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History of Lane's North Carolina brigade.

By Brigadier-General James H. Lane.

No. 5.

Second Manassas campaign.

After the battles around Richmond, this brigade encamped below that city for a short time and was then ordered to Gordonsville, near which place it remained until just before the battle of Cedar Run, in which battle it bore a very conspicuous part, as will appear from the following report:

General Branch's report of battle of Cedar Run.

headquarters Branch's brigade, A. P. Hill's division, August 18, 1862.
Major R. C. Morgan, Assistant Adjutant-General:
Sir — I have the honor to report that on Saturday, 9th August, whilst on the march to Culpeper Courthouse, I was ordered to halt my brigade and form in line of battle on the left of and at right [146] angles to the road. The formation was scarcely completed before I was ordered to advance in line through the woods and thick undergrowth — a heavy musketry fire being heard not far from my front. I then proceeded about one hundred yards, when I commenced meeting the men of a brigade which had preceded me retreating in great disorder and closely pursued by the enemy.

Opening ranks to permit the fugitives to pass, and pressing forward in unbroken line, my brigade met the enemy, who had already turned the flank of General Taliaferro's brigade, which was on the right of the road. Not in the least shaken by the panic cries of the fugitives, and without halting, my brigade poured volley after volley into the enemy, who broke and fled precipitately through the woods and across the field. On reaching the edge of the field, I discovered the enemy in force on the opposite side, and halting my brigade in an eligible position, opened fire along the whole line. For a time the enemy stood their ground, but we were within good range across an open field, and the execution we were doing (clearly perceptible to the eye) compelled them to commence breaking. Now it was that their cavalry attempted to charge General Taliaferro's brigade, which had partially rallied after I had cleared their flank. The cavalry moved diagonally across my front, presenting to me their flank. The combined fire of Taliaferro's brigade in front and mine in flank broke up the column and sent it flying to the rear. My brigade immediately moved forward in pursuit of the retreating enemy, and whilst I was hesitating in the field, in doubt what direction I should take, Major-General Jackson came up, and by his order I changed front so as to incline to the right, and pushed on to a point some distance in advance of the battlefield, at which he had ordered me to halt.

The battle having terminated in a complete rout of the enemy, my men slept on the ground they had so bravely won.

My officers and men behaved finely, and I refrain from discriminations. Such was their steadiness that I was able to preserve my line of battle unbroken throughout the day.

Captain F. J. Hawks and Lieutenant J. A. Bryan, of my staff, were with me, and conducted themselves gallantly.

Your obedient servant,

L. O'B. Branch, Brigadier-General.

Extract from Major-General A. P. Hill's report.

My order of march was Thomas, Branch, Archer, Pender, Stafford and Field. Arriving within about six miles of Culpeper Courthouse, [147] the heavy firing in front gave notice that the battle had commenced. I was then directed by General Jackson to send a brigade to the support of Taliaferro, who was in line of battle on the right of the main road. Thomas was sent on this duty, and formed his line immediately in front of Taliaferro's. Lieutenant-Colonel Walker placed Pegram's and Fleet's batteries in eligible positions in front of Early's brigade (General Taliaferro's right). Branch, Archer and Pender, as they came up, were successively formed on the left of the road. Winder's brigade, immediately in front of Branch, being hard pressed, broke, and many fugitives came back. Without waiting for the formation of the entire line, Branch was immediately ordered forward, and passing through the broken brigade, received the enemy's fire, promptly returned it, checked the pursuit, and in turn drove them back, and relieved Taliaferro's flank. The enemy, driven across an open field, had rallied in a wood skirting it. Branch was engaged when Archer came up, and with Pender on the left, the enemy were charged across this field, the brigade of Archer being subjected to a very heavy fire. General Thomas on the right had been ordered by General Jackson to the right to support Early's brigade. Quite a large portion of both Early's and Taliaferro's brigades had been thrown into confusion, some of the regiments standing firm, the Fourteenth and Twenty-first Virginia and Twelfth Georgia. Thomas formed his line of battle along a fence bordering a corn-field, through which the enemy were advancing. After a short contest, the enemy were hurled back. Pegram's and Fleet's batteries, the latter under command of Lieutenant Hardy, did heavy execution this day, and drove back several attempts to capture their guns. The Fourteenth Georgia, under the gallant Folsom, having been separated from the rest of the brigade by our fugutives, charged the enemy, and with brilliant success. The enemy had now been driven from every part of the field, but made an attempt to retrieve his fortunes by a cavalry charge. Their squadrons, advancing across an open field in front of Branch, exposed their flank to him, and encountering a deadly fire from the Fourteenth Georgia and Twelfth Virginia, had many saddles emptied, and fled in utter disorder. * * *

Extract from General Jackson's report.

During the advance of the enemy to the rear, the guns of Jackson's division becoming exposed, they were withdrawn. At this critical moment Branch's brigade of A. P. Hill's division, with [148] Winder's brigade further to the left, met the Federal forces, flushed with their temporary triumph, and drove them back with terrible slaughter through the wood. The fight was still maintained with obstinacy between the enemy and the two brigades just named, when Archer and Pender coming up, a general charge was made, which drove the enemy across the field into the opposite woods, strewing the narrow valley with their dead. In this charge Archer's brigade was subjected to a heavy fire. At this time the Federal cavalry charged upon Taliaferro's brigade with impetuous valor, but were met with such determined resistance by Taliaferro's brigade in its front, and by so galling a fire from Branch's brigade in flank, that it was forced rapidly from the field with loss and in disorder. * * *

T. J. Jackson, Lieutenant-General.

Extract from General Lee's report.

The enemy's infantry advanced about five o'clock P. M., and attacked General Early in front, while another body, concealed by the inequality of the ground, moved upon his right. Thomas' brigade of A. P. Hill's division, which had now arrived, was sent to his support, and the contest soon became animated.

In the meantime the main body of the Federal infantry, under cover of a wood and the undulations of the field, gained the left of Jackson's division, now commanded by Brigadier-General. Taliaferro, and poured a destructive fire into his flank and rear. Campbell's brigade fell back in confusion, exposing the flank of Taliaferro's, which also gave way, as did the left of Early's. The rest of his brigade, however, firmly held its ground.

Winder's brigade, with Branch's of A. P. Hill's division on its right, advanced promptly to the support of Jackson's division, and after a sanguinary struggle the enemy was repulsed with loss. Pender's and Archer's brigades, also of Hill's division, came up on the left of Winder's, and by a general charge the enemy was driven back in confusion, leaving the ground covered with his dead and wounded. * * * Night had now set in, but General Jackson, desiring to enter Culpeper Courthouse before morning, determined to pursue. Hill's division led the advance, but owing to the darkness it was compelled to move slowly and with caution.

The enemy was found about a mile and a half in rear of the field of battle, and information was received that reinforcements had arrived. General Jackson thereupon halted for the night, and [149] the next day, being satisfied that the enemy's strength had been so largely increased as to render a further advance on his part imprudent, he sent his wounded to the rear, and proceeded to bury the dead and collect the arms from the battlefield.

Extract from Brigadier-General Archer's report.

I advanced several hundred yards in this manner, obliquing towards the right, in order to get near the left of Branch's brigade, when I overtook its left regiment, which had become separated from the main body. In passing to the front of this regiment my line became somewhat broken, and halted a few minutes for it to reform.

Brigadier-General Lane's official reports.

I earnestly objected to making the following reports, as I was not in command of the brigade until after the fall of General Branch at Sharpsburg, but General A. P. Hill peremptorily ordered me to do so — from Cedar Run to Shepherdstown, both inclusive — remarking that he hadn't the time to be reading so many regimenal reports. I was not aware then that General Branch had already made a report of the Cedar Run fight. This forced me to call for reports from the senior regimental officers present, the time allowed me being very limited, and I had to be guided accordingly.

As I did not see the Seventh regiment in the Cedar Run fight, and as “the first, Second and Third officers in command at that time” were absent when my report was called for, I was compelled to call for a regimental report from Captain (afterwards Major) J. McLeod Turner, who was in command of the Seventh in the absence of these ranking officers.

The order of battle from right to left was Thirty-seventh, Twenty-eighth, Thirty-third, Eighteenth and Seventh, and in the extract given from Brigadier-General Archer's report, he says that the left regiment (which was the Seventh) had become separated from the main body of Branch's brigade.

My report of the brigade at Cedar Run gave, I am sorry to say, great dissatisfaction to a few of the officers of the Seventh regiment, at the time of its appearance, during the war, in some of the North Carolina papers.


headquarters Fourth brigade, November 8th, 1862.
Major R. C. Morgan:
I have the honor to submit the following report of the part taken by this brigade in the various engagements from Cedar Run to Shepherdstown, inclusive. The report must necessarily be imperfect, as I was not in command of the brigade until after General Branch's fall, while most of the officers who commanded the different regiments are now absent, and did not leave with the Assistant Adjutant-General any account of the part taken in the various battles by their respective commands.

Cedar Run--August 9.

After a long, rapid and weary march, we reached the battlefield at Cedar Run on the afternoon of the 9th of August, and took the position assigned us in line of battle by General Branch in the woods to the left of the road leading to the run — the right of the Thirty-seventh resting on the road, the Twenty-eighth, Thirty-third, Eighteenth and Seventh being on its left. The Twenty-eighth, Thirty-third, Eighteenth and Thirty-seventh moved cheerfully and irresistibly forward, and in perfect order, through the woods upon the enemy, who “had succeeded in flanking the first (Stonewall) brigade of General Jackson's division, which was rapidly giving way.” The enemy's infantry were soon driven from the woods into the field beyond, and both infantry and cavalry were finally driven in great disorder from the secne of action. “Many prisoners were taken, and many others deserted their colors and voluntarily surrendered themselves.” After advancing in line beyond Cedar run, we were half-wheeled to the right and marched across the road, through a field of corn, and over an open field until we reached the left of the forces under Brigadier-General W. B. Taliaferro, where we were halted. It was then dark, and the infantry firing had ceased in all directions. During the entire engagement the officers and men behaved as well as could be desired, notwith-standing the disorderly manner in which some of the troops we were ordered to support fell back.

Lieutenants Dunn and Coltraine, of the First Virginia (Irish) battalion, tendered me their services on the field, as they had been left without a command. I put them in charge of two companies of the Twenty-eighth regiment, previously commanded by sergeants, [151] and both discharged the duties assigned them only as brave men can do.

Our loss was twelve killed and eighty-eight wounded.

I did not see the Seventh regiment after we were ordered forward, and as Colonel Haywood is absent, I will submit so much of Captain Turner's report as relates to the part taken by his regiment in this engagment:

When the brigade moved forward, this regiment, for causes unknown to the writer, did not move for several minutes, and consequently was considerably behind the brigade. We were finally ordered forward, but had not proceeded more than one hundred yards when we were halted and the line dressed. By this time the brigade was entirely out of sight. We marched forward and were again halted and the line dressed. We next wheeled to the right, and marched into a road running nearly perpendicular to our original line of battle. Colonel Haywood at this point left the regiment to look for General Branch. The command then devolved upon Captain R. B. McRae, who, hearing heavy firing in our front, was just on the eve of ordering the regiment in that direction, when Colonel Haywood returned with orders from General Jackson. We then marched by the right flank to a wheat-field on the left of the Culpeper road, and formed on a hill in rear of and nearly perpendicular to the brigade, which was then at the bottom of the hill and in the same field. We marched forward at a double-quick to the support of General Taliaferro's division, which we found engaging a force of the enemy concealed in a corn-field. We had fired several rounds when the enemy broke and fled. We pursued them about three-quarters of a mile, taking about thirty prisoners, including two commissioned officers, when we were halted by General Taliaferro, and marched to a point on the Culpeper road, where we joined the brigade and bivouacked for the night. The regiment sustained a loss of one man killed and one wounded in this engagement.

Shelling across the Rappahannock--August 24.

On Sunday, August 24th, the Eighteenth regiment was ordered to the support of McIntosh's battery. It lay during the whole of the day under a very heavy fire of the enemy's artillery, but sustained no loss. The Twenty-eighth and Thirty-third regiments were sent under my command to support Braxton's and Davidson's batteries, and to prevent, if possible, the destruction of the bridge [152] across the Rappahannock near the. Warrenton White Sulphur Springs. I threw a portion of the Twenty-eighth far in advance into an open field, as far as practicable, to act as sharpshooters, and kept the rest of my command sheltered behind a hill. We had only three wounded, although we were under a very heavy shelling all that day. The remaining regiments were also under fire a part of the time.

Manassas Junction--August 26.

We reached Manassas Junction the morning of the third day after the above shelling, when the Eighteenth regiment was detached “to guard the captured stores,” and the rest of the brigade was halted not far from the depot near an earthwork to the left. While resting and awaiting an issue of Yankee rations, the enemy were seen advancing upon our position in line of battle. General Branch immediately put his command in motion and moved by the flank to the left of a battery planted near the earthwork. Our artillery opened upon them, soon put them to flight, and we pursued them rapidly in a diagonal direction across the field in rear of the hospital and some distance beyond Bull run, but never overtook the main body, as the Crenshaw battery advanced more rapidly than we did, and poured charge after charge of canister into their disordered ranks. We succeeded, however, in capturing a large number of prisoners.

Manassas Plains--August 28, 29 and 30.

Next day, after marching through Centreville and across Bull run, on the Stone Bridge road, we were ordered from the road to the right into a piece of woods, fronting a large open field in which one of our batteries was placed. As soon as the engagement was opened on our right, General Archer's brigade, which was in front of us, moved from the woods into the field up to and to the right of the battery, where it halted. Our brigade also moved a short distance into the field in the same direction, when the enemy opened a left enfilade artillery fire upon us. General Branch then ordered the Twenty-eighth regiment to continue its march, and directed me to halt it in rear of General Archer, while he moved the rest of his command some distance to the left. The whole brigade, “with no protection whatever, stood this artillery fire for several hours in the open field.” The Eighteenth at one time was ordered to the support of General Ewell, and was marched down, [153] but as “the enemy had been driven from the field it was not put in.” None of us were actively engaged that day, and about night-fall the whole command moved into the railroad cut, where we slept upon our arms.

Next day we were marched a circuitous route and brought back into an open field near the spot where we had spent the night.

Captain Crenshaw, who was in command of his battery in front of us, notified General Branch of the presence of the enemy in our front. Captain Turner, of the Seventh, was immediately sent to the left of the battery with his company to act as skirmishers. Soon after General Branch ordered me to take command of the Twenty-eighth and Thirty-third regiments and dislodge the enemy, who were in the woods beyond the field of corn. On passing beyond the small cluster of woods to the right of the Crenshaw battery, we saw the enemy retreating in confusion before Captain Turner's skirmishers. We continued to advance until we saw General Gregg's brigade in the woods to our right. It was here that I learned the enemy were in force in the woods, and that General Gregg had been ordered not to press them. I deemed it advisable to inform General Branch of these facts, and was ordered by him to remain where I was. I had three companies at the time deployed as skirmishers along the fence in front of us, and connecting with those first sent out under Captain Turner.

The enemy advanced in strong force upon General Gregg soon after we halted, and General Branch, with the rest of his command, advanced to his support. The Thirty-seventh first became actively engaged. The enemy opened a deadly fire upon this regiment. The Eighteenth, under Lieutenant-Colonel Purdie, and the Seventh, under Captain McRae, went to its assistance, and the enemy were driven in disorder beyond the railroad cut. The enemy were repulsed in two subsequent attempts to drive these regiments from their position. The Thirty-third, under Colonel Hoke, also fought well in the woods to the left of these regiments, and once gallantly advanced into the open field in front and drove the enemy back in disorder. Up to this time the Twenty-eighth had not been engaged, and as the other regiments were nearly out of ammunition, General Branch ordered it to join him, intending to make it cover his front. The order was not delivered properly, and the regiment went into action on the left of General Field's brigade. It advanced boldly into the woods, driving the enemy before it, although exposed to a direct and left enfilade fire, but fell back [154] when it found itself alone in the woods and unsupported. The men, however, rallied and reformed in the open field and advanced a second time, when the enemy were not only driven beyond the “cut,” but entirely out of the woods. Never have I witnessed greater bravery and desperation than was that day displayed by this brigade.

We were not actively engaged the next day, but held our position under a heavy artillery fire and very heavy skirmishing until late in the afternoon. We then followed up the enemy until about. 10 o'clock P. M., advancing in line through a body of woods to a large hospital, in which the enemy had left many of his wounded.

Our loss in this three days battle was thirty killed, one hundred and eighty-five wounded, and one missing.

Ox Hill--September 1, 1862.

The pursuit was continued the whole of Sunday, and on Monday afternoon, about four o'clock, we came up with the enemy at Ox hill, near Fairfax Courthouse, on the Alexandria and Winchester turnpike, where the engagement was immediately opened. This brigade pressed eagerly forward through an open field and a piece of woods to the edge of another field, where we were for a short time exposed to the enemy's infantry fire, without being able to return it. An attempt was made to flank us on the right, and the Eighteenth regiment was immediately detached from the centre of the brigade and ordered to the right to prevent the. movement, which it did, sustaining a deadly fire unsupported. The enemy's direct advance was through a field of corn, in which he sustained great loss, notwithstanding most of our guns fired badly on account of the heavy rain which fell during the engagement. On learning that our ammunition was nearly out, General Branch made known the fact, and was ordered “to hold his position at the point of the bayonet.” We remained where we were until dark, when the whole command fell back to the field in rear of the woods. The Twenty-eighth, cold, wet and hungry, was then ordered back to the field of battle to do picket duty for the night, without fires.

This engagement is regarded by the brigade as one of our severest. The enemy's infantry used a great many explosive balls.

Our loss was fourteen killed, ninety-two wounded, and two missing.

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