Reports of Maj. Gen. James E. B. Stuart, C. S.
commanding cavalry of the Army of Northern Virginia,
of operations August 16-September 2
AUGUST 16-SEPTEMBER 2, 1862
Campaign in Northern Virginia
(NOTE: Only the OR of the 30 Aug. Operation is included here)
ARMY OF N. VA.,
HDQRS. STUART'S CAV. DIV.,
February 28, 1863.
Brig. Gen. R. H. CHILTON,
A. A. and I. G., Army of N. Va.
GENERAL: I have the honor to furnish the following summary of events in which my command participated immediately preceding and subsequent to the second battle of Manassas, or, as it should be more properly termed, the battle of Groveton Heights, August 30, 1862:
My command had hardly recrossed the Rappahannock, as narrated in my last, when that portion of it left on outpost duty on the river became engaged with the enemy, who had advanced to the opposite bank. It was soon apparent that the enemy meditated the destruction of the Waterloo Bridge, the only bridge over the stream then standing. Appreciating its importance to us, I directed the sharpshooters of the two brigades to be sent to its defense, and the command of this party, numbering about 100 men, devolved by selection upon Col. T. L. Rosser, Fifth Virginia Cavalry, whose judgment in posting his command enabled him to prevent the destruction of the bridge in spite of desperate attempts to reach it, and held possession all day and night against infantry and artillery until the next day, when he turned over his position and the bridge intact to a regiment of infantry sent to relieve him.
During the day I sent Capt. J. Hardeman Stuart, my signal officer, to capture the enemy's signal party on View Tree, an eminence overlooking Warrenton, and establish his own flag instead; the sequel shows with what success.
Colonel Munford's regiment (Second Virginia Cavalry) was detached for temporary service with General Jackson.
That night (25th) I repaired to the headquarters of the commanding general and received my final instructions to accompany the movement of Major-General Jackson, already began. I was to start at 2 a.m., and upon arriving at the brigades that night at 1 a.m. I had reveille sounded and preparations made for the march at 2 o'clock. In this way I got no sleep, but continued in the saddle all night. I followed by direction the route of General Jackson through Amissville, across the Rappahannock at Henson's Mill, 4 miles above Waterloo; proceeded through Orleans, and thence on the road to Salem, until, getting near that place, I found my way blocked by the baggage trains and artillery of General Jackson's command. Directing the artillery and ambulances to follow the road. I left it with the cavalry and proceeded by farm roads and by-paths parallel to General Jackson's route to reach the head of his column, which left Salem and the plains early in the morning for the direction of Gainesville. The country was exceedingly rough, but I succeeded, by the aid of skillful guides, in passing Bull Run Mountain without passing Thoroughfare Gap, and without incident worthy of record passed through Hay Market, and overtook General Jackson near Gainesville and reported to him. Ewell's division was in advance, and to my command was intrusted guarding the two flanks during the remainder of the pending operations.
On the 26th, as Lee's brigade passed Hay Market, he received information of a train of forage wagons of the enemy, and sent out promptly a regiment and captured it. Having made dispositions above and below Gainesville, on the Warrenton road, with cavalry and artillery, I kept with the main portion on General Jackson's right, crossing Broad Run a few miles above Bristoe and intersecting the railroad to the right (south) of that point. The cavalry now fronted toward the main body of the enemy, still in the direction of the Rappahannock, and covered General Jackson's operations on the railroad bridge, on approaching which Colonel Munford's regiment (Second Virginia), as advance guard, made a bold dash into the place and secured most of the occupants.
About dusk, and simultaneously with the arrival of the command at the railroad, trains of cars came rapidly on from the direction of Warrenton Junction, and before obstruction could be made the first passed on, though fired into by the infantry. Several subsequent ones followed and were captured by the infantry. Details of these operations will no doubt be given by General Jackson and the division commanders.
As soon as practicable I reported to General Jackson, who desired me to proceed to Manassas, and ordered General Trimble to follow with his brigade, notifying me to take charge of the whole. The Fourth Virginia Cavalry (Colonel Wickham) was sent around to gain the rear of Manassas, and with a portion of Robertson's brigade not on outpost duty I proceeded by the direct road to Manassas. I marched until challenged by the enemy's interior sentinels and received a fire of canister. As the infantry were near, coming on, I awaited its arrival, as it was too dark to venture cavalry over uncertain ground against artillery. I directed General Trimble upon his arrival to rest his center directly on the railroad and advance upon the place, with skirmishers well to the front. He soon sent me word it was so dark he preferred waiting until morning, which I accordingly directed he should do. As soon as day broke the place was taken without much difficulty, and with it many prisoners and millions of stores of every kind, which his report will doubtless show. Rosser (Fifth Virginia Cavalry) was left on outpost duty in front of Ewell at Bristoe, and Brien (First Virginia Cavalry) above Gainesville. During the 27th detachments of Robertson's and Lee's brigades had great sport chasing fugitive parties of the enemy's cavalry.
General Jackson, having arrived early in the day, took direction of affairs, and the day was occupied mainly in rationing the command, but several serious demonstrations were made by the enemy during the day from the north side, and in this connection I will mention the coolness and tact of Mr. Louis F. Terrill, volunteer aide to General Robertson, who extemporized lanyards, and with detachments from the infantry as cannoneers turned the captured guns with marked effect upon the enemy. Their general (G. W. Taylor, of New Jersey) was killed during this fire. Brig. Gen. Fitzhugh Lee, with the Ninth, Fourth, and Third Virginia Cavalry, was detached and sent in rear of Fairfax Court. House to damage the enemy's communication as much as possible, and if possible cut off the retreat of this party. Colonels Munford and Rosser brought up the rear of General Ewell, and that night, when Manassas was destroyed and evacuated, the cavalry brought up the rear, a portion remaining in the place until daylight. Captain Pelham, arriving late, was indefatigable in his efforts to get away the captured guns, which duty was intrusted specially to him, a part of the command marching by Centreville and a part directly to the stone bridge over Bull Run. Detachments of cavalry were so arranged as to guard both flanks.
The next morning (28th) the main body of Robertson's brigade rendezvoused near Sudley Church. General Jackson's were massed between the turnpike and Sudley Ford, on Bull Run, fronting toward Manassas and Gainesville. Colonel Brien (First Virginia Cavalry) had to retire, being hard pressed by the enemy from the direction of Warren ton, and was on the turnpike covering Jackson's front toward Gainesville, and Rosser toward Manassas, where the enemy had also appeared in force early. The remainder of Lee's brigade was still detached on an expedition towards Alexandria. Early in the day a dispatch from the enemy had been intercepted, giving the order of march from Warrenton toward Manassas and directing cavalry to report to General Bayard at Hay Market. I proposed to General Jackson to allow me to go up there and do what I could with the two fragments of brigades I still had. I proceeded to that point, capturing a detachment of the enemy en route. Approaching the place by a by-path, I saw indications of a large force there prepared for attack. About this time I could see the fight going on at Thoroughfare Gap, where Longstreet had his progress disputed by the enemy, and it was to establish communication with him that I was anxious to make this march. I sent a trusty man with the dispatch to the right of Hay Market. I kept up a brisk skirmish with the enemy without any result until in the afternoon, when, General Jackson having engaged the enemy, I quietly withdrew and hastened to place my command on his right flank. Not reaching General Jackson's right until dark, the fighting ceased and this command rendezvoused as before, but the cavalry under Colonel Rosser had played an important part in attacking the enemy's baggage train. Capt. John Pelham's battery of Horse Artillery acted a conspicuous part on the extreme right of the battle-field, dashing forward to his position under heavy fire.
The next morning (29th), in pursuance of General Jackson's wishes, I set out again to endeavor to establish communication with Longstreet, from whom he had received a favorable report the night before. Just after leaving the Sudley road my party was fired on from the woods bordering the road, which was in rear of Jackson's lines and which the enemy had penetrated with small force, it was afterward ascertained, and captured some stragglers. They were between General Jackson and his baggage at Sudley. I immediately sent to Major [W.] Patrick, whose six companies of cavalry were near Sudley, to interpose in defense of the baggage, and use all the means at hand for its protection, and ordered the baggage at once to start for Aldie. General Jackson, also being notified of this movement in his rear, sent back infantry to clear the woods. Captain Pelham, always at the right place at the right time, unlimbered his battery and soon dispersed that portion in the woods. Major Patrick was attacked later, but he repulsed the enemy with considerable loss, though not without loss to us, for the gallant Major, himself setting the example to his men, was mortally wounded. He lived long enough to witness the triumph of our arms, and expired thus in the arms of victory. The sacrifice was noble, but the loss to us irreparable.
I met with the head of General Longstreet's column between Hay Market and Gainesville, and there communicated to the commanding general General Jackson's position and the enemy's. I then passed the cavalry through the column, so as to place it on Longstreet's right flank, and advanced directly toward Manassas, while the column kept directly down the pike to join General Jackson's right. I selected a fine position for a battery on the right, and one having been sent to me, I fired a few shots at the enemy's supposed position, which induced him to shift his position. General Robertson, who with his command was sent to reconnoiter farther down the road toward Manassas, reported the enemy in his front. Upon repairing to that front I found that Rosser's regiment was engaged with the enemy to the left of the road and Robertson's vedettes had found the enemy approaching from the direction of Bristoe Station toward Sudley. The prolongation of his line of march would have passed through my position, which was a very fine one for artillery as well as observation, and struck Longstreet in flank. I waited his approach long enough to ascertain that there was at least an army corps, at the same time keeping detachments of cavalry dragging brush down the road from the direction of Gainesville, so as to deceive the enemy--a ruse which Porter's report shows was successful--and notified the commanding general, then opposite me on the turnpike, that Longstreet's flank and rear were seriously threatened, and of the importance to us of the ridge I then held. Immediately upon receipt of that intelligence Jenkins', Kemper's, and D. R. Jones' brigades and several pieces of artillery were ordered to me by General Longstreet, and, being placed in position fronting Bristoe, awaited the enemy's advance. After exchanging a few shots with rifle pieces this corps withdrew toward Manassas, leaving artillery and supports to hold the position until night.
Brig. Gen. Fitz. Lee returned to the vicinity of Sudley after a very successful expedition, of which his official report has not been received, and was instructed to co-operate with Jackson's left. Late in the afternoon the artillery on this commanding ridge was to an important degree auxiliary to the attack upon the enemy, and Jenkins' brigade repulsed the enemy in handsome style at one volley as they advanced across a corn field. Thus the day ended, our lines having considerably advanced.
Captain Pelham's battery was still with the left wing. (See his interesting report of its action on the 28th and 29th, herewith.)
Next morning (30th) it became evident that the enemy had materially retired his left wing. My cavalry reconnoitered to the front, gaining at the next house an important point of observation. A large walnut tree being used as an observatory, the enemy was discovered gradually massing his troops in three lines opposite Jackson, and his left wing seemed to have entirely shifted. The commanding general was informed of these changes. Captain [J. A.] Throckmorton, Sixth Virginia Cavalry, commanding sharpshooters, took position along a stone fence and stoutly defended our observation against the attacks of the enemy's dismounted cavalry.
About 3 p.m., the enemy having disclosed his movement on Jackson, our right wing advanced to the attack. I directed Robertson's brigade and Rosser's regiment to push forward on the extreme right, and at the same time all the batteries I could get hold of were advanced at a gallop to take position to enfilade the enemy in front of our lines. This was done with splendid effect, Colonel Rosser, a fine artillerist, as well as bold cavalier, having the immediate direction of the batteries. The enemy's lines were distinctly visible and every shot told upon them fearfully. Robertson's brigade was late coming forward, and consequently our right flank was at one time somewhat threatened by the enemy's cavalry, but the artillery of Captain Rogers with a few well-directed shots relieved us on that score. When our cavalry arrived on the field no time was lost in crowding the enemy, the artillery being kept always far in advance of the infantry lines. The fight was of remarkably short duration. The Lord of Hosts was plainly fighting on our side, and the solid walls of Federal infantry melted away before the straggling, but nevertheless determined, onsets of our infantry columns. The head of Robertson's cavalry was now on the ridge overlooking Bull Run, and having seen no enemy in that direction, I was returning to the position of the artillery enfilading the Groveton road, when I received intelligence from General Robertson at the point I had just left that the enemy was there in force and asking re-enforcements. I ordered the two reserve regiments (Seventh and Twelfth) rapidly forward, and also a section of artillery, but before the latter could reach the point our cavalry, by resolute bravery, had put the enemy, under Buford, to ignominious flight across Bull Run, and were in full pursuit until our own artillery fire at the fugitives rendered it dangerous to proceed farther.
In this brilliant affair over 300 of the enemy's cavalry were put hors de combat, they, together with their horses and equipments, falling into our hands. Colonel Brodhead, First Michigan, died from his wounds next day. He was cut down by Adjutant [Lewis] Harman, Twelfth Virginia Cavalry. Major Atwood and a number of captains and lieutenants were among the prisoners.
The further details of this fight will be found in the accompanying reports of Brigadier-General Robertson and Col. T. T. Munford. The latter, as well as his lieutenant-colonel, J.W. Watts, Major [C.] Breckinridge, and lieutenants [R. H.] Kelso and [W.] Walton were wounded in the action, conspicuously displaying great gallantry and heroism. The Second Virginia Cavalry suffered most.
Nothing could have equaled the splendor with which Robertson's regiments swept down upon a force greatly outnumbering them, thus successfully indicating a claim for courage and discipline equal to any cavalry in the world.
Night soon ensued, and as the enemy's masses of infantry had not retreated across Bull Run I was anxious to cut off that retreat. Upon the enemy's position after dark, however, infantry only could move, and I was anxious for Brigadier-General Armistead to attack from a position he took after dark directly on the enemy's flank, and urged it. He, however, doubted the policy of night attack with his command, especially as there was danger of collision with our own infantry, and I did not feel authorized to order it, particularly as there was time to communicate with the commanding general, which was promptly done. The attack was not made.
Before daylight next morning the cavalry was in the saddle and after the enemy, but met with nothing but stragglers until we came within range of the guns at Centreville, where his forces appeared to be in position. Twenty or thirty ambulances were captured and sent back with orders to go to work removing our wounded from the battle-field. I have never heard of those ambulances except that they were seized as fresh captures by the Texas Brigade. I think this not improbable, as a large number of prisoners I sent to the rear were fired upon by our infantry near the stone bridge. At this time Col. T. L. Rosser was sent with 100 men and a section of artillery back to recapture Manassas, in which he succeeded. His report of his operations those few days will be found of interest.
At one time on the 30th I noticed our front lines near Chinn's house giving way, and looking back saw the reserve line stationary. I sent word to the general commanding (whose name I did not learn) to move up, as he was much needed to support the attack. That order was carried by Capt. W. D. Farley, volunteer aide, under circumstances of great personal danger, in which his horse was shot.
Generals Jenkins and Kemper came under my observation as exhibiting good conduct, bravery, and coolness.
Brig. Gen. D. R. Jones was with me part of the time on the extreme right during the battle, in which several batteries of his division took part, and I think he left me to bring his infantry into action.
My division surgeon, Talcott Eliason, besides being an adept in his profession, exhibited on this, as on former occasions, the attributes of a cavalry commander.
First Lieut. R. Channing Price was of invaluable assistance as aide-de-camp.
Maj. Von Borcke, assistant adjutant-general, and Maj. J. T. W. Hairston, C. S. Army, and Lieut. Chiswell Dabney, aide-de-camp, rendered important service throughout the period embraced in this report.
My division quartermaster, Maj. Samuel Hardin Hairston, in coming on to join me, was put in command of a detachment of cavalry at Salem by the commanding general, and sent on an important reconnaissance toward Warrenton, of which his report is appended.
Capt. W. W. Blackford, Corps of Engineers, was quick and indefatigable in his efforts to detect the designs of the enemy and improve the positions within our reach.
Private Stringfellow displayed great daring and enterprise as a scout.
I append a map of the country embraced in the foregoing operations, drawn by Capt. W. W. Blackford, Corps of Engineers.
I have to mourn the loss of Capt. J. Hardeman Stuart, signal officer, the particulars of whose death are given below.
I have the honor to be, most respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. E. B. STUART,
Major-General, Commanding Cavalry.
Source: Official Records of the War of the Rebellion
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