CAMP BERKELEY, NEAR BALLS MILL, July 26, 1861.
COLONEL: On the 18th of July, by orders from headquarters, my command took up its march from Leesburg to join your command, marching eighteen miles that day and ten miles the next, reaching your head-quarters about noon.
I was ordered by you to form in line of battle in front of your head-quarters, where we remained till the morning of the glorious and ever-memorable 21st. Early that morning my command by your orders was put in motion, and after changing its position several times was ordered behind the woods near to and northwest from your headquarters, to act as a support to other forces more in advance. You directed me to hold this position, and I remained in it for several hours, exposed to the fire of one of the batteries of the enemy, which my men stood with much intrepidity, shot falling sometimes within a few feet of their line and passing over their heads.
Later in the day, about two hours, by order of General Beauregard, I took my command into the conflict and formed in line of battle behind a wood northeast of Mrs. Henry's house, through which the enemy was said to be advancing in large force. At that moment a portion of our troops were retreating in great confusion, and the general commanding directed me to hold my line firm and assist in rallying the retreating forces behind it. This being done, the Eighth Regiment charged with great spirit through the woods, driving the approaching enemy back in disorder. I was then ordered to the fight around Mrs. Henry's house, where the Eighth made a most gallant and impetuous charge, routing the enemy, and losing in killed, wounded, and missing thirty-three soldiers. I then drew the men back to a ravine on the east side of the house, to shelter them from random shots, when I was ordered to take a position near our first, to meet what was then supposed to be an advancing column of the enemy, when it was found to be a retreat. I was ordered immediately to Camp Pickens, which was reached at a late hour of the night. I cannot speak in too high terms of the intrepidity of the men under my command, and where all did so well and acted so gallantly I will not and cannot discriminate in favor of any. Two of the companies had only joined the regiment on the day before leaving Leesburg. The whole regiment was very much worn down by their fatiguing march from Leesburg, and suffering from want of food and water on the field. Yet they stood all and bore all with cheerfulness and obeyed every order with alacrity. They had only one meal during the 21st, and but little water.
I was most ably and efficiently supported on the battle-field and during the whole period of our absence from Loudoun by Lieut. Col. C. B. Tebbs and Maj. N. Berkeley, both of whom displayed great gallantry on the field. Acting Adjutant Elzey also rendered me valuable aid, as did my sergeant-major, Fitzhugh Grayson, who has been missing since the fight, and I fear is a prisoner. I feel his loss very sensibly. He was generous and brave, and promised to make a valuable officer.
While mourning over the gallant fellows of the Eighth who fell on that bloody field it is a matter of congratulation and thankfulness to God that so few fell, and that no officer was either killed or wounded. Below is a list of the killed, wounded, and missing. *
Very respectfully, colonel, your obedient servant,
Col. PHILIP ST. GEORGE COOKE.
* The nominal list shows 6 killed, 23 wounded, and 1 missing.
SOURCE: Official Records of the War of the Rebellion, Series 1, Volume 2, pgs. 545-546
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