HEADQUARTERS ARCHER'S BRIGADE,
Camp Gregg, near Fredericksburg, Va., March 1, 1863.
To Maj. R. C. MORGAN, Asst. Adjt. Gen., A. P. Hill's Division.
MAJOR: I have the honor to present the following report of the operations of my brigade.:
The morning of August 26 we arrived at Manassas Junction, when the division was halted in column of brigades to the left of the depot. My brigade was soon after ordered to advance in the direction of a retreating piece of artillery, and on proceeding about half a mile came in sight of the enemy's infantry, which advanced a short distance in line and then filed diagonally to the left to a position near the hospital. General Jackson, riding up at that time with a battery, ordered me to support the battery. The enemy was soon broken, and retreated toward the railroad bridge of Bull Run, closely followed by a battery and my brigade as far as the nature of the ground would permit the artillery to follow. I then, by order of General Jackson, sent the Nineteenth Georgia Regiment in direct pursuit, while with the other regiments I proceeded down the railroad track, and soon became engaged with the enemy, who made a stand on the opposite side of Bull Run at and near the railroad bridge. After about a half hour's firing I crossed the run and advanced about a half mile, when I was recalled from farther pursuit. I then recrossed the run and took a position on the hill commanding the bridge, where I remained until about 10 p.m., when ordered to return to the Junction.
My loss in this action was 4 killed and 17 wounded.
The regiments of my brigade were commanded as follows: First Tennessee, Colonel [Peter] Turney; Seventh Tennessee, Major [S. G.] Shepard; Fourteenth Tennessee, Colonel [W. A.] Forbes; Nineteenth Georgia, Capt. F. M. Johnston, and Fifth Alabama Battalion, Captain [Thomas] Bush.
August 28, after marching through Centreville up the Warrenton turnpike and across Bull Run, my brigade was formed in line on the right of and fronting a by-road, the direction of which was nearly parallel with the railroad cut. Branch's brigade was formed to my rear and Field's on my right, and two batteries in the open field about 300 yards in front.
About 5 p.m., when the engagement commenced, I moved forward to support the batteries, and remained under a heavy fire of shell and round shot from batteries to the front and left, but without sustaining any loss, until twilight, when the artillery fire ceased, and the whole division moved by the right flank into the railroad cut in the woods.
The next morning my brigade, with Braxton's battery, was posted on a hill on the extreme left of the division, with skirmishers thrown out to the front and on the left flank. In this position it was not actively engaged, although it was somewhat annoyed by shells from batteries in front, but not in sight.
About 3 p.m. I moved, by order of General Hill, to the right until my right rested on a road which crosses the railroad at right angles, and remained there within supporting distance of other brigades of the division which had been engaged during the day.
About 4 p.m., during an interval of the assaults of the enemy, General Pender sent his aide-de-camp, requesting me to relieve him, and with the consent of General Hill, who was near me at the time, I immediately marched down and filed to the right into the railroad cut. As my leading files entered the railroad cut I perceived the enemy advancing up it from the left into the wood. Unwilling to commence the fight until my troops were in position, I did not call their attention to the enemy until half of my last regiment (Colonel Turney's, First Tennessee) had entered the cut. I then pointed out the enemy on the left and ordered that regiment to fire, which it did with great effect. The first fire of this regiment was instantly answered by a furious assault upon my whole front. At this time my own brigade was the only one in sight along the whole line, but for twenty minutes or more it firmly and gallantly resisted the attack and maintained its position until other troops came on my right and left in time to save me from being flanked Soon after the arrival of these fresh troops we charged and drove the enemy back several hundred yards, and then quietly returned to our position. In a few minutes fresh forces of the enemy arrived and attacked us as vigorously as the first. They were as firmly resisted and as gallantly repelled by another charge. At this second charge many of my men were out of ammunition and charged with empty rifles. I did not average over two cartridges to the man. A third assault was met and repulsed in the same manner, my brigade charging upon the enemy with loud cheers and driving them back with their empty rifles.
It was after sunset when we resumed our position, and we lay upon our arms that night with a strong picket in front to prevent surprise; replenished our ammunition during the night, and next morning changed places with Early's brigade, which had come in on our left the evening before, and in front of which a heavy skirmishing fire had been kept up all the morning. I relieved General Early's pickets with 130 men under the brave Lieutenant-Colonel [N.J.] George, of the First Tennessee Regiment, who is always ready and anxious for the most daring service. The firing between my pickets and the enemy's skirmishers in the wood in front became so rapid and continuous that, fearing my men were wasting their ammunition, I sent my aide-de-camp, Lieut. O. H. Thomas, to ascertain what it meant and to stop unnecessary firing. He traversed the whole line of pickets exposed to the aim of the enemy's sharpshooters, and returned to me, reporting the constant fire of my men as necessary to maintain the ground.
About -- o'clock, the troops on our extreme right having become hotly engaged, I received orders from General Hill to draw out my brigade, if not already engaged myself, and go to the support of the right; but while I was receiving the order the enemy drove in my pickets and attacked my brigade. After returning his fire for ten or fifteen minutes I charged across the railroad cut and drove him back into the woods. No one joined me in this advance except Colonel Smith's regiment, of Early's brigade. General Early ordered him back, and my right regiment (Colonel Turney's) returned with him. My regiment obtained fresh supply of ammunition from the cartridge boxes of the dead Yankees and resumed their position in the line.
About 5 o'clock in the afternoon an order came through General Pender for a general advance. I advanced in line with General Pender's brigade, which formed on my right, through the wood into the open field beyond, where the enemy's battalions were posted. One battery of six guns was posted about 300 yards distant from the point where we entered the open field and a little to the left of the direction of my advance. I moved on in the same direction until about half that distance was passed, then swung around to the left, and marched in double-quick directly on the battery. My troops never for a moment faltered in their gallant charge, although exposed to the fire of two other batteries, besides the constant fire of the one we were charging and of its infantry supports. The enemy stood to his guns and continued to fire upon us until we were within 75 yards, when he abandoned three of his pieces, which fell into the hands of my brigade on the same spot where they had been served so bravely. General Pender overtook and captured the other three pieces. I left the pieces I had captured to be taken care of by whomsoever might come after me, and pushed on without halt against the infantry, who still made a feeble resistance in the edge of the wood. They did not await our coming, but had retreated out of sight by the time I entered the wood. Here I halted and reformed my brigade, and on moving forward again came up with General Pender's, which had entered the same wood to the right of my brigade and had halted for the same purpose. During the movement through the wood our brigades had crossed each other's directions, and I found myself on his right instead of on his left, as at the beginning. From this point our brigades moved on together to the Lewis house, when a little after dark we encountered in the field to the left of the house a body of the enemy's infantry, whose numbers we could not ascertain for the darkness of the night, and with whom, after they had to our challenge answered "For the Union," we exchanged a single volley and then drove them from the field. Here we found a large hospital filled with wounded, and during the night and next morning captured about -- prisoners and collected a large number of arms.
In this engagement my loss was 17 killed and 196 wounded, among the former Captain Bush, commanding the Fifth Alabama Battalion, killed August 29, and among the latter Col. W. A. Forbes, Fourteenth Tennessee, mortally wounded on August 30 near the enemy's battery.
Colonel Forbes died of his wounds a few days after.
The regiments of my brigade were commanded as follows: First Tennessee, Colonel Turney; Seventh Tennessee, Major Shepard; Fourteenth Tennessee, Colonel Forbes until wounded, and then by Major [James W.] Lockert; Nineteenth Georgia, Capt. F. M. Johnston, and the Fifth Alabama Battalion by Captain Bush August 29, and by Lieutenant Hooper August 30.
Among the officers whose gallantry I especially noticed in this action were Lieut. Col. N. J. George, First Tennessee, and Lieut. Charles M. Hooper, Fifth Alabama, and among the privates Dr. J. H. G. Turkett, of Captain -------'s company, Hampton's Legion, detailed as courier at my headquarters, who after his horse was killed under him on Friday fought with conspicuous valor, and F. M. Barnes, of Company A, Fourteenth Tennessee Regiment, who seized the colors from the hands of the wounded color-bearer and bore them bravely through the fight.
My thanks are especially due to aide-de-camp O. H. Thomas, the only officer of my staff present (my assistant adjutant-general being absent sick since a few days after the battle of Cedar Run), for most gallant, intelligent, and efficient service throughout the action.
Respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. J. ARCHER, Brigadier-General, Commanding.
From The Official Records, SERIES I, VOLUME 16