JCCW – Gen. Israel B. Richardson

10 05 2009

Testimony of Gen. Israel B. Richardson

Report on the Conduct of the War, Vol. 2, pp. 19-28

WASHINGTON, December 24, 1861

General J. B. RICHARDSON sworn and examined.

By Mr. Chandler:

Question. General, you accompanied the army to Bull Run, did you not?

Answer. I commanded a brigade in that action.

Question. What time did you with your brigade leave your intrenchments; that is, what time did you start?

Answer. I started from Chain Bridge the morning of the 16th of July, I think.

Question. That was Monday morning, was it not?

Answer. I believe it was; it was the 15th or 16th of July—about that time.

Question. At what time did you reach Fairfax with your brigade?

Answer. We took the direct road to Vienna alone; there we concentrated with the rest of General Tyler’s division of four brigades; mine was the second brigade of his division. We stayed one night at Vienna, and then moved to Germantown, where we stayed one night; then, on the morning of the 18th, my brigade took the lead and moved on to Blackburn’s Ford, on Bull Run, or Occoquan.

Question. What day of the week was that?

Answer. It was the morning of Thursday that we took the lead.

Question. And your brigade was in that first action at Blackburn’s Ford?

Answer. Mine was the only one that was engaged at Blackburn’s Ford.

Question. Your four regiments?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. What time on Thursday did you reach Blackburn’s Ford?

Answer. We reached within a mile of Blackburn’s Ford with the brigade, I should think, about noon. We came to a halt a mile from the ford, finding the enemy in position there at their batteries. We came on top of a hill, where we could see down the slope of a hill towards the batteries, and could see the men in the batteries.

Question. Did your brigade advance from that position nearer to the batteries?

Answer. Yes, sir. General Tyler directed me to make a movement with the brigade, in advance, to try and find the position and strength of the enemy, if possible. Accordingly I first moved on to the front a separate detachment of 160 skirmishers. At the same time two pieces of artillery (rifled 10-pounders) were brought into position on the top of the hill where we had arrived; and soon after another battery (Captain Ayres’s) of 6-pounder guns and 12-pounder howitzers were brought into action. The skirmishers advanced until they came into action in a skirt of timber on this side of the run, in front of the enemy’s position; and then I detached three other companies to their support, and two guns of Captain Ayres’s battery, who moved up to the skirt of timber with two companies of cavalry. They commenced fire from that point to assist the skirmishers, who were in the action already. I moved up to the timber myself, and proposed to General Tyler to form the four regiments in line of battle on the outside of the timber and move in.

Question. To charge upon the batteries?

Answer. Yes, sir. The New York 12th, Colonel Walworth, was the nearest to where I was. I had it conducted in column of companies down the ravine, out of view, and near the position where I was in front of the timber, and had it deployed in line of battle in support of those that were in action already. I formed the New York 12th on the left of the battery, and directed Colonel Walworth to make a charge into the woods. I spoke a few words of encouragement to the regiment before they went on. I told them that it was a good regiment, and I expected they would do well. As soon as I had given this direction, I ordered up the Massachusetts 1st, through the same ravine, out of reach of the enemy’s fire. The enemy could bring neither cannon nor musketry to bear upon them the way I brought them. I formed the 1st Massachusetts in line of battle on the right of the battery, then the 3d Michigan on the right of them, and then the 2d Michigan still to the right—all in line of battle. When I had finished putting the 2d Michigan on the line at the right, I moved back to see what had become of the New York 12th on the left. It had probably taken me as much as twenty minutes to go through with this formation. I found, on arriving at the left, parts of two companies of the New York 12th, about sixty men altogether, retreating outside of the woods, carrying along a few wounded. I asked them what the matter was, and where they were going. They said the regiment were all killed, and they were falling back; that the rest of the regiment had fallen back—those that were not killed. Says I, “What are you running for? There is no enemy here; I cannot see  anybody at all. Where is your colonel?” They knew nothing about it. They knew nothing about any of their officers. I could not find any officers with the men at all, I believe. The men halted and faced around, and then fell back again. The other three regiments, at the same time, were standing firm and ready to advance; and the skirmishers, at the same time, held their ground in the woods in front. I sent an aid to General Tyler to acquaint him of the retreat of the New York 12th, and he came down to see me. I proposed to him to rally the New York 12th in the woods as a support, and move on with the other three regiments against the batteries; and I, at the same time, asked him where Sherman’s brigade of his division was. They moved from camp at Germantown at the same time as we did in the morning, and we had been halted and in action at the place as much as two hours. He said that brigade had not yet arrived. General Tyler then said that it was not a part of the plan of battle to do anything more at that point than a mere demonstration—to make a reconnoissance to find the force of the enemy; and, as I .understood him, it was against orders to bring on a general engagement at that place. He then ordered me to fall back with the three regiments ‘in rear of the batteries—not to undertake to rally the New York 12th. “Let them go,” he said. So I accordingly fell back with the three regiments in rear of the batteries. I took the regiments back in good order, without bringing them under the fire of the enemy’s cannon at all. The enemy found that we had fallen back in rear of the batteries, and then they commenced the fire of their artillery again, which had been aimed at us to reach the woods in front.  As soon as they discovered we had fallen back, they directed the fire of their artillery against our batteries on the hill again, which were in their original position.

Question. One word right here: do you think you could have captured the enemy’s batteries with your force if you had not fallen back?

Answer. I think if the other brigades had come up to our support we could have done it.

Question. What number of men do you think you would have lost in capturing those batteries?

Answer. We had already lost about 60 men, and I had the idea that by losing as many more we could have taken the batteries; because some of our skirmishers had crossed the ravine, and one of them was so near that he was shot by the revolver of one of the enemy’s officers; and another man killed one of the men at the guns inside the intrenchments, so he said, and the captain of the skirmishers—Captain Bernsneider—reported the same thing.

Question. Had you captured that battery on Thursday night, and a general advance had taken place promptly on Friday morning, what, in your opinion, would have been the result?

Answer. We should probably have avoided their being re-enforced; have avoided the re-enforcements under General Johnston and General Davis, that took place by railroad on Friday and Saturday nights—they both came up during those nights; we should probably have avoided altogether fighting on Sunday; at least we should have probably turned Manassas by the rear before those re-enforcements had come up.

Question. So that, in your judgment, there would not have been a severe engagement at all had you captured that battery on Thursday night?

Answer. No, sir. From what we have learned since, we find that they had probably a brigade of infantry opposed to us at first. But they continually increased their force until they had some 7,000 or 8,000 men in position.

Question. If your supports had come up?

Answer. I think we could have carried the batteries, but we might not have been able to have retained them with one brigade.

Question. Precisely, I understand that. Was it your intention, when you formed your brigade in line of battle, to capture those batteries?

Answer. Yes, sir. The musketry fire particularly was very heavy against us. After we had fallen back behind our batteries the head of General Sherman’s brigade came up, and I spoke to him. He asked me how many the enemy had in front. I told him they were strong there; that they had, I thought, from 8,000 to 10,000 men, which turns out to have been nearly the case, from what we have heard since through their reports. The other three regiments of my brigade, besides the New York 12th, remained as firm as I ever saw any regiments in the war with Mexico, at any time. No man thought of going to the rear.

Question. All eager for a fight?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. After you had retired, as you have stated, you remained there until Sunday, did you?

Answer. No, sir; we went back to Centreville for the purpose of getting water and rations. There was no water near there that we had found then; I had found some for myself and horse in a ravine, but I did not consider that there was enough for a brigade of troops. We fell back to Centreville, and the next morning moved up again and dug for water and found it.  We moved up to the same position in rear of the batteries, throwing out pickets in front of the position down towards the timber.

Question. How long did you remain at Centreville?

Answer. Over night only, and marched back at daylight.

Question. And you then remained in camp there till Sunday morning?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. Did you take any part in the battle on Sunday?

Answer. Yes, sir.

By the chairman:

Question. Why was it concluded to fight that battle on Sunday, without any knowledge of where Patterson and his men were, and of the position of Johnston?  Did you know at the time where they were? I will ask that first.

Answer. Yes, sir; I knew General Johnston was on our right before we moved from there at all.

Question. On Sunday morning?

Answer. Before we moved from the river I knew General Johnston was in that direction from this fact: About a week before we moved towards Bull Run at all, I was ordered to make a reconnoissance from the Chain Bridge, on the road to Vienna, with a squadron of United States cavalry, to see whether it was a practicable road for artillery and wagons, for my brigade to move on to Vienna. Vienna is about eleven miles from Chain Bridge. I made the reconnoissance, and went a mile beyond Vienna, and found nothing but an abatis across the road where the enemy had been at work. It was probably a fatigue party who had gone back, giving up the idea of making an abatis there. I came back and reported to General McDowell. He told me that there was a meeting of the officers to which he read his instructions for carrying on that campaign, and wished to read me the plan which had been submitted to General Scott, and which had not been disagreed to so far. He read over to me this plan, and stated to me the brigades and divisions which were to move on such and such roads. My brigade was to move to Vienna, and there was to join the other three brigades of General Tyler’s division. General Tyler was then to move on to Germantown, where other divisions were to concentrate with his, and then, on getting to Centreville, the whole army would move up on the roads to the left. He stated to me that each division was from 10,000 to 12,000 men strong, and that our division—Tyler’s—would be a little the strongest, as it looked towards Johnston on the right. Johnston, he said, was in that direction. But General Scott thought that if Johnston moved towards Manassas, Patterson “should be on his heels,” as he expressed it. Says I, “General, are there any cross-roads to communicate from the right of the line to the left, so that if one of these columns is attacked by two or three times its numbers, it can concentrate on any of the other columns, or any of the other columns can concentrate on it ?” He said it was not known whether there were any cross-roads or not on which any troops could concentrate; but that our columns were very heavy, and would be able to protect themselves. Since then we have found that there were abundance of cross-roads all through the country where troops could concentrate, if a person had been acquainted with them.

Question. Then when that battle was fought on Sunday it was expected that Johnston would be down?

Answer. It was known that he was on our right.

Question. You expected he would participate in the battle?

Answer. I expected something all the time, for I asked General McDowell why this column of ours was stronger than any of the others—12,000 instead of 10,000—and he said because it looked towards General Johnston.

Question. Was there any insurmountable obstacle to tearing up that railroad on which Johnston was expected to come down before the battle was fought?

Answer. That was in front of our position, and we knew nothing of it. I did not even know there was a railroad there until I heard the cars running Friday and Saturday, both up from Richmond and down the other way. We heard them running all night.

Question. If you had known of the road when you first advanced, would it not have been easy for a skirmishing party to have gone out and destroyed it, so that Johnston’s army could not have come down there, at least quite as conveniently as they did?

Answer. I could not answer that, because I do not know the force Johnston had there.

Question. My idea was not to encounter a force, but for a scouting party to tear up the rails and obstruct the road.

Answer. Yes, sir; but then they could have marched the distance in a day or night. They could have come down part of the way by cars, and then marched the rest of the way.

By Mr. Chandler:

Question. These re-enforcements did not begin to arrive until Friday night, I understand you to say.

Answer. Friday and Saturday we heard the cars running all night. The next morning we spoke of it, and concluded that fifty car-loads had come.

By the chairman:

Question. I asked you the question because I could not see why they came to the conclusion to fight that battle on Sunday, when they knew the disadvantages to which they were subjected.

Answer. I knew nothing about the railroads there. I knew there were railroads in the rear of Manassas that this army was intended to cut off, but where they were I did not know until I heard the cars.

By Mr. Chandler:

Question. You took part in the battle on Sunday?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. Did you remain at Blackburn’s Ford?

Answer. On Saturday there was a council of commanding officers of divisions and brigades, and I was called there, among the others, to hear the plan of attack for the next day. The main army was to move on the road to the right of Centreville and make their attack some three or four miles above where we were at Blackburn’s Ford. These attacks the other officers would know more about than I do. My brigade was to remain in position in front of Blackburn’s Ford. It was not to hazard an engagement on any account whatever. I received written instructions to that effect in addition to verbal instructions. It was not to hazard an attack at all, but merely to make a demonstration with artillery, and perhaps skirmishers, but nothing more than a demonstration. If necessary, the positions were to be intrenched by abatis or earthworks thrown up on the road according to the discretion of the commanding officers.

By the chairman:

Question. What, in your judgment, led to the disasters of that day?

Answer. I will state all I know about it, and then I can draw some conclusion afterwards.

Question. Of course; that is all I expect.

Answer. The other three brigades of General Tyler’s division were detached to make an attack to my right. They were to be in action by daylight in the morning, and as soon as I heard the report of his artillery I was to commence the fire, with my artillery, on the front. At the same time my brigade was detached from General Tyler’s command, and, together with the brigade of General Davies, of New York, and the brigade of General Blenker, we were constituted three brigades of the reserve under Colonel Miles, of the United States army. I was to consider myself under his command. I waited until some 8 or 9 o’clock in the morning of Sunday before I heard the artillery on my right.

By Mr. Chandler:

Question. The attack was to have commenced at daylight?

Answer. Yes, sir. I said to the officers the night before—to General Tyler especially—”It is impossible, general, to move an army of regular troops under two hours, and you will take at least that time to move volunteers; and if reveille is not beaten before two o’clock in the morning you cannot get into action at daylight; it is impossible.” Said I, “If you beat reveille at 12 o’clock, with volunteer troops, you may get into action at daylight, but not before ; that is the best you can do.” Other officers heard me, I have no doubt, but I addressed myself particularly to General Tyler, as he had been my commanding officer. I waited until 8 o’clock in the morning before I heard a gun fired on the right, and then I commenced a cannonade on the enemy’s line with my artillery, About this time Colonel Davies came up with his brigade, and inquired the date of my commission as colonel, and told me his, and found he ranked me eleven days. He took command of the two brigades. At the same time I showed him my position in front of Blackburn’s Ford. He wished a good position for artillery to play. I took him to a hill some 600 yards on our left, with a ravine between, and showed him a good position for his battery to operate on a stone-house, in front of us about a mile, which was said to be the enemy’s headquarters, and which our rifled ten-pounder guns could easily reach. He immediately took up that position, which was at a log-house on this hill to our left, which was fully as high, and a little higher, than the hill we were on. We kept up a fire from two batteries of artillery until 11 or 12 o’clock in the day—perhaps until noon. About that time Colonel Miles showed himself to us. He came to a log-house where I was, near my position—for there was a log-house there also—on the top of the hill. I showed him that re-enforcements were coming in in front of us. In fact, before he came I had reported to him that some three bodies of men had already come into the intrenchments in front of us. One body was probably two regiments, and the others were one regiment each—as much as that. They appeared to come from off in a direction towards the south. That was about 12 o’clock in the day. Colonel Miles came down himself, and I showed him, with a glass I had, the bayonets of some of the men coming in front of us on the road—the last detachment. I will say here that they did not answer with cannon at all in front of us that day. Colonel Miles then went away. In the forepart of the afternoon he came back again, and said that he did not believe the enemy were in front of us. At the same time, between these two visits, we could see men moving in the direction of Manassas, up towards the attack in front, which was then going on; and about that time the enemy were also falling back. After they had advanced from Manassas, they then fell back in great disorder along the roads.

Question. That was in sight of your guns?

Answer. Yes, sir. We opened upon them with a ten-pounder rifled gun from our position. Colonel Miles at that time said that he believed they were retreating towards Manassas, and that he thought we could force the position in front of us, and that we had better go down and try “to drive them out,” as he expressed it. Said I, “Colonel Miles, I have a positive order in my pocket for this brigade not to attack at all.” I took it out and showed it to him. Says he, “That is s positive.” And he said nothing more about making an attack then; but he proposed throwing out a few skirmishers. We threw out 160 skirmishers, and I think three other companies in support of them. They moved down to the edge of the woods, and then the advance of the skirmishers were driven in by a volley of musketry right off. I then ordered the skirmishers back, satisfied that the enemy were there in considerable force. About the time that was over we could see batteries of horse artillery and bodies of cavalry and infantry moving in large force back again towards the Stone Bridge, which was some three or four miles from us. Lieutenant Prime, of the engineers, had at that time been down with a party of skirmishers to see if he could find any place where we could make a good attack in front. He came back and made the observation at that time that before night Centreville would be our front instead of our rear; as much as to say that we had got to change our line of battle; that we were beaten on the right. I had thought about noon that it might be necessary for us to repel an attack. I got together a party of pioneers, about forty, and I had about sixty axe-men detailed from the Michigan regiments, to use all the axes and spades we had. I commenced to make an abatis of heavy timber between my position and Colonel Davies, on my left. I also threw up an intrenchment across the road, with rails and dirt, to sweep the road in front of us. I knew the enemy, if they attacked our position, must go through the woods in column on our right, and would have to deploy under our fire, and move up against our battery which I had put in the road. We worked on that abatis until about two hours before night, when we had it completed, and I considered the position safe. The timber was very heavy; some of the pieces were two feet in diameter; nothing could possibly get through it. I had it completed as far as Davies’s position two hours before sunset, and I took him over to look at it. It met with his views completely. About two hours before sunset I heard heavy firing of musketry, and of artillery also, near Davies’s brigade, on my left. An officer came over and informed me that the enemy had made an attack with a column of infantry, some 5,000 strong, on Davies’s position ; that he had caused his infantry to lie down in support of his guns; that Hunt’s battery had opened with canister shot, and fired some forty rounds, and that the enemy had fallen back in confusion, and that in five minutes not one man was in sight. They came across Bull Run on our left, and to the left of Hunt’s battery. They came up a ravine leading towards his battery, and had come within 300 yards before they were seen. They were then a dense mass of men, and the officers were trying to deploy them in line of battle. They were within 300 yards, the most effective distance for canister shot. Major Hunt immediately opened his battery, and fired some forty rounds of canister shot, when the enemy fell back. That was reported to me about two hours before sunset. At the time this firing was going on, an officer of Colonel Miles’s staff came to me and ordered my brigade to retreat on Centreville. Notwithstanding I had been ordered by General McDowell to hold this position at all hazards, still, as I was under Colonel Miles’s direct authority, I could not disobey the order, and so I put the brigade in march.

Question. You had repulsed the enemy when this order was given?

Answer. Colonel Davies had repulsed them. We did not know how that had turned them. On getting within some three-quarters of a mile of Centreville with my brigade I met Colonel Davies, and asked him what the object of this movement was. He said he did not know. I asked him if the enemy had attacked him on our left. He said they had, and that he had repulsed them handsomely. But the object of this movement he knew nothing about. On getting within three-quarters of a mile of Centreville, some officer of -General McDowell’s staff ordered me to put my brigade in line of battle, facing both the road from Centreville to Blackburn’s Ford and the road from Centreville to Union Mills, which was about four miles on the left of Blackburn’s Ford, and try to hold that position, if possible. I put the brigade in position, leading from between the two roads, and on some slight hills that commanded the advance in front. While I was busy in putting my brigade in line of battle, I found that a great many other regiments of different brigades had been formed in line of battle both on my right and my left. Some of my regiments I placed in line of battle, and some in close column by divisions, to be ready to repel an attack of cavalry which might be made down the road, as I supposed the enemy’s cavalry would come first in advance of the infantry. Soon after making this disposition, I found that some of my regiments had been moved from the position I had placed them in, and deployed into line; among others, the third Michigan. I inquired the reason of it, and Colonel Stevens, of the third Michigan—lieutenant colonel of that regiment—came to me about that time and inquired of me particularly why his regiment had been deployed from the position of close column by divisions into line of battle. He said that Colonel Miles had directed the movement. He said he wished to know which to obey, whether to obey Colonel Miles or me. I told him he had no business to move that regiment without the order came through me. He said he did not know what to do. Says I, “What is the matter?” Says he, “Colonel Miles comes here continually and interferes; and,” said he, ” we have no confidence in Colonel Miles.” Said I, “Why?” “Because,” says he, “he is drunk.” Soon after this conversation, Captain Alexander—now Colonel Alexander of the general staff and corps of engineers—came up to me and said that General McDowell intrusted the whole disposition of the troops around that point to me. I told him I could do nothing as long as I was continually interfered with by a drunken man. I told him that Colonel Miles was drunk, and that he was continually changing everything that I did. He said that General McDowell knew that Colonel Miles was drunk, and that that would soon be attended to, and to go on and make my disposition of the troops. Several batteries of artillery had been placed in position on the hills, but I think the line of battle did not reach from one road to the other; it was too long a distance between them. That is to say, we were too far in advance. But there were also some hills behind us which were a little higher than the ground we stood on. Colonel Alexander said that the present line of battle was not a good one, and he would propose throwing back the right and left so that they could reach from one road to the other, and have the right flank rest on some woods on one road, and the left flank rest on some woods on the other road, and thus be secured against cavalry. I told him that I would make that disposition as fast as I could, as I believed it was better than the first one. The first disposition had been directed by Colonel Miles. I had the batteries of artillery with Major Barry, who was the chief of artillery at that time, massed in the centre and placed on these commanding hills; and I had the line of battle formed in front of the guns in a hollow, the batteries being high enough to play over the men’s heads. The men were in the ravine in front, covered from the enemy’s fire if they should come up. I considered that they were completely covered, and could not be hurt until the enemy came into close action, while, at the same time, our batteries could not be carried at all until the enemy came within sixty yards of our muskets. Of course our artillery had full sweep in the commanding position it had, which I considered the best position I could place our line in. I considered it a better line than the first because it was shorter, and at the same time our men were better protected.

By the chairman:

Question. We do not care so much about the particulars.

Answer. I want to show why the second line was better than the first, because it has been brought in evidence to show that the first line was better than the second. At the same time not all the infantry were placed in this position. Battalions in column closed in mass were placed behind the intervals of the battalions in front for support, so that we actually had two lines of battle instead of one, having more force to it than the first line that was formed.

Question. What happened to this line?

Answer. While I was going on with this General McDowell rode up to me. Said he, “Great God, Colonel Richardson, why didn’t you hold on to the position at Blackburn’s Ford ?” I replied, “Colonel Miles ordered me to retreat to Centreville, and I obeyed the order.” General McDowell said nothing more, except to take the general command of the troops. I said to him, “Colonel Miles is continually interfering with me, and he is drunk, and is not fit to command.” I understood him to say that he had already relieved him from command, and desired me to go on with the preparations; that I had charge of all the troops at that point. I told him I would go on with the preparations as fast as I could. About half an hour before sunset when the lines were complete, the head of the enemy’s cavalry made its appearance through the woods on the road towards Blackburn’s Ford. I believe I was the first officer that saw that cavalry. I was standing by the side of a battery of 10-pounders, with a young lieutenant of artillery—Lieutenant Benjamin—I think he commanded the battery. Says I, “There is the head of the enemy’s cavalry; you open on them with your two guns immediately and as fast as you can.” He had his guns fired—I think it was twice each—on the head of the enemy’s cavalry, and they fell back and we saw nothing more of them. The shells appeared to take effect, for they retreated immediately. Just before this Colonel Miles came up to where I was. Said he, “Colonel Richardson, I don’t understand this.” I was marching the 3d Michigan regiment over to the right at that time to fill up a space between them and the next regiment. Says he, “You should march that regiment more to the left.” Says I, “Colonel Miles, I will do as I please; I am in command of these troops.” Says he, “I don’t understand this, Colonel Richardson.” Says I, “Colonel Miles, you are drunk,” and I turned away to lead off my men. Says he, “I will put you in arrest.” Says I, “Colonel Miles, you can try that on if you have a mind to.” I led the regiment on and placed them in position. He watched me, but said nothing more. At that time he could hardly sit on his horse. I could see from his reeling in the saddle, from his incoherent language, and from his general appearance, that he was drunk. I had been acquainted with Colonel Miles long before.

By Mr. Chandler:

Question. He had command of those three brigades through the day?

Answer. Yes, sir; the reserve.

Question. Why were they not ordered, or one brigade of them ordered, in front instead of being kept in the rear?

Answer. I have always thought that if Blenker’s brigade, which was at Centreville, had been brought up to support me at my right—Davies’s brigade was already on my left and had just repelled the enemy—we could have held that position until morning, when Runnion’s reserve of 10,000 men at Fairfax Station could have come up. Some of his reserve had already arrived that night, and the rest of the reserve—among others the 37th New York, which is in my brigade now—was at Fairfax. They could have moved up against the morning, and then we should have been 24,000 strong, with the 35 guns which we had saved on the field already. They certainly could have held the position which I had held for three days alone.

By the chairman:

Question. Do you know any reason why that disposition was not given to the troops?

Answer. I cannot say why it was not made. But I have always thought that if a battery of artillery and some cavalry had been placed in the road at Centreville, so as to have opened on the fugitives, they could have been rallied at that place. I knew of something having been done once before like that. I know that at Buena Vista—although I was not there—some troops ran from Buena Vista as far as Saltillo, and Major Webster, who had command of two 24-pounder howitzers at Saltillo, loaded his guns and threatened to fire on them if they went any further; and they stopped at that place.

Question. Then you consider that Colonel Miles’s order to you to retreat from the position you had fortified, while Davies had repulsed the enemy—

Answer. I think if Blenker’s brigade had been brought up on our right we could have held our position until morning, when a further reserve could have re-enforced us. And then, by cutting the timber in that direction, in two or three hours we could have made a position that we could have held. At the same time there is another thing I would like to say. From what we have learned since, the enemy handled every reserve they had, whereas our reserves were not handled at all. The three brigades of reserves—Blenker’s, Davies’s, and mine—that were on the field that day, and Runnion’s reserve, which was at Fairfax Station, six miles off, I believe, and not handled at all, make 24,000 men who were useless, whereas the enemy handled all their reserves. This is nothing new. I said the same thing that night.

By Mr. Chandler:

Question. Runnion’s reserve was only six miles off, you say?

Answer. At Fairfax Station.

Question. How many men?

Answer. Ten thousand.

Question. So that in reality there came under fire in that battle about 16,000 of our troops ?

Answer. O! more than that. We marched 50,000 men and 49 pieces of artillery, of which we saved 35 pieces.

Question. So that about 26,000 were actually under fire ?

Answer. I do not like to state about that.

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3 responses

12 05 2009
Terry Johnston

Harry:

This is very interesting, especially (to me) the allegations of drunkenness levied against Dixon MIles. By the way, I vaguely recall being contacted a few years ago by someone who claimed to be editing (I presume for publication) a previously unknown bunch of letters written during the war by Israel Richardson. If true (and I hope it is), I’d certainly like to know if Richardson wrote much about his Bull Run experiences.

Oh, and did you note the date on which Richardson gave the above testimony? Not wonderful timing.

12 05 2009
Harry Smeltzer

Terry,

You can read the findings of the Court of Inquiry into Miles at Bull Run in the resources section to the right – as of now, that report (from the ORs) is all I have. I hope to get to NARA and get copies of the whole file.

Until Antietam: The Life and Letters of Major General Israel B. Richardson is scheduled for an October, 2009 publication. I’m hoping it clears up questions I have regarding the relationship of Richardson to Rev. War hero Israel Putnam, and Putnam’s connection to Contintental artillerist Daniel Tyler, father of you-know-who.

12 05 2009
Terry Johnston

Harry:

Thanks.

And that must be the Richardson project I heard about way back when. Glad to know that it’s being published—and that my memory’s not completely shot.

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