Col. Thomas Ruger

Note: This report is printed in Vol. 51, Serial 107, of the Official Records. The introduction to this supplemental volume states: This volume contains documents discovered too late to be included where they belong. They supplement a number of other volumes, and contain material from Big Bethel (June 10, 1861) through Bull Run, various operations in Virginia in 1861 and 1862 into Maryland in 1862.

Report of Colonel Thomas H. Ruger, Third Wisconsin Infantry.

Camp near Culpepper, Va,
August 13, 1862.

Sir: I have the honor to submit the following report of the part taken in the action of the 9th by the Third Regiment Wisconsin Volunteers:

The Third Brigade of General William’s division. General Gordon commanding, occupied the right of the line. The place originally occupied by the Third Wisconsin Volunteers was the left of said brigade immediately on the right of the battery, in front of the house temporarily used as a hospital. Soon after the action began I was ordered by General Gordon to skirmish the woods to the left and front of our position with six companies, which was done without any important developments. Soon after this examination, and while awaiting orders, I was ordered to join General Crawford’s command, a portion of which had entered the woods referred to and taken up an advance position. This order came in the name of Brigadier-General Crawford. I replied in substance that I was there by order of General Gordon, and had sent a report to him of the result of the examination of the woods, and expected an order from him momentarily, and suggested that the order taking my regiment from its brigade should come from superior authority. In the meantime I assembled the six companies then with me, and moved up near the right of the position occupied by General Crawford’s command. Very soon Captain Wilkins, of General Williams’ staff, came up and said in substance that he had seen General Banks, who said it was proper that I should join General Crawford. I then reported to General Crawford for orders, and was placed on the right of the line. The orders to move forward was immediately given and soon after double quick. The timber and undergrowth were thick which interfered much with the precision of the march.

Near the edge of the woods there was a rail fence, in getting over which the men were exposed to full view of the enemy, who were drawn up within close musketry range on the edge of the woods as we came out. The enemy’s line extended beyond the right of ours considerably overlapping my regiment, sufficiently to give by an oblique fire of that part of their line a most destructive crossfire on the right wing of the regiment. The enemy also had a force on the right which opened a flank fire on the regiment. The diagram below is a rough sketch of the relative position of the forces.

Colonel Ruger’s diagram from his hand-written original report.*

       The right of the regiment was forced back under a most destructive fire.  The loss here in killed and wounded of the right was in some companies over one-fourth and in two a third.  The whole line was driven back. With the assistance of the officers I rallied sufficient men to make a force about equal, with the three companies that had not been engaged, to the six companies originally engaged, and moved up and took position in my brigade which had meantime advanced and engaged the enemy on the line before occupied by General Crawford’s command. My regiment remained and continued fire until the line was driven back by the turning of the right flank. The regiment was assembled in its original position, and some time after moved down to the road toward Culpeper, according to orders, striking the road farther than was intended, in consequence of a detour made to avoid shells thrown across the path on which it was moving. The following lines give the numbers taken into action, killed, wounded, and missing of the six companies that were engaged the first time. Company K was on the right.

       In action                                               44     45    45    45     44     44
       Companies                                            H       C       I       D        F       K

       Killed, Wounded, and Missing.      9      11      9      19      14      18

       The accompanying is a list of killed, wounded, and missing accounted for by name.+  Lieutenant-Colonel Crane fell at his post while gallantly performing his duty. Captain O’Brian, who was wounded in the first part of the action, continued in command of his company and received his death wound when the second time engaged.  He was a very brave man.

     Doctor Raymond was confined to his bed by illness when the regiment was ordered forward from Culpeper, and was unable to reach the field, although he attempted to do so. Doctor Conant, who was with the regiment, performed his duty in a manner worthy of all praise.

     Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

THOS. H. RUGER,           
Colonel, Commanding Third Wisconsin Volunteers.

Captain H. B. SCOTT,
Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.

+Embodied in table, VOL. XII, Part II, p. 137.

*Author’s note:  Original hand-written report found at Heritage Auctions.

Print This Post Print This Post