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John Pelham Historical Association

Pelham Reports the Battle of Second Manassas

January 10, 1863.*

In compliance with your wishes I submit the following memoranda of the part taken by my battery in the battle, of Groveton Heights:

By your orders I left Centreville on Thursday, August 28, 1862, in rear of General Jackson's corps. I marched without interruption until I had crossed Bull Run at Lewis' Ford, when a small party of the enemy's cavalry appeared in my rear. I detached Lieutenant Breathed, with one piece, as a rear guard, and moved on with the rest of my battery. A few well-directed shots fran Breathed's gun drove the enemy off. I moved up the Warrenton pike, and when near the Jim Robinson house I overtook the rear of General A. P. Hill's division, which had just left the turnpike and was moving along a by-road to the right. I moved to the right of the division and passed it. I moved on and parked my battery in a field where General Jackson' had ordered all his artillery to await orders.

Just before night orders came for twenty pieces to move rapidly to the front. I took three pieces at a gallop through a thick woods in front of this general park, bearing to the right of the troops in position (Ewell's division). I crossed the old railroad about 1 mile fran Groveton and took position between it and the turnpike. I neglected to state that one of my guns was unable to keep up and was lost from the battery, it being dark and the road narrow and winding. I reported to General Jackson, and he told me his chief of artillery Major Shumaker, would show me a position. He conducted me across the railroad, as above stated. I moved on at a gallop until a heavy volley of musketry apprised me of the enemy's presence. I immediately put my guns in position and engaged them at about 50 or 60 yards. We continued the fight for an hour or more, when, our re-enforcements coming up, we drove the enemy back. During the latter part of this fight, I had but one gun, the other having been taken off by the order of same mounted officer (it was dark and no one could tell who), while my attention was wholly directed to the right piece.

After the fight was over I collected the other pieces of my battery and reported to General Stuart the next morning. (See his memoranda up to this time.) I was by him ordered to report to General Jackson, which I did, and he ordered me to ride over the field with him; and after pointing out the different roads he gave me discretionary orders to engage my battery where fitting opportunity should occur. General A.P. Hill sent for some artillery to be thrown rapidly forward, as the enemy were giving way. I placed my battery in position near the railroad and opened on some batteries and a column of infantry posted on the hills around Groveton.

Major, Horse Artillery.

March 7, 1863.

MAJOR: On Thursday, August 28, 1862, by order of General Stuart I moved my battery (Stuart Horse Artillery) from Centreville toward Groveton. In the afternoon I overtook the army, then halted on the right of the turnpike and nearly opposite where the Manassas¬Sudley road crossed the pike. I passed General A. P. Hill's division and parked my battery in a field which had beeen selected by General Jackson for the artillery. Just before nightfall General Jackson ordered twenty pieces to be sent rapidly to the front. I moved out and reported to him in the field. He ordered Major Shumaker, of his staff, to show me the position. By this time it had became dark, and, Major Shumaker not being aware of the exact position of the enemy, we crossed the old railroad about a mile to the right of Groveton, and moved but a short distance beyond ,when the enemy apprised us of his presence by firing a volley into the head of the column, distance about 40 paces. I immediately engaged. After remaining in this position about half an hour Major Shumaker ordered me to fall back. Owing to the pole of one of my guns being broken I could not obey the order, and continued firing until the enemy were driven back. I neglected to state that only two of my guns were engaged ( 3-inch rifles), the other guns having lost the way in consequence of the darkness of the night, the winding, narrow road, crossroads, &c.

Lieut. M. W. Henry, C.S. Army, displayed the greatest courage and daring during the engagement. Every non-commissioned officer and private acted so gallantly I cannot particularize.

Early on the morning of the 29th the enemy showed himself on our left and seemed to be roving toward Sudley Mill. General Stuart placed my battery in position and opened fire upon them. After remaining here for nearly an hour he ordered two other batteries to this position and sent me to the right of our line. When I arrived near the point designated I found General Jackson, who told me that General Stuart had gone to another part of the field, and had asked him to dispose of my battery. He then gave me discretionary orders to act as the occasion might require. Shortly after a courier reported that the enemy were falling back, and that General A.P. Hill wanted the artillery to press forward. I moved toward Groveton, and saw two batteries coming into position to play on the enemy's artillery near the town. I passed these batteries about 200 yards, and took position on the point of a ridge and opened upon their artillery. The position was held for nearly two hours,when the ammunition from all my guns except one was expended. The three batteries that were supporting me retired aoout the same time, and I was left alone, with one gun, exposed to the fire of a long line of batteries with a direct and flank fire. I dispatched Sergeant Hoxton to General A. P. Hill to inform him of my condition and ask him to send re-enforcements. After we had continued this unequal contest for fifteen or twenty minutes Sergeant Hoxton returned and reported that he could not find General Hill. I then determined to retire, not, however, until the trail of my only gun had been struck and shivered. The accuracy with which my guns were fired and the rapidity with which they were served during both days was very gratifying, and the execution they wrought was very great.

It gives me great pleasure to speak in terms of the highest praise of Lieuts. James Breathed am William McGregor. The example they set was worthily emulated by the non-coomissioned officers and men. Sergt. W.H.P. Turner behaved with conspicuous gallantry until he was killed; also, Sergt. R. T. Burwell during the entire engagement, and Sergt. W. S. Dabney acted admirably when left alone with his gun to fight at least twenty. He fired his gun with the same precision and accuracy as before. All the corporals and privates actd so well that it would seem invidious to particularize.

I moved my battery to the rear to procure ammunition, but could only get a very limited supply.

I held my battery in readiness on the field for action during the 30th, but it being the only battery of horse artillery, would be very much needed in case of a retreat or pursuit. General Jackson ordered me to reserve my ammunition for any emergency.

Respectfully submitted.

Major, Horse Artillery.

copyright © 2007 John Pelham Historical Association

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