We invite you to join us for VBS from July 15th to July 19th!

Report of Lieut. Col. Fitzhugh Lee, First Virginia Cavalry.

Camp Cooper, Va., November 19, 1861.


Sir: I have the honor to report the result of a scout of a detachment of the First Virginia Cavalry, under my command, which left this camp yesterday, in pursuance to orders from cavalry brigade headquarters, for the purpose of obtaining certain valuable information in the vicinity of Falls Church.

Learning that a picket of the enemy obstructed my route, I resolved, if possible, to capture them, and prevent my presence being discovered and allowing them to advance in numbers upon me while gaining the desired knowledge. Accordingly, getting as near as possible, I charged them, they retiring rapidly toward the woods and pines, while we quickly lessened the distance, driving one picket upon another, and both upon the reserve, which retreated toward a thicket upon the side of the road and poured in quite a destructive fire upon us from their sheltered position. Followed by a portion of my command, got in between them and some tents visible and completely surrounded them, another detachment having been ordered on the other side.  

Thus hemmed in, the enemy still fought with bravery and desperation, and made it necessary to dismount some of my men and dislodge them.

Our loss was 1 private killed and 2 slightly wounded. I also report with deep regret that Mr. John C. Chichester, my brave, gallant guide, was dangerously wounded and has since died. I lost one horse, ridden by Sergt. Jasper N. Jones, of Company L, having run off after the sergeant had dismounted to fight. The horse of Lieut. James S. Larrick, Company A, was severely wounded, and my own horse killed under me during the action. The loss of the enemy, as far as I could ascertain, was 7 killed ad 1 left mortally wounded, being shot through the body. Ten were made prisoners, including the lieutenant commanding and the first sergeant, 3 being wounded; 2 severely and 1 slightly (shot in the arm). I brought away my dead (1) and Mr. Chichester,1 together with two of the enemy, badly wounded, in vehicles taken for the occasion, the enemy appearing in considerable force from the direction of Falls Church, but not venturing an attack. The loss of Mr. Chichester must be deeply deplored, and in Private Thomas Tucker, of Company A, the regiment has lost one of its bravest and most efficient members. Asst. Surg. Talcot Eliason accompanied me, and was as conspicuous with his pistol making wounds as he was afterwards with other instruments healing them.

Of the detachment engaged the highest compliment I can pay is to say that they acted as the First Cavalry always have done, obeyed orders, coolly riding up and shooting the deluded men with their pistols, regard only being paid to carrying out instructions and not to their own lives.

The enemy were a portion of the Fourteenth New York State Militia, of Brooklyn, and fought with much more bravery than the Federal troops usually exhibit. It is the same regiment that so thickly dotted the field of Manassas upon the 21st with red.

When the action ceased it was so late in the day I deemed it inexpedient to carry out the object first in view, encumbered as I was with prisoners and wounded men, and returned slowly to camp. The fight took place a little over a mile this side of Falls Church, upon the road leading to Fairfax Court-House.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Fitz. Lee,

Lieutenant-Colonel First Virginia Cavalry, Commanding.

Capt. L. S. Brien, Assistant Adjutant-General.



Headquarters Cavalry Brigade,

Camp Qui Vive, November 20, 1861.

Respectfully forwarded for the information of the commanding-general Army of the Potomac. This gallant and successful affair of Lieutenant-Colonel Lee and his detachment of First Virginia Cavalry against the enemy’s best troops in chosen position receives my unqualified praise and commendation. The loss of the gallant Chichester is a severe one to me, as his services were invaluable.

J. E. B. Stuart,

Brigadier-General, Commanding




1. Private John Conway Chichester (1827-1861), was born in Fairfax, Virginia. He was married to Rebecca Virginia Chichester (1824-1861), who died in April of 1861. John is buried in Fairfax.  



Source: The War of the Rebellion, Series 1, Volume 5, pp. 442-443

Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2022 April 18