Report of Col. William Smith, Forty-ninth Virginia Infantry
O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 2 [S# 2] — CHAPTER IX, pp.551-552
HDQRS. FORTY-NINTH REGIMENT, VIRGINIA VOLS.,
July 31, 1861
SIR: On the morning of the 21st instant I was posted, by order of Colonel Cocke, on Bull Run, nearly north from Lewis’ house, to protect a detachment of Rogers’ battery of two guns, under the command of Lieutenant [Heaton]. The enemy made his appearance in the pines some three or four hundred yards distant, but some three or four well-directed shots induced him to retire.
About 1.30 o’clock p.m. I received your order if not in the presence of an enemy to join you promptly with my command. I did so; two Mississippi companies of Colonel Moore’s regiment having fallen in at my call promptly on my left on the way. On reporting to you I was ordered to fall in on the left of the line then formed and forming, which I promptly proceeded to do, you accompanying us for a quarter of a mile or more.
My battalion, the right under the immediate command of Lieut. Col. Edward Murray, and the left under the similar command of Maj. Caleb Smith, had scarcely taken their position when they found themselves in the presence of two of the enemy’s batteries, which were afterwards gallantly carried. My left had scarcely opened its fire before a heavy column of the enemy advanced from my left on the crest of the ridge or hill on a line parallel with our line of battle, with every prospect of having my flank turned without difficulty. At this critical moment two regiments came up, posted themselves on my left, protected my flank, and opened upon the enemy at a distance of about eighty yards, with admirable effect. I do not know the names of these regiments nor of their commanding officers, and have to regret it, as it would afford me pleasure to name them on account of the critical and efficient service which they rendered. From some persons acquainted with these regiments I ascertained that one was from Mississippi, and I have an impression that the other was from North Carolina.
I went into action with but three companies of my regiment, forming a battalion consisting of about two hundred and ten men, and regret to inform you that my loss was very severe, being ten killed and thirty wounded. Maj. Caleb Smith and Capt. H. C. Ward fell early in the action; Major Smith badly wounded, with a leg broken and fractured a little below the hip, and still in a critical condition, and Captain Ward of a wound in the abdomen, from which he died about 12 at night in a state of delirium, cheering on his men to the charge.
I hope I may say one word in praise of my men. But three days together–strangers to each other, of course–without that confidence essential to combined effort, and without discipline, and in their first battle, they yet met the crisis in which circumstances placed them with a hardihood and courage which command my admiration.
I have the honor, general, to be, with high consideration, your obedient servant,
Colonel Forty-ninth Regiment Virginia Volunteers
Gen. G. T. BEAUREGARD