Report of Col. James A. Walker, Thirteenth Virginia Infantry.
August 14, 1862.
I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations of my regiment at the battle near Mitchell’s Station, fought on the 9th instant:
After deploying regiment as skirmishers, as directed by the general commanding the brigade, we advanced into the woods between us and the enemy about 200 yards, where the left wing, commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Terrill, encountered the enemy’s cavalry, consisting of a small squadron of two or three companies, that attempted to charge the line, but were driven back with a known loss of 2 men and 1 horse killed. Farther on in the woods the right wing came in sight of their vedettes, who retired, firing, at a safe distance until they fell back to the main body, drawn up in the field beyond. When we reached the edge of the wood I halted the line and opened fire upon the main body of their cavalry in the field and kept it up until the rest of the brigade came up, but the distance was too great to do much execution. When the rest of the brigade came up I was ordered to close my regiment and form on its left, which I did, and held that position while it lay behind our battery under fire of the enemy’s artillery, and advanced with it and the Third Brigade (immediately on my left) when ordered forward to the crest of the hill, and opened fire upon the enemy’s line advancing through the corn field beyond the branch. At this point the fighting was obstinate for several minutes, the enemy advancing slowly but steadily until the brigade upon my left gave way and ran off the field in disorder. The panic thus begun was communicated to two or three regiments on my right, which also fell back, leaving my regiment and a portion of the Thirty-first Virginia, commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Jackson, the only Confederate troops in that part of the field in sight of our position. Finding that one piece of artillery, which had been brought up on the right and a little in advance of my regiment, was thus placed in great jeopardy, I ordered my own and Lieutenant-Colonel Jackson’s men forward to hold the enemy in check until it could be carried off. The men obeyed with alacrity, and advancing about 30 yards, opened a well-directed fire, which had the desired effect of checking the advance of that portion of the enemy’s line directly in our front until the piece was removed. We continued to hold our position for a few moments, holding the enemy in front in check, when, finding the enemy had advanced under cover of the woods on our left, over the ground abandoned by the Third Brigade, and had crossed the road into the field considerably in rear of our position, and were pouring a very annoying fire into my left flank, and seeing no re-enforcements in sight, I ordered my regiment to fall back and carried it off obliquely to the right and rear in tolerable order. We had no sooner given up our position than the enemy, following, planted a Federal and a Maryland flag where ours stood a moment before, and opened fire upon us at very short range. We continued to fall back for about 200 yards, when, fresh troops coming up on our left and the enemy beginning to give back on that flank, I immediately halted my men and, reforming them upon the colors, advanced directly back to our former position, driving the two stand of colors before us. At this time the enemy brought up a fresh line through the corn field, and for ten minutes the firing was heavy and both sides stood firm, when the enemy began to give way along the whole line, and our troops, dashing forward with a shout, crossed the branch and cleared the field of their infantry. The enemy’s cavalry attempted to retrieve the fortunes of the day by charging our advancing and disordered lines, and dashed down the wheat field on the left of the road in gallant style. As their column was advancing on my left, with the main road between us, I advanced my men to the left and front up to the fence along the road at double-quick and gave them a flank fire, which, together with the heavy fire from other regiments immediately in their front, was very destructive, and drove them from the field in confusion and disorder. After this charge the enemy made no further stand, and we continued the pursuit with the other troops until it was discontinued, when I left them in charge of Lieutenant-Colonel Terrill and reported to the general commanding brigade.
It would be impossible for troops to behave better than mine did on this day, with a few exceptions. They fought bravely, obeying all the commands of their officers promptly and cheerfully, displaying throughout the whole day an amount of bravery and disciplined valor which I do not believe has been excelled during the war.
I herewith inclose a report of the casualties on that day.*
I have the honor to be, your obedient servant,
J. A. WALKER,
Colonel Thirteenth Virginia Infantry.
Acting Assistant Adjutant-General, Fourth Brigade.
*Embodied in No. 27.