Report of Lieut. John Edwards, Third U. S. Artillery
O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 2 [S# 2] — CHAPTER IX, pp.381-382
FORT ALBANY, VA., July 27, 1861
SIR: I have the honor to submit the following report with reference to the part taken by Light Company G, First Artillery, in the late engagement at Bull Run:
At about 5 a.m. on the morning of July 21 I left camp with my battery, consisting of two 20-pounder rifled cannon, and proceeded to the camp of Colonel Richardson. By his order was halted on the road about two hours. At the expiration of that time Colonel Davies, who was accompanied by Colonel Richardson, directed me to follow them with my guns. The general direction of the road taken was south-easterly, and winding through a heavily-timbered country. After a march of a mile, came to an open space on the brow of a range of high hills. This seemed to be a position on the extreme left of the line, and from it there was a good view of the valley of Bull Run and the wooded heights beyond. I was directed to open fire upon a white house in front, partially concealed by trees, and from which a secession flag was flying. The distance was about 2,000 yards. Immediately after the firing of the first shell a flight of men, wagons, and horses took place from that locale. The direction of their flight was up the ridge to the left. Their speed being hastened by other shots, they soon disappeared in the forests. About a half hour thereafter large bodies of troops debouched from the woods at the same point where those who fled had disappeared. They marched across an open space some three miles from my position, and were then lost to sight in the woods, but the direction of their march could be traced by the dust.
Near the summit of the chain of hills, on the opposite side, a large brick house could be seen by the aid of a glass. Towards this these troops moved. By columns of dust thrown up on the right troops were judged to be approaching this direction also. This house on the summit must have been a central rallying point. I kept up an irregular fire from my guns dropping shell occasionally into the wooded ravines below us and throwing solid shot and shell at columns of dust within range raised by rebel troops. My position being somewhat exposed, and having no adequate support, the battery was temporarily withdrawn to the rear, and subsequently reordered to take the same position. I applied to General Miles to have some lighter guns near me, to throw canister, in case of a demonstration on our flank. Hunt’s battery afterwards came up, and took its position in the same field.
After the retreat of the right and center a strong body of rebel infantry appeared on our flank. I placed my guns in position, and opened on it with canister at a distance of two hundred and fifty yards, and as the force fell back into the ravines beyond continued the fire with shell. The enemy being no longer in sight, Colonel Davies said, “Now we have driven them back, we’ll retire upon Centreville.” I proceeded to the rear with my guns. A regiment was drawn up in the woods by the roadside in such a manner that my battery was forced to pass closely in its front. It was the most dangerous position occupied during the day. One gun was fired over the battery, and there was a simultaneous movement of muskets along the line, as if to continue the fire. Fortunately it was not followed up. I left Centreville at about 9 p.m. and proceeded to the Potomac, reaching Arlington between 8 and 9 a.m. on the 22d. Lieutenants Benjamin and Babbitt performed their several duties with gallantry, coolness, and spirit. The enlisted men, though unpracticed in the drill–the company having been hastily mounted–remained unshaken in the conflict.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
First Lieutenant, Third Artillery, Comdg. Lt. Co. G.
Maj. H. J. Hunt,
Fifth Artillery, U. S. Army, Chief of Artillery