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Operations on the Rio Grande, February 21, 1862. report of Lieutenant-Colonel W. R. Scurry, commanding Fourth regiment Texas mounted volunteers.

Val Verde, New Mexico, February 22, 1862.
H. M. Jackson, A. A. G. Army New Mexico:
Major: Early on the morning of yesterday, while the army was encamped on the east side of the Rio Grande, opposite Fort Craig, I received orders to march with my command (Fourth regiment T. M. V.) and take possession at as early an hour as practicable of some point on the river above Fort Craig, at which water might be obtained. By 8 o'clock the reigiment took up the line of march, accompanied by Captain George Frazier, of Major Pyron's battallion, with his company acting as guide for the command. Supposing that we were the advance of the army, to prevent surprise I ordered Major Raguet to take the advance with four companies (and Captain Frazier's company), throwing out at the same time front and flank patrols. In a short time I learned that Major Pyron, with one hundred and eighty men, was in our advance. Aware of the great vigilance of that active officer, I recalled Major Raguet and reunited the regiment. A report was received from Major Pyron that the road was clear of the enemy and the river in sight. But in a short [319] time a second message was received, through Captain John Phillips, from the Major informing me that large masses of the enemy were in his front and threatening an attack. As his force was but small, I was fearful that he would be overpowered before we could reach him, and accordingly pushed forward—guided by Captain Phillips—as rapidly as our horses could carry us to his relief, and found him gallantly maintaining a most unequal contest against vastly superior numbers. Dismounting my command we formed on his right and joined in the conflict. For near two hours we held our position in front of an enemy now known to be near five thousand strong, while our own forces were not over seven hundred in number. Immediately upon reaching the field Captain Frazier joined the command to which he belonged, where he did good service during the remainder of the day. Upon opening fire with the light Howitzer battery under Lieutenant John Reilly, it was found to be ineffectual against the heavier metal of the enemy; it was therefore ordered to cease firing and be withdrawn under cover. At about 1 o'clock Captain Teel, with two guns of his battery, reached the ground. Being placed in position on our right, opened a galling fire upon the left flank of the enemy; whereupon the enemy commenced a furious cannonade upon him from their entire battery, consisting of eight guns. So heavy was their fire that the captain soon found himself with but five men to work the two guns. A bomb exploding under his pieces had set the grass on fire. Still this gallant officer held his position and continued his firing upon the enemy, himself seizing a rammer and assisting to load the guns. Seeing his situation, I ordered Lieutenant Reilly with his command to join him and assist in the efficient working of his guns. During the balance of the day this brave little band performed the duty assigned them. Judging by the heavy firing on the left that Major Pyron was hard pressed, Captain Teel, with more of his guns, which had just reached the ground, was despatched to his relief. Major Raguet, with four companies of the regiment, was ordered to maintain our position there. I remained on the right with the balance of my command and two pieces of Teel's battery under Lieutenant J. H. McGuinness, to hold in check the enemy, who were moving in large force to turn our flank in that direction. About this time Major Lockridge, of the Fifth regiment, arrived on the field, and reported himself with a portion of that command. He was ordered to join our troops on the left. During all this time the fire of the enemy had been extremely heavy, while owing to the shorter range of most of our guns our fire was reserved until they [320] would approach sufficiently near our position to come within range of our arms, when they were invariably repulsed with loss.

Soon after the arrival of Major Lockridge, Colonel Green reached the field and assumed command. At about 3 o'clock in the afternoon, in extending our line to prevent the enemy from turning our right, I found myself with only two companies (Captains Hardeman's and Crosson's), opposed to a force numbering some four hundred men, the other four companies being several hundred yards to my left. It was then that that daring charge by Captain Lang, of the Fifth regiment, with a small body of lancers was made; but desperate courage was ineffectual against great odds and superior arms, and this company there sustained the greatest loss of life of any of the brigade. This charge, otherwise unfortunate, had the effect of bringing the enemy within range of our guns, when the two pieces of Teel's battery and the small arms of Captains Hardeman's and Crosson's companies opened an effective fire upon them, before which they rapidly retreated with considerable loss.

Just before sunset Lieutenant Thomas P. Ochiltree, of General Sibley's staff, brought an order to prepare for a charge all along the line. All prepared for its prompt execution, and when the words, ‘Up boys, and at them!’ was given, straight at their battery of six guns, supported by columns of infantry and cavalry, some seven hundred yards in front of our position, went our brave volunteers, unmindful of the driving storm of grape, cannister and musket balls sent hurtling around them. With yells and ringing shouts they dashed on and on until the guns were won and the enemy in full retreat before them. After carrying the battery their guns were turned upon them, Captains Hardeman and Walker manning those on the right. Lieutenant Raguet, of Reily's battery, being on the ground, I placed one gun in his charge, manning it with such of the men as were nearest; the rammer being gone, a flag staff was used in its stead. Captain Teel coming up, an effective fire was kept up as long as the enemy were in sight. In the mean time a most timely and gallant charge was made by Major Raguet from our left, thus effecting a favorable diversion at the moment of our charge upon their battery. This charge by Major Raguet and his command was characterized by desperate valor.

In the last brilliant and successful charge, which decided the fortunes of the day, there were six companies of the Fourth regiment, T. M. V., under their respective captains (Hardeman, Crosson, Leseueur, Ford, Hampton, and Nunn). Besides these I saw Captains [321] Shropshire, Killough, and McPhail, of the Fifth regiment, and Captain Walker, of Major Pyron's battalion. The brave and lamented Major Lockridge, of the Fifth regiment, fell almost at the muzzle of the enemy's guns. Major Pyron was also in the thickest of the fray, and contributed much by his example to the success of the charge, as did also Lieutenant Ochiltree, of the General's staff. There were others there whom I now regret my inability to name. Where all, both officers and men, behaved so well, it is impossible to say who was most deserving of praise. The enemy retired across the river and were in full retreat. When Major Raguet, Captains Sheennan, Adair, Alexander, Buckholts, and Lieutenant Thurman reached the field with their companies, mounted, I asked and obtained permission from Colonel Green to cross the river with these companies to pursue the flying foe. When the head of the column reached the opposite shore we were ordered to return. Night closed in on the hard-won field of Val Verde.

This brilliant victory, which, next to heaven, we owe to the heroic endurance and unfaltering courage of our volunteer soldiery, was not won without loss. Of the regiment which I have the honor to command there were eight killed and fifty-six wounded, two of which were mortal.

It affords me great pleasure to be able to bear testimony to the calm, cool and discriminating courage of Colonel Thomas Green during the fight. Major Pyron also deserves great credit for his soldierly bearing from the commencement to the close of the battle.

Of the General's staff Major Jackson was early on the ground, as was also Major Brownrigg, Captain Dwyer and Lieutenant Ochiltree, actively engaged in the discharge of the duties assigned them. Each of these gentlemen exhibited that high courage which, I trust, will ever distinguish the officers of this army. To Majors Jackson and Brownrigg I am under obligations for valuable aid in the early part of the action. It is due to the adjutant of this regiment, Ellsbury R. Lane, that I should not close this report without stating that he was actively and bravely engaged in the discharge of his duties on horseback until his horse failed, when, taking a gun, he entered the ranks of Captain Hampton's company and did duty as a private during the remainder of the day.

I have the honor to be,

Very respectfully, your obed't serv't,

W. R. Scurry, Lieutenant-Colonel Commanding Fourth Regiment T. M. V.

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Valverde, N. M. (New Mexico, United States) (2)
Paraje (New Mexico, United States) (2)

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February 22nd, 1862 AD (1)
February 21st, 1862 AD (1)
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