Bull Run Sesqui on the Web

25 07 2011

Over the past week or so I’ve been sharing on Facebook and retweeting on Twitter various articles, images, and videos relating to the Battle of Bull Run (Manassas) that have swamped the web as the 150th anniversary of the battle approached and was commemorated. There were a bunch of them. Here are links to a few of the more significant items (I’ll add to this any that pop up afterwards, too). There are some worthy of posting to the resources section, and as I check them out and get any necessary permissions I will do so. Get comfortable, this will take a while. If I missed anything big, let me know!

Update 8/3/2011: I noticed I had fouled up a few of these links. I think they’re fixed now, so check them out again if you couldn’t get through.

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Letter from 6th NC

11 04 2011

Over on his blog, Scott Patchan recently posted a link to a letter from a member of the 6th NC published in the North Carolina Standard on July 31, 1861, At some point I’ll transcribe this and put it up in the resources section.

Here’s Scott’s intro:

The following link below includes a letter by 22 year old Captain Richard Watt York of the 6th North Carolina Infantry that was first published by the North Carolina Standard on July 31, 1861. York would go on to serve throughout the war, and was wounded at the battles of Gaines Mill 6/27/62 and, and to make the link to this blog, again at Fisher’s Hill 9/22/64. He was promoted to Major with the effective date of 7/3/63. York’s letter recounts the death of Col. Charles Fisher and the regiment’s role in the capture of the Union guns on Henry Hill. It also picks up on the confusion of battle and the back and forth nature of the fight for the Union batteries. The link also contains some other newspaper accounts of the Battle of Manassas.

Here’s a link to the newspaper itself.





The First Battle of Bull Run – P. G. T. Beauregard

24 02 2010

THE FIRST BATTLE OF BULL RUN

BY G. T. BEAUREGARD, GENERAL, C. S. A.

BATTLES AND LEADERS OF THE CIVIL WAR – Volume I: From Sumter to Shiloh, pp. 196-227

Soon after the first conflict between the authorities of the Federal Union and those of the Confederate States had occurred in Charleston Harbor, by the bombardment of Fort Sumter,—which, beginning at 4:30 A. M. on the 12th of April, 1861, forced the surrender of that fortress within thirty hours thereafter into my hands,—I was called to Richmond, which by that time had become the Confederate seat of government, and was directed to “assume command of the Confederate troops on the Alexandria line.” Arriving at Manassas Junction, I took command on the 2d of June, forty-nine days after the evacuation of Fort Sumter.

Although the position at the time was strategically of commanding importance to the Confederates, the mere terrain was not only without natural defensive advantages, but, on the contrary, was absolutely unfavorable. Its strategic value was that, being close to the Federal capital, it held in observation the chief army then being assembled near Arlington by General McDowell, under the immediate eye of the commander-in-chief, General Scott, for an offensive movement against Richmond; and while it had a railway approach in its rear for the easy accumulation of reinforcements and all the necessary munitions of war from the southward, at the same time another (the Manassas Gap) railway, diverging laterally to the left from that point, gave rapid communications with the fertile valley of the Shenandoah, then teeming with live stock and cereal subsistence, as well as with other resources essential to the Confederates. There was this further value in the position to the Confederate army: that during the period of accumulation, seasoning, and training, it might be fed from the fat fields, pastures, and garners of Loudoun, Fauquier, and the Lower Shenandoah Valley counties, which otherwise must have fallen into the hands of the enemy. But, on the other hand, Bull Run, a petty stream, was of little or no defensive strength; for it abounded in fords, and although for the most part its banks were rocky and abrupt, the side from which it would be approached offensively in most places commanded the opposite ground.

At the time of my arrival at Manassas, a Confederate army under General Joseph E. Johnston was in occupation of the Lower Shenandoah Valley, along the line of the Upper Potomac, chiefly at Harper’s Ferry, which was regarded as the gateway of the valley and of one of the possible approaches to Richmond; a position from which he was speedily forced to retire, however, by a flank movement of a Federal army, under the veteran General Patterson, thrown across the Potomac at or about Martinsburg. On my other or right flank, so to speak, a Confederate force of some 2500 men under General Holmes occupied the position of Aquia Creek on the lower Potomac, upon the line of approach to Richmond from that direction through Fredericksburg. The other approach, that by way of the James River, was held by Confederate troops under Generals Huger and Magruder. Establishing small outposts at Leesburg to observe the crossings of the Potomac in that quarter, and at Fairfax Court House in observation of Arlington, with other detachments in advance of Manassas toward Alexandria on the south side of the railroad, from the very outset I was anxiously aware that the sole military advantage at the moment to the Confederates was that of holding the interior lines. On the Federal or hostile side were all material advantages, including superior numbers, largely drawn from the old militia organizations of the great cities of the North, decidedly better armed and equipped than the troops under me, and strengthened by a small but incomparable body of regular infantry as well as a number of batteries of regular field artillery of the highest class, and a very large and thoroughly organized staff corps, besides a numerous body of professionally educated officers in command of volunteer regiments, (1) — all precious military elements at such a juncture.

Happily, through the foresight of Colonel Thomas Jordan,—whom General Lee had placed as the adjutant-general of the forces there assembled before my arrival,—arrangements were made which enabled me to receive regularly, from private persons at the Federal capital, most accurate information, of which politicians high in council, as well as War Department clerks, were the unconscious ducts. On the 4th of July, my pickets happened upon and captured a soldier of the regulars, who proved to be a clerk in the adjutant-general’s office of General McDowell, intrusted with the special duty of compiling returns of his army—a work which he confessed, without reluctance, he had just executed, showing the forces under McDowell about the 1st of July. His statement of the strength and composition of that force tallied so closely with that which had been acquired through my Washington agencies, already mentioned, as well as through the leading Northern newspapers (regular files of which were also transmitted to my headquarters from the Federal capital), that I could not doubt them.

In these several ways, therefore, I was almost as well advised of tho strength of the hostile army in my front as its commander, who, I may mention, had been a classmate of mine at West Point. Under those circumstances I had become satisfied that a well-equipped, well-constituted Federal army at least 50,000 strong, of all arms, confronted me at or about Arlington, ready and on the very eve of an offensive operation against me, and to meet which I could muster barely 18,000 men with 29 field-guns. (2)

Previously,—indeed, as early as the middle of June,—it had become apparent to my mind that through only one course of action could there be a well-grounded hope of ability on the part of the Confederates to encounter successfully the offensive operations for which the Federal authorities were then vigorously preparing in my immediate front, with so consummate a strategist and military administrator as Lieutenant-General Scott in general command at Washington, aided by his accomplished heads of the large General Staff Corps of the United States Army. This course was to make the most enterprising, warlike use of the interior lines which we possessed, for the swift concentration at the critical instant of every available Confederate force upon the menaced position, at the risk, if need were, of sacrificing all minor places to the one clearly of major military value—there to meet our adversary so offensively as to overwhelm him, under circumstances that must assure immediate ability to assume the general offensive even upon his territory,, and thus conquer an early peace by a few well-delivered blows.

My views of such import had been already earnestly communicated to the proper authorities; but about the middle of July, satisfied that McDowell was on the eve of taking the offensive against me, I dispatched Colonel James Chesnut, of South Carolina, a volunteer aide-de-camp on my staff who had served on an intimate footing with Mr. Davis in the Senate of the United States, to urge in substance the necessity for the immediate concentration of the larger part of the forces of Johnston and Holmes at Manassas, so that the moment McDowell should be sufficiently far detached from Washington, I would be enabled to move rapidly round his more convenient flank upon his rear and his communications, and attack him in reverse, or get between his forces, then separated, thus cutting off his retreat upon Arlington in the event of his defeat, and insuring as an immediate consequence the crushing of Patterson, the liberation of Maryland, and the capture of Washington.

This plan was rejected by Mr. Davis and his military advisers (Adjutant-General Cooper and General Lee), who characterized it as “brilliant and comprehensive,” but essentially impracticable. Furthermore, Colonel Chesnut came back impressed with the views entertained at Richmond,— as he communicated at once to my adjutant-general,— that should the Federal army soon move offensively upon my position, my best course would be to retire behind the Rappahannock and accept battle there instead of at Manassas. In effect, it was regarded as best to sever communications between the two chief Confederate armies, that of the Potomac and that of the Shenandoah, with the inevitable immediate result that Johnston would be forced to leave Patterson in possession of the Lower Shenandoah Valley, abandoning to the enemy so large a part of the most resourceful sections of Virginia, and to retreat southward by way of the Luray Valley, pass across the Blue Ridge at Thornton’s Gap and unite with me after all, but at Fredericksburg, much nearer Richmond than Manassas. These views, however, were not made known to me at the time, and happily my mind was left free to the grave problem imposed upon me by the rejection of my plan for the immediate concentration of a materially larger force,— i. e., the problem of placing and using my resources for a successful encounter behind Bull Run with the Federal army, which I was not permitted to doubt was about to take the field against me.

It is almost needless to say that I had caused to be made a thorough reconnoissance of all the ground in my front and flanks, and had made myself personally acquainted with the most material points, including the region of Sudley’s Church on my left, where a small detachment was posted in observation. Left now to my own resources, of course the contingency of defeat had to be considered and provided for. Among the measures of precaution for such a result, I ordered the destruction of the railroad bridge across Bull Run at Union Mills, on my right, in order that the enemy, in the event of my defeat, should not have the immediate use of the railroad in following up their movement against Richmond— a railroad which could have had no corresponding value to us eastward beyond Manassas in any operations on our side with Washington as the objective, inasmuch as any such operations must have been made by the way of the Upper Potomac and upon the rear of that city.

Just before Colonel Chesnut was dispatched on the mission of which I have spoken, a former clerk in one of the departments at Washington, well known to him, had volunteered to return thither and bring back the latest information of the military and political situation from our most trusted friends. His loyalty to our cause, his intelligence, and his desire to be of service being vouched for, he was at once sent across the Potomac below Alexandria, merely accredited by a small scrap of paper bearing in Colonel Jordan’s cipher the two words, “Trust bearer,” with which he was to call at a certain house in Washington within easy rifle-range of the White House, ask for the lady of the house, and present it only to her. This delicate mission was as fortunately as it was deftly executed. In the early morning, as the newsboys were crying in the empty streets of Washington the intelligence that the order was given for the Federal army to move at once upon my position, that scrap of paper reached the hands of the one person in all that city who could extract any meaning from it. With no more delay than was necessary for a hurried breakfast and the writing in cipher by Mrs. G— of the words, “Order issued for McDowell to march upon Manassas to-night,” my agent was placed in communication with another friend, who earned him in a buggy with a relay of horses as swiftly as possible down the eastern shore of the Potomac to our regular ferry across that river. Without untoward incident the momentous dispatch was quickly delivered into the hands of a cavalry courier, and by means of relays it was in my hands between 8 and 9 o’clock that night. Within half an hour my outpost commanders, advised of what was impending, were directed, at the first evidence of the near presence of the enemy in their front, to fall back in the manner and to positions already prescribed in anticipation of such a contingency in an order confidentially communicated to them four weeks before, and the detachment at Leesburg was directed to join me by forced marches. Having thus cleared my decks for action, I next acquainted Mr. Davis with the situation, and ventured once more to suggest that the Army of the Shenandoah, with the brigade at Fredericksburg or Aquia Creek, should be ordered to reenforce me,— suggestions that were at once heeded so far that General Holmes was ordered to carry his command to my aid, and General Johnston was given discretion to do likewise. After some telegraphic discussion with me, General Johnston was induced to exercise this discretion in favor of the swift march of the Army of the Shenandoah to my relief; and to facilitate that vital movement, I hastened to accumulate all possible means of railway transport at a designated point on the Manassas Gap railroad at the eastern foot of the Blue Ridge, to which Johnston’s troops directed their march. However, at the same time, I had submitted the alternative proposition to General 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 I, prepared for the operation, at the first sound of the conflict, should strenuously assume the offensive in my front. The situation and circumstances specially favored the signal success of such an operation. The march to the point of attack could have been accomplished as soon as the forces were brought ultimately by rail to Manassas Junction; our enemy, thus attacked so nearly simultaneously on his right flank, his rear, and his front, naturally would suppose that I had been able to turn his flank while attacking him in front, and therefore, that I must have an overwhelming superiority of numbers; and his forces, being new troops, most of them under fire for the first time, must have soon fallen into a disastrous panic. Moreover, such an operation must have resulted advantageously to the Confederates, in the event that McDowell should, as might have been anticipated, attempt to strike the Manassas Gap railway to my left, and thus cut off railway communications between Johnston’s forces and my own, instead of the mere effort to strike my left flank which he actually essayed. (3)

It seemed, however, as though the deferred attempt at concentration was to go for naught, for on the morning of the 18th the Federal forces were massed around Centreville, but three miles from Mitchell’s Ford, and soon were seen advancing upon the roads leading to that and Blackburn’s Ford.  My order of battle, issued in the night of the 17th, contemplated an offensive return, particularly from the strong brigades on the light and right center. The Federal artillery opened in front of both fords, and the infantry, while demonstrating in front of Mitchell’s Ford, endeavored to force a passage at Blackburn’s. Their column of attack, Tyler’s division, was opposed by Longstreet’s forces, to the reenforcement of which Early’s brigade, the reserve line at McLean’s Ford, was ordered up. The Federals, after several attempts to force a passage, met a final repulse and retreated. (4) After their infantry attack had ceased, about 1 o’clock, the contest lapsed into an artillery duel, in which the Washington Artillery of New Orleans won credit against the renowned batteries of the United States regular army. A comical effect of this artillery fight was the destruction of the dinner of myself and staff by a Federal shell that fell into the fire-place of my headquarters at the McLean House.

Our success in this first limited collision was of special prestige to my army of new troops, and, moreover, of decisive importance by so increasing General McDowell’s caution as to give time for the arrival of some of General Johnston’s forces. But while on the 19th I was awaiting a renewed and general attack by the Federal army, I received a telegram from the Richmond military authorities, urging me to withdraw my call on General Johnston on account of the supposed impracticability of the concentration — an abiding conviction which had been but momentarily shaken by the alarm caused by McDowell’s march upon Richmond. (5)  As this was not an order in terms, but an urgency which, notwithstanding its superior source, left me technically free and could define me as responsible for any misevent, I preferred to keep both the situation and the responsibility, and continued every effort for the prompt arrival of the Shenandoah forces, being resolved, should they come before General McDowell again attacked, to take myself the offensive. General McDowell, fortunately for my plans, spent the 19th and 20th in reconnoissances; (6) and, meanwhile, General Johnston brought 8340 men from the Shenandoah Valley, with 20 guns, and General Holmes 1265 rank and file, with 6 pieces of artillery, from Aquia Creek. As these forces arrived (most of them in the afternoon of the 20th) I placed them chiefly so as to strengthen my left center and left, the latter being weak from lack of available troops.

The disposition of the entire force was now as follows: At Union Mills Ford, Ewell’s brigade, supported by Holmes’s; at McLean’s Ford, D. R. Jones’s brigade, supported by Early’s; at Blackburn’s Ford, Longstreet’s brigade; at Mitchell’s Ford, Bonham’s brigade. Cocke’s brigade held the line in front and rear of Bull Run from Bonham’s left, covering Lewis’s, Ball’s, and Island fords, to the right of Evans’s demi-brigade, which covered the Stone Bridge and a farm ford about a mile above, and formed part also of Cocke’s command. The Shenandoah forces were placed in reserve — Bee’s and Bartow’s brigades between McLean’s and Blackburn’s fords, and Jackson’s between Blackburn’s and Mitchell’s fords. This force mustered 29,188 rank and file and 55 guns, of which 21,923 infantry, cavalry, and artillery, with 29 guns, belonged to my immediate forces, i. e., the Army of the Potomac.

The preparation, in front of an ever-threatening enemy, of a wholly volunteer army, composed of men very few of whom had ever belonged to any military organization, had been a work of many cares not incident to the command of a regular army. These were increased by the insufficiency of my staff organization, an inefficient management of the quartermaster’s department at Richmond, and the preposterous mismanagement of the commissary-general, who not only failed to furnish rations, but caused the removal of the army commissaries, who, under my orders, procured food from the country in front of us to keep the army from absolute want—supplies that were otherwise exposed to be gathered by the enemy. So specially severe had been the recent duties at headquarters, aggravated not a little by night alarms arising from the enemy’s immediate presence, that, in the evening of the 20th, I found my chief-of-staff sunken upon the papers that covered his table, asleep in sheer exhaustion from the overstraining and almost slumberless labor of the last days and nights. I covered his door with a guard to secure his rest against any interruption, after which the army had the benefit of his usual active and provident services.

There was much in this decisive conflict about to open, not involved in any after battle, which pervaded the two armies and the people behind them and colored the responsibility of the respective commanders. The political hostilities of a generation were now face to face with weapons instead of words. Defeat to either side would be a deep mortification, but defeat to the South must turn its claim of independence into an empty vaunt; and the defeated commander on either side might expect, though not the personal fate awarded by the Carthaginians to an unfortunate commander, at least a moral fate quite similar. Though disappointed that the concentration I had sought had not been permitted at the moment and for the purpose preferred by me, and notwithstanding the non-arrival of some five thousand troops of the Shenandoah forces, my strength was now so increased that I had good hope of successfully meeting my adversary.

General Johnston was the ranking officer, and entitled, therefore, to assume command of the united forces; but as the extensive field of operations was one which I had occupied since the beginning of June, and with which I was thoroughly familiar in all its extent and military bearings, while he was wholly unacquainted with it, and, moreover, as I had made my plans and dispositions for the maintenance of the position, General Johnston, in view of the gravity of the impending issue, preferred not to assume the responsibilities of the chief direction of the forces during the battle, but to assist me upon the field. Thereupon, I explained my plans and purposes, to which he agreed. (7)

Sunday, July 21st, bearing the fate of the new-born Confederacy, broke brightly over the fields and woods that held the hostile forces. My scouts, thrown out in the night toward Centreville along the Warrenton Turnpike, had reported that the enemy was concentrating along the latter. This fact, together with the failure of the Federals in their attack upon my center at Mitchell’s and Blackburn’s fords, had caused me to apprehend that they would attempt my left flank at the Stone Bridge, and orders were accordingly issued by half-past 4 o’clock to the brigade commanders to hold their forces in readiness to move at a moment’s notice, together with the suggestion that the Federal attack might be expected in that quarter. Shortly afterward the enemy was reported to be advancing from Centreville on the Warrenton Turnpike, and at half-past 5 o’clock as deploying a force in front of Evans. As their movement against my left developed the opportunity I desired, I immediately sent orders to the brigade commanders, both front and reserves, on my right and center to advance and vigorously attack the Federal left flank and rear at Centreville, while my left, under Cocke and Evans with their supports, would sustain the Federal attack in the quarter of the Stone Bridge, which they were directed to do to the last extremity. The center was likewise to advance and engage the enemy in front, and directions were given to the reserves, when without orders, to move toward the sound of the heaviest firing. The ground in our front on the other side of Bull Run afforded particular advantage for these tactics. Centreville was the apex of a triangle — its short side running by the Warrenton Turnpike to Stone Bridge, its base Bull Run, its long side a road that ran from Union Mills along the front of my other Bull Run positions and trended off to the rear of Centreville, where McDowell had massed his main forces; branch roads led up to this one from the fords between Union Mills and Mitchell’s. My forces to the right of the latter ford were to advance, pivoting on that position; Bonham was in advance from Mitchell’s Ford, Longstreet from Blackburn’s, D. R. Jones from McLean’s, and Ewell from Union Mills by the Centreville road. Ewell, as having the longest march, was to begin the movement, and each brigade was to be followed by its reserve. In anticipation of this method of attack, and to prevent accidents, the subordinate commanders had been carefully instructed in the movement by me, as they were all new to the responsibilities of command. They were to establish close communication with each other before making the attack. About half-past 8 o’clock I set out with General Johnston for a convenient position,— a hill in rear of Mitchell’s Ford,— where we waited for the opening of the attack on our right, from which I expected a decisive victory by midday, with the result of cutting off the Federal army from retreat upon Washington.

Meanwhile, about half-past 5 o’clock, the peal of a heavy rifled gun was heard in front of the Stone Bridge, its second shot striking through the tent of my signal-officer, Captain E. P. Alexander; and at 6 o’clock a full rifled battery opened against Evans and then against Cocke, to which our artillery remained dumb, as it had not sufficient range to reply. But later, as the Federal skirmish-line advanced, it was engaged by ours, thrown well forward on the other side of the Run. A scattering musketry fire followed, and meanwhile, about 7 o’clock, I ordered Jackson’s brigade, with Imboden’s and five guns of Walton’s battery, to the left, with orders to support Cocke as well as Bonham; and the brigades of Bee and Bartow, under the command of the former, were also sent to the support of the left.

At half-past 8 o’clock Evans, seeing that the Federal attack did not increase in boldness and vigor, and observing a lengthening line of dust above the trees to the left of the Warrenton Turnpike, became satisfied that the attack in his front was but a feint, and that a column of the enemy was moving around through the woods to fall on his flank from the direction of Sudley Ford. Informing his immediate commander, Cocke, of the enemy’s movement, and of his own dispositions to meet it, he left 4 companies under cover at the Stone Bridge, and led the remainder of his force, 6 companies of Sloan’s 4th South Carolina and Wheat’s battalion of Louisiana Tigers, with 2 6-pounder howitzers, across the valley of Young’s Branch to the high ground beyond it. Resting his left on the Sudley road, he distributed his troops on each side of a small copse, with such cover as the ground afforded, and looking over the open fields and a reach of the Sudley road which the Federals must cover in their approach. His two howitzers were placed one at each end of his position, and here he silently awaited the enemy now drawing near.

The Federal turning column, about 18,000 strong, with 24 pieces of artillery, had moved down from Centreville by the Warrenton Turnpike, and after passing Cub Run had struck to the right by a forest road to cross Bull Run at Sudley Ford, about 3 miles above the Stone Bridge, moving by a long circuit for the purpose of attacking my left flank. The head of the column, Burnside’s brigade of Hunter’s division, at about 9:45 A. M. debouched from the woods into the open fields, in front of Evans. Wheat at once engaged their skirmishers, and as the Second Rhode Island regiment advanced, supported by its splendid battery of 6 rifled guns, the fronting thicket held by Evans’s South Carolinians poured forth its sudden volleys, while the 2 howitzers flung their grape-shot upon the attacking line, which was soon shattered and driven back into the woods behind. Major Wheat, after handling his battalion with the utmost determination, had fallen severely wounded in the lungs. Burnside’s entire brigade was now sent forward in a second charge, supported by 8 guns; but they encountered again the unflinching fire of Evans’s line, and were once more driven back to the woods, from the cover of which they continued the attack, reenforced after a time by the arrival of 8 companies of United States regular infantry, under Major Sykes, with 6 pieces of artillery, quickly followed by the remaining regiments of Andrew Porter’s brigade of the same division. The contest here lasted fully an hour; meanwhile Wheat’s battalion, having lost its leader, had gradually lost its organization, and Evans, though still opposing these heavy odds with undiminished firmness, sought reinforcement from the troops in his rear.

General Bee, of South Carolina, a man of marked character, whose command lay in reserve in rear of Cocke, near the Stone Bridge, intelligently applying the general order given to the reserves, had already moved toward the neighboring point of conflict, and taken a position with his own and Bartow’s brigades on the high plateau which stands in rear of Bull Run in the quarter of the Stone Bridge, and overlooking the scene of engagement upon the stretch of high ground from which it was separated by the valley of Young’s Branch. This plateau is inclosed on three sides by two small watercourses, which empty into Bull Run within a few yards of each other, a half mile to the south of the Stone Bridge. Rising to an elevation of quite 100 feet above .the level of Bull Run at the bridge, it falls off on three sides to the level of the inclosing streams in gentle slopes, but furrowed by ravines of irregular directions and length, and studded with clumps and patches of young pine and oaks. The general direction of the crest of the plateau is oblique to the course of Bull Run in that quarter and to the Sudley and turnpike roads, which intersect each other at right angles. On the north-western brow, overlooking Young’s Branch, and near the Sudley road, as the latter climbs over the plateau, stood the house of the widow Henry, while to its right and forward on a projecting spur stood the house and sheds of the free negro Robinson, just behind the turnpike, densely embowered in trees and shrubbery and environed by a double row of fences on two sides. Around the eastern and southern brow of the plateau an almost unbroken fringe of second-growth pines gave excellent shelter for our marksmen, who availed themselves of it with the most satisfactory skill. To the west, adjoining the fields that surrounded the houses mentioned, a broad belt of oaks extends directly across the crest on both sides of the Sudley road, in which, during the battle, the hostile forces contended for the mastery. General Bee, with a soldier’s eye to the situation, skillfully disposed his forces. His two brigades on either side of Imboden’s battery— which he had borrowed from his neighboring reserve, Jackson’s brigade — were placed in a small depression of the plateau in advance of the Henry house, whence he had a full view of the contest on the opposite height across the valley of Young’s Branch. Opening with his artillery upon the Federal batteries, he answered Evans’s request by advising him to withdraw to his own position on the height; but Evans, full of the spirit that would not retreat, renewed his appeal that the forces in rear would come to help him hold his ground. The newly arrived forces had given the Federals such superiority at this point as to dwarf Evans’s means of resistance, and General Bee, generously yielding his own better judgment to Evans’s persistence, led the two brigades across the valley under the fire of the enemy’s artillery, and threw them into action — 1 regiment in the copse held by Colonel Evans, 2 along a fence on the right, and 2 under General Bartow on the prolonged right of this line, but extended forward at a right angle and along the edge of a wood not more than 100 yards from that held by the enemy’s left, where the contest at short range became sharp and deadly, bringing many casualties to both sides. The Federal infantry, though still in superior numbers, failed to make any headway against this sturdy van, notwithstanding Bee’s whole line was hammered also by the enemy’s powerful batteries, until Heintzelman’s division of 2 strong brigades, arriving from Sudley Ford, extended the fire on the Federal right, while its battery of 6 10-pounder rifled guns took an immediately effective part from “a position behind the Sudley road. Against these odds the Confederate force was still endeavoring to hold its ground, when a new enemy came into the field upon its right. Major Wheat, with characteristic daring and restlessness, had crossed Bull Run alone by a small ford above the Stone Bridge, in order to reconnoiter, when he and Evans had first moved to the left, and, falling on some Federal scouts, had shouted a taunting defiance and withdrawn, not, however, without his place of crossing having been observed. This disclosure was now utilized by Sherman’s (W. T.) and Keyes’s brigades of Tyler’s division; crossing at this point, they appeared over the high bank of the stream and moved into position on the Federal left. There was no choice now for Bee but to retire — a movement, however, to be accomplished under different circumstances than when urged by him upon Evans. The three leaders endeavored to preserve the steadiness of the ranks as they withdrew over the open fields, aided by the fire of Imboden’s guns on the plateau and the retiring howitzers; but the troops were thrown into confusion, and the greater part soon fell into rout across Young’s Branch and around the base of the height in the rear of the Stone Bridge.

Meanwhile, in rear of Mitchell’s Ford, I had been waiting with General Johnston for the sound of conflict to open in the quarter of Centreville upon the Federal left flank and rear (making allowance, however, for the delays possible to commands unused to battle), when I was chagrined to hear from General D. E. Jones that, while he had been long ready for the movement upon Centreville, General Ewell had not come up to form on his right, though he had sent him between 7 and 8 o’clock a copy of his own order which recited that Ewell had been already ordered to begin the movement. I dispatched an immediate order to Ewell to advance; but within a quarter of an hour, just as I received a dispatch from him informing me that he had received no order to advance in the morning, the firing on the left began to increase so intensely as to indicate a severe attack, whereupon General Johnston said that he would go personally to that quarter.

After weighing attentively the firing, which seemed rapidly and heavily increasing, it appeared to me that the troops on the right wovdd be unable to get into position before the Federal offensive should have made too much progress on our left, and that it would be better to abandon it altogether, maintaining only a strong demonstration so as to detain the enemy in front of our right and center, and 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. Communicating this view to General Johnston, who approved it (giving his advice, as he said, for what it was worth, as he was not acquainted with the country), I ordered Ewell, Jones, and Longstreet to make a strong demonstration all along their front on the other side of the Run, and ordered the reserves below our position, Holmes’s brigade with 6 guns, and Early’s brigade, also 2 regiments of Bonham’s brigade, near at hand, to move swiftly to the left. General Johnston and I now set out at full speed for the point of conflict. We arrived there just as Bee’s troops, after giving way, were fleeing in disorder behind the height in rear of the Stone Bridge. They had come around between the base of the hill and the Stone Bridge into a shallow ravine which ran up to a point on the crest where Jackson had already formed his brigade along the edge of the woods. We found the commanders resolutely stemming the further flight of the routed forces, but vainly endeavoring to restore order, and our own efforts were as futile. Every segment of line we succeeded in forming was again dissolved while another was being formed; more than two thousand men were shouting each some suggestion to his neighbor, their voices mingling with the noise of the shells hurtling through the trees overhead, and all word of command drowned in the confusion and uproar. It was at this moment that General Bee used the famous expression, “Look at Jackson’s brigade! It stands there like a stone wall”— a name that passed from the brigade to its immortal commander. The disorder seemed irretrievable, but happily the thought came to me that if their colors were planted out to the front the men might rally on them, and I gave the order to carry the standards forward some forty yards, which was promptly executed by the regimental officers, thus drawing the common eye of the troops. They now received easily the orders to advance and form on the line of their colors, which they obeyed with a general movement; and as General Johnston and myself rode forward shortly after with the colors of the 4th Alabama by our side, the line that had fought all morning, and had fled, routed and disordered, now advanced again into position as steadily as veterans. The 4th Alabama had previously lost all its field-officers; and noticing Colonel S. R. Gist, an aide to General Bee, a young man whom I had known as adjutant-general of South Carolina, and whom I greatly esteemed, I presented him as an able and brave commander to the stricken regiment, who cheered their new leader, and maintained under him, to the end of the day, their previous gallant behavior. We had come none too soon, as the enemy’s forces, flushed with the belief of accomplished victory, were already advancing across the valley of Young’s Branch and up the slope, where they had encountered for a while the fire of the Hampton Legion, which had been led forward toward the Robinson house and the turnpike in front, covering the retreat and helping materially to check the panic of Bee’s routed forces.

As soon as order was restored I requested General Johnston to go back to Portici (the Lewis house), and from that point — which I considered most favorable for the purpose — forward me the reinforcements as they would come from the Bull Run lines below and those that were expected to arrive from Manassas, while I should direct the field. General Johnston was disinclined to leave the battle-field for that position. As I had been compelled to leave my chief-of-staff, Colonel Jordan, at Manassas to forward any troops arriving there, I felt it was a necessity that one of us should go to this duty, and that it was his place to do so, as I felt I was responsible for the battle. He considerately yielded to my urgency, and we had the benefit of his energy and sagacity in so directing the reenforcements toward the field, as to be readily and effectively assistant to my pressing needs and insure the success of the day.

As General Johnston departed for Portici, I hastened to form our line of battle against the on-coming enemy. I ordered up the 49th and 8th Virginia regiments from Cocke’s neighboring brigade in the Bull Bun lines. Gartrell’s 7th Georgia I placed in position on the left of Jackson’s brigade, along the belt of pines occupied by the latter on the eastern rim of the plateau. As the 49th Virginia rapidly came up, its colonel, ex-Governor William Smith, was encouraging them with cheery word and manner, and, as they approached, indicated to them the immediate presence of the commander. As the regiment raised a loud cheer, the name was caught by some of the troops of Jackson’s brigade in the immediate wood, who rushed out, calling for General Beauregard. Hastily acknowledging these happy signs of sympathy and confidence, which reenforce alike the capacity of commander and troops, I placed the 49th Virginia in position on the extreme left next to Gartrell, and as I paused to say a few words to Jackson, while hurrying back to the right, my horse was killed under me by a bursting shell, a fragment of which carried away part of the heel of my boot. The Hampton Legion, which had suffered greatly, was placed on the right of Jackson’s brigade, and Hunton’s 8th Virginia, as it arrived, upon the right of Hampton; the two latter being drawn somewhat to the rear so as to form with Jackson’s right regiment a reserve, and be ready likewise to make defense against any advance from the direction of the Stone Bridge, whence there was imminent peril from the enemy’s heavy forces, as I had just stripped that position almost entirely of troops to meet the active crisis on the plateau, leaving this quarter now covered only by a few men, whose defense was otherwise assisted solely by the obstruction of an abatis.

With 6500 men and 13 pieces of artillery, I now awaited the onset of the enemy, who were pressing forward 20,000 strong, (8) with 24 pieces of superior artillery and 7 companies of regular cavalry. They soon appeared over the farther rim of the plateau, seizing the Robinson house on my right and the Henry house opposite my left center. Near the latter they placed in position the two powerful batteries of Ricketts and Griffin of the regular army, and pushed forward up the Sudley road, the slope of which was cut so deep below the adjacent ground as to afford a covered way up to the plateau. Supported by the formidable lines of Federal musketry, these 2 batteries lost no time in making themselves felt, while 3 more batteries in rear on the high ground beyond the Sudley and Warrenton cross-roads swelled the shower of shell that fell among our ranks.

Our own batteries, Imboden’s, Stanard’s, five of Walton’s guns, reenforced later by Pendleton’s and Alburtis’s (their disadvantage being reduced by the shortness of range), swept the surface of the plateau from their position on the eastern rim. I felt that, after the accidents of the morning, much depended on maintaining the steadiness of the troops against the first heavy onslaught, and rode along the lines encouraging the men to unflinching behavior, meeting, as I passed each command, a cheering response. The steady fire of their musketry told severely on the Federal ranks, and the splendid action of our batteries was a fit preface to the marked skill exhibited by our artillerists during the war. The enemy suffered particularly from the musketry on our left, now further reenforced by the 2d Mississippi — the troops in this quarter confronting each other at very short range. Here two companies of Stuart’s cavalry charged through the Federal ranks that filled the Sudley road, increasing the disorder wrought upon that flank of the enemy. But with superior numbers the Federals were pushing on new regiments in the attempt to flank my position, and several guns, in the effort to enfilade ours, were thrust forward so near the 33d Virginia that some of its men sprang forward and captured them, but were driven back by an overpowering force of Federal musketry. Although the enemy were held well at bay, their pressure became so strong that I resolved to take the offensive, and ordered a charge on my right for the purpose of recovering the plateau. The movement, made with alacrity and force by the commands of Bee, Bartow, Evans, and Hampton, thrilled the entire line, Jackson’s brigade piercing the enemy’s center, and the left of the line under Gartrell and Smith following up the charge, also, in that quarter, so that the whole of the open surface of the plateau was swept clear of the Federals.

Apart from its impressions on the enemy, the effect of this brilliant onset was to give a short breathing-spell to our troops from the immediate strain of conflict, and encourage them in withstanding the still more strenuous offensive that was soon to bear upon them. Reorganizing our line of battle under the unremitting fire of the Federal batteries opposite, I prepared to meet the new attack which the enemy were about to make, largely reenforced by the troops of Howard’s brigade, newly arrived on the field. The Federals again pushed up the slope, the face of which partly afforded good cover by the numerous ravines that scored it and the clumps of young pines and oaks with which it was studded, while the sunken Sudley road formed a good ditch and parapet for their aggressive advance upon my left flank and rear. Gradually they pressed our lines back and regained possession of their lost ground and guns. With the Henry and Robinson houses once more in their possession, they resumed the offensive, urged forward by their commanders with conspicuous gallantry.

The conflict now became very severe for the final possession of this position, which was the key to victory. The Federal numbers enabled them so to extend their lines through the woods beyond the Sudley road as to outreach my left flank, which I was compelled partly to throw back, so as to meet the attack from that quarter; meanwhile their numbers equally enabled them to outflank my right in the direction of the Stone Bridge, imposing anxious watchfulness in that direction. I knew that I was safe if I could hold out till the arrival of reenforcements, which was but a matter of time; and, with the full sense of my own responsibility, I was determined to hold the line of the plateau, even if surrounded on all sides, until assistance should come, unless my forces were sooner overtaken by annihilation.

It was now between half-past 2 and 3 o’clock; a scorching sun increased the oppression of the troops, exhausted from incessant fighting, many of them having been engaged since the morning. Fearing lest the Federal offensive should secure too firm a grip, and knowing the fatal result that might spring from any grave infraction of my line, I determined to make another effort for the recovery of the plateau, and ordered a charge of the entire line of battle, including the reserves, which at this crisis I myself led into action. The movement was made with such keeping and dash that the whole plateau was swept clear of the enemy, who were driven down the slope and across the turnpike on our right and the valley of Young’s Branch on our left, 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. Fisher’s 6th North Carolina, directed to the Lewis house by Colonel Jordan from Manassas, where it had just arrived, and thence to the field by General Johnston, came up in happy time to join in this charge on the left. Withers’s 18th Virginia, which I had ordered up from Cocke’s brigade, was also on hand in time to follow and give additional effect to the charge, capturing, by aid of the Hampton Legion, several guns, which were immediately turned and served upon the broken ranks of the enemy by some of our officers. This handsome work, which broke the Federal fortunes of the day, was done, however, at severe cost. The soldierly Bee, and the gallant, impetuous Bartow, whose day of strong deeds was about to close with such credit, fell a few rods back of the Henry house, near the very spot whence in the morning they had first looked forth upon Evans’s struggle with the enemy. Colonel Fisher also fell at the very head of his troops. Seeing Captain Ricketts, who was badly wounded in the leg, and having known him in the old army, I paused from my anxious duties to ask him whether I could do anything for him. He answered that he wanted to be sent back to Washington. As some of our prisoners were there held under threats of not being treated as prisoners of war, I replied that that must depend upon how our prisoners were treated, and ordered him to be carried to the rear. I mention this, because the report of the Federal Committee on the Conduct of the War exhibits Captain Ricketts as testif ying that I only approached him to say that he would be treated as our prisoners might be treated. I sent my own surgeons to care for him, and allowed his wife to cross the lines and accompany him to Richmond; and my adjutant-general, Colonel Jordan, escorting her to the car that carried them to that city, personally attended to the comfortable placing of the wounded enemy for the journey.

That part of the enemy who occupied the woods beyond our left and across the Sudley road had not been reached by the headlong charge which had swept their comrades from the plateau; but the now arriving reenforcements (Kershaw’s 2d and Cash’s 8th South Carolina) were led into that quarter. Kemper’s battery also came up, preceded by its commander, who, while alone, fell into the hands of a number of the enemy, who took him prisoner, until a few moments later, when he handed them over to some of our own troops accompanying his battery. A small plateau, within the south-west angle of the Sudley and turnpike cross-roads, was still held by a strong Federal brigade — Howard’s troops, together with Sykes’s battalion of regulars; and while Kershaw and Cash, after passing through the skirts of the oak wood along the Sudley road, engaged this force, Kemper’s battery was sent forward by Kershaw along the same road, into position near where a hostile battery had been captured, and whence it played upon the enemy in the open field.

Quickly following these regiments came Preston’s 28th Virginia, which, passing through the woods, encountered and drove back some Michigan troops, capturing Brigadier-General Willcox. It was now about 3 o’clock, when another important reenforcement came to our aid—Elzey’s brigade, 1700 strong, of the Army of the Shenandoah, which, coming from Piedmont by railroad, had arrived at Manassas station, 6 miles in rear of the battle-field, at noon, and had been without delay directed thence toward the field by Colonel Jordan, aided by Major T. G. Rhett, who that morning had passed from General Bonham’s to General Johnston’s staff. Upon nearing the vicinity of the Lewis house, the brigade was directed by a staff-officer sent by General Johnston toward the left of the field. As it reached the oak wood, just across the Sudley road, led by General Kirby Smith, the latter fell severely wounded; but the command devolved upon Colonel Elzey, an excellent officer, who was now guided by Captain D. B. Harris of the Engineers, a highly accomplished officer of my staff, still farther to the left and through the woods, so as to form in extension of the line of the preceding reinforcements. Beckham’s battery, of the same command, was hurried forward by the Sudley road and around the woods into position near the Chinn house; from a well-selected point of action, in full view of the enemy that filled the open fields west of the Sudley road, it played with deadly and decisive effect upon their ranks, already under the fire of Elzey’s brigade. Keyes’s Federal brigade, which had made its way across the turnpike in rear of the Stone Bridge, was lurking along under cover of the ridges and a wood in order to turn my line on the right, but was easily repulsed by Latham’s battery, already placed in position over that approach by Captain Harris, aided by Alburtis’s battery, opportunely sent to Latham’s left by General Jackson, and supported by fragments of troops collected by staff-officers. Meanwhile, the enemy had formed a line of battle of formidable proportions on the opposite height, and stretching in crescent outline, with flanks advanced, from the Pittsylvania (Carter) mansion on their left across the Sudley road in rear of Dogan’s and reaching toward the Chinn house. They offered a fine spectacle as they threw forward a cloud of skirmishers down the opposite slope, preparatory to a new assault against the line on the plateau. But their right was now severely pressed by the troops that had successively arrived; the force in the south-west angle of the Sudley and Warrenton cross-roads were driven from their position, and, as Early’s brigade, which, by direction of General Johnston, had swept around by the rear of the woods through which Elzey had passed, appeared on the field, his line of march bore upon the flank of the enemy, now retiring in that quarter.

This movement by my extreme left was masked by the trend of the woods from many of our forces on the plateau; and bidding those of my staff and escort around me raise a loud cheer, I dispatched the information to the several commands, with orders to go forward in a common charge. Before the full advance of the Confederate ranks the enemy’s whole line, whose right was already yielding, irretrievably broke, fleeing across Bull Run by every available direction. Major Sykes’s regulars, aided by Sherman’s brigade, made a steady and handsome withdrawal, protecting the rear of the routed forces, and enabling many to escape by the Stone Bridge. Having ordered in pursuit all the troops on the field, I went to the Lewis house, and, the battle being ended, turned over the command to General Johnston. Mounting a fresh horse,— the fourth on that day,— I started to press the pursuit which was being made by our infantry and cavalry, some of the latter having been sent by General Johnston from Lewis’s Ford to intercept the enemy on the turnpike. I was soon overtaken, however, by a courier bearing a message from Major T. G. Rhett, General Johnston’s chief-of-staff on duty at Manassas railroad station, informing me of a report that a large Federal force, having pierced our lower line on Bull Run, was moving upon Camp Pickens, my depot of supplies near Manassas. I returned, and communicated this important news to General Johnston. Upon consultation it was deemed best that I should take Ewell’s and Holmes’s brigades, which were hastening up to the battle-field, but too late for the action, and fall on this force of the enemy, while reinforcements should be sent me from the pursuing forces, who were to be recalled for that purpose. To head off the danger and gain time, I hastily mounted a force of infantry behind the cavalrymen then present, but, on approaching the line of march near McLean’s Ford, which the Federals must have taken, I learned that the news was a false alarm caught from the return of General Jones’s forces to this side of the Run, the similarity of the uniforms and the direction of their march having convinced some nervous person that they were a force of the enemy. It was now almost dark, and too late to resume the broken pursuit; on my return I met the coming forces, and, as they were very tired, I ordered them to halt and bivouac for the night where they were. After giving such attention as I could to the troops, I started for Manassas, where I arrived about 10 o’clock, and found Mr. Davis at my headquarters with General Johnston. Arriving from Richmond late in the afternoon, Mr. Davis had immediately galloped to the field, accompanied by Colonel Jordan. They had met between Manassas and the battle-field the usual number of stragglers to the rear, whose appearance belied the determined array then sweeping the enemy before it, but Mr. Davis had the happiness to arrive in time to witness the last of the Federals disappearing beyond Bull Run. The next morning I received from his hand at our breakfast-table my commission, dated July 21st, as General in the Army of the Confederate States, and after his return to Richmond the kind congratulations of the Secretary of War and of General Lee, then acting as military adviser to the President.

It was a point made at the time at the North that, just as the Confederate troops were about to break and flee, the Federal troops anticipated them by doing so, being struck into this precipitation by the arrival upon their flank of the Shenandoah forces marching from railroad trains halted en route with that aim—errors that have been repeated by a number of writers, and by an ambitious but superficial French author.

There were certain sentiments of a personal character clustering about this first battle, and personal anxiety as to its issue, that gladly accepted this theory. To this may be added the general readiness to accept a sentimental or ultra-dramatic explanation—a sorcery wrought by the delay or arrival of some force, or the death or coming of somebody, or any other single magical event—whereby history is easily caught, rather than to seek an understanding of that which is but the gradual result of the operation of many forces, both of opposing design and actual collision, modified more or less by the falls of chance. The personal sentiment, though natural enough at the time, has no place in any military estimate, or place of any kind at this day. The battle of Manassas was, like any other battle, a progression and development from the deliberate counter-employment of the military resources in hand, affected by accidents, as always, but of a kind very different from those referred to. My line of battle, which twice had not only withstood the enemy’s attack, but had taken the offensive and driven him back in disorder, was becoming momentarily stronger from the arrival, at last, of the reenforcements provided for; and if the enemy had remained on the field till the arrival of Ewell and Holmes, they would have been so strongly outflanked that many who escaped would have been destroyed or captured.

Though my adversary’s plan of battle was a good one as against a passive defensive opponent, such as he may have deemed I must be from the respective numbers and positions of our forces, it would, in my judgment, have been much better if, with more dash, the flank attack had been made by the Stone Bridge itself and the ford immediately above it. The plan adopted, however, favored above all things the easy -execution of the offensive operations I had designed and ordered against his left flank and rear at Centreville. His turning column —18,000 strong, and presumably his best troops—was thrown off by a long ellipse through a narrow forest road to Sudley Ford, from which it moved down upon my left flank, and was thus dislocated from his main body. This severed movement of his forces not only left his exposed left and rear at Centreville weak against the simultaneous offensive of my heaviest forces upon it, which I had ordered, but the movement of his returning column would have been disconcerted and paralyzed by the early sound of this heavy conflict in its rear, and it could not even have made its way back so as to be available for manoeuvre before the Centreville fraction had been thrown back upon it in disorder. A new army is very liable to panic, and, in view of the actual result of the battle, the conclusion can hardly be resisted that the panic which fell on the Federal army would thus have seized it early in the day, and with my forces in such a position as wholly to cut off its retreat upon Washington. But the commander of the front line on my right, who had been ordered to hold himself in readiness to initiate the offensive at a moment’s notice, did not make the move expected of him because through accident he failed to receive his own immediate order to advance. (9) The Federal commander’s flanking movement, being thus uninterrupted by such a counter-movement as I had projected, was further assisted through the rawness and inadequacy of our staff organization through which I was left unacquainted with the actual state of affairs on my left. The Federal attack, already thus greatly favored, and encouraged, moreover, by the rout of General Bee’s advanced line, failed for two reasons : their forces were not handled with concert of masses (a fault often made later on both sides), and the individual action of the Confederate troops was superior, and for a very palpable reason. That one army was fighting for union and the other for disunion is a political expression; the actual fact on the battle-field, in the face of cannon and musket, was that the Federal troops came as invaders, and the Southern troops stood as defenders of their homes, and further than this we need not go. The armies were vastly greater than had ever before fought on this continent, and were the largest volunteer armies ever assembled since the era of regular armies. The personal material on both sides was of exceptionally good character, and collectively superior to that of any subsequent period of the war. (10) The Confederate army was filled with generous youths who had answered the first call to arms. For certain kinds of field duty they were not as yet adapted, many of them having at first come with their baggage and servants; these they had to dispense with, but, not to offend their susceptibilities, I then exacted the least work from them, apart from military drills, even to the prejudice of important fieldworks, when I could not get sufficient negro labor; they “had come to fight, and not to handle the pick and shovel,” and their fighting redeemed well their shortcomings as intrenchers. Before I left that gallant army, however, it had learned how readily the humbler could aid the nobler duty.

As to immediate results and trophies, we captured a great many stands of arms, batteries, equipments, standards, and flags, one of which was sent to me, through General Longstreet, as a personal compliment by the Texan “crack shot,” Colonel B. F. Terry, who lowered it from its mast at Fairfax Court House, by cutting the halyards by means of his unerring rifle, as our troops next morning reoccupied that place. We captured also many prisoners, including a number of surgeons, whom (the first time in war) we treated not as prisoners, but as guests. Calling attention to their brave devotion to their wounded, I recommended to the War Department that they be sent home without exchange, together with some other prisoners, who had shown personal kindness to Colonel Jones, of the 4th Alabama, who had been mortally wounded early in the day.

SUBSEQUENT RELATIONS OF MR. DAVIS AND THE WRITER

The military result of the victory was far short of what it should have been. It established as an accomplished fact, on the indispensable basis of military success, the Government of the Confederate States, which before was but a political assertion; but it should have reached much further. The immediate pursuit, but for the false alarm which checked it, would have continued as far as the Potomac, but must have stopped there with no greater result than the capture of more prisoners and material. The true immediate fruits of the victory should have been the dispersion of all the Federal forces south of Baltimore and east of the Alleghanies, the liberation of the State of Maryland, and the capture of Washington, which could have been made only by the Upper Potomac. And from the high source of this achievement other decisive results would have continued to flow. From my experience in the Mexican war I had great confidence in intelligent volunteer troops, if rightly handled; and with such an active and victorious war-engine as the Confederate Army of the Potomac could have immediately been made,— reenforced, as time went, by numbers and discipline,— the Federal military power in the East could never have reached the head it took when McClellan was allowed to organize and discipline at leisure the powerful army that, in the end, wore out the South. In war one success makes another easier, and its right use is as the step to another, until final achievement. This was the use besought by me in the plan of campaign I have mentioned as presented to Mr. Davis on the 14th of July, a few days before the battle, but rejected by him as impracticable, and as rather offering opportunity to the enemy to crush us. To supply the deficiency of transportation (our vehicles being few in number, and many so poor as to break down in ordinary camp service), I myself had assigned to special duty Colonel (since Governor) James L. Kemper, of Virginia, who quickly obtained for me some two hundred good wagons, to which number I had limited him so as not to arouse again the jealousy of the President’s staff. If my plan of operations for the capture of Washington had been adopted, I should have considered myself thereby authorized and free to obtain, as I readily could have done, the transportation necessary. As it was—though the difficult part of this “impracticable” plan of operations had been proven feasible, that is, the concentration of the Shenandoah forces with mine (wrung later than the eleventh hour through the alarm over the march upon Richmond, and discountenanced again nervously at the twelfth hour by another alarm as to how “the enemy may vary his plans” in consequence), followed by the decisive defeat of the main Federal forces — nevertheless the army remained rooted in the spot, although we had more than fifteen thousand troops who had been not at all or but little in the battle and were perfectly organized, while the remaining commands, in the high spirits of victory, could have been reorganized at the tap of the drum, and many with improved captured arms and equipments. I had already urged my views with unusual persistency, and acted on them against all but an express order to the contrary; and as they had been deliberately rejected in their ultimate scope by Mr. Davis as the commander-in-chief, I did not feel authorized to urge them further than their execution had been allowed, unless the subject were broached anew by himself. But there was no intimation of any such change of purpose, and the army, consistently with this inertia, was left unprovided for manoeuvre with transportation for its ammunition; its fortitude, moreover, as a new and volunteer army, while spending sometimes 24 hours without food, being only less wonderful than the commissary administration at Richmond, from which such a state of affairs could proceed even two weeks after the battle of Manassas. Although certain political superstitions about not consolidating the North may then have weighed against the action I proposed, they would have been light against a true military policy, if such had existed in the head of the Government. Apart from an active material ally, such as the colonies had afield and on sea in the War of Independence with Great Britain, a country in fatal war must depend on the vigor of its warfare; the more inferior the country, the bolder and more enterprising the use of its resources, especially if its frontiers are convenient to the enemy. I was convinced that our success lay in a short, quick war of decisive blows, before the Federals, with their vast resources, could build up a great military power; to which end a concerted use of our forces, immediate and sustained, was necessary, so that, weaker though we were at all separate points, we might nevertheless strike with superior strength at some chosen decisive point, and after victory there reach for victory now made easier elsewhere, and thus sum up success. Instead of this, which in war we call concentration, our actual policy was diffusion, an inferior Confederate force at each separate point defensively confronting a superior Federal force; our power daily shrinking, that of the enemy increasing; the avowed Federal policy being that of “attrition,” their bigger masses grinding our smaller, one by one, to naught. Out of this state we never emerged, when the direction of the Government was, as almost always, necessary, excepting when “Richmond ” was immediately in danger.

Thus, in the fall of 1861, about three months after the battle of Manassas,— after throwing my whole force forward to Fairfax Court House, with outposts flaunting our flags on the hills in sight of Washington, in order to chafe the Federals to another battle, but without success,— I proposed that the army should be raised to an effective of 60,000 men, by drawing 20,000 for the immediate enterprise from several points along the seaboard, not even at that time threatened, and from our advanced position be swiftly thrown across the Potomac at a point which I had had carefully surveyed for that purpose, and moved upon the rear of Washington, thus forcing McClellan to a decisive engagement before his organization (new enlistments) was completed, and while our own army had the advantage of discipline and prestige — seasoned soldiers, whose term, however, would expire in the early part of the coming summer. This plan, approved by General Gustavus W. Smith (then immediately commanding General Johnston’s own forces) as well as by General Johnston, was submitted to Mr. Davis in a conference at my headquarters, but rejected because he would not venture to strip those points of the troops we required. Even if those points had been captured, though none were then even threatened, they must have reverted as a direct consequence to so decisive a success. I was willing, then, should it have come to that, to exchange even Richmond temporarily for Washington. Yet it was precisely from similar combinations and elements that the army was made up, to enable it the next spring, under General Lee, to encounter McClellan at the very door of Richmond. If that which was accepted as a last defensive resort against an overwhelming aggressive army had been used in an enterprising offensive against that same army while yet in the raw, the same venture had been made at less general risk, less cost of valuable lives, and with greater certain results. The Federal army would have had no chance meanwhile to become tempei’ed to that magnificent military machine which, through all its defeats and losses, remained sound, and was stronger, with its readily assimilating new strength, at the end of the war than ever before; the pressure would have been lifted from Kentucky and Missouri, and we should have maintained what is called an active defensive warfare, that is, should have taken and kept the offensive against the enemy, enforcing peace.

No people ever warred for independence with more relative advantages than the Confederates; and if, as a military question, they must have failed, then no country must aim at freedom by means of war. We were one in sentiment as in territory, starting out, not with a struggling administration of doubtful authority, but with our ancient State governments and a fully organized central government. As a military question, it was in no sense a civil war, but a war between two countries—for conquest on one side, for self-preservation on the other. The South, with its great material resources, its defensive means of mountains, rivers, railroads, and telegraph, with the immense advantage of the interior lines of war, would be open to discredit as a people if its failure could not be explained otherwise than by mere material contrast. The great Frederick, at the head of a little people, not only beat back a combination of several great military powers, but conquered and kept territory; and Napoleon held combined Europe at the feet of France till his blind ambition overleaped itself. It may be said that the South had no Fredericks or Napoleons; but it had at least as good commanders as its adversary. Nor was it the fault of our soldiers or people. Our soldiers were as brave and intelligent as ever bore arms; and, if only for reasons already mentioned, they did not lack in determination. Our people bore a devotion to the cause never surpassed, and which no war-making monarch ever had for his support; they gave their all—even the last striplings under the family roofs filling the ranks voided by the fall of their fathers and brothers. But the narrow military view of the head of the Government, which illustrated itself at the outset by ordering from Europe, not 100,000 or 1,000,000, but 10,000 stands of arms, as an increase upon 8000, its first estimate, was equally narrow and timid in its employment of our armies.

The moral and material forces actually engaged in the war made our success amoral certainty, but for the timid policy which—ignoring strategy as a science and boldness of enterprise as its ally — could never be brought to new the whole theater of war as one subject, of which all points were but integral parts, or to hazard for the time points relatively unimportant for the purpose of gathering for an overwhelming and rapid stroke at some decisive point; and which, again, with characteristic mis-elation, would push a victorious force directly forward into unsupported and disastrous operations, instead of using its victory to spare from it strength sufficient to secure an equally important success in another quarter. The great principles of war are truths, and the same to-day as in the time of Caesar or Napoleon, notwithstanding the ideas of some thoughtless persons—their applications being but intensified by the scientific discoveries affecting transportation and communication of intelligence. These principles are few and simple, however various their deductions and application. Skill in strategy consists in seeing through the intricacies of the whole situation, and bringing into proper combination forces and influences, though seemingly unrelated, so as to apply these principles, and with boldness of decision and execution appearing with the utmost force, and, if possible, superior odds, before the enemy at some strategic, that is, decisive point. And although a sound military plan may not be always so readily conceived, yet any plan that offers decisive results, if it agree with the principles of war, is as plain and intelligible as these principles themselves, and no more to be rejected than they. There still remains, of course, the hazard of accident in execution, and the apprehension of the enemy’s movements upsetting your own; but hazard may also favor as well as disfavor, and will not unbefriend the enterprising any more than the timid. It was this fear of possible consequences that kept our forces scattered in inferior relative strength at all points of the compass, each holding its bit of ground till by slow local process our territory was taken and our separate forces destroyed, or, if captured, retained by the enemy without exchange in their process of attrition. To stop the slow consumption of this passive mode of warfare I tried my part, and, at certain critical junctures, proposed to the Government active plans of operation looking to such results as I have described,— sometimes, it is true, in relation to the employment of forces not under my control, as I was the soldier of a cause and people, not of a monarch nor even of a government. Two occasions there were when certain of the most noted Federal operations, from their isolated or opportune character, might, with energy and intelligent venture on the Confederate side, have been turned into fatal disaster; among them Grant’s movement in front of Vicksburg, and his change of base from the north to the south of the James River, where I was in command, in his last campaign against Richmond. I urged particularly that our warfare was sure of final defeat unless we attempted decisive strokes that might be followed up to the end, and that, even if earlier defeat might chance from the risk involved in the execution of the necessary combinations, we ought to take that risk and thereby either win or end an otherwise useless struggle. But, in addition to the radical divergence of military ideas,— the passive defensive of an intellect timid of risk and not at home in war, and the active defensive reaching for success through enterprise and boldness, according to the lessons taught us in the campaigns of the great masters,— there was a personal feeling that now gave cold hearing, or none, to any recommendations of mine. Mr. Davis’s friendship, warm at the early period of the war, was changed, some time after the battle of Manassas, to a corresponding hostility from several personal causes, direct and indirect, of which I need mention but one. My report of Manassas having contained, as part of its history, a statement of the submission of the full plan of campaign for concentrating our forces, crushing successively McDowell and Patterson and capturing Washington, Mr. Davis strangely took offense thereat; and, now that events had demonstrated the practicability of that plan, he sought to get rid of his self-accused responsibility for rejecting it, by denying that any such had been submitted — an issue, for that matter, easily settled by my production of the contemporaneous report of Colonel James Chesnut, the bearer of the mission, who, moreover, at the time of this controversy was on Mr. Davis’s own staff, where he remained. Mr. Davis made an endeavor to suppress the publication of my report of the battle of Manassas. The matter came up in a secret debate in the Confederate Congress, where a host of friends were ready to sustain me; but I sent a telegram disclaiming any desire for its publication, and advising that tli i safety of the country should be our solicitude, and not personal ends.

Thenceforth Mr. Davis’s hostility was watchful and adroit, neglecting no opportunity, great or small; and though, from motives all its opposite, it was not exposed during the war by any murmurs of mine, it bruited sometimes in certain quarters of its own force. Thus, when in January, 1862, the Western representatives expressed a desire that I should separate myself for a time from my Virginia forces and go to the defense of the Mississippi Valley from the impending offensive of Halleck and Grant, it was furthered by the Executive with inducements which I trusted,— in disregard of Senator Toombs’s sagacious warning, that under this furtherance lurked a purpose to effect my downfall, urged in one of his communications through his son-in-law, Mr. Alexander, in words as impressive as they proved prophetic: “Urge General Beauregard to decline all proposals and solicitations. The Blade of Joab. Verbum Sapienti” After going through the campaign of Shiloh and Corinth, not only with those inducements unfulfilled, but with vital drawbacks from the Government, including the refusal of necessary rank to competent subordinates to assist in organizing my hastily collected and mostly raw troops, I was forced, the following June, in deferred obedience to the positive order of my physicians, to withdraw from my immediate camp to another point in my department for recovery from illness, leaving under the care of my lieutenant, General Bragg, my army, then unmenaced and under reorganization with a view to an immediate offensive I had purposed. In anticipation and exclusion of the receipt of full dispatches following my telegram, the latter was tortuously misread, in a manner not creditable to a school-boy and repugnant to Mr. Davis’s exact knowledge of syntax, so as to give pretext to the shocking charge that I had abandoned my army, and a telegram was sent in naked haste directly to General Bragg, telling him to retain the permanent command of the army. The “Blade of Joab” had given its thrust. The representatives in Congress from the West and South-west applied to Mr. Davis in a body for my restoration; and when, disregarding his sheer pretext that I had abandoned my army, they still insisted, Mr. Davis declared that I should not be restored if the whole world should ask it! This machination went to such length that it was given out in Richmond that I had softening of the brain and had gone crazy. So carefully was this report fostered (one of its tales being that I would sit all day stroking a pheasant (11)) that a friend of mine, a member of the Confederate Congress, thought it his duty to write me a special letter respecting the device, advising me to come directly to Richmond to confound it by my presence — a proceeding which I disdained to take. I had not only then, but from later, still more offensive provocation, imperative cause to resign, and would have done so but for a sense of public obligation. Indeed, in my after fields of action the same hostility was more and more active in its various embarrassments, reckless that the strains inflicted upon me bore upon the troops and country depending on me and relatively upon the cause, so that I often dreaded failure more from my own Government behind me than from the enemy in my front; and, when success came in spite of this, it was acknowledged only by some censorious official “inquiry” contrasting with the repeated thanks of the Congress. I was, however, not the only one of the highest military rank with whom Mr. Davis’s relations were habitually unwholesome. It is an extraordinary fact that during the four years of war Mr. Davis did not call together the five generals [see page 241] with a view to determining the best military policy or settling upon a decisive plan of operations involving the whole theater of war, though there was often ample opportunity for it. We needed for President either a military man of a high order, or a politician of the first class without military pretensions, such as Howell Cobb. The South did not fall crushed by the mere weight of the North; but it was nibbled away at all sides and ends because its executive head never gathered and wielded its great strength under the ready advantages that greatly reduced or neutralized its adversary’s naked physical superiority. It is but another of the many proofs that timid direction may readily go with physical courage, and that the passive defensive policy may make a long agony, but can never win a war.

POSTSCRIPT.—Since the publication of the foregoing pages in “The Century” for November, 1884, General J. E. Johnston, in the course of a paper also contributed to “The Century” [see page 240], took occasion, for the first time, to set up with positiveness and circumstantiality the claim to having exercised a controlling connection with the tactics of all the phases of the battle of the 21st of July, 1861. Respecting such a pretension I shall be content for the present to recall that, while entirely at variance with the part I have ascribed to him in relation to that field, it is logically untenable, at this day, when confronted with the records of the period. In my own official report of the battle closely contemporaneous with the events narrated — a report that was placed in his hands for perusal before transmission— it is distinctly related that for certain reasons, chiefly military, General Johnston had left in my hands for the impending conflict the command of the Confederate forces. The precise circumstances of my direct conduct of and responsibility for the battle are stated in such terms that, had I not been in actual direction of the day’s operations on the part of the Confederates, General Johnston must have made the issue squarely then and there in his own official report. And all the more incumbent upon him was the making of such an issue, it seems to me, then or never, in view of the fact that the Confederate Secretary of War on the 24th of July, 1861, wrote me in these words:

“MY DEAR GENERAL: Accept my congratulations for the glorious and most brilliant victory achieved by you. The country will bless and honor you for it. Believe me, dear General,

“Truly your friend, L. P. WALKER.”

Further, General Lee thus addressed me:

“MY DEAR GENERAL : I cannot express the joy I feel at the brilliant victory of the 21st. The skill, courage, and endurance displayed by yourself excite my highest admiration. You and your troops have the gratitude of the whole country, and I offer to all my heartfelt congratulations at their success. . . . Very truly yours, R. E. LEE.”

Of the exact purport of these two letters General Johnston could not have been ignorant when he wrote his report of the battle. Nor could he have been unaware that the leading Southern newspapers had in effect attributed to me the chief direction of that battle on the Confederate side. Therefore, if it were the gross historical error which, twenty odd years after the affair, General Johnston characterizes it to be, and one that imputed to him the shirking of a duty which he could not have left unassumed without personal baseness, certainly that was the time for him by a few explicit words in his official report to dispose of so affronting an error. In that report, however, no such exigent, peremptory statement of his relation to the battle is to be found. On the other hand, upon page 57 of his “Narrative” published in 1874 (D. Appleton & Co.), may be found, I fear, the clew to the motive of his actual waiver of command in this curious paragraph:

“If the tactics of the Federals had been equal to their strategy, we should have been beaten. If, instead of being brought into action in detail, their troops had been formed in two lines, with a proper reserve, and had assailed Bee and Jackson in that order, the two Southern brigades must have been swept from the field in a few minutes, or enveloped. General McDowell would have made such a formation, probably, had he not greatly underestimated the strength of his enemy.”

Coupled with the disquieting, ever-apprehensive tenor of his whole correspondence with the Confederate War Department, from the day he assumed command in the Valley of Virginia in May, 1861, down to the close of the struggle hi 1865, the fair inference from such language as that just cited from his “Narrative” is that General Johnston came to Manassas beset with the idea that our united forces would not be able to cope with the Federal army, and that we should be beaten— a catastrophe in which he was not solicitous to figure on the pages of history as the leading and responsible actor. Originally and until 1875,I had regarded it as a generous though natural act on the part of General Johnston, in such a juncture, to leave me in command and responsible for what might occur. The history of military operations abounds in instances of notable soldiers who have found it proper to waive chief command under similar conditions.

(1) The professionally educated officers on the Confederate side at Bull Run included Generals Johnston, Beauregard, Stonewall Jackson, Longstreet, Kirby Smith, Ewell, Early, Bee, D. E. Jones, Holmes, Evans, Elzey, and Jordan, all in high positions, besides others not so prominent.— EDITORS.

(2) For the forces actually engaged in the campaign and on the field, see pp. 194-5.— EDITORS.

(3) “I am, however, inclined to believe he [the enemy] may attempt to turn my left flank by a movement in the direction of Vienna, Frying-pan Church, and, possibly, Gum Spring, and thus cut off Johnston’s line of retreat and communication with this place [Manassas Junction] via the Manassas Gap railroad, while threatening my own communications with Richmond and depots of supply by the Alexandria and Orange railroad, and opening his communications with the Potomac through Leesburg and Edward’s Ferry.”—(Extract from a letter addressed by General Beauregard to Jefferson Davis, July 11th, 1801.)

(4) It is denied that a serious attempt “to force a passage” was made on the 18th. (See page 178.) This engagement was called by the Confederates the battle of Bull Run, the main fight on the 21st being known in the South as the battle of Manassas (pronounced Ma-nass’-sa).—EDITORS.

(5) [TELEGRAM.] RICHMOND, July 19, 1861.
GENERAL BEAUREGARD, Manassas, Va.
We have no intelligence from General Johnston.  If the enemy in front of you has abandoned an immediate attack, and General Johnston has not moved, you had better withdraw your call upon him, so that he may be left to his full discretion.  All the troops arriving at Lynchburg are ordered to join you. From this place we will send as fast as transportation permits. The enemy is advised at Washington of the projected movement of Generals Johnston and Holmes, and may vary his plans in conformity thereto.
S. COOPER, Adjutant-General.

(6) Lack of rations, as well as the necessity for information, detained McDowell at Centreville during these two days.—EDITORS.

7) See General Beauregard’s postscript (page 226), and General Johnston’s consideration of the same topic in the paper to follow (page 245), and his postscript (page 258).— EDITORS.

(8) According to General Fry (page 188), the Union force in the seizure of the Henry hill consisted of four brigades, a cavalry battalion, and two batteries, or (as we deduce from General Fry’s statements of the strength of McDowell’s forces, page 195) about 11,000 men.— EDITORS.

(9) General R. S. Ewell. See statement of Major Campbell Brown, page 259.— EDITORS.

(10) This battle was noteworthy for the number of participants whose names are now prominently associated with the war. On the Confederate side, besides Generals Johnston and Beauregard, were Generals Stonewall Jackson, Longstreet, Ewell, Early, J. E. B. Stuart, Kirby Smith, Wade Hampton, Fitzhugh Lee, Thomas Jordan, R. E. Rodes, E. P. Alexander, and others. On the Federal side were Generals McDowell, W. T. Sherman, Burnside, Hunter, Heintzelman, Howard, Franklin, Slocum, Keyes, Hunt, Barry, Fry, Sykes, Barnard, Wadsworth, and others. —EDITORS.

(11) This silly tale was borrowed from an incident of Shiloh. Toward the end of the first day’s battle a soldier had found a pheasant cowering, apparently paralyzed under the ceaseless din, and brought it to my headquarters as a present to me. It was a beautiful bird, and I gave directions to place it in a cage, as I intended sending it as a pleasant token of the battle to the family of Judge Milton Brown, of Jackson, Tennessee, from whom I had received as their guest, while occupying that place, the kindest attentions; but in the second day’s conflict the poor waif was lost.— G. T. B. VOL. 1. 15

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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





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.

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SHSP – Harper’s Ferry and First Manassas

3 06 2009

Southern Historical Society Papers

Vol. XXVIII. Richmond, Va., January-December 1900, pp. 58-71

Harper’s Ferry And First Manassas

Extracts from the Diary of Captain JAMES M. GARNETT, in charge of General Reserve Ordnance Train, Army of Northern Virginia, from January, 1863, to February, 1864; and Ordnance Officer of Rodes’s (later Grimes’s) Division, 2d Corps, A. N. Va., from February, 1864, to April 9, 1865.

RESERVE ORDNANCE TRAIN, A. N. VA.,

CAMP NEAR COBHAM STATION, V. C. R. R.,

Wednesday, September 9th, 1863

Monday, April 15th, 1861, may be considered the commencement of this war for Virginia, for on that day appeared Lincoln’s proclamation for 75,000 men to “crush the rebellion,” which hurried up our old fogy Convention, and compelled their secession on Wednesday, April 17th. I was at that time at the University of Virginia, that session being my third, as I went there from the Episcopal High School of Virginia in ’57, spent sessions ’57-‘8 and ’58-‘9 at the University, taught ’59-’60 at Greenwood, Mr. Dinwiddie’s boarding-school in this (Albemarle) county, and returned to the University the session of ’60-’61.

This proclamation created quite a sensation at the University, raising the military enthusiasm to the highest pitch, and especially filling our two companies, the “Southern Guard,” Captain E. S. Hutter, and the “Sons of Liberty,” Captain J. Tosh, with an earnest desire to lend a hand in the defence of our State.

The taking of Harper’s Ferry was the first object that presented itself to our minds, and when, on Wednesday, Captain Duke returned from Richmond with authority to take 300 men to Harper’s Ferry, our two companies, with the “Albemarle Rifles,” Captain Duke, and the “Monticello Guards,” Captain Mallory, from Charlottesville, offered our services. We immediately got ready, and that night, when the train from Staunton, with the “West Augusta Guards,” the “Mountain Guards,” and Imboden’s Battery, from Augusta county, came along, we joined them and went on to Harper’s Ferry, taking up different volunteer companies all along the railroad, until, when we reached Strasburg about 12 o’clock Thursday, where we had to “take it afoot,” our force was quite formidable, numbering some eight or ten companies, of seventy to eighty men each, and a battery of four pieces. We marched from Strasburg to Winchester, eighteen miles, between 1 o’clock and 8, pretty good marching, considering it was our first effort; wagons were along to carry the little baggage we had, and to relieve us, but most of the men marched the whole way. We stopped in Winchester only long enough to take supper, supping at different private houses, the citizens welcoming us with lavish hospitality, tho’ some, not knowing that the movement was authorized by Governor Letcher–as it had not then been publicly made known that Virginia had seceded–thought it was a move of the self-constituted Secession Convention, which had met in Richmond on Tuesday, April 16th, and the fact of which meeting, I think, helped to hurry up our laggard Convention to do what it ought to have done two months before. I, and many others, supped that night with my friend, David Barton, Jr., who had volunteered from the University for this special service, not being a regular member of our company, the “Southern Guard.” He has since gone to his God, where wars will never trouble him more, having been killed in the first battle of Fredericksburg, December 13th, ’62.

About 9 o’clock we all started on the train for Harper’s Ferry, only thirty-two miles distant, but such was the slowness of the train and the uncertainty of the commanding officers as to what force we should find at the Ferry, that we did not reach there until 4 o’clock the next morning, about six hours after Lieutenant Jones, of the United States Army, with his handful of men, had burnt the Armory buildings and retreated towards Carlisle, Pa. We learnt that some of the Clarke and Jefferson companies had gotten in the neighborhood the evening before, in time to have taken the place and saved the buildings, arms, &c., but they also were ignorant of the force at the Ferry and delayed to attack.

It is quite amusing now to think of the way in which military affairs were conducted at Harper’s Ferry when we first went there. General William H. Harman, Brigadier-General Virginia Militia, was in command until General Kenton Harper, Major-General Virginia Militia, arrived there; these two officers were afterwards Lieutenant-Colonel and Colonel respectively of the 5th Virginia regiment. On Friday, the day we reached the Ferry, the Baltimore outbreak took place, and when we received the news we were greatly elated, but unfortunately it was merely a puff of wind, which soon died out. Then was the time, if ever, for the Marylanders to have armed and organized, and Maryland would not now be trodden down by Lincoln’s serfs, with no prospect of ever obtaining her independence.

* * * * *

We continually had alarms at the Ferry. On Saturday morning our company was turned out to attack the train, which was said to be coming down loaded with Federal troops, and about 11 o’clock that night we were roused to go up on the Loudoun heights and support Imboden’s Battery, which the enemy couldn’t have gotten at in any conceivable way except by approaching through Loudoun on Virginia soil, and the other University company, the “Sons of Liberty,” were sent across the bridge and down the railroad, just opposite this battery and ourselves, and just where we were directed to fire if the enemy came, and if our smooth-bore muskets could carry that far, which was more than doubtful.

The next morning (Sunday), we scrambled down the mountain and returned to our barracks, very much wearied, after first reporting ourselves at the “General’s Headquarters,” where an amusing little scene took place between the Acting Inspector-General, who found fault with the way in which one of the men ordered arms, and one of our lieutenants, who informed him that the company had had a drill-master. The next day we learnt that the Governor had ordered the “Charlottesville Battalion,” as our four companies under Captain George Carr (formerly of the U. S. Army) were called, to return home, and that evening we left for Winchester, where we remained all night, and went to Strasburg the next morning in wagons provided for our accommodation. I think we were rather glad on the whole that we were leaving the Ferry, though our military ardor was not quite cooled down by our “short, but arduous” campaign. We saw a little service, at all events, having been ordered out twice, in the morning and at night (and the night march was pretty severe for us), and having stood guard several times; my post was at the old burnt Armory buildings. We also saw some fun in searching the houses of Harper’s Ferry for secreted arms, a great many of which we found.

On the whole we were very much pleased with our expedition, and considered war fine fun in those days; how we have changed our opinions since!

On our return by Manassas Junction on Wednesday, April 24th (my birthday, by the way, and the day on which I attained my majority), I received permission from our Captain to go on to Alexandria, in order to pay a visit to the Episcopal High School, where my relations, Mr. McGuire’s family, resided. I created quite a sensation, with my blue flannel shirt, red collar and cuffs, black pants, white cross-belts, musket and accoutrements, and from the fact that I had been to Harper’s Ferry. After remaining there two or three days, the last time I have had an opportunity of seeing the dear old place, on Saturday I returned to the University.

Sunday, September 20th, [1863]

I have neglected this narrative for nearly a fortnight, but as today is Sunday and I have nothing to do, there being no service near, I will endeavor to continue it now.

Soon after reaching the University, our company requested the Governor, through our Captain, Ned Hutter, to accept our services, but he and General Lee, then commanding the Virginia forces, refused, saying that it was “too much good material to put in one company.” We were required to give up our Minié muskets, which we had gotten at Harper’s Ferry; so, after continuing our drills a few times more, our company disbanded, and the different members scattered themselves throughout the State and the South, entering the service in different capacities. Some received appointments in the Virginia Provisional Army, which appointments were vacated by general order about September 1st following. I applied for one of these, but before receiving it the Virginia forces were turned over to the Confederacy, and no more appointments were made; I consider it fortunate now that I didn’t get it. I determined to remain at the University till the end of the session, but in May, just before the election of Thursday, May 24th, I went home to Hanover county, desiring to vote in my own county for the Ordinance of Secession, which was at that time ratified almost unanimously by the people of the State.

The Yankees about that time raised their “hue and cry” about Union feeling in the South, and especially in Virginia, but the unanimity with which the Ordinance of Secession was ratified well shows–what we knew all along–that there was no Union feeling in the State, except in some of the Western counties, which have now still further earned our contempt by forming the Yankee “bogus” State of “West Virginia.” The Yankees have found out by this time that the farce of Union feeling in the South is played out, and have left off making a fuss about it.

After voting for secession (and for the taxation amendment too, tho’ it was against the interest of Eastern Virginia), I returned to the University, but very little studying of text-books did I do during the remainder of the session. My attention was chiefly occupied in studying Mahan’s “Field Fortification” and other works on engineering, especially the articles of the encyclopædias in the University library, as I had some idea at that time of applying for an appointment in the Confederate Engineer Corps, but I gave that out before the close of the session, and on Tuesday, July 2d (the session ended on the 4th), I left the University with the intention of joining Captain (now Brigadier-General) W. N. Pendleton’s battery, the “Rockbridge Artillery,” which some of my friends and college-mates had already joined. After remaining at home long enough to get ready, and declining to apply for an appointment in the Marine Corps, which I believe I could have gotten at that time, I left Hanover Junction with my friend Channing Page, now Captain of a battery, July 13th, for Winchester, both of us intending to join Pendleton’s battery, which we found encamped near that place.

I remained at Mrs. Barton’s a few days, and on Wednesday, July 17th, enlisted in Pendleton’s battery, in which I then had several friends, amongst others, Dave Barton (2), Holmes Boyd (3), Bob McKim (4), Liv. Massie (5), Clem. Fishburne (6), and Channing Page (7), with all of whom I had been at college the previous session, and Joe Packard (8), an old school-mate at the Episcopal High School.

I was not destined to remain quiet long after entering the service, for about midday of the day following we started on our march to Manassas to take part in the great battle which was expected to come off. Our destination was revealed to us when we had gotten a few miles from Winchester, and the announcement was received with loud cheering. After crossing the Opequan I attempted to go forward to Millwood, but was stopped by Colonel Preston, commanding the advance regiment (4th Virginia), although I had permission from my immediate commander, Captain Pendleton. How angry I was at this infringement of what I considered my rights after obtaining my Captain’s permission! but being helpless of myself, I appealed to my friend Sandy Pendleton (9), Aid to General Jackson, our Brigadier, to obtain the General’s permission for me, in which he succeeded, and I went forward, sending a message on the way to my cousins, who were staying at Mr. John E. Page’s in the neighborhood, to meet me at Millwood. They reached there soon after I did, and I remained until our battery came through, tho’ my walk–and my passion too–had given me a severe headache, and I was forced to ride in the ammunition-wagon attached to our battery, in which I crossed the Shenandoah, fortunately being thus prevented from wading, which nearly all of the men had to do. After crossing the river I rode on to Paris on the horse of Bowyer Brockenbrough (10), First Lieutenant of our battery, and a former college-mate of mine, and we slept on a porch [in Paris], sheltered from the rain which fell. Oversleeping ourselves we found that the battery had the start of us about two hours. Bowyer went on ahead, and I followed on foot until a little boy with some ladies offered me part of his horse, and in this way I reached Piedmont station, where the infantry were taking the cars. Our battery went on a mile beyond and waited there nearly all that day (Friday) for the rest of the artillery to come up, when we started about 7 o’clock P. M., and travelled until 4 A. M., rested two hours at The Plains, and reached Manassas about half-past two P. M., Saturday, July 20th.

General Johnston’s force was thought to be about 18,000 men, with five batteries, tho’ I doubt whether the infantry force was quite so large. Most of this force reached Manassas in time for the battle, General Kirby Smith’s brigade coming up while the action was going on. We slept quietly that night, tho’ our only rations were some provisions that had been sent to one of my friends, which fortunately lasted us for supper and breakfast. The next morning Joe Packard and I went to Bull Run to bathe; while there an old darkey passed, remarking that, if we knew as much as he did, we wouldn’t be there; we didn’t think much of it at the time, but his remark occurred to us afterwards.

On returning to camp we found that one of our guns was ordered to the front. I obtained permission to be assigned to this gun, and as I had the horse of a surgeon, which I had ridden down from Piedmont station, I galloped on with it, but after going a mile or two we were ordered back without having our anticipations of a fight realized. We found the whole battery hitched up and ready to go forward. The cannonading had commenced on the extreme left about 6 A. M., and was then going on. Presently we were astonished by a shot striking within twenty steps of some of us who were lying down, and ricocheting over our heads; it was fired at a party on a hill beyond us, but fell short. What an excitement this, to many of us, first shot, created. We were soon ordered to a more secure position on the roadside, the wagons being sent back towards Manassas, and with them I sent the horse that I had been riding, which was stolen at Manassas. The owner afterwards came to me about the horse and I gave him what information I had, but am ignorant whether he ever got his horse. Our position at this time was not far from Mitchell’s Ford on Bull Run, which was about the centre of our line, where there was very little fighting during the day.

We had not been long in our position near the road before General Johnston came along, riding at full speed towards the field, and spoke to Captain Pendleton, and we were immediately ordered forward at a trot, cannoneers on the caissons. We went at this speed for about three miles, till we came to the Lewis House within reach of the enemy’s shells, where we were halted for a while. Here I first saw men wounded, some severely and covered with blood, others slightly, limping to the rear. We were then but poorly supplied with ambulances, and our surgeons but poorly acquainted with their duties, so I suppose the men suffered extremely. Besides the wounded coming to the rear, some, as usual, saying we were “cut all to pieces,” here were officers rallying stragglers, staff-officers and couriers riding to and fro, reserve troops and artillery awaiting orders, and other incidents to the immediate rear of a line of battle. We did not wait long, but were soon ordered to the front. We went up through a low pine thicket, the shells hissing and screaming all around us, so that it was a miracle that some of us were not knocked off the caissons.

On reaching the top of the hill, we turned to the right and took position amongst the other artillery wherever each piece could find room enough for itself, so that our battery was scattered along the line. We were immediately in front of a piece of woods in the edge of which the brigade to which we belonged, and which that day gained for itself the sobriquet “Stonewall,” was lying, and which unfortunately received most of the shells aimed at us. On taking position we immediately unlimbered and commenced firing, and kept it up for about two hours and a half, from 12 to 2:30 P. M. How well I remember that day! Liv. Massie (11),” No. 1, sponging and ramming, Dave Moore (12), No. 4, inserting the friction primer and pulling the lanyard, Lyt. Macon (13), No. 5, not performing the duties of No. 5, as I was acting in that capacity that day, but receiving the shot from me and giving them to No. 2, assisting also to roll up the gun after each recoil, and talking all the time, Bill Brown (14),” Corporal, coolly and deliberately aiming the piece, and making almost every shot tell, and Joe Packard (15), No. 7, receiving the shot from No. 6 at the limber, advancing a short distance, and giving them to me as I went to and fro between the piece and the limber. Our little 6-pounder, which we thought more of than we would now of a 30-pounder Parrott, did good work that day. Our captain occasionally passed us, going from one piece to another to see that we were doing our duty, and shrugging his shoulders as a shell would come rather close for comfort. I saw him once or twice near our piece, conversing with him a short while, and I thought he was occupied most of the time in going up and down the line. During the action a limber chest was blown up, belonging to a piece of Stanard’s battery, on our immediate left. The wheel-horses fell as if they had been struck by lightning, and it quite astonished us for a while, tho’ it didn’t interfere with our work. The musketry fire on our left gradually grew hotter and hotter, and presently what was our surprise to receive orders for all the artillery to leave the field! We went off as rapidly as possible, feeling very doubtful as to which party would gain the day, and thinking that the withdrawal of the artillery looked badly for us–but we didn’t know.

CAMP NEAR GORDONSVILLE: [VA.]

Tuesday, December 22, 1863

I have put off writing here for some time, owing to movements of the army and absence from camp, but I will endeavor to continue now and keep up this record more regularly.

After the artillery was withdrawn to the Lewis House, the infantry became very heavily engaged, and the roll of musketry continued for more than an hour, when the enemy, much to our gratification, commenced to retreat, and the retreat became an utter rout. We had unlimbered our pieces and taken position near the Lewis House, and on the retreat of the enemy we fired a few shots at them, but the distance was almost too great for our short-range pieces, our battery then consisting only of one regulation six-pounder, two small Virginia Military Institute six-pounders, and one twelve-pounder howitzer. About this time, our President, Jefferson Davis, who had that day come up from Richmond, came on the field, and many of the battery shook hands with him, but I did not seek that honor, though standing quite near him.

I cannot describe our joy when we discovered that the enemy were actually retreating and our men were in pursuit, but our joy was not unmingled with sorrow, for we soon heard of the death of many dear friends. Soon after the retreat commenced, I heard of the death of a most intimate friend, H. Tucker Conrad, of Martinsburg, belonging to company D, 2d Virginia regiment. He was my school-mate at the Episcopal High School for two years, and my college-mate at the University of Virginia for two more, and a very dear friend. At the breaking out of the war he was a student of Divinity at the Episcopal Theological Seminary, near Alexandria, and after returning home he enlisted in the “Berkeley Border Guards,” the company from Martinsburg, belonging to the 2d Virginia regiment. He came out of Martinsburg to enlist in his country’s service while Patterson’s army was around the place, and not long after he died, as he would have wished to die, fighting for his country’s independence. His brother, Holmes A. Conrad, of the same company, was also killed that day, and almost at the same time with Tucker. I was not so well acquainted with Holmes, but Tucker I knew long and intimately, and can testify to his character and worth; a most devoted friend, a most faithful man, and a most pious Christian, he endeared himself to all who knew him, and his loss was most deeply felt.

Often have I thought of the pleasant times we have had together at school and at college. I trust that we may meet again in the world to come.

After the retreat several of our battery were sent on the field to collect and bring off captured guns and harness. This was my first view of a battle-field; men dead and wounded, scattered all around, horses dead and mangled, and others alive and wounded, arms and accoutrements strewed everywhere, and guns and caissons, some in good condition, others knocked to pieces–met our view on all sides; such scenes were new then, but they have become quite familiar since. We brought off several guns, with much harness and many blankets and overcoats, to the Lewis House, where we were camped for the night, I taking it on a caisson cover. I was awaked about daylight the next morning by the rain, but crept between the two folds of the caisson cover and slept a while longer. On awaking I saw passing several pieces of artillery, and among them a thirty-pounder Parrott piece, all of which had been captured on the retreat.

HEADQUARTERS RODES’S DIVISION

CAMP NEAR ORANGE C. H. [VA.]

March 10th, 1864

Notwithstanding my determination to continue this record regularly, I have neglected it for some time, but will continue now, writing off and on as I find leisure, for, having been lately transferred from the Reserve Ordnance Train to Major-General Rodes’s Division, I expect to be more occupied than I have heretofore been.

We spent Monday following the first battle of Manassas near the Lewis House, it raining incessantly the whole day, and none of us being able to procure any rations but hard crackers, and those only what had been captured. Fortunately one of my messmates, Joe Packard, had a jug of honey, and we lived off of honey and hard tack that day. That night, after imagining that I had found a comfortable place in a barn-loft to spend the night, I was summoned to go “on guard” for the first time in my military experience in the battery, and as Captain Pendleton wouldn’t hear to letting us off guard duty that night, I had to turn out notwithstanding the rain.

We had two posts, and Bev. Jones (16) was my companion in the relief. How it did rain! but we took it the best way we could, and, after the first relief was over, endeavored to find something to eat, but were not very successful. I frequently recall this first night “on guard,” barring my Harper’s Ferry experience, and must confess that it was almost as disagreeable as any other night I ever spent in that occupation. The next day we had some rations issued to us, and then moved back and camped near the house where General Jackson had his headquarters on the road to Manassas Station. We camped in the open field near a muddy stream, exposed to the heat of the sun and the attacks of innumerable insects, with the muddiest water to drink, and when it rained our camp was a perfect slush. Our stay at this camp produced such a vivid impression on us that we ever afterwards referred to it as “Camp Mudhole.” While at this camp, about August 3d, I obtained permission from Captain Pendleton to go up to Clarke county for three days to visit my cousins at Mr. Page’s, which furlough I spent there very pleasantly, and on returning found that the battery had moved down about one mile below Centreville on the turnpike to Fairfax Courthouse, and was camped there with the brigade (“Stonewall”) to which it was attached.

This camp was named by General Jackson “Camp Harman.” It was very pleasantly situated about one-fourth of a mile off the road, on the edge of a piece of woods, and convenient to two excellent springs. We enjoyed our stay there very much, tho’ the daily routine of camp life became very monotonous. We drilled both morning and evening, and part of the time before breakfast also, but that was soon dispensed with. We had three posts of guard duty, one at the guns and two at the horses, and each one’s turn came once in every five or six days. While here we exchanged some pieces of our battery and obtained two additional pieces, so that it was now constituted two (2) ten-pounder Parrott rifled guns, three (3) six-pounder smooth-bore guns, and one (1) twelve-pounder Howitzer; the six-pounder we retained was the one at which I served at the first battle of Manassas, which was then the third piece, but now the sixth, at which I was No. 2; this was the only piece used at the battle of Hainesville (or Falling Waters), the first skirmish that occurred in the Valley of Virginia, and this was the first piece fired in the Valley after the war commenced; it was also used in the war with Mexico and should have been preserved, but it has now, alas! been melted up to make twelve-pounder Napoleons, and so “gone the way of all flesh.”

Some more of my University friends joined the battery at this camp, among whom were Randolph Fairfax (a noble boy, afterwards killed at the first battle of Fredericksburg, December 13th, ’62), Lanty Blackford and Berkeley Minor (17). Our mess at that time consisted of about twenty-five or thirty, nearly all of the best fellows in the company, and we employed two Irishmen to cook for us, but the number being entirely too large, some of us employed a servant and organized another mess, consisting of ten of us, and ever afterwards knowne as “Mess No. 10;” it consisted of David Barton (18),” Holmes Boyd (18), Johnny Williams (19), Lyt. Macon (18), Lanty Blackford (20), Randolph Fairfax (21), Kinloch (22) and Philip Nelson(23), Bev. Jones (18), Ned Alexander (24), and myself (25). This was one more than the number, but Kinloch Nelson was sick for some time and we took Lanty Blackford in his place.

NOTES

1. Rev. William N. Pendleton, D. D., a West-Pointer, Rector of the Episcopal church in Lexington, Va.; soon appointed Colonel and Chief of Artillery of General Johnston’s army, and later Brigadier-General and Chief of Artillery of General Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia.

2. David R. Barton, Jr., of Winchester, Va., later appointed Lieutenant in Cutshaw’s Battery, and killed, as above stated, at Fredericksburg, December 13th, 1862.

3. E. Holmes Boyd, of Winchester, Va., later, September, 1863, appointed Lieutenant and Ordnance Officer of Brigadier-General J. M. Jones’s Brigade; now (1900) attorney-at-law in Winchester, Va.

4. Robert B. McKim, of Baltimore, Md., killed in the battle of Winchester, May 25th, 1862.

5. J. Livingston Massie, of Augusta county, Va., later Captain of Massie’s Battery, and killed September 24th, 1864, on General Early’s retreat, near the junction of the Valley turnpike and the Keezeltown road.

6. Clement D. Fishburne, of Augusta county, Va., later appointed Lieutenant and Ordnance Officer of Cabell’s Battalion of Artillery; now (1900) Cashier of the Bank of Albemarle, Charlottesville Va.; author of a “Sketch of the Rockbridge Artillery,” in Vol. XXIII, of Southern Historical Society Papers.

7. R. Channing M. Page, of Albemarle county, Va., later Captain of Page’s Battery and Major of a Battalion of Artillery; physician in New York city; died a few years ago.

8. Joseph Packard, Jr., of Fairfax county, Va., later Lieutenant and assistant in charge of General Reserve Ordnance Train, A. N. Va.; now (1900) attorney-at-law and President of the School Board of Baltimore, Md.

9. Alexander S. Pendleton, of Lexington, Va., son of General W. N. Pendleton, Aid-de-Camp to General T. J. Jackson, and later Lieutenant-Colonel and Adjutant-General of 2d corps, A. N. Va.; killed near Fisher’s Hill, September 22d, 1864, on General Early’s retreat.

10. J. Bowyer Brockenbrough, of Lexington, Va., later Captain of the Baltimore Light Artillery, promoted Major; still living (1900).

11. See note 5.

12. David E. Moore, Jr., of Lexington, Va., later Sergeant in the Rockbridge Artillery; now (1900) attorney-at-law in Lexington, Va.

13. Lyttleton S. Macon, of Albemarle county, Va., later Sergeant in the Rockbridge Artillery; sheriff of Albemarle county, Va.; now (1900) farming in Albemarle county, Va.

14. William M. Brown, of Rockbridge county, Va., later Lieutenant of the Rockbridge Artillery; now deceased.

15. See note 8.

16.Beverley R. Jones, of Frederick county, Va., now (1900) farming in Frederick county, Va.,

17. C. N. Berkeley Minor, of Hanover county, Va., later Lieutenant in the 1st Regiment of Engineers, and now (1900) Professor in the Virginia Female Institute at Staunton, Va.

18. See notes 2, 3, 13 and 16.
19. John J. Williams, of Winchester, Va., later Sergeant in Chew’s Battery of horse artillery; attorney-at-law and Mayor of Winchester, Va.; Commander of the Grand Camp, C. V., of Virginia; died in Baltimore, Md., October, 1899.

20. Launcelot M. Blackford, of Lynchburg, Va., later Lieutenant and Adjutant of the 24th Virginia Regiment; now (1900),and for thirty years past, Principal of the Episcopal High School of Virginia.

21. Randolph Fairfax, of Alexandria, Va., killed, as stated above, at Fredericksburg, Va., December 13th, 1862.

22. Kinloch Nelson, of Clarke county, Va., later Lieutenant and Ordnance Officer of Kemper’s Brigade, Pickett’s Division; Professor in the Episcopal Theological Seminary of Virginia; died a few years ago.

23. Philip Nelson, of Clarke county, Va., later Lieutenant in the 2d Virginia Regiment of infantry, “Stonewall Brigade;” now (1900) Superintendent of Schools of Albemarle county, Va.

24. “Edgar S. Alexander, of Moorefield, Hardy county, Va. I have not been able to trace the career of Ned Alexander.

25. James M. Garnett, of Hanover county, Va., later Second Lieutenant, C. S. A., and Chief of Ordnance of the Valley District; first Lieutenant, P. A. C. S., and Ordnance Officer of the “Stonewall Brigade,” and Acting Ordnance Officer of Jackson’s Division; Captain in charge of General Reserve Ordnance Train, A. N. Va., and lastly Ordnance Officer of Rodes’s (later Grimes’s) Division, 2d Corps, A. N. Va.; now (1900) teaching in Baltimore, Md.





SHSP – The Soubriquet “Stonewall”

8 04 2009

Southern Historical Society Papers

Vol. XIX. Richmond, Va. 1891, pp. 164-167

The Soubriquet “Stonewall”

[From the Richmond Dispatch, July 29, 1891]

HOW IT WAS ACQUIRED

A few more years will forever seal the lips of all who can speak from personal knowledge of the incidents of the “War Between the States.” Any of them, therefore, who can now contribute to the perfect accuracy of history may be pardoned for doing so, even at the risk of incurring the charge of egotism. This is my only motive for troubling you with this brief article. I am one of those who heard General Barnard E. Bee utter the words which gave Jackson the name of “Stonewall.”

THE EXACT FACTS

The speech of General Early (as I have seen it reported) at Lexington on the 21st instant is slightly inaccurate in its account of this matter in two particulars. As this inaccuracy does injustice to other Confederate soldiers no less gallant than the “Stonewall” brigade, I am sure the chivalric old General and all others like him, with hearts in the right place, will be glad to have it corrected and the exact facts stated.

THE FOURTH ALABAMA

It was to the FourthAlabama regiment that the words were spoken by General Bee, about 2 or 3 o’clock in the afternoon of July 21, 1861. This regiment, with the Sixth North Carolina and Second and Eleventh Mississippi, constituted Bee’s brigade; and as the brigade arrived at Manassas from the Valley in detachments, so it went into and fought through the battle, not as a whole, but by separate regiments. The Fourth Alabama having arrived at Manassas on Saturday, the 20th, was in movement very early on Sunday morning, the 21st, from near the junction towards the upper fords of Bull Run. The dust raised by the march of the Federal army to Sudley’s ford having attracted attention, the Fourth Alabama was hurried by General Bee in that direction, and we reached before 11 A. M. the plateau of the Henry House, whereon the main conflict occurred afterwards.

A GREAT SACRIFICE

Bee seeing that this was a good position for defence, but that the Federals would capture it unless delayed before the Confederate forces could reach there in sufficient numbers, ordered the Fourth Alabama to hasten a half mile further north beyond Young’s branch and the wood over there to aid Evans, Wheat, and others in detaining the Federal army.

This duty we performed at great sacrifice, standing fast for an hour or more against overwhelming numbers, losing our Colonel, Egbert Jones, mortally wounded; Lieutenant-Colonel Law and Major Scott, disabled, and a great number of other officers and men killed and wounded.

Then in obedience to orders we withdrew from our advanced position and took position on the Confederate battle-line and in rear of the Robinson House.

GENERAL JOHNSTON SEIZES THE FLAG

Here, without field-officers and under command of a captain, the Fourth Alabama maintained its ground and did its part in resisting the enemy. General Johnston at one time came to us there and led us forward on a charge against the enemy, bearing our flag in his own hand. That glorious old warrior never appeared more magnificent than he did at that moment on his prancing horse and flaunting our colors in the face of the foe, who fell back before us.

SMITTEN WITH FIRE

Soon after this, the leading design of the Federals all day being to turn the Confederate left, the heaviest fighting veered in that direction, and in consequence the enemy disappeared from the immediate front of our regiment, leaving us unengaged; but the fearful crash after crash of the Federal musketry, as fresh troops poured in against the Confederate centre and left, can never be forgotten by those who heard it. Farther and farther round its awful thunders rolled as if nothing could stay it. Our brigade comrades of the Sixth North Carolina separated, from us in the manœuvres of the day, had rushed in single handed and been smitten as with fire, and their gallant Colonel Fisher and many of his men were no more. Jackson and his glorious brigade were struggling like giants to withstand the fierce onslaught.

THE WORDS OF BEE

It was just at this moment our Brigadier-General Bee came galloping to the Fourth Alabama and said: “My brigade is scattered over the field, and you are all of it now at hand. Men, can you make a charge of bayonets?” Those poor, battered, and bloody-nosed Alabamians, inspired by the lion like bearing of that heroic officer, responded promptly, “Yes, General, we will go wherever you lead, and do whatever you say.” Bee then said, pointing towards where Jackson and his men were so valiantly battling about a quarter of a mile to the west and left of us,” Yonder stands Jackson like a stone wall. Let us go to his assistance.” Saying this, he dismounted, placed himself at the left of the Fourth Alabama, and led the regiment (what remained of them) to Jackson’s position and joined them on to his right.

A CHARGE

Some other reinforcements coming up, a vigorous charge was made, pressing the Federals back. In this charge Bee fell mortally wounded, leading the Fourth Alabama. Barrow fell, not far from the same time and within a stone’s throw of the same spot, leading his Georgians. All the world knows how the Federals shortly thereafter were seized with a panic and fled incontinently from the field.

THE ERROR COMPLAINED OF

It is not true that General Bee said “rally behind the Virginians,” or behind anybody else. It is not true that he was rallying his men at all, for they were not retiring. The glory of the Stonewall Brigade does not need to be enhanced by any depreciation of the equal firmness and heroism of other men on that historic field. Let it never be forgotten that the Fourth Alabama lost more men on that day than any other regiment but one in the Confederate army, and every field from there to Appomattox was moistened with the blood of her heroes. But several of them still survive to corroborate, to the letter, the statement I have given you above.

Very respectfully,

WILLIAM M. ROBINS,

Former Major Fourth Alabama

Statesville, N. C., July 14, 1891





#82c – Maj. William H. C. Whiting

18 01 2009

Supplemental Report

Report (incomplete) of Major William Henry Chase Whiting

SUPPLEMENT TO THE O.R. – VOL.1: REPORTS ADDENDUM TO SERIES I, VOL. 2, pp 185-189

Headquarters, Third Brigade,

Camp Bee, August 1, 1861

Major: Having been assigned to the command of the Third Brigade, in consequence of the death of the lamented Brigadier-General [Barnard Elliot] Bee, the duty devolves upon me of presenting a report of the operations of the Brigade on July 21, compiled from the reports of the commanding officers engaged and from the notes of the distinguished aides of General Bee, Brigadier-General [States Rights] Gist, Adjutant-General of South Carolina; Major R. A. Howard of Texas; Colonel [William Pinkney] Shingler; Major [Walter H.] Stevens; Captain [A.] Vander Horst of South Carolina; and Lieutenant [James Hoffman] Hill, C. S. A., Assistant Adjutant-General.

The Brigade bivouacked at Camp Walker the night of July 20.  The First Tennessee and a portion of the Eleventh Mississippi together with the Sixth North Carolina had not joined in consequence of detention on the railroad.

At 5 a. m. on July 21, General Bee received orders from General [Pierre Gustave T.] Beauregard to advance to the support of the position occupied by Generals [H. Grey] Latham and [Philip St. George] Cocke near Stone Bridge and to its right, immediately putting his command, consisting of the Second Mississippi, Colonel [William Clark] Falkner, two companies of the Eleventh Mississippi under Lieutenant-Colonel [Philip Frank] Liddell, the Fourth Alabama, Colonel [Eggbert J.] Jones and Imboden’s Battery of four 6-pounders in motion.  He shortly took post in Latham’s left and Cocke’s right in close column of Division.  Here he was joined by the Eighth Georgia, Lieutenant-Colonel [William Montgomery] Gardner and the Seventh Georgia, Colonel [Lucius J.] Gartrell.

Arriving upon the ridge occupied by the Lewis House, General Bee advanced across the adjacent ravine upon the ‘ridge of pines,’ dispatching Major Howard to the front to make a reconnaissance of the ground.

On leaving the thickets, which cover the ridge of pines, nearly the whole field of the day’s operations was in view.  The ground is chiefly covered and occupied by several small farms; through the middle, from left to right runs a small creek, a branch of Bull Run.  On the left are dense thickets of oak and pine extending across the Manassas Road.  On the right of the Centreville Turnpike, as one looks from the ridge of pines southwest, is an isolated wood surrounded by fields of grass and corn beyond the creek.  This grove or “wood of pines” to the right and front proved important positions in the early part of the day.  In advance of the ridge of pines and on either side of a levee, connecting the Lewis ridge with the Centreville Turnpike across the ridge of pines, are two small houses, that of the Widow Henry on the left and of Robinson on the right.  These houses became conspicuous marks during the action and are important in locating the movements.  Beyond the cleared ground of the farms and distant about 1500 yards from the ridge of pines is a thick skirt of timber, where upon in a fron of pines a mile to a mile and a half the enemy were collected in heavy numbers.  Although other troops of the enemy were plainly visible in large force to the right in the distance, this space in front of the ridge of pines formed their principal field of attack.  General Bee proceeded at once to assault the position.

He had scarcely posted his battery near the Widow Henry’s house and a little to the right of it, when the enemy’s artillery opened a heavy fire from six rifled guns.  Line of battle was advanced at once, the General directing Captain [John D.] Imboden to maintain his position until further orders and placing Colonel Gartrell and Colonel Gardner with the Seventh, Eighth, and Ninth Georgia in the left of the battery; Colonel Falkner, Second Mississippi on the right; Colonel Jones, Fourth Alabama on the right of Falkner and detaching Lieutenant-Colonel Liddell to the “isolated wood” at the request of General [Nathan George] Evans, to support a gun of his posted near the left of the wood and well advanced toward the enemy.  General Evans’ force being small, he requested the General’s aid and with that view the Second Mississippi and Fourth Alabama were thrown rapidly on the creek and the whole line advanced.  General Evans was now hotly engaged with the enemy’s advance.  The Second Mississippi took a position in the grove above mentioned and the enemy made a demonstration on Stone Bridge against General Evans, while making his movement on our left in force, which General Evans, leaving part of his command near the bridge, promptly marched with the remainder to resist it near the branch and the isolated wood.  His command was engaged with the enemy’s advance when General Bee arrived upon the field.

The Fourth Alabama formed along a line of fence connecting it with the pine grove to the right.  This movement was led straight at the enemy by General Bee in person, conducting the Fourth Alabama through the fields and attacking the enemy strongly posted about a small farm house a little in advance of the position.  Here for three-quarters of an hour a fierce battle ensued in which the men, and their General were alike, distinguished.  In the meantime, the enemy had posted two more batteries and Imboden was contending manfully against fourteen pieces of artillery arranged in three batteries.  The horses of the caissons attached to General Evans’ guns on the left of the isolated wood took fright and ran to the rear, thus depriving that gun which had been effectively severed of its ammunition.  Against one of those batteries, the General directed the advance of a part of the Mississippians who delivered an effective fire upon them, naturally aiding Imboden.

He (General Bee) received information from General Evans that a column of the enemy was moving upon his right and rear.  General Bee instantly dispatched Major Howard and Captain Vander Horst to ascertain the fact; but before they could return the information was repeated and the General reluctantly ordered his line of battle [illegible].  As this proved to be a mistake the column refused to move while bravely bringing the Fourth Alabama into the fire.  The movement of General Bee was organized expressly to capture the enemy’s left battery then fiecely playing upon [...illegible...] turning out to be either Jackson’s or a portion of some other brigade who had now arrived on the field.  It is regarded as a misfortune, since it deprived our troops of selected positions, exposed them to severe and disastrous fire in moving to a new one in the rear, and naturally disheartened them by the backward movement.  It is probable enough that the overwhelming numbers of the enemy could have forced the Brigade sooner or later from its position, but up to that time, they not only had not done so, but the Fourth Alabama led by the General in person was holding the most advanced position attained by any of our troops during the battle.

It was during this backward movement that our heaviest loss was sustained in both officers and men.  The Eighth Georgia had been joined by its gallant chief, Colonel [Francis S.] Bartow and had moved from the left of Imboden toward the grove of pines in the right and front, its then commander and distinguished Lieutenant-Colonel [William] Montgomery Gardner severely wounded.  The Colonel of the Fourth Alabama, [Eggbert J.] Jones, was mortally struck down.  The whole line fell back behind the creek and reformed upon the ridge near the first position later in the morning, the enemy steadily following and advancing his batteries.  Here the Brigade was joined by the troops of the Hampton Legion under Colonel Wade Hampton.  Deprived of their leader with most of their field officers shot, the Brigade still enticed the fight directed by their General in person.  The Second Mississippi in particular, seven companies strong, charged with other troops and captured Rickett’s Battery, all the horses of which they killed with their musketry.  The honor of this brilliant feat of arms they share with a portion of the Eleventh under Lieutenant-Colonel Liddell, the Sixth North Carolina which lost its Colonel, [Charles F.] Fisher, and a portion of Colonel Hampton’s Legion.

Three batteries of the enemy were taken in all, near the line occupied by the Third Brigade; [...illegible...] Preston and his men of Jackson’s Brigade.  This Brigade and a portion of those of Colonel [Jubal Anderson] Early were, I learn, greatly distinguished in battle on the left of the Third [Brigade] where the enemy persistently concentrated heavy columns of attack.

For six hours the battle had raged with doubtful future, the ridge to which  the Widow Henry’s and the Robinson House are situated being alternately in the hands of the contending forces (Colonel Early’s Brigade, Army of the Potomac) when Brigadier-General [Edmund Kirby] Smith, second in command of the Army of the Shenandoah, advanced on either side of the Manassas Road and across the ridge and threw their command fiercely at the enemy’s right…

[W. H. C. Whiting]

Major T. G. Rhett

Assistant Adjutant-General,

Headquarters, Duncan’s House

[National Archives]





Col. William Smith’s Memoir of the Battle

13 12 2008

From Memoir of Governor William Smith, of Virginia, His Political, Military, and Personal History, by John W. Bell See also here

I was appointed by Gov. Letcher, Colonel of the Forty-ninth Virginia volunteers, the latter part of June, 1861, upon my individual application. The Governor replied to my application, that I was too old; to which I rejoined, that I would like to see the young man who could stand more hardship and fatigue than I. Well, he said, if you insist upon it, I will not refuse. To which I said, in the words of the bridegroom, who, when asked by the parson if he would take this woman as his wedded wife, “zounds man, that is just what I come for.” The Governor thereupon gave me an order to Gen. R. E. Lee, then Adjutant-General of our State, to prepare my commission. Upon presenting it, General Lee, after glancing over it, looked up with manifest surprise, he, too, doubtless thinking I was too old; and pausing a moment, and without a word, he filled up and handed it to me. I took it to the Governor for his signature. Receiving it, I returned with it to General Lee, that he might make the proper record–who, having done so, returned it to me, with an order to General Beauregard to form my regiment out of companies as they severally reported for duty. In my sixty-fourth year, and wholly unacquainted with drill or tactics, my military prospects were anything but flattering; yet, I thought I knew how to manage men, and flattered myself that I could soon, for all practical purposes, overcome existing difficulties. Besides, I well knew the bitter feeling of hostility against the South cherished by Northern politicians, who would greedily seize upon the opportunity to gratify their hatred and satiate their revenge; and in view of the great inequality of the contest, I felt it to be my duty to set a spirited example and to contribute all in my power to the success of a cause which was dear to my heart, and which I believe, and ever shall believe, to be right. With this explanation, by way of reply, to the many friends who kindly remonstrated against my entering the army, I proceed to carry out the purpose of this article. Having made my personal arrangements, and having fortunately secured unexceptionable field officers, to wit: Lieutenant-Colonel Murray, a graduate, I believe, of West Point, and certainly a splendid drill-master and tactician, and Major Smith, my nephew, a veteran soldier, just about three weeks from the Federal army, having resigned therefrom to enter the Confederate service, I felt that my first great difficulty had been overcome.

And so, with three companies only assigned to my regiment, I found myself regularly enrolled in the Confederate army, only three days before the first battle of Manassas. On the first day, and late in the afternoon, I was ordered to the Sudley mills, where I expected to meet Colonel Hunton, then on the march from Leesburg. On our arrival, finding Colonel Hunton had not arrived, we camped in and around the Sudley church, my quarters being in a house not far from it. It was fully 11 P. M. before my men got their supper and fixed themselves for the night, and I had not been asleep more than an hour when, about 1 A. M., I received an order to get my men under arms and move with them to a point on Bull Run near the Lewis house, and to report to General Cocke; in other words, to return. I promptly gave the necessary orders. On reaching the camp I found the command in a state of confused preparation, and when it was reported as ready to move I walked over the ground and found many of its conveniences about to be abandoned. I at once sternly rebuked the men for their negligence, told them that order and carewere two of the duties of the soldier, and that I would not tolerate the loss of a tin cup if an act of carelessness. The ground being gleaned, the order to march was given, and we reached our position about sunrise. The next day we camped near the Lewis house. As it was understood we were to fight the day thereafter, and my men had but little rest the previous night, I determined they should have a good night’s rest the coming night. Accordingly when the sentinels were posted, they were charged not, under any circumstances, to permit the men to be disturbed. On the morning of the 21st July, 1861, I was ordered to take position on Bull Run, north of the Lewis house; and Captain Harris, an engineer officer of much note, was ordered to accompany and post us. We were placed on the edge of the run, under a bluff, on which a section of Rogers’s battery, under Lieutenant Heaton, was posted, and temporarily attached to my command.

Riding up on the bluff, I found but one gun. Surprised, I asked the Lieutenant where his other was. Pointing to it, near the Lewis house, he said, “there it is, and put there by the order of General Cocke.” Putting spurs to my horse, as I passed the gun, I gave orders for every man to be in the saddle, ready to move on my signal to do so, on my return. Dashing up to General Cocke, who was some two hundred yards west–after saluting him–I said, General, permit me to suggest that the gun I have just passed would be more likely to render effective service along side of its mate on yonder bluff than where it is now; and I beg you will permit me to so order. Receiving his consent, and touching my hat in salute, I moved rapidly in return, giving the expected signal, so that the gun with all its equipments was promptly in motion, and moved with such celerity, that it reached the bluff before I could, with all my dash, overtake it. It was a happy reunion, and under the exhilarating circumstances, gave assurance of a splendid fight, should the exigency require it; but a few shots from our guns and from Latham’s battery near by, on my right, induced the enemy, who had shown himself in the pines on the northern side of the run, to abandon his purpose which, obviously, was to reach, in this direction, our line of inter-communication with Manassas. As far as I can learn, the enemy’s force referred to was under the command of General Schenck. He was easily checked. About this time the peals of musketry, apparently about the Robinson and the Henry houses, was incessant and fascinating. While thus absorbed, and sitting on my horse, surrounded with Colonel Murray, Captain Harris and others on the bluff, near Heaton’s guns, Lieutenant-Colonel Murray called to me, “Look there, Colonel.” Following the direction of his finger, I saw two regiments in line of battle, moving at quick time, apparently from the field of battle. I know not how to account for my conduct, but giving way to the impulse of the moment, I put spurs to my horse, threw myself in their front and brought them to a halt, simply remarking, “Gentlemen, I must inform you that you have taken the wrong direction.”

Returning quickly to my position, for the heavy firing still continued, I had barely done so, when Colonel Murray cried out: “Look, Colonel, those fellows are moving.” Again stopping them I again returned to the bluff, when Colonel Murray for the third time exclaimed. “Colonel, those fellows are off again.” Much exasperated, I put spurs to my horse, soon overtaking them, and galloped around their left flank, drew up in their front, and again brought them to a halt on the road leading from the Lewis house to Ball’s or Lewis’ ford, I am uncertain which. As I did so, I heard some one in the ranks cry out, “who the h-Il is that?” To which I replied in a loud voice, “I am Colonel Smith, of the Forty-ninth Virginia Volunteers.” To which Colonel Fisher promptly replied, “and I am Colonel Fisher, of the Sixth North Carolina, all I ask is to be put in position,” and Colonel Falkner then said, “and I am Colonel Falkner of the Second Mississippi,” but from the distance he was from me, I heard him imperfectly, yet understood him to say that he was ready to obey orders. Then, I said, “dress your men on the line of this road, bring them to a rest, and wait for orders.” These regiments and the gun I had had moved to the bluff, were, it is highly probable, the foundation of General Schenck’s estimate of our force. He had them in full view from the position he occupied in the pines.

Returning rapidly to my position, I there found a general order, that every man not in the face of the enemy should report to General Beauregard near the Robinson house. Promptly putting my little command in motion, I soon crossed a small ravine draining into Bull Run. Ascending the opposite hill, Lieutenant-Colonel Tibbs of Colonel Hunton’s Eighth Virginia Regiment hallooed to me: “I am posted here (near the head of the ravine) with three companies; for God’s sake, let Colonel Hunton, who is at the Lewis house with the balance of the regiment, know your orders.” The hill on which the Lewis house stood is of very considerable size and the northern slope of it drains into the ravine. The whole of this slope, up to the new ground, near the north of the Lewis house, was then covered with an oaken growth of original forest; but it is now, I find upon recent examination (1882), under a fine crop of corn, the house having been burnt by the enemy in the spring of 1862, when he first took possession of it. Ordering Lieutenant-Colonel Murray to take charge of my command, and to move on without delay, saying I would soon rejoin him, I put spurs to my horse, dashed through the woods and nearing Colonel Hunton’s command, hallooed to him that General Beauregard’s order was, “that every man not in the face of the enemy should move into action.” To which he promptly replied: “I am posted here by General Cocke, with express orders not to leave my position without his command.” I rejoined, “You know whom to obey.” Returning rapidly to my command, I had scarcely reached it when a squad of fifteen or twenty men crossed my line of march, in the direction of the Lewis house. I halted them for information, when at the instant a heavy outburst of musketry breaking upon the ear, they resumed their previous rapid movement, like frightened deer, amid the derisive laughter of my whole command. Resuming our march, we had proceeded but a short distance when we encountered a South Carolina company moving in the direction of the stone bridge. Ascertaining it was lost, I said: “Fall in upon my left and I’ll conduct you to the post of duty.” This was promptly done. Moving but a short distance I encountered two Mississippi companies under precisely similar circumstances, to whom I also said: “Fall in on my left and I’ll conduct you where men can show their mettle;” which was done with alacrity. So that when I reported to General Beauregard, some hundred yards from the Robinson house, I had three companies of my own regiment, one South Carolina company and two Mississippi companies–not exceeding in all 450 men. Touching my hat, I said: “General Beauregard, I report for orders.” Pausing for a moment, he replied: “Colonel, what can you do?” This was a hard question to one wholly unacquainted with military duty. I, however, promptly answered, “Put us in position and I’ll show you.” I then added: “General, Colonel Hunton, with a fine regiment, is posted at or near the Lewis house and is burning with impatience to join in the battle,” Promptly acting on the information, he ordered one of his staff to proceed forthwith to Colonel Hunton, and to order him to report with his regiment with all possible dispatch.

At this time General Beauregard was forming his new line of battle, his right in the open field, midway between the Robinson and Henry houses, and in a line parallel therewith, but considerably to the east thereof and running south in a line that soon gave them the shelter of the pines for a quarter of a mile or so. The enemy was heavily flanking our left, and our reinforcements, as they came up, were ordered to form on the left of our line, and so, by extending it, counteract the movement of the enemy. Accordingly, I was ordered to form on the left, by passing the rear of our line until I reached my position. The Washington Artillery, as I was at the time informed, was firing upon the enemy and across my line of march; it was ordered to suspend its fire until I had crossed its range, when General Beauregard placed himself by my side, at the head of my column, and the order to march was given. On reaching our new line of battle, under what influence I know not, I announced General Beauregard to the men, to which they promptly responded with three rousing cheers, and so, as we marched along the rear of our line, I, every fifty or seventy-five steps, announced General Beauregard, to which a similar response was invariably and promptly given. On reaching the left of the line I found it in much disorder. Here, General Beauregard informed me that he must leave me, and repeating his orders left me. He had not gone more than forty steps when a cry from the disordered crowd referred to, demanded to see General Beauregard. Calling to the General to return, as the men say they must see you, I announced him to them, to which, responding with three hearty cheers, they promptly formed in line. This I understood was Jackson’s left, on which, as ordered, I formed my men; the three companies which had joined me, as heretofore stated, having been detached, as far as I can learn, by General Johnston and placed under the command of Colonel F. J. Thomas of his staff, who was unfortunately killed. I have recently visited the spot where he fell. From the time I reported to General Beauregard to the time I took my position on the left, we were at no time under fire, certainly none that annoyed us. It may not be amiss here to add that the half dozen cheers to which I have referred, and with which General Beauregard was honored, had, I have reason to believe, a very happy effect on our troops and a very depressing one on those of the enemy, being regarded by him as the indications of frequent and heavy reinforcements from General Johnston’s army. At least the letters of the Federal correspondents, which were spread all over the country and were, as I have heard, republished in Europe, so stated; while I know that the entire force represented by those cheers did not exceed 450 men, one-half of whom belonged to the Army of the Potomac.

Having taken my position, I found myself quite well sheltered from view by a small growth of old-field pines, as was Jackson’s left, with some small gullies now plainly to be seen in the rear of my left. Looking around me, I found myself on the eastern slope of the ridge or plateau, opposite to, with my left a little to the south of the Henry house, and directly in front of Rickett’s battery, which had just taken position. I am quite sure the enemy had not yet discovered us. I admonished my men to be cool and deliberate, and not to fire without an object under sight, and gave the word to fire. This fire, with Jackson’s, which was no doubt simultaneous, was so destructive that it utterly disabled the Rickett’s battery for all efficient purposes. I am not sure, but I am under the impression, that it never fired upon us more than once, if that. Three times was it taken and retaken before the enemy gave up the struggle to retain it. I had a number of men wounded at the guns–two of them, James and John Wells, brothers, wounded on one of the guns; and James, although shot through the lungs, is still living and able to do a day’s work as a post and rail fencer. Indeed, such was the impetuosity of one of these charges–the first, I think–that two of my men, Kirkpatrick and Suddoth, penetrated so deeply into the enemy’s lines that they could not fall back with their comrades when repulsed, but remained in the confused masses of the enemy, unnoticed I presume, until another charge, which almost immediately followed, extricated them.

Shortly after this bloody strife began, looking to my left, I saw a heavy mass of the enemy advancing from the direction of the Sudley and Manassas road, on a parallel with the equi-distant between my line of battle and the Henry house. For a moment I thought I must be doubled up, but had resolved to stand my ground, cost what it might, when to my great relief, the Sixth North Carolina, Colonel Fisher, and the Second Mississippi, Colonel Falkner, came up from the direction of the Lewis house, and formed in much confusion on my left, relieving me, however, in a great degree from my perilous position. I had three times stopped these regiments as previously described, and now they came up so opportunely to my relief that it almost seemed to be an act of Providence. By the time they had formed in tolerable order, the enemy nearly covered their front without seeming to have discovered them. Being on my extreme left, one of the North Carolinians recognizing me, called to me from his ranks: “That is the enemy; shall we fire?” I replied: “Don’t be in a hurry; don’t fire upon friends.” At the instant a puff of wind spread out the Federal flag, and I added, “There is no mistake; give them h–l, boys!” thus giving orders most strangely to a regiment which was not under my command, to begin the fight. The enemy was soon scattered and disappeared from the field. I have not been able, after much investigation, to discover his name or number. Lieutenant-Colonel Lightfoot, of the Sixth North Carolina, claims that his regiment united with us in one of the charges on the enemy’s guns and to have suffered severely. It was on this charge, I presume, that Colonel Fisher was killed, as he fell some one hundred and fifty yards in advance of his original line of battle. When driven back from the enemy’s guns neither the North Carolinians nor Mississippians remained to renew the charge, but incontinently left the field.

I was thus again on the left of our line of battle, with no enemy in sight. On my flank I had suffered severely. Major Smith had been shot down in my lines–his leg broken just below the hip; Captain Ward had been mortally wounded in the charge, and died in a few hours; the enemy had charged into my lines and been repulsed, several prisoners being captured, among them a Captain Butterworth, I think, of the First Michigan, who was shot down in my lines, badly wounded, and a private of the same regiment, I presume, who held Major Smith in his arms until the fight was over, and he was relieved by the removal of Major Smith to Dogan’s, near by, where he was confined for many weeks. It was about this time that Colonel Hunton, with his gallant regiment, appeared upon the field, charged and cleared out the scattered fragments of the enemy about and near the Henry house, and thus shared in and materially contributed to the final result. Nor must I omit to state here, that he was indebted to me for the opportunity he so handsomely improved, to share in the glories of the day.

The battle being now substantially at an end, I made, for the time being, such arrangements for my killed and wounded as the occasion required. Attracted by an artillery firing, apparently some two hundred yards southwest from my position, I concluded to see what it meant. On my way I encountered an officer lying dead. I was told it was colonel Fisher, of the Sixth North Carolina, who was killed in a charge as I have previously described. Passing on I reached the battery of Captain Delaware Kemper, and found him firing upon the enemy retreating on the ridge running northerly from the Chinn by the Dogan house. He was on the eastern side of the Sudley road, and some half mile from his target. “With that beautiful precision inaugurated at Vienna,” he soon drove the enemy for shelter, to the western slope of the ridge, while on receiving his fire, the enemy’ sharp-shooters would run to the crest of the ridge and empty their long range guns, in reply. No injury was done to Captain Kemper or his command, of which I am aware, during the half hour, or less, that I remained with it–the enemy’s shot occasionally fell about us with sufficient force to wound or kill. Leaving Captain Kemper, I rode to a squad of officers some one hundred and fifty yards to the right, composed of Preston, Kershaw, and others, also overlooking the retreating foe, without the power to prevent it. It moved me deeply, almost to tears. Although now getting late, I concluded to ride down the turnpike, and went as far as Cub Run bridge. Here I found the bridge not passable, from an immense jam of the enemy’s wagons and other vehicles, and the stream not fordable. Returning to my position in the fight, to see if my orders had been executed, I found everything done to my satisfaction, except that Captain Butterworth, to whom I have before referred, had not been removed. No one was with him but my servant Pin. To my enquiry why he, the Captain, had not been cared for, he replied that all the wagons which had passed were filled with our own wounded, but that he hoped soon to get him in. It was now nearly 9 P. M., with every prospect of a bad night, and I directed my servant to take from under my saddle four or five blankets, which my dear wife had provided for my own exigencies, and to make him as comfortable as possible. I also charged my servant to lay my commands on the first wagon which passed to take him in and carry him to the hospital, while he must remain by him until this was done. The officer was grateful for my arrangements for his comfort; inquired of my servant who I was, and handing him his pistols, a beautiful pair, directed him to hand them to me, with an earnest request that I would accept them as the evidence of his gratitude for the kind and generous care I had taken of him: at least, so said my servant when he delivered the pistols to me next morning, and added, that I had scarcely left them the night before, when a wagon passing by, was stopped, the officer taken in and duly delivered to the hospital. Subsequently inquiring about him, I was informed that he had been moved to Orange Courthouse, where he died.

It was now fully 9 P. M. I had been in the saddle from a little after sunrise. I was much fatigued from the constant exertions and anxieties of the day, besides I had slept but little the two preceding nights–the night promised to be a bad one; and so, I concluded to seek the hospitable roof of my friend Dogan, where my Major was already quartered. The road to Dogan’s passed over the bloody plateau, on which a large portion of the fighting had been done, and near the Henry house. The field through which I rode was well nigh covered with the Federal dead and wounded; and as my horse’s step announced the passing of a human being, the wail of suffering humanity, and deep cry for water, water, which burst upon the otherwise profound stillness of the hour, was absolutely agonizing. I understood the appeal, but without the power to give relief, was compelled to leave them to those who were already actively engaged in collecting the wounded and carrying them where their wants could be attended to. On reaching Dogan’s, I saw by the imperfect light of a somewhat clouded moon, that his porch, yard and stable adjoining the yard, seemed full of the enemy’s wounded. Taking my seat in the porch, one of the wounded men, I think from New Hampshire, asked me about my position in the fight. Apparently satisfied with my reply, he said, “I thought I recognized you when you rode up, and particularly your horse. Three times did I fire upon you during the fight,” and added with the most perfect simplicity, “Of course, what I did was in the way of business and not in malice.” My horse was shot in the neck, and I suppose I owe to this man the injury he received. However, I soon retired, and notwithstanding the exciting and important incidents of the day, I slept soundly and awoke with the morn, refreshed and buoyant, resolved to perform my whole duty in the grand drama, in which I had undertaken to perform a part.

I should not, perhaps, omit an incident of the day, as it illustrates an important duty of the officer. On the morning of the fight (I was not provided with a commissary) a man, whom I did not know, reported to me as my acting commissary, stating that supplies for my command had been turned over to him, and he wished to know if he should destroy them, as he supposed we would soon engage the enemy. Amazed! I replied, “Destroy them! No. Take good care of them and issue them as the law and your duty requires. I am sorry thus to learn that you already assume that we are to be whipped.” Meeting him the next morning, I said, “Well, sir, what have you done with your supplies?” He replied, “Obeyed your orders, and am now issuing them to your men.” I then said, “Let this incident be a lesson to you, never to destroy anything committed to your care, without it would materially injure our enemies or materially benefit ourselves.”

I might here close this article contented with the very handsome notice taken of my command, in the official reports of the Generals commanding. But Dr. Dabney’s Life of Jackson, and the official reports of the day, recently published by the Federal Government, and until then unseen by me, impose upon me the duty of asserting for my command, even at this late day, its just claim upon the love and admiration of its country.

It must not be forgotten that my command had been organized only three days, and was wholly unused to arms, and was now on its third day called upon to perform the duties of the veteran soldier; it passed along the rear of Bee’s and Jackson’s brigades, and it may be Gautrell’s regiment, to form on the left–a position of peculiar danger, as the great effort of the enemy was to turn our left; that we took about 2 to 21/2 P. M., our position, and in musket range of the Rickett’s and Griffin batteries; that we had scarcely opened our fire when a heavy column of the enemy appeared, from the direction of the Sudley and Manassas road, moving on a line about equi-distant between my left and the Henry house, obviously to flank me, which was happily anticipated by the opportune arrival of the Sixth North Carolina; that my command three times, the North Carolinians once co-operating, charged the Ricketts battery before the enemy gave up the struggle to hold it; that my flank was again left, by the withdrawal of the Mississippians and North Carolinians, exposed; that my loss was slightly in excess of that of Jackson’s brigade, which only came under fire in the afternoon, at the same time that I did, slightly more than that of Hampton’s Legion, and slightly less than that of Bee’s brigade, as 40 to 43; while in the afternoon’s fight, during which we were engaged together, my command suffered a much larger percentage of loss than any other in the field, except Jackson’s, and slightly in excess of that. And I now mention these illustrious commands for the special purpose of showing that, however high the standard they have established for the qualities of the true soldier, my command may justly and proudly claim to have come fully up to it–par nobile fatrum.

In view, then, of these facts, it can but excite surprise that Dr. Dabney should, in his life of Jackson, have claimed for his brigade the whole merit of capturing Ricketts battery, &c. It is the more remarkable, as General Jackson did not do it. In his official report, speaking of a charge he had ordered, he says, “He pierced the enemy’s centre, and by co-operating with the victorious Fifth and other forces [the italics are mine], soon placed the field essentially in our possession.” Again, he says: “The brigade, in connection with other troops, took seven field pieces, in addition to the battery captured by Colonel Cummings.” General Jackson also says: “The enemy, although repulsed in the centre, succeeded in turning our flanks.” If the General meant his left flank, he was under a mistake. I was on his left, and know that no effort was made to turn mine but once, and that failed, as heretofore stated. I presume General Jackson does not refer to the movements of the enemy west of the Manassas road, as they were promptly arrested and the enemy was driven back.

I omitted to mention in the proper place that Lieutenant-Colonel Murray in one of our charges upon the enemy’s guns, finding that we could not hold them, spiked one of them with a nail he had in his pocket.

My next article will be a narative of the personal incidents of the battle of Seven Pines, the bloodiest fight, as far as my command was concerned, in which I ever was engaged.

RELATIVE LOSSES.

Colonel Evans began the fight with the subjoined forces and lost during the day as follows:

evans

Force estimated at 1,300 men.

The above command was relieved by General Bee’s Brigade consisting of

bee

2,800 muskets.

Colonel Hampton’s Legion fought through the day. Had 27 officers and 600 men, and lost 19 killed and 100 wounded.

General Jackson’s Brigade consisted of five regiments, as follows:

jackson

Dr. Dabney estimates 2,700.

Forty-ninth Virginia Volunteers, Col. Smith, 210 men. Officers killed, 1; men killed, 9; officers wounded, 1; men wounded, 29–aggregate 40.

William Smith.





Two Whitings at Bull Run

8 10 2008

I’m a slave to sounds.  If I hear something and it provokes that Jeez, that sounds familiar sensation in my brain, I have to figure out why it sounds familiar.  Then I have to reconcile my findings – OK, it sounded familiar because A is sonically associated with Z, so what’s the practical connection, if any, between A and Z? Such is the case with the author of report #55, Col. Henry Whiting of the 2nd VT infantry regiment.  And no, I don’t know what’s up with that report – it reads like a fragment, it’s not  dated, and it doesn’t indicate to whom it was sent.

This itch was easy to scratch – Col. Henry Whiting’s name sounds familiar because Confederate Army of the Shenandoah commander and ranking rebel at Bull Run General Joseph E. Johnston’s staff engineer was Major William Henry Chase Whiting.  The Confederate Whiting was the guy who actually transcribed Beauregard’s whacked out orders on the evening of July 20-21, Bory’s man Colonel Thomas Jordan, who would normally handle such things, having been laid out with the help of a prescribed narcotic.

The Yankee Whiting (left, from Hunt’s New England volume of Colonels in Blue, click the thumb for a larger image) was born in 1818 in Bath, NY, and graduated from West Point in 1840.  It doesn’t look like he ever lived in Vermont, and according to Cullum was in fact regent of the University of Michigan when the war broke out, so how he wound up colonel of a Vermont regiment is a little murky to me.  A Wikipedia entry says that the command was initially offered to Vermont native Israel B. Richardson, who turned it down and recommended his classmate Whiting.  Although Whiting in fact graduated West Point one year ahead of Richardson, the two did enter the academy in the same year, and Richardson also lived in Michigan, so this sounds plausible.  He rose to brigade command but resigned over his failure to gain rank in early 1863.  He died in Ypsilanti, MI in 1887.

The rebel Whiting (left, from this site) was born in 1824 in Biloxi, MS.  But he went to high school in Boston, MA, so maybe there is a New England family connection there.  He graduated from West Point in 1845 (after first graduating first in his class from Georgetown University in DC in 1840), having established the highest academic marks ever attained by a cadet, a record that would stand until broken by Douglas MacArthur in 1903.  He died a prisoner in New York harbor in 1865, from wounds received at Ft. Fisher in North Carolina.  Fort Fisher was named for the colonel of the 6th NC, who was killed at Bull Run.

If anyone out there can connect these Whitings, please let me know.








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