Today in History:

39 Series I Volume LI-I Serial 107 - Supplements Part I


SEPTEMBER 4, 1861 - Skirmish at Great Falls, Md.

Report of Lieutenant Charles W. Squires, First Company, Battalion Washington (La.) Light Artillery.


Camp Orleans, September 9, 1861.

SIR: In obedience to your verbal order requiring a report of the service in which my battery was engaged from the 3rd to the 6th of September, I have the honor to submit the following:

In accordance with special orders, the First Company- say, 2 commissioned officers, 5 non commissioned officers, and 47 privates, with one 3 inch rifled cannon, two 12 - pounder howitzers, 1 provision wagon, and 36 horses, left Camp Orleans at 4.30 p. m. the 3rd instant, and after an agreeable and easy march of two hours, arrived at Germantown, where according to your orders I reported to Brigadier General D. R. Jones. By order of the latter the horses were well fed, and we rested until 11 p. m., when in accordance with instructions, I proceeded with my battery, guided by troopers, to Hunter's Mills, where I reported to Colonel Jenkins for duty. My battery was ordered to follow the Fifth South Carolina Regiment, which was immediately put in motion, together with one squadron of cavalry. THE whole command proceeded over a hilly country, and although late at night, and we could scarcely see the heads of our horses, no serious accident happened to our heavy carriages. During the march the whole command was several times halted, caused by a few of the miserable animals furnished the battery for light artillery horses, which, for want of sufficient food, appeared totally unfit for any service; and allow me here to state, if this evil is not remedied by an additional pair o horses to each carriage, or by attaching sound, strong, and well- fed horses to the command, we shall some day be compelled to abandon a portion of our artillery.

About 7.30 a. m. on the 4th instant we arrived on the right bank of the Potomac River near Great Falls and placed in position the rifled cannon on a high hill thickly wooded, bearing upon a group of horses on the Maryland side of the river and instant about 1,500 yards. The howitzers, commanded by Lieutenant Richardson, were placed tot he left of the rifled cannon and nearly opposite the above- named houses. At 8 o'clock a. m. we opened fire, throwing shell filled with an incendiary composition, which, with a few exceptions, exploded inside or on the roofs of the houses, causing the occupants to rush out and leave at a double- quick. The firing was kept up briskly for ten or fifteen minutes, when a yellow flag was seen to emerge from the top of one of the houses on the extreme left. Colonel Jenkins, seeing the flag, ordered me to change my fire to an encampment directly in front of the hill on which the rifle cannon was situated, which I can safely say resulted to our advantage. lieutenant Richardson, observing the hospital flag, directed the howitzers to the extreme left of the houses and some distance from the house on which the flag appeared. While firing upon the encampment, we observed several pieces of artillery which we expected would open upon us, as their position was changed several times, but they were finally moved and taken from view. We fired several rounds of solid shout upon the canal on the opposite side, which I have been informed dislodged several stones. I was ordered to cease