No. 31. Col. Charles A. Ronald.

No. 31.

Report of Col. Charles A. Ronald, Fourth Virginia Infantry, commanding First Brigade.

Hdqrs. First Brig., Virginia Vols., Valley District,     
August 15, 1862.

      Sir:    Before the brigade became engaged in the battle of Cedar Run, on Saturday, the 9th, Brig. Gen. Charles S. Winder was mortally wounded, whereupon the command devolved on me.  In obedience to your order, therefore, I have the honor to submit the following report of the pat taken by the First Brigade in the battle of Cedar Run, Culpeper County, on the 9th instant:

     The following regiments constitute the brigade:  The Fifth, Second, Fourth, Thirty-third, and Twenty-seventh Virginia, commanded on this occasion as follows:  The Fifth by Major Williams, the Second by Lieut. Col. Lawson Botts, the Fourth by Lieut. Col. R. D. Gardner, the Thirty-third by Lieut. Col. Edwin G. Lee, and the Twenty-seventh by Capt. Charles L. Haynes.  Captains Carpenter’s and Poague’s batteries are attached.

     The brigade bivouacked on the night of the 8th in Madison County on the road leading to Culpeper Court-House and about 1 mile from Madison Mills, on the Rapidan River.

      On the morning of the 9th the brigade took up the line of march in the direction of Culpeper Court-House.  The march was frequently interrupted from causes unknown to me at the time, and at 3.15 p. m. the brigade was halted in the woods a short distance to the left of the road.  At this time cannonading was going on in front.  Here several Parrott guns from Captains Poague’s and Carpenter’s batteries were ordered to the front;  these were posted in the road so as to enfilade the enemy’s batteries then engaging our batteries on the right. General Winder was in front, directing with great ability and judgment the movements of the batteries.  These batteries in a short time succeeded in driving the enemy’s guns from their chosen position, after which Captains Poague and Carpenter were directed to take position in a corn field on the right of the road, when they opened a rapid fire upon the enemy’s guns and soon silenced several of them.  Shortly after this General Winder was mortally wounded and borne from the field, the brigade still resting where it was halted at 3.15 o’clock.

     A little after 1 p.m.  I was ordered to put the brigade in line of battle perpendicular to the road and moved forward, the line having been arranged in the following order, viz:  Twenty-seventh on the right, the Thirty-third on the left of the Twenty-seventh, Fifth left of the Thirty-third, Second left of the Fifth, and the Fourth left of the Second.  I moved forward through the woods, but in a few minutes I was ordered to put the brigade in column of regiments, which order was executed promptly; but before advancing the column I was ordered to deploy the column and advance in line of battle, letting the right rest about 100 yards from the road.  The line of battle being thus re-established, I moved forward through the woods under a heavy fire of spherical case and canister shot from the enemy’s guns.  Arriving at a fence that partly inclosed an open field I halted the brigade and sent Capt. John H. Fulton, acting aide, to inform Gen. Taliaferro of my position and to receive his order.  Captain Fulton returned, stating that the general directed me to move on.  I put the brigade in motion and rode some 200 yards in advance in order to gain the top of the hill, from which I supposed I could have a good view.  Arriving at the top of the hill I observed the enemy about 300 yards distant advancing in line of battle, when I immediately rode back to the brigade, which had advanced to within 400 yards of the enemy and in view of each other.  This brigade then opened fire upon the enemy, and having discharged several volleys, which seemed to confuse him, I immediately ordered the brigade to charge, which order was promptly executed and with fine effect, the enemy falling back in great confusion, leaving many of his dead and wounded upon the field.  Arriving at the woods in his retreat the enemy attempted to reform his line, which I determined to prevent by following him up; but at this moment I was informed that the enemy had turned the left of the Second Brigade (which I supposed, until that moment, rested on the right of the First Brigade), whereupon I immediately directed a change of front, which was done as promptly as it could be under the circumstances, which enabled me to engage this flank movement of the enemy;  but General Branch’s brigade coming up at this moment (his line being perpendicular to the road while the line of the First Brigade was parallel), General Branch opened a vigorous fire upon the enemy, which soon succeeded in driving him from his position.  He was here compelled to pass through a large grain field in his retreat, which exposed his broken columns to a deadly cross-fire from Branch’s and this brigade.

     About sundown General Pender’s (I think it was) brigade appeared on the extreme left of the open field I first entered.  He continued his march by the flank until his right reached the northeast corner of the field, when I sent Captain Fulton to inform him that the enemy were in the woods to his right.  He then continued his march for some distance, and then put his brigade in line of battle, his right resting on the left of the First Brigade, and then the whole line advanced in the direction of the main road.  Very shortly after this connection was formed a short but very vigorous contest ensued, which succeeded in completely routing the enemy.  It is proper here to state that the enemy engaged in the woods at this point is the same column whose reformation of line I attempted to prevent when informed that the left flank of the Second Brigade had been turned.  Here the enemy’s loss was very heavy.  This brigade pursued the now retreating foe until after dark, when I was ordered to halt and rest for the night.

     The conduct of the troops in this brigade was, indeed, splendid.  Men never behaved better in battle.  Regimental commanders were conspicuous for their gallantry, and company officers deserve great praise, not only for their gallantry, but for their successful efforts in keeping their companies together; indeed, when the brigade was halted for the night nearly all were present.

     The brigade captured three stand of colors, one of which was improperly taken from a private of the —th Regiment by a commissioned officer of some other command.  Two stand of colors were taken by the Fifth Regiment.

     For individual acts of gallantry I refer you to the reports of regimental and battery commanders herewith presented.

     Upon assuming command, Capt. John H. Fulton, of the Fourth Regiment, and Major Holliday, of the Thirty-third Regiment, kindly consented to act as aides in connection with Lieutenant Garnett, of General Winder’s staff, and to these gentlemen I am much indebted for their valuable services.  Captain Fulton was conspicuous in the flight, transmitting every order with great promptness and dispatch.  Major Holliday, a gallant and brave man, while in the execution of an order, was severely wounded in the right arm, rendering amputation necessary. He was wounded early in the engagement.  Lieutenant Garnett was active in the field, and his gallantry was conspicuous.  With the aid these gentlemen rendered me upon the field my new position as brigade commander was relieved of much embarrassment.

     Captains Carpenter and Poague are deserving of especial notice for the great service they rendered with their batteries.  Captain Carpenter was wounded by a Minie ball in the head, though I think not severely.

     The casualties in the brigade were 10 killed and 51 wounded.  This includes General Winder, and in his death the brigade was deprived of his great services, the army of an able and accomplished officer, the country of a good citizen, and society of an ornament.  I attribute so few casualties to the fact that the brigade charged at the proper time.  For a list of casualties see reports of regimental and battery commanders.

     Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

CHS. A. RONALD,     
Colonel, Commanding First Brigade.

     W. T. Taliaferro,
            Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.