Tarheels During the Civil War

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Third North Carolina at Bartlett's Mill

Official report of Colonel S.D. Thruston of the action at Barlett's Mill, VA, November 27, 1863.

Report of Col. Stephen D. Thruston, Third North Carolina Infantry.

December 4, 1863.
Lieutenant: I have the honor to make the following report of the part taken by my regiment in the battle of November 27, near Bartlett's Mill:
On the morning of November 27, having slept the previous night in the trenches, my regiment with the rest of the brigade took up the line of march along the public road crossing Bartlett's Mill and running east of Mine Run. Having crossed Mine Run at Bartlett's Mill, proceeded about 2 miles, when the head of the column (my regiment being the fourth battalion in order of battle) was fired upon by the sharpshooters of the enemy. I immediately received orders to load and throw out skirmishers to feel the enemy. This order was accordingly obeyed by sending forward First Lieut. George W. Ward with the regular detail of skirmishers, connecting his line with that of the regiments on my right. This line pushed forward until it came upon a heavy line of the enemy's skirmishers, when Lieutenant Ward informed me of the fact and of his inability to hold his position. I then ordered my left company, commanded by Capt. John B. Brown, to his support, and a second company, commanded by First Lieut. J.W. Stokley, was held as a reserve to both.
Captain Brown, assuming command of the first and second detachments of skirmishers, now formed on one line, vigorously pushed forward, driving the enemy's sharpshooters back, and discovered the enemy drawn up in force in the edge of a field and under a rail fence. Captain Brown here received one volley from the main line and was in turn driven in. Just here the skirmishers were withdrawn except the regular detail, and the line of battle was formed in a ravine behind, about 400 yards from and in a diagonal line with this road.
I here received an order that the Thirty-seventh Virginia (on my left) should move farther to the left, and that as soon as that was done I should close to the left and go immediately forward. Before this order could be obeyed, and after the Thirty-seventh had moved off to the left, the whole right of the brigade moved forward, and I then received the order to forward with it, thus changing my guide to the right instead of to the left, as previously ordered, and leaving a space of 300 or 400 yards between my left and the Thirty-seventh Virginia unoccupied.
My regiment immediately moved forward in as perfect order as the thick undergrowth and nature of the ground would admit, meeting the enemy just where their line crossed the road. Here the action was quite sharp for a short time, when the men with a yell charged the position, driving in confusion three strong lines of the enemy before them. The pursuit was followed for about 800 yards, when I discovered the enemy turning my left.
I immediately changed front, but three companies on the right, not hearing the command, did not follow the movement, and afterward formed on the First North Carolina Regiment, on my right, with six companies, my left company having been thrown out previously to aid the Thirty-seventh Virginia. I changed front so as to meet the flanking party, but being largely outnumbered, retired to the field beyond the road, where a temporary work had been thrown up of rails and such material as could be hastily gotten together. Here I met the brigade commander, and being soon joined by the Thirty-seventh Virginia, was ordered to remain in that position, with sharpshooters thrown well forward. I remained here until an order was received to form in line with the rest of the brigade on the road. This being done, rested for four or five hours, when we moved on beyond Mine Run, and bivouacked for the night.
The officers and men behaved with their usual coolness and courage, and where all acted well no distinction can be made.
The accompanying list of casualties will show with what determination the men entered the contest.
I cannot speak in too high terms of my lieutenant-colonel (Parsley) and Major Ennett for their coolness and precision in discharge of their respective duties; and my thanks are due to First Lieutenant Mallett, acting adjutant, who had his horse killed under him while conveying my orders, for the faithful performance of his duties.
Respectfully submitted.
S.D. Thruston,
Colonel Third North Carolina Infantry.
Lieut. McHenry Howard,
Acting Assistant Adjutant-General, Steuart's Brigade.

Series I Vol. XXIX (Part I) Ch. XLI. Pgs. 866-867.

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