by the officers and men of the Seventh Brigade, in the action of the 21st and 22d of October. The promptness with which every commander obeyed and the spirit with which their men executed my orders to attack the enemy in much superior force, and in a position where he had great advantages, entitle them to the thanks of the Southern Confederacy. Without food or rest for more than twelve hours previous to the commencement of the battle, they drove an enemy four times their number from the soil of Virginia, killing and taking prisoners a greater number than our whole force engaged. To witness the patience, enthusiasm, and devotion of the troops to our cause, during an action of thirteen hours, excited my warmest admiration.

As my entire brigade exceeded my most sanguine expectations in their intrepidity and endurance, I am unable to individualize any particular command, as the tenacity with which each regiment held their positions was equalled only by their undaunted courage and firm determination to conquer.

To my general staff I am much indebted. Major John D. Rogers, brigade quartermaster, was directed to conduct the baggage train beyond Goose Creek, which difficult duty was performed in the night with great regularity. Captain Orr, brigade commissary, was actively engaged in securing commissary stores, and in providing cooked rations for the brigade. To my acting aide-de-camp, Lieutenant Charles B. Wildman, of the Seventeenth regiment Virginia Volunteers, and my volunteer aid, Mr. Wm. H. Rogers, I am particularly indebted for services on the field of battle. Lieut. Wildman conducted the Eighteenth regiment and Mr. Rogers the Seventeenth regiment of Mississippi Volunteers to their respective positions in the action, and both repeatedly bore orders under heavy fire.

Captain A. L. Evans, Assistant Adjutant-General, though detained by other duty till two o'clock P. M., rendered valuable services.

The medical staff, both brigade and regimental, were all actively engaged during the day in removing the dead and wounded, and in patriotically administering relief to the dying on the field.

I am pained to report the fall of the gallant Colonel E. R. Burt, of the Eighteenth regiment Mississippi Volunteers. He was mortally wounded about four o'clock P. M., while gallantly leading his regiment under a tremendous fire. * * His loss is truly severe to his regiment and to our common cause.

The prisoners taken were sent to Manassas under charge of Captain O. R. Singleton, of the Eighteenth regiment Mississippi Volunteers, with his company, and Captain W. A. R. Jones, of the Seventeenth regiment Mississippi Volunteers, and a detachment of cavalry, the whole under the command of Captain Singleton, who conducted 529 prisoners nearly twenty-five miles, after the great fatigue of the battle.

Accompanying this report I enclose an accurate map of the field of battle, and the reports of the immediate commanders. To the latter I would respectfully refer for individual acts of gallantry and patriotism.

I also forward the reports of the field-officer of the day, Lieutenant-Colonel McGuirk, of the Seventeenth regiment Mississippi Volunteers, to whom I am much indebted for information of the flank movements of the enemy.

Lieutenant Sheffield Duval, here on duty as topographical engineer, and Sergeant Wm. R. Chambliss, of the Eighteenth regiment Mississippi Volunteers, my private secretary, rendered material service — the former by fighting on foot with his musket as a private, the latter by conveying my orders on the field of battle under heavy fire.

N. G. Evans, Brigadier-General, Commanding Seventh Brigade. To Lieutenant-Colonel Thomas Jordan, Assistant Adjutant-General, First Corps Army of Potomac, near Centreville.

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