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Companies B and K, Captains Jatho and McAloon, were ordered forward as skirmishers, and were soon exchanging shots with the enemy. Advancing some distance through a wood, to a hill where a battery was being posted, the regiment was ordered to take position for its support. For four hours the men lay under the heavy fire of the enemy's guns, the shot and shell flying thick and fast, killing and wounding at almost every discharge, and though this was their first real engagement, they held the position with the steadiness of veterans. Towards evening it was discovered that Fremont had re-called his forces and that the army had fallen back; but as the regiment had received no orders to retire, it remained until the enemy had outflanked it, and had gained a position in its rear, which, during the day, had been occupied by the Forty-fifth New York as reserves, thus completely cutting it off from the main body. Soon the rebels were seen advancing. At this juncture, Colonel Buschbeck, discovering the state of affairs, faced the regiment about, and sending forward skirmishers, under Captain Jatho, commanded the men to charge bayonets. Attached to the regiment was the remnant of the Bucktails, about one hundred men. The Colonel gallantly leading, they advanced to the charge with cheers, driving the enemy from the woods and holding one of his entire brigades in check, until the battery was safe, when they retired unmolested, taking with them nearly all their wounded. While marching to rejoin their command they were mistaken for the enemy, and fired upon by one of our own batteries, the belief prevailing that they had all been captured. As the column approached the point where the army was stationed it was met by Colonel Pilson, aid to General Fremont, who had been sent to thank the regiment, in the name of the General, for its gallant behavior in saving its battery, and in cutting its way out when surrounded. The total strength in this engagement was six hundred. The loss was one officer and fourteen men killed, three officers and eighty-seven men wounded.
On the following day the army followed the retreating enemy towards Port Republic; but, finding the bridge destroyed and Jackson escaped, General Fremont commenced a retrograde movement down the valley. At Mount Jackson a halt was made for a few days; but, hearing that the enemy were again advancing, the movement was continued to Middletown, near Winchester. General Fremont was here superseded in the command of the Mountain Department by Major General Franz Sigel. In the re-organization of the army which ensued, the Twenty-seventh was attached to the First Brigade, General Stahel, First Division, General Schenck, First Corps of the Army of Virginia, commanded by General Pope.
On the 7th of July, General Pope having ordered his scattered commands to concentrate for the purpose of meeting Lee's army, now released from the vicinity of Richmond by the withdrawal of McClellan, Sigel's column marched through Front Royal, up the Luray Valley to Milford, and thence across the Blue Ridge to Sperryville. The men suffered severely on the march from the effects of the intense heat, and several were prostrated by sun-stroke, from the effects of which one, a private in Company I died. In the absence of Colonel Buschbeck, occasioned by sickness, the command devolved on Lieutenant Colonel Cantador. Remaining at Sperryville till the 28th, the regiment moved to Madison Court House, where it was joined by the Forty-fifth New York and the Mountain Battery, the whole under command of Colonel Cluseret, forming the extreme out-post of the army. On account of the exposed position here occupied, it was deemed prudent to fall back, and taking up a strong position the command encamped, from whence foraging parties were frequently sent out into the country occupied by the enemy but without meeting any resistance.
On the 9th of August the regiment was ordered back to the division, then marching to Culpepper Court House, and rejoined it on the 11th, the day on which the battle of Cedar Mountain was fought. Colonel Buschbeck having returned, resumed command, and the regiment marched on the 13th to Crooked River Chapel, where it remained until the 18th. Shelter tents were here received, the command, since the 10th of March, having been almost continually on the move, fording streams, crossing mountains, and camping out in the most variable climate without shelter. On the 18th Pope commenced his retreat, the Twenty-seventh forming part of the rear guard, being almost continually under fire during the day, and at night obliged to make forced marches to re-join the retiring column.
At Rappahannock station and at Freeman's Ford, the regiment lay for two days exposed to a heavy artillery fire from across the Rappahannock, and was again under a hot fire at White Sulphur Springs. The columns of Lee, after spending several days in fruitless attempts to force a crossing on the lower Rappa hanncck, commenced to move further north. At Waterloo bridge the Twenty-seventh stubbornly and successfully resisted the vigorous demonstrations of the enemy, and, late at night, after the whole army was at Warrenton, fell back, reaching the main body at early dawn. The enemy followed close upon the retreat and were soon throwing their shells into the Union ranks.
From Warrenton the command moved to Gainesville. On the night of the 27th of August, Companies A, B, C and D were ordered out on picket duty, and on the following day captured a number of rebel stragglers. Jackson, followed by Longstreet, having passed around via Thorough
on the morning of the 28th the regiment moved in the direction of Manassas Junction; but, before proceeding far, turned in the direction of Centreville. Arriving at Groveton, near Bull Run, the regiment was met by General Sigel, who led it off the road and personally posted it on a high hill, ordering the men to lie down and keep quiet. Scarcely had they gained their position when the enemy were heard marching up through the woods in front. They were allowed to approach unsuspecting until quite near, when the order was given, and infantry and artillery opened a murderous fire at short range. The attack was so sudden and unex
pected that the survivors seemed completely bewildered, and were only able to fire a straggling volley.
Moving to the right and advancing a short distance, the line was reformed on the old battle ground of Bull Run. The First Division of Sigel's Corp was posted on the left, and the Twenty-seventh Regiment was on the left of the division. The batteries were early engaged, and the infantry was ordered forward, Companies I and K, Captains Ackley and McAloon, being thrown out as skirmishers. Though encountering severe opposition, the line continued to advance and steadily drove the enemy, the batteries following up and shelling the hostile ranks whenever an opportunity presented. Having driven the enemy back some three miles from the first position, and pushed forward too far in advance of the rest of the corps, the regiment was re-called; but by some mistake Captain Ackley, of Company I, not being notified of the withdrawal, continued to advance with his company, steadily driving the enemy's skirmishers.
In the meantime, General Milroy being hard pressed, Stahel's Brigade was ordered to his support. By mistake of some staff officer, the column was led between the fires of our own and the enemy's batteries. The sight of the brigade in this perilous position, quickened the energies of the rebel gunners who plied the ranks furiously with shot and shell, our own guns, before which it was passing, being vigorously worked 'to silence them. The passage of this gauntlet of batteries was performed on the double quick, and fortunately with but small loss. For half a mile the brigade was exposed to the enemy's fire, and it seems almost incredible that it should have escaped without utter annihilation. But the rebel gunners were too much excited to fire with precision, using principally solid shot, apparently short of shells, and entirely destitute of canister.
Finding Milroy, with his brigade of loyal Virginians, able to hold his own, the column was ordered to return to its former position on the left, and was there met by Captain Ackley, with his company. The Captain had advanced until the enemy discovered how insignificant a force was driving them, when they in turn assumed the offensive, and soon forced the company to retire, which was done in good order, but narrowly escaped capture. The brigade now took position in line of battle in a wood, with Companies A and B of the Twenty-seventh thrown forward as skirmishers. In front was an open field, and the rebels occupied a wood several hundred yards beyond. The skirmishers soon became engaged, but were unable to drive the enemy from their cover. While the skirmish was in progress, two pieces of a light battery were procured, charged with grape and canister, run out on the skirmish line and rapidly fired. These pieces, though twelve-pounders, could be easily worked by two men, and were very effective at short range. A few discharges were sufficient to clear the woods and the line was again advancing. Soon after, the victorious column was relieved by General McDowell's Corps. Retiring a short distance to the right rear, the command encamped for the night, well satisfied with the events of the day.