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Doc. 8.-battle of Somerville Heights, Va. Fought May 7, 1862.


Report of Colonel Foster.

headquarters 13TH Ind. Regiment, Columbian Bridge, May 8.
Brigadier-General J. C. Sullivan, Commanding Forces at Columbian Bridge, Virginia:
sir: In obedience to your orders, I beg leave to transmit to you the following report of the affair in which the Thirteenth Indiana regiment was engaged, near Somerville, yesterday, May seventh.

The enemy having attacked and driven in our outer pickets, you ordered me to take six companies of the Thirteenth, holding the other four in reserve under Capt.Wilson, and meet and engage the enemy, and if possible drive him from his position, and if I found him in any considerable force to report the fact to you immediately.

I accordingly took companies A, B, F, G, H, and K, and proceeded beyond Honeyville about two and a half miles, where I found the enemy's advance-guard, posted on a hill. I immediately deployed companies A, B, and F on each side of the road, taking companies G, H, and K, and going up the road directly in their front. We found the enemy's force, or advance-guard, to consist of two companies of cavalry and two companies of infantry, with one piece of artillery, which I afterward learned to be under command of Major Wheat of the Louisiana battalion. We drove him from this position, and continued to drive him through Somerville to Dogtown, under a heavy fire from our skirmishers, killing two of the enemy's cavalry and capturing a carbine and sabre.

At Somerville I posted companies A, F, G, H, and K on the heights on the left of the road, and taking companies B and I, pushed on to the burned bridge about two miles up the road, to the right of and distant about two and a half miles from Dogtown. Here I rested my men about half an hour, when Captain Conger, Co. B, First Vermont cavalry, came up and reported himself to me. I told him that it was our intention to attack the enemy at daylight, consequently it was not our policy to pursue the enemy any further at that time, and ordered him not to follow the enemy, but to bring up the rear and follow me back to camp. I withdrew all my skirmishers, and started back to camp. Stopping at Somerville I called in the companies that were posted on the heights, and proceeded about one mile, when I halted to await the cavalry, which I supposed to be directly in my rear. Up to this time not one single casualty had occurred on our side.

Here I received your despatch per courier “not to pursue the enemy; to beware of a surprise,” and immediately after I received your despatch, I received one from the cavalry, “We are surrounded — come to our assistance.” On inquiring of the messenger I learned that the Captain of the cavalry, in direct violation of my orders, instead of following in my rear, had gone some four miles up the river, and encountered the reserve of the enemy, and was surrounded. I caused my command to “about face,” and hurried to their assistance. I at the same time ordered Captain Wilson to bring up his reserve. We took position on the heights above the road, and to the left of Somerville, with companies A, B, E, F, H, and K, Captain Wilson being immediately in the rear with the reserve. Here we engaged two regiments of infantry, and three companies of cavalry, at a distance of one hundred yards, and drove their skirmishers back two or three hundred yards on to their main body, which we engaged for a half-hour under a most terrific fire from the enemy. Seeing him attempting with another regiment to turn our left flank, I ordered Captain Wilson to move with the reserve at “double-quick” to our left, which order he obeyed with promptness. Seeing the enemy were likely to reach there before he did, and seeing their superior numbers, I ordered my men to fall back, which they did in good order, disputing every inch of ground as they went.

While we were engaging the enemy, the cavalry escaped by swimming the Shenandoah River.

I find our loss in killed, wounded and missing to be 29, among them Sergeant-Major Vance.

The enemy's loss in killed and wounded is greater than ours, and mostly of the Seventh Louisiana, they being in close column, and directly in our front.

Most all of our wounded were brought off the field, and some of our missing, I think, swam the river, and may yet report themselves.

Too much praise cannot be awarded to the officers [28] and men engaged, they having withstood a most terrific fire from not less than two regiments of infantry, together with cavalry, and bravely stood their ground until I ordered them to fall back, which they did in excellent order, fighting and disputing every inch of ground as they went.

Our forces actually engaged were 180. All the prisoners taken by us were from the Seventh Louisiana regiment, all of whom have been reported to you.

Enclosed you will please find a list of the killed, wounded, and missing.

I am respectfully your obedient servant,

R. S. Foster, Colonel Commanding Thirteenth Indiana.


List of casualties.

The following is a list of the killed, wounded, and prisoners of the Thirteenth regiment, in the affair of the seventh, at Somerville Heights.

Company A, Capt. A. Newland.--Prisoners--Sergeant Theodore Longsdorff, privates Andrew Hilton, Garrett Cullen, Wm. Quigley, Matthew Quigley, Henry Mayer, Henry Gilmore.

Company B, Capt. John M. Wilson.--Prisoners--Corporals Wm. Starr, B. A. Farnham, A. W. Greggs; privates Eli Chichester, Zack Corell. Killed — Michael Ellsworth. Missing — Joseph Carthall, Hugh P. McCarthy, George Osgood, Nathaniel Rabe, J. Van Dorn, Corporal Wm. Wampler, wounded and missing. Killed — Michael Ream. Wounded — Michael Genser, in hip; Jack Powell, in hand; John Yohn, in leg.

Company E, Captain Kirkpatrick.--Prisoners — Aaron Massman, Jac. Banks, Wm. Fromant.

Company H, Capt. Clinton.--Private Peter Victor, wounded in leg.

Company K, Capt. Hunter.--Private Thomas J. Overman.

William C. Foster, Assistant-Surgeon.

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