Reports of Brig. Gen. Daniel Tyler, Connecticut Militia, Commanding First Division
O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 2 [S# 2] — CHAPTER IX, pp 348 – 352
HDQRS. 1ST DIV. DEP’T NORTHEASTERN VIRGINIA:
Washington City, July 27, 1861
GENERAL: In obedience to Orders, No. 22, dated Centreville, July 20, Sherman’s, Schenck’s, and Keyes’ brigades of this division–Richardson’s brigade having been left in front of Blackburn’s Ford–moved at 2.30 a.m. on the 21st instant to threaten the passage of the Warrenton turnpike bridge on Bull Run. I arrived in front of the bridge with Schenck’s and Sherman’s brigades and Ayres’ and Carlisle’s batteries about 6 a.m., Keyes’ brigade having been halted by your order to watch the road coming up from Manassas, and about two miles from the run. After examining the position, and posting Sherman’s and Schenck’s brigades and the artillery, I fired the first gun at 6.30 a.m., as agreed upon, to show that we were in position.
As my orders were to threaten the passage of the bridge, I caused Schenck’s brigade to be formed into line, its left resting in the direction of the bridge and the battery which the enemy had established to sweep the bridge and its approach, so as to threaten both. Sherman’s brigade was posted to the right of the Warrenton turnpike, so as to be in position to sustain Schenck or to move across Bull Run in the direction of Hunter’s column. The 30-pounder gun attached to Carlisle’s battery was posted on the Warrenton turnpike: with Ayres’ battery considerably in its rear. Carlisle’s battery was posted on the left of Sherman’s brigade. In this position we awaited the appearance of Hunter’s and Heintzelman’s columns, as ordered, until such time as the approach to the bridge should be carried: and the bridge rebuilt by Captain Alexander, of the Engineers, who had on the spot the necessary structure for that purpose.
Soon after getting into position we discovered that the enemy had a heavy battery, with infantry in support, commanding both the road and bridge approaches, on which both Ayres and Carlisle at different times tried the effect of their guns without success, and a careful examination of the banks of Bull Run satisfying me that they were impracticable for the purpose of artillery, these batteries had to remain comparatively useless until such time as Hunter’s column might clear the approach by a movement on the opposite bank. During this period of waiting the 30-pounder was occasionally used with considerable effect against bodies of infantry and cavalry, which could be seen from time to time moving in the direction of Hunter’s column and out of the range of ordinary guns. Using a high tree as an observatory, we could constantly see the operations of Hunter’s and Heintzelman’s column from the time they crossed Bull Run, and through one of my staff, Lieutenant O’Rorke, of the Engineers, I was promptly notified as to any change in the progress of their columns up to the time when it appeared that the heads of both were arrested, and the enemy seemed to be moving heavy re-enforcements to support their troops.
At this time I ordered Colonel Sherman, with his brigade, to cross Bull Run and to support the two columns already in action. Colonel Sherman, as appears by his report, crossed the run without opposition, and after encountering a party of the enemy flying before Hunter’s forces, found General McDowell, and received his orders to join in the pursuit. The subsequent operations of this brigade and its able commander having been under your own eye and direction, I shall not follow its movements any further, but refer you to Colonel Sherman’s report, which you will find herewith.
So soon as it was discovered that Hunter’s division had been arrested, I ordered up Keyes’ brigade, which arrived just as the left of Sherman’s was crossing the run, and having satisfied myself that the enemy had not the force nor the purpose to cross Bull Run, I ordered Keyes’ brigade to follow Sherman, accompanying the movement in person, as I saw it must necessarily place me on the left of our line and in the best possible position, when we should have driven the enemy off, to join Schenck’s brigade and the two batteries left on the opposite side.
I ordered Colonel Keyes to incline the head of his column a little to the right of the line of march taken by Sherman’s brigade, to avoid the fire of a battery which the enemy had opened. This movement sheltered the men to a considerable degree, and resulted in closing on the rear of Sherman’s brigade, and on reaching the high ground I ordered Colonel Keyes to form into line on the left of Sherman’s brigade, which was done with great steadiness and regularity. After waiting a few moments the line was ordered to advance, and came into conflict on its right with the enemy’s cavalry and infantry, which, after some severe struggles, it drove back until the further march of the brigade was arrested by a severe fire of artillery and infantry, sheltered by some buildings standing on the heights above the road leading to Bull Run. The charge was here ordered, and the Second Maine and Third Connecticut Regiments, which were opposed to this part of the enemy’s line, pressed forward to the top of the hill until they reached the buildings which were held by the enemy, drove them out, and for a moment had them in possession. At this point, finding the brigade under the fire of a strong force behind breastworks, the order was given to march by the left flank across an open field until the whole line was sheltered by the right bank of Bull Run, along which the march was conducted, with a view to turn the battery which the enemy had placed on the hill below the point at which the Warrenton turnpike crosses Bull Run. The march was conducted for a considerable distance below the stone bridge, causing the enemy to retire, and gave Captain Alexander an opportunity to pass the bridge, cut out the abatis which had been placed there, and prepared the way for Schenck’s brigade and the two batteries of artillery to pass over.
Before the contemplated movement could be made on the enemy’s battery it was removed, and placed in a position to threaten our line; but before the correct range could be obtained, Colonel Keyes carried his brigade by a flank movement around the base of the hill, and was on the point of ascending it in line to get at the battery, when I discovered that our troops were on the retreat, and that unless a rapid movement to the rear was made we should be cut off, and through my aide, Lieutenant Upton, Colonel Keyes was ordered to file to the right, and join the retreating column. The order was executed without the least confusion, and the brigade joined the retreating column in good order. When this junction was made I left Keyes’ brigade, and rode forward to ascertain the condition of Schenck’s brigade and the artillery left this side of Bull Run, and, on arriving there, found Ayres’ battery and Lieutenant Hains’ 30-pounder waiting orders. I immediately ordered Lieutenant Hains to limber up and move forward as soon as possible. This was promptly done, and the piece moved on towards Centreville. I then went into the wood where the ammunition wagon of this piece had been placed, out of reach of fire, and found that the driver had deserted and taken away part of the horses, which made it impossible to move it. I then returned to Ayres’ battery, which I found limbered up, and ordered it to move forward and cover the retreat, which was promptly done by its gallant officers, and when the cavalry charge was made, shortly afterward, they repulsed it promptly and effectively. I then collected a guard, mainly from the Second Maine Regiment, and put it under the command of Colonel Jameson, with orders to sustain Captain Ayres during the retreat, which was done gallantly and successfully until the battery reached Centreville.
Before ordering Colonel Jameson to cover Ayres’ battery, I passed to the rear to find General Schenck’s brigade, intending, as it was fresh, to have it cover the retreat. I did not find it in the position in which I had left it, and supposed it had moved forward and joined the retreating column. I did not see General Schenck again until near Cub Run, where he appeared active in rallying his own or some other regiments. General Schenck reports that the two Ohio regiments left Bull Run after the cavalry charge, and arrived at Centreville in good order.
In closing this report, it gives me great pleasure to express my admiration of the manner in which Colonel Keyes handled his brigade, completely covering it by every possible accident of the ground while changing his positions, and leading it bravely and skillfully to the attack at the right moment; to which the brigade responded in every instance in a manner highly creditable to itself and satisfactory to its commanding officers. At no time during the conflict was this brigade disorganized, and it was the last off the field, and in good order.
Colonel Keyes says: “The gallantry with which the Second Maine and Third Connecticut Regiments charged up the hill upon the enemy’s artillery and infantry was never, in my opinion, surpassed, and the conduct of Colonels Jameson and Chatfield, in this instance and throughout the day, merits the highest commendation. Colonel Terry rendered great assistance by his gallantry and excellent conduct. Lieutenant Hascall, acting assistant adjutant-general, Lieutenants Walter and Ely, rendered gallant and effective assistance.” It gives me pleasure to be able to confirm the above from personal observation, and to express my personal satisfaction with the conduct of this brigade. For further particulars as to gallant conduct of individuals, I beg leave to refer you to the reports of commanders of brigades, hereunto attached. Colonel Sherman speaks highly of Colonel Coon, of Wisconsin, and Lieutenants Piper and McQuesten, all on his personal staff.
From my own personal staff I received in every instance prompt and gallant assistance, and my thanks are due to Captains Baird and Merrill, Lieutenants Houston, Abbot, Upton, O’Rorke, and Audenried for gallant conduct and the prompt and valuable assistance they rendered me. Lieutenants Abbot and Upton were both wounded and each had a horse killed under him, as also had Lieutenant O’Rorke.
I inclose herewith a table of casualties, showing our losses at Bull Run.
I have the honor to be, with great respect, your most obedient servant,
Brigadier-General, Commanding Division
Commanding Department of Northeastern Virginia
HDQRS. 1ST DIV. DEP’T NORTHEASTERN VIRGINIA,
Washington City, July 27, 1861
GENERAL: I closed my division report of the battle at Bull Run at the time we left for Centreville. It is due to me and to my division that its subsequent movements be noticed up to the time the different brigades reached a stopping place. On reaching Centreville, we found Richardson’s brigade in line, ready to support us or cover the retreat. This brigade returned in good order to Arlington. After the order was given to retreat, and each brigade was ordered “to proceed to the position from which it started and by the route by which it arrived,” I communicated this order to the commander of each brigade, and with Keyes’ brigade proceeded at once to Falls Church, intending to secure the camp equipage of the four regiments left standing there, which I knew, if we fell back on the fortifications in front of Washington, the enemy would at once seize.
Colonel Keyes, with the three Connecticut regiments, arrived at Falls Church about 5 a.m. on the 22d instant, and proceeded at once to strike their tents and those of the Maine regiment, and sent them to Fort Corcoran. This work, without rations, was continued throughout the entire day, the men being exposed to a severe storm of rain. By night the entire camp equipage was safely removed. Colonel Keyes then fell back to the camp of Schenck’s brigade, which had been entirely deserted, and after using those tents for the night struck them the next morning, and sent the entire Government property to Fort Corcoran and Alexandria, and at 7 p.m. on Tuesday I saw the three Connecticut regiments, with 2,000 bayonets, march under the guns of Fort Corcoran in good order, after having saved us not only a large amount of public property, but the mortification of having our standing camps fall into the hands of the enemy. I know, general, that you will appreciate this service on the part of a portion of my division and give credit to whom credit is due. All the brigades, except Schenck’s, obeyed the order to retire to their original positions. By some misunderstanding, which has not been satisfactorily explained, this brigade proceeded directly to Washington, one regiment, as I understand, passing through the camp they left on the 16th instant.
With very great respect, your very obedient servant,
Brigadier-General, Commanding Division
Commanding Department of Northeastern Virginia
HEADQUARTERS FIRST DIVISION,
Washington, August 3, 1861
GENERAL: I inclose herewith the originals of Carlisle’s and Ayres’ reports of the operations of their respective batteries on the 21st instant [Nos. 20 and 27]. As these reports are full, you will see whether they do not require more consideration than they have received in my report. All the officers attached to these batteries, so far as their conduct fell under my personal observation until 12 o’clock, behaved like gallant gentlemen, and it was, in my opinion, the effect of their fire that held the enemy in front of the bridge in check and interfered seriously with the movements of his column in the direction of Colonel Hunter’s attack. The loss of Captain Carlisle’s battery is to be attributed to the want of that infantry support which he had a right to expect, or to his halting too long before he moved forward towards Centreville.
With great respect, your obedient servant,
Commanding Department Northeastern Virginia
Table – Return of casualties in the First Division (Union) of Northeastern Virginia, at the Battle of Bull Run, July 21, 1861