Report of Capt. Romeyn B. Ayres, Fifth U.S. Artillery
(Edit – Commanding Light Battery E, 3rd U. S. Artillery)
O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 2 [S# 2] — CHAPTER IX, pp. 373-374
LIGHT COMPANY E, THIRD ARTILLERY,
Camp Corcoran, Virginia, July 25, 1861.
SIR: I have the honor to report the part taken in the battle of the 21st instant by this battery.
The battery advanced in the morning with the brigade to which it was attached—Col. W. T. Sherman’s—on the center route upon the front of the enemy’s position. The battery operated from this position at times upon the enemy’s batteries and troops as occasion offered. About noon I started with the brigade, as ordered, to cross the open ground, the run, and to rise the bluff, with a portion of the battery, one section being detached at this time, operating upon a battery to the left. On arriving at the run it at once was apparent that it was impossible to rise the bluff opposite with the pieces. I sent an officer immediately to report the fact to Colonel Sherman and ask instructions. I received for reply that I should use my discretion.
I immediately returned to the central position. I remained at this point, operating upon the enemy’s guns and infantry, till ordered by General Tyler to cover the retreat of the division with the battery.
A body of cavalry at this time drew up to charge the battery. The whole battery poured canister into and demolished them. The battery moved slowly to the rear to Centreville.
I will add, that the coolness and gallantry of First Lieut. Dunbar R. Ransom on all occasions, and particularly when under fire of three pieces, with his section at short range, when the battery was about to be charged by a large body of cavalry, and also when crossing a broken bridge in a rough gully, and fired upon in rear by the enemy’s infantry, were conspicuous. The good conduct of First Lieut. George W. Dresser, Fourth Artillery, was marked, especially when threatened by cavalry, and at the ravine referred to above. Second Lieut. H. E. Noyes, cavalry, was energetic in the performance of his duties.
I lost four horses killed on 18th; two horses wounded on 18th; seven horses on 21st; three caissons, the forge, and a six-mule team and wagon (excepting one mule), on the 21st. I sent all these caissons, &c., ahead when preparing for the retreat, to get them out of the way. The fleeing volunteers cut the traces and took the horses of the caissons.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
R. B. AYRES,
Captain, Fifth Artillery, Commanding Company E.
First Lieut. ALEXANDER PIPER,
Third Artillery, A. A. A. G.