Report of Maj. John B. Walton, Washington Artillery, of Operations July 18
O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 2 [S# 2] — CHAPTER IX, pp. 465-467
HDQRS. BATTALION WASHINGTON ARTILLERY,
Camp Louisiana, August 2, 1861
GENERAL: Referring to circular order under date of August 1, requiring a detailed report of the operations of all the troops under my command, including a list of the killed and wounded during the action on Thursday, July 18, I have the honor to report that during the night of the 16th of July I was informed by letters that my batteries might be required on the following day, to be distributed according to the following order:
Distribution of Major Walton’s Battalion, July 15, 1861
Second Brigade, General Ewell, in advance of Union Mills Ford, two 12-pounder howitzers, two rifled guns; Third Brigade, General Jones, at McLean’s Ford, one 6-pounder, one 12-pounder howitzer; Fourth Brigade, General Longstreet, at Blackburn’s Ford, two 6-pounders; Fifth Brigade, Colonel Early, at or near Union Mills Ford, one 12-pounder howitzer, one rifled gun; position of Union Mills Ford, one 6-pounder; total number of pieces, 11.
By command of General Beauregard:
Subsequently, on the morning of the 17th of July, I was instructed, through Captain Ferguson, your aide-de-camp, to send immediately, via Camp Walker, to the farm house on the hill just this side of the encampment of the company then holding Union Mills Ford, the pieces of my battalion designated for the brigades of Ewell and Early and the one for the defense of said ford, and enter into communication with General Ewell and Colonel Early and await their orders. The other parts of my battalion and my command it was ordered should take post at or near McLean’s farm, and await orders. In obedience to these instructions I at once, upon receipt of the last orders, moved my whole command to the positions indicated, and reported to the officers of the brigades respectively. A battery of four guns, two 12-pounder howitzers and two rifled guns, under command of Lieutenants Rosser, Lewis, and Slocomb, were sent to Union Mills Ford, and reported to General Ewell. A section of a battery–one rifled 6-pounder and one 12-pounder howitzer–under Lieutenant Squires, commanding, and Lieutenant Richardson reported to Colonel Early near Union Mills Ford. The other parts of my battalion, 6-pounder guns and one 12-pounder howitzer, under my immediate command, took position on McLean’s farm, commanding McLean’s Ford, there awaiting your further orders. About 6 o’clock p.m. 17th ultimo I received from yourself in person orders to go at an early hour in the morning to Union Mills Ford with one 12-pounder howitzer in addition to the battery I had previously ordered to that position upon the road.
Whilst crossing Camp Walker I encountered Colonel Early, in command of his brigade, who communicated to me an order to exchange two rifled guns of Rosser’s battery for two howitzers, one of Squires’ section and one I was conducting to Union Mills Ford, which was promptly accomplished. The distribution of the batteries and command then was as follows:
Four 12-pounder howitzers, Lieutenant Rosser, Union Mills Ford; three 6-pounder rifled guns, Lieutenant Squires, with Colonel Early’s brigade; two 6-pounders, under Lieutenant Whittington and Lieutenant Adam, at McLean’s farm house; two 6-pounders, under Lieutenant Garnett, at Blackburn’s Ford; two 6-pounders, under Captain Miller, at McLean’s Ford.
Subsequently the two 6-pounders of Lieutenant Garnett and the two of Lieutenant Whittington were joined with the three rifled guns of Lieutenant Squires, making his command seven guns, which were all of the battalion of the Washington Artillery actually engaged in the action of the 18th ultimo. The two guns under Captain Miller, with Jones’ brigade, though frequently in position and under fire, did not become engaged. The battery under Lieutenant Rosser, with which I remained, under the orders received on the evening of the 17th ultimo, was constantly in position during the day, in momentary expectation of an attack on that point from the enemy, who had been seen the evening before and during the entire day reconnoitering our position, small squads frequently emerging from the woods on the other side of the ford near the railroad. This battery, however, had no opportunity of firing a gun, thus disappointing as brave and efficient a command as any in the engagement on that memorable day.
In consequence of my absence from that part of the field where the engagement took place I am obliged to refer you to the annexed copy of the report of Lieutenant Squires, who commanded the seven guns engaged in the action, from which, general, you will be enabled to estimate the gallant services which that small portion of my command rendered in that artillery duel against the odds of more than two to one. My loss in this engagement was six wounded–Captain Eshleman, Fourth Company; Privates Zebel, Tarleton, and G. W. Muse, of First Company, and Privates Baker and Tully, of Third Company. Private Muse died during the night from the effect of his wounds.
I would ask your attention to the report of Lieutenant Squires in relation to the brave conduct of the officers and non-commissioned officers especially named by him, and avail myself of the opportunity afforded me to confirm his report of the gallant conduct of all the officers and the rank and file who were so fortunate as to be engaged on that day.
To Lieutenant Squires is due great credit for his coolness, skill, and daring under the peculiar circumstances by which he was surrounded. Never before having been under fire, and having under his command guns and men other than those of his own company, he on all hands is acknowledged, assisted by the devotion and courage of the brave officers and men who acted with him, to have done much towards the accomplishment of a wonderful victory, as honorable to his State and his corps as gratifying to his companions and to his country.
I have the honor to be, general, your obedient servant,
J. B. WALTON,
General P. G. T. BEAUREGARD, C. S. A.,
Commanding First Corps, Army of the Potomac