No. 30. Brig. Gen. William B. Taliaferro.

No. 30.

Report of Brig. Gen. William B. Taliaferro, C. S. Army, commanding First Division.

Headquarters First Division, Valley Army,                 
Camp near Liberty Mills, Va., August 13, 1862.

      Captain:  By direction of the major-general commanding I have the honor to report the operations of my command on the 9th instant, during the engagement near Cedar Run:     

     On the morning of the 9th instant the First, Second, and Third Brigades of this division, under Brig. Gen. C. S. Winder, First Brigade (the Fourth having been detailed to protect the train), marched from their encampment near Barnett’s Ford of the Rapidan River upon the turnpike road leading in the direction of Culpeper, the division of Major-General Ewell having preceded it the morning previous.   After crossing the Robertson River and proceeding some 3 miles we overtook the division of General Ewell and discovered the enemy in front, when our troops were halted to make dispositions to attack them. This division was ordered to attack the enemy’s right, while the division of General Ewell was ordered to attack him upon the left.  On my riding to the front I perceived the enemy’s cavalry drawn up on the range of hills near Cedar Run, with a line of vedettes in front, while the fall of the hills in rear and the woods beyond evidently concealed their batteries and infantry.  A corn field in front of this position also concealed the movements of the enemy and the undulations of the country made reconnaissances very difficult.

     The field batteries of General Ewell were now shelling the enemy, when General Winder ordered the division forward along the turnpike to a point at which the woods on the right of the road terminated. Beyond this point the woods on the left extended to a wheat field, beyond which a dense wood again appeared.  On the right of the road from the point of termination of the wood an extensive bare field stretched to the left to a considerable distance and to the front to a corn field.  A brigade under General Early, protected by the fall of the hills, occupied the right of this field in line of battle, directly fronting the general line of the enemy, as far as we could make it out.

     General Winder now ordered the Second Brigade, under Lieutenant-Colonel Garnett, Forty-eighth Virginia, to move forward to the left under cover of the woods to the wheat field, and to extend back to the left along the skirt of woods.  He then ordered some pieces of artillery, under the general charge of Maj. R. Snowden Andrews, chief of artillery for the division, to the point where the bare field commenced, and ordered the Third Brigade, under my command, to move along up parallel to the road in rear of the batteries and under cover of the wood until the head of the column rested near the rear of the Second Brigade.  The brigade was then faced to the road.  The First Brigade (Col. C. A. Ronald, Fourth Virginia Regiment, commanding) was ordered as I was informed, to move up as a reserve.  While these dispositions were being made the troops were subjected to a heavy discharge of shell and shot from the enemy’s artillery, thrown mostly at random into the woods.  The effect of our batteries from the point of woods and from a position subsequently taken in the open field to the right was very great, to a great extent silencing the enemy’s guns.  After the pieces had been placed in battery at the corner of the woods, and had opened some fifteen minutes upon the enemy, I returned to my brigade, a short distance back in the woods and out of sight of the enemy, to await General Winder’s orders.  I left this brave, generous, and accomplished officer at this point, and was informed a short time afterward that he had been struck by a shell and mortally wounded.

     I now assumed command of  the division under the disadvantage of being ignorant of the plans of the general, except so far as I could form an opinion from my observation of the dispositions made.  I at once rode to the front to acquaint myself with the position of the Second Brigade, and reconnoitered the enemy’s position from the wheat field in front of the First Virginia Battalion, of that brigade.  I could discover no evidences of the enemy in front, but could discover them in force on the right of that position in the corn field, somewhat concealed from the view of our troops by the undulations of the country.

     I now returned to the position occupied by our batteries, when I was overtaken by an officer, who reported that the enemy were showing themselves in front of the position I had just left and were advancing.  I at once ordered the Tenth Virginia Regiment to be detached from the Third Brigade and sent forward to re-enforce the First Virginia Battalion, and sent an order to Colonel Ronald to move his brigade (the First) rapidly to the support of the Second Brigade.  I now perceived the enemy advancing through the corn field, and directed Colonel Garnett to throw his right forward and drive them back, and ordered Colonel Taliaferro to move his brigade into the open field to the right and attack and drive back the enemy in front.  The Twenty-first Virginia Regiment, Second Brigade, Lieutenant-Colonel Cunningham, poured a destructive fire upon the enemy and exhibited a degree of heroic gallantry rarely ever witnessed.  The Third Brigade advanced in fine style and the enemy gave way before the severity of its fire.   At this moment I discovered that, owing to the fact that the First Brigade had not been moved sufficiently near originally, or that the order had not reached Colonel Ronald in time, the enemy had attacked the left wing of the Second Brigade and turned it, and that it was falling back in some disorder.  This movement exposed also the left flank of the Third Brigade and caused it to fall back, but it was soon afterward brought back to its original position.  At this critical moment the First Brigade moved up and, with General Branch’s brigade of General Hill’s division, encountered the enemy, confused by their severe conflict with the Second Brigade, and drove them back with terrible slaughter.  The Third Brigade now advanced to the brow of the hill overlooking the corn field and the Second Brigade to the edge of the woods, and drove the enemy in front of them from their positions in confusion. To cover his retreat the enemy’s cavalry charged the Third Brigade, but they were met by such a storm of missiles that the whole column was turned, wheeled to the right, and before it could be wheeled off to the rear was forced to run the gauntlet of the other brigades and scattered in every direction with heavy loss.  This was the last effort of the enemy to make a stand.  They retreated and our troops pursued them, capturing a number of prisoners.  This division crossed the corn field diagonally toward the woods on the road toward the railroad.  Brigadier-General Prince, U. S. Army, was made a prisoner, and surrendered to me as we were crossing this field, and his command, which was on our right and had been, I think, principally engaged with General Early’s brigade, fled upon our approach with scarcely any opposition.  We continued to push forward until we had driven the enemy some 3 miles and until the darkness rendered it impossible to distinguish our troops from those of the enemy.  After having made report of my position to the commanding general I was ordered to permit the troops to rest for the night, which was done in advance of the field of battle.

     From my own personal observation and the reports of officers it affords me pleasure to bear renewed testimony to the efficiency and gallantry of this veteran division.

     The First Brigade fully sustained its ancient reputation.  It captured a number of prisoners and four stand of colors.  Colonel Ronald, who ably and gallantly commanded it, speaks in the highest terms of the support he received from the courage and zeal displayed by his officers and men.  He particularly mentions Major Williams, Fifth Virginia Regiment; Lieut. Col. Lawson Botts, Second Virginia Regiment; Lieut. Col. R. D. Gardner, Fourth Virginia Regiment; Lieut. Col. Edwin G. Lee, Thirty-third Virginia Regiment;  Capt. Charles L. Haynes, Twenty-seventh Virginia Regiment;  Captains Carpenter and Poague, commanding batteries;  Capt. John H. Fulton, Fourth Virginia; Major Holliday, Thirty-third Virginia, and Lieutenant Garnett, of General Winder’s staff.

     The Second Brigade — commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Garnett, who exhibited a rare skill and courage, refusing to leave the field, although severely [wounded], until the close of the fight — although at one time overwhelmed by superior numbers, pressing and turning their left flank, yet renewed the fight with determination and bravery.  The conflict of this command with the enemy was most severe.  The bayonet was freely used and a hand-to-hand fight with superior numbers ensued before the right of the brigade fell back.

     Colonel Garnett makes especial mention of Lieutenant-Colonel Cunningham, who with most heroic gallantry led the Twenty-first Virginia and fell at their head;  of Major Lane, of the Forty-second Virginia, who was mortally wounded; of Major Seddon, commanding First Virginia Battalion; Captain Hannum, of the Forty-eighth Virginia;  Captain Deyerle, Forty-second, mortally wounded; Captain Wilson, assistant adjutant-general;  Lieutenant Dabney, aide-de-camp, and Lieutenant White, acting aide-de-camp.

     The Third Brigade, Col. A. G. Taliaferro, Twenty-third Virginia, commanding, was conducted into action by that officer with the intrepidity and courage which have heretofore distinguished him.  His command was subjected to a terrific fire, which it gallantly withstood, and to a charge of cavalry, which it instantly repulsed, and when the left flank for a time gave way under under an overwhelming force the right, and particularly the Twenty-third Virginia Regiment, which deserves especial mention for its firmness and admirable conduct in the engagement, remained unbroken.

     Colonel Taliaferro particularly mentions Major Stover, commanding Tenth Virginia Regiment;  Lieutenant-Colonel Curtis, commanding Twenty-third Virginia, who fell mortally wounded;  Major Walton, Twenty-third Virginia;  Col. T. V. Williams, of the Thirty-seventh Virginia, who was wounded;  Major Wood, Thirty-Seventh Virginia;  Lieutenant-Colonel Jackson, of the Forty-seventh Alabama Regiment;  Colonel Sheffield, of the Forty-eighth Alabama Regiment, who was severely wounded;  Major Alldridge, Forty-eighth Alabama Regiment, who was severely wounded, and of his assistant adjutant-general, Lieut. W. F. Coleman.

     The batteries of the division engaged in this action were those of Captains Carpenter, Poague, and Caskie.  The officers and men of these batteries behaved well.  Captain Caskie was wounded. Captain Wooding’s battery was not engaged. He himself acted for a time with the general commanding.

     I have the honor to inclose herewith the reports of brigade, regimental, and battery commanders, to which the major-general commanding is referred for more minute detail, and a list* of killed and wounded of this division.

     No one can estimate the loss his brigade, this division, the army has sustained in the early fall of Brigadier-General Winder.  He was warmly beloved by all who knew him as a man and had the full confidence of his command as a soldier.

     I beg leave, in conclusion, to allude to the gallantry of Maj. R. Snowden Andrews, chief of artillery, who was severely, and I fear mortally, wounded;  to that of my adjutant-general, Capt. William B. Pendleton, who was severely wounded, losing his leg;  to Lieutenant Meade, aide-de-camp; of Maj. W. T. Taliaferro, volunteer aide-de-camp, who rendered me most efficient and important service, and to speak particularly of the gallant conduct of my orderly, a youth of sixteen, Private Clinton Depriest, Company H, Twenty-third Virginia Regiment.

     It affords me pleasure to mention the efficient service in their department of the medical officers of the command.  I beg to refer especially to Surgeon Coleman, Second Brigade;  Surgeon Daily, Third Brigade, and Surgeon Black, First Brigade.

     I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Brig. Gen., C. S. Army, Comdg. First Division, Valley Army.

     Capt. A. S. Pendleton,
           Assistant Adjutant-General.

*Embodied in No. 27.