Report of Col. Calvin E. Pratt, Thirty-first New York Infantry
O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 2 [S# 2] — CHAPTER IX, pp. 434-435
HDQRS. THIRTY-FIRST REGIMENT N. Y. VOLS.,
Camp near Alexandria, Va., July 22, 1861
SIR: In accordance with Paragraph 723 of General Regulations for the U.S. Army, I have the honor to report the operations of my regiment during the engagement of yesterday.
In obedience to your order, the regiment was ready to march from camp near Centreville at 2.30 a.m. While proceeding to the field I was detached from my regiment and ordered to take command of the Sixteenth and Thirty-second Regiments New York Volunteers, to support Lieutenant Platt’s battery. I turned over the command of the Thirty-first Regiment to Lieut. Col. William H. Browne, and took command as directed; made a reconnaissance in company with Colonel Matheson, of the Thirty-second, Lieutenant-Colonel Marsh, of the Sixteenth, and Lieutenant Platt, of the artillery, and placed said regiments in proper position. I afterwards threw out as skirmishers of the Thirty-second a company under Captain Chalmers, and a platoon under Lieutenant — of the Sixteenth, and sent them about a mile to the front and left of our position, to guard a road leading from the enemy’s right to our left and rear. In about one hour I was ordered by Col. Dixon S. Miles, the division commander, to proceed with the two regiments and the battery to the front, where I was relieved from command of them and resumed charge of my own regiment. Soon afterwards, by directions of Colonel Miles, I proceeded to the extreme left of our division and supported Major Hunt’s battery. Having thrown out Captain Heiss with his company as skirmishers in the defiles about a quarter of a mile on our left, I rested the remainder of my regiment on the skirt of a wood in rear of the artillery.
About the same time Lieutenant-Colonel Browne, with two companies, was detailed by me to reconnoiter a ravine and wood where it was suspected the enemy was concealed. After deploying and penetrating the ravine to a considerable distance, all at once a smart fire of rifles was opened upon him from a force concealed in the thick timber. He returned the fire and continued skirmishing, assisted by a detachment of Massachusetts Volunteers, until his men were safely covered. The desired effect of compelling our adversaries to discover themselves having thus been attained, Richardson’s battery opened upon them a destructive fire of case-shot and shell. The skirmishers were recalled, and Lieutenant-Colonel Browne reported having discovered a masked battery and a force of at least a thousand men.
Soon afterwards it was discovered that a force of infantry and cavalry, variously estimated at from 2,500 to 4,000 men, were marching on our left through the woods and defile to turn our flank.
Pursuant to your order, the line of battle was changed to our left flank, and four companies were detached from my regiment, and thrown into the left and rear as skirmishers, under command of Frank Jones, acting major, who held the enemy in check. He received a fire of five volleys of rifles, and retired from the wood, but they did not succeed in drawing our fire, which was reserved for the advance to take our batteries.
At about 6.30 p.m. the order was received to retire upon Centreville. My regiment remained to allow the battery to precede us, being the last except the Sixteenth to quit a field that had successfully been held against tremendous odds.
I deem it to be a duty to give the names of the officers of my regiment who were engaged in the battle, and to whose coolness and judgment I am indebted for the success that attended my regiment:
Lieut. Col. William H. Browne; Acting Maj. Frank Jones; Acting Adjutant Edward Frossard; Volunteer Aides A. L. Washburn and Frank Hamilton, jr.; Maj. Frank H. Hamilton, M. D., surgeon; Lucien Damainville, M.D., assistant surgeon; George Marvin, acting assistant surgeon; Edward A. Brown, acting assistant surgeon.
Company A–Capt. J. J. S. Hassler, First Lieut. Robert R. Daniel, Acting Second Lieut. W. W. Smith.
Company B–Capt. L. C. Newman, First Lieut. D. E. Smith, Second Lieut. Eugene Frossard.
Company C–Capt. Alex. Raszewski, First Lieut. Louis Domanski.
Company D–Capt. M. O. McGarry, First Lieut. J. H. Bradley, Second Lieut. R. L. Knight.
Company E–Capt. August Heiss, First Lieut. C. E. Klein, Second Lieut. H. Schickhardt.
Company F–First Lieut. F. Pross, Second Lieut. Louis H. Brown.
Company G–First Lieut. Oliver J. Rogers, Second Lieut. W. D. Prentiss.
Company H–Capt. David Lamb, First Lieut. Asa B. Gardner.
Company I–Capt. John A. Rue, Chaplain S. W. Waldron (acting first lieutenant), Second Lieut. Hamilton Hair.
Company K–Capt. John H. Watts, First Lieut. William Maitland, Second Lieut. F. E. Waldron.
Among those not soldiers who rendered effective and gallant service among the skirmishers was John M. Pierce, who with his rifle killed a field officer and one soldier of the advancing foe.
To conclude, the non-commissioned officers and soldiers of my command behaved with such gallantry that it were invidious to make distinctions until the time for promotion shall actually have arrived.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
CALVIN E. PRATT,
Colonel, Commanding Thirty-first New York Volunteers
Col. THOMAS A. DAVIES,
Commanding Second Brigade, Fifth Division, Army N. E. Va