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and locust trees, and forming a segment of a circle, the arc of which was surrounded with trees. Colonel Baker apprised Colonel Devens that he had been placed in command, and learned that the Fifteenth Massachusetts, after having advanced for a mile in the direction of Leesburg, had been attacked and fallen back to the position which they then occupied, just in the edge of the woods on the right. The other forces were lying under the brow of the hill, and with the exception of an occasional rifle shot all was quiet, and no sight of an enemy. The two howitzers and one piece of artillery were drawn by the men out into the open field, pointing to the woods in front, the artillery horses not being brought up the steep.
After a quarter of an hour had passed, the enemy making no sign, two companies of the California battalion, A and D, were sent out from the left as skirmishers through the wood. They had advanced but a few rods, when with a yell a tremendous volley of rifle shot from the concealed enemy drove them back, and from that moment up to the fall of Colonel Baker there was no cessation of heavy firing from the enemy in the woods. The re-enforcements from the island came up very slowly, and it was evident to all that unless aid in force reached us from the left we should be driven into the river, as the increasing yells and firing of the enemy indicated their larger number and nearer approach. The two howitzers were of no service, and the 12-pounder, being manned by Colonel Baker, Lieutenant-Colonel Wistar, AdjutantGeneral Harvey, Captain Bieral, and a few privates of his company (G), was fired not more than five or six times, and, excepting the last time, with doubtful effect, as the enemy was at no time visible. We simply fired at the woods.
Colonel Baker was at all times in the open field, walking in front of the men lying on the ground, exhibiting the greatest coolness and courage. The fire of the enemy was constant, and the bullets fell like hail. stones, but it was evident that the enemy was firing into the open field without direct aim. Colonel Baker fell about 5 o'clock. He was standing near the left of the woods, and it is believed he was shot with a cavalry revolver by a private of the enemy, who, after Colonel Baker fell, crawled on his hands and knees to the body and was attempting to take his sword, when Captain Bieral with 10 of his men rushed up and shot him through the head and rescued the body. At the time Colonel Baker was shot he was looking at a mounted officer, who rode down a few rods into the field from the woods, who, being shot at by one of our men, returned to the woods and appeared to be falling from his horse. Colonel Baker, turning about, said, “See, he falls,” and immediately fell, receiving four balls, each of which would be fatal. I had but a moment before, standing by his side, been ordered by Colonel Baker to go with all possible dispatch to General Stone for re-enforcements on the left, as there was no transportation across the river for the wants of the hour. There was some confusion on the field, and the officers of the companies of the Fifteenth Massachusetts Regiment ordered their men to retreat. The enemy then for the first time came out of the wood at double-quick, and receiving a double charge of grape-shot from the 12-pounder, broke in disorder and returned to the woods. There were but few of the Federal forces now on the field, having returned to tho river side down the steep, but finding no means of escape, some 200 charged up the hill and poured in a volley, the enemy at this time occupying the field. It was getting dark, and some one tied a white handkerchief to a sword and went forward. Many were taken prisoners at the moment, and some fled into the woods on either side, and many
others ran down to the crossing. I got the body of Colonel Baker on the flat-boat, at this time partly filled with water, the dead and wounded, and safely reached the island. Throwing away their arms the men swam the river, the enemy firing upon them from the heights. The boat returning to the Virginia side was overcrowded, and, being leaky, sank in the middle of the river, and many drowned at that time.
Lieutenant-Colonel Wistar, an hour before, having received four shots in various parts of his body, had been carried from the field, and Colonel Cogswell being wounded in the arm, there was no officer in command. Adjutant-General Harvey had a shot in his cheek, but remained on the field and was taken prisoner. Colonel Devens safely reached the shore; but I can give no information concerning Colonel Lee. He with Colonel Cogswell are probably prisoners.
When Colonel Cogswell crossed the river he brought a second order in writing with him from General Stone, to the effect that Colonel Baker should, if he could, advance in the direction of Leesburg, and that he might count upon meeting the enemy in force of about 4,000. These orders I found in Colonel Baker's hat, after he had fallen, stained with his blood.
During the engagement our forces to the number of 5,000, with many pieces of artillery, were in plain view on the Maryland side, but having no means of transportation, were of no service. The position occupied by our forces was but a few rods from the river side, and there were no houses or roads in view. I have no means of stating accurately the number of our loss but that of the California battalion, which is about 260 out of 689. Colonel Baker and all the officers were on foot throughout the engagement, leaving their horses tied to the trees, and they all fell into the hands of the enemy. There was an ineffectual effort to throw the 12-pounder and howitzers down the steep into the river, but being obstructed by fallen trees, they did not reach the water, and the next day were drawn by the enemy up on the hill.
A first lieutenant of the Eighth Regiment Virginia Infantry, named J. Owen Berry, by mistake rode into our lines, having been left behind by his company, and was taken prisoner in the early part of the engagement and sent to our camp. He states that the rebels are abundantly supplied with arms, ammunition, and rations, but are sadly in want of clothing. A few privates also fell into our hands, but not being able to carry them away, they escaped from us.
The depth of the river at the crossing ranges from 3 to 10 feet, and the width of the first crossing is about 100 yards, and of the second 60 yards; it may be more. There was no regularity or order in the movement of the boats.
I have the honor to be, your obedient servant,
Col. E. D. TOWNSEND.
FRANCIS G. YOUNG, Captain, of General Baker's Staff.
HEADQUARTERS OF THE ARMY,
Respectfully referred to General Stone, by whom it should be forwarded in due course. It is proper to state that Captain Young stated in person that he had wished to prepare an account of the battle in which Colonel Baker was killed, having been one of his staff. He was told to submit it in writing, which he did.
E. D. TOWNSEND, Assistant Adjutant-General.
Received headquarters Corps of Observation, Poolesville, October 31, 1861.
This extraordinary production of a fertile imagination is respectfully forwarded. I have no time to notice its misstatements, but would simply call attention to the last clause in the communication, which I am informed is true: “There was no regularity or order in the more. ment of the boats.” Had there been, there w have been no disaster, and Mr. Young, the author of the within, was Colonel Baker's quartermaster.
CHAS. P. STONE, Brigadier General, Commanding.
Report of Brig. Gen. Charles P. Stone, U. S. Army, of operations opposite
Edwards Ferry, Maryland.
HEADQUARTERS CORPS OF OBSERVATION,
Poolesville, November 2, 1861. GENERAL: On the 230 October, at about 10.30 o'clock a. m., I received the special order of which the inclosed is a copy at the hands of Col. A. V. Colburn, assistant adjutant-general. In obedience thereto I immediately crossed the river at Edwards Ferry and assumed command of the troops then on the Virginia side, which I found to be as follows, viz: General Abercrombie's brigade, of General Banks' division; General Gorman's brigade, of my division ; 130 Van Alen Cavalry (Third New York), under Majors Mix and Lewis; 7 companies Seventh Michigan Volunteers, Colonel Grosvenor ; 2 companies Twelfth Regiment Massachusetts Volunteers, under Lieutenant-Colonel Palfrey; the Andrew Sharpshooters;* thé rifle company of Boston Tiger Zouaves, Captain Wass, and a section of Ricketts' battery (howitzers), under Sergt. Hart.
I immediately placed General Gorman in charge of the operations at the ferry, the Seventh Michigan Volunteers being detailed to guard the landing and man the boats.
Having seen the landing place properly guarded, I dispatched Lieutenant Pierce, Van Alen Cavalry, with a small party, to scout up Goose Creek to the bridge and across that along the Georgetown road to the vicinity of Frankville, causing him to be cautiously followed by a party of 15 marksmen from the picket at the bridge, and while awaiting his report made a rapid visit to each separate cominand, and to the right, front, and left of the positious held by our troops. Í caused the right of the line, the Monroe house, to be strengthened by 2 companies, and pointed out to the commanding officer (Captain Wass) the best method of quicklý strengthening his position by slight intrenchments, extended the line of pickets to the river bank, and then proceeded far enough to the left and front to get a view of Leesburg from the Tuscarora Valley, without seeing anything of the enemy.
While engaged in this examination I was suddenly informed that the enemy were advancing in force on the right. Although this information was delivered in a confused manner, I deemed it but prudent to prepare for action, and immediately ordered the troops to form, having the artil
* Or first company Massachusetts Sharpshooters, attached to Fifteenth Massachusetts Infantry.
lery in the center, in front of the first bluff from the river, with the detachment of the Twentieth Massachusetts and a company of First Minnesota in support; the cavalry and Sixteenth Indiana Volunteers on the right, with the Thirtieth Pennsylvania in reserve; and the Thirtyfourth New York Volunteers, Second New York State Militia, and First Minnesota on the left. The Andrew Sharpshooters were placed along a fence running from the Monroe house on the right to the wooded hill near the bridge on the left, which wooded hill was strengthened to 12 companies of infantry from the various regiments, all under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Lucas. These arrangements were rapidly made, but on sifting the information I was satisfied no advance had been made by the enemy, and allowed the troops to leave the lines, holding themselves in readiness to resume them at a moment's notice. The scouting party towards Frankville returned, Lieutenant Pierce reporting that he had proceeded to a point near that village without meeting any of the enemy, but that from the first house of it a cavalry picket was seen. I immediately ordered a strong infantry picket to be stationed in the wood on the Frankville road at an advantageous point described by Lieutenant Pierce, with a cavalry patrol beyond it to watch that road, and on the right sent out infantry pickets to occupy the woods in front of the Monroe house, watch the Leesburg road, and indicate by their firing any approach of the enemy in that direction. I at the same time reported to the major-general commanding the amount of re-enforcements which I deemed sufficient for holding the position.
At this time a new report was brought to me that the enemy were advancing in two heavy columns, one on the right and the other on the left. This report, although indistinct, came through official channels, and the line was again formed and report made to the major-general commanding, in order that re-enforcements might be in readiness to move over promptly to our support in case of attack. As it was impossible to ascertain to what extent the enemy had been re-enforced, and Colonel Woodbury, Engineer Corps, having just then arrived and reported for duty, I sent him with an escort of cavalry to the left front to reconnoiter, while I proceeded to the right to see that all was secure there.
Orders were sent to Lieutenant-Colonel Lucas to hold the wood and bridge on the left until the last moment, and if driven by overwhelming numbers from that position, to fall back along the left bank of Goose Creek and take up a position in rear of the Thirty-fourth New York Volunteers. Colonel Lucas was also directed to follow the advice of Colonel Woodbury in rapidly strengthening his position by means of his axes.
The reconnaissance proved there was no near approach of the enemy, and all arrangements were made for holding the position for the night and receiving and posting re-enforcements, when I received from the major-general commanding, shortly after dark, orders to retire the whole force to the Maryland side of the river. Previously to the receipt of this order I had sent General Gorman to the Maryland side to facilitate the passage of the re-enforcements, and he was now charged with the duty of superintending the debarkation of our troops there and forwarding the empty boats with regularity and dispatch. The holding of the right of the line during the embarkation was intrusted to Brigadier-General Abercrombie; the holding of the left to Colonel Dana, First Minnesota Volunteers. The advanced pickets and cavalry scouts were kept out and additional fires lighted, and while the Indiana Sixteenth, under the orders of General Abercrombie, he'd the line of the bluff on the right,
and the First Minnesota Volunteers, under Colonel Dana, the same line on the left, the regiments between the bluff and the river were silently withdrawn and transferred to the boats as they arrived. Next, the regiments outside the line of the bluff were withdrawn, the artillery with its support, the Andrew Sharpshooters, and (as fast as flat-boats could be secured) the cavalry with their horses. Finally, when none remained excepting the outlying pickets and the two regiments, sufficient boats were secured along the bank to receive at once all that remained, and the pickets were rapidly withdrawn by the left and right and marched to the boats. The delicate and responsible duty of calling in these pickets was admirably performed by Capt. Charles Stewart, assistant adjutant-general, and Lieutenant Gourand, Van Alen Cavalry. I should also mention in this connection Brigade Surgeon Bryant, of Lander's brigade, who accompanied me through the day, making all necessary arrangements for his department, and at night performed most valuable service in transmitting with rapidity and exactitude many of my orders.
The pickets having been recalled and placed on the boats, the Sixteenth Indiana and First Minnesota were withdrawn from the bluff, formed on the river bank, and embarked, and at about 4 o'clock a. m. on the 24th the last boat containing troops pushed from the Virginia shore, not an accident having occurred in the entire operation. Having seen what appeared to be the last of the command safely afloat, I was pulled in a row-boat, under charge of Captain Williams, Seventh Michigan Regiment, up and down the river to inspect the shore opposite the lines which we had occupied, and being satisfied that not a man or horse had been left behind, I crossed the river and reported at headquarters near Edwards Ferry.
I beg leave to record my high sense of the bearing of the troops, and especially of the First Minnesota Volunteers and the Sixteenth Indiana, whose steadiness and coolness could not have been greater had they been the first instead of the last to leave the ground. General Abercrombie and Colonel Dana were indefatigable in their labors, and displayed the same coolness and self-possession which they have long since shown in other campaigns, and which here insured the quiet and successful embarkation of all. Colonel Grosvenor, Seventh Michigan Volunteers, remained long after his regiment had passed over, aiding in the embarkation. Colonel Patrick, Thirtieth Pennsylvania, crossed with the main body of his regiment, and returned to await the calling in of the pickets, because one of his companies was on that duty, and he would not leave the Virginia shore until the last of his men had crossed. Dr. James S. Mackie, of the State Department, who had rendered me most valuable service as volunteer aide-de-camp for several days previous, placed me under renewed obligations by his active and intelligent services on this night. Maj. John Mix, Van Alen Cavalry, again proved himself a most valuable officer. Although he had been almost continually in the saddle for the preceding forty-eight hours, his labors were through the night incessant and effective. General Gorman speaks highly of the services of Lieutenant Foote, quartermaster Second New York State Militia, in managing the boats; and I am informed that Quartermaster Goff, of the Van Alen Cavalry, was peculiarly active and useful in the same service. I have the honor to be, general, respectfully, your obedient servant,
CHAS. P. STONE,
Brigadier General, Commanding. Brig. Gen. S. WILLIAMS,
Asst. Adjt. Gen., Hdqrs. Army of the Potomac.