Report of Lieut. Gen. James Longstreet,
C. S. Army, commanding First Corps, of the Battles of Groveton and Manassas
HEADQUARTERS, NEAR WINCHESTER, VA.,
October 10, 1862.
Col. R. H. CHILTON,
GENERAL: I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations of my command in the late campaign:
In obedience to the orders of the commanding general the command marched from Gordonsville on August 16, crossing the Rapidan on the 20th at Raccoon Ford.
The next day at Kelly's Ford I received orders to move up the Rappahannock to Rappahannock Station. As we were withdrawing from Kelly's Ford the enemy crossed the river and made an attack upon the rear brigade (Featherston's), under the command of Colonel [Carnet] Posey. After a sharp skirmish Colonel Posey drove him back with considerable loss. Arriving at Rappahannock Station, General Hood, with his own and Whiting's brigade, was detached to relieve a portion of General Jackson's command at Freeman's Ford. About the moment that General Hood reached this ford the enemy crossed in considerable force and made an attack upon the commands of Brigadier-Generals Trimble and Hood. They, however, drove him back across the river in much confusion and with heavy loss.
Meanwhile I had ordered Col. J. B. Walton to place his batteries in position at Rappahannock Station and to drive the enemy from his positions on both sides of the river. The batteries were opened at sunrise on the 23d and a severe cannonade continued for several hours. In about two hours, however, the enemy was driven across the river, abandoning his tete-de-pont. The brigades of Brig. Gens. N. G. Evans and D. R. Jones--the latter under Col. George T. Anderson--moved forward to occupy this position. It was found untenable, however, being exposed to a cross-fire of artillery from the other bank. The troops were therefore partially withdrawn, and Col. S. D. Lee was ordered to select positions for his batteries and joined in the combat. The enemy's position was soon rendered too warm for him, and he took advantage of a severe rain-storm to retreat in haste, after firing the bridge and the private dwellings in its vicinity. Colonel Walton deserves much credit for skill in the management of his batteries, and Colonel Lee got into position in time for some good practice.
The next day (August 24) the command, continuing to march up the Rappahannock, crossed Hazel River and bivouacked at Jeffersonton.
On the 25th we relieved a portion of General Jackson's command at Waterloo Bridge. There was more or less skirmishing at this point until the afternoon of the 26th, when the march was resumed, crossing the Rappahannock at Hinson's Mill Ford, 6 miles above Waterloo.
A dash of several squadrons of Federal cavalry into Salem, in front of us, on the 27th, delayed our march about an hour. Not having cavalry, I was unable to ascertain the meaning of this movement; hence the delay. This cavalry retired and the march was resumed, resting for the night at White Plains. The head of my column reached Thoroughfare Gap about 3 p.m. on the 28th. A small party of infantry was sent into the mountain to reconnoiter. Passing through the Gap, Colonel [Benjamin] Beck, of the Ninth Georgia Regiment, met the enemy, but was obliged to retire before a greatly superior three. The enemy held a strong position on the opposite gorge and succeeded in getting his sharpshooters in position on the mountain. Brig. Gen. D. R. Jones advanced two of his brigades rapidly and soon drove the enemy from his position on the mountain. Brigadier-General Hood, with his own and General Whiting's brigade, was ordered by a foot-path over the mountain to turn the enemy's right, and Brigadier-General Wilcox, with his own and Brigadier-Generals Featherston's and Pryor's brigades, was ordered through Hopewell Gap, 3 miles to our left, to turn the right and attack the enemy in rear. The enemy made his attack upon Jones, however, before these troops could get into their positions, and after being repulsed with severe loss commenced his retreat just before night. In this affair the conduct of the First Georgia Regulars, under Major [John D.] Walker, was dashing and gallant.
Early on the 29th the columns were united and the advance to join General Jackson was resumed. The noise of battle was heard before we reached Gainesville. The march was quickened to the extent of our capacity. The excitement of battle seemed to give new life and strength to our jaded men, and the head of my column soon reached a position in rear of the enemy's left flank and within easy cannon-shot. On approaching the field some of Brigadier-General Hood's batteries were ordered into position, and his division was deployed on the right and left of the turnpike at right angles with it, and supported by Brigadier-General Evans' brigade. Before these batteries could open the enemy (discovered our movements and withdrew his left. Another battery (Captain Stribling's) was placed upon a commanding position to my right, which played upon the rear of the enemy's left and drove him entirely from that part of the field. He changed his front rapidly, so as to meet the advance of Hood and Evans. Three brigades, under General Wilcox, were thrown forward to the support of the left, and three others, under General Kemper, to the support of the right of these commands. General D. R. Jones' division was placed upon the Manassas Gap Railroad to the right and en echelon with regard to the three last brigades. Colonel Walton placed his batteries in a commanding position between my line and that of General Jackson, and engaged the enemy for several hours in a severe and successful artillery duel. At a late hour in the day Major-General Stuart reported the approach of the enemy in heavy columns against my extreme right. I withdrew General Wilcox, with his three brigades, from the left and placed his command in position to support Jones in case of an attack against my right. After some few shots the enemy withdrew his forces, moving them around toward his front, and about 4 o'clock in the afternoon began to press forward against General Jackson's position. Wilcox's brigades were moved back to their former position, and Hood's two brigades, supported by Evans, were quickly pressed forward to the attack. At the same time Wilcox's three brigades made a like advance, as also Hunton's brigade, of Kemper's command. These movements were executed with commendable zeal and ability. Hood, supported by Evans, made a gallant attack, driving the enemy back until 9 o'clock at night. One piece of artillery, several regimental standards, and a number of prisoners were taken. The enemy's entire force was found to be massed directly in my front, and in so strong a position that it was not deemed advisable to move on against his immediate front ;. so the troops were quietly withdrawn at 1 o'clock the following morning. The wheels of the captured piece were cut down and it was left on the ground.
The enemy seized that opportunity to claim a victory, and the Federal commander was so imprudent as to dispatch his Government by telegraph tidings to that effect. After withdrawing from the attack my troops were placed in the line first occupied and in the original order.
During the day Col. S. D. Lee, with his reserve artillery placed in the position occupied the day previous by Colonel Walton, engaged the enemy in a severe artillery combat. The result was, as the day previous a success.
At 3.30 o'clock in the afternoon I rode to the front for the purpose of completing arrangements for making a diversion in favor of a flank movement then under contemplation. Just after reaching my front line I received a message for re-enforcements for General Jackson, who was said to be severely pressed. From an eminence near by one portion of the enemy's masses attacking General Jackson were immediately within my view and in easy range of batteries in that position. It gave me an 'advantage that I had not expected to have, and I made haste to use it. Two batteries were ordered for the purpose, and one placed in position immediately and opened. Just as this fire began I received a message from the commanding general, informing me of General Jackson's condition and his wants. As it was evident that the attack against General Jackson could not be continued ten minutes under the fire of these batteries I made no movement with my troops. Before the second battery could be placed in position the enemy began to retire, and in less than ten minutes the ranks were broken and that portion of his army put to flight. A fair opportunity was offered me, and the intended diversion was changed into an attack. My whole line was rushed forward at a charge. The troops sprang to their work, and moved forward with all the steadiness and firmness that characterizes war-worn veterans. The batteries, continuing their play upon the confused masses, completed the rout of this portion of the enemy's line, and my attack was therefore made against the forces in my front. The order for the advance had scarcely been given when I received a message from the commanding general anticipating some such emergency, and ordering the move which was then going on, at the same time offering me Major-General Anderson's division. The commanding general soon joined me, and a few moments after Major-General Anderson arrived with his division. The attack was led by Hood's brigades, closely supported by Evans. These were rapidly re-enforced by Anderson's division from the rear, Kemper's three brigades and D. R. Jones' division from the right, and Wilcox's brigade from the left. The brigades of Brigadier-Generals Featherston and Pryor became detached and operated with a portion of General Jackson's command. The attacking columns moved steadily forward, driving the enemy from his different positions as rapidly as he took them. My batteries were thrown forward from point to point, following the movements of the general line. These, however, were somewhat detained by an enfilade fire from a battery on my left. This threw more than its proper share of fighting upon the infantry, retarded our rapid progress, and enabled the enemy to escape with many of his batteries which should have fallen into our hands. The battle continued until 10 o'clock at night, when utter darkness put a stop to our progress. The enemy made his escape across Bull Run before daylight. Three batteries, a large number of prisoners, many stands of regimental colors, and 12,000 stands of arms, besides some wagons, ambulances, &c., were taken.
The next day, like the day after the first battle of Manassas Plains, was stormy and excessively disagreeable. Orders were given early in the day for caring for the wounded, burying the dead, and collecting arms and other supplies. About noon General Pryor, with his brigade, was thrown across Bull Run, to occupy the heights between that and Cub Run, and at 2 o'clock in the afternoon the balance of the command marched to cross Bull Run at Sudley Ford. Crossing the run on the following day, the command marched for Chantilly via the Little River turnpike. The enemy was reported in position in our front as we reached Chantlily, and he made an attack upon General Jackson before my troops arrived. He was repulsed, however, before my re-enforcements got up and disappeared during the night.
The name of every officer, non-commissioned officer, and private who has shared in the toils and privations of this campaign should be mentioned. In one month these troops had marched over 200 miles upon little more than half rations and fought nine battles and skirmishes; killed, wounded, and captured nearly as many men as we had in our ranks, besides taking arms and other munitions of war in large quantities. I would that I could do justice to all of these gallant officers and men in this report. As that is impossible. I shal1 only mention those most prominently distinguished. These were Maj. Gen. R. H. Anderson, on the plains of Manassas, at Harper's Ferry, and at Sharpsburg, where he was wounded severely. Brig. Gen. D. R. Jones, at Thoroughfare Gap, Manassas Plains, Boonsborough, and Sharpsburg. Brig. Gen. R. Toombs, at Manassas Plains, in his gallant defense of the bridge at Antietam, and in his vigorous charge against the enemy's flank; he was severely wounded at the close of the engagement. Brig. Gen. C. M. Wilcox, at Manassas Plains on August 29 and 30;afterward absent, sick. Brigadier-General[Richard B.] Garnett, at Boonsborough and Sharpsburg. Brigadier-General Evans, on the plains of Manassas both on August 29 and 30, and at Sharpsburg. Brigadier-General [James L.] Kemper, at Manassas Plains, Boonsborough, and Sharpsburg. Brigadier-General [John B.] Hood and Cols. E.M. Law and W. T. Wofford, at Manassas Plains on August 29 and 30, Boonsborough, and at Sharpsburg on the 16th and 17th. Col. G. T. Anderson, commanding D. R. Jones' brigade, at Thoroughfare Gap, Manassas Plains, Boons-borough, and Sharpsburg. Brigadier-General [William] Mahone, at Manassas Plains, where he received a severe wound. Brig. Gen. R. A. Pryor, at Sharpsburg. Brig. Gen. M. Jenkins, at Manassas Plains on August 29 and 30; on the last day severely wounded. Colonels [Eppa] Hunton, M.D. Corse, [William D.] Stuart, P. F. Stevens, John C. Hately (severely wounded), and [Joseph Walker (commanding Jenkins' brigade after the latter was wounded), at Manassas Plains, Boons-borough, and Sharpsburg. Colonel Posey, at Manassas Plains and Sharpsburg, where he commanded Featherston's brigade. Col. Henry L. Benning, at Manassas Plains and Sharpsburg. At Sharpsburg, Capt. M. B. Miller, of the Washington Artillery, was particularly distinguished. Colonel Walton, of the Washington Artillery, at Rappahannock Station, Manassas Plains (August 29), and Sharpsburg; and Major [John J.] Garnett, at Rappahannock Station. Lieutenant-Colonels [Fred. G.] Skinner and [Morton] Marye, at Manassas Plains, where they were both severely wounded; and Maj. R. L. Walker, at Thoroughfare Gap and Manassas Plains. In the latter engagement this gallant officer was mortally wounded.
It is with no common feeling that I recount the loss at Manassas Plains of Cols. J. M. Gadberry, Eighteenth South Carolina; [John H.] Means, Seventeenth South Carolina; [John V.] Moore, Second South Carolina; [Thomas J.] Glover, First South Carolina; W. T. Wilson, Seventh Georgia, and Lieut. Col. J. C. Upton, Fifth Texas. At Boons-borough, Col. J. B. Strange, Nineteenth Virginia Volunteers, and Lieut. Col. O.K. McLemore, Fourth Alabama; and at Sharpsburg, Col. P. F. Liddell, Eleventh Mississippi; Lieutenant-Colonel Coppens [Louisiana Battalion] and Lieutenant-Colonel [William R.] Holmes, Second Georgia Volunteers. These valuable and gallant officers fell in the unflinching performance of their duty, bravely and successfully heading their commands in the thickest of the fight.
To my staff officers--Maj. G. M. Sorrel, assistant adjutant-general, who was wounded at Sharpsburg; Lieut. Col. P. T. Manning, chief of ordnance; Maj. J. W. Fairfax; Maj. Thomas Walton, who was also wounded at Sharpsburg; Capt. Thomas Goree and Lieut. R. W. Blackwell--I am under renewed and lasting obligations. These officers, full of courage, intelligence, patience, and experience, were able to give directions to commands such as they thought proper, which were at once approved and commanded my admiration.
Lieutenant-Colonel Blount volunteered his services to me at Boonsborough, and was both there and at Sharpsburg of material service to me.
The medical department, in charge of Surgeon Cullen, were active and unremitting in the care of the wounded, and have my thanks for their humane efforts.
My party of couriers were zealous, active, and brave. They are justly entitled to praise for the manly fortitude and courageous conduct shown by them in the trying scenes of the campaign.
The cavalry escort, commanded by Captain Doby, have my thanks for meritorious conduct and valuable aid. Captain Doby, Lieutenants Bouncy and Matheson, Sergeants Lee and Haile, and Corporals Whitaker and Salmond were distinguished in the active and fearless performances of their arduous duties.
I am indebted to Col. R. H. Chilton, Colonel Long, Majors Taylor, Marshall, Venable, and Talcott, and Captains Mason and Johnston, of the staff of the commanding general, for great courtesy and kindness in assisting me on the different battle-fields.
I respectfully ask the attention of the commanding general to the reports of division, brigade, and other commanders, and approve their high encomiums of their officers and men.
Reports of killed, wounded, and missing have already been forwarded.
I remain, sir, most respectfully, your obedient servant,
Source: Official Records of the War of the Rebellion
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