Battles and Leaders – Joe Johnston on Handcuffs at Bull Run

13 02 2010

Joe Johnston’s defense of his actions before, during and after First Bull Run as presented in Responsibilities of the First Bull Run includes this tidbit:

Mr. Davis (“R[ise] and F[all of the Confederate Government],” I, 359) expresses indignation that, as he says, “among the articles abandoned by the enemy . . . were handcuffs, the fit appendage of a policeman, but not of a soldier.” I saw none, nor did I see any one who had seen them.

I think what he’s saying here is that Davis was full of something, and it wasn’t Shinola.

I’ve written about the rumor of handcuffs on the field here, and James Longstreet’s aide T. J. Goree mentioned them as well.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine





Responsibilities of the First Bull Run – Joseph Johnston

12 02 2010

RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE FIRST BULL RUN

BY JOSEPH E. JOHNSTON, GENERAL, C. S. A.

BATTLES AND LEADERS OF THE CIVIL WAR – Volume I: From Sumter to Shiloh, pp. 167-193

When the State of Virginia seceded, being a citizen of that State, I resigned my office in the United States Army; and as I had seen a good deal of military service, in the Seminole and Mexican wars and in the “West, the President of the Confederacy offered me a commission in the highest grade in his army. I accepted the offer because the invasion of the South was inevitable. But I soon incurred Mr. Davis’s displeasure by protesting against an illegal act of his by which I was greatly wronged. (1) Still he retained me in important positions, although his official letters were harsh. In 1864, however, he degraded me to the utmost of his power by summarily removing me from a high command. Believing that he was prompted to this act by animosity, and not by dispassionate opinion, I undertake to prove this animosity by many extracts from his “Rise and Fall of the Confederacy” (D. Appleton & Co.: 1881), and my comments thereon.

Mr. Davis recites (“R. and F.,” I, p. 307) the law securing to officers who might leave the United States Army to enter that of the Confederacy the same relative rank in the latter which they had in the former, provided their resignations had been offered in the six months next following the 14th of March, and then adds:

“The provisions hereof are in the view entertained that the army was of the States, not of the Government, and was to secure to officers adhering to the Confederate States the same relative rank which they had before those States had withdrawn from the Union. . . .

“How well the Government of the Confederacy observed both the letter and spirit of the law will be seen by reference to its action in the matter of appointments.”

Those of the five generals were the most prominent, of course. All had resigned within the time prescribed. Their relative rank in the United States Army just before secession had been: 1st, J. E. Johnston, Brigadier-General; 2d, Samuel Cooper, Colonel; 3d, A. S. Johnston, Colonel; 4th, R. E. Lee, Lieutenant-Colonel; and 5th, G. T. Beauregard, Major. All of them but the third had had previous appointments, when, on the 31st of August, the Confederate Government announced new ones: Cooper’s being dated May 16th, A. S. Johnston’s May 28th, Lee’s June 14th, J. E. Johnston’s July 4th, and Beauregard’s July 21st. So the law was violated, 1st, by disregarding existing commissions; 2d, by giving different instead of the same dates to commissions; and 3d, by not recognizing previous rank in the United States Army. The only effect of this triple violation of law was to reduce J. E. Johnston from the first to the fourth place, which, of course, must have been its object. Mr. Davis continues:

“It is a noteworthy fact that the three highest officers in rank . . . were all so indifferent to any question of personal interest that they had received their appointment before they were aware it was to be conferred” (p. 307).

This implies that the conduct described was unusual. On the contrary, it was that of the body of officers who left the United States Army to enter that of the Confederacy. It is strange that the author should disparage so many honorable men. He states (“R. and F.,” L, 309) that General Lee, when ordered from Richmond to the South for the first time, asked what rank he held in the army: “So wholly had his heart and his mind been consecrated to the public service that he had not remembered, if he ever knew, of his advancement.”

As each grade has its duties, an officer cannot know his duty if ignorant of his rank. Therefore General Lee always knew his rank, for he never failed in his duty. Besides, his official correspondence at the time referred to shows that he knew that he was major-general of the Virginia forces until May 25th, 1861, and a Confederate general after that date.

Describing the events which immediately preceded the battle of Manassas, Mr. Davis says (“Rise and Fall,” I., 340):

“The forces there assembled [in Virginia] were divided into three armies, at positions the most important and threatened : one, under General J. E. Johnston, at Harper’s Ferry, covering the valley of the Shenandoah. . . . Harper’s Ferry was an important position both for military and political considerations. . . . The demonstrations of General Patterson, commanding the Federal army in that region, caused General Johnston earnestly to insist on being allowed to retire to a position nearer to Winchester.”

Harper’s Ferry is 22 miles east of the route into the Shenandoah Valley, and could be held only by an army strong enough to drive an enemy from the heights north and east of it. So it is anything but an important position. These objections were expressed to the Government two days after my arrival, and I suggested the being permitted to move the troops as might be necessary. All this before Patterson had advanced from Chambersburg.

On page 341,” R. and F.,” Mr. Davis quotes from an official letter to me from General Cooper, dated June 13th, 1861, which began thus:

“The opinions expressed by Major Whiting in his letter to you, and on which you have indorsed your concurrence, have been duly considered. You hail been heretofore instructed to exercise your discretion as to retiring from your position at Harper’s Ferry.”(2)

This latter statement is incorrect. No such instructions had been given. The last instructions on the subject received by me were in General Lee’s letter of June 7th.(3)  On page 341 Mr. Davis says:

“The temporary occupation [of Harper's Ferry] was especially needful for the removal of the valuable machinery and material in the armory located there.”

The removal of the machinery was not an object referred to in General Cooper’s letter. But the presence of our army anywhere in the Valley within a day’s march of the position, would have protected that removal. That letter (page 341) was received two days after the army left Harper’s Ferry to meet General McClellan’s troops, believed by intelligent people of Winchester to be approaching from the west.

On page 345 Mr. Davis says it was a difficult problem to know which army, whether Beauregard’s at Manassas or Johnston’s in the Valley, should be reenforced by the other, because these generals were “each asking reinforcements from the other.” All that was written by me on the subject is in the letter (page 345) dated July 9th:

“I have not asked for reinforcements because I supposed that the War Department, informed of the state of affairs everywhere, could best judge where the troops at its disposal are most required. . . . If it is proposed to strengthen us against the attack I suggest as soon to be made, it seems to me that General Beauregard might with great expedition furnish 5000 or 6000 men for a few days.”

Mr. Davis says, after quoting from this letter:

“As soon as I became satisfied that Manassas was the objective point of the enemy’s movement, I wrote to General Johnston urging him to make preparations for a junction with General Beauregard.”

There is abundant evidence that the Southern President never thought of transferring the troops in the “Valley” to Manassas until the proper time to do it came — that is, when McDowell was known to be advancing. This fact is shown by the anxiety he expressed to increase the number of those troops.(4) And General Lee, writing [from South Carolina] to Mr. Davis, November 24th, 1861 (“Official Records,” II, 515), says in regard to General Beauregard’s suggestion that he be reenforeed from my army:

“You decided that the movements of the enemy in and about Alexandria were not sufficiently demonstrative to warrant the withdrawing of any of the forces from the Shenandoah Valley. A few days afterward, however,— I think three or four,— the reports from General Beauregard showed so clearly the enemy’s purpose, that you ordered General Johnston, with his effective force, to march at once to the support of General Beauregard.”

This letter is in reply to one from Mr. Davis, to the effect that statements had been widely published to show that General Beauregard’s forces had been held inactive by his (Mr. Davis’s) rejection of plans for vigorous offensive operations proposed to him by the general, and desiring to know of General Lee what those plans were, and why they were rejected.

“On the 17th of July, 1861,” says Mr. Davis (“R. and F.” I, 346), “the following telegram was sent by the adjutant-general” to General Johnston, Winchester, Va.:

“General Beauregard is attacked. To strike the enemy a decisive blow, a junction of all your effective force will be needed. If practicable, make the movement, sending your sick and baggage to Culpeper Court House, either by railroad or by Warrenton. In all the arrangements exercise your discretion. S. COOPER , Adjutant and Inspector-General.”

Mr. Davis asserts that I claim that discretion was given me by the words “all the arrangements.” I claimed it from what he terms the only positive part of the order, viz., “If practicable, make the movement, sending your sick to Culpeper Court House.” Mr. Davis adds:

“The sending the sick to Culpeper Court House might have been after or before the effective force had moved to the execution of the main and only positive part of the order.”

“Make the movement” would have been a positive order, but “if practicable” deprived it of that character, and gave the officer receiving it a certain discretion. But, as the movement desired was made promptly, it was surely idle to discuss, twenty years after, whether the officer could lawfully have done what he did not do. At the time the decision of such a question might have been necessary; but, as Mr. Davis will give no more orders to generals, and as the officer concerned will execute no more, such a discussion is idle now. The use of the wagons required in the march of the army would have been necessary to remove the sick to the railroad station at Strasburg, eighteen miles distant; so this removal could not have been made after the march. There being seventeen hundred sick, this part of their transportation would have required more time than the transfer of the troops to Manassas, which was the important thing. The sick were, therefore, properly and quickly provided for in Winchester. I was the only judge of the “practicable”; and “if practicable” refers to the whole sentence—as much to sending the sick to Culpeper as to “make the movement.” Still he says (“R. and F.,” I., 347):

“His [my] letters of the 12th and 15th expressed his doubts about his power to retire from before the superior force of General Patterson. Therefore, the word ‘practicable’ was in that connection the equivalent of ‘possible.’”

It is immaterial whether “if practicable” or “if possible” was written. I was the only judge of the possibility or practicability; and, if General Patterson had not changed his position after the telegram was received, I might have thought it necessary to attack him, to “make the movement practicable.” But as to my power to retire. On the 15th General Patterson’s forces were half a day’s march from us, and on the 12th more than a day’s march; and, as Stuart’s cavalry did not permit the enemy to observe us, retreat would have been easy, and I could not possibly have written to the contrary.(5)

As to Mr. Davis’s telegram (“R. and F.,” I., 348) (6), and the anxiety in Mr. Davis’s mind lest there should be some unfortunate misunderstanding between General Beauregard and me,—my inquiry was intended and calculated to establish beyond dispute our relative positions. As a Confederate brigadier-general I had been junior to General Beauregard, but had been created general by act of Congress. But, as this had not been published to the army, it was not certain that it was known at Manassas. If it was not, the President’s telegram gave the information, and prevented what he seems to have apprehended.

THE BATTLE OF BULL RUN.

On page 349, to the end of the chapter, the President describes his visit to the field of battle near Manassas. “As we advanced,” he says, “the storm of battle was rolling westward.” But, in fact, the fighting had ceased before he left Manassas. He then mentions meeting me on a hill which commanded a general view of the field, and proceeding farther west, where he saw a Federal “column,” which a Confederate squadron charged and put to flight. But the captain in command of this squadron (7) says in his report that the column seen was a party of our troops. Mr. Davis also dilates on the suffering of our troops for want of supplies and camp equipage, and on his efforts to have them provided for. After the battle ended, officers were duly directed by me to have food brought to the ground where the troops were to pass the night.

I was not in the conference described by Mr. Davis (“R. and F.,” I., 353, 354, 355). Having left the field after 10 o’clock, and ridden in the dark slowly, it was about half-past 11 when I found the President and General Beauregard together, in the latter’s quarters at Manassas. We three conversed an hour or more without referring to pursuit or an advance upon Washington. The “conference” described by him must have occurred before my arrival, and Mr. Davis may very well have forgotten that I was not present then.

But, when the President wrote, he had forgotten the subject of the conference he described; for the result, as he states it, was an order, not for pursuit by the army, but for the detail of two parties to collect wounded men and abandoned property near the field of battle. This order (pages 355, 356) is “to the same effect,” Mr. Davis says, as the one he wrote, and which he terms a direction to pursue the Federal army at early dawn.

It is asserted (“R. and F.,” I, 354) (8) that I left the command over both Confederate armies in General Beauregard’s hands during the engagement. Such conduct would have been as base as flight from the field in the heat of battle, and would have brought upon me the contempt of every honorable soldier. It is disproved by the fact that General Beauregard was willing to serve under me there, and again in North Carolina, near the close of the war; and that he associated with me. As this accusation is published by the Southern President, and indorsed by General Beauregard, it requires my contradiction.

Instead of leaving the command in General Beauregard’s hands, I assumed it over both armies immediately after my arrival on the 20th, showing General Beauregard as my warrant the President’s telegram defining my position. The usual order (9) assuming command was written and sent to General Beauregard’s office for distribution. He was then told that as General Patterson would no doubt hasten to join General McDowell as soon as he discovered my movement, we must attack the Federal army next morning. General Beauregard then pointed out on a map of the neighborhood the roads leading to the enemy’s camp at Centreville from the different parts of our line south of the stream, and the positions of the brigades near each road; and a simple order of march, by which our troops would unite near the Federal position, was sketched. Having had neither sleep nor recumbent rest since the morning of the 17th, I begged General Beauregard to put this order of march on paper, and have the necessary copies made and sent to me for inspection in a grove, near, where I expected to be resting—this in time for distribution before night. This distribution was to be by him, the immediate commander of most of the troops. Seeing that 8 brigades were on the right of the line to Centreville, and but 1 to the left of it at a distance of 4 miles, I desired General Beauregard to have Bee’s and Jackson’s brigades placed in this interval near the detached brigade.

The papers were brought to me a little before sunrise next morning. They differed greatly from the order sketched the day before; but as they would have put the troops in motion if distributed, it would have been easy then to direct the course of each division. By the order sketched the day before, all our forces would have been concentrated near Centreville, to attack the Federal army. By that prepared by General Beauregard but 4 brigades were directed ” to the attack of Centreville,” of which one and a half had not yet arrived from the Valley, while 6 brigades were to move forward to the Union Mills and Centreville road, there to hold themselves in readiness to support the attack on Centreville, or to move, 2 to Sangster’s cross-roads, 2 to Fairfax Station, and 2 to Fairfax Court House. The two and a half brigades on the ground, even supported by the half brigade of the reserve also on the ground, in all probability would have been defeated by the whole Federal army before the three bodies of 2 brigades each could have come to their aid, over distances of from 3 to 5 miles. Then, if the enemy had providentially been defeated by one-sixth or one-eighth of their number, Sangster’s cross-roads and Fairfax Station would have been out of their line of retreat.

Soon after sunrise on the 21st, it was reported that a large body of Federal troops was approaching on the Warrenton Turnpike. This offensive movement of the enemy would have frustrated our plan of the day before, if the orders for it had been delivered to the troops. It appears from the reports of the commanders of the six brigades on the right that but one of them, General Longstreet, received it. Learning that Bee’s and Jackson’s brigades were still on the right, I again desired General Beauregard to transfer them to the left, which he did, giving the same orders to Hampton’s Legion, just arrived. These, with Cocke’s brigade then near the turnpike, would necessarily receive the threatened attack.

General Beauregard then suggested that all our troops on the right should move rapidly to the left and assail the attacking Federal troops in flank. This suggestion was accepted; and together we joined those troops. Three of the four brigades of the first line, at Mitchell’s, Blackburn’s, and McLean’s fords, reported strong bodies of United States troops on the wooded heights before them. This frustrated the second plan. Two Federal batteries — one in front of Bonham’s brigade at Mitchell’s Ford, the other before Longstreet’s at Blackburn’s Ford — were annoying us, although their firing was slow.

About 8 o’clock, after receiving such information as scouts could give, I left General Beauregard near Longstreet’s position, and placed myself on Lookout Hill, in rear of Mitchell’s Ford, to await the development of the enemy’s designs. About 9 o’clock the signal officer, Captain Alexander, reported that a column of Federal troops could be seen crossing the valley of Bull Run, two miles beyond our left.

General McDowell had been instructed by his general-in-chief to pass the Confederate right and seize the railroad in our rear. But, learning that the district to be passed through was rugged and covered with woods, and therefore unfavorable to a large army, he determined, after devoting three days to reconnoissance, to operate on the open and favorable ground to his right, and turn our left. He had another object in this second plan, and an important one—that this course would place his between the two Confederate armies, and prevent their junction; and if it had been made a day or two sooner, this manoeuvre would have accomplished that object.

General McDowell marched from Centreville by the Warrenton Turnpike with three divisions, sending a fourth division to deceive us by demonstrations in front of our main body. Leaving the turnpike a half mile from the Stone Bridge, he made a long detour to Sudley Ford, where he crossed Bull Run and turned toward Manassas. Colonel Evans, who commanded fourteen companies near the Stone Bridge, discovered this manoeuvre, and moved with his little force along the base of the hill north of the turnpike, to place it before the enemy near the Sudley and Manassas road. Here he was assailed by greatly superior numbers, which he resisted obstinately.

General Beauregard had joined me on Lookout Hill, and we could distinctly hear the sounds and see the smoke of the fight. But they indicated no hostile force that Evans’s troops and those of Bee, Hampton, and Jackson, which we could see hurrying toward the conflict in that order, were not adequate to resist.

On reaching the broad, level top of the hill south of the turnpike, Bee, appreciating the strength of the position, formed his troops (half of his own and half of Bartow’s brigade) on that ground. But seeing Evans struggling against great odds, he crossed the valley and formed on the right and a little in advance of him. Here the 5 or 6 regiments, with 6 field-pieces, held their ground for an hour against 10,000 or 12,000 United States troops,(10) when, finding they were overlapped on each flank by the continually arriving enemy, General Bee fell back to the position from which he had moved to rescue Evans — crossing the valley, closely pressed by the Federal army.

Hampton with his Legion reached the valley as the retrograde movement began. Forming it promptly, he joined in the action, and contributed greatly to the orderly character of the retreat by his courage and admirable soldiership, seconded by the excellent conduct of the gentlemen composing his command. Imboden and his battery did excellent service on this trying occasion. Bee met Jackson at the head of his brigade, on the position he had first taken, and he began to re-form and Jackson to deploy at the same time.

In the mean time I had been waiting with General Beauregard on Lookout Hill for evidence of General McDowell’s design. The violence of the firing on the left indicated a battle, but the large bodies of troops reported by chosen scouts to be facing our right kept me in doubt. But near 11 o’clock reports that those troops were felling trees showed that they were standing on the defensive; and new clouds of dust on the left proved that a large body of Federal troops was arriving on the field. It thus appeared that the enemy’s great effort was to be against our left. I expressed this to General Beauregard, and the necessity of reenforcing the brigades engaged, and desired him to send immediate orders to Early and Holmes, of the second line, to hasten to the conflict with their brigades. General Bonham, who was near me, was desired to send up two regiments and a battery. I then set off at a rapid gallop to the scene of action. General Beauregard joined me without a word. Passing on the way Colonel Pendleton with two batteries, I directed him to follow with them as fast as possible.

It now seemed that a battle was to be fought entirely different in place and circumstance from the two plans previously adopted and abandoned as impracticable. Instead of taking the initiative and operating in front of our line, we were compelled to fight on the defensive more than a mile in rear of that line, and at right angles to it, on a field selected by Bee,— with no other plans than those suggested by the changing events of battle.

While we were riding forward General Beauregard suggested to me to assign him to the immediate command of the troops engaged, so that my supervision of the whole field might not be interrupted, to which I assented. So he commanded those troops under me; as elsewhere, lieutenant-generals commanded corps, and major-generals divisions, under me.

When we were near the ground where Bee was re-forming and Jackson deploying his brigade, I saw a regiment in line with ordered arms and facing to the front, but 200 or 300 yards in rear of its proper place. On inquiry I learned that it had lost all its field-officers; so, riding on its left flank, I easily marched it to its place. It was the 4th Alabama, an excellent regiment; and I mention this because the circumstance has been greatly exaggerated.

After the troops were in good battle order I turned to the supervision of the whole field. The enemy’s great numerical superiority was discouraging. Yet, from strong faith in Beauregard’s capacity and courage, and the high soldierly qualities of Bee and Jackson, I hoped that the fight would be maintained until I could bring adequate reinforcements to their aid. For this Holmes and Early were urged to hasten their march, and Ewell was ordered to follow them with his brigade with all speed. Broken troops were reorganized and led back into the fight with the help of my own and part of General Beauregard’s staff. Cocke’s brigade was held in rear of the right to observe a large body of Federal troops in a position from which Bee’s right flank could have been struck in a few minutes.

After these additions had been made to our troops then engaged, we had 9 regiments of infantry, 5 batteries, and 300 cavalry of the Army of the Shenandoah, and about 2 regiments and a half of infantry, 6 companies of cavalry, and 6 field-pieces of the Army of the Potomac, holding at bay 3 divisions of the enemy. The Southern soldiers had, however, two great advantages in the contest: greater skill in the use of fire-arms, and the standing on the defensive, by which they escaped such disorder as advancing under fire produced in the ranks of their adversaries, undisciplined like themselves.

A report received about 2 o’clock from General Beauregard’s office that another United States army was approaching from the north-west, and but a few miles from us, caused me to send orders to Bonham, Longstreet, and Jones to hold their brigades south of Bull Run, and ready to move.

When Bonham’s two regiments appeared soon after, Cocke’s brigade was ordered into action on our right. Fisher’s North Carolina regiment coming up, Bonham’s two regiments were directed against the Federal right, and Fisher’s was afterward sent in the same direction; for the enemy’s strongest efforts seemed to be directed against our left, as if to separate us from Manassas Junction.

About 3:30 o’clock, General E. K. Smith arrived with three regiments of Elzey’s brigade, coming from Manassas Junction. He was instructed, through a staff-officer sent forward to meet him, to form on the left of our line, his left thrown forward, and to attack the enemy in flank. At his request I joined him, directed his course, and gave him these instructions. Before the formation was completed, he fell severely wounded, and while falling from his horse directed Colonel Elzey to take command. That officer appreciated the manoeuvre and executed it gallantly and well. General Beauregard promptly seized the opportunity it afforded, and threw forward the whole line. The enemy was driven from the long-contested hill, and the tide of battle at length turned. But the first Federal line driven into the valley was there rallied on a second, the two united presenting a formidable aspect. In the mean time, however, Colonel Early had come upon the field with his brigade. He was instructed by me to make a detour to the left and assail the Federal right in flank. He reached the ground in time, accompanied by Stuart’s cavalry and Beckham’s battery, and made his attack with a skill and courage which routed the Federal right in a moment. General Beauregard, charging in front, made the rout complete. The Federal right fled in confusion toward the Sudley Ford, and the center and left marched off rapidly by the turnpike.

Stuart pursued the fugitives on the Sudley road, and Colonel Radford, with two squadrons which I had held in reserve near me during the day, was directed to cross Bull Run at Ball’s Ford, and strike the column on the turnpike in flank. The number of prisoners taken by these parties of cavalry greatly exceeded their own numbers. But they were too weak to make a serious impression on an army, although a defeated one.

At twenty minutes before 5, when the retreat of the enemy toward Centreville began, I sent orders to Brigadier-General Bonham by Lieutenant-Colonel Lay, of his staff, who happened to be with me, to march with his own and Longstreet’s brigade (which were nearest Bull Run and the Stone Bridge), by the quickest route to the turnpike, and form them across it to intercept the retreat of the Federal troops. But he found so little appearance of rout in those troops as to make the execution of his instructions seem impracticable; so the two brigades returned to their camps. When the retreat began, the body of United States troops that had passed the day on the Centreville side of Bull Run made a demonstration on the rear of our right; which was repelled by Holmes’s brigade just arrived.

Soon after the firing ceased, General Ewell reported to me, saying that his brigade was about midway from its camp near Union Mills. He had ridden forward to see the part of the field on which he might be required to serve, to prepare himself to act intelligently.

The victory was as complete as one gained in an open country by infantry and artillery can be. Our cavalry pursued as far as they could effectively; but when they encountered the main column, after dispersing or capturing little parties and stragglers, they could make no impression.

General Beauregard’s first plan of attack was delivered to me by his aide-de-camp, Colonel Chisolm, when I was thirty-four miles from Manassas. It was, that I should leave the railroad at Piedmont station, thirty-six miles from the enemy at Centreville, and attack him in rear, and when our artillery announced that we had begun the fight, General Beauregard would move up from Bull Run and assail the enemy on that side. I rejected the plan, because such a one would enable an officer of ordinary sense and vigor to defeat our two armies one after the other. For McDowell, by his numerical superiority, could have disposed of my forces in less than two hours; that is to say, before Beauregard could have come up, when he also could have been defeated and the campaign ended.

An opinion seems to prevail with some persons who have written about the battle, that important plans of General Beauregard were executed by him. It is a mistake; the first intention, announced to General Beauregard by me when we met, was to attack the enemy at Centreville as early as possible on the 21st. This was anticipated by McDowell’s early advance. The second, to attack the Federals in flank near the turnpike with our main force, suggested by General Beauregard, was prevented by the enemy’s occupation of the high ground in front of our right.

As fought, the battle was made by me; Bee’s and Jackson’s brigades were transferred to the left by me. I decided that the battle was to be there, and directed the measures necessary to maintain it; a most important one being the assignment of General Beauregard to the immediate command of this left, which he held. In like manner the senior officer on the right would have commanded there, if the Federal left had attacked.

These facts in relation to the battle are my defense against the accusation indorsed by General Beauregard and published by Mr. Davis.

In an account of the battle published in “The Century” for November, 1884, General Beauregard mentions offensive operations which he “had designed and ordered against his [adversary's] left flank and rear at Centreville,” and censures my friend General R. S. Ewell for their failure. At the time referred to, three of the four Federal divisions were near Bull Run, above the turnpike, and the fourth facing our right, so that troops of ours, going to Centreville then, if not prevented by the Federal division facing them, would have found no enemy. And General Ewell was not, as he reports, “instructed in the plan of attack”; for he says in his official report: “… I first received orders to hold myself in readiness to advance at a moment’s notice. I next received a copy of an order sent to General Jones and furnished me by him, in which it was stated I had been ordered at once to proceed to his support.” Three other orders, he says, followed, each contradictory of its predecessor. General Ewell knew that a battle was raging; but knew, too, that between him and it were other unengaged brigades, and that his commander was near enough to give him orders. But he had no reason to suppose that his commander desired him to move to Centreville, where there was then no enemy. There could have been no greater mistake on General Ewell’s part than making the movement to Centreville.

A brief passage in my official report of this battle displeased President Davis. In referring to his telegraphic order I gave its meaning very briefly, but accurately—”directing me, if practicable, to go to [General Beauregard's] assistance, after sending my sick to Culpeper Court House.” Mr. Davis objected to the word after. Being informed of this by a friend, I cheerfully consented to his expunging the word, because that would not affect the meaning of the sentence. But the word is still in his harsh indorsement. He also had this passage stricken out: “The delay of sending the sick, nearly seventeen hundred in number, to Culpeper, would have made it impossible to arrive at Manassas in time. They were therefore provided for in Winchester “; and substituted this: “Our sick, nearly seventeen hundred in number, were provided for in Winchester.” Being ordered to send the sick to Culpeper as well as to move to Manassas, it was necessary to account for disobedience, which my words did, and which his substitute for them did not.

Mr. Davis (“R. and F.,” L, 359) expresses indignation that, as he says, “among the articles abandoned by the enemy . . . were handcuffs, the fit appendage of a policeman, but not of a soldier.” I saw none, nor did I see any one who had seen them.

Mr. Davis says (page 359): “On the night of the 22d, I held a second conference with Generals Johnston and Beauregard.” I was in no conference like that of which account is given on page 360. And one that he had with me on that day proved conclusively that he had no thought of sending our army against Washington; for in it he offered me the command in West Virginia, promising to increase the forces there adequately from those around us. He says (page 361):

“What discoveries would have been made, and what results would have ensued from the establishment of our guns upon the south bank of the river to open Are upon the capital, are speculative questions upon which it would be useless to enter.”

Mr. Davis seems to have forgotten what was as well known then as now— that our army was more disorganized by victory than that of the United States by defeat; that there were strong fortifications, well manned, to cover the approaches to Washington and prevent the establishment of our guns on the south bank of the river. He knew, too, that we had no means of cannonading the capital, nor a disposition to make barbarous war. He says (“R. and F.,” I., 362):

“When the smoke of battle had lifted from the field . . . some . . . censoriously asked why the fruits of the victory had not been gathered by the capture of Washington City. Then some indiscreet friends of the generals commanding in that battle . . . induced the allegation that the President had prevented the generals from making an immediate and vigorous pursuit of the routed enemy.”

Mr. Davis has no ground for this assertion; the generals were attacked first and most severely. It was not until the newspapers had exhausted themselves upon us that some of them turned upon him. On November 3d he wrote to me that reports were circulated to the effect that he

“prevented General Beauregard from pursuing the enemy after the battle of Manassas, and had subsequently restrained him from advancing upon Washington City. … I call upon vou, as the commanding general, and as a party to all the conferences held by me on the 21st and 22d of July, to say whether I obstructed the pursuit of the enemy after the victory at Manassas, or have ever objected to an advance or other active operation which it was feasible for the army to undertake.” (“R. and P.,” I., 363.)

I replied on the 10th, answering the first question in the negative, and added an explanation which put the responsibility on myself. I replied to the second question, that it had never been feasible for the army to advance farther toward Washington than it had done, and referred to a conference at Fairfax Court House [October 1st, 1861] in reference to leading the army into Maryland, in which he informed the three senior officers that he had not the means of giving the army the strength which they considered necessary for offensive operations.

Mr. Davis was displeased by my second reply, because in his mind there was but one question in his letter. I maintain that there are two; namely, (1) Did he obstruct the pursuit of the enemy after the victory at Manassas? (2) Had he ever objected to an advance or other active operation which it was feasible for the army to undertake?

The second matter is utterly unconnected with the battle of Manassas, and as the question of advance or other active operation had been discussed nowhere by him, to my knowledge, but at the conference at Fairfax Court House, I supposed that he referred to it. He was dissatisfied with my silence in regard to the conferences which he avers took place on July 21st and 22d, the first knowledge of which I have derived from his book.

THE WITHDRAWAL FROM CENTREVILLE TO THE PENINSULA.

Mr. Davis refers (“Rise and Fall,” I., 444-5) to the instructions for the reorganization of the army given by him to the three general officers whom he met in conference at Fairfax Court House on October 1st, 1861. But the correspondence urging the carrying out of the orders was carried on with Generals Beauregard and G. W. Smith (my subordinates) in that same October. He neither conversed nor corresponded with me on the subject then, the letter to me being dated May 10th, 1862. The original order was dated October 22d, 1861, to be executed “as soon as, in the judgment of the commanding general, it can be safely done under present exigencies.” As the enemy was then nearer to our center than that center to either flank of our army, and another advance upon us by the Federal army was not improbable on any day, it seemed to me unsafe to make the reorganization then. From May 10th to 26th, when the President renewed the subject, we were in the immediate presence of the enemy, when reorganization would have been infinitely dangerous, as was duly represented by me. But, alluding to this conference at Fairfax Court House, he says (p. 449): “When, at that time and place, I met General Johnston for conference, he called in the two generals next in rank to himself, Beauregard and G. W. Smith.” These officers were with Mr. Davis in the quarters of General Beauregard, whose guest he was, when I was summoned to him. I had not power to bring any officer into the conference. If such authority had belonged to my office, the personal relations lately established between us by the President would not have permitted me to use it.

He says (pp. 448-9): “I will now proceed to notice the allegation that I was responsible for inaction of the Army of the Potomac in the latter part of 1861 and in the early part of 1862.” I think Mr. Davis is here fighting a shadow. I have never seen or heard of the “allegation” referred to; I believe that that conference attracted no public attention, and brought criticism upon no one. I have seen no notice of it in print, except the merely historical one in a publication made by me in 1874, (11) without criticism or comment.

In the same paragraph Mr. Davis expresses surprise at the weakness of the army. He has forgotten that in Richmond he was well informed of the strength of the army by periodical reports, which showed him the prevalence of epidemics which, in August and part of September, kept almost thirty per cent. of our number sick. He must have forgotten, too, his anxiety on this subject, which induced him to send a very able physician, Dr. Cartwright, to find some remedy or preventive.

He asserts also that “the generals” had made previous suggestions of a “purpose to advance into Maryland.” There had been no such purpose. On the contrary, in my letter to the Secretary of War, suggesting the conference, I wrote:

“Thus far the numbers and condition of this army have at no time justified our assuming the offensive. . . . The difficulty of obtaining the means of establishing a battery near Evansport (12). . . has given me the impression that you cannot at present put this army in condition to assume the offensive. If I am mistaken in this, and you can furnish those means, I think it important that either his Excellency the President, yourself, or some one representing you, should here, upon the ground, confer with me on this all-important question.”

In a letter dated September 29th, 1861, the Secretary wrote that the President would reach my camp in a day or two for conference. He came for that object September 30th, and the next evening, by his appointment, he was waited on by Generals Beauregard, Gustavus W. Smith, and myself. In discussing the question of giving our army strength enough to assume the offensive in Maryland, it was proposed to bring to it from the South troops enough to raise it to the required strength. The President asked what was that strength. General Smith thought 50,000 men, General Beauregard 60,000, and I 60,000, all of us specifying soldiers like those around us. The President replied that such reenforcements could not be furnished; he could give only as many recruits as we could arm. This decided the question. Mr. Davis then proposed an expedition against Hooker’s division, consisting, we believed, of 10,000 men. It was posted on the Maryland shore of the Potomac, opposite Dumfries.  But I objected that we had no means of ferrying an equal number of men across the river in a day, even if undisturbed by ships of war, which controlled the river; so that, even if we should succeed in landing, those vessels of war would inevitably destroy or capture our party returning. This terminated the conference. Mr. Davis says, in regard to the reenforcements asked for (“R. and F.,” I., 449): “I had no power to make such an addition to that army without a total disregard of the safety of other threatened positions.” We had no threatened positions; and we could always discover promptly the fitting out of naval expeditions against us. And he adds (p. 451), with reference to my request for a conference in regard to reenforcements:

“Very little experience, or a fair amount of modesty without any experience, would serve to prevent one from announcing his conclusion that troops could be withdrawn from a place or places without knowing how many were there, and what was the necessity for their presence.”

The refutation of this is in General G. W. Smith’s memorandum of the discussion: “General Johnston said that he did not feel at liberty to express an opinion of the practicability of reducing the strength of our forces at points not within the limits of his command.” On page 452 [referring to possible minor offensive operations. — EDITORS ] Mr. Davis says he

“particularly indicated the lower part of Maryland, where a small force was said to be ravaging the country.”

He suggested nothing so impossible. Troops of ours could not have been ferried across the broad Potomac then. We had no steamer on that river, nor could we have used one. Mr. Davis says (“R. and F.,” I., 452):

“… Previously, General Johnston’s attention had been called to possibilities in the Valley of the Shenandoah, and that these and other like things were not done, was surely due to other causes than ‘the policy of the Administration’”. . . .

Then he quotes from a letter to me, dated August 1st, 1861, as follows:

“… The movement of Banks (13) will require your attention. It may be a ruse, but if a real movement, when your army has the requisite strength and mobility, you will probably find an opportunity, by a rapid movement through the passes, to strike him in rear or flank.”

It is matter of public notoriety that no incursion into the ” Valley ” worth the notice of a Confederate company was made until March, 1862. That the Confederate President should be ignorant of this is inconceivable. Mr. Davis says (p. 462):

“… I received from General Johnston notice that his position [at Centreville] was considered unsafe. Many of his letters to me have been lost, and I have thus far not been able to find the one giving the notice referred to, but the reply which is annexed clearly indicates the substance of the letter which was answered: ‘ General J. E. Johnston: . . . Your opinion that your position may be turned whenever the enemy chooses to advance,’ etc.”

The sentence omitted by him after my name in his letter from which he quotes as above contains the dates of three letters of mine, in neither of which is there allusion to the safety (or reverse) of the position. They are dated 22d, 23d, and 25th of February, and contain complaints on my part of the dreadful condition of the country, and of the vast accumulation by the Government of superfluous stores at Manassas. There is another omission in the President’s letter quoted, and the omission is this:

“… with your present force, you cannot secure your communications from the enemy, and may at any time, when he can pass to your rear, be compelled to retreat at the sacrifice of your siege train and army stores. . . . Threatened as we are by a large force on the south-east, you must see the hazard of your position, by its liability to isolation and attack in rear.”

By a singular freak of the President’s memory, it transferred the substance of these passages from his letter to my three.

Referring again to the conference at Fairfax Court House [October 1st], Mr. Davis says (p. 464):

“Soon thereafter, the army withdrew to Centreville, a better position for defense, but not for attack, and thereby suggestive of the abandonment of an intention to advance.”

The President forgets that in that conference the intention to advance was abandoned by him first. He says on the same page:

“On the 10th of March I telegraphed to General Johnston: ‘Further assurance given to me this day that you shall be promptly and adequately reenforced, so as to enable you to maintain your position, and resume first policy when the roads will permit.’ The first policy was to carry the war beyond our own border.”

The roads then permitted the marching of armies, so we had just left Manassas. (14)

On the 20th of February, after a discussion in Richmond, his Cabinet being present, the President had directed me to prepare to fall back from Manassas, and do so as soon as the condition of the country should make the marching of troops practicable. I returned to Manassas February 21st, and on the 22d ordered the proper officers to remove the public property, which was begun on the 23d, the superintendent of the railroad devoting himself to the work under the direction of its president, the Hon. John S. Barbour. The Government had collected three million and a quarter pounds of provisions there, I insisting on a supply of but a million and a half. It also had two million pounds in a meat-curing establishment near at hand, and herds of live stock besides. On the 9th of March, when the ground had become firm enough for military operations, I ordered the army to march that night, thinking then, as I do now, that the space of fifteen days was time enough in which to subordinate an army to the Commissary Department. About one million pounds of this provision was abandoned, and half as much more was spoiled for want of shelter. This loss is represented (“R. and F.,” I., 468) (15) as so great as to embarrass us to the end of the war, although it was only a six days’ supply for the troops then in Virginia. Ten times as much was in North Carolina railroad stations at the end of the war. Mr. Davis says (p. 467):

“It was regretted that earlier and more effective means wore not employed for the mobilization of the army, . . . or at least that the withdrawal was not so deliberate as to secure the removal of our ordnance, subsistence, nnd quartermaster’s stores.”

The quartermaster’s and ordnance stores were brought off; and as to subsistence, the Government, which collected immediately on the frontier five times the quantity of provisions wanted, is responsible for the losses. The President suggested the time of the withdrawal himself, in the interview in his office that has been mentioned. The means taken was the only one available,— the Virginia Midland Railroad. Mr. Davis says (“R. and F.,” I., 465):

“To further inquiry from General Johnston as to where he should take position, I replied that I would go to his headquarters in the field, and found him on the south bank of the river, to which he had retired, in a position possessing great natural advantages.”

There was no correspondence in relation to selecting a defensive position. I was not seeking one; but, instead, convenient camping-grounds, from which my troops could certainly unite with other Confederate forces to meet McClellan’s invasion. I had found and was occupying such grounds, one division being north of Orange Court House, another a mile or two south of it, and two others some six miles east of that place; a division on the south bank of the Rappahannock, and the cavalry beyond the river, and about 13,000 troops in the vicinity of Fredericksburg. Mr. Davis’s narrative [of a visit to Fredericksburg at this time, the middle of March.— EDITORS] that follows is disposed of by the proof that, after the army left Manassas, the President did not visit it until about the 14th of May.ft But such a visit, if made, could not have brought him to the conclusion that the weakness of Fredericksburg as a military position made it unnecessary to find a strong one for the army.

Mr. Davis (“R. and F.,” II., 81) credits me with expecting an attack which he shows General McClellan never had in his mind:

“In a previous chapter, the retreat of our army from Centreville has been described, and reference has been made to the anticipation of the commanding general, J. E. Johnston, that the enemy would soon advance to attack that position.”

This refers, I suppose, to a previous assertion (” R. and F.,” L, 462), my comments upon which prove that this ” anticipation ” was expressed in the President’s letter to me, dated February 28th, 1862. He says (” R. and F.,” II., 83):

“The withdrawal of our forces across the Rappahannock was fatal to the [Federal] programme of landing on that river and marching to Richmond before our forces could be in position to resist an attack on the capital.”

This withdrawal was expressly to enable the army to unite with other Confederate troops to oppose the expected invasion. I supposed that General MeClellan would march down the Potomac on the Maryland side, cross it near the mouth of Aquia Creek, and take the Fredericksburg route to Richmond. The position of Hooker, about midway between Washington and this crossing-place, might well have suggested that he had this intention.

POSTCRIPT.— In the first paragraph of General Beauregard’s postcript, it is asserted that I did not claim to have commanded in the first battle of Manassas until May, 1885, and that my official report of that action contains no such claim. It is, nevertheless, distinctly expressed in that report — thus:

“In a brief and rapid conference, General Beauregard was assigned to the command of the left, which, as the younger officer, he claimed, while I returned to that of the whole field.”

And in “Johnston’s Narrative,” published in 1874, it is expressed in these words, on page 49:

“After assigning General Beauregard to the command of the troops immediately engaged, which he properly suggested belonged to the second in rank, not to the commander of the army. I returned to the supervision of the whole field.”

So much for my not having claimed to have commanded at the” first Manassas ” until May, 1885.

General Beauregard in his official report states the circumstance thus:

“. . .I urged General Johnston to leave the immediate conduct of the field to me, while ho, repairing to Portici, the Lewis house, should urge reinforcements forward.”

This language would certainly limit his command as mine does. He did not attempt to command the army, while I did command it, and disposed of all the troops not engaged at the time of his assignment.

In his official report of the battle, General Beauregard further states:

“Made acquainted with my plan of operations and dispositions to meet the enemy, he gave them his entire approval, and generously directed their execution under my command.”

The only “plan” that he offered me [to move via Aldie] was rejected — on the 14th, before my arrival. The battle fought was on McDowell’s plan, not General Beauregard’s. The proof of this is, that at its commencement little more than a regiment of Beauregard’s command was on the ground where the battle was fought, and, of his 7 brigades, 1 was a mile and 6* were from 4 to 7 or 8 miles from it. The place of the battle was fixed by Bee’s aud Jackson’s brigades, sent forward by my direction. At my request General Beauregard did write an order of march against the Federal army, finished a little before sunrise of the 21st. In it I am invariably termed commander-in-chief, and he (to command one of the wings) “second in command,” or General Beauregard—conclusive proof that the troops were not “under his command.”

Two letters, from General Lee and Mr. Walker, Secretary of War, are cited as evidence that General Beauregard commanded. Those gentlemen were not in a position to know if I relinquished the command. But I had this letter from General Lee:

“RICHMOND, July 24th, 1861. MY DEAR GENERAL : I almost wept for joy at the glorious victory achieved by our brave troops. The feelings of my heart could hardly be repressed on learning the brilliant share you had in its achievement. I expected nothing else, and am truly grateful for your safety. . . .”

In conclusion, I cannot discover that my unfavorable opinion of the Federal general’s tactics, quoted by General Beauregard, indicates a fear to command against him.

(1) The letter of protest covered nine sheets of letter-paper, and the ninth sheet (to quote from the original) sums up the matter in these words:

“My commission is made to bear such a date that my once Inferiors in the service of the United States and of the Confederate States shall be above me. But it must not be dated as of the 21st of July nor be suggestive of the victory of Manassas. I return to my first position. I repeat that my right to my rank as General is established by the Acts of Congress of the 14th of March, 1861, and the 16th of May, 1861, and not by the nomination and confirmation of the 31st of August. 1861. To deprive me of that rank it was necessary for Congress to repeal those laws. That could be done by express legislative act alone. It was not done, it could not be done, by a mere vote in secret session upon a list of nominations. If the action against which I have protested be legal, it is not for me to question the expediency of degrading one who has served laboriously from the commencement of the war on this frontier, and borne a prominent part in the only great event of that war for the benefit of persons neither of whom has yet struck a blow for this Confederacy. These views and the freedom with whieh they are presented may be unusual. So likewise is the occasion which calls them forth. I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

“J. E. JOHNSTON, General.

“To His Excellency, Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States, Richmond.”

This ninth sheet is all of the original letter that can be found by the present owner, Mrs. Bledsoe, widow of Dr. Albert T. Bledsoe, who, at the time the letter was written, was Assistant-Secretary of War. Dr. Bledsoe told his wife that President Davis handed the letter to him, with the remark that it would not go upon the official files, and that ho might keep it if he liked.— EDITORS.

(2) This letter of Major Whiting to General Johnston and General Johnston’s letter (probably referred to as the indorsement), are both dated May 28th 1861. The phrase of General Cooper, “You had been heretofore instructed,” should have read either “You had been theretofore [before May 28th] instructed,” or, “You have been heretofore [before June 13th] instructed.” The latter is probably what was meant, as the only letter of instructions to General Johnston received at Harper’s Ferry giving him permission to use his discretion which is to be found in the Official Records, is the one of June 7th from General Lee, in which he says: “It is hoped that you will be able to be timely informed of the approach of troops against you, and retire, provided they cannot be successfully opposed. You must exercise your discretion and judgment in this respect.”—EDITORS.

(3) “Official Records,” II, 910.

(4) See “Official Records,” II, 924, 935, 940, 973, 976-977.

(5) Mr. Davis has a few words of praise for General Johnston, which, in this connection, will be of interest to the reader: “It gives me pleasure to state that, from all the accounts received at the time, the plans of General Johnston for masking his withdrawal to form a junction with General Beauregard were conducted with marked skill” (“R. and P.,” I, 347).— EDITORS

(6) This telegram, sent in response to an inquiry from General Johnston, read as follows: “Richmond, July 20, 1861. General J. E. Johnston, Manassas Junction, Virginia: You are a general in the Confederate Army, possessed of the power attaching to that rank. You will know how to make the exact knowledge of Brigadier-General Beauregard, as well of the ground as of the troops and preparation, avail for the success of. the object in which you cooperate. The zeal of both assures me of harmonious action. JEFFERSON DAVIS”

(7) Captain John F. Lay. See “Official Records,” II., 573.— EDITORS.

(8) Not by Mr. Davis, but in a letter from General Thomas Jordan, quoted by Mr. Davis for another purpose.— EDITORS.

(9) General J. A. Early, in his narrative of these events, says: “During the 20th, General Johnston arrived at Manassas Junction by the railroad, and that day we received the order from him assuming command of the combined armies of General Beauregard and himself.”—J. E. J.

(10) General Fry (page 185) states that these troops were Andrew Porter’s and Burnside’s brigades, and one regiment of Heintzelman’s division. Reckoning by the estimate of strength given by General Fry on page 194 these would have made a total of about 0500 men.—EDITORS.

(11) See “Johnston’s Narrative” (New York: D. Appleton & Co.), pp. 78, 79.

(12) Evansport is on the Potomac below Alexandria, at the mouth of Quantico Creek.

(13) By orders dated July 19th, 1861, General N. P. Banks had been assigned to the command of the Department of the Shenandoah, relieving General Patterson in command of the army at Harper’s Ferry, General Patterson being by the same orders “honorably discharged from the service of the United States,” on the expiration of his term of duty.—EDITORS.

(14) Between the 7th and 11th of March, 1862, the Confederate forces in north-eastern Virginia, under the General Johnston, were withdrawn to the line of Rappahannock. On the 11-12th Stonewall Jackson evacuated Winchester and fell back to Strasburg.—EDITORS.

(15) Not by Mr. Davis, but in a statement quoted at the above page from General J. A. Early, who said, “The loss . . . was a very serious one to us, and embarrassed us for the remainder of the war, as it put us at once on a running stock.”— EDITORS

(16) In “The Century” magazine for May, 1885, General Johnston, to support his assertion, quoted statements by Major J. B. Washington, Dr. A. M. Fauntleroy, and Colonel E. J. Harvie, which are, now omitted for want of space.— EDITORS. VOL. I. 17





McDowell’s Advance to Bull Run – James B. Fry

6 02 2010

McDOWELL’S ADVANCE TO BULL RUN

BY JAMES B. FRY, BREVET MAJOR-GENERAL, U. S. A. (AT BULL RUN, CAPTAIN AND ASSISTANT ADJUTANT-GENERAL ON McDOWELL’S STAFF).

BATTLES AND LEADERS OF THE CIVIL WAR – Volume I: From Sumter to Shiloh, pp. 167-193

As President Buchanan’s administration was drawing to a close, he was forced by the action of the South to decide whether the power of the general Government should be used to coerce into submission States that had attempted to secede from the Union. His opinion was that the contingency was not provided for, that while a State had no right to secede, the Constitution gave no authority to coerce, and that he had no right to do anything except hold the property and enforce the laws of the United States.

Before he went out of office the capital of the nation seemed to be in danger of seizure. For its protection, and in order to consult about holding Southern forts and arsenals, General Scott was in December called to Washington, from which he had been absent since the inauguration of Pierce, who had defeated him for the presidency. Jefferson Davis, Pierce’s Secretary of War, and General Scott had quarreled, and the genius of acrimony controlled the correspondence which took place between them. Notwithstanding the fact that on account of his age and infirmities he was soon overwhelmed by the rush of events, General Scott’s laurels had not withered at the outbreak of the war, and he brought to the emergency ability, experience, and prestige. A high light in the whole military world, he towered above the rest of our army at that time professionally as he did physically. As the effect of his unusual stature was increased by contrast with a short aide-de-camp (purposely chosen, it was suspected), so was his exalted character marked by one or two conspicuous but not very harmful foibles. With much learning, great military ability, a strict sense of justice, and a kind heart, he was vain and somewhat petulant. He loved the Union and hated Jefferson Davis.
 
By authority of President Buchanan, Scott assembled a small force of regulars in the capital, and for the first time in the history of the country the electoral count was made and a President was inaugurated under the protection of soldiery. But before the inauguration of Lincoln, March 4th, the secession movement had spread through the “cotton-belt” and delegates from the secession States had met as a congress at Montgomery, Alabama, February 4th. On the 8th they had organized the “Provisional Government of the Confederate States of America,” and on the 9th had elected Jefferson Davis President and Alexander H. Stephens Vice-President.

When the news of the firing upon Sumter reached Washington, President Lincoln prepared a proclamation, and issued it April 15th, convening Congress and calling forth 75,000 three-months militia to suppress combinations against the Government. The Federal situation was alarming. Sumter fell on the 13th of April, and was evacuated on the 14th. Virginia seceded on the 17th, and seized Harper’s Ferry on the 18th and the Norfolk Navy Yard on the 20th. On the 19th a mob in Baltimore assaulted the 6th Massachusetts volunteers as it passed through to Washington, and at once bridges were burned and railway communication was cut off between Washington and the North.

Lincoln had had no experience as a party leader or executive officer, and was without knowledge of military affairs or acquaintance with military men. Davis at the head of the Confederacy was an experienced and acknowledged Southern leader; he was a graduate of the Military Academy; had commanded a regiment in the Mexican war; had been Secretary of War under President Pierce, and had been chairman of the Military Committee in the United States Senate up to the time he left Congress to take part with the South. He was not only well versed in everything relating to war, but was thoroughly informed concerning the character and capacity of prominent and promising officers of the army. There was nothing experimental in his choice of high military commanders. With but few exceptions, those appointed at the beginning retained command until they lost their lives or the war closed.

The Southern States, all claiming to be independent republics after secession, with all their governmental machinery, including militia and volunteer organizations, in complete working order, transferred themselves as States from the Union to the Confederacy. The organization of a general government from such elements, with war as its immediate purpose, was a simple matter. Davis had only to accept and arrange, according to his ample information and well-matured judgment, the abundant and ambitious material at hand in the way that he thought would best secure his purposes. Lincoln had to adapt the machinery of a conservative old government, some of it unsuitable, some unsound, to sudden demands for which it was not designed. The talents of Simon Cameron, his first Secretary of War, were political, not military. He was a kind, gentle, placid man, gifted with powers to persuade, not to command. Shrewd and skilled in the management of business and personal matters, he had no knowledge of military affairs, and could not give the President much assistance in assembling and organizing for war the earnest and impatient, but unmilitary people of the North.

Officers from all departments of the Federal civil service hurried to the Confederacy and placed themselves at the disposal of Davis, and officers from all the corps of the regular army, most of them full of vigor, with the same education and experience as those who remained, went South and awaited assignment to the duties for which Davis might regard them as best qualified. All Confederate offices were vacant, and the Confederate President had large if not absolute power in filling them. On the other hand, the civil offices under Lincoln were occupied or controlled by party, and in the small regular army of the Union the law required that vacancies should as a rule be filled by seniority. There was no retired list for the disabled, and the army was weighed down by longevity; by venerated traditions; by prerogatives of service rendered in former wars; by the firmly tied red-tape of military bureauism, and by the deep-seated and well-founded fear of the auditors and comptrollers of the treasury. Nothing but time and experience—possibly nothing but disaster—could remove from the path of the Union President difficulties from which the Confederate President was, by the situation, quite free. In the beginning of the war, the military advantage was on the side of the Confederates, notwithstanding the greater resources of the North, which produced their effect only as the contest was prolonged.

After the firing of the first gun upon Sumter, the two sides were equally active in marshaling their forces on a line along the border States from the Atlantic coast of Virginia in the east to Kansas in the west. Many of the earlier collisions along this line were due rather to special causes or local feeling than to general military considerations. The prompt advance of the Union forces under McClellan to West Virginia was to protect that new-born free State. Patterson’s movement to Hagerstown and thence to Harper’s Ferry was to prevent Maryland from joining or aiding the rebellion, to re-open the Baltimore and Ohio railroad, and prevent invasion from the Shenandoah Valley. The Southerners having left the Union and set up the Confederacy upon the principle of State rights, in violation of that principle invaded the State of Kentucky in opposition to her apparent purpose of armed neutrality. That made Kentucky a field of early hostilities and helped to anchor her to the Union. Missouri was rescued from secession through the energy of General F. P. Blair and her other Union men, and by the indomitable will of Captain Lyon of the regular army, whose great work was accomplished under many disadvantages. In illustration of the difficulty with which the new condition of affairs penetrated the case-hardened bureauism of long peace, it may be mentioned that the venerable adjutant-general of the army, when a crisis was at hand in Missouri, came from a consultation with the President and Secretary Cameron, and with a sorry expression of countenance and an ominous shake of the head exclaimed, “It’s bad, very bad; we’re giving that young man Lyon a great deal too much power in Missouri.”

Early in the contest another young Union officer came to the front. Major Irvin McDowell was appointed brigadier-general May 14th. He was forty-three years of age, of unexceptionable habits and great physical powers. His education, begun in France, was continued at the United States Military Academy, from which he was graduated in 1838. Always a close student, he was well informed outside as well as inside his profession. Distinguished in the Mexican war, intensely Union in his sentiments, full of energy and patriotism, outspoken in his opinions, highly esteemed by General Scott, on whose staff he had served, he at once secured the confidence of the President and the Secretary of War, under whose observation he was serving in Washington. Without political antecedents or acquaintances, he was chosen for advancement on account of his record, his ability, and his vigor.

Northern forces had hastened to Washington upon the call of President Lincoln, but prior to May 24th they had been held rigidly on the north side of the Potomac. On the night of May 23d-24th, the Confederate pickets being then in sight of the Capitol, three columns were thrown across the river by General J. K. F. Mansfield, then commanding the Department of Washington, and a line from Alexandria below to chain-bridge above Washington was intrenched under guidance of able engineers. On the 27th Brigadier General Irvin McDowell was placed in command south of the Potomac.(1)

By the 1st of June the Southern Government had been transferred from Montgomery to Richmond, and the capitals of the Union and of the Confederacy stood defiantly confronting each other. General Scott was in chief command of the Union forces, with McDowell south of the Potomac, confronted by his old classmate, Beauregard, hot from the capture of Fort Sumter.

General Patterson, of Pennsylvania, a veteran of the war of 1812 and the war with Mexico, was in command near Harper’s Ferry, opposed by General Joseph E. Johnston. The Confederate President, Davis, then in Richmond, with General R. E. Lee as military adviser, exercised in person general military control of the Southern forces. The enemy to be engaged by McDowell occupied what was called the “Alexandria line,” with headquarters at Manassas, the junction of the Orange and Alexandria with the Manassas Gap railroad. The stream known as Bull Run, some three miles in front of Manassas, was the line of defense. On Beauregard’s right, 30 miles away, at the mouth of Aquia Creek, there was a Confederate brigade of 3000 men and 6 guns under General Holmes. The approach to Richmond from the Lower Chesapeake, threatened by General B. F. Butler, was guarded by Confederates under Generals Huger and Magruder.  On Beauregard’s left, sixty miles distant, in the Lower Shenandoah Valley and separated from him by the Blue Ridge Mountains, was the Confederate army of the Shenandoah under command of General Johnston. Beauregard’s authority did not extend over the forces of Johnston, Huger, Magruder, or Holmes, but Holmes was with him before the battle of Bull Run, and so was Johnston, who, as will appear more fully hereafter, joined at a decisive moment.

Early in June Patterson was pushing his column against Harper’s Ferry, and on the 3d of that month McDowell was called upon by General Scott to submit” an estimate of the number and composition of a column to be pushed toward Manassas Junction and perhaps the Gap, say in 4 or 5 days, to favor Patterson’s attack upon Harper’s Feny.” McDowell had then been in command at Arlington less than a week, his raw regiments south of the Potomac were not yet brigaded, and this was the first intimation he had of offensive operations. He reported, June 4th, that 12,000 infantry, 2 batteries, 6 or 8 companies of cavalry, and a reserve of 5000 ready to move from Alexandria would be required. Johnston, however, gave up Harper’s Ferry to Patterson, and the diversion by McDowell was not ordered. But the public demand for an advance became imperative—stimulated perhaps by the successful dash of fifty men of the 2d United States Cavalry, under Lieutenant C. H. Tompkins, through the enemy’s outposts at Fan-fax Court House on the night of June 1st, and by the unfortunate result of the movement of a regiment under General Schenck toward Vienna, June 9th, as well as by a disaster to some of General Butler’s troops on the 10th at Big Bethel, near Fort Monroe. On the 24th of June, in compliance with verbal instructions from General Scott, McDowell submitted a “plan of operations and the composition of the force required to carry it into effect.” He estimated the Confederate force at Manassas Junction and its dependencies at 25,000 men, assumed that his movements could not be kept secret and that the enemy would call up additional forces from all quarters, and added: ” If General J. E. Johnston’s force is kept engaged by Major-General Patterson, and Major-General Butler occupies the force now in his vicinity, I think they will not be able to bring up more than 10,000 men, so we may calculate upon having to do with about 35,000 men.” And as it turned out, that was about the number he “had to do with.” For the advance, McDowell asked “a force of 30,000 of all arms, with a reserve of 10,000.” He knew that Beauregard had batteries in position at several places in front of Bull Run and defensive works behind the Run and at Manassas Junction. The stream being fordable at many places, McDowell proposed in his plan of operations to turn the enemy’s position and force him out of it by seizing or threatening his communications. Nevertheless, he said in his report:

“Believing the chances are greatly in favor of the enemy’s accepting battle between this and the Junction and that the consequences of that battle will be of the greatest importance to the country, as establishing the prestige in this contest, on the one side or the other, —the more so as the two sections will be fairly represented by regiments from almost every State,—I think it of great consequence that, as for the most part our regiments are exceedingly raw and the best of them, with few exceptions, not over steady in line, they be organized into as many small fixed brigades as the number of regular colonels will admit, … so that the men may have as fair a chance as the nature of things and the comparative inexperience of most will allow.”

This remarkably sound report was approved, and McDowell was directed to carry his plan into effect July 8th. But the government machinery worked slowly and there was jealousy in the way, so that the troops to bring his army up to the strength agreed upon did not reach him until the 16th.

Beauregard’s Army of the Potomac at Manassas consisted of the brigades of Holmes, Bonham, Ewell, D. R. Jones, Longstreet, Cocke and Early, and of 3 regiments of infantry, 1 regiment and 3 battalions of cavalry, and 6 batteries of artillery, containing in all 27 guns, making an aggregate available force on the field of Bull Run of about 23,000 men. Johnston’s army from the Shenandoah consisted of the brigades of Jackson, Bee, Bartow, and Kirby Smith, 2 regiments of infantry not brigaded, 1 regiment of cavalry (12 companies), and 5 batteries (20 guns), making an aggregate at Bull Run of 8340.(2)

McDowell’s army consisted of 5 divisions, Tyler’s First Division, containing 4 brigades (Keyes’s, Schenck’s, W. T. Sherman’s, and Richardson’s); Hunter’s Second Division, containing 2 brigades (Andrew Porter’s and Burnside’s); Heintzelman’s Third Division, containing 3 brigades (Franklin’s, Willcox’s, and Howard’s); Runyon’s Fourth Division (9 regiments not brigaded); and Miles’s Fifth Division, containing 2 brigades (Blenker’s and Davies’s),—10 batteries of artillery, besides 2 guns attached to infantry regiments, 40 guns in all, and 7 companies of regular cavalry. Of the foregoing forces, 9 of the batteries and 8 companies of infantry were regulars, and 1 small battalion was marines. The aggregate force was about 35,000 men. Runyon’s Fourth Division was 6 or 7 miles in the rear guarding the road to Alexandria, and, though counted in the aggregate, was not embraced in McDowell’s order for battle.(3)

There was an ill-suppressed feeling of sympathy with the Confederacy in the Southern element of Washington society; but the halls of Congress resounded with the eloquence of Union speakers. Martial music filled the air, and war was the topic wherever men met. By day and night the tramp of soldiers was heard, and staff-officers and orderlies galloped through the streets between the headquarters of Generals Scott and McDowell. Northern enthusiasm was unbounded. “On to Richmond” was the war-cry. Public sentiment was irresistible, and in response to it the army advanced. It was a glorious spectacle. The various regiments were brilliantly uniformed according to the aesthetic taste of peace, and the silken banners they flung to the breeze were unsoiled and untorn. The bitter realities of war were nearer than we knew.

McDowell marched on the afternoon of July 16th, the men carrying three days’ rations in their haversacks; provision wagons were to follow from Alexandria the next day. On the morning of the 18th his forces were concentrated at Centreville, a point about 20 miles west of the Potomac and 6 or 7 miles east of Manassas Junction. Beauregard’s outposts fell back without resistance. Bull Run, flowing south-easterly, is about half-way between Centreville and Manassas Junction, and, owing to its abrupt banks, the timber with which it was fringed, and some artificial defenses at the fords, was a formidable obstacle. The stream was fordable, but all the crossings for eight miles, from Union Mills on the south to the Stone Bridge on the north, were defended by Beauregard’s forces.   The Warrenton Turnpike, passing through Centreville, leads nearly due west, crossing Bull Run at the Stone Bridge. The direct road from Centreville to Manassas crosses Bull Run at Mitchell’s Ford, half a mile or so above another crossing known as Blackburn’s Ford. Union Mills was covered by Ewell’.s brigade, supported after the 18th by Holmes’s brigade; McLean’s Ford, next to the north, was covered by D. R. Jones’s brigade; Blackburn’s Ford was defended by Longstreet’s brigade, supported by Early’s brigade; Mitchell’s Ford was held by Bonham’s brigade, with an outpost of two guns and an infantry support east of Bull Run; the stream between Mitchell’s Ford and the Stone Bridge was covered by Cocke’s brigade; the Stone Bridge on the Confederate left was held by Evans with 1 regiment and Wheat’s special battalion of infantry, 1 battery of 4 guns, and 2 companies of cavalry.(4)

McDowell was compelled to wait at Centreville until his provision wagons arrived and he could issue rations. His orders having carried his leading division under Tyler no farther than Centreville, he wrote that officer at 8:15 A. M. on the 18th, “Observe well the roads to Bull Run and to Warrenton. Do not bring on an engagement, but keep up the impression that we arc moving on Manassas.” McDowell then went to the extreme left of his line to examine the country with reference to a sudden movement of the army to turn the enemy’s right flank. The reconnoissance showed him that the country was unfavorable to the movement, and he abandoned it. While he was gone to the left, Tyler, presumably to ” keep up the impression that we were moving on Manassas,” went forward from Centreville with a squadron of cavalry and two companies of infantry for the purpose of making a reconnoissance of Mitchell’s and Blackburn’s fords along the direct road to Manassas. The force of the enemy at these fords has just been given. Reaching the crest of the ridge overlooking the valley of Bull Run and a mile or so from the stream, the enemy was seen on the opposite bank, and Tyler brought up Benjamin’s artillery, 2 20-pounder rifled guns, Ayres’s field battery of 6 guns, and Richardson’s brigade of infantry. The 20-pounders opened from the ridge and a few shots were exchanged with the enemy’s batteries. Desiring more information than the long-range cannonade afforded, Tyler ordered Richardson’s brigade and a section of Ayres’s battery, supported by a squadron of cavalry, to move from the ridge across the open bottom of Bull Run and take position near the stream and have skirmishers ” scour the thick woods ” which skirted it. Two regiments of infantry, 2 pieces of artillery, and a squadron of cavalry moved down the slope into the woods and opened fire, driving Bonham’s outpost to the cover of intrenchments across the stream. The brigades of Bonham and Longstreet, the latter being reenforced for the occasion by Early’s brigade, responded at short range to the fire of the Federal reconnoitering force and drove it back in disorder. Tyler reported that having satisfied himself “that the enemy was in force,” and ascertained ” the position of his batteries,” he withdrew. J This unauthorized reconnoissance, called by the Federals the affair at Blackburn’s Ford, was regarded at the time by the Confederates as a serious attack, and was dignified by the name of the “battle of Bull Run,” the engagement of the 21st being called by them the battle of Manassas. The Confederates, feeling that they had repulsed a heavy and real attack, were encouraged by the result. The Federal troops, on the other hand, were greatly depressed. The regiment which suffered most was completely demoralized, and McDowell thought that the depression of the repulse was felt throughout his army and produced its effect upon the Pennsylvania regiment and the New York battery which insisted (their terms having expired) upon their discharge, and on the 21st, as he expressed it, “marched to the rear to the sound of the enemy’s cannon.” Even Tyler himself felt the depressing effect of his repulse, if we may judge by his cautious and feeble action on the 21st when dash was required. (5)

The operations of the 18th confirmed McDowell in his opinion that with his raw troops the Confederate position should be turned instead of attacked in front. Careful examination had satisfied him that the country did not favor a movement to turn the enemy’s right. On the night of the 18th the haversacks of his men were empty, and had to be replenished from the provision wagons, which were late in getting up. Nor had he yet determined upon his point or plan of attack. While resting and provisioning his men, he devoted the 19th and 20th to a careful examination by his engineers of the enemy’s position and the intervening country. His men, not soldiers, but civilians in uniform, unused to marching, hot, weary, and footsore, dropped down as they had halted and bivouacked on the roads about Centreville. Notwithstanding Beauregard’s elation over the affair at Blackburn’s ford on the 18th, he permitted the 19th and 20th to pass without a movement to follow up the advantage he had gained. During these two days, McDowell carefully examined the Confederate position, and made his plan to manoeuvre the enemy out of it. Beauregard ordered no aggressive movement until the 21st, and then, as appears from his own statement, through miscarriage of orders and lack of apprehension on the part of subordinates, the effort was a complete fiasco, with the comical result of frightening his own troops, who, late in the afternoon, mistook the return of one of their brigades for an attack by McDowell’s left, and the serious result of interfering with the pursuit after he had gained the battle of the 21st.

But Beauregard, though not aggressive on the 19th and 20th, was not idle within his own lines. The Confederate President had authorized Johnston, Beauregard’s senior, to use his discretion in moving to the support of Manassas, and Beauregard, urging Johnston to do so, sent railway transportation for the Shenandoah forces. But, as he states, “he at the same time submitted the alternative proposition to Johnston that, having passed the Blue Ridge, he should assemble his forces, press forward by way of Aldie, north-west of Manassas, and fall upon McDowell’s right rear,” while he, Beauregard, “prepared for the operation at the first sound of the conflict, should strenuously assume the offensive in front.” “The situation and circumstances specially favored the signal success of such an operation,” says Beauregard. An attack by two armies moving from opposite points upon an enemy, with the time of attack for one depending upon the sound of the other’s cannon, is hazardous even with well disciplined and well-seasoned troops, and is next to fatal with raw levies. Johnston chose the wiser course of moving by rail to Manassas, thus preserving the benefit of “interior lines,” which, Beauregard says, was the “sole military advantage at the moment that the Confederates possessed.”

The campaign which General Scott required McDowell to make was undertaken with the understanding that Johnston should be prevented from joining Beauregard. With no lack of confidence in himself, McDowell was dominated by the feeling of subordination and deference to General Scott which at that time pervaded the whole army, and General Scott, who controlled both McDowell and Patterson, assured McDowell that Johnston should not join Beauregard without having “Patterson on his heels.” Yet Johnston’s army, nearly nine thousand strong, joined Beauregard, Bee’s brigade and Johnston in person arriving on the morning of the 20th, the remainder about noon on the 21st. Although the enforced delay at Centreville enabled McDowell to provision his troops and gain information upon which to base an excellent plan of attack, it proved fatal by affording time for a junction of the opposing forces. On the 21st of July General Scott addressed a dispatch to McDowell, saying: “It is known that a strong reenforcement left Winchester on the afternoon of the 18th, which you will also have to beat. Four new regiments will leave to-day to be at Fairfax Station to-night. Others shall follow to-morrow — twice the number if necessary.” When this dispatch was penned, McDowell was fighting the “strong reenforcement” which left Winchester on the 18th. General Scott’s report that Beauregard had been reenforced, the information that four regiments had been sent to McDowell, and the promise that twice the number would be sent if necessary, all came too late — and Patterson came not at all.(6)

During the 19th and 20th the bivouacs of McDowell’s army at Centreville, almost within cannon range of the enemy, were thronged by visitors, official and unofficial, who came in carriages from Washington, bringing their own supplies. They were under no military restraint, and passed to and fro among the troops as they pleased, giving the scene the appearance of a monster military picnic.(7)  Among others, the venerable Secretary of War, Cameron, called upon McDowell. Whether due to a naturally serious expression, to a sense of responsibility, to a premonition of the fate of his brother who fell upon the field on the 21st, or to other cause, his countenance showed apprehension of evil; but men generally were confident and jovial.

McDowell’s plan of battle promulgated on the 20th, was to turn the enemy’s left, force him from his defensive position, and, “if possible, destroy the railroad leading from Manassas to the Valley of Virginia, where the enemy has a large force.” He did not know when he issued this order that Johnston had joined Beauregard, though he suspected it.  Miles’s Fifth Division, with Richardson’s brigade of Tyler’s division, and a strong force of artillery was to remain in reserve at Centreville, prepare defensive works there and threaten Blackburn’s Ford. Tyler’s First Division, which was on the turnpike in advance, was to move at 2:30 A. M., threaten the Stone Bridge and open fire upon it at daybreak. This demonstration was to be vigorous, its first purpose being to divert attention from the movements of the turning column. As soon as Tyler’s troops cleared the way, Hunter’s Second Division, followed by Heintzelman’s Third Division, was to move to a point on the Warren ton Turnpike about 1 or 2 miles east of Stone Bridge and there take a country road to the right, cross the Run at Sudley Springs, come down upon the flank and rear of the enemy at the Stone Bridge, and force him to open the way for Tyler’s division to cross there and attack, fresh and in full force.

Tyler’s start was so late and his advance was so slow as to hold Hunter and Heintzelman 2 or 3 hours on the mile or two of the turnpike between their camps and the point at which they were to turn off for the flank march. This delay, and the fact that the flank march proved difficult and some 12 miles instead of about 6 as was expected, were of serious moment. The flanking column did not cross at Sudley Springs until 9:30 instead of 7, the long march, with its many interruptions, tired out the men, and the delay gave the enemy time to discover the turning movement. Tyler’s operations against the Stone Bridge were feeble and ineffective. By 8 o’clock Evans was satisfied that he was in no danger in front, and perceived the movement to turn his position. He was on the left of the Confederate line, guarding the point where the Warrenton Turnpike, the great highway to the field, crossed Bull Run, the Confederate line of defense. He had no instructions to guide him in the emergency that had arisen. But he did not hesitate. Reporting his information and purpose to the adjoining commander, Cocke, and leaving 4 companies of infantry to deceive and hold Tyler at the bridge, Evans before 9 o’clock turned his back upon the point he was set to guard, marched a mile away, and, seizing the high ground to the north of Young’s Branch of Bull Run, formed line of battle at right angles to his former line, his left resting near the Sudley Springs road, by which Burnside with the head of the turning column was approaching, thus covering the Warrenton Turnpike and opposing a determined front to the Federal advance upon the Confederate left and rear.(8) In his rear to the south lay the valley of Young’s Branch, and rising from that was the higher ridge or plateau on which the Robinson house and the Henry house were situated, and on which the main action took place in the afternoon. Burnside, finding Evans across his path, promptly formed line of battle and attacked about 9:45 A. M. Hunter, the division commander, who was at the head of Burnside’s brigade directing the formation of the first skirmish line, was severely wounded and taken to the rear at the opening of the action. Evans not only repulsed but pursued the troops that made the attack upon him. Andrew Porter’s brigade of Hunter’s division followed Burnside closely and came to his support. In the mean time Bee had formed a Confederate line of battle with his and Bartow’s brigades of Johnston’s army on the Henry house plateau, a stronger position than the one held by Evans, and desired Evans to fall back to that line; but Evans, probably feeling bound to cover the Warrenton Turnpike and hold it against Tyler as well as against the flanking column, insisted that Bee should move across the valley to his support, which was done.

After Bee joined Evans, the preliminary battle continued to rage upon the ground chosen by the latter. The opposing forces were Burnside’s and Porter’s brigades, with one regiment of Heintzelman’s division on the Federal side, and Evans’s, Bee’s, and Bartow’s brigades on the Confederate side. The Confederates were dislodged and driven back to the Henry house plateau, where Bee had previously formed line and where what Beauregard called “the mingled remnants of Bee’s, Bartow’s, and Evans’s commands” were re-formed under cover of Stonewall Jackson’s brigade of Johnston’s army.

The time of this repulse, as proved by so accurate an authority as Stonewall Jackson, was before 11:30 A. M., and this is substantially confirmed by Beauregard’s official report made at the time. Sherman and Keyes had nothing to do with it. They did not begin to cross Bull Run until noon. Thus, after nearly two hours’ stubborn fighting with the forces of Johnston, which General Scott had promised should be kept away, McDowell won the first advantage; but Johnston had cost him dearly.

During all this time Johnston and Beauregard had been waiting near Mitchell’s Ford for the development of the attack they had ordered by their light upon McDowell at Centreville. The gravity of the situation upon their left had not yet dawned upon them. What might the result have been if the Union column had not been detained by Tyler’s delay in moving out in the early morning, or if Johnston’s army, to which Bee, Bartow, and Jackson belonged, had not arrived?

But the heavy firing on the left soon diverted Johnston and Beauregard from all thought of an offensive movement with their right, and decided them, as Beauregard has said, “to hurry up all available reinforcements, including the reserves that were to have moved upon Centreville, to our left, and fight the battle out in that quarter.” Thereupon Beauregard ordered “Ewell, Jones, and Longstreet to make a strong demonstration all along their front on the other side of Bull Run, and ordered the reserves, Holmes’s brigade with six guns, and Early’s brigade, to move swiftly to the left,” and he and Johnston set out at full speed for the point of conflict, which they reached while Bee was attempting to rally his men about Jackson’s brigade on the Henry house plateau. McDowell had waited in the morning at the point on the Warrenton Turnpike where his flanking column turned to the right, until the troops, except Howard’s brigade, which he halted at that point, had passed. He gazed silently and with evident pride upon the gay regiments as they filed briskly but quietly past in the freshness of the early morning, and then, remarking to his staff, “Gentlemen, that is a big force,” he mounted and moved forward to the field by way of Sudley Springs. He reached the scene of actual conflict somewhat earlier than Johnston and Beauregard did, and, seeing the enemy driven across the valley of Young’s Branch and behind the Warrenton Turnpike, at once sent a swift aide-de-camp to Tyler with orders to “press the attack” at the Stone Bridge. Tyler acknowledged that he received this order by 11 o’clock. It was Tyler’s division upon which McDowell relied for the decisive fighting of the day. He knew that the march of the turning column would be fatiguing, and when by a sturdy fight it had cleared the Warrenton Turnpike for the advance of Tyler’s division, it had, in fact, done more than its fair proportion of the work. But Tyler did not attempt to force the passage of the Stone Bridge, which, after about 8 o’clock, was defended by only four companies of infantry, though he admitted that by the plan of battle, when Hunter and Heintzelman had attacked the enemy in the vicinity of the Stone Bridge, “he was to force the passage of Bull Run at that point and attack the enemy in flank.”(9) Soon after McDowell’s arrival at the front, Burnside rode up to him and said that his brigade had borne the brunt of the battle, that it was out of ammunition, and that he wanted permission to withdraw, refit and fill cartridge-boxes. McDowell in the excitement of the occasion gave reluctant consent, and the brigade, which certainly had done nobly, marched to the rear, stacked arms, and took no further part in the fight. Having sent the order to Tyler to press his attack and orders to the rear of the turning column to hurry forward, McDowell, like Beauregard, rushed in person into the conflict, and by the force of circumstances became for the time the commander of the turning column and the force actually engaged, rather than the commander of his whole army. With the exception of sending his adjutant-general to find and hurry Tyler forward, his subsequent orders were mainly or wholly to the troops under his own observation. Unlike Beauregard, he had no Johnston in rear with full authority and knowledge of the situation to throw forward reserves and reinforcements. It was not until 12 o’clock that Sherman received orders from Tyler to cross the stream, which he did at a ford above the Stone Bridge, going to the assistance of Hunter. Sherman reported to McDowell on the field and joined in the pursuit of Bee’s forces across the valley of Young’s Branch. Keyes’s brigade, accompanied by Tyler in person, followed across the stream where Sherman forded, but without uniting with the other forces on the field, made a feeble advance upon the slope of the plateau toward the Robinson house, and then about 2 o’clock filed off by flank to its left and, sheltered by the east front of the bluff that forms the plateau, marched down Young’s Branch out of sight of the enemy and took no further part in the engagement. McDowell did not know where it was, nor did he then know that Schenck’s brigade of Tyler’s division did not cross the Run at all.

The line taken up by Stonewall Jackson upon which Bee, Bartow, and Evans rallied on the southern part of the plateau was a very strong one. The ground was high and afforded the cover of a curvilinear wood with the concave side toward the Federal line of attack. According to Beauregard’s official report made at the time, he had upon this part of the field, at the beginning, 6500 infantry, 13 pieces of artillery, and 2 companies of cavalry, and this line was continuously reenforced from Beauregard’s own reserves and by the arrival of the troops from the Shenandoah Valley.

To carry this formidable position, McDowell had at hand the brigades of Franklin, Willcox, Sherman, and Porter, Palmer’s battalion of regular cavalry, and Ricketts’s and Giiffin’s regular batteries. Porter’s brigade had been reduced and shaken by the morning fight. Howard’s brigade was in reserve and only came into action late in the afternoon. The men, unused to field service, and not yet over the hot and dusty march from the Potomac, had been under arms since midnight. The plateau, however, was promptly assaulted, the northern part of it was earned, the batteries of Ricketts and Griffin were planted near the Henry house, and McDowell clambered to the upper story of that structure to get a glance at the whole field. Upon the Henry house plateau, of which the Confederates held the southern and the Federals the northern part, the tide of battle ebbed and flowed as McDowell pushed in Franklin’s, Willcox’s, Sherman’s, Porter’s, and at last Howard’s brigades, and as Beauregard put into action reserves which Johnston sent from the right and reinforcements which he hurried forward from the Shenandoah Valley as they arrived by cars. On the plateau, Beauregard says, the disadvantage of his “smooth-bore guns was reduced by the shortness of range.” The short range was due to the Federal advance, and the several struggles for the plateau were at close quarters and gallant on both sides. The batteries of Ricketts and Griffin, by their fine discipline, wonderful daring, and matchless skill, were the prime features in the fight. The battle was not lost till they were lost. When in their advanced and perilous position, and just after their infantry supports had been driven over the slopes, a fatal mistake occurred. A regiment of infantry came out of the woods on Griffin’s right, and as he was in the act of opening upon it with canister, he was deterred by the assurance of Major Barry, the chief of artillery, that it “was a regiment sent by Colonel Heintzelman to support the battery.”(10) A moment more and the doubtful regiment proved its identity by a deadly volley, and, as Griffin states in his official report, “every cannoneer was cut down and a large number of horses killed, leaving the battery (which was without support excepting in name) perfectly helpless.” The effect upon Ricketts was equally fatal. He, desperately wounded, and Ramsay, his lieutenant, killed, lay in the wreck of the battery. Beauregard speaks of his last advance on the plateau as “leaving in our final possession the Robinson and Henry houses, with most of Ricketts’s and Griffin’s batteries, the men of which were mostly shot down where they bravely stood by their guns.” Having become separated from McDowell, I fell in with Barnard, his chief engineer, and while together we observed the New York Fire Zouaves, who had been supporting Griffin’s battery, fleeing to the rear in their gaudy uniforms, in utter confusion. Thereupon I rode back to where I knew Burnside’s brigade was at rest, and stated to Burnside the condition of affairs, with the suggestion that he form and move his brigade to the front. Returning, I again met Barnard, and as the battle seemed to him and me to be going against us, and not knowing where McDowell was, with the concurrence of Barnard, as stated in his official report, I immediately sent a note to Miles, telling him to move two brigades of his reserve up to the Stone Bridge and telegraph to Washington to send forward all the troops that could be spared.

After the arrival of Howard’s brigade, McDowell for the last time pressed up the slope to the plateau, forced back the Confederate line, and regained possession of the Henry and Robinson houses and of the lost batteries. But there were no longer cannoneers to man or horses to move these guns that had done so much. By the arrival upon this part of the field of his own reserves and Kirby Smith’s brigade of Johnston’s army about half-past 3, Beauregard extended his left to outflank McDowell’s shattered, shortened, and disconnected line, and the Federals left the field about half-past 4. Until then they had fought wonderfully well for raw troops. There were no fresh forces on the field to support or encourage them, and the men seemed to be seized simultaneously by the conviction that it was no use to do anything more and they might as well start home. Cohesion was lost, the organizations with some exceptions being disintegrated, and the men quietly walked off. There was no special excitement except that arising from the frantic efforts of officers to stop men who paid little or no attention to anything that was said. On the high ground by the Matthews house, about where Evans had taken position in the morning to check Burnside, McDowell and his staff, aided by other officers, made a desperate but futile effort to arrest the masses and form them into line. There, I went to Arnold’s battery as it came by, and advised that he unlimber and make a stand as a rallying-point, which he did, saying he was in fair condition and ready to fight as long as there was any fighting to be done. But all efforts failed. The stragglers moved past the guns, in spite of all that could be done, and, as stated in his report, Arnold at my direction joined Sykes’s battalion of infantry of Porter’s brigade and Palmer’s battalion of cavalry, all of the regular army, to cover the rear, as the men trooped back in great disorder across Bull Run. There were some hours of daylight for the Confederates to gather the fruits of victory, but a few rounds of shell and canister checked all the pursuit that was attempted, and the occasion called for no sacrifices or valorous deeds by the stanch regulars of the rear-guard. There was no panic, in the ordinary meaning of the word, until the retiring soldiers, guns, wagons, congressmen, and carriages were fired upon, on the road east of Bull Run. Then the panic began, and the bridge over Cub Run being rendered impassable for vehicles by a wagon that was upset upon it, utter confusion set in: pleasure-carriages, gun-carriages, and ammunition wagons which could not bo put across the Run were abandoned and blocked the way, and stragglers broke and threw aside their muskets and cut horses from then- harness and rode off upon them. In leaving the field the men took the same routes, in a general way, by which they had reached it. Hence when the men of Hunter’s and Heintzelman’s divisions got back to Centreville, they had walked about 25 miles. That night they walked back to the Potomac, an additional distance of 20 miles; so that these undisciplined and unseasoned men within 36 hours walked fully 45 miles, besides fighting from about 10 A. M. until 4 p. M. on a hot and dusty day in July. McDowell in person reached Centreville before sunset,(11) and found there Miles’s division with Richardson’s brigade and 3 regiments of Runyon’s division, and Hunt’s, Tidball’s, Ayres’s, and Greene’s batteries and 1 or 2 fragments of batteries, making about 20 guns. It was a formidable force, but there was a lack of food and the mass of the army was completely demoralized. Beauregard had about an equal force which had not been in the fight, consisting of Ewell’s, Jones’s, and Longstreet’s brigades and some troops of other brigades. McDowell consulted the division and brigade commanders who were at hand upon the question of making a stand or retreating. The verdict was in favor of the latter, but a decision of officers one way or the other was of no moment; the men had already decided for themselves and were streaming away to the rear, in spite of all that could be done. They had no interest or treasure in Centreville, and their hearts were not there. Their tents, provisions, baggage, and letters from home were upon the banks of the Potomac, and no power could have stopped them short of the camps they had left less than a week before. As before stated, most of them were sovereigns in uniform, not soldiers. McDowell accepted the situation, detailed Richardson’s and Blenker’s brigades to cover the retreat, and the army, a disorganized mass, with some creditable exceptions, drifted as the men pleased away from the scene of action. There was no pursuit, and the march from Centreville was as barren of opportunities for the rear-guard as the withdrawal from the field of battle had been.(12)  When McDowell reached Fairfax Court House in the night, he was in communication with Washington and exchanged telegrams with General Scott, in one of which the old hero said, ” We are not discouraged”; but that dispatch did not lighten the gloom in which it was received. McDowell was so tired that while sitting on the ground writing a dispatch he fell asleep, pencil in hand, in the middle of a sentence. His adjutant-general aroused him ; the dispatch was finished, and the weary ride to the Potomac resumed. When the unfortunate commander dismounted at Arlington next forenoon in a soaking rain, after 32 hours in the saddle, his disastrous campaign of 6 days was closed.

The first martial effervescence of the country was over. The three months men went home, and the three-months chapter of the war ended — with the South triumphant and confident; the North disappointed but determined.

(1) The aspect of affairs was so threatening after President Lincoln’s call of April 15th for 75,000 three-months militia, and General Scott was so averse to undertaking any active operations with such short-term troops, that, as early as May 3d, and without waiting for the meeting of Congress, the President entered upon the creation of an additional volunteer army to be composed of 42,034 three-years men, together with an increase of 22,714 regulars and 18,000 seamen.— J. B. F.

(2)  Beauregard himself has said that on the 18th of July he had along the line of Bull Run about 17,000 men; that on the 19th General Holmes joined him with about 3000 men; and that “received from Richmond between the 18th and 21st about 2000 more”; and that Johnston brought about 8000 more, the advance arriving “on the morning of the 20th and the remainder about noon of the 21st,” making his whole force, as he states it, “nearly 3000 men of all arms.” The figures are probably under the mark, as Hampton’s Legion, McRea’s regiment, a North Carolina “regiment and two battalions of Mississippi and Alabama” joined between the 17th and 21st. Beauregard’s force may fairly be placed at 32,000; and the opposing armies, both in the aggregate and in the parts engaged, were nearer equal in that than in any other battle in Virginia.— J. B. F.

(3)  The average length of service of McDowell’s men prior to the battle was about sixty days.  The longest in service were the three-months men, and of these he had fourteen regiments.— J. B. F.

(4)  The state of General Beauregard’s mind at the time is indicated by the following telegram on the 17th of July from him to Jefferson Davis: “The enemy has assaulted my outposts in heavy force. I have fallen back on the line of Bull Run and will make a stand at Mitchell’s Ford. If his force is overwhelming, I shall retire to Rappahannock railroad bridge, saving my command for defense there and future operations. Please inform Johnston of this via Staunton, and also Holmes. Send forward any reinforcements at the earliest possible instant and by every possible means.” The alarm in this dispatch and the apprehension it shows of McDowell’s “overwhelming” strength are not in harmony with the more recent assurance of the Confederate commander, that through sources in Washington treasonable to the Union, and in other ways, he “was almost as well informed of the strength of the hostile army in my [his] front as its commander.”—J. B. F.

(5)  The casualties in the affair were: Union, 1 officer and 18 enlisted men killed ; 1 officer and 37 enlisted men wounded ; 26 enlisted men missing,— aggregate, 83. Confederate (Beauregard in his official report of 1861), “15 killed and 53 wounded men, several of whom have since died.”— J. B. F.

(6)  On the 17th of July Patterson, with some 16,000 three-months men, whose terms began to expire on the ii4th, was at Charlestown, and Johnston, with about the same number, was at Winchester. On that day General Scott telegraphed Patterson, “McDowell’s first day’s work has driven the enemy behind Fairfax Court House. Do not let the enemy amuse and delay you with a small force in front while he reenforces the Junction with his main body.” To this Patterson replied at half past 1 o’clock in the morning of the 18th, stating his difficulties and asking, “Shall I attack?” General Scott answered on the same day: “I have certainly been expecting you to beat the enemy,” or that you “at least had occupied him by threats and demonstrations. You have been at least his equal and I suppose superior in numbers. Has he not stolen a march and sent reinforcements toward Manassas Junction?”  Patterson replied on the same day (18th), “The enemy has stolen no march upon me. I have caused him to be reenforced”; and at 1 o’clock P.M. on that day he added : “I have succeeded, in accordance with the wishes of the General-in-Chief, in keeping General Johnston’s force at Winchester.” At the very hour that Patterson was writing this dispatch Johnston’s advance was leaving Winchester. On the 18th Johnston telegraphed to Richmond that Patterson was at Charlestown, and said: “Unless he prevents it, we shall move toward General Beauregard to-day.” He moved accordingly, and the Confederate armies were united for battle. It rested, however, with higher authority than Patterson to establish between his army and McDowell’s the relations that the occasion called for. In considering the requirements for McDowell’s movement against Manassas, General Scott gave great weight to the general and irresistible fear then prevailing in Washington that the capital might be seized by a dash. Its direct defense was the first purpose of the three months militia. The Potomac at Washington was itself a strong barrier, and with the field-works on its south bank afforded security in that quarter. The danger was thought to be from the Shenandoah, and that induced the Government to keep Patterson in the valley. Indeed, on the 30th of June Colonel C. P. Stone’s command was ordered from Point of Rocks to Patterson at Martinsburg, where it arrived on the 8th of July; whereas the offensive campaign against Manassas, ordered soon after, required Patterson to go to Stone, as he proposed to do June 21st, instead of Stone to Patterson. The campaign of McDowell was forced upon General Scott by public opinion, but did not relieve the authorities from the fear that Johnston might rush down and seize Washington. General Scott, under the pressure of the offensive in one quarter and the defensive in another, imposed upon Patterson the double task, difficult if not impossible, of preventing Johnston from moving on the capital and from joining Beauregard. If that task was possible, it could have been accomplished only by persistent fighting, and that General Scott was unwilling to order; though in his dispatch of the 18th in reply to Patterson’s question, “Shall I attack?” he said, “I have certainly been expecting you to beat the enemy.” Prior to that, his instructions to Patterson had enjoined caution. As soon as McDowell advanced, Patterson was upon an exterior line and in a false military position. Admitting that he might have done more to detain Johnston, bad strategy was probably more to blame for the result than any action or lack of action on Patterson’s part.— J. B. F.

(7)  The presence of senators, congressmen, and other civilians upon the field on the 21st gave rise to extravagant and absurd stories, in which alleged forethought and valor among them are contrasted with a lack of these qualities in the troops. The plain truth is that the non-combatants and their vehicles merely increased the confusion and demoralization of the retreat.—J. B. F.

(8)  Evans’s action was probably one of the best pieces of soldiership on either side during the campaign, but it seems to have received no special commendation from his superiors.—J. B. F.

(9)  After the affair at Blackburn’s Ford on the 18th and Tyler’s action in the battle of the 21st, a bitterness between Tyler and McDowell grew up which lasted till they died. As late as 1884, McDowell, writing to me of Tyler’s criticism of him after the war, said, “How I have been punished for my leniency to that man! If there is anything clearer to me than anything else with reference to our operations in that campaign, it is that if we had had another commander for our right we should have had a complete and brilliant success.”—J. B. F.

(10)  Griffin himself told rao so as we rode together after leaving Centreville. He and I were classmates and warm friends.— J. B. F.

(11)  I left the field with General Franklin. His brigade had dissolved. We moved first northerly, crossed Bull Run below the Sudley Spring Ford, and then bore south and east. Learning by inquiries of the men I passed that McDowell was ahead of me, I leftFranklin and hurried on to Centreville, where I found McDowell, just after sunset, rearranging the positions of his reserves.—J. B. F.

(12)  The revised losses are as follows: Federal, 16 officers and 444 enlisted men killed; 78 officers and 1046 enlisted men wounded; 50 officers and 1262 enlisted men missing; 25 pieces of artillery and a large quantity of small arms. Confederate, 25 officers and 362 enlisted men killed; 63 officers and 1519 enlisted men wounded; 1 officer and 12 enlisted men missing.—J. B. F.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine





Incidents of the First Bull Run – John Imboden

4 02 2010

INCIDENTS OF THE FIRST BULL RUN

BY JOHN D. IMBODEN, BRIGADIER GENERAL, C.S.A.

BATTLES AND LEADERS OF THE CIVIL WAR – Volume I: From Sumter to Shiloh, pp . 229-239

From the day of his arrival at Winchester [see page 124], General Johnston was ceaseless in his labors to improve the efficiency of his little army, in which he was greatly assisted by several staff-officers who afterward rose to high distinction. The two most active of these subordinates were Majors W. H. C. Whiting and E. Kirby Smith, the former of whom as a major-general fell mortally wounded at the capture of Fort Fisher in North Carolina, and the latter as a lieutenant-general commanded the Trans-Mississippi army when the final collapse came. During our withdrawal from Harper’s Ferry, on June 16th, we were deflected from our direct line of march, and held in line of battle a day at Bunker Hill, a few miles north of Winchester, to receive an expected assault from General Patterson, who had crossed the Potomac, but went back without attacking us. Again on July 2d we were marched to Darksville, about midway to Martinsburg, to meet Patterson, where we lay in fine of battle till the 5th, when General Patterson, after a slight “brush” with Jackson, again recrossed the Potomac. We returned to Winchester, and to our arduous drilling.

After midnight of July 17th, General Bee, my brigade commander, sent for me to go with him to headquarters, whither he had been summoned. Several brigade commanders were assembled in a room with General Johnston, and a conference of one or two hours was held. When General Bee joined me on the porch to return to our quarters, I saw he was excited, and I asked him, “What is up?” He took my arm, and, as we walked away, told me we would march next day to the support of General Beauregard. He repeated a telegram General Johnston had received from Adjutant-General Cooper about midnight. This was the famous dispatch that has led to so much controversy between Mr. Davis and General Johnston, as to whether it was a peremptory order, or simply permission to Johnston to go to Beauregard’s support. I quote it, and leave the reader to his own construction:

“General Beauregard is attacked; to strike the enemy a decisive blow, a junction of all your effective force will be needed. If practicable, make the movement, sending your sick and baggage to Culpeper Court House, either by railroad or by Warrenton. In all the arrangements exercise your discretion.”

On the next day, the 18th of July, we left Winchester for Manassas. It was late in the afternoon before my battery took up the line of march—as I now recollect, with the rear-guard, as had been the case when we left Harper’s Ferry a month before. It was thought probable that Patterson, who was south of the Potomac, and only a few miles distant, would follow us. But J. E. B. Stuart and Ashby with the cavalry so completely masked our movement that it was not suspected by Patterson until July 20th, the day before the Bull Run fight, and then it was too late for him to interfere.

On the second day of the march an order reached me at Rectortown, Virginia, through Brigadier-General Barnard E. Bee, to collect the four field-batteries of Johnston’s army into one column, and, as senior artillery captain, to march them by country roads that were unobstructed by infantry or trains as rapidly as possible to Manassas Junction, and to report my arrival, at any hour, day or night, to General Bee, who was going forward by rail with his brigade. Having assembled the batteries in the night, I began the march at dawn of Saturday, July 20th, the day before the battle. About 8 in the morning we reached a village in Fauquier county — Salem, I think it was. The whole population turned out to greet us. Men, women, and children brought us baskets, trays, and plates loaded with their own family breakfasts. With the improvidence of raw campaigners, we had finished the night before our three days’ cooked rations; so I ordered a halt for thirty minutes to enjoy the feast. The Staunton Artillery (1) (my own battery) was at the head of the column, and, being largely composed of young men of high social standing, was especially honored by the ladies of the village, conspicuous among whom were the young daughters of Colonel John A. Washington, late of Mount Vernon. I noticed that some of the young fellows of the battery, lingering round the baskets borne by these young ladies, who bade them die or conquer in the fight, seemed very miserable during the remainder of the march. No doubt many of them, during the battle, felt that it would be better to die on the field than retreat and live to meet those enthusiastic girls again. I make special note of that breakfast because it was the last food any of us tasted till the first Bull Run had been fought and won, 36 hours later.

It was 1 o’clock that night when the head of my little column reached General Bee’s headquarters, about one mile north-east of Manassas Junction. He was established in the log-cabin to which afterward he was brought when he was mortally wounded, and to which I shall again allude. General Bee ordered us to unharness the horses and bivouac in the fence comers, adding, “You will need all the rest you can get, for a great battle will begin in the morning.”

A little after daybreak we were aroused by the sharp, ringing report of a great Parrott gun across Bull Run, two miles away, and the whizzing of a 30-pounder elongated shell over the tree-tops, 400 or 500 yards to our left. Instantly every man was on his feet, and in five minutes the horses were harnessed and hitched to the guns and caissons. General Bee beckoned to me to come up to the porch, where he was standing in his shirt-sleeves, having also been aroused by the shot. He rapidly informed me of the disposition of our troops of Johnston’s army so far as they had arrived at Manassas. His own brigade had been brought forward by rail the evening before. Above all, he was dissatisfied at the prospect of not participating prominently in the battle, saying that he had been ordered to the Stone Bridge, three or four miles away on our extreme left, to cover the left flank of the army from any movement that might be made against it. And as he had been directed to take a battery with him, he had selected mine, and wished me to move at once. He gave me a guide, and said he would follow immediately with his infantry. When I told him we had been 24 hours without food for men or horses, he said he would order supplies to follow, remarking, “You will have plenty of time to cook and eat, to the music of a battle in which we shall probably take little or no part.”

Away we went, retracing our steps to the Junction, and by a westerly detour striking into the Sudley road, at a point half-way between the Junction and the scene of the battle. After an hour or so we ascended the hill to the Lewis house, or “Portici.” Here a courier at full speed met us with news that the whole Federal army seemed to be marching north-westerly on the other side of Bull Run. Halting my men, I rode to the top of the hill, and had a full view of a long column of glittering bayonets moving up on the north side of the creek. Glancing down the valley, I saw Bee’s brigade advancing, and galloped to meet him and report what I had seen. He divined the plans of McDowell, and, asking me to accompany him, rode rapidly past the Lewis house, across the hollow beyond it, and up the next hill through the pines, emerging on the summit immediately east of the Henry house. As the beautiful open landscape in front burst upon his vision, he exclaimed with enthusiasm : “Here is the battle-field, and we are in for it! Bring up your guns as quickly as possible, and I’ll look round for a good position.”

In less than twenty minutes I and my battery had passed the Lewis house, when I discovered Bee coming out of the pines. He stopped, and, placing his cap on his sword-point, waved it almost frantically as a signal to hurry forward. We went at a gallop, and were guided to a depression in the ground about one hundred yards to the north-east of the Henry house, where we unlimbered. With his keen military eye, General Bee had chosen the best possible position for a battery on all that field. We were almost under cover by reason of a slight swell in the ground immediately in our front, and not fifty feet away. Our shot passed not six inches above the surface of the ground on this “swell,” and the recoil ran the guns back to still lower ground, where as we loaded only the heads of my men were visible to the enemy.

We went into position none too soon; for, by the time we had unlimbered, Captain Ricketts, appearing on the crest of the opposite hill, came beautifully and gallantly into battery at a gallop, a short distance from the Matthews house on our side of the Sudley road, and about fifteen hundred yards to our front. I wanted to open on him while he was unlimbering, but General Bee objected till we had received a fire, and had thus ascertained the character and caliber of the enemy’s guns. Mine, four in number, were all brass smoothbore 6-pounders.  The first round or two from the enemy went high over us.  Seeing this, General Bee directed us to fire low and ricochet our shot and shrapnel on the hard, smooth, open field that sloped toward the Warrenton turnpike in the valley between us. We did this, and the effect was very destructive to the enemy.

The rapid massing of Federal troops in our front soon led to very heavy fighting. My little battery was under a pitiless fire for a long time. Two guns from an Alexandria battery— Latham’s, I think — took part in the conflict on the north side of Young’s Branch to our right and across the turnpike, so long as Bee, Bartow, Evans, and Wheat were on that side, we firing over their heads; and about 11 o’clock two brass 12-pounder Napoleons from the New Orleans Washington Artillery unlimbered on our right, retiring, however, after a few rounds.

We were hardly more than fairly engaged with Ricketts when Griffin’s splendid battery came to his aid, and took position full five hundred yards nearer to us, in a field on the left of the Sudley road. Ricketts had 6 Parrott guns, and Griffin had as many more, and, I think, 2 12-pounder howitzers besides. These last hurt us more than all the rifles of both batteries, since the shot and shell of the rifles, striking the ground at any angle over 15 or 20 degrees, almost without exception bored their way in several feet and did no harm. It is no exaggeration to say that hundreds of shells from these fine rifle-guns exploded in front of and around my battery on that day, but so deep in the ground that the fragments never came out. After the action the ground looked as though it had been rooted up by hogs. (2)

For at least a half-hour after our forces were driven across Young’s Branch no Confederate soldier was visible from our position near the Henry house. The Staunton Artillery, so far as we could see, was alone in its glory.” General Bee’s order had been, “Stay here till you are ordered away.” To my surprise, no orders had come, though, as I afterward learned, orders to withdraw had been sent three-quarters of an hour before through Major Howard, of Bee’s staff, who had fallen, desperately wounded, on the way.

Infantry was now massing near the Stone house on the turnpike, not five hundred yards away, to charge and capture us. On making this discovery and learning from the sergeants of pieces that our ammunition was almost entirely exhausted, there remained but one way to save our guns, and that was to run them off the field. More than half of our horses had been killed, only one or two being left in several of my six-horse teams. Those that we had were quickly divided among the guns and caissons, and we limbered up and fled. Then it was that the Henry house was riddled, and the old lady, Mrs. Henry, was mortally wounded (3); for our line of retreat was so chosen that for 200 or 300 yards the house would conceal us from Griffin’s battery, and, in a measure, shelter us from the dreaded fire of the infantry when they should reach the crest we had just abandoned. Several of Griffin’s shot passed through the house, scattering shingles, boards, and splinters all around us. A rifle-shot from Ricketts broke the axle of one of our guns and dropped the gun in the field, but we saved the limber. The charging infantry gained the crest in front of the Henry house in time to give us one volley, but with no serious damage.

We crossed the summit at the edge of the pines, midway behind the Henry and Robinson houses, and there met “Stonewall” Jackson at the head of his brigade, marching by the flank at a double-quick. Johnston and Beauregard had arrived upon the field, and were hurrying troops into position, but we had not yet seen them.

When I met Jackson I felt very angry at what I then regarded as bad treatment from General Bee, in leaving us so long exposed to capture, and I expressed myself with some profanity, which I could see was displeasing to Jackson. He remarked, “I’ll support your battery. Unlimber right here.” We did so, when a perfect lull in the conflict ensued for 20 or 30 minutes— at least in that part of the field.

It was at this time that McDowell committed, as I think, the fatal blunder of the day, by ordering both Ricketts’s and Griffin’s batteries to cease firing and move across the turnpike to the top of the Henry Hill, and take position on the west side of the house. The short time required to effect the change enabled Beauregard to arrange his new line of battle on the highest crest of the hill, south-east of the Henry and Robinson houses, in the edge of the pines. If one of the Federal batteries had been left north of Young’s Branch, it could have so swept the hill-top where we re-formed, that it would have greatly delayed, if not wholly have prevented, us from occupying the position. And if we had been forced back to the next hill, on which stands the Lewis house, Sherman, who had crossed Bull Run not far above the Stone Bridge at a farm ford, would have had a fair swing at our right flank, to say nothing of the effect of the artillery playing upon us from beyond Bull Run.

When my retiring battery met Jackson, and he assumed command of us, I reported that I had remaining only three rounds of ammunition for a single gun, and suggested that the caissons be sent to the rear for a supply.  He said, “No, not now—wait till other guns get here, and then you can withdraw your battery, as it has been so torn to pieces, and let your men rest.”

During the lull in front, my men lay about, exhausted from want of water and food, and black with powder, smoke, and dust. Lieutenant Harman and I had amused ourselves training one of the guns on a heavy column of the enemy, who were advancing toward us, in the direction of the Chinn house, but were still 1200 to 1500 yards away. While we were thus engaged, General Jackson rode up and said that three or four batteries were approaching rapidly, and that we might soon retire. I asked permission to fire the three rounds of shrapnel left to us, and he said, “Go ahead.” I picked up a charge (the fuse was cut and ready) and rammed it home myself, remarking to Harman, “Tom, put in the primer and pull her off.” I forgot to step back far enough from the muzzle, and, as I wanted to see the shell strike, I squatted to be under the smoke, and gave the word “Fire.” Heavens! what a report. Finding myself full twenty feet away, I thought the gun had burst. But it was only the pent-up gas, that, escaping sideways as the shot cleared the muzzle, had struck my side and head with great violence. I recovered in time to see the shell explode in the enemy’s ranks. The blood gushed out of my left ear, and from that day to this it has been totally deaf. The men fired the other two rounds, and limbered up and moved away, just as the Rockbridge Artillery, under Lieutenant Brockenbrough, came into position, followed a moment later by the Leesburg Artillery, under Lieutenant Henry Heaton. Pendleton, supposed by me still to be captain of the first, as Rogers was of the second, were not with their batteries when they unlimbered.(4)  But Heaton and Brockenbrough were equal to the occasion. Heaton had been under my command with his battery at the Point of Rocks, below Harper’s Ferry, the previous May, and was a brave and skillful young officer. Several other batteries soon came into line, so that by the time Griffin and Ricketts were in position near the Henry house, we had, as I now remember, 26 fresh guns ready for them.

The contest that ensued was terrific. Jackson ordered me to go from battery to battery and see that the guns were properly aimed and the fuses cut the right length. This was the work of but a few minutes. On returning to the left of the line of guns, I stopped to ask General Jackson’s permission to rejoin my battery. The fight was just then hot enough to make him feel well. His eyes fairly blazed. He had a way of throwing up his left hand with the open palm toward the person he was addressing. And as he told me to go, he made this gesture. The air was full of flying missiles, and as he spoke he jerked down his hand, and I saw that blood was streaming from it. I exclaimed, ” General, you are wounded.” He replied, as he drew a handkerchief from his breast-pocket, and began to bind it up, “Only a scratch — a mere scratch,” and galloped away along his line.

To save my horse, I had hitched him in a little gully some fifty yards or more in the rear. And to reach him, I had to pass the six hundred infantry of Hampton’s Legion, who were lying down in supporting distance of our artillery, then all in full play. While I was untying my horse, a shell exploded in the midst of Hampton’s infantry, killing several and stampeding 15 or 20 nearest the spot. I tried to rally them; but one huge fellow, musket in hand, and with bayonet fixed, had started on a run. I threw myself in his front with drawn sword, and threatened to cut him down, whereupon he made a lunge at me. I threw up my left arm to ward off the blow, and the bayonet-point ran under the wristband of my red flannel shirt, and raked the skin of my arm from wrist to shoulder. The blow knocked me sprawling on the ground, and the fellow got away. I tore off the dangling shirt-sleeve, and was bare-armed as to my left, the remainder of the fight.

I overtook my battery on the hill near the Lewis house, which was used as a hospital. In a field in front I saw General Johnston and his staff grouped on their horses, and under fire from numerous shells that reached that hill. I rode up to him, reported our ammunition all gone, and requested to know where I could find the ordnance wagons and get a fresh supply. Observing the sorry plight of the battery and the condition of the surviving men and horses, he directed me to remove them farther to the rear to a place of perfect safety, and return myself to the field, where I might be of some service.

I took the battery back perhaps a mile, where we found a welcome little stream of water. Being greatly exhausted, I rested for perhaps an hour, and returned to the front with Sergeant Joseph Shumate.

When we regained the crest of the Henry plateau, the enemy had been swept from it, and the retreat had begun all along the line. We gazed upon the scene for a time, and, hearing firing between the Lewis house and the Stone Bridge, we rode back to see what it meant. Captain Lindsay Walker had arrived from Fredericksburg with his six-Parrott-gun battery, and from a high hill was shelling the fugitives beyond Bull Run as they were fleeing in wild disorder to the shelter of the nearest woods. Colonel J. E. B. Stuart, at the head of a body of yelling cavalry with drawn sabers, was sweeping round the base of the hill we were on, to cross the Run and fall upon the enemy.

When Stuart disappeared in the distance, Shumate and I rode slowly back toward the battery. Nearing the Lewis house, we saw General Johnston and his staff coming toward us slowly, preceded a little by a gentleman on horseback, who was lifting his hat to every one he met. From the likeness I had seen of President Jefferson Davis, I instantly recognized him and told Shumate who it was. With the impulsiveness of his nature, Shumate dashed up to the President, seized his hand, and huzzaed at the top of his voice. I could see that Mr. Davis was greatly amused, and I was convulsed with laughter. When they came within twenty steps of me, where I had halted to let the group pass, Shumate exclaimed, to the great amusement of all who heard him: “Mr. President, there’s my captain, and I want to introduce you to him.” The President eyed me for a moment, as if he thought I was an odd-looking captain. I had on a battered slouch hat, a red flannel shirt with only one sleeve, corduroy trousers, and heavy cavalry boots, and was begrimed with burnt powder, dust, and the blood from my ear and arm, and must have been about as hard-looking a specimen of a captain as was ever seen. Nevertheless, the President grasped my hand with a cordial salutation, and after a few words passed on.

We found our battery refreshing themselves on fat bacon and bread. After a hasty meal, I threw myself on a bag of oats, and slept till broad daylight next morning, notwithstanding a drenching rain which beat upon me during the night.

In fact, I was aroused in the morning by a messenger from ex-Governor Alston, of South Carolina, summoning me to the side of my gallant commander, Brigadier-General Bee, who had been mortally wounded near the Henry house, where Bartow had been instantly killed almost at the same moment. When I reached General Bee, who had been carried back to the cabin where I had joined him the night before, he was unconscious; in a few minutes, while I was holding his hand, he died. Some one during the night had told him that I had reflected on him for leaving our battery so long exposed to capture; and, at his request, messengers had been for hours hunting me in the darkness, to bring me to him, that I might learn from his own lips that he had sent Major Howard to order me to withdraw, when he was driven back across Young’s Branch and the turnpike. I was grieved deeply not to have seen him sooner. Possibly the failure of his order to reach me was providential. For full three-quarters of an hour we had kept up a fire that delayed the enemy’s movement across Young’s Branch. But for that, they might have gained the Henry plateau, before Jackson and Hampton came up, and before Bee and Bartow had rallied their disorganized troops. Minutes count as hours under such circumstances, and trifles often turn the scale in great battles.

General Jackson’s wound became very serious when inflammation set in. On hearing, three days after the fight, that he was suffering with it, I rode to his quarters, a little farm-house near Centreville. Although it was barely sunrise, he was out under the trees, bathing the hand with spring water. It was much swollen and very painful, but he bore himself stoically. His wife had arrived the night before. Of course, the battle was the only topic discussed at breakfast. I remarked, in Mrs. Jackson’s hearing, “General, how is it that you can keep so cool, and appear so utterly insensible to danger in such a storm of shell and bullets as rained about you when your hand was hit?” He instantly became grave and reverential in his manner, and answered, in a low tone of great earnestness: “Captain, my religious belief teaches me to feel as safe in battle as in bed. God has fixed the time for my death. I do not concern myself about that, but to be always ready, no matter when it may overtake me.” He added, after a pause, looking me full in the face: “Captain, that is the way all men should live, and then all would be equally brave.”

I felt that this last remark was intended as a rebuke for my profanity, when I had complained to him on the field of the apparent abandonment of my battery to capture, and I apologized. He heard me, and simply said, “Nothing can justify profanity.” (5)

The battle was mainly fought by Johnston’s troops from the Shenandoah. Two-thirds of the killed and wounded were his men and officers. Beauregard’s troops were strung out for several miles down the valley of Bull Run, and did not get up to our aid till near the end of the day. General Beauregard himself, who was in the thickest of the fight, came upon the field long before any of his troops arrived, except those he had posted under Evans to guard the Stone Bridge, and which, with Bee’s troops, bore the brunt of the first attack.

The uninformed, North and South, have wondered why Johnston and Beauregard did not follow on to Washington. General Johnston, in his “Narrative,” has clearly and conclusively answered that question. It was simply impossible. We had neither the food nor transportation at Manassas necessary to a forward movement. This subject was the cause of sharp irritation between our commanding generals at Manassas on the one hand, and Mr. Davis and his Secretary of War, Mr. Benjamin, on the other. There was a disposition in the quartermaster’s and commissary departments at Richmond to deny the extent of the destitution of our army immediately after the battle. To ascertain the exact facts of the case, General Johnston organized a board of officers to investigate and report the condition of the transportation and commissariat of the army at Manassas on the 21st of July, and their daily condition for two weeks thereafter. That Board was composed of Lieutenant-Colonel Richard B. Lee (a cousin of General R. E. Lee), representing the commissary department, Major (afterward Major-General) W. L. Cabell, representing the quartermaster’s department, and myself from the line. My associates on this Board were old United States army officers of acknowledged ability and large experience. We organized early in August, and made an exhaustive investigation and detailed report. I have a distinct recollection that we found that on the morning of the battle there was not at Manassas one full day’s rations for the combined armies of Johnston and Beauregard, and that on no single day for the succeeding two weeks was there as much as a three days’ supply there. We found that there were not wagons and teams enough at any time to have transported three days’ supplies for the troops if they had been put in motion away from the railroad. We found that for weeks preceding the 21st of July General Beauregard had been urgent and almost importunate in his demands on the quartermaster and commissary generals at Richmond for adequate supplies. We found that Colonel Northrop, the commissary general, had not only failed to send forward adequate supplies for such an emergency as arose when General Johnston brought his army from the valley, but that he had interfered with and interdicted the efforts of officers of the department who were with General Beauregard to collect supplies from the rich and abundant region lying between the hostile armies. After reporting the facts, we unanimously concurred in the opinion that they proved the impossibility of a successful and rapid pursuit of the defeated enemy to Washington. This report, elaborately written out and signed, was forwarded to Richmond, and in a few days was returned by Mr. Judah P. Benjamin, Secretary of War, with an indorsement to the effect that the Board had transcended its powers by expressing an opinion as to what the facts did or did not prove, and sharply ordering us to strike out all that part of the report, and send only the facts ascertained by us. We met and complied with this order, though indignant at the reprimand, and returned our amended report. This was the last I ever heard of it. It never saw daylight. Who suppressed it I do not know.(6)

(1) It numbered 140 officers and men. Six were college graduates, and several had left college to enter the army. The majority were young men of leisure or mercantile clerks. About forty were young mechanics, whose mechanical skill was of much service. I had provided them with red flannel shirts at Harper’s Ferry, because our uniforms were too fine for camp life and for service in the field.—J. D. I.

(2) I venture the opinion, after a good deal of observation during the war, that in open ground at 1000 yards, a 6-pounder battery of smooth guns, or, at 1500 to 1S00 yards, a similar battery of 12 pounder Napoleons, well handled, will in one hour discomfit double the number of the best rifles ever put in the field. A smooth-bore gun never buries its projectiles in the ground, as the rifle does invariably when fired against sloping ground. Of course, this advantage of the smooth-bore gun is limited to its shorter range, and to an open field fight, defensive works not being considered.— J.D.I. 

(3) Mrs. Judith Henry, bedridden from old age, was living in the house with her children. When  the battle opened near the Matthews house, Mrs. Henry was carried into a ravine below the Sudley road. A little later the house seemed to be the safest place, and she was carried back to her bed.  For a time the house was in the line of the artillery fire from both sides. Mrs. Henry received five wounds from fragments of shells,” and died two hours after the battle.— Editors.

(4) Captain, afterward General, Pendleton had recently been made a colonel and chief of artillery to General Johnston, which separated him from the Rockbridge Artillery. Captain Rogers, I also learn, had a section somewhere lower down on Bull Run with the troops at the fords.— J. D. I.

(5) I never knew Jackson to let profanity pass with out a rebuke but once. The incident was reported to me by the chief actor in it, Major John A. Harman, who was Jackson’s chief quartermaster. It happened at Edward’s Ferry, on the Potomac, when our army was crossing into Maryland in the Antietam campaign. On the march to the river, for some in faction of orders about the manner of marching his division, Major-General A. P. Hill had been ordered in arrest by Jackson. This probably had put Jackson in a ruffled frame of mind. The day was very hot, and the ford was completely blocked with a wagon train, either of Hill’s or some other division. On seeing the state of affairs, Jackson turned to Major Harman, and ordered him to clear the ford. Harman dashed in among the wagoners, kicking mules, and apparently inextricable mass of wagons, and, in the voice of a stentor, poured out a volume of oaths that would have excited the admiration of the most scientific mule-driver. The effect was electrical. The drivers were frightened and swore as best they could, but far below the major’s standard. The mules caught the inspiration from a chorus of familiar words, and all at once made a break for the Maryland shore, and in five minutes the ford was cleared, Jackson witnessed and heard it all. Harman rode back to join him, expecting a lecture, and, touching his hat, said: “The ford is clear, general! There’s only one language that will make mules under stand on a hot day that they must get out of the water.” The general smiled, and said: “Thank you, major,” and dashed into the water at the head of his staff, and rode across.— J. D. I.

(6) See statement from Colonel Northrop, page 261.—Editors.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine





SHSP – Company C, 4th VA Infantry at Bull Run

9 08 2009

Southern Historical Society Papers

Vol. XXXII. Richmond, Va., January-December. 1904, pp. 174-178

Company C, 4th Virginia Infantry, at the First Battle of Manassas, July 18, 1861

THE ORIGINAL REBEL YELL

With Prefatory Note by U. S. Senator, J. W. Daniel

BY J. B. CADDALL

[From the Richmond, Va., Times-Dispatch, Nov. 27, 1904]

Editor of The Times-Dispatch:

SIR,–In forming his line of battle at first Manassas Jackson placed the 4th Virginia Infantry, under Colonel James F. Preston, in rear of his artillery as an immediate support, and the 27th Virginia Infantry, under Lieutenant-Colonel John Echols, in close order directly behind the 4th. The two regiments, except without the line of the 4th, was larger than the 29th, on account of its larger numbers, appeared as one body, four ranks deep. To the left of those two regiments, and almost at a right angle, was the 5th Virginia, under Colonel Kenton Harper, and to their left in the woods, were the 2d Virginia, under Colonel James W. Allen (who was afterwards killed at Gaines’ Mill) and then the 33d Virginia, under Colonel Arthur Cummings, constituted the left flank of the brigade.

When the critical juncture came, Jackson galloped to the right of the Fourth Virginia, called for Colonel Preston, told him in a few sharp words to “order the men behind, up,” and to “charge and drive them to Washington!” “Attention!” “Forward march!” “Left oblique march!” were the commands quickly given; “left oblique,” an order to press the left flank of our artillery, which was between our infantry and Pickett’s and Griffin’s guns, which were to be charged.

Mr. J. B. Caddall, of Pulaski, was then in the 4th Virginia, and he gives an account, afterwards endorsed, with some interesting incidents of this regiment.

It is a notable fact that Jackson’s brigade line furnished the first immovable obstacle to McDowell’s advance, for while all the troops acted gallantly that day those previously engaged had been unable to withstand the weight of numbers thrown against them. The first stand of Jackson and his timely onset, alike checked, halted and repulsed the enemy, and then joined with arriving reinforcements, in driving them from the field.

Mr. Caddall calls attention to the fact that “the rebel yell” made its first appearance in the cheer of Jackson’s men in their charge.

The “four deep” line of the 4th and 27th Virginia was a formation that we do not hear of on any other field. It proved particularly fortunate and efficient on this occasion, but it escapes the notice of most historians, even of Colonel Henderson, one of the most accurate, as well as most wise, graphic and brilliant of military writers. The heaviest loss on Jackson’s regiment fell upon the 27th Virginia, which, namely, 141 killed and wounded, nineteen of whom were killed, and this gallant little regiment was afterwards called “The bloody Twenty-seventh.”

JOHN W. DANIEL

Lynchburg, Va., November 18, 1904

—–

THE PULASKI GUARDS

On the 23d of April, 1861, in the old City Hall, in Richmond, “The Pulaski Guards,” commanded by Captain James A. Walker, was mustered into the service of the State of Virginia by Colonel John B. Baldwin, of Staunton, inspector-general of the militia of the State.

This company, which had been organized a year or more previously, was composed of sixty strong, stalwart young men, ranging in their ages principally from eighteen to thirty years, though there were several older men who had seen service in the United States army in Mexico, and with General Albert Sidney Johnston on the Western plains. Among the veterans were R. D. Gardner, first lieutenant of the company, later noted for his coolness and courage in leading his regiment as lieutenant-colonel into battle; Theophilus J. Cocke, Robert Lorton, John Owens, and David Scantlon, the company’s drummer.

This company, designated as “Company C,” constituted a part of the newly organized 4th Regiment of Virginia infantry, under the command of Colonel James F. Preston, who had been a captain in the Mexican war. The 4th Regiment was ordered to Harper’s Ferry, where it was organized into a brigade, with the 2d, 5th, 27th and 33d Virginia Regiments, and the brigade was known as the 1st Brigade of the Army of the Shenandoah. This brigade was commanded by Brigadier-General T. J. Jackson, and constituted a part of General Joseph E. Johnston’s command in the Valley of Virginia on the 18th of July, 1861. General Johnston, with his forces from the Valley, was ordered to join General Beauregard at Manassas. In the disposition of the forces, Beauregard occupied a line along Bull Run on July 21, 1861. General Johnston was on his left, with his line thrown back at something like a right angle below the stone bridge, to protect the left flank of the army. Jackson’s brigade was placed on the left of Hampton, Bartow and Bee, which commands had previously taken positions on the field, and General Jackson made the following disposition of his force: The Rockbridge Artillery, under the Rev. W. N. Pendleton, as captain, which had been attached to the brigade, was placed in position on the crest of the hill to the right of the Henry house, commanding the plateau towards the stone house on the Sudley road. Immediately in the rear of and supporting this battery was the 4th Regiment, under Colonel James F. Preston, with the 27th Regiment, under Lieutenant-Colonel John Echols, formed a few paces in its rear. The 5th Regiment was on the right of the brigade, and the 33d and 2d Virginia Regiments on the left. This position was maintained for two hours in a broiling July sun in an open field, subjected to a fire from the artillery of the enemy from which the two regiments, 4th and 27th, immediately in rear of the battery, suffered serious loss.

At about 3 o’clock the enemy had pushed forward a strong column of infantry and artillery, and had arrived in close proximity of Jackson’s left flank near the Henry House. At this time the men of the 4th Regiment were lying flat on their faces on the ground in the rear of the battery to escape the heavy artillery fire of the enemy when we were called to attention and ordered forward on the double-quick, and on an oblique move to the left over a stake and brush fence, through a skirt of pines and subject to a heavy fire of musketry. In a very few minutes we were in close contact with the ranks of the enemy of which a very conspicuous body was a Zouave Regiment from New York, with highly decorated uniforms, consisting of loosely fitting red breeches, blue blouses, with Turkish tassel as headgear. Jackson’s men rushed at them, with fixed bayonets, every man yelling at the top of his voice. Here was the origin of the “Rebel yell,” which afterwards became so conspicuous in later battles of the Army of Northern Virginia. The men fired as rapidly as they could load their old smooth-bore muskets, and in a few minutes the Confederates were in full possession of that part of the field, and a fine battery of field artillery, Ricketts, which was in position near the Henry House, was captured.

The charge of Jackson’s brigade on that day turned the tide of battle, which to that time had seemed against the Confederates, and in a short time there was not to be seen an organized body of Federals south of Bull Run, but their forces were in rapid retreat toward Washington.

Company “C,” of which the writer was a member, was the color, or flag company of the regiment, and suffered a heavy loss–seven killed and twenty-three wounded. The flagstaff was shot in two, the color-bearer immediately repairing the damage by lashing a bayonet over the break and proceeded with the regiment in the charge.

David H. Scantlon, who was an enlisted member of Company C, 4th Virginia Infantry (Pulaski Guards), had seen service in the Mexican war and was an expert drummer. He was noted for his orderly habits and his strict obedience and observance of military discipline. He was drummer for the volunteer company before entering the Confederate army, and they had bought for his use a handsome brass kettle drum, which had a clear, ringing tone. Scantlon prized this drum very highly, and at all times exercised for it the most scrupulous care. In the army he was chief drummer for the regiment, and always seemed filled with enthusiasm when, with two other drums and the shrill notes of a couple of fifes playing “Highland Mary,” or “The Girl I Left Behind Me,” he marched at the head of the regiment at dress parade or in review.

Scantlon accompanied the 4th Regiment in the charge of the battle of Manassas, and after the capture of the Rickett’s Battery, the regiment being in some confusion, he was ordered by Colonel Preston to beat “the rally,” which he immediately proceeded to do, after first having turned his back to the enemy. On being asked by an officer near him why he turned his back to the enemy, he replied:

“Do you suppose I want the Yankees to shoot a hole through my new brass drum?”

One more humorous incident: While the 4th was lying in the rear of the Rockbridge Artillery, the men flat on their faces to lessen the exposure to the heavy artillery fire of the enemy, and while their shells were shrieking very close over us or exploding about us, a member of the company was very zealously and earnestly calling upon the Lord for mercy, for protection, and for help in the time of such imminent danger. During his devotions he would tell the Lord that he had been all through Mexico, but he had never seen anything half so bad as that; just then another shell would whistle over in very close proximity, when with the greatest earnestness he would exclaim:

“Oh, Lord, have mercy on me!”

At this point a comrade near his side would respond: “Me, too, Lord,” whether from inability to frame his own supplications or in a spirit of humor, no one then present took occasion to enquire.

J. B. CADDALL

Co. C, 4th Va. Infantry





SHSP – Maryland Line in the First Battle of Manassas

27 04 2009

Southern Historical Society Papers

Vol. XXXIV Richmond, Va., January-December 1906 pp. 170-178

First Battle Of Manassas

Dash and Heroism of the Maryland Line–Stonewall Jackson’s Flank Saved–Recollections Revived by the 45th Anniversary

A Paper read before the Isaac R. Trimble Camp, No. 1035, United Confederate Veterans, Baltimore, Md., October 2, 1906, by

Colonel WINFIELD PETERS, Maryland Member of the Historical Committee, and on Southern School History, U. C. V.

In the first Battle of Manassas, July 21, 1861, our First Maryland Regiment lastly and hotly engaged a brigade of the enemy from the edge of a woods overlooking a declivity, then a dry ditch at the foot, then a hill, on the crest of which the enemy was formed in battle line. We fired at point-blank range of, perhaps, 500 yards, awaiting reinforcements. The regiment was well dressed on the colors and the firing unobstructed, but the heat was intense, and the absence of wind prevented the smoke from rising; hence the view of the enemy’s line was now and then obscured.

HAIRBREADTH ESCAPE

In Murray’s company (second from the right) were Privates Geo. Lemmon, N.J. Watkins and W. Peters. Watkins was my file leader, and Lemmon was next on my right in the rear rank. Watkins knelt and fired, thus facilitating my firing, but shortly he rose to his feet, and in rising Lemon fired, sending the charge from his musket through Watkins’ cap, from back to front, and likely it passed through his hair. Seeing his cap flying in front of him, Watkins stepped forward at the risk of being shot, picked it up, and as coolly retook his place in the ranks. George Lemmon afterward told me–in his sly way–that he had two cartridges in his musket! Our cartridges contained a bullet and three buckshot (“buck and ball”). The firing was so deafening that no one could tell whether his piece was discharged. This was particularly so on our immediate right, where Jackson’s men were fighting desperately. It has been jocosely remarked that this was the only “wound” Nick Watkins got during the war.

SPLENDID CHARGE BY CONFEDERATES

Soon the Third Tennessee Regiment came up and promptly aligned on our right, and thereupon we were told that we must charge and carry the hill in our front. Immediately the two regiments–numbering together some 1,200–well aligned, charged out of the woods at “Double-quick,” “Charge bayonets,” with a ringing yell. At once the Yankees seemed to cease firing, and after we clambered out of the ditch they disappeared from the hill, the top of which we reached as speedily as possible. We expected, of course, to receive their fire at short range. Gaining the crest of the hill, a magnificent battle view was disclosed. Covering the hill were the wounded and dead of the enemy, and in our immediate front the Yankees we had fought were fleeing down the hill at a gait that we tired fellows could not duplicate. They must have started for the rear when we got out of the ditch and began to climb the hill in their front.

One of them said, after the war, that he did not stop running until he reached his home, Bangor, Maine. Another Yankee soldier, who was wounded in the face, was asked how that happened, as they all run at Bull Run. He said he “run a mile and looked back!

As we swept over the ridge, looking to the left, we could see the Tenth Virginia rallying upon the left of the First Maryland; thus precipitating the three regiments upon the enemy’s right flank, in the general assault that drove them in flight from the field.

While engaging the enemy from the woods, two six-pounder guns under Lieutenant Beckham, of Pelham’s Battery, took position on our left and fired effectively; also a squadron or two of Stuart’s cavalry were seen charging at the distance of perhaps 1,000 yards from our left, and on capturing the hill we could still see the cavalry sweeping toward the left front, following and charging the retreating Yankees. As stated, the Tenth Virginia Regiment, having reached the field and united with the Maryland and Tennessee regiments, we moved toward the Henry House, where the heaviest fighting had occurred, and halted at the captured guns of Rickett’s Battery, (U. S. regulars), which were being turned upon the retreating foe.

CARNAGE WAS AWFUL

The charge of the Maryland and Tennessee regiments, with the Virginia regiment aligned thereon; with a simultaneous advance of the Confederate lines; broke the enemy, who then began the famous Bull Run rout. The carnage here (the Henry House plateau) was awful, the first of many sanguinary battles to follow. Fatigued almost to exhaustion, without food or water, we were yet marched after the retreating Yanks, across the stone bridge, then back to the battlefield in the night, where we slept upon the ground as soundly and satisfiedly as victorious soldiers ever did under like stress.

The first Maryland Battalion, infantry, was formed at Harper’s Ferry in May, 1861, and became a regiment in June following, by the addition of more companies. They participated in the Valley campaign under Gen. Jos. E. Johnston, ending in the sudden movement of Johnston’s army, July 18, and the forced march to the support of General Beauregard at Manassas. The Fourth Brigade (under Colonel Arnold Elzey, of the First Maryland) was the last to reach the field of battle, July 21. Under the personal command of Gen. E. Kirby Smith, the Maryland regiment, upon detraining near Manassas Junction, was quickly started at double-quick to reinforce Stonewall Jackson, (who received his soubriquet that day), and the distance, about five miles, was made (it was said, in three-quarters of an hour) under the blazing sun, over a road so dusty that the clouds of dust raised by the brigade caused the enemy to conclude that large reinforcements were moving to the Confederate left, while on the other hand, the Confederate generals, not expecting Elzey’s brigade so soon, were apprehensive that the enemy was in their rear. Moreover, the colors could not be described, which dilemma resulted in the Stars and Bars giving place to the renowned Confederate battle-flag, having a St. Andrew’s cross on a red field–symbolical of suffering and blood–and was designed by General Beauregard, a Catholic.

Most conspicuous and inspiriting was the activity and manifest skill of General Smith, at the railroad. Seizing upon the First Maryland, when alighting, we were hurried into the road, ordered to place jackets and knapsacks under a nearby cherry tree, then formed column and moved off at “double-quick.” The General’s curt command was “Forward to the firing: The password is Sumter.”

The Maryland regiment (battalion of direction) nearing the battlefield was turned from the road into an open field, when, immediately, while in column of fours, they met a severe musketry fire, which disabled General Smith and others. Instantly, at double-quick, the column was deployed into line (right in front), and, charging, rushed to the woods from which the enemy were firing, causing them to retreat, and preventing them from forming in Jackson’s left rear.

PRIVATE SWISHER’S RASHNESS FATAL

Halting here, at the edge of the pine thicket, we were ordered to lie down, hence were protected from the enemy’s desultory fire, directed principally toward the colors, but, Private Swisher, of “A” company–next to the color company–more curious than the others, failing to obey the order to lie down, was killed by a bullet through his forehead. So anxious was Elzey to contribute to save the day and speedily, that, without waiting for reinforcements, we were soon ordered to “Attention,” and the regiment moved off by the left flank, in twos, then formed in battle line and advanced to support Jackson’s left, which they did and most opportunely.

FALLING FROM RANKS PERILOUS

Men famishing with thirst and hunger dropped in the rear to gather blackberries we were marching over, but instantly the gallant Geo. H. Steuart, lieutenant-colonel commanding, ran at them, with his sabre raised very ominously, yelling at them. “Get back in ranks: We may be cut to pieces,” and there was no more falling out of ranks. But, escaping the possible enfilading fire, the regiment pressed on until the enemy was met and defeated, as first related.

SMITH LEFT FOR DEAD: ELZEY SUCCEEDS HIM

Colonel Elzey was chagrined at General Smith’s superceding him and leading the Maryland regiment to the battle. Seeing Smith fall, Elzey–oblivious to the perilous situation–exclaimed to Major Bradley T. Johnson: “God is just; Smith is dead! Johnson, get his horse. This means for me six feet of ground, or a yellow sash”–worn only by generals. The horse ran off and the gallant major was suffering from scurvy.

Elzey, though brave, was presumptive; moreover, he did not possess the calibre of Smith. Smith had immortalized himself, and recovering from his almost fatal wound, he returned to us a Major-General. The sequence is strange: Almost a year thereafter, Elzey, commanding his brigade in the battle of Cold Harbor, received just such a wound as Smith’s, which likewise made him a Major-General.

ELZEY, BLUCHER OF THE DAY

It happened that about the time the Maryland regiment reached the battlefield President Davis also arrived, having come from Richmond by railroad and ridden on horseback from Manassas. He was first seen among the troops fighting on Jackson’s right, encouraging and rallying them. Jackson sent to inquire what civilian was rallying his men, and the information brought back was satisfactory. Jefferson Davis at that period was rated among the elite of living American soldiers. Having learned of the conduct of the Maryland regiment, the President promptly rode over, and saluting our colonel, addressed him as General Elzey, and General Beauregard dubbed him the Blucher of the day. Nevertheless, had we been 15 minutes later in checking the enemy, advancing, there would, probably, have been no Blucher of Manassas, because they would have enveloped Jackson’s left flank, which, with the extreme left–two regiments under Colonel Jubal A. Early–must have retired, and quite likely not in the best order, judging from the evidences of demoralization we witnessed during the last half of our march. A regiment was seen resting by the roadside, and scores of men were leisurely making for the rear, who, replying to anxious questions as to the progress of the battle, answered, to a man, that our army was defeated. General Smith (riding at a trot, we at double-quick step), would now and then turn to us and in a commanding tone exclaim: “Pay no attention to those skulkers and poltroons.  Follow me to the firing!” In truth, the energy and brave example of the General inspirited us, despite our well nigh exhausted condition, to arrive at the right time, at the right place, make the dash, follow it up and drive the enemy from the field. And it was the first display of the skill and bravery in battle characteristic of the Southern West Pointers. Johnston planned, Smith, Elzey and Steuart led. With the three typical regiments, at the critical juncture of the day, the Yankees were fated on that field. Jackson would gladly have led us on to Washington, and he said so, but was not permitted, nor perhaps consulted, but the fatal mistake was discovered ‘ere long. And victory always followed Jackson. A word as to this a little further on.

That the loss in killed and wounded in the First Maryland was not greater was because of their promptness, energy and dash in responding to orders, and the ready skill of our leaders. A noteworthy case of a badly wounded man was that of Sergeant John B. Berryman, (a file closer) of “C” company, (first from the right), who fell simultaneously with General Smith. He kept his bed during nearly the entire war, and the ill-effects from the wound never ceased until he died, on January 21, 1898, 36 years and 6 months from the day he was wounded, the anniversary of the birth of Stonewall Jackson, to whose aid Berryman was hurrying when shot.

SMITH’S BRIGADE SAVED THE DAY

There appears in the Confederate Veteran, August, 1906, pp. 364-65, the following: “Concerning Military Career of General J. E. Johnston, President Davis wrote, February 18, 1865: “Indeed we were saved from a fatal defeat at the First Battle of Manassas only by the promptness of General E. Kirby Smith, who, acting without orders and moving by a change of direction, succeeded in reaching the battlefield in time to avert a disaster.” Note the words “fatal defeat,” etc.

STONEWALL JACKSON’S WAY

Jackson’s magnificent victory and the unparalleled valor of his Stonewall Brigade seemed to be ignored. With a bullet broken finger, he was left to mutter: “With 10,000 such men I could take Washington.” Jackson could see the way; the two commanding Generals and the President–who deferred to them, as he said–could not. Johnston said: (repeating it to me and others, after the war) “We cannot cross a river a mile wide and 18 feet deep.” Jackson and Stuart would have found Seneca ford, on the Potomac, 12 miles above Washington, easily fordable. The day after the battle, we had, with reinforcements, 3,000 cavalry on the field. Jackson would have interposed between Washington and the Federal forces in the lower Valley under Maj. Genl. Patterson. The dread of “rebel cavalry” and “masked batteries” would have intensified Jackson’s advance and the Washington Government would have fled the city, or capitulated.

The First Maryland did their work in this (their first) battle in Stonewall Jackson’s way, fourteen months before the famous war lyric, “Stonewall Jackson’s Way,” was penned–under the inspiration of the guns at Sharpsburg, by Dr. John Williamson Palmer, of Baltimore. To find the enemy, go at him, quickly, rush upon him and keep it up; ‘trust in God and keep your powder dry;’ was Stonewall Jackson’s way.

COLONEL JOHNSON THE STAR SOLDIER

The star actor in the First Maryland was Bradley Tyler Johnson. Its last colonel, he led it through the Valley and Richmond campaigns, and until, in August, 1862, reduced to one half its original strength, the regiment was mustered out of service, by some occult method in the Richmond War Office. Colonel Johnson was justly indignant and refused to make a request to have the order rescinded, whereupon, General Jackson assigned him to the command of the Second Brigade in the Stonewall Division, which fought heroically at the Second Battle of Manassas.

HEROIC CAPTAIN MURRAY AND HIS MEN

Captain Murray’s company was mustered out of service, June 18th, 1862–the one year term of enlistment having expired–but they, with few exceptions, served faithfully to the end, whether re-enlisting or commissioned. The aggregate muster roll was about 120. With the First Maryland, they participated in General J. E. Johnston’s Valley campaign, 1861; the Manassas campaign, 1861-1862; and in Stonewall Jackson’s Valley campaign, 1862. Captain Wm. H. Murray of our “H” Company–the crack company of the regiment–was a young officer of exceptional merit and promise and greatly beloved.

Leading his Company “A,” Second Maryland Infantry, Captain Murray fell in the desperate charge at Gettysburg, the morning of July 3d, 1863. Gettysburg had no sublimer hero than Murray, the typical captain of the Maryland infantry. Major Goldsborough–intrepid and skillful–commanding the battalion, before advancing to the charge, said to him: “Captain Murray, I have the most implicit confidence in your ability to lead’ our men. Take charge of the right wing: I will look after the left, as I know them better.” Thus, on that bloody, fated field, these two best line officers parted forever. Murray, in the fore front, killed; Goldsborough, thought mortally wounded, but recovered; likewise Lt. Col. Herbert, in the successful charge the night before; two-thirds of the battalion dead or wounded. Though repulsed, by heavy odds, behind rifle trenches, the shattered regiment retired in good order and were not pursued.

Of the two soldiers first before mentioned; Geo. Lemmon became an ordnance officer and served with credit on the staffs of distinguished Generals. He died August 29, 1905, having on August 25th passed his 70th year. Mr. N. J. Watkins, who afterward served in the Signal Corps, is the well known, able journalist. Of the third, who was promoted to a lieutenancy: the late General Bradley T. Johnson, not long before he died, wrote: “Peters is the best all around assistant adjutant general I ever met. I have known him since 1861. Can do anything he undertakes and do it better than anyone else.” In addition to these, the Baltimoreans, still living, who were under Captain Murray at First Manassas, are: Captains Clapham Murray, his brother, and McHenry Howard, General John Gill, Col. Frank Markoe, Major Jas. Wm. Lyon, Judge Daniel G. Wright, Lieutenants Charles B. Wise, Charles E. Grogan, David S. Briscoe. Thomas B. Mackall and Winfield Peters; Privates, J. McKenny White, Sommervel Sollers and J. Southgate Lemmon. Rev. Randolph H. McKim. D. D., is in Washington, D. C.; Lieut. Richard T. Gilmor and Private Henry F. Schliephake are at the Confederate Soldiers’ Home, Pikesville, Md.; Captain Frank X, Ward and Private Fred’k L. Pitts, are in Philadelphia, Pa., and Private Duncan M. Turner is in Leonardtown, Md. These are probably the only survivors.

A broken shaft of marble in the Confederate burial plot, in Loudon Park Cemetery, Baltimore, to Murray and his men, tells the sixty who gave up their lives in the Confederate struggle: about one fourth of the whole number mustered.

THE ONLY CONFEDERATE MONUMENT AT GETTYSBURG

The monument is the tribute of the Murray Confederate Association, who, likewise, were instrumental in erecting the massive granite monument to the Second Maryland Infantry, on Culp’s Hill, Gettysburg; the only one thus far permitted by the Gettysburg National Cemetery authorities to Confederates, to be placed so near the Federal lines. But, they had to concede that the Maryland regiment took, occupied and held (July 2 and 3) the place where their monument stands. Indeed, the bloody charge on July 3 was made at a distance beyond it. This Maryland monument, erected in 1886, stands to-day the only Confederate monument on the battlefield of Gettysburg.

COLONEL PETERS AND CAPTAIN LEMMON BURIED ALMOST SIDE BY SIDE

Private Lemmon received deserved promotion. Years after the war, General William H. Payne, on whose staff he had served, paid him a sly compliment. “Lemmon,” he said, “I sometimes didn’t know whether you were on my staff or I on yours.” George Lemmon was a true type of a Maryland soldier and gentleman, and was as intelligent as he was brave. He was destined to die while traveling and approaching the old Manassas battlefields. He died on the fortieth anniversary of the death of my father–which resulted from service in the Confederate Army–Colonel George Peters, commanding the old First Rifle Regiment, Baltimore, many men from which entered the Confederate service, at the very beginning, assisted by the colonel and myself, lieutenant and paymaster. Col. George Peters and Captain George Lemmon lie a short distance apart in Greenmount Cemetery, awaiting the last trumpet call.





SHSP – General Eppa Hunton at The Battle of Bull Run

26 04 2009

Southern Historical Society Papers

Vol. XXXII. Richmond, Va., January-December. 1904, pp 143-145

General Eppa Hunton at The Battle of Bull Run, July 21, 1861

Statement That he Saved the Confederate Army from Defeat

A writer signing himself “C” contributed to the Prince William Times of July, 1904, the following interesting story of the first battle of Manassas:

The writer of this has read and heard so many conflicting accounts of the first battle of Manassas, and commented publicly on some of these as to make it impossible to conceal his name if he tried to do so. Recently he has been persuaded to write a plain account of what he saw and knows to be true in relation to this battle.

The Confederate forces had for a week been fortifying at the stone bridge against a front attack. I was engaged in cutting a heavy body of timber out of the way on the bottom land leading to the bridge, so as to enable our artillery to sweep the turnpike and adjacent low land, for over a mile in the direction of Centreville, and had just finished this work when the enemy attacked at Blackburn’s and Mitchell’s fords. There was so little blood shed, and the Federal forces were so easily repulsed, that I began to look upon the whole movement as a feint, and believe it is now generally so regarded.

On Saturday, July 20th, I had occasion to ride over into Prince William, and met the 8th Virginia, commanded by Colonel Eppa Hunton, who had been ordered to the next day’s battlefield. We were then old friends, and are such still. He had the Loudon Cavalry with him. In a brief interview I told him I believed the attack would not be made at the stone bridge, but by way of the Braddock Road, and the “Big Woods” (all upper Fairfaxians will know what I mean by Big Woods), and also that our people were not picketing north of the stone house, and suggested that a squad of the cavalry be left at my house on the Sudley Road to prevent a surprise. Colonel Hunton replied: “Your suggestion is a good one, and I will adopt it at once, trusting you to act for me as commissary and quartermaster for the time being.”

He sent Sergeant Amos Slaymaker, Private Hansbrough and four others whose names have escaped my memory, to my house with orders to keep a strict watch night and day, and to report to him at once so soon as any Federal advance was seen. This order was well obeyed, as the sequel will show. One thing not exactly germaine to the point, I cannot refrain from mentioning. It showed Colonel Hunton’s regard for his men. He said:

“Have you got anything in the way of cooked rations you can send my men about nightfall? They have been marching all day long without anything but an early breakfast.” I replied “that I had not, but said I would go home, have four or five lambs killed and cooked, arid all the bread we could cook, and send it to his camp by dark.”

The servant I sent the provisions by delivered all safely, and in doing so had to run the gauntlet of the Tiger rifles. These fellows claimed to be Colonel Hunton’s men, but some of the 8th being on the lookout, came to his rescue, and saved the lambs in short order.

Now, to the point. Who saved the Confederates from a disastrous surprise on July 21, 1861? I will endeavor to prove that General Hunton was the man.

The people in the vicinity of the battlefield were in possession of information that a battle was imminent, and were on the lookout. On Saturday evening, July 20th, Captain J. D. Debell, of Centreville, who had been in our vicinity for several days, came to Sudley and remained that night. He believed with me that the advance would be made through the route referred to, and Bull Run passed at Sudley Ford. He had a field-glass, small, but a fairly good one. Exactly at sunset he, Sergeant Slaymaker and myself discovered by the use of the glass eighteen or twenty blue-coat infantry inside of an open field, and not over thirty yards from the woods road we expected the enemy to follow. We were on this road, in a direct line, a mile and a half distant from them. Slaymaker sent information to the Colonel at once, and he (Colonel Hunton) sent word to General Beauregard by the same messenger. Slaymaker held his post until the advance of Tyler’s division drove him from it. I remained at home until the infantry advanced to within three hundred yards of me, and retreated to the battlefield. I saw the firing of infantry, and the mad rush of the Federals down the Henry Hill to get out of harm’s way. Taking into consideration the fact that Colonel Hunton got Sergeant Slaymaker’s report at 7:30 A. M., and that the battle was on before 10 A. M., I cannot reconcile the report of some of General Evans’s friends that he discovered the advance of the army through a signal station that he had established a day or two before on Hooe’s Hill, below Manassas, with what I saw and know. I am very sure I am correct in my opinion that General Eppa Hunton is entitled to the honor of being the officer who prevented the defeat of the Confederate forces on July 21, 1861.





SHSP- Thirty-third Virginia at First Manassas

25 04 2009

Southern Historical Society Papers

Vol. XXXIV Richmond, Va., January-December 1906, pp. 363-371

Thirty-Third Virginia at First Manassas

Colonel Cummings Takes Liberties with his Orders and Does Good Work

Colonel J. W. Allen’s Report–Interesting Recollections of Deeds of Valor at First Manassas Battle

From the Times-Dispatch, June 4, 1905

The fame of “Stonewall Jackson” overspread the Henry Hill combat at Manassas, 21st of July, 1861, but the reports of all his regimental commanders having been lost, no official record clarifies the movements and achievements of his five regiments on that day. The recent discovery and publication in The Times-Dispatch of Colonel Kenton Harper’s report of the Fifth Virginia Infantry, have fixed the movements of that regiment, and various communications from reliable officers and men have well nigh completed the history of the brigade on that occasion. Colonel Arthur C. Cummings, of Abingdon, commanded the Thirty-third Virginia Infantry that day. He had served in the Mexican War, and was a highly accomplished soldier and gentleman, worthy of higher command than befell his lot. His recent death has brought the name of this modest and heroic man again before the public. He shunned notoriety of all kinds, and rested content in “the conscientiousness of duty faithfully performed.”

Captain John H. Grabill, of the Thirty-third, who was with his regiment in the Manassas battle, and has kindly furnished’ me a brief statement and also with a pretty full account from Colonel Cummings, contained in a letter addressed to Captain Grabill at Woodstock, where he lives, dated May 16, 1898. It is due to history that these memorials of a brave regiment and of valiant deeds that had no little to do with the Confederate victory, be published. Captain Grabill relates his distinct memory of the charge of the Thirty-third, and that it was against the Brooklyn Zouaves (the Fourteenth New York), and a Michigan Regiment (the Michigan then commanded by Colonel, afterwards Major-General Orlando B. Willcox), who was at the front of the Federal battery. He says: “They were driven over their own battery by the charge of the Thirty-third,” and the battery captured as related by General Cummings. After the battle was over, General Jackson rode to one of the field hospitals. As he sat upon his horse he looked steadily upon the dying Captain Lee, of the Thirty-third, who was propped against a small tree, and made this remark: “The work Colonel Cumming’s regiment did today was worth the loss of the entire regiment.”

LOCATION OF THE GUNS

It will be observed that in Colonel Cummings’ description of the action, he says: “The pieces taken by the Thirty-third were situated considerably to the left (as we were facing) of the Henry House, and the pieces taken by the other regiments of the brigade were somewhat on the same line, but nearer the Henry House.”

I have no doubt that this statement as to the location of the guns is correct. Major R. W. Hunter, who was at that time first lieutenant and adjutant of the Second Virginia Infantry, which was immediately on the right of the Thirty-third, confirms Colonel Cummings’ statement, and I have seen similar statements in other accounts of the battle. The History of the Ulster Guard, a New York regiment, by Colonel Gates, who commanded it, contains a description of the battle at this point very much like that of Colonel Cummings’.

Confusion has arisen in some of the versions of this conflict, by the writer’s failing to distinguish between the separated guns that were taken by Colonel Cummings and those subsequently carried nearer to the Henry House, when the whole field was swept in the final Confederate charge.

ANOTHER FITZ LEE

The Captain Lee referred to by Colonel Cummings was William Fitzhugh Lee, born in Richmond, but then of Alexandria, the son of Rev. William F. Lee, and he was a graduate of the Virginia Military Institute in the class of 1853. Two years later he became a lieutenant in the United States army. When the war broke out, he was on duty at the St. Louis arsenal, and he resigned to follow the fortunes of his State. He was soon appointed a captain in the Confederate army, and then lieutenant-colonel of the Thirty-third Virginia Infantry.

THE SECOND TO THE FRONT

Just after that sally of the Thirty-third, the Second Virginia Infantry, under Colonel James W. Allen, which was the next regiment to its right, advanced to the assault. Colonel Allen, born in Shenandoah, had moved with his father’s family in boyhood to Bedford County, and had attended the old New London Academy. He graduated from the Virginia Military Institute in 1849, and became there an assistant professor of mathematics after first teaching at the Piedmont Institute in Liberty. No report from him appears in the war records, but an extract from it is found in “The Memorial of the Virginia Military Institute,” by Charles D. Walker, p. 324, which indicates that it has been published in the press, and it happily preserves the continuity of the story of the Stonewall Brigade at Manassas. Colonel Allen had but one eye, and during the cannonade which preceded the infantry combat on that day, a shot cut off the limb of a pine tree and hurled it in his other eye, temporarily blinding him. He afterward greatly distinguished himself, and was killed while in command of the brigade at Gaines’ Mill, June 27, 1862.

COLONEL ALLEN’S REPORT

In the report of Colonel Allen of the action of his regiment on the occasion referred to, he says:

“About 1 P. M. I was directed to station my regiment at the edge of a pine thicket to support the battery immediately on my right, with orders to fire when the enemy appeared in sight over the hill, then to charge and drive them back with the bayonet. In this position my men lay somewhat under the cover of the hill for more than an hour and a half, during all of which time they were exposed to the effects of shell and shot from the enemy’s batteries, which had advanced, under cover of the hills, to my left flank. Many of my men and officers were wounded by explosions that took place immediately in their midst; yet they stood their ground, awaiting the approach of the infantry. Colonel Cummings, on my left, met them, endeavoring to turn their flank. After advancing, two of his companies fell back through my left, which was kept in position by the coolness of Captain Nelson, who gallantly maintained his position, though exposed to a front fire of grape and shell, and a flank fire from the enemy’s musketry. At this juncture I was informed by Major Botts (whose coolness, energy and perseverance in rallying the men deserves special mention) that my left was turned. Not seeing the enemy in front, I directed that the three left companies be drawn back to meet them. This order was partially misunderstood by the centre companies for a general direction to fall back, and all the line turned. I at once gave the order to charge, but the thicket was so close and impenetrable that only a part of the right wing, under Lieutenant-Colonel Lackland, could be rallied about thirty yards in rear of the original position, the enemy having advanced to the position originally held by the left of the regiment, judging by their fire, for it was impossible to see them.

SPECIALLY MENTIONED

“At this moment Colonel Preston, who was on my right, and in rear of the battery, advanced, and Lieutenant-Colonel Lackland, with about one hundred of my right, charged on the enemy’s batteries, drove them from their pieces, and took position immediately in front of the guns, sheltering themselves as much as possible by them. Wishing to secure one of the rifle cannon, he ordered five or six men to take it to the rear, but had not proceeded more than fifty yards, when the enemy opened on his right, which was unsupported, and he was compelled to retire with the few men under his command, having lost nine killed and thirty-four wounded in the charge. The line did not retire until after our battery was withdrawn.

“The list of killed and wounded having been handed in, it is unnecessary to repeat it. I cannot, however, close this report without again making honorable mention of Captain Nelson, who gallantly fell at his post, supposed to be mortally wounded, and to the gallantry of Lieutenant-Colonel Lackland, who, with but a handful of men, charged on the enemy’s battery and actually brought one of their rifled guns to the rear, with but four men.”

Colonel Allen’s reference to the appearance of Colonel Preston, “who was on the right and in the rear of the battery,” denotes the time when Jackson’s right centre advanced under his immediate direction. This was the third and effectual movement which carried the position defended by Griffin’s and Rickett’s one of twelve guns, which were posted near the Henry House, some of them being turned on the front of the Second and Thirty-third Regiments, and the most of them on the batteries of Pendleton to the right of these regiments, and on the front of the other three regiments of the brigade; i.e., the Fourth, Twenty-seventh and Fifth. When Colonel James P. Preston went forward with the Fourth, the Twenty-seventh, under Lieutenant-Colonel John Echols, moved simultaneously, and the two regiments commingled at the captured guns, each losing heavily in the charge.

From the material collected in the contribution to The Times-Dispatch, the historian, with the aid of the War Records, can now compute the complete story of the Stonewall Brigade at First Manassas.

JOHN W. DANIEL

—–

Colonel Cummings’s Account

On the night of the 20th of July, 1861, our army lay in rear and facing Bull Run, the right resting near Union Mills, and the left at the Stone bridge. General Beauregard expected to be attacked the next morning on the front and right, but very soon in the morning he and General Johnston saw that the enemy was moving on the Centreville road, in the direction of the Stone bridge, with the view of attacking and turning our left flank, the demonstration on our front being only a feint. Leaving a force to protect our right, the rest of the army, except the command at or near the Stone bridge, already engaged, were moved along and in the rear of Bull Run to reinforce the troops already engaged, and to resist the attack on our left.

The Stonewall Brigade, after being halted several times, reached the brow of the hill or ridge. The centre of the brigade, when thus formed in line in a pine thicket at the edge of the plateau, was about opposite the famous Henry House, After the brigade was formed in line, we were ordered to lay down in the edge of the pines. This was about 12 or 1 o’clock, and the battle had then been raging for hours, and our troops were being driven back. As the brigade was then in line, the Thirty-third was on the left and was at that time the extreme left of our army. On its right the Second, Fourth, Twenty-Seventh and Fifth–the latter, as I understand, a little detached from the balance of the brigade. [The Fourth was in line behind Colonel Pendleton's batteries, and the Twenty-seventh just in rear of it; so that the right centre was four deep.--J. W. D.]

Two of the largest companies of the Thirty-third had been left in the Valley. The eight companies present were from Shenandoah, Page, Hampshire and Hardy (five were from Shenandoah, and one each from Page, Hardy and Hampshire); both the latter companies were small, about fifty men, so that deducting the sick and absent, there were only about 400 men in the action. I was then the only regular field officer in the regiment; but there was a Captain Lee, a splendid man and gallant officer, who had been temporarily assigned to the regiment and acted as field lieutenant-colonel; he was, in the charge, struck in the breast with a piece of shell and fell at his post mortally wounded, and died soon afterwards.

THE CHARGE OF THE THIRTY-THIRD WAS VIOLATION OF ORDERS

After giving this brief account of our movements and the position of the brigade previous to our going into action, I will give my recollection, which is quite distinct, of the charge made by the Thirty-third and the reasons which led to its being made before the charge was made by the other regiments of the brigade. This charge by the Thirty-third was made contrary to the order of General Jackson, and I will give you the reason why his order was not strictly obeyed–as you will remember, the eight companies that participated in the charge, whilst made up of an exceedingly fine body of gallant men, were, with probably the exception of one or two companies, composed of undrilled and undisciplined men; in other words, they might almost be termed raw recruits. Whilst the brigade was laying in the edge of the pines the Thirty-third, a little to the left and front of the Henry House, as we were facing, General Jackson rode along in line and directed me to look out for the enemy’s artillery and to wait until the enemy were within thirty paces, and then to fire and charge bayonets. The battle was then raging to our front and right and our forces still being driven back.

About this time, or soon thereafter, some men, dressed in red, presumably Federals, appeared in the bushes on the left flank of the regiment, and some of the men of the left company fired at them, and about the same time some shots from the enemy’s artillery raked through the brush just over the regiment and tore up the ground uncomfortably near the men, and the two things together, coming about the same time, caused considerable confusion in a part of the regiment, and realizing that the most trying position that raw men, and even the best disciplined and bravest could be placed in, was to be required to remain still, doing nothing and receiving the enemy’s fire without returning it, I feared the consequences, if I strictly obeyed General Jackson’s orders; therefore it was that I gave the orders to charge, contrary to his order to wait until the enemy was within thirty paces, the enemy being much further off at that time.

From this you will readily see how it happened that the Thirty-third made the charge before the other regiments made the charge as a brigade. A more gallant charge is rarely made than was then made by the Thirty-third (though in not a very good order). The men moved off with the greatest alacrity, killed and drove off the gunners, shot down their artillery heroes and captured the battery of artillery, but the loss was so great, there being about 43 killed and 140 wounded altogether, we were forced to abandon the captured guns and fall back in the face of a deadly fire and overwhelming numbers, and this was the first check the enemy received up to that time. Very soon thereafter the other regiments of the brigade made a charge and captured another battery. The pieces taken by the Thirty-third were situated considerably to the left (as we were facing) of the Henry House, and the pieces taken by the other regiments of the brigade were somewhat in the same line, but nearer the Henry House (the Robinson House being still further to the right). One of the men of the Thirty-third cut a bridle bit from a bridle of one of the artillery horses and gave me afterwards, which I have used ever since and have now. I am inclined to think, from what I have since learned that the battery or pieces taken by the Thirty-third was Griffin’s, and that the one or pieces taken by the other regiments of the brigade was Rickett’s or probably, if there was but one battery in front of the brigade it was placed in two sections, the one on the left taken by the Thirty-third, and the other, in the same line, but nearer the Henry House, and the one taken but abandoned by the Thirty-third was also retaken by the brigade.

I think, however, it is more probable that both Griffin’s and Rickett’s were in position near and to the left of the Henry House. With batteries or sections of batteries at two different points near and to the left of the Henry House, will readily account for the Thirty-third taking one and the other regiments taking the other, and also retaking the one captured by the Thirty-third.

RETAKING OF THE ARTILLERY BY THE BRIGADE

There are two things, however, about which there can be no doubt–one that the Thirty-third, being at the time on the extreme left of our army, charged alone and took the enemy’s battery or section thereof on our left, and that the rest of the brigade immediately charged and took a battery or section of one nearest the Henry House, and as I now recollect, if not mistaken, retook the one previously taken by the Thirty-third, numbers of the Thirty-third falling in with other regiments as individuals, and not as a regiment, and also that I ordered the charge by the Thirty-third before the time arrived to execute General Jackson’s order for the reason before given. Every regiment gallantly did its whole duty, the other regiments likely doing more fighting than the Thirty-third, owing to the heavy loss sustained by it in making the first charge alone and the disorganization that followed.

I had frequent talks with the officers of the brigade after the fight and never knew of any difference of opinion as to the action of the different regiments of the brigade, and see no occasion for any now. In a fight, of course, every one sees more clearly what takes place in his immediate presence, and no doubt, many things were seen by others of which I have no personal knowledge. I have evidence in my possession from others of the Thirty-third which more than sustain my account of the action of the Thirty-third. From having been somewhat unwell, my hand is a little tremulous, but I hope you may be able to wade through this badly written letter, and if you tire before you reach the end, you can stop and take it in broken doses. I should have written you a clean and better account of the part performed by the Thirty-third and the rest of the brigade at the first battle of Manassas, but you must be satisfied at present with this. I should regret very much for any controversy to arise as to the part performed by any regiment of the brigade that was immortalized on the eventful 21st of July, 1861, when all behaved so gallantly and are entitled to the consolation of knowing that their full duty was well performed. But as you are an editor, though I may be over-cautious, I will ask, as there is no necessity of it, you will not make public my letter. The whole brigade measured up to its full standard of duty, made its reputation and there let it rest. Ever since the close of the war I have had a great longing to visit the Valley of Virginia, but the time never seemed opportune, but I still cherish, perhaps, the vain hope of doing so. As age advances, my heart instinctively turns to old friends and old things, many of whom (that is, friends) I fancy, I would meet in the Valley. I shall be pleased to hear from you any time when you are at leisure, and in the meantime, I remain,

ARTHUR C. CUMMINGS

Abingdon, May 16, 1898





SHSP – “First Manassas”, Close of Battle, Cavalry Pursuit

23 04 2009

Southern Historical Society Papers

Vol. XXIII, Richmond, Va., January-December 1895, pp.259-266

First Manassas

The Closing Scenes of the Battle–Cavalry Pursuit

[Because of graphic details embodied, this article and the reply thereto are given.--ED.]

To the Editor of the Dispatch:

The subjoined letter, which I request you to publish in your widespread and metropolitan journal, is from the pen of Captain William Fitzhugh Randolph, of Greenville, Miss. Captain Randolph, himself a gallant Confederate officer, is brother to Bishop Randolph, of Virginia, and of the military stock of the distinguished Captain Buckner Magill Randolph, of the Confederate infantry, as well as kinsman to the courageous and accomplished Colonel Robert Randolph, of the cavalry corps attached to the Army of Northern Virginia.

Yours,

JOHN SCOTT, of Fauquier,

Colonel of Cavalry, Confederate States Army

Warrenton, Va.

GREENVILLE, August, 1895

Colonel John Scott:

MY DEAR COLONEL,–I hope you will excuse the delay which has occurred in my answer to your letter, received some weeks ago, which has been occasioned, first, by my absence from home, and then by a spell of fever, from which I have only recovered in the past few days.

The extract which you give from Colonel Munford’s report (see for the report itself, page 534, Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series I, Vol. II) is so entirely inaccurate and at variance with all my own experience, that I think it better to supplement your own narrative by giving a brief account of my observation of some of the incidents of that memorable day. I did not at that time, as, perhaps, you are aware, belong to any organized command, but had been, in company with a few choice companies, scouting in front of our army, and on the day of the first battle of Manassas acted as a sort of free lance, taking in the battle from the various standpoints, which gave the best promise of interest and incident. It is well understood now that we were on that day outgeneraled at every point. The Federal commander, by a sham attack on the 18th, had masked his real design, while he marched the bulk of his army around by Sudley Mill, and thus precipitated a superior force upon the unprotected left flank and rear of the Confederates, turning our entire position, and rendering absolutely useless all the defences which had been erected at Manassas, the day being only saved by the indomitable courage of a few Confederate brigades, who fought with a persevering tenacity which has been rarely equalled and never excelled, on any of the great battlefields of the world. Our army numbered nearly 30,000, and less than 10,000 of number, through that long and terrible day, bore the whole brunt of the Federal onset. Step by step, contesting every inch of ground with desperate courage, our line was slowly but steadily driven back by the sheer weight of the Federal advance, outnumbered, as they were, almost ten to one.

HEINTZELMAN’S REPORT

Heintzelman, who commanded a division of the Federal army, stated in his report to the department at Washington, with grim satire, that their defeat was not the result of masked batteries or overwhelming numbers, but because regiments repulsed brigades, and brigades drove back divisions. But, notwithstanding this fact, the Confederate line was gradually forced back up the long slope leading to the Henry House. When reinforced by a few regiments of fresh troops, which had been hurried up from Manassas, the thin Confederate line closed up for a last stand on the apex of the ridge which overlooked the stone bridge and the whole ground over which the enemy had been advancing. I stood close behind, looking at the long, solid ranks of the enemy as they were massing for a final assault, for, as I glanced along our line, it seemed almost certain that those worn and tired soldiers who had fought through the long, hot day, their ranks depleted to one half of their original strength, would surely be overwhelmed at last by the impact of numbers. Bee and Bartow had fallen. Of the Fourth Alabama, which had entered the fight 850 strong, more than 400 had gone down on the bloody field, and all that were engaged had suffered in the same proportion, but with ranks unbroken, resolute, and dauntless still, Johnston and Beauregard both were urging and encouraging the troops, and fully exposed to the whole Federal fire, the minie-balls coming thick and fast. Jackson stood near his brigade, with cap drawn close over his eyes, stern and silent, awaiting the catastrophe, and rendered rather more conspicuous by a white handkerchief wound around his left hand, which had been slightly wounded by a bullet.

SUCH THE SITUATION

Such was the situation when looking to our left. On the right flank of the Federal advance, and a little in its rear, we saw the gleam of bayonets on the crest of the hills. It was but a single brigade–3,000 strong–led by Kirby Smith, who, hearing the steady firing from the cars at Gainsville, had come across the country straight for the battle field. As the brigade poured over the crest of the hill the pace was quickened to a double-quick, rushing down on the enemy’s flank, firing and shouting as they came. The Federal line halted, then wavered, wheeling a little to the right, as if to meet this fresh enemy, but their hearts seemed to fail them before that onward rush, and the right of the line began to crumble like a rope of sand. Then it was that I saw Jackson raise his wounded hand and point down to that wavering line. Those worn and tired soldiers needed no second bidding. They knew their time had come at last, and, apparently as fresh as when the battle opened in the morning, those young volunteers leaped like bloodhounds down the hill, and closed with the foe.

The end had come, and the battle was won–a victory as amazing as it was unexpected. A moment before the advance the solid blue lines seemed irresistible; now, in the wildest panic, the whole field covered with a host of disorganized fugitives, flying as if all the devils of the lower regions were behind them. I was on many a hard-fought field afterwards, but never saw I a scene like that. Musket, knapsack–everything in fine that impedes flight–was thrown away, and the disorganized, panic-stricken masses poured like an avalanche across the turnpike, over the stone bridge, into the woods and fields beyond.

THE PRESIDENT

At this juncture I was standing not far from the Henry House. Generals Johnston and Beauregard were with President Davis, who, hearing that the Confederate army was retreating, had come in a special car from Richmond, and had just ridden upon the field. Captain Davis, at the head of the Albemarle Troop of cavalry, rode up the hill, and was immediately ordered in pursuit. As the troop was passing near me, Archie Smith, of Winchester, a member of the company, and a near relative, called to me to join them, which I was very glad to do. We passed close to Mr. Davis, with the two Generals, who raised their caps to us, and giving them a rousing cheer, we rode on. At first our progress was slow; as we came up with the two regiments of South Carolinians (Kershaw’s Brigade), who, together with Kemper’s Battery, had been ordered to follow the enemy. We crossed the Stone bridge on the Warrenton pike about a half mile beyond the hill. At this point the two regiments of infantry halted on the left of the road, and the Albemarle company formed on their right. Kemper’s Battery then unlimbered, the guns were run out to the front, and commenced firing down the pike at what appeared to be a receding cloud of dust. The firing was kept up about fifteen minutes, until all signs of the fugitives had disappeared, resistance on their part having entirely ceased.

NO ORDERS

No orders being received to continue the pursuit, the Carolinians remained where they had halted. Captain Scott, whom I then saw for the first time, rode out into the road, and called for volunteers to continue the pursuit. Captain Davis responded that his troop was ready. The gallant captain did not wait a moment, but dashed on, followed by Captain Davis’s sixty men. Captain Scott, rendered conspicuous by a white havelock, rode considerably in advance. Finding no obstruction to our advance, our pace was greatly accelerated. Occasionally a few of the troopers would drop out of ranks, gather up some of the flying enemy, and start for the rear; but for the most part very little notice was taken of these fugitives, as they scattered right and left, we riding through and over them, looking for better game.

About sunset we descried in the distance a cloud of dust, evidently made by a part of the flying enemy. We spurred our horses to a furious gallop, and dashed down upon them. We soon found what they were–some ten guns, I believe, encircling the black thirty-two pounder, called “Long Tom,” which was to play such havoc with the Confederate ranks! The cannoneers and drivers made a desperate dash with their guns at Cub Run bridge, which was immediately in their front. But, crowding too rapidly on the bridge, it broke under the weight, and baggage-wagon, ambulance, caisson, and all fell through into the stream below, forming an impassable barrier, which blocked they way, and effectually prevented further passage. The cannoneers and drivers leaped from their guns and horses, and darted into the bushes on either side of the run, leaving everything an easy capture.

A TEMPTATION

The temptation was too great for the average cavalryman, and Captain Davis himself, with most of his men, dismounted and commenced work on the tangled wreck. I myself was about to dismount, having an eye on a fine McClelland saddle which I wanted to secure, when Archie Smith, who was still at my side, turned to me and said: “Yonder goes the ‘White Havelock,’ Will!” “All right,” I replied, and we dashed after Captain Scott, who was crossing the stream above the wreck and debris, waving to the men to follow him. About fifteen of Davis’s men followed us, but most of them remained behind to work with the guns and secure horses, saddles, and other plunder. We joined Captain Scott on the other side of the run, and continued our wild ride faster than ever. We soon came to the foot of the hill upon which the little town of Centreville is situated. Crossing a small stream at the base, we rode rapidly up the slope, and on the crown of the hill came in immediate contact with a long, blue line of Federal infantry, drawn up in battle array. Riding up close to them, Captain Scott shouted, “Surrender!” For a few seconds they seemed to hesitate, but, hearing no sound of any advancing along the turnpike in our rear, an officer turned to his men and ordered them to fire. Our little band retreated at once, and dashed down the hill rather faster than we had come up, receiving as we went the whole fire of perhaps three hundred infantry. Not a man, however, was hurt, and we were soon out of sight, hidden by the shades of night.

A WHOLE BRIGADE

I ascertained afterwards that the troops we encountered on the heights of Centreville were a brigade, under Colonel Miles, which had never been in the fight, but had been left to cover the retreat of the Federal army.

With reference to the capture of the artillery and spoil at Cub Run bridge, the assertion that any command, except the Albemarle Troop, led by Captain Scott, had anything to do with it is without foundation. No other cavalry was in sight or hearing at the time, and had it not been for the headlong, furious charge of these sixty men, all these guns, undoubtedly, would have crossed the bridge in safety and been on their way to Washington long before any other command had reached the scene. To Captain Scott, therefore, and to him alone, the sole credit of the capture is due. The only part in the affair performed by Colonel Munford and his command was in manual labor, required in hauling the cannon out of the wreck, securing the horses, etc. Had the other cavalry leaders exhibited the same energy, daring, and enterprise which characterized Captain Scott, it is not at all improbable that the cavalry arm of the service alone might have ridden to Washington that night. But satisfied with what had been done, the army remained quiescent. * * *

W. F. R.

REPLY OF GENERAL MUNFORD

LYNCHBURG, VA., December 22, 1895

To the Editor of the Dispatch:

Your last Sunday’s [December 15] paper contained a brief communication from Colonel John Scott, of Fauquier, enclosing a long letter to the latter from “W. F. R.,” dated “Greenville, August, 1895.” This letter of W. F. R. seems to be in reply to one from Colonel Scott, soliciting W. F. R.’s opinion of my official report of the participation of my command at the First Battle of Manassas.

A reference to my report at page 534, of Series I, Volume II, of “The War of the Rebellion, Official Records,” will show that I therein state that “I advanced and found that Major Scott, commanding Captain Davis’s Company, had proceeded to the bridge on Cub creek.” There was no more gallant soldier or officer than Colonel Scott; and I neither there nor anywhere else during the war found any occasion to criticise him. But, as touching the contention raised by W. F. R., that no command, except the Albemarle Troop, led by Captain Scott, had anything to do with the capture of the artillery and spoil at Cub Run bridge, I am enabled to avoid the necessity, at all times unpleasant, of a laudatory mention of my own deeds, by introducing the following disinterested witnesses–namely, Colonel R. C. W. Radford, of the Thirtieth Virginia Cavalry, who on that day commanded the First Brigade, and Colonel John B. Kershaw, commanding the Second Regiment, South Carolina Volunteers. Colonel Radford’s report will be found on page 532 of the same volume of “The War of the Rebellion, Official Records,” to which I above referred. In that report he says:

“I have no hesitation in saying that the charge made by my own command, in connection with that made by the command under Lieutenant-Colonel Munford, composed of Captains W. H. Payne, Ball, Langhorne, and Hale, caused the jam at Cub creek bridge, which resulted in the capture of fourteen pieces of cannon, their ammunition and wagons, five forges, thirty wagons, and ambulances, and some forty or fifty horses. I base this opinion on the fact that we were in advance of all our forces, and by our charge the enemy were thrown into wild confusion before us, their vehicles of all sorts going off at full speed, and in the greatest disorder.”

Colonel Kershaw, in his report, at pages 522-524 of the same volume, says:

“Arrived at the house on the hill, which was occupied by the enemy as a hospital, having made many prisoners by the way, we found that a portion of our cavalry (Captains Wickham’s and Radford’s, and Powell’s and Pitzer’s), had had an engagement there with a battery of the enemy, which they had taken, but had retired after being fired on by the heavy reserve corps, which intervened between them and my command. This cavalry had come into the road by Lewis’ Ford, below the stone bridge, and neither of us knew of the position of the other until some time after.” * * *

“Reluctantly, I ordered my command to return; but, directing Colonel Cash to remain, I went with a detachment of twenty volunteers from his regiment to the bridge, where I found Lieutenant-Colonel Munford, with a portion of the Virginia cavalry, extricatingthe valuable capture. They had arrived by the Sudley Ford road, having pursued the enemy from the battle-field, and came up to the bridge, when Captain Kemper ceased firing.  Here I remained until 10 o’clock at night, aiding Colonel Munford, when I returned to camp.”

I have ever deemed it an unseemly spectacle for the Southern survivors of the Confederate war to indulge in crimination and recrimination of one another, and shall content myself with the above response to the criticism of “Free Lance.”

Respectfully,

THOMAS T. MUNFORD





SHSP – First Battle of Manassas and the Stonewall Brigade

21 04 2009

Southern Historical Society Papers

Vol. XIX. Richmond, Va. 1891, pp.82-92

History of the First Battle of Manassas and the Organization of the Stonewall Brigade

[From the Winchester, Va., Times, January 14, 1891]

HOW IT WAS SO NAMED

BY D. B. CONRAD, KANSAS CITY, MO., FORMERLY U. S. AND C.S. NAVY

He was as exact in the performance of his duties as a mathematical proposition; his only pleasure, walking daily at the same hour for his health; strict, grim and reticent, he imagined that the halves of his body did not work and act in accord. He followed hydropathy for dyspepsia, and after a pack in wet sheets every Sunday morning he then attended the Presbyterian church, leading the choir, and the prayer-meetings every night during the week. He ate the queerest food, and he sucked lemons constantly; but where he got them during the war, for we were many miles from a lemon, no one could find out–but he always had one. In fact, no one knew or understood him. No man ever saw him smile–but one woman, his wife. But he stood very high in the estimation of all for his rigid moral conduct and the absolute faith reposed in his word and deeds. Soon it was observed that every night there was singing and praying under “that tree,” and every Sunday morning and evening he held prayer-meetings, which, I regret to say, were attended by only a few–always strictly, however, by his staff, who seemed to have been chosen or elected because they were of his way of life. When thrown with him on duty he was uniformly courteous to all. He always kept his eyes half closed as if thinking, which he invariably did before answering; but his replies were short and to the point. Not many days elapsed before the officers found out that when he gave or wrote one of his short orders, it was always to be obeyed, or suspension at once followed neglect. In May many regiments arrived from Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee, and there was some semblance of discipline–as an immense log guard-house, always filled, gave evidence.

One Sunday evening in early June the long roll was beaten, and we soon were in line, marching out between the high hills towards Shepherdstown bridge on the upper Potomac, accompanied by a long procession of carriages filled with our mothers and sisters, escorted by our middle-aged, portly fathers on horseback; for as we could not go to them, they daily visited us in our camp; and that evening, for the first time in our lives, it looked and felt like war. For were we not on our way to keep the Yankees out of Virginia? Were they not in force somewhere in Maryland, intending to cross over the bridge which we were marching to, to defend and burn? This was the feeling and belief of all of us; and as in the narrow country road winding around the many high hills our long line of bright bayonets glinted in the setting sun, our five full regiments, numbering nearly four thousand five hundred of the brightest, healthiest, and the most joyous of Virginia youth, stepping out quickly to the shrill music of the drum and fife, with its accompanying procession of vehicles carrying weeping mothers and sisters, it was my first and most vivid sight of what war might be. As darkness fell apace, all were left behind but the soldiers. It was our first night-march, and by two o’clock we were “dead beat!” Many fell asleep by the roadside, and were only aroused by the rattling of muskets, as the foremost regiment fired a volley without orders, and swept across the bridge, only to be sternly ordered back by “Old Jack, the sleepless,” who reprimanded its colonel and then personally superintended the firing of the wooden structure. During the next week we marched over several counties, and by the time we reached Winchester, where General J. E. Johnston had established his headquarters, we were in perfect trim, and knew each other well and felt like soldiers.

In Winchester we were regaled day and night with the speeches of ‘Fire-eaters,” “Original Secessionists,” Et id genus omne! I only recall the following: I saw a crowd listening eagerly with arrested attention to an orator. He was both corpulent and crapulent, who had just come from Washington, which was his present glory and distinction. He announced that he would redden the Potomac with the blood of every Yankee who crossed to invade the sacred soil of the South. One Southern man with a bowie knife was equal to any two Yankees, and that the war would be over after the first fight, when they would be driven out and away forever. Another orator drew a large audience; his chief distinction and glory seemed to be that he was and had been a “Nullifier” (whatever that was). An original “Secessionist;” had a brother fighting in Italy with Garibaldi, whom he announced was expected daily — the looked-for “Military Messiah;” and finally that he was a South Carolinian and came here to assist in fighting Virginia’s battles. Then there were groans and derision from the assembled Virginians.

For a week ending July 2d, we were encamped near Martinsburg, some four miles from the ford of the Potomac leading to Hagerstown, called Falling Waters, watching the Federal army under General Patterson. At sunrise the alarm was given: “the enemy are crossing!” and we were under arms on our way to the ford. Emerging on the turnpike, we were halted to support a battery; skirmishers were thrown out, and soon we were all engaged. We tried hard to hold Patterson until General Johnston could come up from Winchester, but were forced back, and here we saw Colonel Jackson under fire for the first time; stolid, imperturbable, undisturbed, as he was watched by every eye; and his example was quieting and of decided moral effect. There, for the first time, we saw the long line of blue, with the United States flag in the center, and both sides exchanged shots; the first of the many fights in the old Valley of Virginia. We fell back through Martinsburg; it was occupied by General Patterson; and at a small hamlet called” Bunker Hill,” some seven miles away, we, during the whole of July 4th, were in line of battle, expecting Patterson hourly. The next evening we fell back upon Winchester, and after our arrival there happened an episode which I will relate briefly, as it was the first and only attempt at a mutiny ever heard of in the Confederate army.

About 3 o’clock on the afternoon of July 17th the long roll was beaten and we were marched to an adjoining field, crushing under our feet as we moved along the stone fences bounding it. There we found our five regiments surrounding a number of tents, and when the hollow square was perfect we became aware that we enclosed a battalion of troops who had refused positively to further obey their commander. General Joe Johnston’s adjutant, Colonel Whiting, with Colonel Jackson and the colonel of the refractory troops, rode up into the square. The drums were ordered to beat the assembly, and, to our infinite relief, the battalion, under the command of its several captains, fell into line at once. Then there was a dead silence. This was a mutiny! What came next? How was it to be punished? Was every tenth man to be shot, or only the officers? As I rode along I heard these questions asked by both rank and file. Colonel Whiting then rode to the front with a paper in his hand, and when he arrived at the head of the troops he read aloud, with marked emphasis, in substance as follows: That General Johnston had heard with regret and surprise that, on the eve of an action, both men and officers had refused to obey the orders of their commander. He could only say that it was the imperative duty of all soldiers to obey orders; that their grievances would be redressed in time, but such an example would and should not go unpunished. He therefore expected of them instant obedience of their colonel’s orders; that Colonel Jackson, with five regiments, was there to enforce, if needed, his commands. Their own colonel then put them through their evolutions for so many minutes, and they were ordered back to their tents, and all was quiet. It seems hardly necessary to state that those were the last orders ever given by that colonel, as he was removed from command.

All of General Johnston’s army were then encamped around Winchester, when, on the 18th of July, at 3 o’clock in the afternoon, again the long roll was sounded. From the number of mounted officers and men galloping furiously off to every encampment, it was evident that there was important news. General Patterson was known to be at Charlestown, twenty miles to the east, but nearer to the passes of the Blue Ridge than we were. General Beauregard was known to be at Manassas station, far to the east, eighty miles by direct line, with the Blue Ridge and the Shenandoah river running between him and us. Soon the news came–it was not an order, but simply a message from General Johnston to each brigade, regiment and individual soldier, that General Beauregard had just notified him from Manassas, on that morning at daybreak, he had been attacked by an overwhelming force of the enemy from Centerville. He was holding his own, but needed help. General Johnston had started, and would go day and night to his relief; and he expected every man who wanted to fight the enemy would up and follow. There is no man living of all that army to-day who can ever forget the thrill of “Berserker rage” which took possession of us all when the news was understood, and General Johnston’s inspiring message was repeated along the line. We were to help General Beauregard drive the enemy back; then, returning to the Valley, would hurl General Patterson across the Potomac and end the war.  For had not Secretary Seward proclaimed that in sixty days it would be over?  Every man sprang to his place, and in an incredibly short time we were rapidly moving through the dusty streets of old Winchester, there only to be the more inspired and encouraged, for there was not a mother or sister there who had not in the ranks a son or a brother, and who through tears and wails at being left undefended and alone, yet told us it was our duty to go. Our Virginia brigade took the lead and to the eastward, making for Ashby’s Gap. We footed it fast and furious; it was at first like a run, but soon slackened to the “route step,” and now we wondered at the old soldier’s puzzle: “Why, when the leading files of a mile of soldiers were only in a walk, that the rear files are always on a run?” As we passed through the rich and fertile Clarke County, the road was lined with ladies holding all manner of food and drink, for General Johnston’s staff had passed in a sweeping gallop and given tidings of our coming. At sundown we came to the cold, swift Shenandoah, and with two and three to every horse, the rest stripped off trousers, crossed, holding aloft on muskets and head, clothing and ammunition. This was the severest test, for it was a long struggle against a cold, breast-high current, and the whole night and the next day witnessed this fording of men, guns and horses. I did not see my mare for two days; nearly a dozen cousins and brothers or other relatives had to use her in the crossing. Luckily the road beyond was hard, dry and plain in the dark night as we slowly climbed the Blue Ridge, which rises precipitously from the river, and in a straggling line passed by the “Big Poplar Tree” that crowns the summit and is the corner of four counties, Clarke, Warren, Fauquier and Loudoun. Coming down the mountain by the hamlet of Paris, and there leaving the pike, we took the country road, soft and damp, to the railroad station of Piedmont, where, sleeping on the ground, we awaited the arrival of the train to carry us to Manassas Junction. At sunrise it came; a long train of freight and cattle cars, in which we packed ourselves like so many pins and needles; and, as safety for engine and cars was more essential than speed, for we had one engine only on that part of the old Manassas Gap railroad, we slowly jolted the entire day, passed the many country stations, warmly welcomed by the gathered crowds of women and girls with food and drink.

And when at sunset we arrived at Manassas Junction, sprung at once into line, and swept out into a broken country of pine forest. Four miles brought us to the banks of “Bull Run,” where we slept. That was Friday night, the 19th, and it had taken twenty-four hours to bring four thousand men to the expected field of action. Bright and early on Saturday, the 20th, we were up and examined with a soldier’s interest the scene of the conflict of the 18th. A line of fresh graves was rather depressing; the trees were lopped and mangled by shot and perforated by minnie balls. The short, dry grass showing in very many spots a dark chocolate hue, spreading irregularly like a map, which the next day became a too familiar sight. We could not make anything out of the fight, beyond that here was the ford, and here they came down to cross in force. They were simply repulsed from the ford; there was no pursuit, the artillery remaining on the hills beyond; and it was agreed that here, any day now, we were to fight against a direct assault. The enemy’s object, we supposed, was to get to Manassas Junction, murder every one there, and destroy buildings and stores.

The art of war was so simple and so well understood by all in those early days, that the opinions of high-up college graduates and successful lawyers were even sought for, and in all cases, I must do them justice to say, were given with the utmost freedom and liberality. Every man who had been in the Mexican war, or had been fighting abroad, was a colonel or a brigadier at once, and they swelled and swaggered around, dispensing willing information of tactics and grand strategy in the most profuse and generous way to an absorbent and listening crowd. The whole of Saturday, the 20th, did we lie in the pines, resting and surmising, greeting each new regiment as it arrived at all hours of the day and night, panting for the fight. Questions asked were: “Had the fighting begun yet?” Are we too late?” “When was it to be? Let us get a good place where we can kill every d—d Yankee, and then go home.” Not a sound or shot disturbed the quiet of long Saturday, and we slept peacefully in the pines that night. As the next day (Sunday, the 21st) broke we were jumped out of our lairs by the loudest gun I ever heard, apparently fired right at our heads, as we supposed, and from just over the bank of Bull Run, only a hundred yards distant; but it proved to be the signal gun from Centerville, four miles away, in the encampment of General McDowell. At a double quick we were in line along the bank of the stream, momentarily expecting the enemy to appear and open on us, and thus we awaited until the sun got over the tops of the trees, when a mounted officer rode up, and after a hurried interview with Colonel Jackson, we were, to our surprise, wheeled to the rear, and at double-quick, over fields and through the woods, we went to the extreme left of our army.

It then turned out that at that day and hour General McDowell had decided to attack us on our left; and as General Beauregard had decided to attack the Federals on their left, so, had it not been discovered in time by the Confederates, each army would have followed thereto in concentric circles. For two long, hot hours did we move towards the rattling of musketry, which at first was very faint, then became more and more audible. At last we halted under a long ridge covered with small pines. Here were the wounded of that corps who had been first engaged–men limping on gun or stick; men carried off in blankets, bleeding their life away; men supported on each side by soldiers–and they gave us no very encouraging news to troops as we were. They had been at it ever since sun-up. The enemy were as thick as wheat in the field, and the long lines of blue could not be counted. Up the narrow lane our brigade started, directly to where the musketry seemed the loudest, our regiment, the Second, bringing up the rear. Reaching the top, a wide clearing was discovered; a broad table land spread out, the pine thicket ceased, and far away over the hill in front was the smoke of musketry; at the bottom of the long declivity was the famous turnpike, and on the hills beyond could be seen clearly Griffin’s and Rickett’s batteries. In their front, to their rear, and supported on each side, were long lines of blue. To our right, about one hundred yards off, was a small building, the celebrated “Henry House.” As ours was the last regiment to come up, and as the brigade, as it surmounted the hill, wheeled into line sharply to the left into the thickets, we were thus thrown to the extreme right of the line and of the entire army. Halting there and mounted on a gate-post, I could see the panoramas spread out before me. The brass pieces of Griffin’s and Rickett’s batteries were seen wheeling into line, caissons to the rear, the horses detached and disappearing behind the hill. The glinting of the morning sun on the burnished metal made them very conspicuous. No cavalry were seen. I do not think that McDowell had any in action that day. Both batteries soon opened on us with shell, but no casualties resulted, for the reason that in their haste and want of time the fuses were not cut. I picked up many which fell to the ground with a dull sound, and found that the reason they did not explode. The infantry were engaged on the side of the long, gradual slope of the hill on which we stood, and in the bottom below, out of our sight, we could hear the sound and see the white smoke.

At this time there rode up fast towards us from the front a horse and rider, gradually rising to our view from the bottom of the hill. He was an officer all alone, and as he came closer, erect and full of fire, his jet-black eyes and long hair, and his blue uniform of a general officer made him the cynosure of all. In a strong, decided tone he inquired of the nearest aide, what troops we were and who commanded. He was told that Colonel Jackson, with five Virginia regiments had just arrived, and pointed to where the colonel stood at the same time. The strange officer then advanced, and we of the regimental staff crowded to where he was to hear the news from the front. He announced himself as General B. E. Bee, commanding South Carolina troops; he said that he had been heavily engaged all the morning, and being overpowered, are now slowly being pushed back; we will fall back on you as a support: the enemy will make their appearance in a short time over the crest of that hill. “Then sir, we will give them the bayonet,” was the only reply of Colonel Jackson. With a salute, General Bee wheeled his horse and disappeared down the hill, where he immortalized himself, Colonel Jackson and his troops, by his memorable words to his own command: “Close up, men, and stand your ground. Colonel Jackson with five regiments of Virginia troops is standing behind us like a stone wall, and will support you.” Thus was the name of “Stonewall” given to General Jackson and his famous brigade. General Bee was killed the next moment. Our entire line lay in the pine thickets for one long hour, and no man, unless he was there, can tell how very long it was to us. Under fire from two batteries throwing time-shells only, they did not do a great amount of killing, but it was terribly demoralizing. Then there was a welcome cessation; and we were wondering why, and when the fighting would begin for us. After nearly half an hour the roar of the field pieces sounded louder than I had yet heard, and evidently very near us; this was the much criticised movement of Ricketts, who had ordered his battery down the opposite hill, across the pike and up the hill we were on, where, wheeling into battery on the level top, opened with grape and canister right into the thicket and into our exposed line. This was more than Colonel Jackson could stand, and the general order was–” Charge and take that battery!” Now the fight of Manassas, or Bull Run, began in earnest–for the position we held was the key of the field. Three times did our regiment charge up to and take this battery, but never held it; for though we drove the regiment supporting it, yet another was always close behind to take its place. A gray-headed man, sitting sideways on horseback, whom I understood to be General Heintzleman, was ever in one spot directing the movements of each regiment as it came up the hill; and his coolness and gallantry won our admiration. Many fragments of these regiments charged on us in turn as we retreated into the pines, only to be killed, for I do not think any of them went back alive. The green pines were filled with the Seventy-ninth Highlanders and the red-breeched Brooklyn Zouaves, but the only men who were killed twenty or thirty yards behind, and in the rear of our line, were the United States Marines. Many of these I had sailed with, and they called on me by name to help them as they lay wounded in the undergrowth. “Water, water!” “Turn me over!” “Raise my head, and remove me out of this fire!” were their cries. I then saw what was afterwards too often the case–men with wounded legs, unable to move out of the fire, mortally wounded while lying helpless Our entire brigade thus fought unaided and alone for at least an hour–charging, capturing, retreating, and retaking this battery, resisting the charges of each fresh regiment as it came forward at quick-step up the slope of the hill, across the table-land, on its top and into the pine thickets where we were, until we were as completely broken up into fragments and as hard pressed as men ever were. It had gotten down to mere hand-to-hand fighting of small squads, out in the open and in the pines. There was no relief, no reinforcements, no fresh troops to come, or to fall back on. Luckily the enemy were in the same disorganized condition as we were. General Johnston seized the colors of a regiment, and on horseback, led a charge, excusing it afterwards as necessary at that moment to make a personal example. Our Colonel Jackson, with only two aids, Colonels Jones and Marshall, both subsequently killed, rode slowly, and without the slightest hurrah, frequently along our front, encouraging us by his quiet presence. He held aloft his left or bridle hand, looking as if he was invoking a blessing, as many supposed, but in fact to ease the intense pain, for a bullet had badly shattered two of his fingers, to which he never alluded, and it has been forgotten, for it was the only time he was ever wounded, until his fall in action in 1863. Thus the fate of the field hung in a balance at 2:30 P. M. At this moment President Davis and his staff made their appearance on the field, but not being known, attracted no attention. Both sides were exhausted and willing to say “enough!” The critical moment, which comes in all actions, had arrived, when we saw to our left a cloud of dust, and out of it emerged a straggling line of men with guns held at a trail. Slowly they came on to the field, not from want of spirit, but tired out from double-quicking in the heat and dust.  As they passed by and through our squads there were hurried inquiries; the enemy was pointed out to them, and when seen, from out of their dusty and parched throats, came the first “Rebel yell.” It was a fierce, wild cry, perfectly involuntary, caused by the emotion of catching first sight of the enemy. These new troops were Kirby Smith’s delayed men; the train had that morning broken down, but on arriving at the station near and hearing the sound of fighting, he had ordered the train stopped, and forming into line and rapidly marching, guided only by the roar of the guns, had arrived on the field at the supreme moment. The yell attracted the attention of the enemy, surprised and startled them. Inspired by the sight of the Federals the new Confederate troops, in one long line, with a volley and another yell, swept down the slope of our hill and drove before them the broken, tired enemy, who had been at it since sunrise. Kirby Smith was shot from his horse, but onward they went, irresistible, for there was no opposition. The enemy stood for a few moments, firing, then turned their backs for the first time. As if by magic the whole appearance of the scene was changed. One side was cheering and pursuing in broken, irregular lines; the other a slow-moving mass of blue backs and legs, guns, caissons and ammunition wagons, started down the hard, white pike. Our batteries, with renewed vigor and dash, had again come to the front, and from their high positions were opening with shot and grape. One solitary bridge was the point to which the fleeing Federals converged, and on that point was our fire concentrated. The result was at one seen–a wheel or two knocked off their caissons or wagons blocked the passage, and the bridge became impassable. The men cut loose their horses, mounted and rode away; others plunged into the mud and water, and the retreat became from that moment a panic, for the god Pan had struck them hard for the first and last time. There was never again the like to be seen in the subsequent four years. Our pursuit, singularly, was by artillery, our infantry having become incapable of further motion from sheer exhaustion; and Stewart had only a few companies out of the one regiment on the field; but they did good work in keeping up the rout until late in the night, when they were brought to a standstill at Centerville, where there was a reserve brigade that had not been in action; and so ended the part taken by the Stonewall Brigade in this their first fight. I may add here that our regiment was not gathered together for four days, and the brigade not for a week. With us, as with the rest of our victorious army, we were as much disorganized and scattered by our victory as the Federals by their defeat, and pursuit, unless by an organized force beyond Centerville, would have been simply a physical impossibility.








Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 774 other followers