Report of Lieut. Col. Edwin G. Lee, Thirty-third Virginia Infantry.
Camp Garnett, Va.,
August 13, 1862.
Captain: In obedience to orders just received I have the honor to submit the following report of the part taken by me in the action of August 9 at Cedar Run:
On the morning of that day, at sunrise, the brigade left the bivouac, about a mile from the left bank of the Rapidan River, and marched, with many interruptions, some 6 or 7 miles on the road to Culpeper Court-House. About midday we were halted in a wood on the left of the road while a light cannonade was going on some distance in front. After remaining quiet about an hour and a half we were again moved forward perhaps a mile or two and halted in another wood, from which we moved about 4 p. m. in the direction of the enemy, keeping the woods, by order, to avoid raising the dust. The cannonade had become quite brisk, and when near the ground on which we subsequently fought the brigade was halted, ordered to load, and form in line of battle, my regiment being next to the Twenty-seventh Virginia, which occupied the right. In this order we were moved forward a short distance, and then formed in column of regiments, right in front, still marching. In a short time this column was deployed upon the leading regiment and a halt ordered at a fence directly in front of us, which, by order of the colonel commanding, was leveled. Here we lay for some twenty minutes under a very sharp fire of shell and spherical case, which, fortunately, occasioned me no casualties. At the end of this time the brigade was again moved forward in line of battle over a stubble-field flanked on either side by woods; the left wing of my regiment was in the field, the right in the woods, and the Twenty-seventh entirely in the woods on my right. After having advanced about 125 yards the command was given to charge, when the whole line moved at a double-quick, the colonel commanding leading in person. Almost simultaneously with this movement a few shots from our left drew the fire from the line of the enemy, who were well posted in a woods about 250 yards off, and who being able to see only a part of our force, on account of a slight hill over which the Fifth, Thirty-third, and Twenty-seventh had to pass, had also commenced to advance. Here for the first time I discovered the Federals in sight, and giving the command to my men, they poured a steady fire from the left wing into the enemy’s ranks. My horse becoming unmanageable I dismounted, and in common with other regimental commanders urged the men forward. Our line steadily advanced, slowly driving our opponents, until I reached the corner of the woods on my right, where the right of my regiment and the whole of the Twenty-seventh came into view of the enemy. The firing was now general, but in front of me the enemy for some time were quite steady, and commenced to flank my right, getting upon that flank in the woods within forty steps of Company A. I sent the adjutant to see if the Twenty-seventh was aware of this movement and to urge their active assistance. He reported that the Twenty-seventh was not there, and I then directed the fire of the three right companies (A, F, and D) against the flankers, whose shots already, enfiladed us. In a few moments the ground was dotted with their blue uniforms, and the rest retreated more rapidly than they advanced. I now observed the fine effect of the fire in front and pushed the men forward. I had previously informed Colonel Ronald of the attempted flank movement, and almost immediately received a message by his orderly that a brigade of General A. P. Hill’s division would come up in a few moments. I had continued to press the men on, driving the enemy, and as their retreat became a run General Branch’s brigade arrived upon the extension of my line. They fired a few rounds and then ceased for a time and pushed on after the now fleeing enemy.
My men being thoroughly exhausted, together with myself, the firing having ceased entirely upon this part of the field, and no enemy being in sight, I withdrew about 100 yards and collected the men, who had become somewhat scattered in the eagerness of the fight. There gathered with me considerable parts of the other regiments, and having about half the brigade, and being the senior officer present, I took command and conducted them some half a mile father on to the colonel commanding, who had halted on a hill in front and upon the right of our position with the remainder.
We were engaged from about 5 p.m. until dark, and the men consumed nearly every cartridge. Their aim was steady and their fire effective, inflicting under my own eye severe loss upon the enemy.
My casualties, considering the continued and heavy fire to which we were subjected, were almost miraculously few, being only 15 wounded.
The men captured a number of prisoners, and one of them, by my direction, killed a color-bearer, whose colors were left on the field and picked up by one of General Branch’s men subsequently.
My number engaged was 150. I left camp with 160, the heat causing a few to fall out of ranks. I append a list of casualties.*
It is with feelings of the highest pride that I commend the courage of both officers and men. All bore themselves nobly, and I can scarcely express my gratification at their behavior throughout the day; nor can I mention for especial commendation the name of one, either officer or private, without seeming to detract from the merits of others; but I must avail myself of the opportunity to acknowledge my indebtedness to First Lieut. D. H. Walton, adjutant of the regiment, and to express my high appreciation of his conspicuously gallant conduct. Having no field officer with me (Major Holliday having been detailed for staff duty by Colonel Ronald), I felt the need of efficient help, and the want was fully supplied by this gentleman. He executed my orders fearlessly and well, aided me in directing the fire and movements of the men, and by personal example cheered and encouraged them. I gladly commend him to the notice of the commanding general. The noble courage of major Holliday, who lost his right arm, will more properly come under the report of the brigade commander.
EDWIN G. LEE,
Lieutenant-Colonel, Comdg. Thirty-third Virginia Infantry.
Capt. J. H. Fulton, Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.
*Embodied in No. 27.