Report of Col. E. B. C. Cash, Eighth South Carolina Infantry
O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 2 [S# 2] — CHAPTER IX, pp 530-532
HDQRS. EIGHTH REGIMENT SOUTH CAROLINA VOLS.,
Camp Victory, July 31, 1861
In obedience to orders from the general commanding the First Brigade, Army of the Potomac, I beg leave to submit the following report of the operations of the Eighth Regiment South Carolina Volunteers during the 21st instant:
Early on Sunday morning, the 21st instant, heavy canonading and rapid discharges of musketry were heard about two miles to my left, and about 11 o’clock a.m. I received orders through Colonel Kershaw to move forward and engage the enemy. As soon as my regiment was put in motion the batteries of the enemy on the opposite side of the run were turned upon us, the balls striking very near my line, but doing no injury. The two regiments, proceeding rapidly to the scene of action, were formed in order of battle some two or three hundred yards from the ground which afterwards proved to be to us the main point of battle. For a detailed account of this movement I ask to refer to the official report of Colonel Kershaw, the senior colonel in command.
My orders were to form on Colonel Kershaw’s left. The greater portion of my regiment being at this time in a dense wood and not receiving the order immediately, Colonel Kershaw preceded me in the march and arrived a few minutes before upon the field of battle. Here he changed his front, placing his immediate command at right angles to my own. Advancing, I found a considerable force fronting my line and concealed by a rail fence. For a time we supposed them to be our friends. Captain Pawley, of my staff, boldly moved forward with a view to ascertain the real character of those thus concealed. He had advanced some twenty paces when he was fired upon. Escaping uninjured, he immediately returned the fire, killing one of the enemy, as they now proved to be. I at once ordered the firing from my line to commence. After several well-directed volleys had been delivered the enemy (zouaves) were driven back from their position. Falling back in great confusion, they were rallied in a valley some distance in the rear, where the enemy was posted in great numbers. From this point they returned my fire, killing five of my men and wounding several.
Seeing that the enemy were well acquainted with my position, and being unable to return their fire, they using guns of longer range than those in the hands of my men, and it being out of my power to advance without exposing the regiment to a cross-fire from-the enemy and Colonel Kershaw’s regiment, I ordered a flank movement to the left, intending to fall upon the enemy’s right. Unfortunately my order was not heard along the whole line, owing to the noise of battle in our front. Order, however, was soon restored, and the regiment advanced, receiving an occasional shot from the enemy, the mass having retired beyond a hill in rear of the position held by them when my flank movement commenced.
After a short delay I was ordered by Colonel Kershaw to follow his command in the direction of the stone bridge. While executing this order I was met by General Beauregard, who ordered me to dislodge a body of the enemy supposed to be in a wood to my left. I at once proceeded to discharge this duty, but found that the orders of the general had been already executed by a body of cavalry. I continued in pursuit of the enemy towards the stone bridge. At this time the remnant of Hampton’s Legion was attached to my regiment, and placed under my command.
After crossing the stone bridge I found Colonel Kershaw’s command drawn up on the right of the road, and was ordered by that officer to take position on the left, Captain Kemper occupying the road. We continued to advance in this order, I deploying as skirmishers to the front Captain Hoole’s company, who drove the enemy before them. Occasionally the artillery of the enemy would fire upon us, but without effect. After continuing the pursuit for some two and a half or three miles we came in full view of the heavy columns of the retreating enemy. The regiments were halted, and Captain Kemper commenced a rapid and well-directed fire upon them, which caused them to abandon their guns, wagons, &c., and completed the defeat. The enemy now fled in the utmost confusion, throwing away everything which at all impeded his flight. Too much praise cannot be awarded to Captain Kemper for the manner in which he managed his guns on this occasion. Directing the fire, he displayed all the attributes of a brave, gallant, and accomplished officer. It was during this pursuit that my sergeant-major, W. S. Mullins, took as a prisoner Mr. Ely, a member of Congress from New York, who armed with a revolver, had come upon the field to enjoy the pleasure of witnessing our defeat.
The enemy being hopelessly routed, I was ordered by Colonel Kershaw to send forward a detachment from my regiment to take possession of the cannon deserted by the enemy and bring them within our lines, fearing that these might rally and attempt to retake them. Captain W. H. Evans and fifty men promptly volunteered for this service, and well and faithfully discharged their duty. I remained upon the ground with my command until all the pieces which could be moved were carried to the rear, and at 2.30 o clock a.m. on Monday returned to the stone bridge, taking position on Colonel Kershaw’s left. Here we remained until ordered to advance to this place.
My officers and men behaved gallantly during this trying ordeal, displaying that heroism and bravery which have ever characterized Southern troops. Where all behaved so well I would do violence to my own feelings were I to institute any comparisons by individualizing any as particularly distinguished for meritorious conduct. I would mention as a fact worthy to be recorded that every member of the regimental color guard was wounded.
Annexed to this report is a list of the killed and wounded of my regiment.
I have the honor to be, general, your obedient servant,
E. B. C. CASH,
Colonel Eighth Regiment South Carolina Volunteers
Brig. Gen. M. L. Bonham