Series 1, Vol. 19, Part I, pp 516-18
Report of Col. Arno Voss, Twelfth Illinois Cavalry, of skirmishes at Bunker Hill and Darkesville, W. Va.
Near Martinsburg, Va., September 9, 1862.
General: Pursuant to the orders of Col. D. S. Miles, commanding Railroad Brigade, at Harper’s Ferry, I stationed an outpost, on the 3d instant, at a point about 3 miles south of Martinsburg, on the Winchester road, consisting of 95 men of the Twelfth Illinois Cavalry, under the command of Lieut. Col. H. Davis. On the morning of the 4th instant, Lieut. Charles Roden, of said command, having 10 men with him on a reconnoitering tour, suddenly came upon 12 mounted rebels at Bunker Hill, 6 miles south of said outpost, charged upon them, and drove them pell-mell before him about 3 miles beyond Bunker Hill. The enemy had 1 horse wounded and 1 man. In this affair Lieutenant Roden and his men behaved very gallantly. The next day, at about 10 o’clock a. in., Lieutenant-Colonel Davis met the enemy, about 40 mounted men, half a mile north of Bunker Hill, attacked them with about an equal number of his men, and drove them back into the town of Bunker Hill. Here the enemy dismounted, and, from the rear of some old buildings on a bluff beyond Middle Creek, opened deliberate fire upon our advancing party. Lieutenant-Colonel Davis rapidly crossed the creek, ordered the charge up the hill, when the enemy fled in the wildest confusion, each party exchanging fires. The chase continued for 6 miles, and resulted in the capture of 6 prisoners, all of the Twelfth Virginia (Ashby’s) Cavalry, with their mount and arms. Two of the enemy were wounded. Our men all escaped unhurt.
Lieutenant-Colonel Davis, whose horse was shot under him, deserves great praise for the ability with which he led his men. In his report to me he speaks very highly of the conduct of Dr. McCarthy, the assistant surgeon of my regiment, acting as his adjutant, who received a ball through his sack and had his horse wounded; also of Captain Hayden, who led his company with great gallantry, and the officers and men of his company.
The enemy, after this, did not make their appearance at our outposts until the 7th day of September, when our vedettes were driven in about day-break. Lieutenant Logan, of the Twelfth Illinois Cavalry, having been dispatched by Lieutenant-Colonel Davis, with 18 men, to ascertain their strength and position, was surrounded by the enemy, but succeeded in cutting his way through to near our outposts. Lieutenant Logan was severely, but not dangerously, wounded in the breast by a rifle-ball, and was carried from the field by his men. One of his men reached Lieutenant-Colonel Davis, and reported to him that a battalion of Ashby’s cavalry, 400 strong, was drawn up on the Winchester pike. The lieutenant-colonel immediately dispatched a messenger to my camp, requesting me to send him re-enforcements. After having reported this fact to Brigadier-General White, commanding, and received his orders to send forward a sufficient force of cavalry, infantry, and artillery, I immediately dispatched Company A, of the Twelfth Illinois Cavalry, under Captain Grosvenor, on the Winchester pike, to Lieutenant-Colonel Davis’ assistance. I then dispatched, over the so-called dirt road, running parallel with said pike, Companies B and E, of the Twelfth Illinois Cavalry, under Captain Langholz and Lieutenant Vasseur, and four companies of the Sixty-fifth Illinois Infantry, under Major Wood, and, with another company of cavalry (Company C, Captain Bronson) and a section of Captain Phillips’ battery, under his command, I marched over the pike to the scene of action. I learned from Lieutenant-Colonel Davis report, that about 8.30 a. m., Captain Grosvenor arrived at the outpost with his company and reported to him. Adding this company to the force he had on hand, he immediately formed in column on the pike, headed by Company A and led by himself, and charged upon the enemy. They hastily retreated, firing, till they reached the town of Darkesville, about 7 miles south of Martinsburg, where they made a stand, occupying a very strong position on the other side of the creek and keeping up a brisk fire from their carbines and revolvers. Having exchanged shots for a while, Lieutenant-Colonel Davis ordered a charge, which was gallantly executed by his men, when the enemy turned and fled. They made no stand at Bunker Hill, but hurried through that town on to Winchester, not halting even there, saying that the Yankees would be there in half an hour. Captain Langholz and Lieutenant Vasseur, with their respective companies, were sent in pursuit of the flying enemy, making several prisoners and capturing a number of horses and arms. They proceeded to near Winchester, whence they returned and joined me with the main force near Bunker Hill. I returned to camp. I caused Captain Bronson, of the Twelfth Illinois Cavalry, in pursuance of an order to that effect from General White, to make a reconnaissance in the direction of Smithfield, from which town he drove a party of mounted rebels, taking 1 prisoner. He reported to me having met no force of the enemy in that direction. At 8 o’clock in the evening the forces under my command had all returned to camp.
The enemy’s loss is 41 prisoners and 25 killed. We had none killed, and but 1 man taken prisoner. We have 13 wounded, most of them badly, among them Captain Grosvenor, who received a pistol-shot in his right breast in the charge at Darkesville. I am rejoiced to say that both he and Lieutenant Logan are doing well and will speedily recover. A list of the names of our wounded is appended hereto. Among the killed on the other side are Captain McDonnel and Lieut. Albert Carroll, of the Maryland Line Cavalry.
The officers and men of my command behaved admirably. The Twelfth Illinois Cavalry were the only troops engaged in this fight, and they fought bravely and gallantly, maintaining in a high degree the honor of the State from which they hail. The infantry, under Major Wood, did me good service in throwing out skirmishers on both flanks and marching in double-quick to the scene of action, eager to have a share in the fight. Captain Phillips brought his section of artillery promptly into position. Lieutenant-Colonel Davis is entitled to a special mark of distinction for his bravery and gallantry exhibited in these several encounters. Captain Grosvenor, Lieutenant Logan, and Assistant Surgeon McCarthy also deserve special mention.
The number of horses killed and wounded on our side is 15.
From the prisoners I learn that the force opposed to us on the 7th instant consisted of the Seventeenth Battalion Virginia Cavalry, a portion of the Twelfth Virginia Cavalry (Ashby’s), and the Maryland Line Cavalry, numbering in all 700.
I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Brig. Gen. Julius White,
Timeline of West Virginia: Civil War and Statehood: September 1862