HEADQUARTERS FIRST BRIGADE,
Darkesville, July 3, 1861.
COLONEL: About 7 1/2 a. m. yesterday I received a note at Camp Stephens from Lieutenant Colonel J. E. B. Stuart, of the Virginia Cavalry, to the effect that the Federal troops were four and one-half miles in advance. Having received instructions from you not to fall back unless the enemy were in force, but having assured myself of his being in force to retire under cover of our cavalry, I immediately ordered forward Colonel Harper’s regiment and Captain Pendleton’s battery, and gave the necessary instructions for moving the baggage to the rear should it be necessary, and for advancing other regiments should it be desirable; Colonel Gordon being instructed to guard the baggage. After advancing a short distance I left three pieces of the battery. On reaching the vicinity of Falling Waters I found Federal troops in the position indicated by Colonel Stuart. I directed Colonel Harper to deploy two of his companies, under command of Major Baylor, to the right. The enemy soon advanced, also deployed, and opened their fire, which was returned by our skirmishers with such effect as to force those of the enemy back on their reserve. From house and barn which we took possession of an apparently fell back. Soon the enemy opened with his artillery, which Captain Pendleton, after occupying a good position in rear and waiting until the advance sufficiently crowded the road in front, replied to with a solid shot, which entirely cleared the road in front.
Having ordered the quartermaster, Major John A. Harman, to move the baggage to the rear, as I had satisfied myself that the enemy were in force, and that my orders required me to retire, I continued to fall back, checking the Federal forces, who were advancing through the fields in line and through the woods as skirmishers, endeavoring to outflank me, by means of our deployed troops and an occasional fire from the gun. Colonel Allen’s regiment, and also Colonel Preston’s, in obedience to orders from me, advanced to support Colonel Harper, if necessitating the advance, but it was not brought into action, as my purposes were accomplished without it.
Previous to my arrival at the position where the skirmishing commenced, Colonel Stuart, leaving Captain White with his company to watch the enemy, had with the rest of his command moved forward for the purpose of turning the right flank of the enemy, and if practicable capturing his advance. Fearing lest Colonel Stuart should be cut off, I sent a message to him that I would make a stand about one and a half miles in advance of Martinsburg, where I requested him to join me. The enemy halted at Camp Stephens for the night. Leaving Colonel Stuart id advance of Martinsburg, I encamped two and a half miles this side, at Big Spring, where I remained until I received your order this morning to join you at this place. Only one regiment your order this artillery of my command were brought into action.
Colonel Harper reports:
I carried but three hundred and eighty men of my regiment into the fight, of whom eleven are wounded and mine are missing; several are believed to have been left dead upon the ground. The enemy’s loss much greater. One of skirmishing companies, in its advance upon the orchard upon the left of the road, found eight dead bodies of the enemy. The fire upon the advancing line of the enemy in our front was also quite effective. A field officer was seen to fall from his horse, and one of my field officers, Lieutenant-Colonel Harman, in charge of the companies at the house and barn, reports that the saw as many as fourteen men carried to the rear in blankets.
Colonel Stuart reports his caput of an entire company (the Fifteenth Pennsylvania Volunteers), with the exception of the captain. Three, resisting, were killed. He further reports that “one of the enemy was killed by a negro of Captain Carter’s and one of Captain Patrick’s company.” The following is his list of prisoners: Forty-three privates, Fifteenth Pennsylvania Volunteers; one second lieutenant, one surgeon, one (position not know), but all of the Fifteenth Pennsylvania Volunteers; one private First Wisconsin Volunteers; two privates Second U. S. Cavalry, mounted and equipped; making a total of forty-nine. He reports one wounded and two missing. The enemy, he states, entered Martinsburg at 12 m. to-day.
Colonel Stuart and his command merit high praise, and I may here remark that he has exhibited those qualities which are calculated to make him eminent in his arm of the service. He speaks of Messrs. Swan and Brine, citizens of Maryland, deserving, as usual, great credit.
Among the reasons which induced me to advance on the enemy may be mentioned a desire to capture him should his strength not exceed a few hundred, and should he appear in force, to hold him in check until the baggage wagons should be loaded and move in column to the rear. Great credit is due to the officers and men for the admirable manner in which they discharged their respective duties.
I am, colonel, your obedient servant,
T. J. JACKSON,
Colonel, Virginia Volunteers, Commanding.
Lieutenant Colonel E. K. SMITH,
Assistant Adjutant-General, C. S. Army.
The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. Series I, Vol. II. With additions and corrections. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1902.