42. the battle of Lewinsville, Va.
In accordance with orders from General Mc-Clellan
, early on Wednesday morning General Smith
, commanding the advance brigade on the south side of the Potomac
near the Chain Bridge
, directed a topographical reconnaissance in force to be made in the direction of Lewinsville.
The reconnoitring party consisted of battalions from the Seventy-ninth New York Volunteers, Third Vermont Volunteers, the Nineteenth Indiana Volunteers, the First United States Chasseurs, four pieces of the West
Point battery, Captain Griffin
; one company of
United States Cavalry, Lieut. McLane
commanding; and one company of Young
's Cavalry — the whole under command of Colonel Isaac I. Stevens
, acting Brigadier-General
The scientific corps was in charge of Lieutenant Orlando M. Poe
, United States Topographical Engineers, assisted by Lieutenant West
, of the United States Coast survey, who were to conduct the reconnoissance.
The reconnoitring party, thus organized, left Camp Advance about seven A. M., and proceeded without molestation to Lewinsville, a distance of four or five miles, reaching that point at half-past 10 A. M., just in time to get a sight of the heels of a secession cavalry picket, about fifty strong, which evacuated the village, and retreated in the direction of Fall's Church
, without firing a shot upon the approach of our advance guard.
After the arrival of our troops in Lewinsville, cavalry and infantry pickets were thrown out on all the diverging roads and prominent places for a distance of half a mile.
Scouting parties were also sent out to observe the movements of the enemy.
At about eleven o'clock A. M., a large body of secession cavalry were seen in the distance watching the movements of our troops.
They did not come within cannon or musket range, and therefore their appearance did not interfere with the operation of the reconnoitring party.
, of the Engineers
, with a corps of assistants, commenced his surveys, and proceeded over an area of four miles square, obtaining valuable topographical information.
At half-past 2 o'clock the reconnoissance was completed, and orders given to recall the pickets, preparatory to returning to Camp advance.
All the pickets responded to the recall except a picket of the Third Vermont and one from the Nineteenth Indiana regiments. Colonel Stevens
sent a detachment out to learn the reason of their detention, and subsequently learned that they were watching the advance of a column of the enemy, consisting of seven hundred cavalry, two regiments of infantry, and four pieces of artillery, who were coming from the direction of Fall's Church
Little or no attention was paid to the enemy's advance, as the objects of the expedition had been accomplished, and our troops had proceeded but a few rods on their return home, when the enemy's battery, which by this time had attained a position within three-fourths of a mile of our troops, opened a rapid cannonade upon them with shot and shell.
The firing was kept up for ten minutes, when a section of Capt. Griffin
's battery, consisting of two ten-pounder rifled cannon, was immediately placed in position, and returned briskly the fire of the enemy.
Simultaneously with the secession cannonade they opened a fire of musketry from behind trees and other places of concealment, while our troops were formed in line of battle, with orders not to fire unless the enemy came out of their hiding-places.
They did not, however, come out into the field.
The cannonading continued until the enemy's guns were silenced.
, in the mean time, had arrived at the scene of the conflict.
He left his camp immediately upon hearing the firing, having first given orders to send after him a large reinforcement of troops.
On reaching the scene of action, however, he found that they would not he needed, and caused them to be halted on the way. The enemy's battery consisted of two rifle guns, throwing Hotchkiss
shell, and two six-pounders, the rifled guns being heavier than those of Griffin
A thirty-two-pounder was sent after the force, but did not get up with Colonel Stevens
until after Griffin
had silenced the enemy's guns.
A single shell was afterward thrown from this gun into a body of secession cavalry, some seven or eight hundred in number, who made their appearance in the rear of our forces, as if disposed to dispute the way with them.
The shell caused the cavalry to make a hasty retreat, scattering in all directions.
, it is stated, had to restrain the ardor of his command, who were anxious to advance upon the hidden enemy after their artillery had been silenced.
No force ever showed a better spirit for the fight.
They returned to their camp in good order.
, on receiving intelligence that the enemy seemed disposed to dispute Colonel Stevens
' return to our lines, mounted, and accompanied by his staff, hastened in the direction of the affair.
He was enthusiastically cheered by the troops wherever he was seen by them, both going and returning.
Our loss was one killed on the field, one died in a short time, five badly and five slightly wounded.
The killed and the wounded were all brought away with the exception of one man, too badly wounded to be moved, and he was left at a farm-house to be cared for. The wounded in the hospital are Moses A. Parker
and Newell R. Kingsbury
, of Vermont
; John Hamilton
, of Indiana
; James H. Van Ripper
, James Elliot
, and John Colgan
, of New York.
All are but slightly wounded except Elliot
, who received a mortal wound in the side from a shell or a canister shot.
The others are quite comfortable, and will soon recover.
Colonel Stuart's official report.