New Facts Found in Skirmish Near Alexandria

On Wednesday, I posted an article I came across in the Richmond Dispatch, July 4, 1861, which described a previously unidentified skirmish near Alexandria, Virginia. The article is full of inaccuracies and partial information, which means I had to do a deep dive to figure out what happened.

Information on the Confederate force is scarce. I’m fairly confident it was a company from Richmond called the “Governor’s Mounted Guard”, which was engaged in scouting duties in Fairfax County.

As for the Union force, the article said it was “Company S” of the 14th Pennsylvania Infantry. However, I know this information is inaccurate, since the 14th Pennsylvania was attached to Maj. Gen. Robert Patterson’s command keeping an eye on the Shenandoah Valley. Thankfully, the History of Pennsylvania Volunteers, 1861-5, Vol. 1 by Samual P. Bates mentions this skirmish in its write up on the 4th Pennsylvania Infantry:

“On Sunday, June 30th, at two o’clock in the morning, the pickets of the regiment, stationed on the old Fairfax road, under command of Lieutenant M.R. M’Clennan, were attacked by about thirty of the enemy. They were repulsed by our pickets, only three in number, who killed Sergeant Haines, previously a clerk in the Treasury Department, at Washington. Three other of our pickets on the outer post, intending to go to the rescue of their comrades, came in contact with the enemy’s force, in which Thomas Murray was killed, and Llewelyn Rhumer was severely wounded. The third, dropping upon the ground, escaped without injury, the enemy, in the excitement and darkness, passing over him. The trails of blood, discovered in the morning, showed that they had likewise suffered in the encounter.”

The unit roster shows that Second Lieutenant M. Robert M’Clennan was in Company B of the 4th Pennsylvania. Both Thomas Murray and Llewelyn Rhumer were in Company E. There is a bit more information, yet to be verified, on Pvt. Thomas Murray’s Find-a-grave page. It mentions the pickets were outside Camp Hale, which was somewhere near Shuter’s Hill.

There’s a small historical sign for Shuter’s Hill outside the Hilton at 1767 King Street in Alexandria, Virginia. I’m not sure whether that was the camp’s exact location, but it was very close to the town. I’m surprised Confederate pickets came that close to the Union forts and camps in the area.

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