Reports of Capt. Thomas McConnell, Tenth Pennsylvania Reserve Infantry
DECEMBER 20, 1861.---Engagement at Dranesville, Va.
O.R.-- SERIES I--VOLUME 5 [S# 5]
CAMP PEIRPOINT, December 21, 1861.
Col. J. S. McCALMONT
SIR: I have the honor to make the following report:
Shortly after the regiment was placed in the woods by the direction of General Ord, near Easton's battery, I received your orders to take the first platoon of my company (the second platoon, under Lieutenant Pattee, having been placed with Lieutenant-Colonel Kirk as a portion of the foraging party) out some distance to the left flank of our line and pick off the artillerymen of the enemy. I immediately marched forward, and when we came to the edge of the woods I found that the enemy's artillery was being removed farther back, but discovered a number of infantry on the extreme right of their line advancing toward us as though they intended flanking us. I then ordered my men to secret themselves in some deep gullies and fire upon them, which they immediately did so well as to force them back. They then advanced again, and again were forced to retreat. I then moved still farther to our left., so as to defeat any flank movement. Any of the enemy found to the right of their artillery I believe were killed by my men, there being no other troops firing upon the right of their line. I observed a mounted officer of the enemy fall, and believe they carried him off the field. None of my command dead, wounded, or missing.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully,
Captain Company B.
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CAMP PEIRPOINT, VA., January 3, 1862.
Col. J. S. McCALMONT
SIR: I have the honor to submit the following statement of the battle of Dranesville, which occurred on the 20th December, 1861, my first report being rather brief on account of the haste in which it was prepared.
When the attack was made upon the skirmishers of the Ninth Regiment and Kane's regiment, our battalion was just outside of Dranesville, the artillery and cavalry being in front of us, the Sixth and Twelfth Regiments just in our rear. You then ordered the men to load, and immediately thereafter to give way on the right and left, so that the battery might assume a position in our rear, our troops being in column of platoon, and thus occupying almost the entire road. You then ordered us by the left flank through the fields on the northern side of the road, the fences soon being removed by the pioneers, and at the same time cheered the men by encouraging remarks and by boldly leading the way. When we came opposite Easton's battery, against which the heavy fire of the enemy was almost constantly directed, the balls from their guns flew thick and fast, but fortunately for our gunners and our battalion their aim was too high, all their shells and balls passing over us. Here we moved out to the turnpike, marching by the right flank, and when near Easton's battery you marched us by the left flank and filed right into the woods, our right resting near the turnpike, the entire battalion half-facing towards our battery.
Being on the left of the battalion, you directed me to throw out my platoon to the outer edge of the woods, just by the Alexandria and Leesburg turnpike, with instructions to pick off, if possible, the gunners of the enemy, and at the same time to keep a good lookout that we were not flanked by the enemy on the left. (Here allow me to state that Lieutenant Pattee, with my second platoon, had attached himself to Lieutenant-Colonel Kirk's foraging party, and was not present until after the engagement was over.) When I marched to the opening of the woods I observed one gun of their battery retiring, the others having already disappeared, but at the same time saw a body of infantry on their right, approaching no doubt for the purpose of flanking us and thus succeeding in taking our battery.
We had then to advance 10 or 15 paces for the purpose of secreting ourselves in some deep gullies or trenches, natural rifle pits, or to fall back and in the thick woods protect ourselves. Choosing the former, I ordered my men forward double- quick, and in a moment they were all well secreted. The number under me was then greatly increased by the sergeant of pioneers bringing his men out and stationing them just by mine, placing them under my command. I then ordered all to fire, which order was so well obeyed that the enemy were instantly thrown into confusion, and after another fire retreated to the woods from which they had just advanced. With the exception of a few adventurers who came outside the woods we saw no more of them for some minutes, but soon they rallied in considerable numbers and engaged us warmly during the remainder of the battle, their balls falling thick around, but no one, I am happy to state, receiving any injury therefrom; our men, in the mean time, under my direction, keeping close under cover and reserving their fire until sure of their mark.
Being cautioned by you to look well to the left, in order to prevent a flank movement by the enemy upon the battery after the charge was made by the other regiments of our forces, I ordered my men, the pioneers, and all others who had joined us during the engagement, to march some distance down the Alexandria turnpike, and there remained until I was satisfied that the enemy had retreated, and then marched back and joined our battalion.
I cannot speak too highly of the coolness and courage of the men whilst under fire, and also of the manner in which Sergt. John Gundy, of the pioneers, and the pioneer corps, performed their duty.
I beg leave to state that some three of my men (Sergeant Gundy, of the pioneers, being one, and Sergeant Gilleland another) went over the field after the action and counted 27 men killed (2 being officers) and 2 wounded of the enemy, all by rifle balls, which, from the position of the forces, could not have been reached by any of the infantry engaged in the action except by those under me.
All behaved well and gallantly, but it becomes my duty, under your instruction, to select a limited number to commend to your special notice for recommendation to the State and National Governments. This is not a pleasing duty, but it must be performed.
For coolness, gallantry, and activity in firing and in obeying orders, I therefore mention: First Sergeant David Farrell, Company B, of battalion; Third Sergeant David Gilleland, Company B, left general guide; Sergeant John Gundy, of Company D, commanding pioneers; Corporal Irvine Miller, Company B; Privates Samuel B. Clawges, W. J. MeGinn, John McCann, W. B. Gibson, George Wareham, of Company B, and Pioneers Walter D. Byers and George Kelso, Company B; John W. Waterhouse, Company F; Hugh Barnes, Company K, and Eli J. Ague, and John H. Walker, Company B.
I have the honor to be, your obedient servant,
Captain Company B, Tenth Regiment Pennsylvania Reserves.
Source: "Official Records of the War of the Rebellion
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