The Battles of 1861
report of the engagement of the Sevenths Brigade with the Federal
forces, on the 21st and 22 of October, at Leesburg
, Va, Brigadier-General Evans
Headquarters 7th Brigade,
Leesburg, Va., Oct. 3d, 1861.
I beg leave to submit the following report of the action of the troops of the 7th Brigade in the battle of the 21st and 22d instant, with the enemy at Leesburg, Virginia
on Saturday night, the 19th instant, about 7 o'clock P. M., the enemy commenced a heavy cannonading from three batteries, one playing on my entrenchment, (known as Fort Evans,) one on the Leesburg Turnpike
, and one on Edwards's Ferry heavy firing was also heard in the direction of Dranesville
at 12 o'clock at night I ordered my entire Brigade to the burnt bridge on the Turnpike
The enemy had been reported as approaching from Dranesville
in large force.
Taking a strong position on the north side of Goose Creek
, I awaited his approach.
Reconnoitering the Turnpike
on Sunday morning, the courier of Gen. McCall
was captured, bearing dispatches to Gen Meade
to examine the roads leading to Leesburg
From this prisoner I learned the position of the enemy near Dranesville
During Sunday the enemy kept up a deliberate fire, without any effect.
early on Monday morning, the 21st instant, I heard the firing of my pickets at Big Spring
Who had discovered that, at an unguarded point, the enemy had effected a crossing, in force of five companies, and were advancing on Leesburg
, of the 17th regiment, immediately attacked him, driving him back, with several killed and wounded.
on observing the movements of the enemy from Fort Evans, at six o'clock, A. M., I found that he had effected a crossing, both at Edwards's Ferry and Ball's Bluff, and I made preparations to meet him in both positions, and immediately ordered four companies infantry, (two of the 18th, one of the 17th, and one of the 19th,) and a cavalry force to relieve Captain Duff
; the whole force under the immediate command of Lieutenant Col. W. H. Jenifer
, who was directed to hold his position till the enemy made further demonstration of his design of attack.
This force soon became warmly engaged with the enemy, and drove them back for some distance in the woods.
at about 10 o'clock, I became convinced that the main point of attack would be at Ball's Bluff, and ordered Col. Hunton
with his regiment, the 8th Virginia volunteers, to repair immediately to the support of Col. Jenifer
I directed Col. Hunton
to form line of battle immediately in the rear of Col. Jenifer
's command, and to drive the enemy to the river; that I would support his right with artillery.
About twenty minutes past 12 o'clock, M., Colonel Hunton
united his command with that of Colonel Jenifer
, and both commands soon became hotly engaged with the enemy in their strong position in the woods.
Watching carefully the action, I saw the enemy were constantly being reinforced, and at half-past 2 o'clock, P. M., ordered Col. Burt
to march his regiment, the 16th Mississippi, and attack the left flank of the enemy, while Cols. Hunton
attacked him in front.
On arriving at his position, Col. Burt
was received with a tremendous fire from the enemy, concealed in a ravine, and was compelled to divide his regiment to stop the flank movement of the enemy.
at this time, about three o'clock, finding the enemy were in large force, I ordered Col. Featherston
with his regiment, the 17th Mississippi, to repair at double-quick to the support of Col. Burt
, where he arrived in twenty minute, and the action became general along my whole line, and was very hot and brisk for more than two hours, the enemy keeping up a constant fire with his batteries on both sides of the river.
at about six o'clock P. M. I saw that my command had driven the enemy near the banks of the Potomac
; I ordered my entire force to charge and drive him into the river.
The charge was immediately made by the whole command, and the forces of the enemy were completely routed, and cried out for quarters along his whole line.
in, this charge the enemy were driven back at the point of the bayonet, and many killed by this formidable weapon.
In the precipitate retreat of the enemy on the bluffs of the river, many of his troops rushed into the water and were drowned, while many others, in overloading the boats, sunk them, and shared the same fate.
The rout now, about seven o'clock, became complete, and the enemy commenced throwing his arms into the river.
during this action, I held Col. Wm. Barksdale
; with nine companies of his regiment, the 13th Mississippi, and six pieces of artillery, as a reserve, as well as to keep up a demonstration against the force of the enemy at Edwards's Ferry.
at eight o'clock P. M. The enemy surrendered his forces at Ball's Bluff, and the prisoners were marched to Leesburg
I then ordered my Brigade (with the exception of the 13th regiment Mississippi who remained in front of Edwards's Ferry) to retire to the town of Leesburg
and rest for the night.
on Tuesday morning I was informed by Col. Barksdale
that the enemy were still in considerable force at Edwards's Ferry.
I directed him to make a thorough reconnaissance of the position and strength of the enemy and attack him. At 2 o'clock P. M. He gallantly attacked a much superior force in their entrenchments, driving them to the bank of the river, killing thirty or forty and wounding a considerable number.
about sundown, the enemy being strongly reinforced and stationed in rifle pits, Colonel Barksdale
wisely retired with his regiment to Fort Evans, leaving a guard of two companies to watch the movements of the enemy, who, evidently expecting a renewed attack, retired during the night and recrossed the river at Edwards's Ferry.
on Wednesday morning, finding my Brigade very much exhausted, I left Col Barksdale
with his regiment, with two pieces of artillery and a cavalry force, as a grand guard, and ordered the other three regiments to fall back towards Carter's Mill
, to rest and to be collected in order.
, with his regiment and two pieces of artillery, were hatted at a strong position on the south bank of the Sycolin, about three miles south of Leesburg
I would here state that in an interview on Monday night with the commissioned officers of the Federal
army taken prisoners, I am convinced that they expected to be recaptured either during the night or the next day, and, as the captured officers refused their parole not to take up arms against the Southern Confederacy until duly exchanged, I ordered the whole number to be immediately marched to Manassas
This parole was only offered to give them the liberty of the town, as I did not wish to confine them with the privates.
in the engagement on the 21st of October, which lasted nearly thirteen hours, our loss from a force of seventeen hundred and nine, aggregate, was as follows:
|Eighth Reg't Va Vols.||killed.||wounded.|
since dead of wounds, three privates and one Lieutenant
|Thirteenth Rig. Miss, Vole,||killed,||wounded|
|Commissn'd officers (22d).||1||0|
one private taken prisoner.
|Seventeenth Reg. Miss. Vols.||killed||wounded|
|Eighteenth Reg. Miss. Vols.||killed.||wounded|
|Total loss, killed and wounded||153|
The force of the enemy, as far as I have been able to ascertain, was five regiments and three pieces of artillery at Ball's Bluff, and four regiments, two batteries, and a squadron of cavalry at Edwards's Ferry numbering in all about eight thousand troops.
In addition to this force, three batteries of long range were constantly firing on my troops from the Maryland
side of the river.
The loss of the enemy, so far as known, is as follows:
Thirteen hundred killed, wounded, and drowned!
Captured seven hundred and ten prisoners;
Fifteen hundred stand of arms!
Three pieces of cannon;
One stand of colors, a large number of cartridge boxes, bayonet seaboards, and a quantity of camp furniture.
Among the killed of the enemy was General
, formerly Senator
, and several other commissioned officers.
Among the prisoners taken were twenty-two commissioned officers, the names of whom have already been furnished.
General C. P. Stone
commanded the Federal
forces until 3 o'clock, A. M., on the morning of the 22d, when, he was superseded by Major General
The engagement on our side was fought entirely with the musket; the artillery was in position to do effective service should the enemy have advanced from their cover.
The enemy were armed with the Minnie
musket, the Belgian gun, and Springfield
musket; a telescopic target rifle was also among the arms found.
In closing my report, I would call the attention of the General Commanding
to the heroism and gallantry displayed by the officers and men of the 7th brigade, in the action of the 21st and 22nd of October. The promptness with which every commander obeyed, and the spirit with which their men executed my orders to attack the enemy in much superior force, and in a position where he had great advantages, entities them to the thanks of the Southern Confederacy.
Without food or rest for more than twelve hours previous to the commencement of the battle, they drove an enemy, four times their number, from the soil of Virginia
, killing and taking prisoners a greater number than our whole force engaged.
To witness the patience, enthusiasm and devotion of the troops to our cause, during an action of thirteen hours, excited my warmest admiration.
As my entire brigade exceeded my most sanguine expectations in their intrepidity and endurance, I am unable to individualize any particular command, as the tenacity with which each regiment held their positions was equaled only by their undaunted courage and arm determination to conquer.
To my General Staff
I am much in debted.
, Brigade Quartermaster; was directed to conduct the baggage train beyond Goose Creek
, which difficult duty was performed in the night with great regularity.
, Brigade Commissary, was actively engaged in accruing commissary stores and in providing cooked rations for the brigade.
To my Acting Aid de-Camp, Lieut. Charles B. Wildman
, of the 17th regiment Virginia volunteers, and my volunteer aid, Mr. Wm. H. Rogers
, I am particularly indebted for services on the field of battle.
conducted the 18th regiment and Mr. Rogers
the 17th regiment of Mississippi volunteers, to their respective positions in the action, and both repeatedly bore orders under heavy fire.
Capt. A. L. Evans
, Assistant Adjutant-General
, though detained by other duty till 2 o'clock, P. M., rendered valuable services.
The Medical staff, both brigade and regimental, were all actively engaged during the day in removing the dead and wounded, and in patriotically administering relief to the dying on the field.
I am pained to report the fall of the gallant Colonel E. R. Burt
, of the 18th regiment Mississippi volunteers.
He was mortally wounded about 4 o'clock, P. M., while gallantly leading his regiment under a tremendous fire.
His loss is truly severe to his regiment and to our common cause.
The prisoners taken were sent to Manassas
under charge of Capt. O. R. Singleton
, of the 18th regiment Mississippi volunteers, with his company, and Capt
. W. A. R Jones
, of the 17th regiment Mississippi volunteers, and a detachment of cavalry, the whole under command of Capt Singleton
, who conducted 529 prisoners nearly twenty-five miles, after the great fatigue of the battle.
Accompanying this report I enclose an accurate map of the field of battle, and the reports of the immediate commanders To the latter I would respectfully refer for individual acts of gallantry and patriotism.
I also forward the reports of the field officer of the day. Lieut. Col. McGuirk
, of the 17th regiment Mississippi volunteers, to whom I am much indebted for information of the flank movements of the enemy.
Lieut. Sheffield David
, here on duty as Topographical Engineer
, and Sergeant Wm. R. Chambliss
, of the 18th regiment Mississippi volunteers, my private secretary, rendered material service, the former by fighting on foot with his musket as a private — the latter by conveying my orders on the field of battle under heavy fire.
Your obedient servant,
[Signed,] N G. Evans
., commanding 7th Brigade.
To Lieut. Col. Thomas Jordan
, Assist. Adj't.
General, 1st Corps Army of Potomac, near Centreville
[Official.] John Withers
A. A Gen.