Report of Capt. Del. Kemper, Alexandria Light Artillery
O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 2 [S# 2] — CHAPTER IX, pp 535-536
ARTILLERY QUARTERS ADVANCED FORCES,
FIRST BRIGADE, FIRST CORPS, ARMY POTOMAC,
Vienna, July 25, 1861
GENERAL: In compliance with General Orders, No. –, requiring reports from commanders of regiments and detached corps of the operations of their respective commands in the actions of the 18th and 21st instants, I have the honor to submit the following details of the part performed by my battery in the last above-mentioned engagement:
At 7 o’clock precisely on the morning of the 21st the enemy commenced a cannonade from his original position in front of Mitchell’s Ford. My battery was ordered from the left of the trenches about 9 a.m., and placed in position in rear of the trenches at Mitchell’s Ford. This position we occupied without a chance to respond to the fire of the enemy, they being clearly beyond our range, until about I p.m., when I was ordered to join Colonels Kershaw and Cash, and under the command of Colonel Kershaw to move to the left of our lines near stone bridge.
We arrived near the scene of action about 3 p.m., and immediately taking position in and near the road leading from Sudley Ford to Manassas Junction, and about one-half mile south of the turnpike, we had the honor of receiving and repulsing the last attack made by the enemy. They were found in strong force (of regulars), and required to be repulsed three times before they retired finally, which they began to do about 4.15 p.m. Seeing this general retreat commenced, and my men being very much worn-out, I withdrew my battery a short distance to the rear, and returning with a few of my men, got one of the Parrott rifled guns, previously captured from the enemy, in a position to bear upon their retreating columns, and had the satisfaction of annoying them considerably.
Colonel Kershaw ordered his whole command to pursue them down the turnpike, and especially to endeavor to cut them off where the road from Sudley Church (by which their main body retreated) intersects the turnpike, about two and a half miles from Centreville. We failed to overtake any enemy in the turnpike until we arrived on the hill about one mile south of Cub Creek Bridge, in time to open (with two of my guns) on the enemy’s column which was by this time partly in the turnpike. We also threw, with good effect, some spherical case into their baggage train, &c., which had not emerged into the turnpike.
I wish to remark that the first shot fired to rake the road was fired by the venerable Edmund Ruffin, and a prisoner subsequently stated that the effect was frightful. This maneuver resulted in the capture of many cannon, caissons, artillery horses, baggage wagons, an immense number of muskets, rifles, and accouterments, and many prisoners. In obedience to orders, Colonel Kershaw’s command returned to stone bridge, where we arrived about 11 p.m. and thus, as far as we were concerned, closed this glorious day.
I desire, general, to call attention to the gallant bearing of Lieutenants Stewart, Bayliss, and Smoot, of my company. Each of them throughout the engagements of Thursday and Sunday performed his whole duty with a degree of coolness and judgment worthy of all praise. The men of my company, with two exceptions, behaved like veterans.
The casualties of my command were: One killed, Private Richard Owens, killed by a musket bullet, and two wounded slightly; also one horse killed, two wounded, and one lost.
These details are respectfully submitted, general, by your obedient servant,
Captain, Comdg. Battery of Light Artillery from Alexandria, Va.
Commanding First Brigade, &c.