JCCW – Gen. Samuel P. Heintzelman

17 05 2009

Testimony of Gen. Samuel P. Heintzelman

Report on the Conduct of the War, Vol. 2, pp. 28-32

WASHINGTON, D. C., December 24, 1861

General SAMUEL P. HEINTZELMAN sworn and examined.

By the chairman:

Question. One item of the inquiry which we are commissioned to make is in regard to the occasion of the disaster at Bull Run, as near as we can ferret it out, by questioning military gentlemen who know. You will therefore please state in your own way, without much questioning, what you know about it; the time of starting, where you went, what you did, and what observations you made. State it in general, for we do not wish to descend to particulars at all. Just state your opinion of the causes of the disasters at Bull Run.

Answer. I cannot recollect when the other divisions started. My division marched on the morning of the 16th of July, which was Tuesday.

Question. You can give us a very rapid and general narrative, if you please, of what happened from the marching of your division. You need not be minute or particular in your statements.

Answer. The first brigade of my division started at 10 o’clock in the morning, and in the course of the day the whole division marched. We went as far as the Pohick the first night.

Question. How many men were in your division?

Answer. About 9,500. The last of the division did not get into camp until about one hour before daylight. We started the next morning soon after daylight, and found the road somewhat obstructed. When we got to Elzey’s, I sent Wilcox’s brigade on to Fairfax Station, and Franklin’s brigade towards Sangster’s, while I remained with ours at Elzey’s. Just before we got to Elzey’s we met some of the enemy’s pickets, and received information that they had batteries at Fairfax Station, as well as between us and Sangster’s. In about a half an hour I got word from Wilcox that the enemy were retreating from Fairfax Station. I immediately sent that information to General Franklin and followed on with the other brigade. I got to Sangster’s with my two brigades late in the afternoon, and sent out reconnoitring parties, but could hear nothing of the enemy, further than they had retreated, some two hours before we got to Sangster’s, along the railroad, and had burned the bridges. We saw the smoke of the burning bridges when we got there. We stayed there all the next day. General McDowell came there about 12 o’clock, and we had a conversation there. The intention was, when we started, to go by the left flank to Wolf Run Shoals, or to Brentsville, and endeavor to cut the railroad in rear of Manassas. But from information received at Sangster’s it was not considered feasible to follow up that plan. So he gave me orders to be at Centreville with my division between that time and daylight, and to get some provisions. Our three days’ rations were out that day.

By Mr. Chandler:

Question. That was on Thursday.

Answer. Yes, sir. We started on Tuesday and got to Pohick. On Wednesday we got to Sangster’s, and we stayed there until late in the afternoon of Thursday. About 5 o’clock, I think it must have been, I started. I had sent out to get beef, but could get nothing but an old cow; and we then went on without any provisions. We got to Centreville about dark, and found the rest of the army encamped about the place.

Question. That was Thursday night.

Answer. Yes, sir. We remained there until Sunday morning, when I advanced with the rest of the army.

By the chairman:

Question. What induced you to fight that battle on Sunday, and at that time, without knowing more particularly what Johnston and Patterson were about?

Answer. On Saturday we saw re-enforcements to the enemy arriving by the railroad, which we supposed were Johnston’s. And every day’s delay we knew was fatal to our success.

By Mr. Chandler:

Question. Can you tell us why you laid over at Centreville from Thursday until Sunday?

Answer. The day after we left Alexandria the provision train was to start. The wagons had not yet been collected, as I understood, and the consequence was that they did not start the next day, but the day after. On Thursday the provisions I had gave out. In fact, some of the men had got rid of their provisions the very first day; like volunteers, they did not take care of them, and as they got heavy they threw them away. I sent two or three times in the course of the morning, and finally I sent an officer to follow up until he found them. He went clear into Alexandria, and there he learned that the train had started the second day after we left, instead of the first, and had taken the road to Occoquan. As soon as I learned that, I pushed on towards Centreville, to try to get there before dark. At Centreville we the next day got some provisions. There was a reconnoissance made on Friday, or one attempted; but they met some of the enemy’s pickets, and had to come back. There was another attempt made the next day, but I do not think they learned much then. But the supposition was that the enemy was in force at the Stone Bridge; that they had a battery there, and an abatis, and that the bridge was ruined; and that they had a force further up Bull Run at another ford, probably about halfway between Centreville and Sudley’s Church. You asked me about the delay. The delay at Centreville, I suppose, was principally waiting for provisions, and for information of the position of the enemy.

Question. And during that delay Johnston’s army came down?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. And likewise re-enforcements from Richmond?

Answer. Yes, sir; I suppose from every quarter whence they could send them.

By the chairman:

Question. Your first idea was the best one to cut off that railroad, was it not?

Answer. Yes, sir; we supposed the creek was not fordable but at few places ; but at Sangster’s we got information that satisfied us that there were very slight obstructions, and it would make that operation a very dangerous one, and it was given up.

By Mr. Chandler:

Question. Will you give us, as succinctly as possible, the operations of your division on Sunday?

Answer. I perhaps had better state what occurred Saturday night.

Question. Very well.

Answer. Saturday night all the division commanders were directed to appear at General McDowell’s headquarters to receive instructions what to do the next day. The order had been given to march, first, at 6 o’clock the afternoon of Saturday; but afterwards it was put off till 2 o’clock the next morning. We went there and got our instructions. General Tyler’s division was to start first; then Hunter’s, and then mine. I asked a few questions about what I was to do, and had some little change made about the hour of starting, and went back to my tent. The next morning, precisely at the hour fixed, I left. The head of the column got to Centreville, and found the road obstructed with troops. General Tyler’s division had not passed yet. I waited there three hours for Tyler’s and Hunter’s division to pass. After crossing Cub Run a little ways we took the right-hand road. Major Wright, of the engineers, went with Hunter’s column. He was to stop with the guide, where the road turned off to this second ford I spoke of. He could not find the road, and of course we kept on and reached Sudley’s Church, or Bull Run, near the church, about 11 o’clock on the morning of Sunday. In the meantime we heard the firing on our left, across Bull Run, and could see the smoke, and could see two heavy clouds of dust, evidently caused by troops approaching from Manassas. A few minutes before we got to Bull Run General McDowell and his staff passed us, going on ahead. When we got to the run the last brigade of Hunter’s division had not yet crossed. I ordered the first brigade of my division to fill their canteens, while I went on to see with my glass what was going on. About this time the firing in front of Hunter’s division commenced. And in about a half an hour two of General McDowell’s staff rode up and asked me to send forward two regiments, that the enemy were outflanking him. I ordered forward two regiments. The Minnesota regiment was one, but I have forgotten the other. I followed on and left orders for the rest of the division to follow as soon as the road was clear. Major Wright led the Minnesota off to the left, and I followed the upper road on the right until we came on the field. I stopped and made inquiries as to what was going on. I saw General McDowell, and the batteries which were on this ground. Two of them were ordered forward; one of them flanking my division. I followed them for a little while, sending orders for the zouaves and first regiment to follow and support them. I went up, after the zouaves arrived, on the right of the batteries with them. As I rose to cross the ridge, I saw beyond a line of the enemy drawn up at a shoulder-arms, dressed in citizen’s clothes. It did not strike me at first who they were. But I just checked my horse and looked at them. I saw in an instant that they were a party of the enemy’s troops, and I turned to the zouaves and ordered them to charge them. They moved forward some 20 paces and they fired, and both parties broke and run. Just at this moment some 30 or 40 of the enemy’s cavalry came out through an old field and charged the rear of the zouaves. The zouaves turned upon them and emptied some five or six saddles, and the cavalry broke and run. Captain Colburn’s company of cavalry, belonging to the regular army, was close by and got a shot at them with their carbines, and emptied some more saddles. That was the last I saw of them. And that was the famous black horse cavalry who made the charge.

Question. Only thirty or forty of them?

Answer. That was all. I did not see that many, but I was told there were thirty or forty of them. There was not a black horse among them that I saw. And there was one solitary man killed of that regiment by that fire. There was also a man fell out of the leading company. One of them disappeared, and I supposed he crawled off.

By the chairman:

Question. How far apart were they when that firing took place?

Answer. Thirty or forty yards. ,

Question. And they all fired over each other’s heads?

Answer. The enemy were in the woods. As I was on horseback of course I saw them first. I stopped and ordered the zouaves to charge. By coming forward a few paces they could see over the ridge, and as soon as they saw each other they fired and then they both broke and run.

By Mr. Chandler:

Question. Did the zouaves rally after that during the day?

Answer. Not as a regiment. Many of the officers and men joined other regiments, or fought on their own hook.

By the chairman:

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

Answer. It is hard to tell. There, were a number of causes. In the first place, the delay of Friday and Saturday at Centreville was one efficient cause. Another cause was the three hours lost at Centreville on Sunday morning.

Question. Did their troops outnumber ours, do you suppose?

Answer. O! yes, sir, largely. I have no definite information as to the number of men they had. General Tyler’s division went first, then General Hunter’s, then mine. Hunter had furthest to go; the distance I had to go was the next furthest, and the distance Tyler had to go was the least. I think if we had reversed it—let Hunter start first, then let me follow him, and then Tyler follow me—that delay at Centreville would not have occurred.

By Mr. Chandler:

Question. Suppose the battery at Blackburn’s Ford had been captured on Thursday night by Tyler’s division, and an advance had been ordered on Friday morning, do you think there would have been much of a battle any way?

Answer. That is a difficult question to answer; I do not know what force the enemy had there. I doubt whether Tyler could have captured that battery. From what I have learned, I do not think he had sufficient force to do it. And he had no authority to make such a strong demonstration as he did.

By the chairman:

Question. Why was not the reserve brought up to that field?

Answer. The reserve at Centreville?

Question. Yes, sir.

Answer. I suppose the only reason was that Centreville was such an important point. If the enemy should get possession of it we should be cut-off entirely. I think that when we found on Saturday that re-enforcements were coming in so strongly, the reserve at Alexandria, here on the Potomac, should have been brought forward. That would have left the reserve that remained at Centreville in a position to be used.

Question. There were a great many troops at Fortress Monroe that might have been brought up, I should think. What prevented that?

Answer. I do not think there were many at Fortress Monroe. I do not recollect. I think there were troops enough around Washington, if they had been pushed forward on Saturday.

By Mr. Chandler:

Question. And, probably, if the battle had been made on Thursday or Friday, before their re-enforcements came up, you had force enough?

Answer. Yes, sir. I believe we should have been successful, at least, in getting possession of and holding Bull Run, if we could have advanced Friday morning. I was perfectly confident, when I went there on Thursday night, that we should advance on Friday morning, and the consequence was that I camped my division in very close order.

By the chairman:

Question. It always seemed singular to me that you went into battle on Sunday morning, when you found Johnston had re-enforced them. I should have supposed that you would have remained at Centreville until you had got your re-enforcements up to meet the new state of things.

Answer. I did not think, when we started on Sunday morning, that there would be a general engagement. I supposed, from what we were informed at headquarters, that the enemy had a strong force at the Stone Bridge, as the rebels called it, and a small force at the ford I was to go to. I had orders not to cross until Hunter had crossed at Sudley’s Church and come down opposite to me on the other side of Bull Run. Then I was to cross, and we were to follow on down opposite the Stone Bridge, and turn that. Tyler had orders, I believe, not to attack with his infantry at all, but merely to make a demonstration with his artillery at the Stone Bridge, and to wait until we came down. But when we crossed over there, we soon got engaged with a heavy force of the enemy.

Question. There was really no necessity for fighting on Sunday rather than on any other day. You chose your own time, I suppose?

Answer. It is reported that they had given their orders to attack us on Sunday morning at eight o’clock.

Question. Then I would have remained on the heights at Centreville and let them attack us there, and then they would have lost the benefit of their batteries.

Answer. The principal difficulty was the want of provisions in kind. I think that was one grand cause of the disaster. And the troops were not brigaded in time. And then we had a great many three months men.

By Mr. Chandler:

Question. You have been in command of the extreme left wing of this army for some time, I believe?

Answer. Yes, sir; between two and three months. I was on the left all last summer; but the day, or two days, before the battle my position was changed. I was to follow out on the Little River turnpike; and then they changed me further to the left, to go up the Fairfax road.

Kelly’s Ford

14 05 2009

Don and Craig have started up a new information compilation/battle blog dedicated to the fight at Kelly’s Ford.  They’ve already put a lot of stuff up.  This should be a fun one to watch.

Branding Bull Runnings

14 05 2009

OK, I admit it: I have an MBA.  I got it 20 years ago from the Katz Graduate School of Business at the University of Pittsburgh.  And while I did pretty well academically – I even earned membership in a national honors fraternity called Bata Gamma Sigma – I can’t say that my degree actually did me any good in my conventional career in business (which ended ingloriously about 17 years ago when I got into appraising).  But I did put my marketing concentration to use when I set out with this blog.  I had a definite, if general, idea of what I did and did not want Bull Runnings to be.  And I’ve pretty much stayed within the parameters I set at the beginning.

One of the things I wanted to do was stay on-topic, and I think I’ve done that.  Not that every single post here has been about Bull Run, but I think they’ve been related to my project (if sometimes tenuously).  They include topics on digital history, how other blogs handle things, doings of the National Park Service, stories about participants, my Civil War related travels, the art of history in general, etc…  In particular, I didn’t want modern politics discussed here.  Not that I’m unconcerned with certain situations in our world: I just don’t want this blog to become a forum for bitching or pontificating, at least not about modern politics.  Sticking to this guideline has been my most satisfying decision.   In one respect this has evolved as my outside writing projects have become greater in scope.  I even decided to stay away from certain Civil War topics (like Black Confederates, causes of the war and the legality of secession) unless they relate to First Bull Run and its participants, but sometimes I come across Civil War themed stories, like the Kilpatrick Family Ties thread, that I just can’t resist.

I once wrote in reponse to a comment thread that was developing here that I want Bull Runnings to be more like Switzerland and less like Belgium and France.  That doesn’t mean that I ban heated discussions and disagreements; it just means that I don’t want commenters to bring baggage and personal history here.  Familiarity breeds contempt, and that’s very apparent in online discussion forums.  I get my share of kooks commenting here – hopefully, because of the rules I’ve set for myself and the blog, I get less than my share.  You don’t see their comments, because I delete them.  No fanfare, no explanation.

When I first set out, I didn’t anticipate the Resources section of the blog.  That was supposed to be a separate, database website.  But I’m pleased with how it’s worked out, and how easily the paging features of WordPress have accommodated the project.

In no way is this a criticism of bloggers who don’t have similar guidelines.  A blog can and should be whatever the blogger desires it to be.  My only advice to new bloggers is to have a good idea of what that is.

All of this is done with a reason.  I want returning readers to have a general idea of what to expect when they click in to Bull Runnings.  I hope I’m succeeding, but your input is always welcome.  And as always, thanks for stopping by.

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.

First Bull Run.com

10 05 2009

Jonathan Soffe’s First Bull Run site (a great resource for company level OOB’s) has been down for a little while, but is back with a new address:


JCCW – Report of the Committee

9 05 2009

Report of the Conduct of the War, Volume 2, pp. 3-8


The joint committee on the conduct of the war submit the following report, with accompanying testimony, in relation to the battle of Bull Run, in July, 1861:

So long a time has elapsed, and so many important events have occurred in the progress of the war, since the campaign which ended with the battle of Bull Run, in July, 1861, that your committee do not deem it necessary to go very much into detail in their report. The testimony they submit herewith is very voluminous, and fully covers all the points of interest connected with that campaign. They therefore submit a brief report, confining their attention principally to the causes which led to the defeat of our army in that battle.

That which now appears to have been the great error of that campaign was the failure to occupy Centreville and Manassas at the time Alexandria was occupied, in May. The position at Manassas controlled the railroad communication in all that section of country. The forces which were opposed to us at the battle of Bull Run were mostly collected and brought to Manassas during the months of June and July. The three months’ men could have made the place easily defensible against any force the enemy could have brought against it; and it is not at all probable that the rebel- forces would have advanced beyond the line of the Rappahannock had Manassas been occupied by our troops.

The next cause of disaster was the delay in proceeding against the enemy until the time of the three months’ men was so nearly expired. In that respect the movement was made too late rather than too soon, and the enemy were allowed time to collect their forces at Manassas and to strengthen the position by defensive works. The reason why the movement was so long delayed is shown, to some extent, by the testimony, to which your committee would direct the attention of those who desire to examine that point.

And when the movement was finally determined upon, much was needed to render the troops efficient. There had been but little time devoted to disciplining the troops and instructing them, even as regiments; hardly any instruction had been given them in reference to brigade movements, and none at all as divisions. When General McDowell reviewed eight regiments together—the only instance previous to the battle, so far as the evidence shows, that even that number of troops were manoeuvred in one body—he was charged with desiring to make a show.

General McDowell was instructed, verbally, by General Scott, to prepare and submit a plan of operations against the enemy at Manassas. This plan was considered in cabinet meeting, and agreed to; and the 9th of July was fixed upon by General Scott as the day when the army should move.

The plan of General McDowell was to move out in the direction of Centreville, and endeavor to turn the enemy’s right with a portion of his force, and destroy his communication by railroad with Richmond. He asked that a certain number of troops be given him to operate against the force which it was estimated that Beauregard had under his command. He was assured that the enemy below should be kept occupied by General Butler, who was in command at Fortress Monroe; and that the enemy under Johnston, in the Winchester valley, should be held there by General Patterson. Some days before the battle, upon expressing some fears in regard to the force under Johnston being detained by Patterson, he was assured by General Scott that “if Johnston joined Beauregard, he should have Patterson on his heels.”

The movement did not commence until the 16th of July, a week later than the time first decided upon. The transportation was deficient, and General McDowell had to depend upon others to see that supplies were forwarded to him in time. The march was slow, one reason being that, since the affair at Vienna, near Alexandria, and at Big Bethel, near Fortress Monroe, a fear of “masked batteries” caused hesitation in regard to advancing upon points concerning which there was a want of information. There was some delay, on the march, in consequence of the want of complete discipline among some of the troops. They were not sufficiently under control of officers to be prevented from leaving the ranks and straggling.

The affair at Blackburn’s Ford, on Thursday, the 18th, being more extensive than General McDowell had ordered, drew the attention of the enemy to that point; and, in consequence of the preparations they made there to meet any attempt of General McDowell to turn their position in that direction, it became necessary to adopt another line of operations. General McDowell determined to make the attempt to turn their right, and steps were taken to secure the necessary information. It was not until Saturday that the information which General McDowell desired was obtained.

He then issued orders for the troops to move the next morning, the 21st, some at two o’clock and some at half-past two. The division of General Tyler was in the advance, and was ordered to proceed directly out to Stone Bridge, and take up position there. General Hunter’s and General Heintzelman’s divisions were to follow, and when they reached a road leading to the right, about a mile in advance of General Tyler’s camp, they were to turn off and proceed in the direction of Sudley’s Church, and endeavor to turn the enemy’s left. The movement to the right was intended to be made under cover of General Tyler’s force at Stone Bridge.

But there was much delay in the movements of the troops that morning. Tyler’s division did not pass the point, where Hunter’s and Heintzelman’s divisions were to turn off, until after the time designated. Some of the troops were delayed for three hours, affording time to the enemy to discover the movement and make preparations to meet it.

Notwithstanding these disadvantages, our forces were successful during the fore part of the day, although Beauregard had been re-enforced by some of Johnston’s forces from Winchester. Our troops were very much fatigued. The day was exceedingly warm; the roads were dusty; and they had been some hours longer on the march than had been anticipated. In the afternoon additional re- enforcements arrived from Johnston’s army, and suddenly attacked our right and threw it into disorder.

About the same time two of our batteries (Ricketts’s and Griffin’s) were captured by the enemy, and our entire force began to fall back in great confusion. In regard to the capture of the batteries, it appears by the testimony that they were ordered to take an advanced and exposed position, and were not sufficiently supported. Not long after they were placed in position, a rebel regiment appeared in their immediate vicinity. Captain Griffin states that he took them to be rebels from the first, and directed one of his lieutenants to open upon them with canister. But Major Barry, chief of artillery, coming up at the time, told him that they were some of our own troops coming to the support of the batteries, and directed him not to fire upon them. The battery was accordingly turned in another direction, and, almost immediately after, this regiment of the enemy opened fire upon it, disabling the horses, and killing and wounding most of the men at the guns. That completed the discomfiture of our troops, and the day which had opened upon our success, closed upon a defeated and retreating army.

A division, under Colonel Miles, had been stationed at Centreville, partly for the purpose of a reserve, and partly to guard against any flank attack. The enemy did attempt a movement upon our left, but were promptly met and checked by our forces there.

The principal cause of the defeat on that day was the failure of General Patterson to hold the forces of Johnston in the valley of the Shenandoah. He had a force of about 23,000 men; while the force of the enemy opposed to him, according to the best evidence your committee could obtain, did not exceed from 12,000 to 15,000 men. General Patterson testifies that he was satisfied that Johnston had from 35,000 to 40,000 men, and over 60 guns. He also states that a large number of his troops were anxious to return home; that their time had about expired, and he could not persuade them to remain. There is considerable testimony to show that the troops became dissatisfied, and refused to remain, only when they learned that their movement from Bunker Hill on the 17th of July was a retreat, and not an advance upon the enemy; that while they supposed they were being led to the attack, little, if any, complaint was made, and they were in excellent spirits.

In reference to the orders given to General Patterson, and the object to be accomplished by his operations, there seems to be no question. That object was to prevent Johnston from joining Beauregard before General McDowell could have an opportunity to attack the forces under the latter. The character of the orders is indicated by the following telegram of the 13th of July (Saturday) from General Scott to General Patterson:

“I telegraphed you yesterday, if not strong enough to beat the enemy early next week, make demonstrations so as to detain him in the valley of Winchester. But if he retreats in force towards Manassas, and it be hazardous to follow him, then consider the route via Keyes’s Ferry, Leesburg, &c.”

General Scott had, the day before, conveyed to General Patterson the intimation that General McDowell would commence his movement on the 16th or July, and on the 15th General Patterson advanced from Martinsburg to Bunker Hill, remaining there the 16th.

On the 17th General Scott telegraphs to General Patterson:

“I have nothing official from you since Sunday, but am glad to learn through Philadelphia papers that you have advanced. Do not let the enemy amuse and delay you with a small force in front, whilst he re-enforces the Junction with his main body. McDowell’s first day’s work has driven the enemy beyond Fairfax Court-House. The Junction will probably be carried to-morrow.”

There is no evidence at what time that despatch was received. But it could not have been received before the movement from Bunker Hill to Charlestown was made by General Patterson, for that movement commenced very early in the-morning of the 17th, the date of the despatch.

On the 18th General Scott telegraphs :

“I have certainly been expecting you to beat the enemy. If not, that you had felt him strongly, or at least had occupied him by threats and demonstrations. You have been at least his equal, and, I suppose, superior in number. Has he not stolen a march, and sent re-enforcements towards Manassas Junction? A week is enough to win a victory.”

To this General Patterson replies on the same day:

“The enemy has stolen no march upon me. I have kept him actively ‘ employed, and, by threats and reconnoissances in force, caused him to be re- enforced.”

General Patterson testifies as follows :

“Question. During all this time you knew that General Scott expected of you that you should either engage and beat Johnston, or detain him in the valley of Winchester; or, in the event that he should come down by a route where you could not follow him, that you should follow him via Keyes’s Ferry and Leesburg ?

“Answer. Yes, sir.

“Question. And yet, when you were at Charlestown, you found yourself not in a condition to do either. Now, my question is : Why did you not communicate that fact to General Scott ?

” Answer. There was no occasion for it, in my judgment. He knew my condition, and to have added to the information he already had would have been a waste of time and paper. I had informed him of my condition, and it was his business to order me what to do. I had asked him : ‘ Shall I attack ?’ It was not my business to say anything beyond that.”

When asked if the telegram of the 18th, from General Scott, did not show that he still deemed it was of the first importance that he (Patterson) should detain Johnston there, General Patterson replies:

“I looked upon that telegraph, and so did every gentleman upon my staff, as nothing more nor less than an exhibition of bad temper.”

General Patterson also testifies:

“Question. You say you could have attacked on the 18th if ordered to do so. You knew the necessity of detaining Johnston, and you must have inferred from the telegraph of General Scott that he expected or required of you that you should do something in that direction. Why did you not do all that yon could to detain him without an order?

” Answer. Because I could not go up there without fighting, as I could not fall back again. I had no reason to believe that that telegram was not written in the morning in reply to mine of that morning, [1.30 a. m., asking ' Shall I attack?'] General Scott did not fight that day, and there was no more occasion for my going up and perilling my men without an order, than of doing anything entirely uncalled for—not the slightest occasion for it. ******* If General Scott did not fight, and saw the necessity for my acting, I repeat it was his business to give the order.”

In another place he testifies:

“Question. When you found you were in no condition to detain Johnston, was it not all important that that fact should have been communicated to General Scott; not the fact that you could not fight Johnston, but that you could not detain him, that your strength was insufficient for that, and that he could not rely upon his being kept back?

“Answer. I never supposed, for a moment, that General Scott believed for the fifty-fifth part of a second that I could hold him.”

General Patterson further testifies :

“Question. You were not threatening Johnston at Charlestown so as to prevent his joining Beauregard at Manassas?”

“Answer. No, sir. I remained there because I was ordered to remain in front of him until he left.

” Question. You knew at that time that you were not offering any obstacle to his going down to Manassas ?

“Answer. Perfectly: I knew I had not the means to do it.

“Question. Why did you not communicate that fact to General Scott immediately ?

” Answer. I did communicate my condition, and where I was.

“Question. When?

“Answer. On the 16th I wrote him in detail from Bunker Hill. On the 17th I wrote again. And on the 18th I gave him all the information necessary. And it was his business to order me, not my business to make any further suggestions to him.

“Question. Did you communicate to him by telegraph?

“Answer. Certainly. I sent three telegrams to him on the same day.

“Question. On what day ?

“Answer. On the 18th, at half-past one in the morning, I telegraphed him my condition, and asked him if I should attack. To have sent further information to him would have been rather impertinent, and he would have so considered it.


“Question. Why did you not inform him that you were not then in a condition to offer any obstacle to Johnston’s joining Beauregard ?

“Answer. I would have considered it rather a reflection on him to have told him so. He knew my condition.”

General Scott testifies:

“But, although General Patterson was never specifically ordered to attack the enemy, he was certainly told and expected, even if with inferior numbers, to hold the rebel army in his front on the alert, and to prevent it from re-enforcing Manassas Junction, by means of threatening manoeuvres and demonstrations— results often obtained in war with half numbers.”

Instead of doing that, however, General Patterson came down to Bunker Hill, remained there over the day when he had been given to understand the advance would be commenced by General McDowell; and early the next morning, without waiting to hear how far General McDowell had advanced, or whether he had advanced at all, left the neighborhood of Winchester, where the enemy was, and turned off to Charlestown, where, as he himself says, he had no means to offer any obstacle to Johnston’s joining Beauregard whenever he chose. Johnston at once took advantage of the opportunity thus afforded him, and re-enforced Beauregard in season to inflict a defeat upon our forces at Bull Run.

Johnston started the greater portion of his forces from Winchester on the 18th; some of the testimony shows that a portion started on the afternoon of the 17th. General Patterson, though only some twenty miles distant from Winchester, and under orders to prevent the enemy from re-enforcing Beauregard, did not discover that Johnston had left Winchester until two days afterwards, when he telegraphed, on the 20th, to General Scott that re-enforcements had left there.

In reference to deferring the attack upon Beauregard, when the arrival of Johnston’s forces had become known, General McDowell says that the information that he received was too indefinite, mere rumor, and he could not tell how much credit to give to it. The arrival of the cars during the night preceding the battle was not certain evidence of the arrival of Johnston’s forces; for it was expected that re-enforcements would be hurried up to the enemy from every direction possible. And he had been assured that “if Johnston joined Beauregard, Patterson should be on his heels.”

General Scott testifies on that point:

“As connected with this subject, I hope I may be permitted to notice the charge made against me on the floors of Congress, that I did not stop Brigadier General McDowell’s movement upon Manassas Junction after I had been informed of the re-enforcement sent thither from Winchester, though urged to do so by one or more members of the cabinet. Now, it was, at the reception of that news, too late to call off the troops from the attack. And, besides, though opposed to the movement at first, we had all become animated and sanguine of success. And it is not true that I was urged by anybody in authority to stop the attack which was commenced as early, I think, as the 18th of July.”

B. F. WADE, Chairman

America’s Civil War July 2009

8 05 2009

ACW July 2009This issue features a couple of fellow bloggers.  John Hoptak has an article (p. 54) on Colonel Andrew Jackson Grigsby of the 27th VA, who was passed over for command of the Stonewall Brigade by General Jackson, in favor of his staffer Frank Paxton, a major.  Was this the result of Grigsby’s support of Richard Garnett in the wake of the Battle of Kernstown and Garnett’s humiliation at the hands of Jackson?

Robert Moore gets some good pub, too.  Most prominently, Cenantua’s Blog is the subject of this issue’s Web Watch (p.66), which dubs Robert as “the hardest-blogging blogger in the Civil War blogosphere”, and with about six separate blogs to his credit it’s hard to argue with that.  Robert’s Southern Unionists Chronicles also gets a plug in my Smeltzer’s Six-Pack column on page 70.  This may require some explanation.

Smeltzer’s Six-Pack, as I think I’ve described before, is meant to give potential book buyers an idea of a book’s content and help them decide if it is indeed something they are interested in.  These “reviews” are not critical, beyond giving an indication – via a one to four can rating system – of whether or not it is something that appeals to me.  (By the way, the reason for a four can rating system in a column titled Six-Pack has something to do with layout space and graphics.)  I have one page to provide sketches of six books.  That doesn’t leave a whole lot of words for each book, and I think every one of the sketches so far has been cut from what I submitted.  It’s the cold, hard facts of words and defined space, unlike the web.  While I pride myself on literary economy, clearly I have a ways to go in my quest for Hemingway-esque thrift.  So, sometimes the tone of a sketch loses something in the editing process.  In the case of the sketch of Tom C. McKenney’s Jack Hinson’s One-Man War, what got lost was my reason for referencing Robert’s blog.  One of the central elements of McKenney’s book is an incident that led to Jack Hinson turning from neutral observer (think Jimmy Stewart in Shenandoah) to revenge-seeking Confederate sniper.  The section of the book that covers the killing and mutilation of Hinson’s sons by Union soldiers is lightly footnoted, and relies heavily on personal interviews and local lore.  My point was that, while this is something that in general concerns me, in the case of these incidents a dearth of formal documentation is not uncommon, as evidenced by some of the examples detailed on Robert’s site.

Here are the pairs of books that made up this issue’s Six-Pack:

Fitz-John Porter, Scapegoat of Second Manassas, Donald R. Jermann, and Injustice on Trial, Curt Anders

Jack Hinson’s One-Man War, Tom C. McKenney, and Berry Benson’s Civil War Book, Susan Williams Benson (ed.)

Stealing Lincoln’s Body (paperback), Thomas J. Craughwell, and Assassination Vacation, Sarah Vowell

There’s other good stuff in this issue (topics include Dan Sickles, Stephen Douglas, Lincoln and the Sioux, and Witness Trees), so head on out to your local newsstand if you don’t already subscribe.

Pvt. Alexander Campbell, 79th NY, Describes the Battle to His Wife

5 05 2009

To Jane Campbell

Washington, DC

July 26th 1861

Dear Jane

I expect you will think it strange of me not writing you sooner.  I certanely would but they saud around here that no Letters was aloud to Leave here since the Battel of Bulls Runn whether it was true or not.  Anny how you must have heard that I was all safe.  There was a telegraph Despach came her[e] enquiring if I was all safe & the Magear said to me he answered it so I thought it would ease your mind til I would get a chance to tell you myself.  I came out of Battel without a scratch.  So Did James & Matthew & Brown.  I cant see how we all came off so safe for it was such a tremendous shoure of bullets that god onely knowes how anny of us is Left to tell the tale.  I cannot begin to tell you about how the battle begun and how it ended.  It would take me a week to write all the sights & seans I seen & came through since I wrote you Last.  I wish I could sit in my own house & tell you out of my own mouth all about it.

I was acting as right guid in McFadgan.  He & James & David Ireland was in washington.  It was fortunate that she {Ireland’s wife} came.  It was perhaps the means of saving therr Lives.  If you see Daniel Gillie or anny of them that worked in McMasters tell them that Daniel Larence is all safe & you are to tell Anney Ireland that her friend walker is safe & that william faset cannot be accounted for.  He got wounded in the arm and Left the field & has not been seen since.  The regiment suffered verry severe.  Captain Brown was killed by a cannon ball his side was almost carried away & cap shilling was killed by a cannon shot.  Manson & farask were taken prisoners & our captan cristie has cleard to new york.  He never stoped to se how his men was nor nothing.  If anny of you went to enquire after us at him I know the answer you would get.

We are all back in washington & going to encamp in the out skirts of the city & we might not Leave again till we come home.  I am shure I dont want to  go into virginia again.  We have come trough more hardships since we went over the Potomac than I would Like to go trough again.

I am writing this in John Stewarts.  Mrs. [David] Ireland was staying here.  She has gon out since I came in & she feels wuite happy and told me to tell anney that whe was in for the ware.  She says times is verry slack in new york.  I dont care how hard they were I would Like to be in it.  I think we have dun our share of the fiting & we ought to give them that wants to get out as bad as we did a chance.  There is not a man in the regiment but is quite willing to get back.

I suppose you wont have received anny money yet from the union Defence committee.  I Dont see how you are to get along.  I dont think that they intend to give us anny.  They have got us here & they can do what they Like.  It Look like it any how.

I almost forgot to tell you that in passing trough a place called germantown where there had been some of the reables but had run when they knew that we were comming I found a knapsack Lying in of the road with James Campbell wrote in side of it & I cut the pice out & took it with me.  I could almost sware it is my Brothers write & what makes me think so it was south carolina troops that was there.  It makes me feel verry bad to think that I was so near my own Brother & him on the one side & me on the other.  I might have shot him or he might have shot me & would not have knowen it.

I cannot say no more this time expecting to here from you soon & Little Jonney.  Poor Little fellow.  Little did he k[n]ow how his father is or the Danger he was in.    Its as well for him.  Many is the home that was Left fatherless on that Bloddy 21st of July.  It was sunday too – it is always sunday our army makes its grand moves.

Address to washington DC.  I am & the rest are well hopping this will find you all the same.  Good Day.

I remain your Afficonate Husband

Alexander Campbell

Tell [Brother] Peter when you se him that I will write him soon & that he will Pleas send some Paper.



Sunday July 28th 1861

Dear Jane

I take the oppartunity of writing you sume more oirticulars about Last sundays work.  We were encamped about 1 mile beyond Centrevell [Centerville, Va.] which is about 30 miles from washington.  We got orders on saturday [20 July] to march that night & we got our things packed up & 2 days rashings was served out to us and we were all formed in Line expecting to proceed but it wa[s] posponed untill nixt morning.  Sunday at two o clock [A.M.] we got ready at the time but did not get off so soon.  Some other regiments went & took there grond in the woods untill we all got up then our regiment & another one struck off to the right & scoured the woods to see if there was anny of the enimy Lurking there.  There was sum shots fired but wee saw no one until we got out of the wood.  We could see them away off the hights in front.  We were ordered to sit down but to be ready to spring up in a moment.

There was a battery of artillery on the road a Little below us the battery that accompanied our brigade and it comenced firing shells to find out the enemys position.  They knew what they were about and they did not fire a shot from there masked batterys.  Then there a company taken from the regiment on our right 13 of new york & they commenced firing with there rifels at the enemys pickets which was returned.  Then 4 cannon was brought up and comenced shelling the enemy which could be seen in great numbers running in all directings.  Sum of our men went up in trees & got a fine view of the enemy comming in in great force.  We were still Lying in the outskirts of the wood and could see dust rising out among the trees.  They when I say they I meen the enemy were coming in from manasses Junchon to reignforce there position away on the right.  Hunters Division came on the enemy first & musketry firing commenced in earnest.  It was one continual roll of which I niver heard nor can I compare anny thing I ever heard with it.

It was not Long then till we were ordered up in to action.  Then Jane I thought  I might never see you and Little Jonney again.  I thought that James or mat or myself could not all come out clear which thank god we have.  There was one of our company william Mitchel [w]ho has a Large family in N Y & when he got shot he Looked up and said my god my family my family.  I could tell a thousand Such things only its better not.  I would not cared half so much if it was not for the sake of you and Jonney.  Poor little fellow.  I am looking at him while writing.  His Likeness is Lying before me.  I expect he is changed a Little now.

I was saying we were not Long when we were ordered into action.  We had to runn on dubbel quick about a mile till we came to where the fiting was going on and the enemy was running up the [Henry] hill in great haste scattered in all directions & we thought the battle was all over but it was not right begun.  there masked batteries opened on us and such cannonnading.  We were ordered down the [Buck] hill right in front of there firing & when we got down a Little out of the way of our own artirlere commenced firing over our heads & they were firing in among us and when we got down in [t]he hollow we Lay down so as to avoid getting struck as much as possible and when Lying there I came verry near being shot from our own side.  A grapeshot struck the ground about 2 inches from my hip so you can amigon [imagine] the critical place we were in.

The amineshan of our artirally run out and we were ordered up the [Henry] hill to take it and such a shaturing I cannot begin to write about.  A man that is in the battle cannot tell much about it.  Annyhow we had them entirely Licked.  You could not se anny of them then.  We came down and the generals were forming the regiments in squares to receive calvelry.  Us and [the] 69[th New York] formed together but it was no use.  General Jonston had arrived with his whole army of fresh troops and we had non[e] so we had to retreat and such a retreat.  The most of the regiments was without officers and the generals rode off on horseback telling the men to hurry up or the enemy would be on them so they did come on us.

The calvelry came upon us on the road.  I wa[s] comming along myself the onely one I mean of our regiment to the road when bang went a volley from the enemys calvelry which had come up on us.  I runn right into the woods and came up with another of our regiment.  Then we came across a field running as fast as we could.  We tried to get into another wood.  I was not able to go anny farther so I Lay down and gave up all hops.  There was 2 more of us and we Lay in sight of the road.  We could see our army retreating and the men cutting there horses Loose from the wagons and monting there backs and galloping off as fast as they could.  We Lay a Long while then we started for the woods and kept in them till we came in sight of the ground we started from in the morning.  But there was no 79th there so we cept well up of the road till we came into centervall and the regiments that was at the fight tryed to get themselvs together but it was impossable.  Sume of our regiment was scatterered all around among the regiments.  I tryed to find out if mat or James was there.  I could not get anny word of them so I gave them up for Lost then started with a small party for alington hights.  Sometimes I would be [by] myself.  I traveled till I was sleeping wa[l]king along.  I Lay Down in some cut wheat that was near the road side and slept 2 hours or about that.  Then I started on the road again and I met in with one of our hand men.  He was as bad as myself in reguard to knowing anything about them.

So I marched on passing men on the way without shoes ot stokings and the most of them Lame.  On I went till I came to the place where we Left our tents & knapsacks and when I arrieved there the most of them wa[s] taken Down.  So I took my knapsack and started for fort corcran 4 miles more.  It was rainning verry hard too and when i arrieved at the fort the first thing I asked for matthew & James & I was told that they were all safe.  I did no[t] se them for some time after that.  Each one was stowed away the best way he could from the rain.  There was nothing for us to eat.  We were all entirely wore out.

I met with David Mcfadgan and he gave me Jonneys Likeness and I was glad to se it.  Muy space wont admit of finishing it as I would Like to.  Any how we are encamped in a verry nice place not verry far from where John stuart Lives.  Its not in the city and its not out of it.  Thats as near as I can give.  The place is verry nice but I am sick of sogren [soldiering] and I cannot feel satisfied no where but home and if I can get away at all I will come.  Mat & James is well.  J is to write soon.  So Jane this is a rough sketch of the battle & retreat of Bulls Runn.

No more this time But Remains

Your afficonate husband.

Aleander Campbell

I sent a piece I cut out of the k[n]apsack with Jamess name on it with on of our Company that has got his Discharge.

[Johnston, Terry A., Jr., editor, "Him on the One Side and Me on the Other": The Civil War Letters of Alexander Campbell, 79th New York Infantry Regiment, and James Campbell, 1st South Carolina Battalion, pp. 26-35]

Notes on Meeting Between Brothers

4 05 2009

Thanks to Art Bergeron for sending along this article on the meeting between two brothers at Bull Run.  Art sent along the following information on the brothers:

Hubbard, Fred L., Pvt. 3rd Co. Battn. Washington Arty. La. En. May 26, 1861, at New Orleans. La. Roll for July and Aug., Present, sustained injury of right arm. July 21, 1861. Roll for Sept. and Oct., 1861, Discharged Oct. 30, 1861, order of Gen. Beauregard. Record copied from Memorial Hall, New Orleans, La., by the War Dept., Washington, D. C., May, 1903, born New York, age when enlisted 22, single, occupation clerk, Res. New Orleans, La. Right arm injured July 21, 1861. Discharged Oct. 30, 1861. Andrew B. Booth, Records of Louisiana Confederate Soldiers and Louisiana Confederate Commands (New Orleans, 1920)

Hubbard, Henry A., Pvt., Co. H, 1st Minnesota Infantry Regiment. Mustered in April 29, 1861, age 20. Wounded at Bull Run. Discharged for disability December 15, 1861.  See www.1stminnesota.net and search for his name in the rosters.

Meeting Between Brothers

4 05 2009

Hillsborough (NC) Recorder, August 14, 1861


Frederick Hubbard of the New Orleans Washington Artillery, and Henry Hubbard, of the 1st Minnesota Infantry, brothers, were both wounded at Manassas, fighting on opposite sides, and after the battle met for the first time in seven years in a stable, where they and nine other wounded men were laid.  The artilleryman being the less wounded, was found ministering to his brother.  And the case excited so much interest that a surgeon at once dressed the Yankee’s wounds and had him removed to his own hospital.

Richmond Daily Dispatch, August 1, 1861

Camp Near Manassas, July 27th, 1861

To the Editors of the Dispatch:

 –I, together with several other gentlemen from Montgomery, a day or two ago, witnessed one of the most singular, at the same time most affecting incidents which will probably occur during this unholy and unnatural war, if it should last for twenty years. We were straggling over the battle-field, examining the ground upon which we had such a bloody conflict and won such a glorious victory, two days before. We came unexpectedly into the Centreville road and seeing a house upon our left with the usual signs betokening a hospital, one of our party being a physician, expressed a wish to get down and examine the wounded. Upon inquiry we learned that a stable just below the house contained thirteen wounded Yankees; we forth with proceeded to the stable, and upon entering found a Washington artilleryman seated by the side of a wounded soldier evidently ministering to him with great care and tenderness. I introduced myself to him and asked if he aided in working the battery which fought with the 1st Virginia Brigade. He told me he did not — he had fought in a battery lower down, and then remarked “that it was very hard to fight as he had fought and turn and find his own brother fighting against him, ” at the same time pointing to the wounded soldier from whose side he had just risen. I asked if it was possible that was his brother. “Yes, sir, he is my brother Henry. The same mother bore us — the same mother nursed us. We meet the first time for seven years. I belong to the Washington Artillery, from New Orleans — he to the 1st Minnesota Infantry. By the merest chance I learned he was here wounded, and sought him out to nurse and attend him. “–Thus they met–one from the far North, the other from the extreme South–on a bloody field in Virginia — in a miserable stable, far away from their mother, home and friends — both wounded — the infantryman by a musket ball in the right shoulder, the artilleryman by the wheel of a caisson over his left hand. Thus they met after an absence of seven years. Their names are Frederick Hubbard, Washington Artillery, and Henry Hubbard, 1st Minnesota Infantry. We met a surgeon of one of the Alabama regiments and related the case to him, and requested, for the sake of the artilleryman, that his brother might be cared for. He immediately examined and dressed his wounds, and sent off in haste for an ambulance to take the wounded “Yankee” to his own regimental hospital.

M. F.

See notes here.

Image of newspaper page here.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 838 other followers