Reports of Brig. Gen. Richard Taylor, C. S. Army, Commanding Eighth Brigade, of operations May 23-- June 9.
MAY 15--JUNE 17, 1862.--Operations in the Shenandoah Valley.
O.R.-- SERIES I--VOLUME 15 [S# 15]
HEADQUARTERS EIGHTH BRIGADE,
May 26, 1862.
MAJOR: I have the honor to render the following report in regard to the actions of the 23d, 24th, and 25th instant, in which my brigade was engaged:
On the 23d the First Maryland Regiment, Brigadier-General Steuart, being in advance, the brigade reached the heights above Front Royal about 3 p.m., the enemy opening upon us with shell at the same time. Here Major Wheat's battalion, of five companies, was immediately ordered forward into the town, to assist the Maryland regiment in dislodging the enemy, the Sixth Louisiana Regiment following as a reserve.
Major Wheat performed his part in gallant style, charging through the town, and drawing up his command on the bank of the Shenandoah in a position sheltered from the enemy's shell's, the three remaining regiments-- Seventh, Eighth, and Ninth Louisiana-at the same time advancing in parallel lines through the fields and woods to the south and west of the town.
The details of the engagement having occurred under the eye of the major-general commanding, it is not necessary to mention them further. The whole brigade was under the fire of artillery and behaved well.
On this day the Seventh Louisiana lost 1 (private) killed and 1 badly wounded. Wheat's battalion lost 1 killed and 6 wounded; 1 (an officer, Lieutenant Grinnell) wounded in the hand.
It is with deep regret that I have also to report the loss of Maj. Aaron Davis, my brigade commissary. After crossing the river he became separated from my staff, and, as I afterward learned, led on by a fatal impetuosity, joined in the cavalry charge of Colonel Munford's regiment, and met his death charging at its head. He was killed by a bullet entering his right breast.
On the 24th the skirmishers of my brigade again encountered the enemy's cavalry near Middletown, cutting their column in two and killing and capturing a large number of them; also many horses and wagons, the latter loaded with various stores of value, such as medicines and other hospital stores.
The brigade being constantly in motion, it is impossible to state the exact number of the enemy killed or captured in this skirmish.
I have the honor to hand over to you two flags captured in action on this day by Companies A and B, of the Sixth Louisiana Regiment, under command of Major McArthur. Our loss in the skirmish was 3 killed and 12 wounded.
On the morning of the 25th, being ordered by Major-General Jackson to execute a flank movement upon the enemy's strong position in front of Winchester, the brigade was formed into line of battle in the face of a severe fire of artillery and musketry, the Seventh Regiment acting as a reserve. The advance and subsequent charge were both conducted steadily and in good order, resulting in the dislodgment of the enemy and the capture of the town.
We lost on this occasion, in killed, Major McArthur (Sixth Louisiana Regiment) and 14 privates; wounded, Lieutenant-Colonel Nicholls (Eighth Louisiana) badly, in the elbow, 2 captains, 2 lieutenants, and 85 privates.
Four guidons, captured by the Seventh Louisiana Regiment in the skirmish at Middletown, have just been sent in and are herewith forwarded.
To enumerate all the acts of gallantry and good conduct would extend this report to an improper length.
Colonels Seymour, Hays, Kelly, and Stafford, of the Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, and Ninth Louisiana, led their regiments into action with the most distinguished bravery.
Major Wheat, with a part of his battalion, detached on the left, rendered valuable service in assisting to repel the attempt of the enemy's cavalry to charge our line.
Captain Surget, assistant adjutant-general, and Lieutenant Hamilton, aide-de-camp, carried orders under the hottest fire with coolness and precision, the former having his horse struck several times.
To Private H. B. Richardson, of the Sixth Louisiana Regiment, I am particularly indebted for valuable services in reconnoitering and gaining important information of the enemy's position and movements while acting as a mounted orderly during the engagement of the 25th, and would earnestly recommend him to the Government for an appointment am lieutenant in the Provisional Army.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
--------, ---- ------, 1862.
Respectfully forwarded. The recommendation in case of H. B. Richardson is approved, as I am aware of the invaluable services rendered by him on various occasions.
R. S. EWELL,
HEADQUARTERS EIGHTH BRIGADE,
June 11, 1862.
Assistant Adjutant-General, Third Division.
MAJOR: I have the honor to submit the following report of the Eighth Brigade as connected with the actions of the 8th and 9th instant:
On the morning of the 8th I received orders to march the brigade to Port Republic to assist in repelling the attack commenced on the bridge at that point by Shields' forces. When within 1 miles of the bridge the column was halted, by order of Major-General Jackson, to await further orders. These were shortly received-- in effect to return to the front and act as a reserve to the troops there engaged against Fremont. Here the brigade became separated, two regiments, the Seventh and Eighth Louisiana, being ordered to Major-General Ewell to the support of a battery in the center or on the left, of our line, while I marched the remaining two regiments and Wheat's battalion to the right to support General Trimble's brigade, then much pressed. The display of force caused the enemy to retire still farther from the position to which he had been driven by the vigorous charge of Trimble's command.
The brigade, though not actually in action on this day, was much exposed to the enemy's shell, and suffered a loss of I private killed, 1 officer (Captain Green, Seventh Louisiana) and 7 privates and non-commissioned officers wounded.
On the 9th I marched from camp near Doukard's [Dunkard's?] Church, according to orders, at daylight, and proceeded across Port Republic Bridge to the field where General Winder's troops had already engaged the enemy. Here I received orders from the major-general commanding to leave one regiment near the position then occupied by himself, and with the main body to make a detour to the right for the purpose of checking a formidable battery planted in that locality. The nature of the ground over which we passed necessarily rendered our progress slowOn reaching the position indicated the charge was made, and the battery, consisting of six guns, fell into our hands after an obstinate resistance on the part of its supporters, our troops being at the same time subjected to a most destructive fire from the enemy's sharpshooters, posted in a wood above the battery. After holding the battery for a short time a fresh brigade of the enemy's troops, moving up from their position on my left flank, and where they had been fronting the troops of Winder's brigade, made a determined and well-conducted advance upon us, accompanied by a galling fire of canister from a piece suddenly brought into position at a distance of about 350 yards. Under this combined attack my command fell back to the skirts of the wood near which the captured battery was stationed, and from this point continued their fire upon the advancing enemy, who succeeded in reclaiming only one gun, which he carried off, leaving both caisson and limber. At this moment our batteries in my rear opened fire, and re-enforcements coming up, led by Major-General Ewell, the battle was decided in our favor, and the enemy precipitately fled.
The Seventh Louisiana Regiment, Colonel Hays, being the regiment left in the front by order of General Jackson, was meanwhile engaged in another portion of the field, and suffered heavy loss. The guns captured by the brigade were five in number, and one other-- a brass 12-pounder howitzer-- was afterward discovered deserted in the woods near the Brown's Gap road by Lieutenant Dushane, quartermaster of Wheat's Battalion, and by him brought off.
The above record is a mere statement of facts, but no language can adequately describe the gallant conduct of the Eighth Brigade in the action of the 9th instant. Disordered by the rapidity of their charge through a dense thicket, making the charge itself just as the loud cheers of the enemy proclaimed his success in another part of the field, assailed by a superior force in front and on the flanks with two batteries in position within point-blank range, nobly did the sons of Louisiana sustain the reputation of their State. Three times was the captured battery lost and won, the enemy fighting with great determination.
Colonel Seymour, of the Sixth Louisiana, and Major Wheat, of the battalion, on the left; Colonel Stafford, of the Ninth, in the center, and Colonel Kelly, of the Eighth, on the right, all acted with the most determined gallantry and were as gallantly supported by their officers and men. Members of each of the regiments engaged in the charge were found dead under the guns of the captured battery. Captain Surget, assistant adjutant-general, distinguished himself greatly, and rendered the most important service on the left. Lieutenant Hamilton, aide-de-camp, gave me valuable assistance in rallying and reforming the men when driven back to the edge of the wood, as did Lieutenant Killmartin, of the Seventh Louisiana Regiment, temporarily attached to my staff. Circumstances unfortunately retained the Seventh Regiment, under the gallant Colonel Hays, in another part of the field. Its record of 156 killed and wounded-- -50 per cent. of the number carried into action-- shows the service it performed.
Respectfully, your obedient servant,
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