previous next

Colonel T. L. Rosser's report of the fight at Aldie.

Headquarters Fifth Virginia cavalry, August 4th, 1863.
Captain J. D. Ferguson:
Captain,--The brigade leaving Piedmont, in Loudoun county, on the morning of the 17th of June, I was ordered to withdraw my pickets after the column had passed, and followed in the rear. Marching via Paris and Upperville, I arrived at Dover (near Aldie) about 12 or 1 o'clock, finding the brigade going into camp. I received an order from Colonel Wickham, under whose command I had been temporarily placed, to move down the road and select a camp, make my men comfortable, &c. I consequently did so, and when I was just passing the brigade, I met the pickets running in, and the Yankees were rapidly and closely pursuing them. I caused sabres to be drawn, and charged immediately, at the same time sending the information to the rear to the Colonel commanding. I drove the enemy upon his main body, which was in the town of Aldie. His sharp-shooters got possession of the heights on my left, in the wood and behind the fences, and it was impossible for me to engage him further with the sabre, consequently I deployed my sharp-shooters to the front, under Captain R. B. Boston, and withdrew the regiment beyond the range of the enemy's rifles. As soon as this was done, he charged my skirmishers, who were doing terrible execution in his ranks, endeavoring to dislodge them, but by a countercharge I gave them immediate relief. The enemy now showed considerable force, his flanks extending far beyond mine; on the left, on the Snicker's Gap Pike, his dismounted skirmishers had pressed upon mine until their fighting had become desperate and close. The most of the horses of my dismounted men had been killed, and the enemy seeing that my force was small (the [120] brigade had not yet gotten up), made a desperate effort to capture them, charging them in flank, right and left. As soon as his intentions were made known, I charged the regiment which was threatening the right, drove them back, and the gallant Boston drove his assailants on the left back in confusion and dismay, after emptying many of their saddles. The enemy brought his artillery into position, but the brigade coming to my support, our own artillery replied briskly and for a moment the fight between the cavalry became less vigorous Each battery, the enemy's, and our own, firing over my regiment; and having suffered several casualties from the latter, it became necessary for me to move from between the two, which I did promptly, but was compelled to take a position from which I could not support my line of skirmishers so well as before, and the reinforcements sent from the brigade to them taking up a position considerably in their rear; and the remainder of the brigade being engaged on the left, on the Snickers Gap Pike, their condition became very critical. The enemy greatly outnumbering us appeared in force everywhere, and it became apparent that victory was the only means of escape. I ordered Boston to hold his position at all hazards, and nobly and faithfully did he obey. Onset after onset of the enemy he gallantly repulsed, until after the enemy had pressed beyond the left, overwhelmed his support, killed one of his Lieutenants, wounded another, and his Junior Captain, and killed and wounded a third of his men, that he surrendered to overwhelming odds. The enemy gaining some advantage on the left, I moved immediately in that direction, reporting at the same time to Colonel Wickham who was supporting the battery in my rear. I arrived on the heights near Aldie on the Snickers Gap Pike just as the enemy had charged and was pursuing one of our regiments.

I charged with my entire regiment, with a view of cutting the enemy off and capturing him, but as I was discovered he escaped through the fields, with the exception of a squadron, all of which were killed, wounded or captured, with their horses and arms. I then rallied my regiment and moved around the hill with a view of attacking a regiment which had formed on the hill, but as soon as they discovered my intention they began to fall back and were charged by one our regiments, and we thus got possession of the field. What occurred after this was under the immediate eye of the Colonel commanding, and I deem it unnecessary to relate it. The gallant and heroic manner in which Captain Boston and his men acted in this (one of the most vigorous cavalry fights I was ever engaged in) makes them the pride of their regiment. I regret to say that Lieutenant John S. Ragsdale was [121] among the killed. Captains Windsor and White, and Lieutenant Hoard were severely wounded. The list of casualities I have submitted to the chief surgeon of brigade. They amounted to fifty-eight killed, wounded and missing.

I am, Captain, most respectfully, your obedient servant,

Thos. L. Rosser, Colonel Commanding.

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 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.
R. B. Boston (3)
William C. Wickham (2)
Thomas L. Rosser (2)
Windsor (1)
W. L. White (1)
John S. Ragsdale (1)
Hoard (1)
J. D. Ferguson (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.
August 4th, 1863 AD (1)
June 17th (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: