Report of Lieutenant R. W. Crawford, C. S. Army, First South Carolina Cavalry.
John's Island, S. C., July 7, 1862.
The following is a correct statement of the casualties of the pickets of the First Regiment South Carolina Volunteer Cavalry in the skirmish with the enemy at their picket post on John's Island, June 7:
I was placed in command of the picket post at the fork of the roads leading to Legareville and Haulover Bridge, which picket numbered 26 men. Not expecting to be placed on picket when we left camp, we had not provided ourselves with forage and provisions, and consequently were reduced to the necessity of sending men back to each company to procure them, which, however, was not done without the consent of the captain commanding the regiment, and which also reduced us to 18 men. My orders when stationed there were to remain at the fork of the roads with the main body of the picket, and to place two vedettes down each road 2 miles distant, with orders to report tome on the first appearance of the enemy, which was done immediately when the enemy appeared and fired on the vedettes on the Legareville road. I sent couriers forthwith to report to Colonel Means (who with his regiment was only 2 miles in the rear) and to the other command on the island, and also a courier down the Haulover road for the two vedettes who were 2 miles distant, while I with the remainder of the pickets advanced down the Legareville road and met the enemy, whose force I discovered to consist of company of cavalry and detachment of infantry (or men on foot). By concealing my force in the woods I managed to engage and detain him until my vedettes on the other road arrived, after which we retreated in good order, firing as we went. The enemy's cavalry, perceiving that we were retreating, charged us, and three or four of my men left and felt. Fortunately for them I do not known their names and am unable to report them, as they justly deserve. The men were all strangers to me except three or four, as our companies had not been together but a few days, and there were only two men from my own company. I learn through Colonel Means that the three men that left me did not stop when they met him with his regiment, but ran through and reported that the enemy, were just behind, which contributed to his mistaking us for the enemy as he did, for he opened fire on us as soon
PAGE33 CHAP.XXVI.] SKIRMISH ON JAMES ISLAND, S. C.
as we came in range, and we were then exposed to his fire and that of the enemy too.
The following is a list of the casualties.
* Number of horses killed, 7.
R. W. CRAWFORD,
Lieutenant, Commanding Picket.
No.238. November 10, 1862.
I. Brigadier General Roger A. Pryor is relieved from duty with this army, and will report for duty to Major General G. W. Smith, commanding, &c., Richmond, Va.
II. Colonel E. A. Perry, having been appointed a brigadier-general, is assigned to the command of a brigade, composed of the Second, Fifth, and Eighth Florida Regiments.
III. Lieutenant General J. Longstreet will assign the Third Virginia and fourteenth Alabama Regiments to brigades composed of regiments from those States, respectively.
IX. The cavalry brigades are hereby reorganized and arranged as follows: Brigadier General Wade Hampton's brigade to consist of the First and Second South Carolina Regiments, the First North Carolina Regiment, and Cobb's and Phillips' cavalry legions; Brigadier General Firzhugh Lee's brigade to consist of the First, Second, Third, and Fourth Virginia Regiments; Brigadier General W. H. F. Lee's brigade to consist of the Fifth, Ninth, Tenth, and Fifteenth Virginia Regiments, and the Second North Carolina Regiment; Brigadier General W. E. Jones' brigade to consist of the Sixth, Seventh, and Twelfth Virginia Regiments, the Seventeenth Virginia Battalion, and White's cavalry.
PAGE713 CHAP.XXXI. CORRESPONDENCE, ETC.-CONFEDERATE.
X. The Jeff. Davis Legion will report for duty to Lieutenant General James Longstreet, commanding, &c., relieving the Seventeenth Virginia Battalion, so soon as the exigencies of the service permit, and, upon the arrival of the latter in the Shenandoah Valley, the Second Virginia Cavalry will join its brigade.
XI. Movements under the foregoing assignments will be made under special instructions of Major General J. E. B. Stuart, and when he may deem the exigencies of the service to justify the change.
By command of General R. E. Lee:
A. P. MASON,
On the 24th of last month, I received your order to rendezvous the next at Brandy Station, on the Central Railroad, with a detachment from my regiment of 125 men and five days' rations. I reached the station at sunset with about 145 men, and joined the other detachments from your brigade, and continued with them until the evening of the 27th, when you ordered me with my own, together with the First North Carolina, First South Carolina, and Phillips' Legion detachments, to move upon the town of Occoquan by the Telegraph road and attack it. I drove in the enemy's pickets near the intersection of the Telegraph and Bacon Race roads, taking 4 prisoners, and marched into the town about sunset without resistance. I found and took possession of 5 United States Government wagons and 2 sutlers' wagons and teams loaded with forage, camp equipage, and sutlers' stores, which had been deserted by the teamsters, and took 12 or 15 prisoners, of the Seventeenth Pennsylvania Cavalry.
The next morning, soon after taking up the line of march in the direction of the Occoquan River, I received a verbal order from you at Greenwood Church to move with my regiment by a left-hand road to Bacon Race Church, where you would meet me. At this point I separated from the brigade, and not expecting to encounter the enemy in much force, I directed Lieutenant W. H. Perry, in command of the advance guard, to dash at his pickets, if not too strong, wherever he saw them, and endeavor to prevent their escape. We first met them about 1 mile from the church, and Lieutenant Perry very promptly dashed at and ran them upon their reserves of about a squadron, and skirmished with them until the remainder of the regiment came up. They continued to make some show of resistance, which induced the belief that their supports were near at hand; but as I confidently expected an attack to be made by some portion of our cavalry division on the roads leading parallel to the one by which I had advanced, and upon the point at which I was aiming, and that we would be mutual supports to each other, I ordered a charge, which was handsomely responded to. The enemy fled precipitately, and as my advance was about engaging his rear I discovered, 200 yards in front, a large force of cavalry and two pieces of artillery. They opened upon me a terrific fire of grape and canister, and, finding no attack at the points where I expected, I halted and retired a short distance. Apprehending that the enemy would take advantage of this opportunity to make a charge upon me, I wheeled about to resist it, during which time he continued to shell me with rapidity. Discovering no other demonstration on their part, and still expecting the attack to be made on my right, I retired a quarter of a mile on the Brentsville road and dismounted my sharpshooters, intending to move round and attack in the rear while the attack was being made in front; but I could hear nothing from you, and, waiting as long as I thought it prudent with my small force in the presence of a largely superior force of the enemy, I endeavored to retrace my steps, and found the road by which I had advanced occupied by the enemy. No alternative was left me but to make a circuit of 3 or 4 miles to extricate myself. This I did successfully, and reached the road by which I expected you to have advanced just as the rear of General W. H. F. Lee's
46 R R-VOL XXI
Page738 OPERATIONS IN N. VA., W. VA., MD., AND PA. CHAP. XXXIII.
brigade was leaving it, and joined your brigade after it had crossed the Occoquan River. I had 1 man, Corporal Bessilieu, severely wounded in the arm, and Private Winn, slightly, in the thigh, and several horses shot.
I cannot account for so few casualties in any other way than that the guns of the enemy were too much elevated, so that their shot passed over us.
I cannot speak in terms too high of the conduct of officers and men. Their behavior could not have been better. They moved forward with unhesitating gallantry and spirit, and rallied at the command without confusion, and promptly faced the enemy under a rapid and terrible fire.
I have the honor, general, to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
M. C. BUTLER,
General WADE HAMPTON,
Commanding Cavalry Brigade, Stuart's Division.
P. S.-Eight horses were broken down and left from regiment at different points of the line of march.
Report of Colonel James Barnes, Eighteenth Massachusetts Infantry, commanding First Division, Fifth Army Corps.
HEADQUARTERS FIRST DIVISION, FIFTH ARMY CORPS, Camp near Potomac Creek, Va., January 2, 1863.
I have the honor to make the following report of a reconnaissance made by your orders, dated December 30, 1862: By those orders I was directed to proceed with this division, consisting of three brigades and the First Regiment of U. S. Sharpshooters, with one battery of artillery, to Hartwood Church and to co-operate with Brigadier-General Averell.*
*See Parke to Hooker, December 29, p. 897; Parke to Averell, December 30, p.902, and Averell to Parke, December 31, 1862, pp. 922, 923, in "Correspondence, etc.," post.
Page743 CHAP. XXXIII. EXPEDITION TO RICHARDS' AND ELLIS' FORDS.
In conformity thereto, I moved on the afternoon of Tuesday, the 30th ultimo, with the three brigades of the division, under command of Colonel Johnson, of the Twenty-fifth New York; Colonel Sweitzer, of the Sixty-second Pennsylvania, and Lieutenant-Colonel Weeks, of the Fourth Michigan Regiment, and First Regiment U. S. Sharpshooters, under the command of Colonel Berdan,and a battery of the Fifth U. S. Artillery, under the command of Lieutenant Rittenhouse. Upon arriving at Hartwood, a detachment of 100 cavalry from the Third Pennsylvania Volunteers, under the command of Lieutenant Boughman, was added to the force by orders of Brigadier-General Averell.
I immediately detached the Second Brigade, Colonel Sweitzer, and the battery to proceed on the road to Morrisville, to encamp at Deep Creek, and to proceed early on the following morning to take position at Morrisville, and to await there further orders from myself or from General Averell.
The First and Third Brigades, with the sharpshooters and the cavalry detachment, continued on the road leading to Richards' Ford, over the northern branch of the Rappahannock River, and bivouacked for the night about three-fourths of a mile from the ford.
After reconnoitering the approached of the ford, I directed that the sharpshooters should take position at daybreak upon the high bank of the river at that place, overlooking the ford and commanding completely the crossing and the approaches on the opposite side of the river, where the enemy's pickets were stationed, their reserve occupying a house near the river. I had been led to expect an infantry picket, with probably a piece of artillery; but satisfying myself that there was no other force there than some 8 or 10 mounted pickets, I directed a detachment of 50 of the cavalry and three companies of the sharpshooters and the First Brigade, under Colonel Johnson, to cross the ford, which was promptly done. The enemy's pickets commenced to fire upon the head of the column, but were immediately driven from their position by the fire of the sharpshooters, who had been previously well posted for that purpose. The cavalry pushed rapidly over, but not in season to capture the pickets, who had fled before they had half crossed the river. They were pursued for some distance, and escaped into the woods about a mile distant.
I regret to state, in this connection, that one of the females living in the house occupied by the pickets, and from which they commenced to fire upon our advance, was wounded by the returning fire of the sharpshooters. I directed the medical director of the division to attend her, who applied all the assistance that the case required or admitted. The remaining force soon passed the ford, was drawn up in order on the opposite shore, and, preceded by a detachment of 10 of the cavalry as vedettes, and sharpshooters as skirmishers, and as rear guard from the Second Maine Regiment, and skirmishers on the flanks of the column, the column commenced moving toward Ellis' Ford, a distance supposed to have been 3 1/2 miles, but which proved to be between 6 and 7 miles.
Mounted pickets belonging to the First South Carolina Cavalry were stationed along the road, who retired as the column advanced, occasionally turning and firing, but the prompt charges of the cavalry in advance of the column dispersed them without difficulty, although their numbers were three or four times our own. In this way the column proceeded to Ellis' Ford without any other conflict than that which was constantly occupying the advanced cavalry. In these skirmishes we succeeded in capturing two of the enemy's pickets, with their horses; but one of the horses, being wounded, was left behind.
Page744 OPERATIONS IN N. VA., W. VA., MD., AND PA. CHAP. XXXIII.
While these events were taking place, and in conformity with a previous understanding with General Averell, a squadron of cavalry had been directed by him to approach toward Ellis' Ford, on the northern bank of the river, with a view of diverting the attention of the pickets stationed there, which were supposed to consist of at least two companies of infantry and two pieces of artillery. As in the case at Richards' Ford, this was found to consist of a small detachment of the First South Carolina Cavalry only.
The cavalry approaching on our side of the river fired at the enemy's pickets, who soon retired, and, entering the woods some distance in their rear, encountered the cavalry in advance of our own column, which was just at that moment in the vicinity. The enemy fled precipitately, and were closely pursued by our cavalry, but they escaped in various directions. Our column continued to advance in order, crossed the ford, and bivouacked for the night on this side of the river at the ford. The Third Brigade, under Lieutenant-Colonel Weeks, remained at Richards' Ford as a reserve during the day, and the sharpshooters continued to occupy the position they had taken early in the morning, observing closely the opposite shore and bank, but there were no appearances of any movement on that side.
The road to the ford, having been much obstructed by cutting down trees on either side, was entirely cleared of all obstructions during the day. This portion of the command bivouacked for the night upon the ground occupied by them during the day.
Orders were sent to the different portions of the command to return to camp on the following morning, but it was found that the Second Brigade and the battery had already been directed by General Averell, at Morrisville, to return, and they accordingly reached their camp on the evening of the 31st. The other portions returned, as directed, in good order on Thursday, having discharged all the duties required by your instructions.
It gives me pleasure to bear testimony to the ready and cheerful compliance with all the orders necessary to be issued in the course of this duty by all the officers and men of the command. The fords were found to be deeper than was supposed, but, notwithstanding the season of the year, they were crossed without a murmur, the only disappointment being that the enemy were not in so large a force as had been imagined.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Colonel, Commanding First Division.
Lieutenant Colonel JOS. DICKINSON,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Center Grand Division.
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