Report of Col. W. W. Kirkland, Eleventh North Carolina Infantry
O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 2 [S# 2] — CHAPTER IX p 521
HDQRS. ELEVENTH REG’T NORTH CAROLINA VOLS.,
Mitchell’s Ford, July 23, 1861
GENERAL: I have the honor to report the following facts concerning the operations of the regiment under my command during the actions of the 18th and 21st:
On the 18th I was ordered to take up a position in rear of the howitzer battery to support it. Subsequently I was directed to proceed to the extreme left as its defense. Throwing up a slight breastwork, I directed my men to kneel down and await the approach of the enemy, but as the attack was confined exclusively to the right, we had no opportunity to engage. After the action I was directed to post the regiment in the trenches which formed the center of your brigade, and here remained, perfecting and erecting breastworks, until the morning of Sunday, the 21st, when word was brought that the enemy was advancing against our left in great force, and had drawn up a strong column of about ten thousand, composed of infantry, cavalry, and artillery, with which he menaced our center. You ordered me at this time to proceed to some point near the enemy and report his proceedings as they developed themselves. I took the road leading to Roberts’ house, and from that eminence perceived that a battery of light pieces had been put in position to the left of the road, about opposite the center of our brigade, and farther to the right a heavy piece of ordnance, which I supposed was a 24-pounder, had been arranged in battery. This column must have been the reserve. Soon both light and heavy pieces opened upon our right and center, and as you are aware, continued a heavy fire for ten hours. Many shot and shell passed over and into the trenches occupied by my regiment, but fortunately no man was touched.
At 3 p.m., by your order, we assisted in the pursuit of the enemy, who was flying before our victorious columns who had so gallantly and so bloodily fought them through ten long hours. I must tell you that the officers and men showed a coolness under fire and an eagerness to advance which was very gratifying. I call your special attention to Maj. J. M. Richardson and Adjutant James A. Walthall, who were unremitting in their efforts to instruct the men in duties of which they had but little knowledge, owing to the recency of our organization.
Regretting, general, that I cannot report that the opportunity offered us to meet the enemy at the point of the bayonet,
I remain, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
WM. W. KIRKLAND,
Eleventh Regiment North Carolina Volunteers, Commanding
Commanding First Brigade, Army of the Potomac