First Virginia cavalry, who was in command of the Confederate
line of picket posts, informed of this movement, started from his camp at Munson's hill, near Falls church
, for Lewinsville, which was one of his picket posts, some 6 miles to the northwest, accompanied by Maj. James B. Terrill
with 305 of the Thirteenth Virginia infantry, two pieces of Walton
's Washington (La.) artillery under Capt. Thomas L. Rosser
, and two companies of the First Virginia cavalry under Capt. William Patrick. Nearing Lewinsville
and learning that the enemy was in the act of retiring, Stuart
promptly made a skillful disposition of his small force in the surrounding woods, and, deploying his infantry as skirmishers, attacked the flank and rear of the retiring Federals, who were taken by surprise and at once beat a hasty retreat.
A battery near the village stood firm and opened on the Confederates
, but Terrill
's riflemen picked off the gunners and that also retired.
's battery secured a good position and raked the flank of the retreating foe. Stuart
prudently withheld pursuit and the Federals
rallied, for a time, about a mile and a half from Lewinsville, and Griffin
's regular battery fired back up the road by which they expected to be pursued, and then retired to the Potomac
, having lost 2 killed, 13 wounded and 3 missing. Stuart
reported: ‘Our loss was not a scratch to man or horse,’ and that, after re-establishing his line of pickets through Lewinsville, he returned to his camp at Munson's hill.
The Federal brigadier, informed of the engagement, hastened to it with reinforcements in time to take command of its retreat and claim the expedition a success.
This small affair was, at the time, greatly magnified in importance.
, in person, met the returning detachment at its camp, and, anxious to score a victory in his new command, sent this dispatch to General Scott
: ‘General Smith
made reconnaissance with 2,000 men to Lewinsville; remained several hours, and completed examination of the ground.
When work was completed and the command had started back, the enemy opened fire with his shell, killing two and wounding three.
We shall have no more Bull run
Three days later, the Seventy-ninth New York regiment, which had borne a prominent part in this affair, was reported by its brigade commander as ‘in a state of open ’