Today in History:

126 Series I Volume XII-II Serial 16 - Second Manassas Part II

Page 126 Chapter XXIV. OPERATIONS IN N. VA., W. VA., AND MD.

and whatever else might be necessary. After tearing down a fence the section was taken into a field at the right of the road and formed in battery at the top of a little hill (the left bank of the Mat River). After the section was in position the remainder of the battery was ordered forward. The enemy's cavalry could be distinctly seen descending a road in the woods about 1,000 yards distant and to the left of our front, while to their left about 100 yards was a field piece just getting into battery, directly over which our first shell exploded, causing it to limber up and disappear without firing a shot. Our firing was then directed upon the cavalry in the woods. The first shell was a little short, but the second was most admirable, which, followed by a few others, cleared the wood. Quite a little force was then discovered in a small clump of trees about 300 yards distant and to the right of our front, but a few well directed shell a soon dispersed them. The expedition rested at this point until the next morning.

Leaving our bivouac at 5 a. m., we advanced about 8 miles, when, learning that a considerably superior force of the enemy had been sent by the Bowling Green road to attack us in the rear, the commanding general deemed it prudent to return. Just as we reached Thornburg, and the very ground of the skirmish of the day before, the enemy made an attack upon General Hatch, who was at Thornburg with his brigade, having been sent out to our support. As upon the day before, a section was first ordered forward (Lieutenant Fiske's) and then the remainder of the battery. The enemy, finding us in superior force, fell back most hurriedly, followed by our cavalry and the battery, except one gun, which was with the rear guard. We kept up the chase for two and a half hours, the battery taking advantage of every available position to harass the retreating force. We halted for the night on the Massaponax River.

The next morning (August 7) we marched to Spotsylvania Court-House; thence back to camp on the morning of the 8th.

The heat on the 5th and 6th was so intense that a large number of the infantry became wholly ineffective - one regiment which left camp with upward 700 men having but a few over 500 fit for duty on the night of the 5th, all overcome by the heat - but the men of the battery stood it finely, not a single man giving out.

It is my pleasure to report that both officers and men behaved through-out most splendidly. Not a single gun was aimed by a commissioned officer or sergeant, all of whom attended to their appropriate duties in a manner most praiseworthy. The gunners manifested the greatest coolness and sighted their pieces with as much deliberation and as little discomposure as I have ever known them to exhibit at target practice, and the accuracy of their fire received the greatest praise from General Gibbon. The men also did not manifest ordinary excitement, though there was no great danger at any time; still the affair was sufficient to prove the men, who could not have behaved better nor with greater coolness.

Very respectfully,


Captain, Commanding Company D, First Rhode Island Artillery.


Adjutant First Rhode Island Artillery.

Page 126 Chapter XXIV. OPERATIONS IN N. VA., W. VA., AND MD.