The taking of Mason's and Munson's hills.
[Correspondence of the Richmond Dispatch.]
Camp of 13th Va. Regiment, Fairfax Station, Aug. 31.
Having seen in the papers several imperfect accounts of the recent skirmishing in this section, I send you a brief statement.
At half-past 3 o'clock last Sunday morning, (the 25th,) four companies of our regiment, (the Montpeller Guards
, Culpeper Minute Men, Lauier Guards and Louisa Biuse
,) received ‘ "marching orders,"’ and accompanied by two pieces of Capt. Backham
's Newtown Artillery, were soon in motion for some point to us unknown.
Arriving at andale--a little village on the turnpike leading from Alexandria
to Fairfax Court-House — we were joined by a small force of cavalry under Col. Stewart
, who took command of the whole expedition.
After a short halt we took up the line of march for Mason's Hill, (the residence of Capt. Murray Mason
, of the old U. S. Navy, but now in the Confederate
service,) where the Federals
had been posting their pickets and scouting parties.--The Yankees
took to their heels on our approach and we quietly took possession of the hill — spending the remainder of the day and Monday in pretty sharp skirmishing with Yankee scouting parties, who frequently showed themselves at what they deemed a safe distance, and in throwing up entrenchments, lest we should be attacked by the greatly superior force which the enemy had within a mile of us. From this hill we could see very distinctly Washington
, which were only about five miles distant, and our boys seemed to regret very much that it was not convenient for them to pay a visit to the two cities.
By Tuesday morning we had pretty well finished the breastworks, and had gotten the Yankee
scouts very shy, having killed several and taken one soldier and two citizens prisoners, so that our boys began to be a little impatient for another move.
We were soon gratified; for having been reinforced by the Twentieth Georgia Regiment and the ‘"Maryland Line
,"’ our four companies and two companies of the Marylanders were ordered to take possession of Munson's Hill, situated a mile and a half off, and the residence of a notorious abolitionist, whose farm has been the headquarters of Yankee scouting parties.--By filing around through some thick woods, we were enabled to come in between the Federal
pickets on Munson's Hill and their camp at Bailey's Cross Roads, a mile distant, and although they made Bull Run
time, leaving behind overcoats, haversacks, &c., our boys succeeded in capturing eight prisoners and killing the horse from under their ‘"field officer of the day"’--probably wounding him very severely — without having a shot fired at us in return.
We here called for reinforcements as we were liable to be attacked at any moment by a superior force, and several companies from Fail's Church (of the 11th and 1st Virginia Regiments I believe,) pretty soon joined us. Leaving these to hold the hill our detachment (under Major Terrill
and Major Johnson
) was ordered to visit the house of the notorious Charles H. Upton
and capture a company of Yankees whom we learned were quartered there and in another house close by. They were too fast for us, however, and we found only their uneaten dinner, with a number of haversacks, canteens, overcoats, &c., to tell of the haste in which they left.
After spending an hour here quite pleasantly looking over abolition documents, &c., and eating some of the Hon.
(?) Mr. Upton
's nice peaches we were about returning to our comrades on Munson's Hill when our sentinels were fired upon by men concealed in a neighboring wood.
Supposing that they were a party of our own men, Major Terrill
, who in all of these skirmishes acted with the most determined bravery, fearlessly exposing himself to the fire of the enemy, took five of his men and went across to the woods, calling out as he went that we were Confederate soldiers.
His party being again fired on, however, they returned it, and sent back for our detachment to come up, with the intention of scouting the woods.
Just then we learned from a scout that they were Georgians, who had mistake us for Yankees — a compliment that we can forgive, as they were not near us — and that none of them were hurt.
One of our party was slightly wounded.
On our return to Upton's house, Major Terrill
, with a small party of the Maryland
Line, were scouting a piece of woods not far off, when they were fired on by a greatly superior force of the enemy, a private mortally wounded, and a Lieutenant slightly so. Being informed by a scout that the enemy were about three thousand strong, and had artillery, our officers deemed it prudent to fall back to the hill; but just then Col. Stewart
came up, and learning the circumstances, immediately drew us up in line of battle, and ordered us to clear the woods.
The scout remonstrated with him, ‘"that they very greatly outnumbered us, and had artillery, while we had none."’--But the Colonel
coolly replied: ‘"We can whip them, and we will take their artillery — we need it, anyway.
Forward, boys!"’ Our fellows were not slow to obey.
Entering the woods we were fired upon and with a loud cheer we dashed on. Pretty soon we came to some very thick pines that it was very difficult to get through, and where it was impossible to preserve a regular line of battle, and here commenced what more nearly resembled a deer chase than a battle.
would ‘"fire and fall back"’ on our approach and our boys, cheered on by our gallant leader, who, with musket in hand, gave us example as well as precept, rushed madly through the bushes, each man trying to get the first fire at the fleet-footed game.
After running them some three quarters of a mile, we came to the Loudoun and Hampshire
Railroad, on the opposite side of which the enemy raised a faint shout and made a feeble stand; but our boys boldly dashed across and soon had them in full retreat again.
They halted at a fence some fifty yards beyond, from behind which they gave us a pretty severe volley, and then made good their retreat to camp.
At their last fire two of our men (Robertson
, of the Montpelier Guards, and Corporal Arnold
, of the Lanier Guards
) fell very severely wounded, and Private Sizer
, of the Montpelier Guards, was unfortunately shot by one of our own men, so as to make the amputation of his leg necessary.
We now returned to Munson's Hill and there followed another day of severe skirmishing, enlivened by the throwing of a few shot into Bailey's Cross Roads by a piece of the Washington Artillery, and throwing up breastworks, in which our detachment was largely relieved by the 34 Tennessee Regiment, Col. Kemper
's 7th Virginia Regiment, and some companies from other regiments.
Thursday morning we were ordered back to rejoin our regiment at Fairfax Station, and we marched the distance, 14 miles, through a drenching rain.
I have just seen a Lieutenant on his way from Mason's Hill, and he says that we have occupied Baliey's Cross Roads and are still having pretty sharp skirmishes with the enemy.--You may look for stirring news from that quarter ere long.
I have no means of knowing accurately the loss of the enemy in our skirmishes with them — all of our boys nearly think they brought their man; but from the best information we can gather, their loss in killed and wounded and prisoners cannot be less than from forty to fifty.
The two hills are nine miles in advance of any of our present camps, and are considered very important positions.
As to our future movements, ‘"we shall see what we shall see."’ Our regiment is now in fine condition, and under the leadership of that accomplished soldier and gentleman, (Col. A. P. Hill
.) who has won the enthusiastic admiration of every man under him, you will hear from us whenever we may meet our hireling foe. We have had a hard time — packing up machinery at Harper's Ferry
, climbing mountains about Romney
, waiting for Patterson
, marching from Winchester
with nothing to eat, and, (by the miserable mismanagement of somebody,) getting there just too late for the great fight; and our boys are anxious for an opportunity to show that they can meet the dangers of the field as bravely as they have done the drudgery of the camp and the hardships of the march.