JCCW – Gen. James S.Wadsworth

27 05 2009

Testimony of Gen. James S. Wadsworth

Report on the Conduct of the War, Vol. 2, p. 48

WASHINGTON, D. C., December 26, 1861.

General JAMES S. WADSWORTH sworn and examined.

By Mr. Chandler:

Question. You were an aid to General Mansfield at the battle of Bull Run, were you not?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. Did you consider the victory won from one to two o’clock in the afternoon of that day?

Answer. Yes, sir; and the reason we thought so was that we had driven the enemy from a large open battle-field some mile and a half back.

By the chairman:

Question. Suppose that Johnston had not come down, but had been kept back, what would have been the result?

Answer. Take out the whole of Johnston’s command, and the victory would have been very easily won. But take out the portion of his command that came down under General Elger about three o’clock in the afternoon, and I still think the battle would have been won by us, but we could not say exactly. But we were holding our own, and had other troops to bring up. It is not certain that we should have won the battle, but General McDowell thought we should. I was where that re-enforcement arrived. I happened to be where the first discharge of musketry from that re-enforcement came in. It was very severe, and then they followed it up immediately with a very bold charge right on the field. They came through a piece of woods on to the battle-field. We had driven the enemy entirely out of the battle-field, which covered an area of 400 or 500 acres, and they were in the woods offering a very sturdy resistance, and it is impossible to say that we should certainly have overcome that resistance. Their last re-enforcement came up on their extreme left, and on our extreme right, so that they pretty nearly outflanked us. Their first discharge was upon some cavalry which had been withdrawn back to a point of comparative safety, as they were not of much importance to us. That killed several of them, and then they retired immediately, or rather stampeded in a very disorderly manner.

Question. At what time was it known among the officers that Patterson had failed to keep Johnston in check?

Answer. It was not known generally until the time of the action. I did not know it.  I think it had been a matter of conversation before. I think General McDowell the day before expressed some apprehensions that Patterson had not kept Johnston occupied. I understand that General Cameron, who was out there on Saturday, reported something which led them to believe that Johnston might be there. What the extent of that information was, however, I have no means of knowing.

Question. What is your opinion as to the result of that battle had the provisions and transportation been brought up on Thursday, and the battle fought on Friday morning, instead of Sunday?

Answer. On Friday morning it would have been with no portion of Johnston’s command there. I think there would have been no battle at all then; that we would have walked over the field. Johnston is regarded by our officers as much superior to Beauregard; as much the ablest officer in their army. All the reports show that he had a great deal to do with the disposition of the enemy on that day.

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