Report of Brigadier-General Arnold Elzey
THE REBELLION RECORD; A DIARY OF AMERICAN EVENTS – VOL. II, Documents, pp. 42-43
Headquarters, Fourth Brigade,
Camp at Fairfax Station,
July 25, 1861
Sir: In compliance with your instructions, I have the honor to make the following report of the services of my brigade during the day of the 21st of July, 1861:
The brigade left Piedmont at daylight on the 21st inst., and after much delay and detention on the railroad, arrived at Manassas Junction about 12 M., when it received orders to detach a regiment to remain at the Junction to guard a weak point, and then to proceed to Lewis House, near the battle-field, and hold itself in waiting. Col. A. P. Hill’s regiment, being the smallest – four companies not having come up from Piedmont – was designated for the service. Brigadier-General Smithaccompanied the brigade to the battle-field, and continued to exercise the command over it with which he had been empowered at Piedmont. The march to the field, part of the way, was performed in double-time. The battle raged fiercely, and Gen. Smith ordered the brigade to pass the Lewis House and proceed to the scene of action.
On entering the field to the left, Gen. Smith was shot from his horse, and the entire command reverted to myself. The brigade was formed in line of battle, with the 10thVirginia regiment in reserve. About this time Captains Hill and Cunningham, of Gen. Smith’s staff, reported to me. I detached Capt. Cunningham with four companies of the 10th Virginia regiment to hold a captured battery, and directed Capt. Hill to conduct Beckham’s battery to a point on the left. The position was well selected, and the battery under Lieut. Beckham was admirably served and made a decided impression on the enemy. Having received intelligence that our left was weakened, I determined to make a movement in that direction, and accordingly, to march by the left flank through a wood to the left and then to the front. The brigade in line – 3d Tennessee regiment on the right, 1st Maryland in the centre, 10th Virginia on the left – passed an open field and through a wood. On arriving at the edge of the woods, the enemy was discovered but a short distance in front, Stars and Stripes waving. I ordered the line to open fire. A brisk and terrific fire was kept up for a few seconds, and the enemy disappeared.
The comandwas ordered to advance, and on rising the crest of an open field, nothing could be seen but the dead bodies of men and horses. The line continued to advance, and on coming to a thicket in front, again encountered the enemy, and opened fire; the charge was ordered, the thicket cleared, and the enemy dispersed. I was ordered by Gen. Beauregard to retire with my command to the hill in rear, from which I subsequently took up a position across the stone bridge. It is with pride and pleasure that I refer to the coolness and gallantry of the whole command during the day. The fire upon the enemy was well-directed and destructive, and they sustained his fire with the indifference of veteran troops. The Maryland regiment was under Lieut.-Col. G. H. Steuart and Major Bradley T. Johnson; the 3d Tennessee under Col. Vaughan, Lieut. Col. Reese, and Major Morgan, and the 10th Virginia regiment under Col. Gibbons, Lieut.-Col. Warren, and Major Walker.
I cannot speak too highly of the gallantry and good service of my personal staff, Lieutenants Chetney, McDonald, and Contee. They were repeatedly exposed to the enemy’s fire in delivering orders, and rendered excellent service in obtaining information of his whereabouts.
I have the honor to be, respectfully, your obedient servant,
Brigadier-General Commanding 4th Brigade
Major Thomas G. Rhett,
Ass’t Adj’t Gen.