Unknown, Munford’s Battalion, 30th Virginia (Cavalry), On the Pursuit

5 09 2020

For the Enquirer

Col T. T. Munford and his Cavalry.

Messrs. Editors: In all the accounts I have seen of the deeds of heroism and daring displayed in the battle of the 21st, no mention has been made of the squadron of cavalry commanded by Lieut. Col. Thomas T. Munford. It is far from the intention of the writer of this to detract on leaf from the well won wreathes that now deck the brows of those who participated in the struggles and perils of that eventful day. But simply to do what he considers an act of justice, to a modest gentleman and chivalrous soldier. One from whom it will never be known what part he played, and others who are acquainted with the facts, must do him justice.

Col. Munford commanded a squadron composed of the Chesterfield Troop, Capt. William B. Ball, and the Fauquier Black Horse, Capt. William H. Payne. Col. Munford formed his command early in the morning near Mitchell’s ford, the scene of the fight of the 18th. They were first drawn up in the public road, but, owing to the large quantity of dust, were ordered to fall back to a thicket near by. – Where for more than two hours the balls of the enemy’s long range guns, passed directly over their heads, making strange music, but the men stood it like war worn veterans. An order was not went that all the cavalry should proceed at once higher up the Run to the scene of action, which order Col. Munford executed at once. On reaching the point designated he found large bodies of cavalry drawn up in different parts of the field. He promptly stationed his command in a position to secure them from the enemy’s fire and quietly awaited further orders.

A little before five in the evening Captain Payne, who had ridden over the hill to see how the fight raged, met with Col. George W. Lay, of the Confederate army, on his way with an order from Gen. Beauregard for the cavalry to pursue the enemy; and, although hundreds of the wounded and dying had passed by, the blood upon their persons telling the tale of danger and suffering that those who participated in the fight might expect, there was no holding back or hesitation manifested on the part of officers or men. The squadron was formed in column of fours, facing in the direction of the turnpike over which the enemy were flying. The Colonel who was at the head of the column at once gave the order, “gallop, march,” which was instantly obeyed, and kept up for more than a mile and a half, when the squadron was halted and formed by platoons, not being able to effect the formation while in motion, being then in a thick wood. Colonel Munford now ordered Captain Payne to take twenty men and scout the turnpike road, thinking his command was ahead of the enemy. – Capt. Payne, upon reaching the turnpike, found that the enemy had advanced opposite Col. Munford’s force. Capt. Payne’s party arrested two men, who were sent immediately to Col. M., who ordered them to be taken to Manassa.

The order was now promptly given to charge in the direction of the turnpike. Each trusty blade waved above the strong arms and steady hearts that wielded them, and with a war whoop and Indian chief might have envied, they rushed to the scene of action. A good many of the enemy were killed in the first charge, but a greater portion of those first overtaken, threw down their arms, and asked for quarter, which was at once given. At this point, several wagons and ambulances, containing medical stores, were taken and sent back. A large number were now seen in a field some distance off, and the order to charge them was given. A good many prisoners were taken from this force, among them a Captain Griffin, of the Eighth New York Regiment. He was captured by Capt. Payne, whose charger carried him some distance in advance of his squadron. At this point, they fell into an ambuscade; but owing to the impetuous charge that had been made, which so alarmed the enemy that, although there was a full battalion concealed in the thicket, and opened a tremendous fire upon Col. Munford’s lines, not a man or horse was injured. He was prevented from charging this party, by a high staked and rydered fence. Just then, a large body of the enemy, with baggage wagons and artillery, were discovered a little distance to his left, and were bringing their guns to bear upon the squadron; and also a column of the enemy advancing in his rear. He then ordered his men to fall back over a hill out of sight, which was done quietly and in perfect order; and then conducted them under the cover of the hill, to a wood near by. Soon after reaching the wood, artillery was heard passing over the turnpike, coming in the direction of Col. Munford’s command. Several troopers were now detached to find out whether it was the enemy or our own troops, who had followed in pursuit.

His scouts soon returned and reported that the troops passing down the road were a portion of the Second South Carolina Regiment, under command of Col. Kershaw. And two pieces of artillery from Cap. Kemper’s battery, commanded by Capt. Kemper in person. The large force of the enemy seen to the left, evidently being alarmed by Col. Munford’s charge, quickened their march to reach Cub Run bridge, where they were forced to cross with their teams and artillery, the stream being a very rocky one and having few fords upon it. The enemy came into the pike a few hundred yards above the bridge just as Capt. Kemper got his guns in position. He immediately opened fire upon them with terrible effect. – Their consternation now became complete, and everything was abandoned – wagons, guns, ambulances were all deserted except by a few stragglers, who remained behind, and were put to flight by the Albemarle Light Horse, commanded by Major John Scott, of the Confederate army, who had followed on with Col. Kershaw and Captain Kemper, and were stationed on the side of the turnpike, when they could advance as soon as the artillery ceased firing. As soon as Capt. Kemper turned his guns to return to the Stone Bridge, Major Hill, of the Confederate army, rode up to Col. Munford’s command and asked for a troop of horse to assist Col. Kershaw to remove the guns from Cub Run bridge. Col. Munford, who had gone to the point from which the artillery tired, returned in a few minutes and promptly complied with Major Hill’s request, and proceeded at once to the bridge, which was found to be perfectly barricaded by the guns and wagons which had been left. When Col. Munford reached the bridge none of the guns had been removed. He immediately ordered his men to dismount and disengage the guns, saying to Major Scott that he would superintend the removal. A portion of his command, Capt. Payne’s troop, had been out on picked duty all day Saturday, and Saturday night, near the lines of the enemy; but worked without complaining until after two o’clock A. M., disengaging the guns, and caissons and taking them up the hill from the bridge, Col. Munford remaining all the time and working as hard as any trooper on the ground. They reached the Stone bridge with the prizes they had taken a little before dawn, which amounted to ten guns and their caissons, and among them the large siege gun called, I understand, Tom. There were several which had to be left for the want of teams to draw them. Leaving the Stone bridge just at dawn, the squadron got into Manassa about half-past nine Monday morning, and were greeted with cheer after cheer as they passed the different encampments along the rode from the Stone bridge to the Junction. It will be seen that some of the men had been over forty-eight hours without sleep and scarcely a mouthful to eat, and undergoing violent exercise nearly the whole time. Sixty odd waggon and artillery horses were taken at the bridge and on the road. It is due to the officers and men under Col. Munford’s command to state that never once during the whole day, was an order given the was not promptly and accurately obeyed, and it is also, due to Col. Munford to state that all of the prisoners, among whom there were several regular United States soldiers, who were taken after night, that it was the charge of Col. Munford’s squadron which disorganized them and caused the loss of their guns, then fired on by Kemper’s battery. The only accident that befell this command was caused by the accidental discharge of a pistol in the hand of young Taliaferro, of the Black Horse. That ball taking effect behind his horses ear, causing it to fall, and breaking its rider’s collar bone, but who immediately regained his feet and ran some two hundred yards and fired the remaining five barrels of his pistol at one of the enemy, who was running across the field. This is a simple and true account of the part Col. Munford had in that day’s work, given by one who was an eye witness to it all.

August 1, 1861.

Richmond (VA) Enquirer, 8/13/1861

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