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Adjutant and Inspector General Reports

1864 Report

Appendix F

September 27, 1861.

Col. R. B. Marcy,
Chief of Staff.

SIR: I have the honor to report to you that at 9 o'clock on Wednesday morning, September 25, I moved towards Lewinsville, the right wing under Col. Taylor, leaving on the hill commanding Langley, on the Leesburg turnpike, one section of Capt. Mott's battery, supported by three companies of the Nineteenth Indiana; advancing on the road to Lewinsville, on a knoll covering the country to the right, the center section of the same battery, with four companies of the 2d Wisconsin ; and one mile farther on the remaining section, under the immediate command of Capt. Mott, the Thirty-third New York, and the company of Kentucky cavalry, Capt. Robinson, all at Mackall's House; the 3d Vermont and the remainder of the Nineteenth Indiana being thrown out as skirmishers on the left and acting as a reserve, I placed the Pennsylvania battery, Capt. Barr, with five companies of the Sixth Maine, about 300 men, and in advance to their right one section of Capt. Griffin's battery, with three companies of the 5th Wisconsin, and in the edge of the wood the second battalion of the First California Regiment. Capt. Griffin's remaining sections occupied the hill, about one mile and a half from Lewinsville, covering the country to the left and road in front with the first battalion of the First California, Col. Baker, five companies of the Fifth Wisconsin, the Berdan Sharpshooters, two companies of the Philadelphia Zouaves, and Lieut. Drummond's company of the regular cavalry forming the center; six companies of the Seventy-ninth New York, half a mile in advance as skirmishers, supported by the two remaining companies of the Seventy-ninth and the 2d Vermont; our force in all 5,100 infantry, 16 pieces of artillery, and 150 cavalry.

There being at this time no signs of the enemy, with the exception of a few cavalry scouts, I ordered the quartermaster to load his wagons, ninety in number, all of which was accomplished by 3 o'clock, and got them well on their way home with all the forage they could possibly carry. I then sent orders to draw in the skirmishers, and at 4 o'clock, as they were moving in, some of the men of the Seventy-ninth Regiment captured a prisoner purporting to be an acting aide of Col. Stuart, who he stated to be within a mile of us. Word at this moment was sent to me that the enemy were approaching, and we could see advancing over the hills from the Falls Church road what seemed to be a large regiment, marching rapidly in close column and others deployed as skirmishers, with the apparent intention of turning our flank. At the same time they opened fire with seemingly one gun on our extreme left, but at too great distance for any effect, which soon ceased entirely; at which I ordered the center section of Griffin's battery back to the California regiment in the wood, and covering the ground for our retreat, should it be necessary. Their cavalry was seen in small bodies, moving through the corn fields and woods to our left and on the Lewinsville road. At 4.30 they had placed two guns in position to our right at about 2,500 yards, and opened on Mott's section at Mackall's, which was at once replied to by Griffin's and the rifled piece of Mott's section. After firing some thirty rounds, some of our shell exploding just in front of them, they limbered to the rear, and we could see their dust as they retreated on the Falls Church road.

At 5.30 I ordered Col. Taylor, with Mott's section, to fall back slowly on the road to Langley, ready to come into battery should they follow him (there then being no signs of the enemy), and I retired the center and reserve by the fields, marching in columns by the flank, to the road within a mile of my quarters, arriving at camp by 7 o'clock. Just after dusk word was brought in that four or five shots had been fired into Langley, they having brought one piece to the hill commanding the cross-road at that place; but by the time a scout could be sent out all had retired, and the road was clear for the distance of a mile and a half.

The firing from Griffin's section was most excellent, and I would particularly notice Lieut. Hazlett, in command of the section, who proved himself a most accomplished artillerist in pointing his guns, his shells bursting apparently right among them. The conduct of the troops was all that I could desire, standing with perfect coolness when their shot was falling, as it did at one time, all about them, one shell bursting over the California regiment and wounding one man slightly in the arm, and their cheers must have been heard by the enemy every time our shell seemed to reach their mark.

Very respectfully,
your obedient servant,
W. F. SMITH. Brig Gen.
Commanding at Chain Bridge.

Return to theIndex to Appendix F, Reports of Engagements