#1 – Brig. Gen. Irvin McDowell

7 02 2009

Reports of Brig. Gen. Irvin McDowell, Commanding U. S. Forces, of Operations from July 16 to 20, 1861, with Orders for Movements and a Return of Troops

O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 2 [S# 2] — CHAPTER IX, pp 303-308

GENERAL ORDERS, No. 17

HDQRS. DEP’T N. E. VIRGINIA,

Arlington, July 16, 1861

The troops will march to the front this afternoon in the following order:

1. The brigades of the First Division (Tyler’s) will leave their camps in light marching order, and go as far as Vienna, the Fourth Brigade (Richardson’s) taking the road across the Chain Bridge, and by way of Langley’s, Lewinsville, and Old Court-House; the others by the Georgetown turnpike and Leesburg Stone roads. The order of march of the several brigades to be arranged by the division commander.

2. The Second Division (Hunter’s) will leave their camps in light marching order, and go on the Columbia turnpike as far as the Little River turnpike, but not to cross it, the Second Brigade (Burnside’s) leading.

3. The Third Division (Heintzelman’s) will leave their camps in light marching order, and go on the old Fairfax Court-House road, south of the Orange and Alexandria Railroad, as far as the Accotink, or the Pohick, if he finds it convenient; the brigades to march in the order the division commander may direct.

4. The Fifth Division (Miles’)will proceed in light marching order, by the Little River turnpike as far as Annandale, or to the point where the road leads to the left to go into the old Braddock road (so called) which runs between the Little River turnpike and the Orange and Alexandria Railroad.

5. The brigades of the several divisions will be put in march in time to reach their respective destinations by dark.

6. The reserve will be held in readiness to march at the shortest notice, and will, on and after the 17th instant, keep constantly a supply of cooked rations on hand for two days.

7. Brigadier-General Runyon, commanding the reserve, will have command of all the troops not on the march to the front, including those in the fortifications and camps. He will, to-morrow, send two regiments up the Orange and Alexandria Railroad to aid the railroad managers in rebuilding it in the shortest possible time, the commanding officers to conform to the plans of the principal managers.

8. Brigadier-General Runyon will guard the Loudoun and Hampshire Railroad as far as the present camps of the Ohio Volunteers, and the Orange and Alexandria Railroad as far as it is or may be repaired.

9. The regiment now in Fort Corcoran, the Twenty-eighth New York; the Twenty-fifth New York, at Roach’s; the Twenty-first New York, at Fort Runyon, and the Seventeenth New York, at Fort Ellsworth, will not be removed from their present stations except in an emergency.

II. On the morning of the 17th the troops will resume their march after daylight in time to reach Fairfax Court-House (the Third Division, Sangster’s) by 8 o’clock a.m.

1. Brigadier-General Tyler will direct his march so as to intercept the enemy’s communication between Fairfax Court-House and Centreville, moving to the right or the left of Germantown, as he may find most practicable. On reaching the Centreville turnpike he will direct the march of his leading brigade either upon Centreville or Fairfax Court-House, as the indication of the enemy may require. The Second Brigade will move on the road in the direction not taken by the First. The rear brigades will be disposed of by the division commander as circumstances may require. Should he deem it best, a brigade may be sent on Fairfax Court-House direct from Flint Hill.

2. The Second Division (Hunter’s) will (after the road shall be cleared of the Fifth Division) move on the direct road to Fairfax Court-House by the Little River turnpike.

3. The Fifth Division (Miles’) will turn off from the Little River turnpike and gain the old Braddock road, which it will follow to its intersection with the road from Fairfax Court-House to Fairfax Station, where it will turn to the right and move on the Court-House.

4. The Third Division (Heintzelman’s) will move by the best and shortest of the roads to the south of the railroad till he reaches the railroad at Sangster’s. He will, according to the indications he may find, turn his Second and Third Brigades to the right, to go to Fairfax Station or to the front to support the First Brigade. He may find it necessary to guard the road coming up from Wolf Run Shoals and the one leading to Yates’ Ford.

III. The enemy is represented to be in force at Centreville, Germantown, Fairfax Court-House, and Fairfax Station, and at intermediate places, and on the road towards Wolf Run Shoals. He has been obstructing, as far as possible, the roads leading to Fairfax Court-House, and is believed on several of these to have thrown up breastworks and planted cannon. It is therefore probable the movements above ordered may lead to an engagement, and everything must be done with a view to this result.

The three following things will not be pardonable in any commander: 1st. To come upon a battery or breastwork without a knowledge of its position. 2d. To be surprised. 3d. To fall back. Advance guards, with vedettes well in front and flankers and vigilance, will guard against the first and second.

The columns are so strong and well provided that, though they may be for a time checked, they should not be overthrown. Each is provided with intrenching tools and axes, and if the country affords facilities for obstructing our march, it also gives equal facilities for sustaining ourselves in any position we obtain. A brigade should sustain itself as long as possible before asking for help from another. It can hardly be necessary to attack a battery in front; in most cases it may be turned. Commanders are enjoined to so conduct their march as to keep their men well closed up. This is of great importance. No man will be allowed to get into an ambulance or baggage wagon without written authority from the regimental surgeon or his superior. Guards will be placed over the ambulances and wagons to enforce this order.

Troops will march without their tents, and wagons will only be taken with them for ammunition, the medical department, and for intrenching tools. A small baggage train for each brigade, to take the camp-kettles, mess-pans, and mess kits, and the smallest allowance of personal baggage of the officers and men, will follow the divisions the day after they march. This train will consist of from twelve to fifteen wagons.

A subsistence train will follow at a day’s interval the First Division from Fort Corcoran and Vienna. A second subsistence train will follow the Second Division at a day’s interval. A wagon for forage will be taken with each battery and squadron. A herd of beef cattle will be sent with each subsistence train. There is on many of our regiments nothing to distinguish them from those of the enemy, and great care must be taken to avoid firing into each other.

The national color must be kept continually displayed, and, if possible, small national colors should be placed on the cannon of the batteries.

Division commanders will see that the axmen and engineers at the head of the columns (and men of the ordnance guard) are well provided and in condition to work efficiently. When there are no ax-slings, the axes will be carried and the muskets will be slung.

Department headquarters will be with the Second Division, on the Little River turnpike. Division commanders will communicate with them by every opportunity.

By command of Brigadier-General McDowell:

JAMES B. FRY,

A. A. G.

—–

FAIRFAX COURT-HOUSE, July 17, 1861

Lieut. Col. E. D. TOWNSEND,

Asst. Adjt. Gen., Hdqrs. of the Army, Washington:

We have occupied Fairfax Court-House, and driven the enemy towards Centreville and Manassas. We have an officer and three men slightly wounded. The enemy’s flight was so precipitate that he left in our hands a quantity of flour, fresh beef, intrenching tools, hospital furniture, and baggage. I endeavored to pursue beyond Centreville, but the men were too much exhausted to do so.

Most respectfully, your obedient servant,

IRVIN McDOWELL,

Brigadier-General

—–

HDQRS. DEPARTMENT NORTHEASTERN VIRGINIA,

Fairfax Court-House, July 18, 1861

SIR: The First Division, under General Tyler, is between Germantown and Centreville. The Second (Hunter’s) is at this place, just about to move forward to Centreville. The Fifth (Miles’) is at the crossing of the old Braddock road with the road from this to Fairfax Station, and is ordered forward to Centreville by the old Braddock road; Barry’s battery has joined it. One of Heintzelman’s brigades (Willcox’s) is at Fairfax Station. Heintzelman and his other brigade are below the station, but he has not reported to me since we have been here, and I have not been able to communicate with him. I think they are at Sangster’s Station. The four men wounded yesterday belong to Miles’ Division, who had some slight skirmishes in reaching his position. Each column encountered about the same obstructions–trees felled across the road–but the axmen cleared them out in a few moments.

There were extra-sized breastworks thrown up at this place, and some of them with embrasures revetted with sand bags. Extensive breastworks were also thrown up at the Fairfax Railroad Station and the road leading to Sangster’s.

A great deal of work had been done by them, and the number and size of their camps show they have been here in great force. Their retreat, therefore, must have a damaging effect upon them. They left in such haste that they did not draw in their pickets, who came into one of our camps, thinking, as it occupied the same place, it was their own. The obstructions to the railroad in the vicinity of the station, including the deep cut filled in with earth and trees, can be cleared out in a few hours. The telegraph poles are up, with the wires on them. I look to having communication by rail and telegraph in a very short time. Much flour, some arms, forage, tents, camp equipage were abandoned by them. I am distressed to have to report excesses by our troops. The excitement of the men found vent in burning and pillaging, which, however soon checked, distressed us all greatly. I go on to Centreville in a few moments.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

IRVIN McDOWELL,

Brigadier-General, Commanding

Lieut. Col. E. D. TOWNSEND,

Assistant Adjutant-General, Headquarters Army

—–

HDQRS. DEPARTMENT NORTHEASTERN VIRGINIA,

Centreville, July 19, 1861–12.30 a.m.

 Brigadier-General TYLER,

Commanding First Division:

There seems to be a misunderstanding on your part of the order issued for a brigade of your division to be posted in observation on the road leading to the place where your command was engaged yesterday (July 18). It was intended that the movement should have been made long before this.

The train of subsistence came up long ago. I have given no order or instruction of a change in this matter.

I thought that the brigade was posted as desired until just now, when Major Brown, who is just returned from  your headquarters, informs me that no action under these orders has been taken.

Give orders that will cause the brigade to be there where the previous instructions indicate by dawn this morning.

Very respectfully, &c.,

 [IRVIN McDOWELL]

—–

HDQRS. DEPARTMENT NORTHEASTERN VIRGINIA,

Centreville, Va., July 19, 1861

COLONEL: Learning yesterday there were but few troops of the enemy in this place,. I directed Brigadier-General Tyler to take it, and keep up the impression we were to advance in this direction. I then went to Colonel Heintzelman’s division, to make arrangements to turn the enemy’s right and intercept his communications with the South. I found on examining the country that the roads were too narrow and crooked for so large a body to move over, and the distance around too great to admit of it with any safety. We would become entangled, and our carriages would block up the way. I was therefore forced to abandon the plan of turning the enemy’s right, and to adopt my present one of going around his left, where the country is more open and the roads are broad and good. I gave orders, therefore, for the forces to move forward on the Warrenton turnpike so soon as the supply trains came up and the men could get and prepare their rations.

Whilst with Colonel Heintzelman’s division I learned that the advance had become engaged with the enemy. I therefore directed the movement, which in the first instance was to take place after the arrival and distribution of subsistence, to take place at once. By the time I got over from Colonel Heintzelman’s column the firing on both sides had ceased. I have directed General Tyler to make a report of the affair, which I will forward when it comes to hand. I learn from the medical director that there were three killed, twenty-one slightly and eight severely wounded; total, thirty-two. Of the severely wounded three have since died.

A negro, belonging, he says, to Colonel Fontaine, of Virginia, came in last night from the other side, saying his master had been killed at the first cannonading. He reports great havoc among the enemy, but his imagination is evidently too active to trust to his statements. All the divisions are now here or in the immediate vicinity. I have ordered General Runyon to station the larger part of the reserve on the railroad to guard it.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your most obedient servant,

 IRVIN McDOWELL,

Brigadier-General, Commanding

Lieut. Col. E. D. TOWNSEND,

Asst. Adjt. Gen., Hdqrs. of the Army, Washington, D. C.

—–

[Inclosure]

GENERAL ORDERS, No. 19

HDQRS. DEP’T. N. E. VIRGINIA,

Fairfax Court-House, July 18, 1861

The troops will move to-day as follows: Heintzelman’s division will go to Little Rocky Run, on the road hence to Centreville. Miles’ division will go to Centreville. Tyler’s division will go beyond Centreville, on the road to Gainesville. Hunter’s division will go as near Centreville as he can get water.

The above movements will be made after supplies shall have been received. If the supply trains do not come up in time, division commanders will procure beef from the inhabitants, paying for it at the market rates by orders on the Chief of the Commissary Department at general headquarters.

The troops should be at the places indicated to-night, and they must have two days’ cooked rations in their haversacks.

By command of General McDowell:

JAMES B. FRY,

Assistant Adjutant-General

—–

HDQRS, DEPARTMENT NORTHEASTERN VIRGINIA,

Centreville, July 20, 1861

COLONEL: Yesterday was occupied mainly by the engineers in reconnoitering the defenses of the enemy on Bull Run, at and above the crossing of the Warrenton turnpike. Bull Run, though not a wide stream, is only to be crossed at certain places, owing to its precipitous, rocky banks. The Warrenton road crosses it over a stone bridge, which is mined and defended by a battery placed behind an unusually heavy abatis, whilst the bank on our side is clear. The ford above is also protected.

The object of the reconnaissance was to find a point which might be bridged or forded, so as to turn these places where the enemy are prepared for us. Thus far these efforts, five of them, have not been successful, the enemy being in such force on this side of the run as to make it impossible to ascertain. I wished yesterday to make the reconnaissance in force, but deferred to the better judgment of others–to try and get it by observation and stealth. To-day I propose to drive in the enemy and get the information required. If it were needed, the experience of the 18th instant shows we cannot, with this description of force, attempt to carry batteries such as these now before us.

I shall go forward early to-day and force the enemy beyond Bull Run, so as to examine it more closely than we have been able to do. I am told they obtain their supply of water from this stream. If so, and we get possession of the right bank, we shall force them to leave the now strong position of Manassas.

I am somewhat embarrassed by the inability of the troops to take care enough of their rations to make them last the time they should, and by the expiration of the term of service of many of them. The Fourth Pennsylvania goes out to-day, and others succeed rapidly. I have made a request to the regiment to remain a few days longer, but do not hope for much success. In a few days I shall lose many thousands of the best of this force. Will it suit the views of the General and the Government that they shall be replaced by long-service regiments? The numbers may be replaced, but it will not be an equal force.

I learn from a person who represents himself as having just come from General Patterson that he has fallen back.

There are rumors that Johnston has joined Beauregard. Yesterday some volunteers burned a house on Centreville Hill, which must have been seen by all the troops at Manassas; but the most thorough investigations did not lead to any discovery of the authors of this additional outrage.

I remain, colonel, most respectfully, your obedient servant,

IRVIN McDOWELL

Brigadier-General

Lieut. Col. E. D. TOWNSEND,

Assistant Adjutant-General, Headquarters of the Army

Table – USA Troop Strengths July 16-17, 1861





Why McDowell?

29 11 2007

 

winfield-scott.jpg  salmon-chase-2.jpg  irvin-mcdowell.jpg

Some thoughts have been bouncing around in my noggin regarding Winfield Scott (above, left) and his cranky behavior in the days leading up to Bull Run.  It seems to me he was giving some inconsistent direction to his commanders in the field, Patterson and McDowell.  I know the popular notion is that Patterson alone was to blame, but Scott alternated in his ideas of which man’s force was going to be the focus of the action in Virginia, and he failed to make sure everyone was on the same page.  And McDowell complained that he wasn’t receiving much cooperation from Washington, particularly when it came to getting wagons for his army.

I think there were at least two factors affecting Scott at this time.  First, he was suffering from chronic gout.  I get gout attacks about once a year, and as anyone who has experienced them can tell you they make you miserable with a capital M.  Every change in position is accompanied by pain, literally from your toes to the top of your head.  You can’t imagine that your condition will ever improve.  Your judgement is clouded, to say the least, and friends and family learn pretty quickly to keep their distance.  I can’t imagine how Scott dealt with the pain over an extended period.  I have to think that gout alone would have impaired his decision making.

Also, as I read more and more about the antebellum army I find that the most important thing to regular officers was rank and seniority.  As I recounted here, John Tidball noted that [p]romotion is the lifeblood of the soldier and anyone who disregards it is not worthy of the name.  Based on my reading, I know that Scott was no exception to this rule, and I think this was another contributor to his foul mood.  He must have been pretty hacked off that a brevet major, who had only attained the regular rank of 1st lieutenant, had been elevated over his objection to command the largest army ever assembled on the continent.  And I imagine he couldn’t have been too happy about who was behind Irvin McDowell’s (above, right) rise to prominence.

While Lincoln’s Secretary of War, Simon Cameron, was Scott’s superior on the org chart, it became apparent early on that he was in over his head.  But the war department was nonetheless being run, and the man doing much of the running was Treasury Secretary Salmon Chase (above, center).  During these days he was known as General Chase.  Chase was a former Ohio governor and senator, and it was during this time that many of Ohio’s native sons, including McDowell, became high ranking officers (see here and here).  I’ve understood that McDowell was tight with the Chase family, but I never realized just how tight.  While some historians have theorized that McDowell came to Chase’s attention during the early days of the war as an effective member of Scott’s staff, Irvin came from a family prominent in Ohio politics – his father was once mayor of Columbus.  And Peg Lamphier describes McDowell as a “family friend” on page 26 of Kate Chase & William Sprague, notes on page 62 that the cost of Kate’s Tiffany bridal tiara rose from $5,500 to $6,500 as a result of modifications made to it by family friend General McDowell, and says on page 73 that an ill Kate Chase-Sprague recovered at the McDowell home in Buttermilk Falls, NY in March 1864. 

Now, don’t get me wrong: I think McDowell possessed a good deal of common sense, as demonstrated here in his assessment of the situation in his plans for the advance on Manassas, and later in his perceptive understanding of the consequences of the proposed redeployment of his 1st Corps to the Shenandoah Valley in the Spring of 1862. But it sounds like there is more to the appointment of McDowell to the command of the Dept. of Northeastern Virginia than serendipity or noteworthy performance as a staff officer.

So, Scott is pretty much bed-or chaise-ridden with gout, and he’s witnessing not only the disregard for his own staffing preferences but the violation of the sanctity of seniority by political forces outside the army and even the War Department.  How did these factors influence his thought processes and his decision making during these critical days? 





#4 – McDowell’s Plan

30 10 2007

 

CORRESPONDENCE, ORDERS, AND RETURNS RELATING TO OPERATIONS IN MARYLAND, PENNSYLVANIA, VIRGINIA, AND WEST VIRGINIA FROM APRIL 16 TO JULY 31, 1861

UNION CORRESPONDENCE, ETC.–#4

O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 2 [S# 2] — CHAPTER IX pp 719-721

HDQRS. DEPARTMENT NORTHEASTERN VIRGINIA,

Arlington, June(*) –, 1861

 Lieut. Col. E. D. TOWNSEND,

Asst. Adjt. Gen., Headquarters of the Army:

COLONEL: I have the honor to submit the following plan of operations, and the composition of the force required to carry it into effect, in compliance with the verbal instructions of the General-in-Chief:

The secession forces at Manassas Junction and its dependencies are supposed to amount at this time to–

Infantry          23,000

Cavalry          1,500

Artillery           500

Total               25,000

We cannot count on keeping secret our intention to overthrow this force. Even if the many parties intrusted with the knowledge of the plan should not disclose or discover it, the necessary preliminary measures for such an expedition would betray it; and they are alive and well informed as to every movement, however slight, we make. They have, moreover, been expecting us to attack their position, and have been preparing for it. When it becomes known positively we are about to march, and they learn in what strength, they will be obliged to call in their disposable forces from all quarters, for they will not be able, if closely pressed, to get away by railroad before we can reach them. If General J. E. Johnston’s force is kept engaged by Major-General Patterson, and Major-General Butler occupies the force now in his vicinity, I think they will not be able to bring up more than ten thousand men. So we must calculate on having to do with about thirty-five thousand men.

The objective point in our plan is the Manassas Junction. This is covered by the enemy’s troops stationed at Centreville, Germantown, Fairfax Court-House, Fairfax Station, a place between Fairfax Station and Sangster’s, and on the Occoquan. The position at Manassas may be reached by four routes: First, by the Leesburg stone road, Georgetown turnpike, and Loudoun and Hampshire Railroad, via Falls Church and Vienna; second, by way of the Little River turnpike and Fairfax Court-House; third, by way of the Orange and Alexandria Railroad; fourth, by way of the road south of the Orange and Alexandria road.

There is a fifth approach, from Dumfries or Evansport, by way of Brentsville, a march of about twenty-two miles, but the starting point is too far from the main direct approach to admit of its being used in the first instance without a superabundance of force. The country lying between the two armies is mostly thickly wooded, and the roads leading across it, except the turnpikes and railroads, are narrow, and in places sunken by the wear of travel and wash of rains. This makes it necessary to have the fewest possible number of carriages of any kind, and our forces, therefore, though the distance is short, will have to move over several lines of approach in order to get forward in time a sufficient body to operate with success. The Loudoun and Hampshire road is in working order as far as within five miles of Vienna, and no doubt could soon be repaired to that place. The Orange and Alexandria road, which I propose to look to as the main channel of supply, is now in working order some seven miles out of Alexandria, and from Manassas Junction to within fifteen miles of Alexandria. In the intermediate space the road has been destroyed as effectively as possible, and a long deep cut filled in with trees and earth. Nevertheless, all these obstacles can soon be removed with plenty of force and an adequate supply of proper materials.

Leaving small garrisons in the defensive works, I propose to move against Manassas with a force of thirty thousand of all arms, organized into three columns, with a reserve of ten thousand. One column to move from Falls Church or Vienna (preferably the latter), to go between Fairfax Court-House and Centreville, and, in connection with another column moving by the Little River turnpike, cut off or drive in (the former, if possible) the enemy’s advanced posts. The third column to move by the Orange and Alexandria Railroad, and leaving as large a force as may be necessary to aid in rebuilding it, to push on with the remainder to join the first and second columns.

The enemy is said to have batteries in position at several places in his front, and defensive works on Bull Run and Manassas Junction. I  do not propose that these batteries be attacked, for I think they may all be turned. Bull Run, I am told, is fordable at almost any place. After uniting the columns this side of it, I propose to attack the main position by turning it, if possible, so as to cut off communications by rail with the South, or threaten to do so sufficiently to force the enemy to leave his intrenchments to guard them; if necessary, and I find it Can be done with safety, to move a force as far as Bristoe, to destroy the bridge at that place.

I cannot learn that the enemy has any magazines at the Junction, and I am under the impression he receives his supplies, except fresh beef, from the south by the railroad. I am told that on most of the approaches abatis have been made and other preparations to obstruct the advance of our troops, and, as the roads are mostly through woods, and are narrow, it will be necessary the Army should go, in the first place, as free from baggage as possible-no tents; provisions only in the haversack; the only wagons being those necessary for carrying axes, spades, and picks, and ammunition for the infantry, and ambulances for the sick and wounded. A subsistence train should be ready in Alexandria to go by the Little River turnpike in case the Orange and Alexandria road cannot be repaired, and another should be ready at Vienna, under the guard to be left there, for the use of the column moving from that point, in case it should fail to reach in time the Orange and Alexandria road or the Little River turnpike, or the latter should not in time be cleared of the enemy.

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

If the three companies of artillery in this department are furnished with batteries, we shall have with the three regular and three volunteer batteries here and in Washington a sufficiency of artillery; though, if the nature of the country did not make it embarrassing, I would, on account of the confidence it gives new troops, have still more. Fortunately, the country is so wooded that our deficiency in cavalry will be the less felt. We shall need all we have for the ordinary work of escorts, advance pickets, &c. I think every arrangement should be made, that when the columns take up their line of march no step be taken in retreat, but that they should press forward to the ultimate point steadily and determinedly. If they are well led I think they will do so, and with every chance of success.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

 IRVIN McDOWELL,

Brigadier-General, Commanding

* About June 24, 1861





#6 – Brig. Gen. Irvin McDowell

3 10 2007

 

Reports of Brig. Gen. Irvin McDowell, Commanding Federal Forces

O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 2 [S# 2] — CHAPTER IX, pp 316-328

CENTREVILLE, July 21, 1861–5.45 p.m.

We passed Bull Run. Engaged the enemy, who, it seems, had just been re-enforced by General Johnston. We drove them for several hours, and finally routed them.

They rallied and repulsed us, but only to give us again the victory, which seemed complete. But our men, exhausted with fatigue and thirst and confused by firing into each other, were attacked by the enemy’s reserves, and driven from the position we had gained, overlooking Manassas. After this the men could not be rallied, but slowly left the field. In the mean time the enemy outflanked Richardson at Blackburn’s Ford, and we have now to hold Centreville till our men can get behind it. Miles’ division is holding the town. It is reported Colonel Cameron is killed, Hunter and Heintzelman wounded, neither dangerously.

IRVIN McDOWELL,

Brigadier General, Commanding

Lieutenant-Colonel TOWNSEND

***

FAIRFAX COURT-HOUSE, July 21, 1861:

The men having thrown away their haversacks in the battle and left them behind, they are without food; have eaten nothing since breakfast. We are without artillery ammunition. The larger part of the men are a confused mob, entirely demoralized. It was the opinion of all the commanders that no stand could be made this side of the Potomac. We will, however, make the attempt at Fairfax Court-House. From a prisoner we learn that 20,000 from Johnston joined last night, and they march on us to-night.

IRVIN McDOWELL

Colonel TOWNSEND

***

FAIRFAX COURT-HOUSE, [July] 22, 1861

Many of the volunteers did not wait for authority to proceed to the Potomac, but left on their own decision. They are now pouring through this place in a state of utter disorganization. They could not be prepared for action by to-morrow morning even were they willing. I learn from prisoners that we are to be pressed here to-night and to-morrow morning, as the enemy’s force is very large and they are elated. I think we heard cannon on our rear guard. I think now, as all of my commanders thought at Centreville, there is no alternative but to fall back to the Potomac, and I shall proceed to do so with as much regularity as possible.

IRVIN McDOWELL

Colonel TOWNSEND

***

ARLINGTON, July 22, 1861

I avail myself of the re-establishing of telegraph to report my arrival. When I left the forks of the Little River turnpike and Columbia turnpike, where I had been for a couple of hours turning stragglers and parties of regiments upon this place and Alexandria, I received intelligence that the rear guard, under Colonel Richardson, had left Fairfax Court-House and was getting along well. Had not been attacked. I am now trying to get matters a little organized over here.

IRVIN McDOWELL,

Brigadier-General

E. D. TOWNSEND

***

HDQRS. DEPARTMENT NORTHEASTERN VIRGINIA,

Arlington, Va., August 4, 1861

Lieut. Col. E. D. TOWNSEND,

Asst. Adjt. Gen., Hdqrs. of the Army, Washington, D. C.

COLONEL: I have the honor to submit the following report of the battle of the 21st of July, near Manassas, Va. It has been delayed till this time from the inability of the subordinate commanders to get earlier a true account of the state of their commands.

In my communication to you of the 20th ultimo, I stated it as my intention to move that afternoon and drive the enemy from the east side of Bull Run, so as to enable the engineers to make a sufficiently accurate reconnaissance to justify our future movements. Later in the day they had obtained enough information of the passages across the stream to dispense with this reconnaissance, and it was decided to move without further delay.

It had been my intention to move the several columns out on the road a few miles on the evening of the 20th, so that they would have a shorter march in the morning; but I deferred to those who had the greatest distance to go, and who preferred starting early in the morning and making but one move.

On the evening of the 20th ultimo my command was mostly at or near Centreville. The enemy was at or near Manassas, distant from Centreville about seven miles to the southwest. Centreville is a village of a few houses, mostly on the west side of a ridge running nearly north and south. The road from Centreville to Manassas Junction runs along this ridge, and crosses Bull Run about three miles from the former place. The Warrenton turnpike, which runs nearly east and west, goes over this ridge through the village, and crosses Bull Run about four miles from it, Bull Run having a course between the crossings from northwest to southeast.

The First Division (Tyler’s) was stationed as follows: One brigade on the north side of the Warrenton turnpike and on the eastern slope of the Centreville ridge; two brigades on the same road and a mile and a half in advance to the west of the ridge; and one brigade on the road from Centreville to Manassas where it crosses Bull Run at Blackburn’s Ford, where General Tyler had the engagement of the 18th ultimo.

The Second Division (Hunter’s) was on the Warrenton turnpike, one mile east of Centreville.

The Third Division (Heintzelman’s) was on a road known as the old Braddock road, which comes into Centreville from the southeast about a mile and a half from the village.

The Fifth Division (Miles’) was on the same road with the Third Division, and between it and Centreville.

A map, which is herewith, marked A,(*) will show these positions better than I describe them.Friday night a train of subsistence arrived, and on Saturday its contents were ordered to be issued to the command, and the men required to have three days’ rations in their haversacks. (See appendix herewith, marked B.)

Saturday orders (copy herewith, marked c) were issued for the available force to march.

As reported to you in my letter of the 19th ultimo, my personal reconnaissance of the roads to the south had shown that it was not practicable to carry out the original plan of turning the enemy’s position on their right. The affair of the 18th at Blackburn’s Ford showed he was too strong at that point for us to force a passage there without great loss, and if we did, that it would bring us in front of his strong position at Manassas, which was not desired.

Our information was that the stone bridge over which the Warrenton road crossed Bull Run to the west of Centreville was mined, defended by a battery in position, and the road on his side of the stream impeded by a heavy abatis. The alternative was, therefore, to turn the extreme left of his position.

Reliable information was obtained of an undefended ford about three miles above the bridge, there being another ford between it and the bridge, which was defended. It was therefore determined to take the road to the upper ford, and, after crossing, to get behind the forces guarding the lower ford and the bridge, and after occupying the Warrenton road east of the bridge to send out a force to destroy the railroad at or near Gainesville, and thus break up the communication between the enemy’s forces at Manassas and those in the Valley of Virginia before Winchester, which had been held in check by Major-General Patterson.

Brigadier-General Tyler was directed to move with three of his brigades on the Warrenton road, and commence cannonading the enemy’s batteries, while Hunter’s division, moving after him, should, after passing a little stream called Cub Run, turn to the right and north, and move by a wood road around to the upper ford, and then turn south and get behind the enemy; Colonel Heintzelman’s division to follow Hunter’s as far as the turning-off place to the lower ford, where he was to cross after the enemy should have been driven out by Hunter’s division; the Fifth Division (Miles’) to be in reserve on the Centreville ridge.

I had felt anxious about the road from Manassas by Blackburn’s Ford to Centreville along this ridge, fearing that, whilst we should be in force to the front and endeavoring to turn the enemy’s position, we ourselves should be turned by him by this road. For if he should once obtain possession of this ridge, which overlooks all the country to the west to the foot of the spurs of the Blue Ridge, we should have been irretrievably cut off and destroyed. I had, therefore, directed this point to be held in force, and sent an engineer to extemporize some field works to strengthen the position.

The Fourth Division (Runyon’s) had not been brought to the front farther than to guard our communications by way of Vienna and the Orange and Alexandria Railroad. His advanced regiment was about seven miles in rear of Centreville.

The divisions were ordered to march at 2.30 o’clock a.m., so as to arrive on the ground early in the day, and thus avoid the heat which is to be expected at this season. There was delay in the First Division getting out of its camp on the road, and the other divisions were, in consequence, between two and three hours behind the time appointed–a great misfortune, as events turned out. The wood road leading from the Warrenton turnpike to the upper ford was much longer than we counted upon, the general direction of the stream being oblique to the road and we having the obtuse angle on our side.

General Tyler commenced with his artillery at 6.30 a.m., but the enemy did not reply, and after some time it became a question whether he was in any force in our front, and if he did not intend himself to make an attack, and make it by Blackburn’s Ford. After firing several times, and obtaining no response, I held one of Heintzelman’s brigades in reserve, in case we should have to send any troops back to re-enforce Miles’ division. The other brigades moved forward as directed in the general order.

On reaching the ford at Sudley Springs, I found part of the leading brigade of Hunter’s division (Burnside’s) had crossed, but the men were slow in getting over, stopping to drink. As at this time the clouds of dust from the direction of Manassas indicated the immediate approach of a large force, and fearing it might come down on the head of the column before the division could all get over and sustain it, orders were sent back to the heads of regiments to break from the column, and come for-ward separately as fast as possible.

Orders were sent by an officer to the reserve brigade of Heintzelman’s division to come by a nearer road across the fields, and an aide-de-camp sent to Brigadier-General Tyler to direct him to press forward his attack, as large bodies of the enemy were passing in front of him to attack the division which had crossed over.

The ground between the stream and the road leading from Sudley Springs south, and over which Burnside’s brigade marched, was, for about a mile from the ford, thickly wooded, whilst on the right of the road for about the same distance the country was divided between fields and woods. About a mile from the ford the country on both sides of the road is open, and for nearly a mile farther large rolling fields extend down to the Warrenton turnpike, which crosses what became the field of battle, through the valley of a small water-course, a tributary of Bull Run.

Shortly after the leading regiment of the First Brigade reached this open space, and whilst the others and the Second Brigade were crossing to the front and right, the enemy opened his fire, beginning with artillery and following it up with infantry.

The leading brigade (Burnside’s) had to sustain this shock for a short time without support, and did it well. The battalion of regular infantry was sent to sustain it, and shortly afterwards the other corps of Porter’s brigade and a regiment detached from Heintzelman’s division to the left forced the enemy back far enough to allow Sherman’s and Keyes’ brigades of Tyler’s division to cross from their position on the Warrenton road.

These drove the right of the enemy (understood to have been commanded by Beauregard) from the front of the field, and out of the detached woods, and down to the road, and across it, up the slopes on the other side. Whilst this was going on, Heintzelman’s division was moving down the field to the stream and up the road beyond. Beyond the Warrenton road, and to the left of the road down which our troops had marched from Sudley Springs, is a hill with a farm house on it. Behind this hill the enemy had early in the day some of his most annoying batteries planted. Across the road from this hill was another hill, or rather elevated ridge or table land. The hottest part of the contest was for the possession of this hill with a house on it.

The force engaged here was Heintzelman’s division, Willcox’s and Howard’s brigades on the right, supported by part of Porter’s brigade and the cavalry under Palmer, and Franklin’s brigade of Heintzelman’s division, Sherman’s brigade of Tyler’s division in the center and up the road, whilst Keyes’ brigade of Tyler’s division was on the left, attacking the batteries near the stone bridge. The Rhode Island Battery of Burnside’s brigade also participated in this attack by its fire from the north of the turnpike. The enemy was understood to have been commanded by J. E. Johnston.

Ricketts’ battery, which did such effective service and played so brilliant a part in this contest, was, together with Griffin’s battery, on the side of the hill, and became the object of the special attention of the enemy, who succeeded (our officers mistaking one of his regiments for one of our own, and allowing it to approach without firing upon it) in disabling the battery, and then attempted to take it. Three times was he repulsed by different corps in succession and driven back, and the guns taken by hand (the horses being killed) and pulled away. The third time it was supposed by us all that the repulse was final, for he was driven entirely from the hill, so far beyond it as not to be in sight, and all were certain the day was ours. He had before this been driven nearly a mile and a half, and was beyond the Warrenton road, which was entirely in our possession from the stone bridge westward, and our engineers were just completing the removal of the abatis across the road to allow our re-enforcements (Schenck’s brigade and Ayres’ battery) to join us.

The enemy was evidently disheartened and broken. But we had then been fighting since 10.30 o’clock in the morning, and it was after 3 o’clock in the afternoon. The men had been up since 2 o’clock in the morning, and had made what to those unused to such things seemed a long march before coming into action, though the longest distance gone over was not more than 9½ miles; and though they had three days’ provisions served out to them the day before, many, no doubt, either did not get them, or threw them away on the march or during the battle, and were therefore without food. They had done much severe fighting. Some of the regiments which had been driven from the hill in the first two attempts of the enemy to keep possession of it had become shaken, were unsteady, and had many men out of the ranks.

It was at this time that the enemy’s re-enforcements came to his aid from the railroad train (understood to have just arrived from the valley with the residue of Johnston’s army). They threw themselves in the woods on our right, and opened a fire of musketry on our men, which caused them to break and retire down the hill-side. This soon degenerated into disorder, for which there was no remedy. Every effort was made to rally them, even beyond the reach of the enemy’s fire, but in vain. The battalion of regular infantry alone moved up the hill opposite to the one with the house, and there maintained itself until our men could get down to and across the Warrenton turnpike on the way back to the position we occupied in the morning. The plain was covered with the retreating groups, and they seemed to infect those with whom they came in contact. The retreat soon became a rout, and this soon degenerated still further into a panic.

Finding this state of affairs was beyond the efforts of all those who had assisted so faithfully during the long and hard day’s work in gaining almost the object of our wishes, and that nothing remained on that field but to recognize what we could no longer prevent, I gave the necessary orders to protect their withdrawal, begging the men to form a line, and offer the appearance, at least, of organization and force.

They returned by the fords to the Warrenton road, protected, by my order, by Colonel Porter’s force of regulars. Once on the road, and the different corps coming together in small parties, many without officers, they became intermingled, and all organization was lost.

Orders had been sent back to Miles’ division for a brigade to move forward and protect this retreat, and Colonel Blenker’s brigade was detached for this purpose, and was ordered to go as far forward as the point where the road to the right left the main road.

By referring to the general order it will be seen that while the operations were to go on in front, an attack was to be made at Blackburn’s Ford by the brigade (Richardson’s) stationed there. A reference to his report, and to that of Major Hunt, commanding the artillery, will show that this part of the plan was well and effectively carried out (+). It succeeded in deceiving the enemy for considerable time and in keeping in check a part of his force. The fire of the artillery at this point is represented as particularly destructive.

At the time of our retreat, seeing great activity in this direction, much firing, and columns of dust, I became anxious for this place, fearing if it were turned or forced the whole stream of our retreating mass would be captured or destroyed.

After providing for the protection of the retreat by Porter’s and Blenker’s brigades, I repaired to Richardson’s, and found the whole force ordered to be stationed for the holding of the road from Manassas, by Blackburn’s Ford, to Centreville, on the march, under orders from the division commander, for Centreville. I immediately halted it, and ordered it to take up the best line of defense across the ridge that their then position admitted of; and subsequently, taking in person the command of this part of the Army, I caused such disposition of the forces, which had been added to by the First and Second New Jersey and the De Kalb Regiments, ordered up from Runyon’s reserve before going forward, as would best serve to check the enemy.

The ridge being held in this way, the retreating current passed slowly through Centreville to the rear. The enemy followed us from the ford as far as Cub Run, and, owing to the road becoming blocked up at the crossing, caused us much damage there, for the artillery could not pass, and several pieces and caissons had to be abandoned. In the panic the horses hauling the caissons and ammunition were cut from their places by persons to escape with, and in this way much confusion was caused, the panic aggravated, and the road encumbered. Not only were pieces of artillery lost, but also many of the ambulances carrying the wounded.

By sundown most of our men had gotten behind Centreville ridge, and it became a question whether we should or not endeavor to make a stand there. The condition of our artillery and its ammunition, and the want of food for the men, who had generally abandoned or thrown away all that had been issued the day before, and the utter disorganization and consequent demoralization of the mass of the Army, seemed to all who were near enough to be consulted–division and brigade commanders and staff–to admit of no alternative but to fall back; the more so as the position at Blackburn’s Ford was then in the possession of the enemy, and he was already turning our left.

On sending the officers of the staff to the different camps, they found, as they reported to me, that our decision had been anticipated by the troops, most of those who had come in from the front being already on the road to the rear, the panic with which they came in still continuing and hurrying them along.

At — o’clock the rear guard (Blenker’s brigade) moved, covering the retreat, which was effected during the night and next morning.(^) The troops at Fairfax Station, leaving by the cars, took with them the bulk of the supplies which had been sent there. My aide-de-camp, Major Wadsworth, staid at Fairfax Court-House till late in the morning, to see that the stragglers and weary and worn-out soldiers were not left behind.

I transmit herewith the reports of the several division and brigade commanders, to which I refer for the conduct of particular regiments and corps, and a consolidated return of the killed, wounded, and missing, marked D. From the latter it will be seen that our killed amounted to 19 officers and 462 non-commissioned officers and privates, and our wounded to 64 officers and 947 non-commissioned officers and privates. Many of the wounded will soon be able to join the ranks, and will leave our total of killed and disabled from further service under 1,000.

The return of the missing is very inaccurate, the men supposed to be missing having fallen into other regiments and gone to Washington; many of the zouaves to New York. In one brigade the number originally reported at 616 was yesterday reduced to 174. These reductions are being made daily. In a few days a more correct return can be made.

Of course nothing accurate is known of the loss of the enemy. An officer of their forces, coming from them with a flag, admitted 1,800 killed and wounded, and other information shows this to be much under the true number.

The officer commanding the Eleventh New York (Zouaves) and Colonel Heintzelman say that the returns of that regiment cannot be relied on, as many there reported among the casualties have absented themselves since their return, and have gone to New York.

Among the missing are reported many of our surgeons, who remained in attendance on our wounded, and were, against the rules of modern warfare, made prisoners.

The issue of this hard-fought battle, in which certainly our troops lost no credit in their conflict on the field with an enemy ably commanded, superior in numbers, who had but a short distance to march, and who acted on his own ground on the defensive, and always under cover, whilst our men were of necessity out on the open fields, should not prevent full credit being given to those officers and corps whose services merited success if they did not attain it.

To avoid repetition I will only mention here the names of those not embraced in the reports of division and brigade commanders. I beg to refer to their reports for the names of those serving under their immediate orders, desiring that on this subject of persons, &c., they be considered as part of my own.

I claim credit for the officers of my staff and for those acting as such during the day. They did everything in their power, exposing themselves freely when required, and doing all that men could do, communicating orders, guiding the columns, exhorting the troops, rallying them when broken, and providing for them the best the circumstances admitted.

They are as follows:

First Lieut. H. W. Kingsbury, Fifth Artillery, A, D.C.

Maj. Clarence S. Brown, New York Militia, volunteer A.D.C.

Maj. James S. Wadsworth, New York Militia, volunteer A.D.C.

The latter (who does me the honor to be on my personal staff) had a horse shot under him in the hottest of the fight.

Capt. James B. Fry, assistant adjutant-general.

Capt. O. H. Tillinghast, assistant quartermaster, who discharged alone the important and burdensome duties of his department with the Army, and who was mortally wounded whilst acting with the artillery, to which he formerly belonged, and in which he was deeply interested.

Capt. H. F. Clarke, Subsistence Department, chief of subsistence department.

Major Myer, Signal Officer, and Maj. Malcolm McDowell, who acted as aides.

Surg. W. S. King and Assistant Surgeon Magruder, Medical Department.

Maj. J. G. Barnard, Engineer, and senior of his department with the Army, who gave me most important aid.

First Lieut. Fred. E. Prime, Engineer.

Capt. A. W. Whipple, First Lieut. H. L. Abbot, and Second Lieut. H. S. Putnam, Topographical Engineers.

Maj. W. F. Barry, Fifth Artillery, chief of artillery.

Lieut. Geo. C. Strong, ordnance officer.

Maj. W. H. Wood, Seventeenth Infantry, acting inspector-general.

Second Lieut. Guy V. Henry, who joined me on the field, and was of service as an aide-de-camp.

The following officers commanded divisions and brigades, and in the several places their duty called them did most effective service and behaved in the most gallant manner:

Brigadier-General Tyler, Connecticut Volunteers.

Col. David Hunter, Third Cavalry, severely wounded at the head of his division.

Col. S. P. Heintzelman, Seventeenth Infantry, wounded in the arm while leading his division into action on the hill.

Brigadier-General Schenck, Ohio Volunteers, commanding Second Brigade, First Division.

Col. E. D. Keyes, Eleventh Infantry, commanding First Brigade, First Division.

Col. W. B. Franklin, Twelfth Infantry, First Brigade, Third Division.

Col. W. T. Sherman, Thirteenth Infantry, commanding Third Brigade, First Division.

Col. Andrew Porter, Sixteenth Infantry, commanding First Brigade, Second Division.

Col. A. E. Burnside, Rhode Island Volunteers, commanding Second Brigade, Second Division.

Col. O. B. Willcox, Michigan Volunteers, commanding Second Brigade, Third Division, who was wounded and taken prisoner whilst on the hill in the hottest of the fight.

Col. O. O. Howard, Maine Volunteers, commanding Third Brigade, Third Division.

Col. I. B. Richardson, Michigan Volunteers, commanding Fourth Brigade, First Division.

Colonel Blenker, New York Volunteers, commanding First Brigade, Fifth Division.

Colonel Davies, New York Volunteers, commanding Second Brigade, Fifth Division.

As my position may warrant, even if it does not call for, some explanation of the causes, as far as they can be seen, which led to the results herein stated, I trust it may not be considered out of place if I refer, in a few words, to the immediate antecedents of the battle.

When I submitted to the General-in-Chief, in compliance with his verbal instructions, the plan of operations and estimate of force required, the time I was to proceed to carry it into effect was fixed for the 8th of July (Monday). (#)

Every facility possible was given me by the General-in-Chief and heads of the administrative departments in making the necessary preparations. But the regiments, owing, I was told, to want of transportation, came over slowly. Many of them did not come across until eight or nine days after the time fixed upon, and went forward without my ever seeing them and without having been together before in a brigade.

The sending re-enforcements to General Patterson by drawing off the wagons was a further and unavoidable cause of delay. Notwithstanding the herculean efforts of the Quartermaster-General, and his favoring me in every possible way, the wagons for ammunition, subsistence, &c., and the horses for the trains and for the artillery, did not all arrive for more than a week after the time appointed to move.

I was not even prepared as late as the 15th ultimo, and the desire I should move became great, and it was wished I should not, if possible, delay longer than Tuesday, the 16th ultimo. When I did set out on the 16th I was still deficient in wagons for subsistence, but I went forward, trusting to their being procured in time to follow me.

The trains thus hurriedly gotten together, with horses, wagons, drivers, and wagon-masters all new and unused to each other, moved with difficulty and disorder, and was the cause of a day’s delay in getting the provisions forward, making it necessary to make on Sunday the attack we should have made on Saturday.

I could not, with every exertion, get forward with the troops earlier than we did. I wished them to go to Centreville the second day, which would have taken us there on the 17th, and enabled us, so far as they were concerned, to go into action on the 19th instead of the 21st; but when I went forward from Fairfax Court-House beyond Germantown to urge them forward, I was told it was impossible for the men to march farther. They had only come from Vienna, about six miles, and it was not more than six and one-half miles farther to Centreville, in all a march of twelve and one-half miles; but the men were foot-weary, not so much, I was told, by the distance marched, as by the time they had been on foot, caused by the obstructions in the road and the slow pace we had to move to avoid ambuscades. The men were, moreover, unaccustomed to marching, their bodies not in condition for that kind of work, and not used to carrying even the lead of “light marching order.”

We crossed Bull Run with about 18,000 men of all arms, the Fifth Division (Miles’) and Richardson’s brigade on the left at Blackburn’s Ford and Centreville, and Schenck’s brigade of Tyler’s division on the left of the road near the stone bridge, not participating in the main action. The numbers opposed to us have been variously estimated. I may safely say, and avoid even the appearance of exaggeration, that the enemy brought up all he could which were not kept engaged elsewhere. He had notice of our coming on the 17th, and had from that time until the 21st to bring up whatever he had.

It is known that in estimating the force to go against Manassas I engaged not to have to do with the enemy’s forces under Johnston, then kept in check in the valley by Major General Patterson, or those kept engaged by Major-General Butler, and I knew every effort was made by the General-in-Chief that this should be done, and that even if Johnston joined Beauregard, it should be because he would be driven in and followed by General Patterson. But, from causes not necessary for me to refer to, even if I knew them all, this was not done, and the enemy was free to assemble from every direction in numbers only limited by the amount of his railroad rolling-stock and his supply of provisions. To the forces, therefore, we drove in from Fairfax Court-House, Fairfax Station, Germantown, and Centreville, and those under Beauregard at Manassas, must be added those under Johnston from Winchester, and those brought up by Davis from Richmond and other places at the South, to which is to be added the levy en masse ordered by the Richmond authorities, which was ordered to assemble at Manassas. What all this amounted to I cannot say; certainly much more than we attacked them with.

I could not, as I have said, move earlier or push on faster, nor could I delay. A large and the best part, so considered, of my forces were three-months volunteers, whose terms of service were about expiring, but who were sent forward as having long enough to serve for the purpose of the expedition.

On the eve of the battle the Fourth Pennsylvania Regiment of Volunteers and the battery of Volunteer Artillery of the Eighth New York Militia, whose term of service expired, insisted on their discharge. I wrote to the regiment as pressing a request as I could pen, and the honorable Secretary of War, who was at the time on the ground, tried to induce the battery to remain at least five days, but in vain. They insisted on their discharge that night. It was granted; and the next morning, when the Army moved forward into battle, these troops moved to the rear to the sound of the enemy’s cannon.

In the next few days, day by day I should have lost ten thousand of the best armed, drilled, officered, and disciplined troops in the Army. In other words, every day which added to the strength of the enemy made us weaker. In conclusion, I desire to say in reference to the events of the 21st ultimo, that the general order for the battle to which I have referred was, with slight modifications, literally conformed to; that the corps were brought over Bull Run in the manner proposed, and put into action as before arranged, and that, up to late in the afternoon, every movement ordered was carrying us successfully to the object we had proposed before starting–that of getting to the railroad leading from Manassas to the valley of Virginia, and going on it far enough to break up and destroy the communication, and interpose between the forces under Beauregard and those under Johnston; and could we have fought a day–yes, a few hours–sooner, there is everything to show that we should have continued successful, even against the odds with which we contended.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your most obedient servant,

IRVIN McDOWELL,

Brigadier-General, Commanding

*To appear in Atlas

+See McDowell’s report of August 12, 1861, p. 328

^ See McDowell’s report of August 12, 1861, p. 328

#See McDowell to Townsend, June 24, 1861, “Correspndence, etc.,” post.

—–

B.

CIRCULAR.]

HDQRS. DEP’T NORTHEASTERN VIRGINIA,

Centreville, July 20, 1861.

The commanders of divisions will give the necessary orders, that an equal distribution of the subsistence stores on hand may be made immediately to the different companies in their respective commands, so that they shall be provided for the same number of days, and that the same be cooked and put in the haversacks of the men. The subsistence stores now in the possession of each division, with the fresh beef that can be drawn from the chief commissary, must last to include the 23d instant.

By command of Brigadier-General McDowell:

 JAMES B. FRY,

Assistant Adjutant-General

TO COMMANDERS OF DIVISIONS AND BRIGADES

—–

C.

GENERAL ORDERS, No. 22 I HDQRS. DEP’T NORTHEASTERN VIRGINIA,

Centreville, July 20, 1861

The enemy has planted a battery on the Warrenton turnpike to defend the passage of Bull Run, has mined the stone bridge, and made a heavy abatis on the right bank to oppose our advance in that direction. The ford above the bridge is also guarded, whether with artillery or not is not positively known, but every indication favors the belief that he purposes defending the passage of the stream.

It is intended to turn the position, force the enemy from the road, that it may be reopened, and, if possible, destroy the railroad leading from Manassas to the valley of Virginia, where the enemy has a large force. As this may be resisted by all the force of the enemy, the troops will be disposed of as follows:

The First Division (General Tyler’s), with the exception of Richardson’s brigade, will move at 2.30 a.m. precisely, on the Warrenton turnpike, to threaten the passage of the bridge, but will not open fire until full daybreak.

The Second Division Hunter’s will move from its camp at 2 a.m. precisely, and, led by Captain Woodbury, of the Engineers, will, after passing Cub Run, turn to the right and pass the Bull Run stream above the lower ford at Sudley Springs, and then, turning down to the left descend the stream and clear away the enemy who may be guarding the lower ford and bridge. It will then bear off to the right, to make room for the succeeding division.

The Third Division (Heintzelman’s) will march at 2.30 a.m. and follow the road taken by the Second Division (Hunter’s), but will cross at the lower ford after it has been turned as above, and then, going to the left, take place between the stream and Second Division.

The Fifth Division (Miles’) will take position on the Centreville heights. (Richardson’s brigade will for the time form part of his division, and will continue in its present position.) One brigade will be in the village and one near the present station of Richardson’s brigade. This division will threaten Blackburn’s Ford and remain in reserve at Centreville.

The commander will open fire with artillery only, and will bear in mind that it is a demonstration only he is to make. He will cause such defensive works, abatis, earthworks, &c., to be thrown up as will strengthen his position. Lieutenant Prime, of the Engineers, will be charged with this duty.

These movements may lead to the gravest results, and commanders of divisions and brigades should bear in mind the immense consequences involved. There must be no failure, and every effort must be made to prevent straggling. No one must be allowed to leave the ranks without special authority. After completing the movements ordered the troops must be held in order of battle, as they may be attacked at any moment.

By command of Brigadier-General McDowell:

 JAMES B. FRY,

Assistant Adjutant-General

—–

HDQRS. DEPARTMENT NORTHEASTERN VIRGINIA,

Arlington, August 12, 1861

COLONEL: My attention has been called by those interested to two omissions in my report of the battle of the 21st ultimo near Manassas, and I ask leave to make the following corrections, wishing that they be made part of my original report:

1. In speaking of the retreat, I mentioned that it was covered by Colonel Blenker’s brigade. I should have said Colonel Richardson’s and Colonel Blenker’s brigades. The former was on the left of the Centreville ridge, and the latter in front of it, on the Warrenton road. Each covered the retreat of those on the respective roads to the common point–Centreville; from there to the rear Colonel Richardson was behind, and covered the main body.

2. In speaking of the action on the left at Blackburn’s Ford, I mentioned Colonel Richardson’s and Major Hunt’s reports as giving the account of what transpired in that direction. In this connection I omitted to mention Col. T. A. Davies’ report, and now beg to refer to it as necessary to a full account of this part of the battle. He was engaged to the left of Richardson, and repulsed an attempt of the enemy to turn our left.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your most obedient servant,

IRVIN McDOWELL,

Brigadier-General, Commanding

Lieut. Col. E. D. TOWNSEND,

Assistant Adjutant-General, Headquarters of the Army

Table – [USA] Casualties at the Battle of Bull Run, July 21, 1861

Table – Statement of [USA] artillery lost at the Battle of Bull Run, July 21, 1861





The McDowell Monument

1 08 2007

  

mcdowellshiloh.jpg 

The McDowell headquarters monument is situated just west of the Stone House at the intersection of the Sudley Springs Road and the Warrenton Turnpike.  That is, just about 800 miles west of that point, on the battlefield of Shiloh, at the intersection of the Hamburg-Purdy Road and route 142/22.  I took this photo during my June trip to Tennessee and Mississippi. 

Colonel John A. McDowell was a brigade commander in Brigadier General William T. Sherman’s division of Major General U. S. Grant’s Army of the Tennessee during the Battle of Shiloh.  He was also a brother of the commander of the Union forces at the Battle of First Bull Run, Irvin McDowell. 

John McDowell’s command at Shiloh was comprised of the 40th IL, 46th OH, his own 6th IA, and the 6th IN Battery.  (McDowell had relieved the 6th IA’s Lieutenant Colonel and placed a captain in command of the regiment.)  Positioned on the far right (western) flank of Sherman’s line, McDowell’s brigade missed much of the heavier fighting experienced by Sherman’s other three brigades.  Consequently, McDowell does not get a lot of ink in the various Shiloh campaign studies. 

This list of officers of the regiment notes that John Adair McDowell was a resident of Keokuk, IA (he was born in Ohio), and was 39 when he became colonel of the regiment on June 20, 1861.  He resigned his commission on March 12, 1863.  Here’s a history of the regiment. 

John is a shadowy figure, due in part to the fact that, despite serving in brigade command, he was never made a general officer.  I found some mention of him in Sherman’s Civil War, a collection of W. T. Sherman correspondence edited by Brooks Simpson at Civil Warriors. 

On page 267, Sherman mentions that McDowell delivered a speech prior to the presentation of a saddle to the general.  On page 323 he writes to Grant in Nov. 1862 that he feels McDowell among others is fit for brigade command.  On pages 341-342 he establishes the familial relationship between John and Irvin in a December 14, 1862 letter to the latter (in which he expressed his support for the embattled Irvin, who was suffering under a cloud of suspicion following Second Bull Run): 

Your brother John A. McDowell has been with me nearly a year commanding one of my Brigades and I left him a few days since at College Hill near Oxford in command of as good a Brigade as is in our whole army.  He is a good kind hearted Gentleman, full of zeal for our cause and I parted with him with feelings of great kindness.  I have urged his name for promotion and I hope successfully.  We have often talked of you, and through him I have sent you many expressions of my personal regard for your high character as a Patriot and Soldier. 

 Other than noting the event in a March 13, 1863 letter to his wife, Sherman does not detail the circumstances of McDowell’s resignation.  Lieutenant Colonel and future general John M. Corse took command of the 6th IA. 

Sherman also mentions on two occasions Major Malcolm McDowell of Ohio, a paymaster in his command.  There was a Malcolm McDowell who was a signal officer on Irvin’s staff at First Bull Run, and Malcolm was involved in preferring charges against Colonel Thomas Worthington as described in Sherman’s letter to Thomas Ewing Sr. on January 16, 1863.  As John McDowell is mentioned in this same letter as having complained about Worthington, I don’t think it a stretch that this Malcolm is the same Malcolm who was with Irvin on July 21.  On page 76 of Historic Families of Kentucky you’ll see that Abram Irvine McDowell of Columbus, OH had three sons – Irvin, John and Malcolm – so I’m pretty confident the fellows I’ve mentioned above are the three brothers.  I’m positive Major Malcolm is not the fellow pictured here:     

clockwork.jpg 

This guy makes looking for info on Major Malcolm on the web a real pain, tempting one to acts of ultraviolence.  Not to worry, he’s just here to check the meter. 

If you have any more info on John or Malcolm, please let me know. 

I’ve been remiss in posting photos and tales of my visit to Shiloh, and I’ll try to make up for that in the months ahead, assuming I can find some sort of Bull Run connection.  Speaking of that, here’s a random headstone I ran across at the national cemetery in Corinth, MS:   

manninggrave.jpg 

 

 

 





Irvin McDowell

11 01 2007

 

Irvin McDowell born Columbus, OH 10/15/18; son of Abram (one-time mayor of Columbus) and Eliza Seldon Lord McDowell; and brother of John A. McDowell, colonel of 6th Iowa Infantry and brigade commander under W. T. Sherman at Shiloh, and Malcolm McDowell, who served on Irvin’s staff; married Helen Burden of Troy, NY 11/13/44; four children: Irvin, Helen, Elsie, and Henry Burden; early education in France (College de Troyes); West Point class of 1838 (23 of 45); Bvt 2nd Lt 1st Arty 7/1/38; 2nd Lt 7/7/38; instructor of tactics at USMA 1841-1845; 1st Lt 10/7/42;  ADC to Gen. J. E. Wool in Mexican War; received a brevet to captain Ass’t Adj. Gen, for gallantry at Buena Vista 5/13/47; Bvt Maj Ass’t Adj. Gen. 5/31/56; appointed BGUSA  5/14/61 (n 7/16/61, c 8/3/61); Dept. of NE VA, 5/27/61 to 8/17/61; commanded forces now known as Army of NE VA, 7/8/61 to 8/15/61; McDowell’s Div. Army of the Potomac (AotP) 10/3/61 to 3/13/62; First Corps AotP 3/13/62 to 4/4/62; MGUSV eff. 3/14/62 (n 3/3/62, c 3/14/62); Dept. of Rappahannock, 4/4/62 to  6/26/62; wounded 6/18/62 when his horse fell on him; Third Corps, Army of VA, 6/26/62 to 9/5/62; Dept. of the Pacific, 5/21/64 to 6/27/65; Bvt MGUSA 3/13/65 (n 4/10/66, c 5/4/66) for the Battle of Cedar Mountain; Dept. of CA, 6/27/65 to 3/31/68; mustered out of volunteers (MOV) 9/1/66; Fourth Military District, 6/4/68 to 7/4/68; Dept. of the West, 7/16/68 to 12/16/72; MGUSA 11/25/72; Depts of East and South 12/16/72 to 76; Division of the Pacific 1876 to retirement 10/15/82; became San Francisco Park Commissioner; died 5/4/85, San Francisco, CA; buried San Francisco National Cemetery (Presidio), San Franciso, CA; marker reads “Irwin McDowell, Maj Gen US Army May 4, 1885”.

Sources: Boyd, The Irvines and their Kin, pp. 152, 171; Eicher & Eicher, Civil War High Commands, pp 377-378, 704, 708, 716; Heitman, Historical Register and Dictionary of the U. S. Army, Vol. I p 664; Simpson, ed, Sherman’s Civil War, p341; Sifakis, Who was Who in the American Civil War, pp 414-415; Warner, Generals in Blue, pp 297-299; http://genforum.genealogy.com/cgi-bin/pageload.cgi?irvin::mcdowell::2682.html

mcd1.jpgmcd3.jpgmcd2.jpgmcd4.jpgmcd5.jpg

 Photos a, b, c, d – www.generalsandbrevets.com; e – www.findagrave.com

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George Palmer Putnam, Publisher, On the Retreat, With Incidents of the Battle

29 08 2014

The Affair of the Twenty-First.

George P. Putnam, the publisher, was an eye witness of the retreat of Sunday and Monday, and says:

The reports of a disorderly retreat of our main army are grossly untrue. A brief statement of a small part of what I witnessed will show this.

Mr. Tilley of Rhode Island and myself accompanied the De Kalb Regiment[*] from Alexandria in the cars to the Fairfax station on the Manassas Gap Railroad; we reached there at 10 A.M. Heavy cannonading was steadily going on. While the regiment waited for orders we walked forward on the track till within five miles of Manassas Junction. A scout was there sending hourly reports to General Scott of the firing. Returning, as the regiment still halted, a party of four of us, with a soldier, walked on the Fairfax Court House three miles, and thence on the road to Centreville.

About f o’clock we began to meet buggies and wagons with visitors returning to Washington. All reported that the day was ours, and rode on jubilant, until, at half past 4, an officer on horseback, riding fiercely, said, with emphasis, “No, no, it’s going against us.” The firing had ceased.

Near Centreville, between two long hills, we suddenly saw army wagons and private vehicles coming down before us in hot haste – a few soldiers on horseback mixed in with the crowd. Looking back we w found a regiment coming fresh from Fairfax in “double quick.”

Mr. Russel, of the London Times, was on horseback among the first from the battle.

The New Jersey Colonel instantly formed his men across the road, and resolutely turned back every soldier in the road, and in twenty minutes perfect order was restored, and the whole flight of the vehicles was shown to be absurd, so much so that we waited two hours at that spot, drawing water for the poor wounded men, who began to limp along from the field; only two or three ambulances to be seen.

At half past six, two hours after the battle was over, we started [?] [?] back to Fairfax Court House, [?] [?] [?] four wounded soldiers into the wagon.

Those who were [?] [?] [?] [?] got by the Jersey boys, were stopped by a company of the Michigan Fourth, from Fairfax, and compelled to turn back.

At Fairfax Court House we quietly took supper at the tavern, and never [dreaming] of any disorderly retreat, we were supplied with good beds; we undressed and went to sleep at 11 P.M. At three o’clock Monday morning, finding the wagons were moving on the Alexandria, we started again and walked quietly along with them to Alexandria, doing what little we could to aid the men more or less slightly wounded, or worn out, including some from the hospital – for still there was scarcely an ambulance to be seen.

But on the whole road from Centerville to Alexandria, I am confident that there were not five hundred soldiers in all, between 6 P.M. and day-light; so that it is grossly untrue that the whole army made a hasty retreat. On the contrary, all seemed to be certain that a stand was made at Centerville, of the whole of our main body, excepting only the stragglers from this first panic. The panic was explained by several who agreed it was purely accidental.

I talked with at least forty from Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin regiments who gave me some thrilling incidents of different parts of the field – which I have no time to tell now – many grumbled at [?] [?], but all seemed plucky, and said that our troops could beat the rebels easily in an open fight, and would do it yet – but the masked batteries on one side and the blunders on ours had “done for us this time.” I reached Alexandria at seven – having walked forty miles.

– The following incidents of the battle form the first chapter of the volume of history and legend that will grow out of it:

– A spectator of the [?] tells me that the Zouaves literally decimated the Black Horse Cavalry, the celebrated rebel troop. About the middle of the battle the Zouaves fired by platoon upon the rebel infantry stationed in the woods. After they had fired they discovered a troop of horse coming down on their rear. — They carried the American flag, which deceived Col. Heintzelman, and made him believe they were United States Cavalry, and  he so told the Zouaves. As they came nearer, their true character was discovered, but too late for all the Zouaves to reload. The regiment faced and received the cavalry as they came down, with leveled bayonets which threw them into confusion. Then away went muskets, and the Zouaves went in withe their knives and pistols. They seized horses and stabbed their riders. In this hand-to-hand conflict the Black Horse Troop were handled in their own preferred way of fighting. — The [?] showed the Zouaves to be the most expert handlers of the knife. When the fight was over, there were not twenty of the four hundred cavalry left alive. Men and horses had been cut to pieces by the infuriated red-shirts. This troop of cavalry had boasted they would picket their horses in the grounds of the White House.

– Mr. Russel of The London Times, who witnessed at Inkerman and elsewhere in the Crimea the fiercest infantry charges on record, says they were surpassed by those of our Firemen Zouaves, Sixty-ninth, and other regiments. The best fighting ever done on the globe was that by a large portion of the defenders of the [?] at Bull’s Run.

– Our greatest deficiency was in cool and [???]. The men fought [?] and were ready for anything which experienced commanders would order them to do. Gen. McDowell behaved admirably. He was active, [?] and attended to everything in person as far as possible; but he had not a sufficient staff, and was not properly supported by his subordinates. — Major Wadsworth of New York, one of his aids, showed the utmost gallantry and devotion. He exerted himself to rally the forces when they first fell back, and towards the close, after having his horse shot under him, seized the colors of the wavering New York Fourteenth, and called on the boys to rally once more for another charge, but without success. Major Wadsworth, as the Army retreated, remained at Fairfax Court House, and devoted himself to purchasing everything needful for the wounded. of whom about a hundred and fifty were at that place.

– A number of the Second New York saw the rebel sharp-shooters fire upon and kill two vivandieres who were giving [?] and [?] to the wounded. The rebels also shout at ambulances bringing off the wounded. They also fired point blank at the buildings used as hospitals, and it is said by some that they fired the buildings.

– Lieut. Col. Haggerty of the Sixty-ninth, was killed in a charge. When his body was found, his throat was cut from ear to ear, and his ears and nose were cut off. Many of the sounded were found thus disfigured.

– A member of the New York Sixty-ninth says:

Thos. Francis  Meagher was the most conspicuous man on the field, riding on a white horse, with his hat off, and going into the battle most enthusiastically. At one time our regimental color was taken, and Meagher seized the green flag of Ireland, and went to the front, leading the men to the charge. The color was recaptured, the enemy was driven back, and the we formed in hollow square, by orders, and retreated steadily off the ground.

– A Union man living near Fairfax assured our informants he had seen the intrenchments at Manassas, and that there were nine miles of batteries there.

– The number of killed and wounded is got by Gen. Mansfield at less than 1,000, and by Gen. McDowell at from 500 to 700.

– Senator Lane, of Indiana, gives it as his opinion that the reason of the panic was an order given to the batteries to return to a certain point for ammunition, and this apparently retreating movement of batteries produced consternation and panic. By other the order to retreat, which assisted to change the fortunes of Sunday, is ascribed to Gen. Miles, of the Army, who commanded the fifth division.

– The Zouaves, after taking one battery, were rushing upon another , when those behind it cried out, “For God’s sake, don’t shoot your brothers.” Upon this, the Zouaves reserved their fire, until artillery was poured in upon them by the battery from which the supplications had come.

– It is well authenticated that in several instances our men fired upon each other. Company [?] of the Thirty-eighth Regiment New York Volunteers, suffered severely form such a mischance.

– When the colors of the Sixty-ninth were captured by the Virginians, two of them seized the flags and were going off with them, when Lieut. Matthews, of Company K, Fire Zouaves, fired and killed both the Virginians, and recovered the flags.

– Capt. Wildey, of Company I, Zouaves, killed two out of four Mississippians who were dragging a gun. All our men agree in representing that the rebel infantry will not stand a fair fight, even with three to our one. They gave way whenever attacked, when not supported by artillery.

– There is every reason now to believe, from concurrent reports, that a retreating panic seized the confederate army at the same time some of our regiments began their hasty and wild exodus from the scene of carnage.

– Capt. T. F. Meagher had a horse shot under him, but is untouched. All out losses were in advancing – none in falling back. There was no panic in front. This was confined mainly to the wagon drivers, straggling soldiers and fugitive officers, and the rear of the column.

– Our loss in field pieces is not so great as heretofore estimated. Every gun of Capt. Ayres’ battery, formerly Sherman’s, was brought off safe – only some caissons being lost. The loss of baggage wagons will not exceed fifty. In small arms, our loss is at least three thousand.

– The Colonels of our regiments appear to have been in the thickest of the fight, if we may judge by the casualties. The returns show four killed and seven wounded. There were thirty-six in the engagement, which gives a ratio of one in three killed or wounded.

– Gen. Cameron, who went to Manassas intending to witness the battle, was so impressed with  the doubtful character of the attempt to force the enemy’s position, that he returned in haste to Washington to [?], if possible, the orders which had been issued for an attack, but arrived too late. He immediately pressed forward, however, all the available troops to strengthen the Reserve Corps. Our officers had little hope of winning the battle, on Saturday night. A prominent Member of Congress who was there, after an interview with General McDowell and his aids, wrote down his conviction that we should lose it, and that the commanding General was hopeless at the commencement of the battle. We learn from another source that this was the general feeling among the officers. One captain remonstrated against the madness of the assault. Gen. McDowell said that a victory at this juncture was so important, that a great risk must be run to win it.

– It is believed the loss of the Fire Zouaves will not exceed 100, and that of the N.Y. 71st 60. Stragglers are continually coming in, but they are scattered through the different camps, so that the muster roles of different regiments can not yet be arranged, and the exact losses ascertained.

– A prisoner who was brought in, in the course of the battle, declared that Gen. Johnston was shot, and fell from his horse at his feet. When Col. Burnside fell from his killed horse, he conversed for a moment with a rebel officer, who asked him whether he was wounded, when he replied, “Only slightly.” “I am mortally wounded,” said the rebel, “and can have no object in deceiving you. I assure you that we have 90,000 men in and within forty minutes of Manassas Junction.”

– The New York Herald’s dispatch says:

The whole of Sherman’s battery is saved.

Col. Blenker, commanding a brigade in the division of Col. Miles, which brought up the rear of the retreating column, picked up on the way the guns of Burnside’s R.I. regiment that had been left behind, and brought them in. The horses had been detached for the purpose of bringing in the wounded.

Hon. Alfred Ely, of the Rochester district, and his companion on the field, Mr. Bing, have not been heard of since the battle. They were last seen near one of the batteries, and are supposed to have been taken prisoners.

Capt. Griffin lost 60 of the horses attached to his battery, but brought away one gun and the forge.

If a stand had been made at Centerville, the enemy would probably never have discovered the advantage accidentally gained.

Col. McCunn, of the 37th N.Y. regiment, is in command at Fort Ellsworth. His brigade consists of the 37th New York, Lieut Col. Burke commanding, the 14th, 16th, 26th, 15th and [?] New York [???].

Col. Corcoran, of the 69th Irish Regiment, and Capt Edward A. Wild, Massachusetts regiment, are missing. It is feared that Corcoran is dead.

Lieut. Chandler, Co. A., Massachusetts 1st, is not dead as reported.

Ellsworth Zouaves punished the Black Horse Rangers very severely by lying flat on the ground feigning death, until they were almost upon them, when rising and giving one of their fiendish war yells, each Zouave picked his man and fired, decimating the detachment, and stampeding their horses without riders.

Oneida [Utica, New York] Weekly Herald, 7/30/1861

Clipping Image

Contributed by John Hennessy

George P. Putnam Wikipedia (G. P. was the grandfather of his namesake publisher and husband of aviator Amelia Earhart.)

* 41st New York Infantry, in Runyon’s Division





W. T. Sherman’s Boyhood Home

6 08 2014

While I’m posting these letters of W. T. Sherman (there are a few more to come), it’s about time a share of few of the photos I took earlier this year on my visit his boyhood home in Lancaster, OH. The trip was made the day after my presentation to the Central Ohio Civil War Roundtable on March 12, courtesy of friend Mike Peters.

The Sherman House Museum is located at 137 East Main St. This is the main drag of the town, and it’s not until you actually stand there on the street that you realize how proximate are the sites familiar to students of Sherman and the Ewing family to one another. Sherman’s father Charles was a lawyer, as was Thomas Ewing, with whom Cump went to live after his father passed away. The homes of Sherman and Ewing, and the courthouse where they did business, are all located within a block of each other. The two houses are separated by two lots, on one of which Cump’s sister and her lawyer husband built their home.

The Sherman House was not scheduled to be open that day, but Mike called ahead and the Fairfield Heritage Association, which maintains the museum, graciously opened up for us anyway. I believe it was FHA Executive Director Andrea Brookover who guided us through the home. No interior photos were allowed, but below are a few shots of the exterior and of the Ewing house. Click on the thumbnails for larger images.

The house was expanded over the years, and not all is as it was when Uncle Billy lived there. There are some items that are original to the home at the time of the general’s occupancy, and some of his furnishings from later homes. The second floor includes a pretty cool – and large – collection of Sherman memorabilia and ephemera. We were also treated to a look at the basement, which always gives me a better idea of a structure, although I’m not sure the original dwelling had a basement, and it certainly did not have this particular basement.

The Sherman House Museum is definitely worth the trip if you’re in the Columbus area.

Sherman House Front

Sherman House Front

Sherman House Rear

Sherman House Rear

Sherman House Yard

Sherman House Yard

Sherman House Plaque

Sherman House Plaque

Ewing House

Ewing House





Col. W. T. Sherman, to His Wife, On Blackburn’s Ford

4 08 2014

Camp – 1 m. West of Centreville

26 from Washington

July 19, 1861.

Dearest Ellen,

I wrote to John yesterday, asking him to send you my letter that you might be assured of my safety.  Thus far the enemy has retired before us – yesterday our General Tyler made an unauthorized attack on a battery over Bull Run – they fired Gun for Gun – and on the whole had the best of it – the Genl. finding Centreville a strong place evacuated, followed their tracks to Bull Run which has a valley deeply wooded admitting only of one narrow column. I was sent for and was under fire about half an hour, the Rifled Cannon shot cutting the trees over head and occasionally pitching into the ground. 3 artillerists – 1 infantry a & 3 horses in my Brigade with several wounded – I have not yet learned the full extent of damage – and as it was a Blunder, dont care – I am uneasy at the fact that the Volunteers do pretty much as they please, and on the Slightest provocation bang away – the danger from this desultory firing is greater than from the Enemy as they are always so close whilst the latter keep a respectful distance. We were under orders to march at 2 1/2 A.M. – the Division of Tyler to which my Brigade belongs will advance along a turnpike Road, to a Bridge on Bull Run – This Bridge is gone – and there is a strong Battery on the opposite shore of the River – here I am summoned to a council at 8 P.M at General McDowell’s camp about a mile distant – I am now there, all the Brigade commanders are present and only a few minutes intervene before they all come to this table.

I know tomorrow & next day we hall have had hard work – and I will acquit myself as well as I can – with Regulars I would have no doubts, but these Volunteers are subject to Stampedes[.] Yesterday there was an ugly stampede of 800 Massachusetts men – the Ohio men claim their discharge and so do others of the 3 months men – of them I have the Irish 69th New York which will fight.

I am pretty well, up all night and sleeping a little by day – Prime [,] Barnard, Myers & others of your acquaintance are along – Prime slept in my camp last night.

My best love to all – my faith in you & children is perfect and let what may befal me I feel they are in a fair way to grow up in goodness and usefulness. Goodby for the present yrs. ever

Sherman

Simpson, Brooks D.& Berlin, Jean V. Sherman’s Civil War: Selected Correspondence of William T. Sherman, 1860-1865, pp. 118-119

 





Col. W. T. Sherman, to His Wife, On Preparations to March (2)

17 07 2014

Camp opposite Georgetown.

July 16, 1861.

Dearest Ellen,

We start forth today at 2 P.M. move forward 10 miles to Vienna, there sleep – and tomorrow morning expect to fight some six or eight thousand of the enemy, at or near Fairfax, Germantown or Centreville – There we may pause for a few days & then on Manassas Junction, Beauregards Hd. Qrs. distant from here about 30 miles. I think we shall make a wide circuit, to come on his rear.

I am going to mind my own Brigade – not trouble myself about General plans – McDowell commands the whole – Brig. Gen. Tyler our column of 4 Brigades of about 10, or 11,000 men. I will have 3,400 – New York 13, 69 & 79th & Wisconsin 2nd with Shermans Battery now commanded by Capt. Ayres.

I take with me a few clothes in the valises & saddle bags – leave my small trunk to follow – have about 50 dollars in money, a Boy named John Hill as servant – have drawn pay to June 30 – and you know all else.

I think Beauregard will probably fall back tomorrow on Manassas, and call by R. R. from the neighborhood of Richmond & Lynchburg all the men he can get, and fight us there, in which case we will have our hands full.

Yesterday I went to the convent to bring the Girls over to see a drill – I found India Turner over visiting John Lee – Miss Whittington out in the country – so I brot over Miss Patterson and a Miss Walker of New Orleans – and after drill took them back – I saw Sister Bernard, and another who said she was your drawing teacher – She had a whole parcel of little prayers, and relics to keep me from harm – I told her you had secured about my neck as it were with a Silk cable a little medal which would be there, and her little relics I would stow away in my holsters.

Whatever fate befalls me, I Know you appreciate what good qualities I possess – and will make charitable allowances for defects, and that under you, our children will grow up on the safe side. About the Great Future that Providence that gives color and fragrance to the modest violet will deal justly by all – knowing the Secret motives & impulses of every heart. In the noise, confusion, hustle and [crises] of these thousand volunteers, my tongue and pen may be silent henceforth about you and our children, but I confide them with absolute confidence to you and the large circle of our mutual friends & relations.

I still regard this as but the beginning of a long war, but I hope my judgment therein is wrong, and that the People of the South may yet see the folly of their unjust Rebellion against the most mild & paternal Government ever designed for men – John will in Washington be better able to judge of my whereabouts and you had better send letters to him. As I read them I will tear them up, for every ounce on a march tells.

Tell Willy I have another war sword, which he can add to his present armory – when I come home again – I will gratify his ambitions on that score, though truly I do not choose for him or Tommy the military profession. It is too full of blind chances to be worthy of the first rank among callings.

Watch well your investments – the note you left with Turner, as well as you others lest you may be necessitated to fall back on them. Always assure Maj. Turner and Mr. Lucas of the unbounded respect I feel for them. Give your father, mother, sis & all my love. Tell Henrietta it has been an impossibility for me to go over to see her father & mother without neglecting my command which I never do. Good bye – and believe me always most affectionately yrs.

W. T. Sherman

Simpson, Brooks D.& Berlin, Jean V. Sherman’s Civil War: Selected Correspondence of William T. Sherman, 1860-1865, pp. 116-118








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