#59 – Lieut. Col. Samuel Marsh

24 10 2008

Report of Lieut. Col. Samuel Marsh, Sixteenth New York Infantry

O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 2 [S# 2] — CHAPTER IX, pp. 433-434


Near Alexandria, Va., July 24, 1861

SIR: The Sixteenth Regiment New York State Volunteers, under the immediate command of Lieutenant-Colonel Marsh, left camp near Alexandria, on Tuesday, July 16, in obedience to orders, and proceeded toward Fairfax Court-House as far as Annandale, where the regiment bivouacked for the night. On Wednesday, at daybreak, we resumed our march, having filed off to the left and taken the old Braddock road. At 8.30 a.m. we came upon barricades and obstructions, which had been placed across the road by the rebels to impede our progress.  The Sixteenth Regiment led the advance, preceded by Companies A and K of the Eighteenth Regiment and Companies A and B of the Sixteenth Regiment, as skirmishers. About three miles from Fairfax our skirmishers fell in with the first rebel outposts, and exchanged shots with them, when they hastily fell back without doing us any injury. We continued our march for a mile farther as rapidly as the roads could be cleared, when we again came upon a strong force, upon which the outposts had fallen back. Here a brisk skirmish took place. The regiment was promptly formed in line and placed in position. While this was being done, two wounded men of the Eighteenth Regiment were brought in. The regiment was advanced in line of battle for about half a mile through the woods in good order, supported on the left by the Eighteenth Regiment, when we came upon a battery and extensive intrenchments which had been secretly abandoned. We then proceeded by the road without further difficulty to within half a mile of Fairfax Court-House, when we came to the abandoned camp of the Fifth Alabama Rifles, who had fled at our approach. Learning here that General McDowell had already occupied Fairfax, we halted for the night. On Thursday morning we resumed our march toward Centreville, and halted near there until Sunday morning, the 21st instant. At 2.30 o’clock a.m. of that day we advanced with the main body towards Bull Run.

The position assigned to the regiment was on the left wing, to support the batteries commanded by Major Hunt, to defeat any flank movement on the part of the rebels. Here the regiment remained in position from 10 o’clock a.m. until 4 o’clock p.m., during which time there was no appearance of the enemy in our neighborhood, with the exception of a small detachment who fired on Companies B and G, which had been thrown forward in the direction of Bull Run to act as skirmishers. In this skirmish Lieutenant Hopkins received a slight wound in the heel. At 5 p.m. a large force of the enemy, since ascertained to have numbered 3,000 rifles and 2,000 cavalry, were seen rapidly advancing down a deep and well-protected ravine on our left. The position of the regiment was immediately changed by your order to front this advance, and the batteries were brought into position so as to rake the ravine. When the batteries opened their fire the enemy were thrown into confusion and disorder, but rallied in a moment and poured in three or four volleys, which passed over our heads.

During the operations of the day, it is but just to add that the Thirty-first Regiment, under Colonel Pratt, was stationed on our left, and acted in conjunction with our regiment with coolness and bravery. The Sixteenth Regiment was the last to quit the field, and retired in good order, falling back on the heights of Centreville. During the night of the 21st, in obedience to orders, the regiment, in connection with the entire force, fell back to Fairfax Court-House, and on the succeeding day returned to its camp near Alexandria.


Lieutenant-Colonel, Commanding Sixteenth Regiment


Acting Adjutant


Commanding Second Brigade, Fifth Division



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