Report of Maj. J. J. Bartlett, Twenty-seventh New York Infantry
O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 2 [S# 2] — CHAPTER IX, pp. 388-389
HDQRS. TWENTY-SEVENTH REGIMENT N. Y. V.,
Camp Anderson, Washington, D. C., July 23, 1861
SIR: Pursuant to orders, I hereby submit for your consideration a report of the operations of the Twenty-seventh Regiment New York State Volunteers, under command of Col. H. W. Slocum, in the battle at Bull Run, on July 21, 1861.
At precisely 2 o’clock a.m. we formed in column for march in rear of the Marine Corps, commanded by Major Reynolds. After an exhausting march of eight hours, the enemy were discovered to be in force on our front and left. Fifteen minutes after their appearance we were hurried on at double-quick time for the distance of at least one mile, and formed in line of battle by the left flank on the brow of the hill commanding a part of the enemy’s position. Without coming to a halt, we were ordered to charge the enemy by a road leading to the valley beneath us, where they were in numbers strongly positioned in and about a large stone house, with a battery of six mounted howitzers commanding the approach. The men, though greatly fatigued and exhausted, gallantly attacked and drove the enemy from the house, who retired in disorder behind their battery, leaving a large number of killed and wounded on the field. The battery was next attacked, and after receiving eleven rounds hastily retired, taking up another position about one hundred and fifty yards on our left and front.
We were immediately attacked on our right flank by a large force, who approached by a ravine under cover of a thick growth of bushes, and in the front by about 1,500, who had been driven from their position on the hill commanding our left, and whom we mistook for the Eighth New York Regiment coming to our support. By this mistake we lost many killed and wounded, besides the opportunity of capturing a large number of prisoners. We were now engaged by more than twice our own numbers, and fired upon from concealed positions, and receiving the fire of the battery from its new point of attack. Perceiving the necessity of support, I rallied about 200 of the Eighth New York Regiment on the brow of the hill commanding the enemy, and the colonel withdrew the regiment to the top of the hill in a perfectly exhausted condition, formed, and marched them into the woods for rest.
During our retreat Colonel Slocum received a wound from a musket ball in the right thigh, which rendered it necessary for him to retire from the field, which he did, placing the command in my hands. After remaining half an hour in this position I was commanded by Captain Averell, aide-de-camp to the colonel commanding, to join a united charge to be made against the enemy’s strongest position by all the regiments not actually engaged at that moment. I marched in four ranks, under fire of the battery commanding the road, to the creek, and filed to the right, under protection of its banks, to await the general assault. Seeing our forces engage the enemy by small detachments, and not in the order in which the attack was commanded to be made, that they were repulsed and driven back in disorder, and believing that no assistance I could render would avail in restraining the troops or stay their flight, I withdrew my command in perfect order to the heights above the stream, and formed in line of battle, facing the enemy, and remained in position until thousands of troops had passed to our rear in flight and confusion.
I then, at the urgent solicitation of the line officers, marched to the rear in direction of the retreat, and again formed, by command of General McDowell, in line of battle, facing the enemy, that he might have a nucleus to form the division upon once more. The attempt proving ineffectual, I again marched to the rear, and by his command formed in line a third time. It being impossible to form in any force upon our lines, I withdrew the regiment from the field, and after a short rest joined the retreating column.
In the retreat to Washington we lost two sergeants, believed to have been cut off from the regiment at the bridge which was fired upon by the enemy, and many men from exhaustion.
I am happy to report that during the whole day the men of the regiment behaved coolly and gallantly, promptly obeying every order, and that they never once retreated or gave way before the enemy without a positive command.
J. J. BARTLETT,
Col. ANDREW PORTER
Commanding Second Brigade