JCCW – Dr. Ira Tripp

19 08 2009

Testimony of Dr. Ira Tripp

Report on the Conduct of the War, Vol. 2, pp. 226-228

WASHINGTON, February 26, 1862.

Dr. IRA TRIPP sworn and examined.

By Mr. Covode:

Question. What has been your connexion with the army?

Answer. My position was hospital steward.

Question. In the three months’ service?

Answer. Yes, sir; under General Patterson, in the 8th Pennsylvania regiment. I was taken prisoner on the 2d of July, near Falling Waters.

Question. Well, go on and state about that.

Answer. We were captured near Falling Waters on the second day of July, and taken to Martinsburg that day. There our horses were taken away from us.

Question. By whom?

Answer. By a rebel captain; I forget his name now. That evening we were taken about three miles beyond Martinsburg, and encamped there during the night.

Question. What force had the enemy at that time?

Answer. As near as we could judge, Johnston had about 5,000 men at that time. We were with them but one day there. The next day we were taken to Winchester, where they had about 2,000 more troops, as near as we could ascertain, making their entire force at that time about 7,000.

Question. What day were you taken to Winchester?

Answer. The 4th of July.

Question. What was done with you there?

Answer. We were kept in jail there two weeks.

Question. How many of you were there?

Answer. I think there were 45. During that time the enemy received re-enforcements of men, varying from perhaps a regiment down to a company, coming into Winchester at different times during the two weeks we were there. As near as we could calculate, their re-enforcements might amount in all to 5,000 or 6,000 men.

Question. Do you know from what direction these re-enforcements came?

Answer. I should judge, from the way they came into Winchester, that they were from Strasburg and in that direction.

Question. They did not come from Manassas?

Answer. No, sir; I do not think any of them came from Manassas.

Question. What was the condition of their fortifications at Winchester at the time you went there?

Answer. They were very light. They fortified a little, not a great deal, during the time we were there. After we had been there about a week, some of our men were taken out to the fortifications and made to work to try to mount a gun, as they told us when they came back. That was the only gun they saw; they saw some little intrenchments on each side of the road, not to exceed twenty rods altogether.

Question. Rifle-pits?

Answer. No, sir; not rifle-pits. They had some empty barrels there and a trench thrown up. There was no fortification of any strength at that time.

Question. You only knew of one gun there?

Answer. That was all at that time—one large gun; they had some seven or eight pieces of light artillery that we saw. They got a few after that—some four or five that we saw come in. They never had at the outside over 13,000 men at Winchester, I think, before the battle of Bull Run.

Question. Would there, in your judgment, have been any difficulty in Patterson’s taking Winchester?

Answer. No, sir; not at all. I do not think there would have been any trouble in his doing it.

Question. Did they appear to expect an attack from Patterson?

Answer. Yes, sir; daily.

Question. What do you know of any preparation to leave in case of an attack?

Answer. We hardly knew of any preparation they had to leave. They expected an attack. We had that from the jailer there and from the officers themselves. A great many of them left the day we did. I have no doubt that they expected that Patterson would come on and take Winchester after their troops left. I judge so from seeing so many going away the day we did; we saw their carriages, &c., on the road to Strasburg.

Question. What day did their army leave?

Answer. On the 18th of July.

Question. What number left?

Answer. As near as we could calculate, about 10,000 men in all left for Manassas.

Question. That would leave how many at Winchester?

Answer. Perhaps 2,000.

Question. Did they all leave at one time?

Answer. They left during the night of the 17th and the morning of the 18th, as near as we could get at it. We left on the 18th.

Question. By what route did they go to Manassas?

Answer. I do not know the route. I am not acquainted with that country. We got to Manassas in the morning on the 19th, about nine o’clock, I should judge.

Question. What time did you leave Winchester?

Answer. At noon of the 18th, in a great hurry.

Question. By what route did you go?

Answer. We went to Strasburg, about eighteen miles from Winchester, and there we took the cars to Manassas.

Question. What did you see of these troops after you left Winchester?

Answer. We saw some of the cavalry at Manassas on the 19th, and saw General Johnston himself there. We knew three of the cavalry, because they were of those who captured us.

Question. How long did you remain at Manassas?

Answer. From nine in the morning until nine or ten o’clock at night.

Question. Do you know whether these troops came into Manassas before you left?

Answer. Only a portion of them. All I know of their being there was seeing a portion of the cavalry and General Johnston himself. There were large re-enforcements coming in that day from the direction of Richmond. That is what I suppose kept us there; we could not get away because the track was occupied by these troops coming in. I should judge that that day and the day following there were 15,000 of re-enforcements from between Manassas and Richmond, coming in from the south on different roads. We had to guess at it, but that is about as near as we could get at it. Heavy trains were coming in constantly all the day long.

Question. Did you, on your way to Winchester, see any strong fortifications anywhere, after you were captured?

Answer. No, sir; we did not see any anywhere. There were no strong fortifications made after that I am certain. I do not think they ever expected to stand a battle at all against Patterson.

Question. Did you, while at Winchester, look for Patterson to come there?

Answer. We looked for him every day. We just as much expected he would come as we were living. We expected to be taken out by our own men or hurried off by the rebels.

Question. Our force was double theirs?

Answer. Yes, sir; nearly so. I calculated that Johnston had not more than 12,000 at the outside. And knowing the difference between the strength of the two armies, we constantly expected Patterson would take the place.

Question. What was the character of the re-enforcements that came into Winchester? Were they well armed and equipped?

Answer. All had arms; not very good arms. They looked like old muskets. Some came in in the night, and we could not tell what they had. Some of them were not very well uniformed, such as we saw. Some had citizens’ clothes on— no uniform at all. They looked like they had just been gathered up right out of the fields, with no uniform at all. There was in the jail yard a big pile of stone that had been pounded up for pavement, and getting on that pile we could see their encampment, and all over the country there.

Question. Did you see any fortifications at Winchester, except the small one at the terminus of the railroad from Charlestown?

Answer. That is all that we saw.





JCCW – C & O Canal Superintendent A. K. Stake

17 08 2009

Testimony of A. K. Stake

Report on the Conduct of the War, Vol. 2, pp. 225-226

WASHINGTON, February 24, 1862.

A. K. STAKE sworn and examined.

By Mr. Chandler:

Question. Where do you reside, and what is your present occupation?

Answer. I reside in Williamsport. I am officially connected with the Chesapeake and Ohio canal—as general superintendent of the canal.

Question. Have you any knowledge of the force under Johnston at the time when Patterson was at Martinsburg?

Answer. None except from intercourse with Virginians whom I knew to be refugees. They corroborated all that Mr. Spates has said about it. I know that it was the impression throughout the community, and in the army, that there was not more than 10,000 men under Johnston; and there is this additional fact, ascertained since from perfectly reliable gentlemen, that there never was at any time, in Winchester, as many as 14,000 men, and of these there were, perhaps, 4,000 or 5,000 militia. The gentleman from whom I received this information is perfectly reliable. He is a southern man, and says there was not at any time as many as 14,000 men at Winchester, and of these there were from 3,000 to 5,000 militia, badly armed and equipped. I am not aware what information General Patterson may have had; but I should think he could have had the same information in regard to that matter that outsiders had.

Question. It was obtainable—current information?

Answer. Yes, sir. There was a party about him—McMullin’s men, “scouts,” as they were called ; they were so constantly about him that very few persons could approach him with matters of that kind. I could sometimes get to his headquarters about other matters, but not upon subjects of that kind. General Patterson told Mr. Spates and myself afterwards, at Harper’s Ferry, that he had positive information that Johnston had 42,000 men at Winchester. Of course, we believed as much of that as we pleased.

Question. Were you at Martinsburg when Patterson moved his force to Bunker Hill?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. Do you know the feeling of the troops at that time?

Answer. When he moved from Martinsburg to Bunker Hill the supposition was that he was going out to attack Johnston, and the troops were in fine spirits about it. They had laid there at Martinsburg four or five days, and were tired of that, and were anxious to meet the enemy, and when they turned off towards Charlestown they became very much dissatisfied; but the officers allayed a great deal of that feeling by asserting that they were going down to Wizard’s Cliff, (a place on the road between Charlestown and Winchester,) from which they were to approach Winchester, so as to avoid the masked batteries that would be in their way if they went direct from Bunker Hill. But when they came to Wizard’s Cliff and passed on towards Charlestown there was a great deal of dissatisfaction; and at Charlestown, as I learned afterwards—I did not go there myself—was the first distinct refusal on the part of the three months’ men to follow General Patterson any longer. They declared that they had no disposition to be bamboozled any longer in that way, and as their time was up they would go home, unless he was disposed to go out and attack the enemy. He rode up before two regiments at Charlestown and announced to them that their time was up, and he had no further claim upon them; but he desired them to remain with him, as he hoped to meet the enemy in the field. My opinion is that there was not a word of dissent at that time; but when they retreated still further, to Harper’s Ferry, they became still more dissatisfied, and determined to go home. I had this from those who had official positions about him at that time. I heard General Cadwalader say, at Martinsburg, that the enemy had from 25,000 to 30,000 men. I do not know where he got his information, for there was no man outside of headquarters that estimated Johnston’s force at over 10,000 or 15,000 men.





JCCW – C & O Canal President Alfred Spates

17 08 2009

Testimony of Alfred Spates

Report on the Conduct of the War, Vol. 2, pp. 224-225

WASHINGTON, February 24, 1862.

ALFRED SPATES sworn and examined.

By Mr. Chandler :

Question. You are president of the Chesapeake and Ohio canal?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. Were you along upon the line of the canal during the past summer?

Answer. Yes, sir; from May last up to the present time.

Question. Were you there, or in that vicinity, at the time General Patterson crossed the Potomac and went to Martinsburg?

Answer. I was in that vicinity.

Question. Have you any knowledge of the force of the enemy under Johnston at or about that time?

Answer. I have no personal knowledge. I have knowledge from information obtained from those constantly coming from the river—from the section at which this army was then stationed. I have that kind of knowledge.

Question. Please state it.

Answer. From the best information I could obtain—from those said to be familiar with the amount of force there—I should say it was between 8,000 and 10,000 men.

Question. Were you generally acquainted in that vicinity?

Answer. Yes, sir; intimately.

Question. Were you in frequent communication with persons on the Virginia side of the river?

Answer. I frequently saw men from the other side of the river. We were doing some work on the canal about that time, and for a part of our force the work was on the Virginia side, and within five or six miles of Williamsport, Patterson being then at Martinsburg.

Question. The general impression, in that vicinity, was that Johnston’s army was between 8,000 and 10,000 men?

Answer. Yes, sir. I never heard any man put it higher than 10,000 men.





JCCW – Wagon-Master Nathaniel F. Palmer

16 08 2009

Testimony of Wagon-Master Nathaniel F. Palmer

Report on the Conduct of the War, Vol. 2, pp. 221-224

WASHINGTON, February 18, 1862.

NATHANIEL F. PALMER sworn and examined.

By Mr. Gooch:

Question. Will you state in what capacity you served in the army under General Patterson?

Answer. I was appointed wagon-master in the 8th Pennsylvania regiment by Colonel Lumley.

Question. When did you enter the army?

Answer. On the 15th day of May last.

Question. You were captured by the enemy?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. On what day and in what engagement?

Answer. I was taken on the 2d day of July.

Question. At the battle of Falling Waters?

Answer. There were two divisions of the army after we crossed the river; they came to a fork of the road, and one part took the right and the other the left. The 15th Pennsylvania regiment was on the extreme right of the right wing; they had an advance guard thrown out, and Dr. Tripp and myself were taken with it.

Question. Where were you taken after your capture?

Answer. To Winchester.

Question. When did you arrive at Winchester?

Answer. On the morning of the 4th of July.

Question. Can you tell what number of troops Johnston had at the time you were taken—his whole force at Winchester and with him?

Answer. After we were taken we were taken with their retreat through Martinsburg. We came around to Martinsburg from Falling Waters. We were not on the road at Falling Waters, but on the road west of it. But it was all the same engagement. They then retreated three miles out of Martinsburg to a place they called Big Springs. There we lay over night with three regiments of infantry. I do not know how much cavalry they had, for they were scattered, coming in and running out, helter-skelter, and I could not get much idea of them. We then lay there until, perhaps, the next morning at 9 o’clock, when we fell back three miles further towards Bunker Hill, and went into a field, where they drew up in a sort of line of battle. There they were met by two more regiments and six pieces of light artillery. I think four of the guns were brass, and the other two were iron. We lay there in that field until alter dark; I do not know what time in the evening it was; and then we were put on their baggage wagons, and everything was sent into Winchester—all their traps.

Question. Did the force there go into Winchester at that time?

Answer. No, sir. We left them on the ground there, but all their wagon trains went into Winchester.

Question. Tell us, as near as you can, the whole number of Johnston’s force at that time, what you left behind you, and what you found at Winchester.

Answer. From the best calculations that we could make—and we got our information from very good sources—we concluded that they had about 7,000 men, besides their cavalry. That was scattered about in such confusion that we could not tell anything about it.

Question. How long did you stay at Winchester?

Answer. Until the 18th of July.

Question. Did Johnston’s force continue to increase while you remained at Winchester; and if so, to what extent?

Answer. There were squads coming in there every day. I do not think there was a day but what some came in. They would come in two or three companies at a time; no full regiments ever came in while we were there. By counting up the squads and calculating the best we could, we concluded that by the 18th there was but very little over 13,000 there.

Question. Did this increase of force come in from Manassas or from other points?

Answer. They did not come from Manassas. They were reported to us as coming from towns off in Virginia. I cannot remember the names of them. We made inquiries, and they were reported to us as coming in from different places in Virginia; that is, they were volunteers that had been picked up through the country.

Question. What was the condition of the fortifications at Winchester when you arrived there?

Answer. I did not see anything of any fortifications myself. Some of our men were taken out to work on the 5th of July, I think. When they came back they reported that they had been working at a cannon to mount it on a little fortification they had in the edge of the town where the Charlestown rail-road comes in at Winchester. They reported that there was a little fortification there, with a sort of rifle-pits or trench dug for some fifteen or twenty rods.

Question. Is that the only fortification you heard of there?

Answer. That is the only one we ever got information about.

Question. How many guns had they there?

Answer. Only this one they tried to mount.

Question. You left Winchester on the 18th of July?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. Will you state where you went and what you saw on the road?

Answer. We were taken from Winchester to Strasburg, and arrived there in the evening about nine or ten o’clock. We lay there until the next morning until two o’clock; when we were put in the cars for Manassas. On our way to Manassas, I should think twenty miles from there, we ran a foul of Johnston’s men. One of them came into the cars whom I knew, because he stood guard over me while I was at Big Spring. He said they had three regiments then bound for Manassas, and that there were more coming on behind. While we lay there on one side, there were two trains that ran in there and went by us. We got into Manassas about nine o’clock in the morning. In the course of a couple of hours or so these trains came in with these men on and unloaded.

Question. How many regiments were there in all that came in?

Answer. There were three came in there. Whether they brought them all down there is more than I can tell. They had perhaps four or five switches at Manassas, where the headquarters were. They ran in there and ran past us, unloaded the trains, and then they went right back again. They were gone until nearly night, when they ran in again and unloaded some more men there.

Question. How many men were brought into Manassas while you were there?

Answer. We were told that there were 7,000 of them.

Question. Was Johnston there himself?

Answer. That is what we understood that he was there.

Question. Did you hear of any battle when you had got to Manassas?

Answer. We heard before we got there of the battle of the 18th. We heard that at a station called the Plains. There was quite a gathering and hurraing there. Some men had shot guns and threatened to shoot us through the windows of the cars.

Question. When did you leave Manassas?

Answer. On the 19th, about ten o’clock in the evening.

Question. Where did you go?

Answer. We ran down to Culpeper Court-House. I lay there until the next day, the 20th, at one o’clock, when we left.

By Mr. Covode:

Question. Why did you lay there so long?

Answer. To let trains pass coming from the south.

Question. From Richmond?

Answer. I do not know as they all came from Richmond. Some of them came in from Gordonsville.

By Mr. Gooch:

Question. How many troops, according to your estimate, passed you going to Manassas, while you were on your way from Manassas to Richmond?

Answer. We calculated that if Johnston brought 7,000, there were then taken there twenty-two regiments.

Question. Including the 7,000 brought down by Johnston?

Answer. Yes, sir. There were three in Richmond that night; two trains were loaded, and another regiment was at the station, standing and sitting about there.

Question. The whole you think amounted to twenty-two regiments?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. You do not know, of your own knowledge, what became of the force Johnston left behind at Winchester?

Answer. No, sir; I could not tell anything about that.

By the chairman:

Question. Were there any large re-enforcements at Winchester at any time?

Answer. No, sir; they came in there in small squads. I do not think there was any number at one time come in higher than perhaps four or five companies.

By Mr. Gooch:

Question. And none of those came from Manassas?

Answer. No, sir; none of them were reported as coming from Manassas.

By the chairman:

Question. And in all they had not more than 13,000 there?

Answer. No, sir; there could not have been more than that.

By Mr. Covode:

Question. Did they get that gun mounted while you were at Winchester?

Answer. We did not know. They were pretty much all young men who were taken out for that work. After they found out that that was the work they had to do, we came to the conclusion that we would not work on their fortifications or their guns. The fact of it was, we thought if we were going to be murdered by them, we might as well have it done first as at last. I protested against going out, and all the other men came up and declared that they would not go out and work on the fortifications, let the consequences be what they might. The result was that they did not come for us again.

By Mr. Gooch:

Question. What time did Johnston start with his men from Winchester?

Answer. He started the 17th, in the night some time. We heard in the evening that he was going to start.

By Mr. Covode:

Question. You started the next day after?

Answer. Yes, sir; the next day at 1 o’clock.

Question. Would there have been any difficulty in Patterson’s force coming and taking Winchester when you arrived there?

Answer. No, sir; they never could have made a stand at all. We expected them hourly all the time, and had got the wall of the jail fixed so that we could get out in five minutes. And all over town, at every door almost, there was a horse and wagon hitched, so that they might be ready to get right in and leave the town—standing there day and night.

Question. Looking for Patterson to come in?

Answer. Yes, sir, hourly.

Question. How did you keep the jailer from knowing that you had fixed the wall?

Answer. We hung blankets over it. The fact is, I had a scheme of my own to attend to that jailer. When we were first brought there, he came in, and when he saw me he said: “Damn you, you are the fellow I have been looking for. I am going to hang you on the bars here.” As he was not armed, I answered him pretty sharply. While that was going on, Lieutenant Buck, who was a gentleman, came in and chided the jailer for treating a prisoner that way. He was a brute, that jailer, if ever there was one. There was an old man named Martin, over eighty years of age, taken because he was a Union man, and brought there a prisoner from Martinsburg. The way that the old man was treated was shameful. And I had just made up my, mind to attend to that jailer if our troops came. I could have got out there in five minutes, and finished with him before our troops could get through the town; but they did not come.





JCCW – Lt. Horatio B. Reed

8 08 2009

Testimony of Lt. Horatio B. Reed

Report on the Conduct of the War, Vol. 2, pp. 220-221

WASHINGTON, January 28, 1862.

Lieutenant HORATIO B. REED sworn and examined.

By Mr. Gooch:

Question. What is your rank in the army?

Answer. I am second lieutenant in the fifth regiment of United States artillery.

Question. Where are you now stationed?

Answer. Minor’s Hill, Virginia.

Question. Were you at the battle of Bull Run?

Answer. Yes, sir; I was chief of line of caissons in Griffin’s battery.

Question. Can you tell us the movements of the battery just before it was lost, the orders given, and what led to the loss of the battery?

Answer. Our battery was in battery five times. We first came in battery I do not know by whose orders. I had charge of six caissons, a battery wagon, and forge. I left the battery wagon and forge some distance below where we came in battery the first time. Our battery was again ordered in battery—by whose orders I do not know. General Barry—then Major Barry—came to my captain, and I am under the impression my captain made some protest against going forward on account of the want of support. But we then advanced in a field upon the right. We found that was not where we had been ordered, and we then went upon a hill and came in battery for the fourth time. That was on the left of the house there. We then came in battery on the right of the house. I was chief of the line of caissons, and my position was in the rear. As we advanced upon the hill I wanted to go with the battery, and I left the caissons and went forward. I think we came in battery with two pieces; Lieutenant Hasbrouck in command. There was a body of troops coming up, and I know there was something said about those troops being our own, sent by some one to support us. I have heard since that it was said General Heintzelman sent them, but I did not hear the name mentioned then. We did not fire there until the troops advanced so near that they fired upon us and cut us down.

Question. Why did you not fire upon them?

Answer. We had orders not to fire.

Question. Who gave those orders?

Answer. I am under the impression that General Barry gave them.

Question. Did you hear the order given by General Barry?

Answer. I heard the order given by some one to Captain Griffin and Lieutenant Hasbrouck—and I am under the impression that it was General Barry— not to fire upon that body of men, for the reason that they were troops sent up to support us. Just after that they fired upon us and cut us down.

Question. Was General Barry there at that time?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. Could you have broken up that body of men by your battery if you had opened on them?

Answer. We could have done so unless they were better troops than we saw that day; I think we could have swept them off with canister; we could have scattered any body of troops, I think, no matter how efficient—that is, to the best of my belief.

Question. Was Ricketts’ battery captured at the same time?

Answer. I presume it was. My horse was shot from under me at the time, and I was somewhat stunned by falling on my breast. We advanced together, but I never met Captain Ricketts except on that occasion, and he rode up in advance of his battery, and I was in rear of ours.

Question. Did the panic on the field commence immediately after the capture of those batteries?

Answer. Well, sir, the Ellsworth zouaves were ordered to support us, but they ran away before that.

Question. Did you have any support at that time?

Answer. No, sir; we were ordered there without any support but these zouaves.

Question. Did not the marines support you?

Answer. No, sir; they could not get up there. When we first went into battery, we went ahead of them.

Question. Was your battery without support during the day?

Answer. Yes, sir. I went after the 14th New York, and they went up with us for a little time, and then they left; their officers did all they could.

Question. About what time did the loss of your battery happen?

Answer. I have a very faint idea of time on that day, for I did not exactly know what time we came into battery; I was without a watch. We left our camp about 12 o’clock at night, and I suppose we went into action about 11 o’clock; and if we did, I think this was about 4 o’clock.





JCCW – Lt. Charles E. Hazlitt (Hazlett)

6 08 2009

Testimony of Lt. Charles E. Hazlitt

Report on the Conduct of the War, Vol. 2, pp. 218-219

WASHINGTON, January 28, 1862.

Lieutenant CHARLES E. HAZLITT sworn and examined.

By Mr. Gooch:

Question. What is your rank in the army?

Answer. First lieutenant of artillery.

Question. Where are you now stationed?

Answer. On Minor’s Hill, over in Virginia.

Question. Were you at the battle of Bull Run?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. Were you in Griffin’s battery?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. What was your rank then?

Answer. The same as now.

Question. Can you tell what led to the loss of Griffin’s and Ricketts’ batteries in that battle?

Answer. As far as I am able to judge, it was in consequence of the battery being sent to such an advanced position without any support.

Question. Will you give us the particulars of the loss of that battery—what occurred just previous to the loss of it, and at the time?

Answer. I do not know what occurred just at the moment of the loss, as just before the time the battery was put in position they changed and took up the position where they were lost. Another officer and myself stayed where we were in order to get away two guns that were left there; one had two horses killed, and we had to send for horses; and another one that had a wheel which was broken, and we were engaged in putting on a spare wheel, so that we were not with the battery in the last position. All that I know is that we had been in action some time, and I understood that there was an order for us to move the battery forward up on a little hill where there was a house. I do not know who the order came from. I only knew we were to go there. The officers of the batteries were all averse to going there, as before that we had had no infantry with us that was put there as our support. We were told to go up to this place. We talked about having to go there for some time; and I know it was some time after I was told that we had an order to go that we had not gone. I heard Captain Griffin say that it was no use, and we had to go. We started to go up on this hill. I was in advance of the battery, leading the way, and I had to turn off to a little lane to go to the top of the hill. Just as we turned off the lane in the field, an officer of the enemy on horseback appeared about 100 paces in front. As he saw us turn in, he turned around and beckoned to some one on other side of the hill, and we supposed the enemy were just on the other side of the hill waiting for us, as they had been there just before. An officer hallooed up to me and said we were not to go there, that we had to go to another hill to the right, which was the place we had spoken of going to, where we wished to be sent instead of to the other position. We then started off towards the hill on the right, but I do not think we had got more than half-way up the hill when I was told to go back to the hill we had started for first. We then went back there and came into position. We had been in action there for some time; the fire was exceedingly hot; and being in such close range of the enemy we were losing a great many men and horses. We were in full relief on top of the hill, while they were a little behind the crest of the hill. We presented a better mark for them than they did for us. I do not think there was any order to move the battery around to the right of the little house on the hill. I remember asking Captain Griffin if I could not move the piece I was firing to another place, as it was getting almost too hot there, and I wanted to go to the left. The enemy had just got the range of my gun, and I wanted to move it out of range. The captain said I could do so. And then it is my impression that I asked him if we had better not move the whole battery away from there, as they had got our range so well. And then we started to move. Lieutenant Kensel and myself stayed back to get away the two guns I spoke of. .Just after we got them started off we saw the battery in this other place flying all around, and the horses with the caissons running in every direction. That was the time the battery was lost, but we were not there at the time.

Question. Did you see the regiment that fired at the battery when it was lost?

Answer. No, sir.

Question. You know nothing of the loss of the battery further than you have stated?

Answer. That is all.

Question. You do not know who gave Captain Griffin the order to move forward?

Answer. No, sir.

Question. And nothing of any orders given after that?

Answer. No, sir; only what I have stated that we had orders to go up to his place. We put it off for some time and it was repeated.





JCCW – Col. William W. Averell

4 08 2009

Testimony of Col. William W. Averell

Report on the Conduct of the War, Vol. 2, pp. 213-218

WASHINGTON, January 28, 1862.

Colonel WILLIAM W. AVERELL sworn and examined.

By Mr. Gooch:

Question. What is your rank in the army?

Answer. I am lieutenant in the 3d regiment of regular cavalry and colonel of the 3d regiment of Pennsylvania cavalry, now commanding the second cavalry brigade.

Question. Were you at the battle of Bull Run?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. In whose division?

Answer. I was in General Hunter’s division, acting as assistant adjutant general to Colonel Andrew Porter at that time.

Question. What, in your judgment, caused the disaster of that day?

Answer. They commenced, I presume, almost from the time we started from Arlington, from the other side of the river. There were great many causes that combined to lose the day to us. The most apparent cause, however, at the time we first felt we were beaten, that we had to retire—and that we had felt for some time beforehand—was the want of concentration of the troops; the feeling that we ought to have had more men in action at one time.

Question. The want of concentration on the field?

Answer. Yes, sir. We crossed the run with 18,000 men. I do not believe there were over 6,000 or 8,000 actually engaged at any one time.

Question. There were more than that number engaged during the day?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. Was it impossible to bring more men into action, or were not the proper steps taken to do so?

Answer. I am unable to say. I was not present at the council the night before, although I was almost immediately made aware by Colonel Porter of all that had taken place in the council. But as to what orders were given to other commanders of divisions or brigades I do not know.

Question. All you know is in relation to the management of your own division on the field?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. Were or not as many men of your own division brought into battle at any one time as could have been brought in?

Answer. I think they were.

Question. Was not the nature of the battle-field such that it was exceedingly difficult to bring a large body of men into action at any one time?

Answer. I think it was about as fine a battle-field as you can find between here and Richmond. I have no idea there was any better.

Question. Was the field favorable for the movement and manoeuvering of large bodies of men?

Answer. One or two divisions of the size we had then could have manoeuvred very well.

Question. I speak of the field as a whole?

Answer. Well, sir, to come to the causes of the disaster, another cause was perhaps the fall of General Hunter, who was wounded at the beginning of the action. That took Colonel Porter away from his brigade to look after the brigade that Colonel Burnside commanded. It was thrown into confusion, and Burnside was in danger of losing his battery, and came to Colonel Porter for a battalion of regulars to help him. That was diverted from the position it was originally intended for; from the extreme right to the extreme left of our division. They were the flank of the division, thrown out to lash the enemy, as you might say; that battalion being to our extreme right what the knot is to the lash. At the beginning of the action they could have inflicted very severe and telling blows upon the enemy. But as it was they were taken to the extreme left of the division. General Porter went to look after the affairs of that division. The enemy were repulsed and commenced giving way rapidly. In the mean time I had formed the brigade into line, developed it, and deployed it. The report of General Porter will tell you how it was done. The whole line of the centre of the enemy gave way, followed by the wings as far as we could see, and we drove them rapidly back. For the first two or three hours it seemed as though nothing could stop us. At the end of two or three hours, Heintzelman’s column came on the same ground; the 2d Minnesota, the 38th New York, and the 5th and 11th Massachusetts. There was a want of a headquarters somewhere on the field. All the staff officers who knew anything about the position of the enemy had to act without orders. I had the command of Colonel Porter’s brigade for about an hour and a half or two hours. After standing a half an hour in line, under a severe fire, without venturing to give an order to move, I formed the 8th and fourteenth New York in column, and pushed them down the road right straight to the house where we afterwards lost the batteries and everything. They went down in fine style, perfectly cool and in good order. They were going so rapidly that the enemy could not keep the range—were constantly losing the range; and the column was not cut much—had but very few casualties. When they got down to where the road they were on crossed the turnpike, then, by some misunderstanding, an order was sent to them to turn up that road, instead of keeping on according to the previous purpose, and thus those two regiments were diverted to the left. If they had gone up to that hill at the time the enemy were going away, they could, I believe, have taken that house and held that position.  And then Griffin’s battery could have gone up there in safety, and they could have cut off the retreat of those rebels who were flying before Burnside’s brigade and Sykes’s battalion, probably 2,000 or 3,000 of them. Turning up this road kept our troops under the fire of the enemy’s batteries, and subjected them to a desultory fire from those running rebels, which broke them up. The eighth New York broke and never afterwards formed to any extent—not over 200. The field officers left the field and went back off the ground. There were only two officers in that regiment who afterwards displayed any courage and coolness at all that was observable—two field officers, the quartermaster and the major, I think. Griffin’s battery was then without support; and as I was passing by his battery at that time, he called to me and said he was without support, and asked what he should do. I saw the fourteenth New York collecting in little masses over to the left of the field. I rode as rapidly as possible over to them, collected them, and marched them over to the rear of Griffin’s battery.

Question. How many men did the regiment have then?

Answer. It was pretty nearly formed. .

Question. Pretty nearly full?

Answer. Yes, sir; I should think that three-fourths of the men were there. They formed very well, did very well, indeed. The officers behaved well; but, as I said before, this feeling was uppermost: want of orders. Lieutenant Whipple, who was acting assistant adjutant general to the division commander, and reported to Colonel Porter after General Hunter fell, and myself met about this time. We talked over the position of affairs, and came to the conclusion that that hill in front of us was the key-point of the enemy’s position, and must be taken before the battle would be given up. We felt that we had won the battle; but in order to make it decisive and hold the position, we would have to take that hill. We agreed upon a plan which was to collect the regiments in the centre of the field : the fifth and eleventh Massachusetts, the second Minnesota, the thirty-eighth New York, and, I think, Colonel Coffer’s regiment, sixty-ninth, I think—five or six regiments—and to send them up on the hill in line. Put the fourteenth on the right, with the marines and zouaves, and then move them all up together with Griffin’s battery in the centre. That would make an embrasure of troops for the battery to fire through, and they never could take the battery as long as these supports were on its flanks, neither could their cavalry ever charge upon the infantry line as long as the battery was there. We went over to the centre and succeeded in getting these five regiments started. I found Colonel Franklin and two or three other officers there who assisted me. Colonel Franklin was conspicuous. Colonel Wadsworth was also conspicuous in starting these regiments. Just about this time I became aware that General McDowell had come on the field from this fact. We saw the battery moving up on the hill. I had gone to Griffin and notified him of this plan, telling him these troops were going to move up, not to mistake them for the enemy and fire upon them. He had necessarily, from his position, to fire over their heads at one point of the movement, if he kept up his fire. A great many incidents occurred along about that time that I presume you have heard many times.

Question. We want the main statement.

Answer. The battery was seen moving up on the hill, and without any support except the marines and zouaves. The New York 14th was then down in a hollow; they had followed Griffin’s battery for about half the distance. There were two slopes coming down to each other; Griffin was on one slope and the enemy was on the other, which was a little higher than-the one we were on. The 14th went down into the hollow and there waited. The marines and zouaves went up with the battery, and had to cross a deep run with high banks on each side.

Question. Did Ricketts’ battery go with Griffin’s?

Answer. It joined it in this movement. I immediately rode over to the right of the field and inquired where General McDowell was. I found him on top of a little hill in a little field beyond the turnpike. In going over I had spoken to the 14th, and told them to push up to the woods on the right of Griffin’s battery. They went forward finely in line. I followed the 14th, going around the right flank of it, and got up on the hill where General McDowell was. General McDowell called out to the colonel of the 14th to march the regiment by flank. There was probably a delay of two or three minutes in executing that movement. I spoke, then, to the General, and said: “General, if that battery goes up on the hill it will be lost; the woods are full of the enemy, for I have seen them there. I had then been on the ground seven hours watching closely with a glass all the movements. Said I, “For heaven’s sake let the 14th go up in the woods.” Marching them by the flank, changing the movement, was sending them up in rear of the battery, where they could have no effect upon the enemy on the flank. General McDowell said: “Go and take the 14th where you want it.” I immediately went to the 14th, changed its direction to the woods, and told it to take the double quick. The battery was still moving. The general said it was too late to recall the movement. I was so apprehensive that the battery would meet with a disaster there that I rode up to where the battery was. The marines were then sitting down in close column on the ground on the left of the battery. The battery was then getting into position and unlimbering. The fire zouaves were still in rear of the battery. The zouaves immediately commenced a movement, rose up and moved off in rear of the battery, a little to the right. I rode up then to the left of the battery, and there met Colonel Heintzelman. I saw some troops immediately in front of us, not over 75 or 100 yards off. I should say it was at least a regiment; we could see their heads and faces very plainly. I said to Colonel Heintzelman: “What troops are those in front of us?” He was looking off in another direction. I said: “Here, right in front of the battery.” I do not remember the reply he made, but I dropped my reins and took up my glasses to look at them, and just at that moment down came their pieces, rifles and muskets, and probably there never was such a destructive fire for a few minutes. It seemed as though every man and horse of that battery just laid right down and died right off. It was half a minute—it seemed longer—before I could get my horse down out of the fire. I then went to the marines and halloed to them to hurry on. Their officers were standing behind them keeping them in ranks; but the destruction of the battery was so complete that the marines and zouaves seemed to be struck with such astonishment, such consternation, that they could not do anything. There were probably 100 muskets fired from the zouaves and marines—not over that; and they, of course, fired too high. They were below the battery, and where the battery was we could not see more than half of the bodies of the rebels, and what they did fire was ineffective. They began to break and run down the hill, and nothing could stop them, and then the enemy rushed right over there like a lowering cloud—right over the hill.

Question. Why did not the batteries open upon those men in front?

Answer. I do not know from actual operation why they did not. The battery was unlimbered, and the men were standing at the guns. In going down the hill, after the general wreck, I saw an officer galloping along a little in front of me. I recognized Major Barry, and cried out, “Halloo, Barry, is that you?” He said, “Yes,” Said I, “Where is Griffin?” He said, “I am afraid he is killed.” I said, “That battery is lost; I am afraid we are gone up,” or some remark to that effect. Barry then said: “I am to blame for the loss of that battery. I put Griffin there myself.” Well, the 14th, by this time, had reached the woods on the right, The 38th New York, which led the column on the left, which we intended to support when they got there, had reached this little cross-road, and the 14th and 38th held on very well—indeed, splendidly. The enemy came right over the brow of the hill, and their fire was very deadly. They made a rush over the top of the hill, and their cavalry made their appearance at the same time; this 14th and 38th hung on for fifteen minutes there, while all the officers about there tried to collect these scattered troops and get them back to that position to the assistance of the 14th and 38th, and appealed to them in every way that possibly could be done. But it was of no avail. What there was left of the battery, a few limbers and caissons that had live horses to drag them, came galloping down the hill, right through this mass of running troops, and occasionally a horse would fall, and the whole thing would get all tangled up.

Question. Was or not that the beginning of the panic?

Answer. That was the turning point of the affair, right there.

Question. Did you not look upon that as the turning point upon the field?

Answer. Yes, sir; oh! yes, sir. We had eight regiments marching towards that hill then.

Question. Were those batteries properly supported when they moved up the hill?

Answer. No, sir; that is shown from the fact that they were taken.

Question. If they had been properly supported they would not have been taken?

Answer. No, sir.

Question. Could they have been properly supported?

Answer. Yes, sir; the troops were there to do it.

Question. Then it was a mistake to order those batteries forward without a proper support—a mistake on the part of some one?

Answer. It must have been so.

Question. Do you know why Captain Griffin did not open fire upon the regiment in front of them?

Answer. It was generally understood that these troops were mistaken.

Question. By whom was the mistake made?

Answer. It was understood that these troops were mistaken for our own, and Captain Griffin was ordered not to fire. My impression is that it was the chief of artillery on the field who made the mistake.

Question. Who was the chief of artillery?

Answer. Major Barry.

Question. General Franklin’s brigade came on after that, did they?

Answer. Well, sir, they were partially on the field then. I do not know exactly what troops composed his brigade. He was there himself. Then Sykes’s battalion moved across and occupied this hill in the middle ground, and held it. Our troops then scattered all over the battle-field, their backs turned towards the enemy, and all going to the rear.

Question. The capture of that battery, and the rapid retreat of the horses and men in the vicinity of the battery, tended to create confusion among all those in the rear?

Answer. Yes, sir; that taken in connexion with the exhaustion of the men. There was no water for the men to drink about there, except in the rear, and a great many were dying of thirst. Everybody wanted water. Well, sir, it was a pretty hot day; and it was probably a little unfortunate for us that the water was in the rear of the field of battle. We then came back to our first position on the field of battle. If we had had a fresh division there, or a fresh brigade there, we could have made a stand. Johnston’s forces—that is, I have been told since they were Johnston’s forces—made their appearance on the field at that time.

Question. Just at the time of the loss of the batteries?

Answer. Yes, sir. They deployed in several lines on our extreme right, and with the rapidity, apparently, of fresh troops. The moral effect of that deployment had a great deal to do with the panic among our troops.

Question. That happening at the same time with the loss of the batteries?

Answer. Yes, sir. If we had not lost the batteries, and had had a fresh brigade there, we could have made a stand there, because our troops formed very well back on our first position. The 27th New York formed first, and stood steady (though the men were very much exhausted) for nearly half an hour, while the other fragments of regiments gathered in their places about them, the enemy’s artillery throwing projectiles right through us all the while. We had no artillery to reply to them, only a section of the battery of Captain Arnold. We had no artillery, no fresh troops, and could not make a stand, but were forced to retire.

Question. Then you attribute the disasters of the day to the loss of Griffin’s and Ricketts’ batteries, the great exhaustion of the men from the want of water, and the fact that Johnston’s troops came on the field fresh just at the tune of the loss of the batteries?

Answer. Yes, sir. Those three causes alone would have been sufficient to have defeated us. But there were many other minor causes that had their effect. There was a want of discipline in our troops.

Question. The troops were not familiar with their officers?

Answer. Yes, sir; that was one thing. That they could have stood was shown in the way that Sykes’s battalion stood, because they were disciplined, and came off the field in regular order.








Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 850 other followers