of Maj. Gen. John B. Gordon,
C. S. Army,
The Battle of the Monocacy
HEADQUARTERS GORDON'S DIVISION,
July 22, 1864.
Maj. J. STODDARD JOHNSTON,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Breckinridge's Corps.
MAJOR: In accordance with orders from corps headquarters, I have the honor to submit the following report:
About 2.30 p.m. July 9 I was ordered by Major-General Breckin-ridge, commanding corps, to move my division to the right and cross the Monocacy about one mile below the bridge and ford on the Georgetown pike, which were then held by the enemy.
On reaching the river I directed my brigade commanders to cross as rapidly as possible, and then to file to the left in the direction of the enemy's line, and I rode to the front in order to reconnoiter the enemy's position. I found that Brigadier-General McCausland's cavalry brigade (dismounted) had been driven back by superior numbers, and that the enemy was posted along the line of a fence on the crest of the ridge running obliquely to the left from the river. In his front lay an open field, which was commanded by his artillery and small-arms to the extent of their range, while in his rear ran a valley nearly parallel with the general direction of his line of battle. In this valley I discovered from a wooded eminence in front of his left another line of battle in support of the first. Both these lines were in advance of the Georgetown road. The enemy's line of skirmishers covered the front of his first line and stretched far beyond it to the left. Having been ordered to attack this force, I had the division skirmishers, under Captain Keller, of Evans' brigade, deployed, and directed one brigade (Evans'), under the protection of a dense woodland about 700 yards in front of the enemy's left, to move by the right flank and form so as to overlap the enemy's left. The two brigades (Hays' and Stafford's), united under the command of Brigadier-General York, were ordered to form on the left of Brigadier-General Evans, and Terry's brigade to move in support of the left of my line.
These dispositions having been made, I ordered the command to advance in echelon by brigades from the right. The troops emerged from the woods 700 yards in front of the enemy's left under heavy fire from infantry and artillery, and had advanced but a short distance when, on account of the wounding of one brigade commander (Evans), to whom explicit instructions had been given as to the movement of his (the leading) brigade, and the killing of several regimental commanders, and the difficulty of advancing in line through a field covered with wheat-shocks and intersected by fences, the perfect alignment of this brigade was necessarily to some extent broken. However, this temporary confusion did not retard its advance, which, as I had anticipated, forced the enemy to change his front under fire.
At this point the Louisiana brigades, under the command of Brigadier-General York, became engaged, and the two brigades (Evans' and York's) moved forward with much spirit, driving back the enemy's first line in confusion upon his second. After a brief halt at the fence from which this first line had been driven I ordered a charge on the second line, which was equally successful. At this point I discovered a third line, which overlapped both my flanks, and which was posted still more strongly in the deep cuts along the Georgetown road and behind the crest of the hill near the Monocacy bridge, and at once ordered Brigadier-General Terry, who as yet had not been engaged, to attack vigorously that portion of the enemy's line nearest the river, and from which my troops were receiving a severe flank fire. This brigade advanced with great spirit and in excellent order, driving the enemy from his position on a portion of the line. He still held most stubbornly his strong position in front of the other two brigades and upon my right. He also advanced at the same time two fresh lines of troops to retake the position from which he had been driven by Terry s brigade. These were repulsed with heavy loss and in great confusion.
Having suffered severe loss in driving back two lines, either of which I believe equal in length to my command, and having discovered the third line longer than either of the others and protected by the cuts in the road, and in order to avoid the great loss it would require to drive the enemy from his position by a direct front attack, I dispatched two staff officers in succession to ask for a brigade to use upon the enemy's flank. Ascertaining, however, that a considerable length of time must elapse before these could reach me, I at once ordered Brigadier-General Terry to change front with his brigade to the right and attack the enemy's right. This movement, promptly executed with a simultaneous attack from the front, re-suited, in the dislodging of their line, and the complete rout of the enemy s forces. This battle, though short, was severe.
I desire in this connection to state a fact of which I was an eye-witness, and which, for its rare occurrence and the evidence it affords of the sanguinary character of this struggle, I consider worthy of official mention. One portion of the enemy's second line extended along a branch, from which he was driven, leaving many dead and wounded in the water and upon its banks. This position was in turn occupied by a portion of Evans' brigade in the attack on the enemy's third line. So profuse was the flow of blood from the killed and wounded of both these forces that it reddened the stream for more than 100 yards below. It has not been my fortune to witness on any battle-field a more commendable spirit and courage than was exhibited on this by both officers and men.
To my brigade commanders for their good example and prompt execution of orders I am especially indebted. They rode in the midst of their troops under the severest fire, and exhibited that cool courage so essential in an officer on the field.
There are many other officers of lower grade who well deserve particular mention. Among them I desire to call attention to the admirable conduct of Colonel Peck, Ninth Louisiana, commanding Hays' brigade; Colonel Atkinson, commanding Evans' brigade; Colonels Funk and Dungan, commanding the remnants of the "Stonewall" and Jones' brigades, of Terry's command.
I regret to state that my loss was heavy in both officers and men, amounting in the aggregate, as shown by tabular report of brigade commanders, to 698.
Among the killed are Col. J. H. Lamar and Lieutenant-Colonel Van Valkenburg, both of the Sixty-first Georgia Regiment, of Evans' brigade, and both meritorious officers. Colonel Lamar, a most promising young officer, was shot from his horse at the head of his regiment. Several other regimental commanders of this brigade were wounded, some, it is feared, mortally.
Lieutenant-Colonel Hodges, Ninth Louisiana Regiment, Hays' brigade, an officer of rare merit, was severely wounded and left at hospital in Frederick City.
I cannot too highly commend the conduct on the field of the members of my staff, Maj. R. W. Hunter and Capts. V. Dabney and L. Powell. The prompt, fearless, and intelligent manner with which they bore my orders to every portion of the field met my hearty approbation.
Lieut. S. Wilmer, my signal officer, had been previously wounded during the skirmishing in front of Maryland Heights, bearing under severe fire an order from me.
Major Moore, my inspector, rendered efficient service in his department.
My senior surgeon, Dr. J. H. Stevens, labored assiduously during the afternoon and night in caring for the many wounded.
I am, major, very respectfully, your
J. B. GORDON,
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