Sunday, March 17, 2013

March 17, 1863: The Battle of Kelly's Ford



HDQRS. SIXTEENTH PENNSYLVANIA CAVALRY,
March 18, 1863.

SIR: I have the honor to submit the following report of the part taken by my regiment, the Sixteenth Pennsylvania Cavalry, in the cavalry action near Kelly's Ford on the 17th instant:

On arriving at the ford, I received an order to send forward all the axes in my regiment, and immediately dispatched 20 men, under command of First Lieutenant A. J. Snyder. The party bore itself gallantly, and did good service in removing the blockade at the fording and crossed with the First Rhode Island men. I desire to recommend to the favorable notice of the colonel commanding Sergeant [Samuel] McGowan, of Company H, Private [Edward] Claffrey, Company A, and Saddler F. J. Canman, Company I. These men have had charges preferred against them, and I trust their behavior in the late engagement will be taken into account in making up their sentence.

The position occupied by my regiment was the extreme right of the line, with my right resting on the river, with my skirmishers thrown forward and deployed at a distance of 300 yards, and concealed from view by a wood of cedar trees and outbuildings. Shortly after the attack commenced on the left and center, I observed a large force of the enemy moving rapidly toward our right, evidently with a view of outflanking us, and asked for and obtained permission to dismount a portion of my command and occupy the buildings immediately in my front. This was not done a moment too soon, as the enemy were already entering the outer gate, when a volley, from behind the houses drove them back. They soon rallied from behind some trees and out of carbine range, and, supposing from the maneuvers that it was their intention to dismount a portion of their men and gain our rear under cover of the bushes which lined the bank of the river, I dismounted the balance of my command, and threw my entire force some 300 yards in advance of the houses, under cover of a stone wall, and drove the enemy from the position. A charge of 30 men, led by Major Fry, drove a squadron of the enemy from the woods immediately in my front. Finding that the enemy did not approach, I mounted by command, and took up a position on the right of the line, and moved forward until farther progress was arrested by a dense woods, where I again dismounted my command, and threw it forward on the enemy's left flank, obliging him to move his position three times.

I am happy to state that I did not lose a single officer or man from my command, and had but 1 man, Private George Derlin, slightly wounded.

Major Fry, Captains Kennedy and Alexander, Lieutenants Snyder and Young, as well as all the men under my command, deserve great credit for the promptness with which they advanced under fire.

I am not able to give an accurate account of the enemy's killed and wounded. Fourteen dead bodies were counted on the right, and several others were seen to fall from their horses, apparently dead. The number of wounded, must have been in the same proportion, as quite a large number of sabers were scattered over the ground. I apprehend that 30 killed and wounded from the effects of my fire is a very moderate estimate. The officers immediately in command of the dismounted men estimate a much larger number. I have also to report the following captured property:

Pistols..................................................... 7

Sabers...................................................... 9

Bridles..................................................... 4

Carbines.................................................... 1

Saddles..................................................... 2

Horses...................................................... 2

There were many sabers lying on the field, but being of so many patterns, and without scabbards, I did not deem them worth picking up. Horses captured will be carried on the company report; the other property is in the hands of the men who captured it.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

J. IRVIN GREGG,

Colonel, Commanding Sixteenth Pennsylvania Cavalry.

Colonel J. B. McINTOSH,

Second Brigade, Second Cavalry Division.

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