Report of Col. J. B. E. Sloan, Fourth South Carolina Infantry
O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 2 [S# 2] — CHAPTER IX, pp. 560-562
HDQRS. FOURTH REGIMENT SOUTH CAROLINA VOLS.,
Stone Bridge, Bull Run, Prince William Co., Va., July 23, 1861
GENERAL: I have the honor to report that about 3 o’clock a.m. Sunday, July 21, the officer of the guard awoke me and stated that my picket towards the stone house reported that he heard commands in the woods beyond, as if some one was commanding forces. I ordered him to report the same to you. Towards 4 o’clock I heard the firing of pickets on the opposite side of Bull Run from my camp, and at once ordered the men to be waked up. In a few moments afterwards your orders came, ordering me to get ready and move up on the hill at once. I ordered the men to fall in, and before 5 o’clock formed in line of battle on the left side of the road, covered by an undulation near the bluff of the hill, about six hundred yards distant from stone bridge.
I sent out, as ordered by you, Captain Kilpatrick’s company, Calhoun Mountaineers, to deploy as skirmishers on the left of the bridge, and Captain Anderson’s company, Confederate Guards, to the right of the bridge, both of them sending their advance skirmishers to the bank of Bull Run. Captain Dean’s company and the Palmetto Riflemen, the latter commanded by Lieutenant Earle, was left at the camp, some three hundred yards distant, as a reserve. The enemy could be seen in the woods opposite. About six o’clock the enemy sent a man out with a flag, which he attempted to plant in the road about two hundred yards from the bridge. Captain Kilpatrick fired at him five or six shots. The man with the color fled precipitately to the woods. The enemy’s battery, which was planted on the left side of the road in the edge of the woods, then commenced firing at intervals in different directions, as if to make us show our position, which was still concealed from them. Sometimes they would burst a shell about the bridge; again, fire a ball from a rifled cannon just over us. I could also hear firing of cannon below. Up to 8.20 they had fired six times towards us.
About 8.30 o’clock you ordered me to get ready and move up on the ridge, leaving the reserve and the companies sent out as skirmishers. After advancing one-fourth mile I formed in line of battle on the left of Major Wheat’s battalion, he having already formed on the right of the field. Your cannon formed in our front. I had not occupied this position but a few moments when, by your orders, I moved a little to the front and about three-fourths of a mile to the left, and formed in line of battle in a ravine, my left resting on the pike road leading from stone bridge by Sudley’s Mill, and about two hundred yards in advance of the stone house, and sent out Captain Hawthorn’s company as skirmishers in the woods, resting on our right.
Major Wheat’s battalion, which had been left with the cannon, advanced in front of the woods and was fired into by my skirmishers, which was returned by Major Wheat’s. My skirmishers sustained no loss, but wounded two of Major Wheat’s men. My skirmishers then returned, both Major Wheat and Captain Hawthorn having discovered the mistake. Major Wheat at once opened fire on the enemy and kept it up vigorously for about five rounds. I sent Captain Hawthorn to assist him as soon as he returned. I ordered the cannon to open on the enemy, who had commenced filing out in large force to our left. I then ordered the battalion to open fire by company, and then moved up to the left and advanced through the woods to the field in front. Major Wheat having rallied part of his forces and formed on my left, at that time General Bee came up on my right and advanced part of his force on my right and commenced a vigorous fire. At the same time I sent forward part of Captain Hollingsworth’s company as skirmishers. I had the fence pulled down to charge to the front when the skirmishers and General Bee’s forces advanced to the right. Major Wheat at the same time advancing on the left, the enemy’s battery and musketry opened on us in large force, which was returned, principally directed about the center of the regiment. The regiment retired to the rear of the woods. Captain Shanklin rallied his company around the colors until the entire force had left the ground. I discovered the enemy attempting to flank us in large force, to which I called the attention of General Bee, who, seeing the force, said that we had better retreat and form on the opposite side of the hill, after which re-enforcements came up and the engagement became general.
Lieutenant Earle, commanding Company B (Palmetto Riflemen), and Captain Dean’s company (C), both reserves, occupied the position first held by the regiment (on the left of the road near the bridge) until after the battery retired, when they also retreated toward Lewis’ house and were then formed into a battalion, with portions of Captain Shanklin’s company, under Lieutenant Cherry, and Captain Long’s company and the New Orleans Zouaves, Captain ——-, and some Alabamians, under Major Whither and Colonel Thomas, of Maryland, and by them led to the field of battle on our extreme left. They charged a battery of the enemy, and, after a severe conflict, repulsed him. Sergeant Maxwell planted the colors of the Fourth Regiment South Carolina Volunteers on the cannon of the enemy and maintained his position until after his comrades had been repulsed by a superior force, who had deceived our men and prevented their firing upon them by using our colors and sign of recognition. During this contest Major Whitner had his horse shot under him while endeavoring to rally the men led to the charge. Captain Kilpatrick held the position on the left of the bridge until the enemy advanced in large force to the left and near the bridge, when he left and attached his company to Colonel Hampton’s Legion. Captain Anderson remained on the right side of the bridge till near 1 o’clock, when he retreated toward Lewis’ house and then formed on some forces said to be under command of Ex-Governor Smith, and advanced with them into the field, engaged the enemy’s battery, when the forces under command of Colonel Thomas and Major Whitner came up, when he united with them in a charge on the battery which is above mentioned, in which our colors were planted on the cannon, but afterwards repulsed. I rallied the other remnants of companies on Captain Kilpatrick’s company on the right of Hampton’s Legion and led them up to three different advances. Afterward the men under my command worked the battery under the direction of Captain Ferguson, aide to General Beauregard, who made several telling fires on the enemy, assisted by Lieutenant Sloan, commanding fragments of companies.
Captain Kilpatrick behaved most gallantly, and was shot through the sword hand while bravely cheering his men onward. His first lieutenant, Horton, was shot in the head in a charge. Lieutenant Hunt, of Company H, deserves particular credit for his bravery in reorganizing the company. Sergeants Hawthorne and Fuller both acted their part well; the former was exceeded in gallant daring by no one. Captain Anderson sustained his character as an officer. Many of the officers and soldiers behaved well, among whom were Captain Hollingsworth, Corporal Williams, Privates Ferguson, Smith, and Wilkinson, of Company I. The Palmetto Riflemen were very efficient and behaved well. Lieutenant-Colonel Mattison was active in my assistance during the day in encouraging the men to do their duty. Captain Pool and his second and third lieutenants were all seriously, if not mortally, wounded.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. B. E. SLOAN,
Colonel Fourth Regiment S.C. Volunteers
General N. G. EVANS