Report of Lieut. Col. William D. Stuart, Third [Fifteenth] Virginia Infantry
In Engagement at Big Bethel, or Bethel Church, Va.
O.R.-- SERIES I--VOLUME 2 [S# 2] -- CHAPTER IX.
HDQRS. DETACHMENT THIRD REGIMENT VA. VOLS.,
Col. JOHN B. MAGRUDER.
SIR: I have the honor to report that I took the position assigned me in the engagement of the 10th to the right and in front of the line of battle, and completed the slight breastwork erected to protect the command, consisting of three companies of my detachment, commanded by Captains Walker, Childrey, and Charters, numbering, rank and file, two hundred and eight men. The enemy deployed as skirmishers in the orchard, immediately in front and to our left, protected on the left by several frame buildings and sheds. Those in front were dispersed by a fire from the first platoon of Captain Walker's company, but we were annoyed by the fire from behind the buildings and the battery in the road to our left, but under cover of the breastworks the men remained unhurt. After the dispersion of the skirmishers a column of about fifteen hundred appeared in the road immediately in our front, extending from the left to right, with a battery of artillery in front, and advancing a line of skirmishers down the ravine on my right, protected from both view and fire, which fact was reported to me by scouts sent out for the purpose of observing their movements. The battery in front commenced advancing on the left of the ravine and immediately in our front. The battery supporting us on the left had been silenced and withdrawn some time before this. These facts being communicated to you, in obedience to your orders I retired in order through the swamp to the second position assigned me on the hill on the left of the church. Here one of my companies was detached and sent to the support of Captain Werth; another, under Captain Walker, was sent to Presson's, near the Warwick and York Bridge.
About this time Captain Atkinson's company had arrived on the field, and with this and a detachment of the Wythe Rifles I recrossed the swamp advanced, and regained my former position. I was supported at this time by a portion of Company G. of North Carolina Rifles, and with their aid again drove off some skirmishers advancing through the orchard. The firing, however, after I regained my position, was irregular on the part of the enemy, and I only permitted some few shots to be fired at a prominent position of their column and stragglers skulking behind the fences, owing to the enemy being much beyond rifle range.
Both officers and men under my command behaved with the greatest coolness throughout the whole engagement, and none were injured.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
WM. D. STUART,
Lieutenant-Colonel Third [Fifteenth] Virginia Volunteers.
This page last updated 10/23/01
RETURN TO BATTLE OF BIG BETHEL OFFICIAL RECORDS PAGE