Col. William Smith’s Memoir of the Battle

13 12 2008

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RELATIVE LOSSES.

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

evans

Force estimated at 1,300 men.

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

bee

2,800 muskets.

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

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

jackson

Dr. Dabney estimates 2,700.

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

William Smith.





Shout Out

1 12 2008

Thanks to reader Robert Moore II of Cenantua’s Blog for the numerous contributions he has made to this site over the past few days, while most of us were in turkey induced comas.  As a result, I have fixed a couple of inaccuracies in my CSA and CSA Artillery orders of battle (I had conflicting info noted on the OOBs – I try to do that when I’m not sure).  Check out the comments to posts here, here, here, and here.  Now it’s a question of me getting all this other good stuff incorporated into the site.  Thanks Robert for this and all the other help you’ve provided.  This type of reader participation is what I had in mind when I started this blog.  No blogger is an island.

Lest you think I just take anyone’s “word” for stuff, I do check everything out as much as possible.  In the case of the Culpeper/Newtown artillery, Robert is uniquely qualified to render advice because he has authored books on four of the Confederate batteries (including Newtown) present at First Bull Run.  These books are part of the Virginia Regimental History Series (VRHS), aka the Howard Series (those thin, gray volumes you see at NPS bookstores).  I plan on collecting the volumes for those units present at Bull Run, but individually and new they are not cheap.  Anybody want to trade any for OR volumes?

In the course of the flurry of comment exchanges this weekend, I wrote something along the lines of the the following, but it must have gone MIA.  Tell me if this is something you’d like to see:

I plan to write regimental biographies, which will work as follows:

  • A master page with all regiments listed and linked (one page for USA and one for CSA);
    • A page for each regiment with links to the following three posts:
      • Companies and commanders, including other names the companies were known as, along with county of origin.  Also numbers and losses for 7/21/61;
      • A very brief summary of the regiment’s movements on 7/21/61;
      • A full biographical sketch based on sources like Dyer, The Union Army, and Crute.  This will be easier for USA units than CSA, I think.




Lieut. Patrick O’Rorke’s Account of the Campaign

11 05 2008

Private Correspondence – Lieut. P. H. O’Rorke (ADC to Brig. Gen. Daniel Tyler) to his Brother, Thomas*

//Page 1//

Washington City, July 28th, 1861

Dear Brother

I saw P. J. Dowling and Mr. Buckley this morning over at fort Corcoran, and my heart was gladdened by the sight of some letters from home.  These are the first letters from my own family that I have received since I left West Point, a month ago.  I have been changing about from one place to another so much that my letters get lost in following me.  For instance I was told by one of Gen. McDowell’s Staff that there was a letter for me at their HeadQrs. on the other side of the river.  I went over there the next day and found that some of my friends had sent it to Alexandria thinking that I was there.  It will probably reach me in the course of a month.  You ask me for details of the Battle of last Sunday.  To give you a general plan of the Battle and its progress throughout the day would take more time than I have to spare, as I am now busily engaged in assisting Gen. Tyler to collect the reports of the several commanders in his Division, and engrossing them in one.  I shall limit myself to an account of my own experience since I left the Point.  On arriving in this city from the Academy, as you already know I was set to drilling a Reg’t of volunteers from N. Hampshire.  This continued about a week when I was ordered to //VERSO// report in person to Gen. McDowell at his Hd.Qrs. at Arlington.  He immediately sent me to Gen. Tyler at Falls Church a few miles this side of Fairfax to be one of his Aids.  Here we staid until the 16th, being all this time busily engaged in perfecting the organization of the different Brigades composing his division, inspecting Regiments etc.  The day after my arrival at Falls Church I went out with another member of my class Mr. Audenried on a scouting party towards Fairfax then strongly held by the enemy.  We approached to within two miles and a half of Fairfax when we came upon the pickets of the enemy and captured two of them.  I mention this to show that myself and Mr. Audenried were the first of our class within the enemy’s line of pickets, and that we had the first sight of the enemy.  On the 16th the forward movement of the army commenced.  Our Division moved on Vienna.  When we arrived there we found no enemy.  The next day, learning that the enemy had evacuated Fairfax we moved through Germantown and encamped beyond, towards Centreville.  Here we found a camp of the enemy which had just been deserted by them, and in which their fires were yet burning.  Our men picked up here quite a number of carbines and other arms left behind by the rebels in their haste to get out of our way.  The next morning at daylight we were again on the road on the track of the flying enemy, and on arriving at Centreville found that they were yet before us, having abandoned at this point a strongly entrenched position which fully commanded the road by which our Division //Page 2// arrived.  From this point roads diverged in various directions.  We learned here that the enemy had divided his forces, part of them taking a road which led to Blackburn’s Ford over Bull Run, in the direction of Manassas.  Now as we were approaching the strong position of the enemy, it was necessary to move with great caution.  Gen. Tyler now took a squadron of Cavalry and two companies of Infantry to make an armed reconnoisance in the direction of Blackburn’s Ford.

If you will take a good map of that vicinity you will easily follow me.  Well we proceeded without seeing anything of the enemy until we arrived on the crest of a hill overlooking the Ford and about half a mile from it.  From this point we could see the enemy pickets in the valley before us, and bodies of his troops on the high ground on the opposite side, but not in very large numbers.  Our object being to discover if possible something of the enemy’s numbers and the position of the Batteries we knew he had here, the General sent back one of his Aids to order up a couple of 20 pdr. rifled guns, and Richardson’s Brigade to support them.  These were soon on the ground and then we thought we would try to draw their fire, and thus make them discover to us their position.  A large body of Cavalry was standing in an open field about two miles and a half from us, who evidently thought they were beyond our range, from the confidence with which they showed themselves.  We aimed one of our 20 pdrs. carefully, and sent a shell whizzing towards them. //VERSO// In about ten seconds the shell fell and burst among them, and it certainly was amusing to see them scamper.  They got themselves out of sight in double quick time I can assure you.  We then aimed and fired at several prominent points, where the enemy could be seen, but for several minutes they maintained an obstinate silence.  At last when we had about concluded that they were determined not to show themselves, a battery of two pieces opened very unexpectedly, almost at the foot of the hill on the crest of which we were standing, sending their balls right amongst us as we were standing grouped around our pieces.  We immediately turned our pieces on this Battery whose position we could not see, but which we could determine approximately from the smoke rising through the trees.  In about four minutes they ceased firing and we heard nothing more from that point.

Our object being so far but very partially attained, Col. Richardson was directed to throw forward skirmishers into a small wood, between us and Bull Run, who were directed to feel their way cautiously forward, and see what they could discover, a couple of Regiments being marched forward and placed under cover in a ravine, within supporting distance.  In the meantime I had been sent back to Centreville to bring up Ayres’ Battery and Sherman’s Brigade so as to be prepared for any emergency, and I arrived on the ground with the Battery just as our skirmishers //Page 3// were entering the wood.  In a few moments we heard a scattered firing commence in this wood, as our skirmishers met those of the enemy.  The affair now began to get interesting.  Now men were thrown forward to  support our skirmishers, and as the General had discovered an opening in the wood in which  a couple of pieces of Art’y could be unlimbered, he now sent Capt. Ayres with two Howitzers to that point to open a fire upon the enemy within a short range.  Ayres took his pieces to the indicated point and sent a couple of charges of Canister among the enemy who appeard to be in great numbers a short distance in his front.  This was more than human nature could stand quietly, and the enemy answered by a thundering volley of musketry and artillery, thus showing us that they were in very great force, and also the positions of their Batteries.  This was all we wanted to know and the affair would have ended there, but before the General could interfere Col Richardson sent the 12th N. Y. Reg’t in line into the wood to clear it.  They went forward in excellent order, until they reached the edge of a ravine, in the bottom, and on the opposite side of which the enemy were posted.  Here they were exposed to the combined fire of three or four thousand troops, and two Batteries.  They returned the fire warmly for a few minutes, but the odds were too great, and they finally broke, and retreated in confusion.

Lt. Upton and myself had just ridden down into the woods to see how it felt to be under such a fire //VERSO// and we arrived behind our lines just before they broke and ran.  We rode about among the men and used every exertion to rally them and lead them again against the enemy.  We appealed to their pride and to their manhood.  We begged them for the honor of our state and of our flag to reform, and make another stand – but without effect.  Their officers I must say were worse than the men, and set them and example of tall running.  Only two companies stood their ground and were withdrawn in good order.  The object of our reconnoisance having now been attained the men were withdrawn to a safe position, while our two Batteries were directed upon the enemy whose position we now knew, and with terrible effect as we have since learned.  The enemy acknowledge a loss of 150 killed and more than twice that number wounded, at the same time claiming to have killed 1500 of our men.  The truth is we had but 19 killed and 38 wounded.  Col. Richardson remained in possession of the ground we occupied in the beginning of the engagement until the Battle on Sunday last.

I was now satisfied.  I had been under fire, and a pretty warm one too, and had felt no inclination to run.  The general and his staff returned to Centreville and I lay down that night and slept contented.  The next two days we lay encamped at that place.  On the night succeeding our action at Blackburn’s ford //Page 4// cars were heard constantly arriving at and departing from Manassas during the whole night.  Most of us felt confident that Johnston had effected a junction with Beauregard, and that we should have to fight their combined armies.  On Sunday morning we were ordered to march at half past two in the morning in the direction of Gainsville and take up a position just this side of Bull Run.  Hunter’s and Heintzelman’s columns took a road which crossed Bull Run about a mile and a half to our right, while Richardson’s Brigade remained to watch Blackburn’s Ford and prevent the enemy from flanking us.  Col. Miles was posted with the reserve at Centreville.  We arrived at the position assigned us about half past five – when I say “us”, I mean Tyler’s Division, about 12,000 men less Richardson’s Brigade – and fired the gun agreed upon to let the other column’s know that we were in position, and ready to sustain them.  In front of the centre of the line which we formed here was a Stone Bridge, obstructed by Abbattis and supposed to be mined, though it was not.  To the right and left were fords at short distances above and below the Bridge.  All these crossings were defended by Batteries placed so as to sweep them, and all the approaches to them, these Batteries being supported by large bodies of Infantry.  Our Division was composed of Sherman’s Brigade – in which were the 13th our Rochester Reg’t, the 69th, the 79th, and a Wisconsin Reg’t //VERSO// Gen. Schenck’s Brigade, and Col. Keyes’ Brigade.  We remained in position at this point until nearly 11 o’clock, amusing ourselves in the meantime by firing upon bodies of the enemy which we could see passing down the other side of the Run in the direction of Hunter’s column, of whose movement they seemed to be apprised.

The General sent me up into a large tree with a glass to see and report what was going on in that direction.  Using this tree as an observatory, I had a fine view of the beginning of the Battle and its continuance for half an hour before being engaged in it myself.  I saw Hunter’s column after it had crossed the Run, coming up towards us, or rather towards the enemy in our front.  The latter were at the same time moving large bodies of troops to meet him.

Finally they stopped in a open field, through which the road by which Hunter was advancing ran, and prepared to dispute his passage.  Here they placed a Battery to enfilade this road at the point at which it emerged from a wood, and posted their man in line of Battle on either side of their Battery, at the same time throwing out skirmishers into this wood to annoy him as he advanced.  Hunter advanced steadily driving the enemy’s skirmishers before him and deployed a portion of his column in the edge of a wood.  He then threw a section of one of his light Batteries up along this road into the open space in front, this Section being all this time under heavy fire from the enemy’s Battery.  As soon as it came out into the open space in front of the wood it unlimbered and opened its fire, the other sections coming up successively and opening as soo as they were in position.  At the //Page 5// same time Hunter opened a heavy musketry fire from the whole edge of the wood which he had occupied, and the engagement became general throughout the whole line.  The enemy stood it only for a few minutes when they broke and ran in the greatest confusion.  Hunter followed up his success and drove the enemy from one position to another, the enemy contesting every foot of the ground, until he arrived nearly opposite our position, when his column seemed to be arrested and I saw the enemy bringing down heavy reinforcements from the direction of Manassas.  I immediately reported these facts to Gen. Tyler when he at once ordered Sherman’s Brigade to cross the Run and support Hunter.  I then got down from my perch and joined the General.  In climbing the tree my cap had got knocked off, and when I came down I found some one had walked off with it.  I looked round and finally picked up an old straw hat, which some poor fellow had probably been killed in, as the inside and under side of the leaf was covered with blood & I wore that all day.  Pleasant, wasn’t it, wearing a dead man’s hat and expecting to follow suit every moment.  Sherman’s Brigade now crossed the run and on reaching the crest of the hill on the opposite side they encountered a portion of the enemy and routed them.  Here the Lt. Col. Of the 69th was killed.  This Brigade now joined Hunter’s column //VERSO// and I saw no more of them until the Retreat.  Consequently I can say nothing from personal observation as to the conduct of our Rochester Regiment in the action, though from all I can learn they behaved very handsomely.

Gen. Tyler, and of course myself, now crossed the Run under a heavy artillery fire at the head of Keyes’ Brigade.  We arrived on the high ground on the opposite side in good order and became immediately involved in the action.  We drove the enemy from point to point, until we finally arrived in front of a large house and its enclosure which the enemy had occupied with a large force and prepared for defence.  This position Keyes’ Brigade was ordered to carry, and in this operation Gen. Tyler and his staff assisted in person.  The Brigade was advanced in line, or rather in two lines nearly at right angles to each other against two sides of the position under a galling fire of musketry until within a short distance, when we opened a hot and continued fire upon the enemy.  Our men stood to their work bravely being entirely exposed while the enemy were sheltered.  Only once did they show any disposition to retire, and they were easily rallied.  We now made them lie down and continue their fire, which they did with a will for about five minutes.  During this time Lt. Abbott, Lt. Upton, and myself were the only mounted officers exposed to this fire and as we were necessarily very prominent, and only about fifty yards from the //Page 6// enemy were excellent marks for their riflemen.  Judging by the bullets which whistled by my ears, they must have taken particular care to fire at us, though we all escaped safely at that time.  I have got a hole in the skirt of my coat which I suppose was mae by one of their balls at this time.  The fire of the enemy now appearing to slacken a little, the order was given to charge with the bayonet which was done in splendid style, clearing the enclosure of the enemy and getting possession of the house in which we found a few of them, who could not get out in time and who were taken prisoners.  As soon as we found ourselves in possession of the house, a Battery which we had not seen before as it had been silent & was concealed, opened upon us and tore the old house all to pieces.  We found the place too hot to hold and retired into the road running in front of the house which happened to be cut down at this point thus giving us a shelter.  From this position we made a flank movement to turn this Battery intending to charge and take it if possible.  This movement was made under cover of a hill on which this Battery was placed.  We had just completed the movement and were about to charge up the hill on the Battery when we discovered that the other columns were retreating and a half mile distant, so that unless we took the back track instanter there was every probability of our being cut off.  The Retreat was consequently ordered //VERSO// and our Brigade joined the retreating column in good order.  I could scarcely believe the evidence of my senses when I saw that our army was retreating.  That portion of it with which I had been had been uniformely successful through the day, and I thought we were winning a glorious victory.  I was highly elated with success, and you can judge of the reversion of feeling which took place when I found we were retiring.

The Retreat was well enough and if it had been conducted with order there would be nothing to be ashamed of, for the number of fresh troops that the enemy had bought up to oppose us was overpowering, but after a short time when their cavalry charged upon our flank the Retreat degenerated into a rout.  It was at this time that my horse was killed under me.  We saw their cavalry coming down on us and tried to form enough men to repel the charge.  IN this, with considerably (sic) difficulty we were successful.  Some of the Ohio troops and Ayres’ Battery gave them a volley as they came down on us which emptied a good many of their saddles and sent them back again.  But they gave us one volley from their rifled carbines, one of the balls taking effect on my horse and killing him instantly.  He staggered forward a few steps and fell, throwing me on a pile of stones and bruising my right arm.  I got a Secession horse from a man in Ayres’ Battery, which he had just caught, and rode him to Centreville.  Of the Retreat from this point I do not care to speak.

I arrived a Falls Church at 5 o’clock the next morning having been in the saddle for twenty seven hours without anything to eat in the meantime, and without having eaten anything before going out, as I was sicj when we started.  I can assure you I //Page 7// was pretty well worn out.  After sleeping about three hours and getting a little breakfast I mounted my horse again and was out almost all day, in the midst of a heavy storm of rain bringing things down to Fort Corcoran and finally arrived here in Washington about 9 o’clock at night, having been thoroughly soaked to the skin for several hours.  I never slept so much in one night in my life as I did that night.  Since then I have been here in the City most of the time.  For the last two days I have been assisting Gen. Tyler to make out his official report.  He has been kind enough to mention me very honorably in it.  You will probably see it published in the N. Y. paper in a day or two.

Now, my dear Brother I have written here until I am tired and if you have read thus far I am sure you are too.  But I thought an account of the Battle by an eye-witness and an actor, would perhaps be more interesting to you than the newspaper accounts, particularly when the writer was your Brother.

I cannot find time to write any extended account of the Battle to all my friends, so if any of them want to know my experiences, you may show them this.  I saw Tom Bishop to-day he is all right.  I have not been able to see Charley Buckley but I hear that he is getting along very well.  Give my love to Mary, also to Mother and all our family.

Your affectionate

Brother Patrick

*For reference and citational info, see here





#24 – Lieut. William D. Fuller

6 03 2008

 

Report of Lieut. William D. Fuller, Third U.S. Artillery

O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 2 [S# 2] — CHAPTER IX, pp 366-368

FORT CORCORAN, VA., July 24, 1861

SIR: In obedience to your order, I beg leave to make the following report of the battle of Bull Run:

Leaving our camp near Centreville about 2.30 a.m. Sunday, the battery marched in rear of General Schenck’s brigade, immediately preceded by a 30-pounder rifled gun of Parrott’s make. The brigade, feeling its way, with skirmishers and flankers thrown out, arrived about 6 a.m. within two miles of Bull Run, across which the enemy were understood to be in position. At this point the road descends rapidly for three-quarters of a mile towards Bull Run. The 30-pounder rifled gun was placed in position in the road three-fourths of the way from the top to the foot of the hill, and fired twice at the supposed position of the enemy, without any effect of importance. Our battery having gone to the foot of the hill, almost down to the run, was countermarched, and formed into park on the top of the hill, behind and under cover of the woods.

Soon after, the battery was ordered and proceeded at once down the road, turned to the right near the foot of the hill, and came in battery in the edge of the wood. A party of the enemy having been observed to enter an abatis near the bridge, and just across Bull Run, Lieutenant Wilson fired two percussion shells from his rifled section, the first of which struck and burst in the abatis, scattering the enemy from it in all directions. More shots were fired from the 30-pounder rifled gun, and it was afterwards brought from the road and placed immediately on our right. The movements of the enemy were now and during the whole day studiously concealed under cover of woods or undulations of the ground.

At about 8.30 the column of Colonel Hunter was seen approaching across Bull Run and on our right. A movement of the troops of our division now began towards the right, and with the intention of crossing Bull Run. One of these regiments attempted to cut diagonally over the open field in front of our battery. When half way across, a light battery of six guns of the enemy galloped down, came in battery just across the run, and opened a rapid and unexpected fire of canister on this regiment which was marching by the right flank, and scattered it in confusion.

Captain Carlisle at once ordered the battery to open a fire of spherical case and shell on the enemy’s pieces, which at once ceased firing at our volunteer regiment, and began a rapid fire of shell and solid shot on us. After fifteen minutes of rapid firing on our part the fire of the enemy’s battery slackened. We then fired solid shot, and ended with a round of canister, the enemy having ceased firing, and retreated with heavy loss in men and horses, as we afterwards learned. My section consisted of a 6-pounder smooth-bore gun and a 12-pounder howitzer. But for the hot fire from our battery, under the direction of Captain Carlisle, the regiment which was within canister range of the enemy’s battery must have been cut to pieces. The timely diversion caused by the fire of our battery only saved them. A deliberate fire from the 30-pounder rifled gun was kept up with short intervals during the day, and evidently annoyed the enemy, who fired several rifled percussion shells at this piece with great precision.

Late in the afternoon the battery was directed to leave its position and go down near the bridge over Bull Run. While down there, Lieutenant Wilson, with his rifled section, and Lieutenant Lyford, with his section, were ordered out to take a position in front nearer the run, and both of these officers were under a heavy fire of shot and shell from batteries they could not reach with their guns. During their absence, being in command of the center section, by order of Captain Carlisle, I fired several rounds of spherical case and canister into the woods occupied by the enemy’s troops. On the return of the other sections, the battery was drawn just back of the brow of a small hill, to be covered from a fire of Hotchkiss and Parrott shell thrown from masked batteries in position. A Parrott shell which had not exploded fell near me, and on examination proved to be of excellent make, and must, from peculiarities in its construction, have been made by machinery similar to that of Captain Parrott, at the Cold Spring Foundry at West Point. A number of volunteers were killed by these projectiles in my vicinity.

Our battery was finally ordered up the hill a short distance to the rear, to place it and the troops under cover. Accurate information of our movements must have reached the enemy, as they changed the direction of their fire at once, and threw rifled projectiles all around us. After waiting in this road the battery was ordered up the hill, and directed to find a safe position just beyond it. Proceeding up the road in column of pieces, we were unexpectedly charged by cavalry, and from the position we could not come into action. Our cannoneers and drivers were shot or sabered. While moving at a gallop our wheels came off of each piece in my section. Our efforts to repair this damage were unavailing, and amidst a shower of pistol bullets we dragged our pieces until the traces broke. The men and non-commissioned officers behaved with gallantry. I halted at Centreville and attempted to join my brigade, but unsuccessfully. Learning that the regiments of the brigade were marching to Fairfax Court-House, I followed them with as many men and non-commissioned officers of my company as I could collect. An order being issued after this for the troops to retire to Washington, I proceeded with a sergeant, four enlisted men, and five horses to Fort Corcoran, where the baggage of the company was stored, and arrived there about 8 o’clock Monday morning.

Very respectfully,

WILLIAM D. FULLER,

Brevet Second Lieutenant, Third Artillery

Capt. J. HOWARD CARLISLE,

Commanding Company E, Second Artillery





#22 – Lieut. Stephen C. Lyford

6 03 2008

 

Report of Lieut. Stephen C. Lyford, First U.S. Dragoons

O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 2 [S# 2] — CHAPTER IX, pp 363-365

FORT CORCORAN, VA., July 25, 1861

SIR: In obedience to your orders, I beg leave to submit the following report of the engagement at Bull Run on Sunday, July 21, 1861:

Being attached to General Schenck’s brigade, we joined the division under the command of General Tyler, and at about 2 o’clock in the morning of July 21, our brigade leading the column, our battery was preceded by the First and Second Ohio Volunteers and the Second New York Volunteers in the above-mentioned order. We arrived in view of the enemy’s position about 5 a.m., and immediately opened fire with the 30-pounder rifled gun attached to our battery, under the immediate command of Lieutenant Hains, U.S. Army. This fire not being responded to, it was soon discontinued, and our brigade was ordered to take up a position in order of battle to the right and left of the main road, our battery being placed in the skirts of the woods on the right, with a hill immediately in our rear. The ground in front was entirely open, extending to the creek, on the farther side of which the enemy had constructed an abatis. Three regiments of volunteers were placed near us to support our battery. We then awaited the advance of the columns under Colonels Hunter and Heintzelman, who were to attack the enemy in flank. These troops advanced into position about 9 a.m., and immediately opened the attack, which was continued with great warmth on both sides. Several regiments from General Tyler’s division being ordered to cross the creek to their support, one of these regiments attempted to cross the open ground in front of our division, when a battery of the enemy opened fire upon them. This regiment was instantly dispersed in all directions. We replied to this fire so successfully that in a short time the battery was completely silenced, and, from the accounts of persons who afterwards visited their position, we found that only some ten or twelve of their men remained unhurt.

The section under my command, being composed of one 6-pounder gun and one 12-pounder howitzer, made use of shell, spherical case, and solid shot, ending with a few rounds of canister. Our supports in the mean time had disappeared, and from this time no regular support was sent to us. Without using our field guns for some time we continued the fire with the 30-pounder at intervals. In the afternoon, probably about 2 o’clock, we were ordered to a new position to counterbatter the enemy’s batteries, which were at such a distance that they could not be reached by our guns. We were here exposed to a most galling fire without being able to reply with success. The section commanded by Lieutenant Wilson having been ordered to a new position, and being actively engaged, I was ordered to place my section in a position to be designated by a captain of the Massachusetts volunteers, where, according to his statement, the ranks of the enemy could be much damaged by my fire. Upon advancing down the road for a quarter of a mile, under the fire of two of the enemy’s batteries, this place was pointed out by the captain, but not liking the position, I considered it advisable to halt my section, and proceed alone to examine the ground. On examination, I found that I should be directly under the fire of two batteries, without any support, and where, to obtain an elevation necessary to throw projectiles three hundred yards, it would be necessary to sink the trails of our carriages in the ground. In addition to this, there was nothing to use artillery against, and no troops whatever to support us. Taking these circumstances into consideration, I did not think that I should be justified in placing my guns in such a position, and consequently returned to my starting point.

Shortly after this our battery moved to the rear into the woods, and there remained in the road, the battery being in column of pieces. We remained in this position for some little time, when an order was given to move still farther to the rear. On emerging from the woods, we encountered a charge of cavalry. When my section was made aware of the enemy’s approach, the cavalry was not fifteen yards distant. The command “Gallop” was then given, and the rout was made in the greatest confusion. Previous to our encounter, several regiments had passed us at a run, completely routed, without our being aware that we had lost the day. Had there been any support for our battery, had one company of infantry stood fast, the cavalry could easily have been repulsed, and the shameful consequences avoided. Our battery moving at a gallop, the carriages one by one broke down, and the pieces one by one were scattered along the road. I rode with my section till I saw that all was lost, and, after receiving a ball in my horse’s neck, I continued on in your company to Centreville. From Centreville I rode with dispatches to General Scott, and arrived at Fort Corcoran at daylight on Monday morning. After partaking of refreshments, I rode back to Vienna, to pick up the stragglers belonging to our company. Throughout the day the non-commissioned officers and privates of my command behaved with the utmost coolness and gallantry.

I am, sir, with much respect, your obedient servant,

S.C. LYFORD,

Second Lieutenant, First Dragoons, U.S. Army

Capt. J. HOWARD CARLISLE,

Commanding Company E, Second Artillery, U. S. Army





#21 – Lieut. John M. Wilson

6 03 2008

 

Report of Lieut. John M. Wilson, Second U.S. Artillery

O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 2 [S# 2] — CHAPTER IX, pp 362-363

FORT CORCORAN, VA., July 24, 1861

SIR: In obedience to your order, I beg leave to make the following report of our attack and retreat at the battle of Bull Run:

By order of General Schenck, we prepared to move forward at exactly 2 a.m. Sunday, July 21, but owing to the infantry not being ready, our departure was delayed nearly an hour. Our brigade led off, our position being just behind the New York Second Regiment, who were preceded by the Ohio First and Second.

We moved forward slowly, experiencing little difficulty, except at the bridge across a small brook, the ford of the brook being obstructed by fallen trees. The difficulty arose from the weakness of the bridge, we fearing it would break under the weight of the 30-pounder gun. We passed over, however, without accident, and moved forward on the road, the troops taking position in line of battle, skirmishers in front.

At 5 a.m. exactly the first gun was fired by Captain Carlisle, who fired three times from the 30-pounder rifled gun without eliciting any reply from the enemy, who could be seen in crowds in the adjacent woods. Our battery then moved forward, and by order took up position on the brow of a small hill, facing down a ravine, with heavy woods immediately in rear of us. At the suggestion of Major Barry, of the artillery, I opened fire from my rifle section upon the enemy, immediately in rear of an abatis a short distance off, and dislodged them at the first fire; this was about 8.30 a.m. Colonel Hunter’s column having moved to the right to go over Bull Run, the enemy advanced out to meet them, when I again opened from my rifle guns, with what execution I could not tell. The firing on the right soon after became very severe. A regiment now attempted to cross Bull Run, when a battery behind a hill in front of us opened upon them, and they fell before it, breaking rapidly.

Our battery now opened upon the enemy in the most gallant style, firing with the greatest rapidity shot, shell, spherical case, and canister, and silenced their battery in a short time, we being under a very severe fire of solid shot and Hotchkiss shell. On inspecting their position afterwards it was found that they had been literally cut to pieces.

We then opened on a battery much farther off, and with the 30-pounder gun (rifled), and were replied to with such accuracy as to take off half the splinter-bar of the limber, and some of the shell which fell among us proved to be from the Parrott gun. A short time before this our infantry support was withdrawn, and we were left entirely alone. Soon after, we were ordered from this position, and I moved forward alone with my section to cover the position where a bridge was to be thrown over Bull Run, we being supported by the First Ohio Regiment and some other. By order of the commanding general of the brigade, I took-position in an open road, and fired at a house and into the woods. A battery, which could not be seen, now opened upon us with remarkable precision. I continued to fire for some time, until I was ordered to move farther down towards the run. I limbered up, and was about to move off, when vast columns of the enemy were seen coming over the hill, and though evidently beyond the range of my guns I fired at them by order of the commanding general of the brigade, again coming into battery, still being under a severe fire from the battery which we could not see.

In a few moments, having run out of ammunition, with the exception of one shell for each gun, I retired, by order of Colonel McCook, and took position with the rest of the battery, under Captain Carlisle, on the brow of a hill about one hundred yards from the position I then occupied. Here again we were under fire from some unseen source, and the shot and shell rained in among us. Our battery then again opened, the section under Lieutenant Fuller having been operating upon the enemy while Lieutenant Lyford and myself were absent with our sections. Lieutenant Lyford had moved just to my front and left, by order, and was also under a galling fire. On his return, we limbered up and moved slowly off to the road for a new position. We halted in the road, and a few moments after, by order of Captain Carlisle, I moved forward to get a proper position.

Just as I started, an orderly brought me an order from the commanding general of the brigade to halt. I halted, but soon after Captain Carlisle, by order, ordered us forward again, but it was too late. We were charged by cavalry in a road where we could not come into action–woods on each side of us and we in column. The infantry fell back precipitately in the woods. We moved forward at a gallop. Our men were shot down and sabered. The wheels broke down in all the pieces and caissons of my section. I halted to see if they could be fixed, amidst a perfect shower of pistol bullets, but finding they could not be, moved forward with the pieces on a jump without wheels until every trace broke. The men behaved gallantly and the non-commissioned officers with great coolness and bravery. I halted at Centreville, where an attempt was made to make a stand, but soon after moved on with dispatches from Colonel Sherman to Fairfax Court. House, arriving there about dark, and telegraphing the dispatch to Washington. With what men I could gather, and as many horses as I could get, I moved on the following day to Fort Corcoran, where my company is now being reorganized. Our loss is still unknown, as the horses and men are constantly coming in.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

JOHN M. WILSON,

Lieutenant, Second Artillery

Capt. J. HOWARD CARLISLE,

Commanding Company E, Second Artillery





#20 – Capt. J. H. Carlisle

6 03 2008

 

Reports of Capt. J. H. Carlisle, Second U.S. Artillery

O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 2 [S# 2] — CHAPTER IX, pp 361-362

DEPARTMENT OF NORTHEASTERN VIRGINIA,

Fort Corcoran, July 25, 1861

DEAR GENERAL: I intended to have visited you this morning, but in consequence of conflicting authority was unable to cross the river. I have not as yet been able to prepare a report, having only just received the reports of my subaltern officers. My report shall be prepared immediately and forwarded to your headquarters.

I herewith have the honor to submit a report of casualties in my command, viz: Men killed and missing, 11; wounded, 4. Horses killed and missing, 35. Guns lost, 4.

Being appointed chief of artillery of the defenses at this point, and being overwhelmed with the various duties incident to my command, I have been unable to communicate with you. If possible, I shall see you personally to-morrow, or at least communicate with you through an officer of my command.

I am, sir, with great respect, your obedient servant,

J. HOWARD CARLISLE,

Commanding Company E, Second Artillery

ROBERT C. SCHENCK,

Brigadier-General, U.S. Army

—–

DEPARTMENT OF NORTHEASTERN VIRGINIA,

Fort Corcoran, July 26, 1861

SIR: I have the honor to submit the following report of the engagement at Bull Run of Sunday, July 21:

Being in your brigade, and occupying the advance of the column, we reached the enemy’s position at 5 a.m. Your command advancing, my battery was placed more directly under the command of General Tyler, commanding the First Division. During the day we were under a most severe fire from the enemy’s batteries, and succeeded in completely silencing one of them, composed of six pieces. The sections of my battery acting separately during a great part of the day, the separate reports of the officers commanding these sections are herewith respectfully submitted. Throughout the entire day the officers and men under my command behaved in the most creditable manner. Lieutenant Wilson, Second Artillery with the rifled guns, was frequently detached, and did excellent service. Lieutenant Lyford, First Dragoons, U.S. Army, and Lieutenant Fuller, U.S. Artillery, each commanding sections, were each during the day at times acting separately from the battery, and acquitted themselves in the best manner. Lieutenant Hill, First Artillery, deserves great credit for his exertions in collecting horses and carriages and bringing two of the pieces from the field.

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

J. HOWARD CARLISLE,

Captain, Second Artillery, Commanding Company E

Brig. Gen. ROBERT C. SCHENCK,

U.S. Army





#84 (Part 1) – Gen. P. G. T. Beauregard

26 01 2008

 Reports of Gen. G. T. Beauregard, C. S. Army, and Resulting Correspondence (Part 1)

O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 2 [S# 2] — CHAPTER IX, pp 484 – 504

HDQRS. FIRST CORPS, ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,

Fairfax Court-House, October 14, 1861

SIR: I have the honor to transmit by my aide, Lieut. S. W. Ferguson, the report of the battle of Manassas, with the accompanying papers and drawings(*), as well as the flags and colors captured from the enemy on that occasion. Occupations of the gravest character have prevented their earlier transmission. I send as a guard of said colors two of the soldiers who participated in their capture.

I remain, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

G. T. BEAUREGARD,

General, Commanding

Gen. SAMUEL COOPER,

Adjutant General C. S. Army, Richmond, Va.

*Drawings not found

—–

HDQRS. FIRST CORPS, ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,

Manassas, August 26 [October 14], 1861

GENERAL: Before entering upon a narration of the general military operations in the presence of the enemy on the 21st of July, I propose, I hope not unseasonably, first to recite certain events which belong to the strategy of the campaign, and consequently form an essential part of the history of the battle.

Having become satisfied that the advance of the enemy, with a decidedly superior force, both as to numbers and war equipage, to attack or turn my position in this quarter, was immediately impending, I dispatched on the 13th of July one of my staff, Col. James Chesnut, of South Carolina, to submit for the consideration of the President a plan of operations substantially as follows:

I proposed that General Johnston should unite as soon as possible the bulk of the Army of the Shenandoah with that of the Potomac, then under my command, leaving only sufficient forces to garrison his strong works at Winchester, and to guard the fine defensive passes of the Blue Ridge, and thus hold General Patterson in check. At the same time Brigadier-General Holmes was to march hither with all of his command not essential for the defense of the position of Aquia Creek. These junctions having been effected at Manassas, an immediate impetuous attack of our combined armies upon General McDowell was to follow as soon as he approached my advanced positions at and around Fairfax Court-House, with the inevitable result, as I submitted, of his complete defeat and the destruction or capture of his army. This accomplished, the Army of the Shenandoah, under General Johnston, increased with a part of my forces, and rejoined as he returned by the detachments left to hold the mountain passes, was to march back rapidly into the valley, fall upon and crush Patterson with a superior force wheresoever he might be found. This I confidently estimated could be achieved within fifteen days after General Johnston should march from Winchester for Manassas. Meanwhile I was to occupy the enemy’s works on this side of the Potomac if, as I anticipated, he had been so routed as to enable me to enter them with him; or if not, to retire again for a time within the lines of Bull Run with my main force. Patterson having been virtually destroyed, then General Johnston would re-enforce General Garnett sufficiently to make him superior to his opponent, General McClellan, and able to defeat that officer. This done, General Garnett was to form an immediate junction with General Johnston, who was forthwith to cross the Potomac into Maryland with his whole force, arouse the people as he advanced to the recovery of their political rights and the defense of their homes and families from an offensive invader, and then march to the investment of Washington in the rear, whilst I resumed the offensive in front. This plan of operations, you are aware, was not accepted at the time, from considerations which appeared so weighty as to more than counterbalance its proposed advantages.

Informed of these views, and of the decision of the War Department, I then made my preparations for the stoutest practicable defense of the line of Bull Run, the enemy having now developed his purposes by the advance on and occupation of Fairfax Court-House, from which my advanced brigade had been withdrawn.

The War Department having been informed by me by telegraph on the 17th July of the movement of General McDowell, General Johnston was immediately ordered to form a junction of his army corps with mine, should the movement in his judgment be deemed advisable. General Holmes was also directed to push forward with two regiments, a battery, and one company of cavalry.

In view of these propositions, approaching re-enforcements modifying my plan of operations so far as to determine on attacking the enemy at Centreville as soon as I should hear of the near approach of the two re-enforcing columns, I sent one of my aides, Colonel Chisolm, of South Carolina, to meet and communicate my plans to General Johnston, and my wish that one portion of his forces should march by the way of Aldie, and take the enemy on his right flank and in reverse at Centreville. Difficulties, however, of an insuperable character, in connection with means of transportation and the marching condition of his troops, made this impracticable, and it was determined our forces should be united within the lines of Bull Run, and thence advance to the attack of the enemy.

General Johnston arrived here about noon on the 20th July, and being my senior in rank he necessarily assumed command of all the forces of the Confederate States then concentrating at this point. Made acquainted with my plan of operations and dispositions to meet the enemy, he gave them his entire approval, and generously directed their execution under my command.

In consequence of the untoward detention, however, of some five thousand of General Johnston’s army corps, resulting from the inadequate and imperfect means of transportation for so many troops at the disposition of the Manassas Gap Railroad, it became necessary, on the morning of the 21st, before daylight, to modify the plan accepted to suit the contingency of an immediate attack on our lines by the main force of the enemy, then plainly at hand.

The enemy’s forces, reported by their best-informed journals to be fifty-five thousand strong, I had learned from reliable sources on the night of the 20th were being concentrated in and around Centreville and along the Warrenton turnpike road to Bull Run, near which our respective pickets were in immediate proximity. This fact, with the conviction that after his signal discomfiture on the 18th of July before Blackburn’s Fords–the center of my lines–he would not renew the attack in that quarter, induced me at once to look for an attempt on my left flank, resting on the stone bridge, which was but weakly guarded by men, as well as but slightly provided with artificial defensive appliances and artillery.

In view of these palpable military conditions, by 4.30 a.m. on the 21st of July I had prepared and dispatched orders directing the whole of the Confederate forces within the lines of Bull Run, including the brigades and regiments of General Johnston, which had arrived at that time, to be held in readiness to march at a moment’s notice. At that hour the following was the disposition of our forces: Ewell’s brigade, constituted as on the 18th of July, remained in position at Union Mills Ford, its left extending along Bull Run in the direction of McLean’s Ford, and supported by Holmes’ brigade, Second Tennessee and First Arkansas Regiments, a short distance to the rear–that is, at and near Camp Wigfall. D. R. Jones’ brigade, from Ewell’s left, in front of McLean’s Ford and along the stream to Longstreet’s position. It was unchanged in organization, and was supported by Early’s brigade, also unchanged, placed behind a thicket of young pines a short distance in the rear of McLean’s Ford. Longstreet’s brigade held its former ground at Blackburn’s Ford, from Jones’ left to Bonham’s right, at Mitchell’s Ford, and was supported by Jackson’s brigade, consisting of Cols. James F. Preston’s Fourth, Harper’s Fifth, Allen’s Second, the Twenty-seventh, Lieutenant-Colonel Echols, and the Thirty-third, Cummings’ Virginia Regiments, two thousand six hundred and eleven strong, which were posted behind the skirting of pines to the rear of Blackburn’s and Mitchell’s Fords, and in rear of this support was also Barksdale’s Thirteenth Regiment Mississippi Volunteers, which had lately arrived from Lynchburg. Along the edge of a pine thicket, in rear of and equidistant from McLean’s and Blackburn’s Fords, ready to support either position, I had also placed all of Bee’s and Bartow’s brigades that had arrived, namely: Two companies of the Eleventh Mississippi, Lieutenant-Colonel Liddell; the Second Mississippi, Colonel Falkner, and Fourth Alabama, with Seventh and Eighth Georgia Regiments, Colonel Gartrell and Lieutenant-Colonel Gardner–in all two thousand seven hundred and thirty-two bayonets. Bonham’s brigade, as before, held Mitchell’s Ford, its right near Longstreet’s left, its left extending in the direction of Cocke’s right. It was organized as at the end of the 18th of July, with Jackson’s brigade, as before said, as a support.

Cocke’s brigade, increased by seven companies of the Eighth, Hunton’s, three companies of the Forty-ninth, Smith’s, Virginia Regiments, two companies of cavalry, and a battery, under Rogers, of four 6-pounders, occupied the line in front and rear of Bull Run, extending from the direction of Bonham’s left, and guarding Island, Ball’s, and Lewis’ Fords, to the right of Evans’ demi-brigade, near the stone bridge, also under General Cooke’s command. The latter held the stone bridge, and its left covered a farm ford about one mile above the bridge.

Stuart’s Cavalry, some three hundred men of the Army of the Shenandoah, guarded the level ground extending in rear from Bonham’s left to Cocke’s right.

Two companies of Radford’s cavalry were held in reserve a short distance in rear of Mitchell’s Ford, his left extending in the direction of Stuart’s right.

Colonel Pendleton’s reserve battery of eight pieces was temporarily placed in rear of Bonham’s extreme left.

Major Walton’s reserve battery of five guns was in position on McLean’s farm in a piece of woods in rear of Bee’s right.

Hampton’s Legion, of six companies of infantry, 600 strong, having arrived that morning by the cars from Richmond, was subsequently, as soon as it arrived, ordered forward to a position in the immediate vicinity of the Lewis house as a support for any troops engaged in that quarter.

The effective force of all arms of the Army of the Potomac on that eventful morning, including the garrison at Camp Pickens, did not exceed 21,833 and 29 guns. The Army of the Shenandoah, ready for action on the field, may be set at 6,000 men and 20 guns. (That is, when the battle began. Smith’s brigade and Fisher’s North Carolina came up later, and made total of Army of the Shenandoah engaged, of all arms, 8,334. Hill’s Virginia Regiment, 550, also arrived, but was posted as reserve to right flank.) The brigade of General Holmes mustered about 1,265 bayonets, 6 guns, and a company of cavalry about 90 strong.

Informed at 5.30 a.m. by Colonel Evans that the enemy had deployed some twelve hundred men (these were what Colonel Evans saw of General Schenck’s brigade of General Tyler’s division and two other heavy brigades—in all over nine thousand men and thirteen pieces of artillery, Carlisle’s and Ayres’ batteries; that is, nine hundred men and two 6-pounders, confronted by nine thousand men and thirteen pieces of artillery, mostly rifled) with several pieces of artillery in his immediate front, I at once ordered him, as also General Cooke, if attacked, to maintain their position to the last extremity.

In my opinion the most effective method of relieving that flank was by a rapid, determined attack with my right wing and center on the enemy’s flank and rear at Centreville, with due precautions against the advance of his reserves from the direction of Washington. By such a movement I confidently expected to achieve a complete victory for my country by 12 m.

These new dispositions were submitted to General Johnston, who fully approved them, and the orders for their immediate execution were at once issued.

Brigadier-General Ewell was directed to begin the movement, to be followed and supported successively by Generals D. R. Jones, Longstreet, and Bonham, respectively, supported by their several appointed reserves. The cavalry, under Stuart and Radford, were to be held in hand, subject to future orders and ready for employment, as might be required by the exigencies of the battle.

About 8.30 a.m. General Johnston and myself transferred our headquarters to a central position, about half a mile in rear of Mitchell’s Ford, whence we might watch the course of events. Previously, as early as 5.30, the Federalists in front of Evans’ position (stone bridge) had opened with a large 30-pounder Parrott rifled gun, and thirty minutes later with a moderate, apparently tentative, fire from a battery of rifled pieces, directed first in front of Evans’, and then in the direction of Cocke’s position, but without drawing a return fire and discovery of our positions, chiefly because in that quarter we had nothing but eight 6 pounder pieces, which could not reach the distant enemy.

As the Federalists had advanced with an extended line of skirmishers in front of Evans, that officer promptly threw forward the two flank companies of the Fourth South Carolina Regiment and one company of Wheat’s Louisiana Battalion, deployed as skirmishers to cover his small front. An occasional scattering fire resulted, and thus the two armies in that quarter remained for more than an hour, while the main body of the enemy was marching his devious way through the Big Forest to take our forces in flank and rear.

By 8.30 a.m. Colonel Evans, having become satisfied of the counterfeit character of the movement on his front, and persuaded of an attempt to turn his left flank, decided to change his position to meet the enemy, and for this purpose immediately put in motion to his left and rear six companies of Sloan’s Fourth South Carolina Regiment, Wheat’s Louisiana Battalion’s five companies, and two 6-pounders of Latham’s battery, leaving four companies of Sloan’s regiment under cover as the sole immediate defense of the stone bridge, but giving information to General Cocke of his change of position and the red, sons that impelled it.

Following a road leading by the old Pittsylvania (Carter) mansion, Colonel Evans formed in line of battle some four hundred yards in rear, as he advanced, of that house, his guns to the front and in position, properly supported, to its immediate right. Finding, however, that the enemy did not appear on that road, which was a branch of one leading by Sudley Springs Ford to Brentsville and Dumfries, he turned abruptly to the left, and marching across the fields for three-quarters of a mile, about 9.30 a.m. took a position in line of battle, his left, Sloan’s companies, resting on the main Brentsville road in a shallow ravine, the Louisiana Battalion to the right, in advance some two hundred yards, a rectangular copse of wood separating them, one piece of his artillery planted on an eminence some seven hundred yards to the rear of Wheat’s battalion, and the other on a ridge near and in rear of Sloan’s position, commanding a reach of the road just in front of the line of battle. In this order he awaited the coming of the masses of the enemy, now drawing near.

In the mean time, about 7 o’clock a.m., Jackson’s brigade, with Imboden’s and five pieces of Walton’s battery, had been sent to take up a position along Bull Run, to guard the interval between Cooke’s right and Bonham’s left, with orders to support either in case of need, the character and topographical features of the ground having been shown to General Jackson by Capt. D. B. Harris, of the engineers, of this army corps. So much of Bee’s and Bartow’s brigades, now united, as had arrived, some 2,800 muskets, had also been sent forward to the support of the position of the stone bridge.

The enemy, beginning his detour from the turnpike at a point nearly half-way between stone bridge and Centreville, had pursued a tortuous, narrow trace of a rarely-used road through a dense wood the greater part of his way until near the Sudley road. A division under Colonel Hunter, of the Federal Regular Army, of two strong brigades, was in the advance, followed immediately by another division, under Colonel Heintzelman, of three brigades and seven companies of Regular Cavalry, and twenty-four pieces of artillery, eighteen of which were rifled guns. This column, as it crossed Bull Run, numbered over sixteen thousand men of all arms by their own accounts.

Burnside’s brigade–which here, as at Fairfax Court-House, led the advance–at about 9.45 a.m. debouched from a wood in sight of Evans’ position, some five hundred yards distant from Wheat’s battalion. He immediately threw forward his skirmishers in force, and they became engaged with Wheat’s command, and the 6-pounder gun under Lieutenant Leftwitch. The Federalists at once advanced–as they report officially–the Second Rhode Island Regiment Volunteers, with its vaunted battery of six 13-pounder rifled guns. Sloan’s companies were then brought into action, having been pushed forward through the woods. The enemy, soon galled and staggered by the fire and pressed by the determined valor with which Wheat handled his battalion until he was desperately wounded, hastened up three other regiments of the brigade and two Dahlgren howitzers, making in all quite three thousand five hundred bayonets and eight pieces of artillery, opposed to less than eight hundred men and two 6-pounder guns. Despite this odds, this intrepid command, of but eleven weak companies, maintained its front to the enemy for quite an hour, and until General Bee came to their aid with his command. The heroic Bee, with a soldier’s eye and recognition of the situation, had previously disposed his command with skill, Imboden’s battery having been admirably placed between the two brigades, under shelter, behind the undulations of a hill about one hundred and fifty yards north of the now famous Henry house, and very near where he subsequently fell mortally wounded, to the great misfortune of his country, but after deeds of deliberate and ever-memorable courage. Meanwhile the enemy had pushed forward a battalion of eight companies of regular infantry, and one of their best batteries of six pieces (four rifled), supported by four companies of marines, to increase the desperate odds against which Evans and his men had maintained their stand with an almost matchless tenacity. General Bee, now finding Evans sorely pressed under the crushing weight of the masses of the enemy, at the call of Colonel Evans threw forward his whole force to his aid across a small stream (Young’s Branch and Valley), and engaged the Federalists with impetuosity, Imboden’s battery at the time playing from his well-chosen position with brilliant effect with spherical case, the enemy having first opened on him from a rifle battery (probably Griffin’s) with elongated cylindrical shells, which flew a few feet over the heads of our men and exploded in the crest of the hill immediately in rear.

As Bee advanced under a severe fire he placed the Seventh and Eighth Georgia Regiments under the chivalrous Bartow, at about 11 a.m. in a wood of second-growth pines, to the right and front of and nearly perpendicular to Evans  line of battle; the Fourth Alabama to the left of them, along a fence, connecting the position of the Georgia regiments with the rectangular copse in which Sloan’s South Carolina companies were engaged? and into which he also threw the Second Mississippi. A fierce and destructive conflict now ensued. The fire was withering on both sides, while the enemy swept our short thin lines with their numerous artillery, which, according to their official reports, at this time consisted of at least ten rifled guns and four howitzers. For an hour did these stout-hearted men of the blended commands of Bee, Evans, and Barrow breast an unintermitting battle-storm, animated surely by something more than the ordinary courage of even the bravest men under fire. It must have been indeed the inspiration of the cause and consciousness of the great stake at issue which thus nerved and animated one and all to stand unawed and unshrinking in such extremity.

Two Federal brigades of Heintzelman’s division were now brought into action, led by Ricketts” superb light battery of six 10-pounder rifled guns, which, posted on an eminence to the right of the Sudley road, opened fire on Imboden’s battery–about this time increased by two rifled pieces of the Washington Artillery under Lieutenant Richardson, and already the mark of two batteries, which divided their fire with Imboden and two guns under Lieutenants Davidson and Leftwitch, of Latham’s battery, posted as before mentioned. At this time confronting the enemy we had still but Evans’ eleven companies and two guns, Bee’s and Bartow’s four regiments, the two companies Eleventh Mississippi under Lieutenant-Colonel Liddell, and the six pieces under Imboden and Richardson. The enemy had two divisions of four strong brigades, including seventeen companies of regular infantry, cavalry, and artillery, four companies of marines, and twenty pieces of artillery. (See official reports of Colonels Heintzelman, Porter, &c.) Against this odds, scarcely credible, our advance position was still for a while maintained, and the enemy’s ranks constantly broken and shattered under the scorching fire of our men; but fresh regiments of the Federalists came upon the field. Sherman’s and Keyes’ brigades of Tyler’s division, as is stated in their reports, numbering over six thousand bayonets, which had found a passage across the run about eight hundred yards above the stone bridge, threatened our right.

Heavy losses bad now been sustained on our side both in numbers and in the personal worth of the slain. The Eighth Georgia Regiment had suffered heavily, being exposed, as it took and maintained its position, to a fire from the enemy, already posted within a hundred yards of their front and right, sheltered by fences and other cover. It was at this time that Lieutenant-Colonel Gardner was severely wounded, as also several other valuable officers. The adjutant of the regiment, Lieutenant Branch, was killed, and the horse of the regretted Barrow was shot under him. The Fourth Alabama also suffered severely from the deadly fire of the thousands of muskets which they so dauntlessly confronted under the immediate leadership of Bee himself. Its brave colonel (E. J. Jones) was dangerously wounded, and many gallant officers fell, slain or hors de combat.

Now, however, with the surging mass of over fourteen thousand Federal infantry pressing on their front and under the incessant fire of at least twenty pieces of artillery, with the fresh brigades of Sherman and Keyes approaching, the latter already in musket range, our lines gave back, but under orders from General Bee. The enemy, maintaining their fire, pressed their swelling masses onward as our shattered battalions retired. The slaughter for the moment was deplorable, and has filled many a Southern home with life-long sorrow. Under this inexorable stress the retreat continued, until arrested by the energy and resolution of General Bee, supported by Barrow and Evans, just in rear of the Robinson house, and Hampton’s Legion, which had been already advanced and was in position near it. Imboden’s battery, which had been handled with marked skill, but whose men were almost exhausted, and the two pieces of Walton’s battery, under Lieutenant Richardson, being threatened by the enemy’s infantry on the left and front, were also obliged to fall back. Imboden, leaving a disabled piece on the ground, retired until he met Jackson’s brigade, while Richardson joined the main body of his battery near the Lewis house.

As our infantry retired from the extreme front the two 6-pounders of Latham’s battery before mentioned fell back with excellent judgment to suitable positions in the rear, where an effective fire was maintained upon the still advancing lines of the Federalists with damaging effect until their ammunition was nearly exhausted, when they too were withdrawn in the near presence of the enemy and rejoined their captain.

From the point, previously indicated, where General Johnston and myself had established our headquarters, we heard the continuous roll of musketry and the sustained din of the artillery, which announced the serious outburst of the battle on our left flank, and we anxiously but confidently awaited similar sounds of conflict from our front at Centreville, resulting from the prescribed attack in that quarter by our right wing.

At 10:30 a.m., however, this expectation was dissipated, from Brigadier-General Ewell informing me, to my profound disappointment, that my orders for his advance had miscarried, but that in consequence of a communication from Gen. D. R. Jones he had just thrown his brigade across the stream at Union Mills. But in my judgment it was now too late for the effective execution of the contemplated movement, which must have required quite three hours for the troops to get into position for the attack. Therefore it became immediately necessary to depend on new combinations and other dispositions suited to the now pressing exigency. The movement of the right and center, already begun by Jones and Longstreet, was at once countermanded with the sanction of General Johnston, and we arranged to meet the enemy on the field upon which he had chosen to give us battle.

Under these circumstances our reserves not already in movement were immediately ordered up to support our left flank, namely, Holmes’ two regiments and battery of artillery, under Capt. Lindsey Walker, of six guns, and Early’s brigade. Two regiments from Bonham’s brigade, with Kemper’s four 6-pounders, were also called for and, with the sanction of General Johnston, Generals Ewell, Jones (D. R.), Longstreet, and Bonham were directed to make a demonstration to their several fronts, to retain and engross the enemy’s reserves and any forces on their flank and at and around Centreville. Previously our respective chiefs of staff, Major Rhett and Colonel Jordan, had been left at my headquarters to hasten up and give directions to any troops that might arrive at Manassas.

These orders having been duly dispatched by staff officers, at 11.30 a.m. General Johnston and myself set out for the immediate field of action, which we reached in the rear of the Robinson and Widow Henry’s houses at about 12 m., and just as the commands of Bee, Bar-tow, and Evans had taken shelter in a wooded ravine behind the former, stoutly held at the time by Hampton with his Legion, which had made stand there after having previously been as far forward as the turnpike, where Lieutenant-Colonel Johnson, an officer of brilliant promise, was killed, and other severe losses were sustained.

Before our arrival upon the scene General Jackson had moved forward with his brigade of five Virginia regiments from his position in reserve, and had judiciously taken post below the brim of the plateau, nearly east of the Henry house, and to the left of the ravine and woods occupied by the mingled remnants of Bee’s, Bartow’s, and Evans’ commands, with Imboden’s battery and two of Stanard’s pieces placed so as to play upon the on-coming enemy, supported in the immediate rear by Col. J. F. Preston’s and Lieutenant-Colonel Echols’ regiments, on the right by Harper’s, and on the left by Allen’s and Cummings’ regiments.

As soon as General Johnston and myself reached the field we were occupied with the reorganization of the heroic troops, whose previous stand, with scarce a parallel, has nothing more valiant in all the pages of history, and whose losses fitly tell why at length their ranks had lost their cohesion.

It was now that General Johnston impressively and gallantly charged to the front, with the colors of the Fourth Alabama Regiment by his side, all the field officers of the regiment having been previously disabled. Shortly afterwards I placed S. R. Gist, adjutant and inspector general of South Carolina, a volunteer aide of General Bee, in command of this regiment, and who led it again to the front as became its previous behavior, and remained with it for the rest of the day.

As soon as we had thus rallied and disposed our forces, I urged General Johnston to leave the immediate conduct of the field to me, while he, repairing to Portici, the Lewis house, should urge re-enforcement–forward. At first he was unwilling, but reminded that one of us must do so, and that properly it was his place, he reluctantly, but fortunately, complied; fortunately, because from that position, by his energy and sagacity, his keen perception and anticipation of my needs, he so directed the reserves as to insure the success of the day.

As General Johnston departed for Portici, Colonel Bartow reported to me with the remains of the Seventh Georgia Volunteers, Gartrell’s, which I ordered him to post on the left of Jackson’s line in the edge of the belt of pines bordering the southeastern rim of the plateau, on which the battle was now to rage so long and so fiercely.

Col. William Smith’s battalion of the Forty-ninth Virginia Volunteers, having also come up by my orders, I placed it on the left of Gartrell’s, as my extreme left at the time. Repairing then to the right, I placed Hampton’s Legion, which have suffered greatly, on that flank somewhat to the rear of Harper’s regiment, and also the seven companies of the Eighth (Hunton’s) Virginia Regiment, which, detached from Cocke’s brigade by my orders and those of General Johnston, had opportunely reached the ground. These, with Harper’s regiment, constituted a reserve to protect our right flank from an advance of the enemy from the quarter of the stone bridge, and served as a support for the line of battle, which was formed on the right by Bee’s and Evans’ commands, in the center by four regiments of Jackson’s brigade, with Imboden’s four 6-pounders, Walton’s five guns (two rifled), two guns (one piece rifled) of Stanard’s, and two 6-pounders of Rogers’ batteries, the latter under Lieutenant Heaton, and on the left by Gartrell’s reduced ranks and Colonel Smith’s battalion, subsequently re-enforced, Falkner’s Second Mississippi Regiment, and by another regiment of the Army of the Shenandoah, just arrived upon the field–the Sixth (Fisher’s) North Carolina. Confronting the enemy at this time my forces numbered at most not more than sixty-five hundred infantry and artillerists, with but thirteen pieces of artillery and two companies (Carter’s and Hoge’s) of Stuart’s Cavalry.

The enemy’s force now bearing hotly and confidently down on our position, regiment after regiment of the best-equipped men that ever took the field according to their own official history of the day, was formed of Colonels Hunter’s and Heintzelman’s divisions, Colonels Sherman’s and Keyes’ brigades of Tyler’s division, and of the formidable batteries of Ricketts, Griffin, and Arnold (regulars), and Second Rhode Island and two Dahlgren howitzers–a force of over twenty thousand infantry, seven companies of regular cavalry, and twenty-four pieces of improved artillery. At the same time perilous heavy reserves of infantry and artillery hung in the distance around the stone bridge, Mitchell’s, Blackburn’s, and Union Mills Fords, visibly ready to fall upon us at any moment, and I was also assured of the existence of other heavy corps at and around Centreville and elsewhere within convenient supporting distances.

Fully conscious of this portentous disparity of force, as I posted the lines for the encounter I sought to infuse into the hearts of my officers and men the confidence and determined spirit of resistance to this wicked invasion of the homes of a free people which I felt. I informed them that re-enforcements would rapidly come to their support, and that we must at all hazards hold our posts until re-enforced. I reminded them that we fought for our homes, our firesides, and for the independence of our country. I urged them to the resolution of victory or death on that field. These sentiments were loudly, eagerly cheered wheresoever proclaimed, and I then felt reassured of the unconquerable spirit of that army, which would enable us to wrench victory from the host then threatening us with destruction.

Oh, my country! I would readily have sacrificed my life and those of all the brave men around me to save your honor and to maintain your independence from the degrading yoke which those ruthless invaders had come to impose and render perpetual, and the day’s issue has assured me that such emotions must also have animated all under my command.

In the mean time the enemy had seized upon the plateau on which Robinson’s and the Henry houses are situated–the position first occupied in the morning by General Bee before advancing to the support of Evans. Ricketts’ battery of six rifled guns, the pride of the Federalists, the object of their unstinted expenditure in outfit, and the equally powerful regular light battery of Griffin, were brought forward and placed in immediate action, after having, conjointly with the batteries already mentioned, played from former positions with destructive effect upon our forward battalions.

The topographical features of the plateau, now become the stage of the contending armies, must be described in outline. A glance at the map will show that it is inclosed on three sides by small water-courses, which empty into Bull Run within a few yards of each other a half a mile to the south of the stone bridge. Rising to an elevation of quite one hundred feet above the level of Bull Run at the bridge, it falls off on three sides to the level of the inclosing streams in gentle slopes, but which are furrowed by ravines of irregular direction and length, and studded with clumps and patches of young pines and oaks. The general direction of the crest of the plateau is oblique to the course of Bull Run in that quarter and to the Brentsville and turnpike roads, which intersect each other at right angles. Immediately surrounding the two houses before mentioned are small open fields of irregular outline, not exceeding one hundred and fifty acres in extent. The houses, occupied at the time, the one by the Widow Henry and the other by the free negro Robinson, are small wooden buildings, the latter densely embowered in trees and environed by a double row of fences on two sides. Around the eastern and southern brow of the plateau an almost unbroken fringe of second-growth pines gave excellent shelter for our marksmen, who availed themselves of it with the most satisfactory skill. To the west, adjoining the fields, a broad belt of oaks extends directly across the crest on both sides of the Sudley road, in which during the battle regiments of both armies met and contended for the mastery. From the open ground of this plateau the view embraces a wide expanse of woods and gently undulating open country of broad grass and grain fields in all directions, including the scene of Evans’ and Bee’s recent encounter with the enemy, some twelve hundred yards to the northward.

In reply to the play of the enemy’s batteries our own artillery had not been either idle or unskillful. The ground occupied by our guns, on a level with that held by the batteries of the enemy, was an open space of limited extent, behind a low undulation just at the eastern verge of the plateau, some live or six hundred yards from the Henry house. Here, as before said, thirteen pieces, mostly 6-pounders, were, maintained in action; the several batteries of Imboden, Stanard, Pendleton (Rockbridge Artillery), and Alburtis, of the Army of the Shenandoah, and five guns of Walton’s and Heaton’s section of Rogers’ battery of the Army of the Potomac, alternating to some extent with each other, and taking part as needed, all from the outset displaying that marvelous capacity of our people as artillerists which has made them, it would appear, at once the terror and the admiration of the enemy. As was soon apparent, the Federalists had suffered severely from our artillery and from the fire of our musketry on the right, and especially from the left flank, placed under cover, within whose galling range they had been advanced; and we are told in their official reports how regiment after regiment thrown forward to dislodge us was broken, never to recover its entire organization on that field.

In the mean time, also, two companies of Stuart’s Cavalry ((Carter’s and Hoge’s) made a dashing charge down the Brentsville and Sudley road upon the Fire Zouaves, then the enemy’s right; on the plateau, which added to their disorder wrought by our musketry on that flank. But still the press of the enemy was heavy in that quarter of the field as fresh troops were thrown forward there to outflank us, and some three guns of a battery in an attempt to obtain a position, apparently to enfilade our batteries, were thrown so close to the Thirty-third Regiment, Jackson’s brigade, that that regiment, springing forward, seized them, but with severe loss, and was subsequently driven back by an overpowering force of Federal musketry.

Now, full 2 o’clock p.m., I gave the order for the right of my line, except my reserves, to advance to recover the plateau. It was done with uncommon resolution and vigor, and at the same time Jackson’s brigade pierced the enemy’s center with the determination of veterans and the spirit of men who fight for a sacred cause, but it suffered seriously. With equal spirit the other parts of the line made the onset, and the Federal lines were broken and swept back at all points from the open ground of the plateau. Rallying soon, however, as they were strongly re-enforced by fresh regiments, the Federalists returned, and by weight of numbers pressed our lines back, recovered their ground and guns, and renewed the offensive.

By this time, between half past two and 3 o’clock p.m., our re-enforcements pushed forward, and, directed by General Johnston to the required quarter, were at hand just as I had ordered forward to a second effort for the recovery of the disputed plateau the whole line, including my reserve, which at this crisis of the battle I felt called upon to lead in person. This attack was general, and was shared in by every regiment then in the field, including the Sixth (Fisher’s) Worth Carolina Regiment, which had just come up and taken position on the immediate left of the Forty-ninth Virginia Regiment. The whole open ground was again swept clear of the enemy, and the plateau around the Henry and Robinson houses remained finally in our possession with the greater part of the Ricketts and Griffin batteries, and a flag of the First Michigan Regiment, captured by the Twenty-seventh Virginia Regiment, Lieutenant-Colonel Echols, of Jackson’s brigade.

This part of the day was rich with deeds of individual coolness and dauntless conduct, as well as well-directed embodied resolution and bravery, but fraught with the loss to the service of the country of lives of inestimable preciousness at this juncture. The brave Bee was mortally wounded at the head of the Fourth Alabama and some Mississippians. In the open field near the Henry house, and a few yards distant, the promising life of Bartow, while leading the Seventh Georgia Regiment, was quenched in blood. Col. F. J. Thomas, acting chief of ordnance, of General Johnston’s staff, after gallant conduct and most efficient service, was also slain. Colonel Fisher, Sixth North Carolina, likewise fell, after soldierly behavior at the head of his regiment with ranks greatly thinned.

Withers’ Eighteenth Regiment, of Cocke’s brigade, had come up in time to follow this charge, and, in conjunction with Hampton’s Legion, captured several rifled pieces, which may have fallen previously in possession of some of our troops, but if so, had been recovered by the enemy. These pieces were immediately turned and effectively served on distant masses of the enemy by the hands of some of our officers.

While the enemy had thus been driven back on our right entirely across the turnpike and beyond Young’s Branch on our left, the woods yet swarmed with them when our re-enforcements opportunely arrived in quick succession and took position in that portion of the field. Kershaw’s Second and Cash’s Eighth South Carolina Regiments, which had arrived soon after Withers, were led through the oaks just east of the Sudley-Brentsville road, brushing some of the enemy before them, and taking an advantageous position along and west of that road, opened with much skill and effect on bodies of the enemy that had been rallied under cover of a strong Federal brigade posted on a plateau in the southwest angle formed by intersection of the turnpike with the Sudley-Brentsville road. Among the troops thus engaged were the Federal regular infantry.

At the same time Kemper’s battery, passing northward by the Sudley-Brentsville road, took position on the open space, under orders of Colonel Kershaw, near where an enemy’s battery had been captured, and was opened with effective results upon the Federal right, then the mark also of Kershaw’s and Cash’s regiments. Preston’s Twenty-eighth Regiment, of Cocke’s brigade, had by that time entered the same body of oaks, and encountered some Michigan troops, capturing their brigade commander, Colonel Willcox.

Another important accession to our forces had also occurred about the same time, 3 o’clock p.m. Brig. Gen. E. K. Smith, with some seventeen hundred infantry, of Elzey’s brigade, of the Army of the Shenandoah, and Beckham’s battery came upon the field from Camp Pickens, Manassas, where they had arrived by railroad at noon. Directed in person by General Johnston to the left, then so much endangered, on reaching a position in rear of the oak woods, south of the Henry house, and immediately east of the Sudley road, General Smith was disabled by a severe wound, and his valuable services were lost at that critical juncture; but the command devolved upon a meritorious officer of experience, Colonel Elzey, who led his infantry at once somewhat farther to the left, in the direction of the Chinn house, across the road, through the oaks skirting the west side of the road, and around which he sent the battery, under Lieutenant Beckham. This officer took up a most favorable position near that house, whence, with a clear view of the Federal right and center, filling the open fields to the west of the Brentsville-Sudley road and gently sloping southward, he opened fire with his battery upon them with deadly and damaging effect.

Colonel Early, who by some mischance did not receive orders until 2 o’clock which had been sent him at noon, came on the ground immediately after Elzey, with Kemper’s Seventh Virginia, Hays’ Seventh Louisiana, and Barksdale’s Thirteenth Mississippi Regiments. This brigade, by the personal direction of General Johnston, was marched by the Holkham house across the fields to the left, entirely around the woods through which Elzey had passed, and under a severe fire, into a position in line of battle near Chinn’s house, outflanking the enemy’s right.

At this time, about 3.30 p, m., the enemy, driven back on their left and center and brushed from the woods bordering the Sudley road, south and west of the Henry house, had formed a line of battle of truly formidable proportions, of crescent outline, reaching on their left from vicinity of Pittsylvania (the old Carter mansion), by Mathews’ and in rear of Dogan’s, across the turnpike near to Chinn’s house. The woods and fields were filled with their masses of infantry a and their carefully-preserved cavalry. It was a truly magnificent, though redoubtable, spectacle as they threw forward in flue style on the broad, gentle slopes of the ridge occupied by their main lines a cloud of skirmishers, preparatory for another attack.

But as Early formed his line, and Beckham’s pieces played upon the right of the enemy, Elzey’s brigade, Gibbons’ Tenth Virginia, Lieutenant-Colonel Steuart’s First Maryland, and Vaughn’s Third Tennessee Regiments, Cash’s Eighth and Kershaw’s Second South Carolina, Withers, Eighteenth and Preston’s Twenty-eighth Virginia advanced in an irregular line, almost simultaneously, with great spirit from their several positions upon the front and flanks of the enemy in their quarter of the field. At the same time, too, Early resolutely assailed their right flank and rear. Under this combined attack the enemy was soon forced first over the narrow plateau in the southern angle made by the two roads so often mentioned into a patch of woods on its western slope, thence back over Young’s Branch and the turnpike into the fields of the Dogan farm and rearward, in extreme disorder in all available directions towards Bull Run. The rout had now become general and complete.

About the time that Elzey and Early were entering into action a column of the enemy (Keyes’ brigade, of Tyler’s division) made its way across the turnpike between Bull Run and the Robinson house, under cover of a wood and brow of the ridges, apparently to turn my right, but was easily repulsed by a few shots from Latham’s battery, now united and placed in position by Capt. D. B. Harris, of the Virginia engineers, whose services during the day became his character as an able, cool, an(. skillful officer, and from Alburtis’ battery, opportunely ordered by General Jackson to a position to the right of Latham, on a hill commanding the line of approach of the enemy, and supported by portions of regiments collected together by the staff officers of General Johnston and myself.

Early’s brigade, meanwhile, joined by the Nineteenth Virginia Regiment, Lieutenant-Colonel Strange, of Cockers brigade, pursued the now panic-stricken fugitive enemy. Stuart, with his cavalry and Beckham had also taken up the pursuit along the road by which the enemy had come upon the field that morning, but soon, cumbered by prisoners who thronged his way, the former was unable to attack the mass of the fast-fleeing, frantic Federalists. Withers’, R. T. Preston’s, Cash’s, and Kershaw’s regiments, Hampton’s Legion, and Kemper’s battery also pursued along the Warrenton road by the stone bridge, the enemy having opportunely opened a way for them through the heavy abatis which my troops had made on the west side of the bridge several days before; but this pursuit was soon recalled in consequence of a false report which unfortunately reached us that the enemy’s reserves, known to be fresh and of considerable strength, were threatening the position of Union Mills Ford.

Colonel Radford, with six companies Virginia Cavalry, was also ordered by General Johnston to cross Bull Run and attack the enemy from the direction of Lewis’ house. Conducted by one of my aides, Colonel Chisolm, by the Lewis Ford to the immediate vicinity of the suspension bridge, he charged a battery with great gallantry, took Colonel Corcoran, of the Sixty-ninth Regiment New York Volunteers, a prisoner, and captured the Federal colors of that regiment, as well as a number of the enemy. He lost, however, a promising officer of his regiment, Capt. Winston Radford.

Lieutenant-Colonel Mumford also led some companies of cavalry in hot pursuit, and rendered material service in the capture of prisoners and of cannon, horses, ammunition, &c., abandoned by the enemy in their flight. Captain Lay’s company of the Powhatan Troops and Utterback’s Rangers, Virginia Volunteers, attached to my person, did material service under Captain Lay in rallying troops broken for the time by the onset of the enemy’s masses.

During the period of the momentous events, fraught with the weal of our country, which were passing on the blood-stained plateau along the Sudley and Warrenton roads, other portions of the line of Bull Run had not been void of action of moment and of influence on the general result.

While Colonel Evans and his sturdy band were holding at bay the Federal advance beyond the turnpike the enemy made repeated demonstrations with artillery and infantry upon the line of Cooke’s brigade, with the serious intention of forcing the position, as General Schenck admits in his report. They were driven back with severe loss by Latham’s (a section) and Rogers’ four 6-pounders, and were so impressed with the strength of that line as to be held in check and inactive even after it had been stripped of all its troops but one company of the Nineteenth Virginia Regiment, under Captain Duke, a meritorious officer; and it is worthy of notice that in this encounter of our 6-pounder guns, handled by our volunteer artillerists, they had worsted such a notorious adversary as the Ayres (formerly Sherman’s) battery, which quit the contest under the illusion that it had weightier metal than its own to contend with.

The center brigades, Bonham’s and Longstreet’s, of the line of Bull Run, if not closely engaged, were, nevertheless, exposed for much of the day to an annoying, almost incessant fire of artillery of long range; but, by a steady, veteran-like maintenance of their positions, they held virtually paralyzed all day two strong brigades of the enemy with their batteries (four) of rifled guns.

As before said, two regiments of Bonham’s brigade–Second and Eighth South Carolina Volunteers-and Kemper’s battery took a distinguished part in the battle. The remainder–Third (Williams’), Seventh (Bacon’s) South Carolina Volunteers, Eleventh (Kirkland’s) North Carolina Regiment, six companies of the Eighth Louisiana Volunteers, Shields’ battery, and one Section of Walton’s battery, under Lieutenant Garnett–whether in holding their post or taking up the pursuit, officers and men discharged their duty with credit and promise.

Longstreet’s brigade, pursuant to orders prescribing his part of the operations of the center and right wing, was thrown across Bull Run early in the morning, and under a severe fire of artillery was skillfully disposed for the assault of the enemy’s batteries in that quarter, but was withdrawn subsequently, in consequence of the change of plan already mentioned and explained. The troops of this brigade were–First (Major Skinner), Eleventh (Garland’s), Twenty-fourth (Lieutenant-Colonel Hairston), Seventeenth (Corse’s) Virginia Regiments; Fifth North Carolina (Lieutenant-Colonel Jones), and Whitehead’s company Virginia Cavalry. Throughout the day these troops evinced the most soldierly spirit.

After the rout, having been ordered by General Johnston in the direction of Centreville in pursuit, these brigades advanced nearly to that place, when, night and darkness intervening, General Bonham thought it proper to direct his own brigade and that of General Longstreet back to Bull Run.

General D. R. Jones early in the day crossing Bull Run with his brigade, pursuant to orders indicating his part in the projected attack by our right wing and center on the enemy at Centreville, took up a position on the Union Hills and Centreville road more than a mile in advance of the run. Ordered back, in consequence of the miscarriage of the orders to General Ewell, the retrograde movement was necessarily made under a sharp fire of artillery.

At noon this brigade, in obedience to new instructions, was again thrown across Bull Run to make demonstration. Unsupported by other troops, the advance was gallantly made until within musket range of the enemy’s force–Colonel Davies’ brigade, in position near Rocky Run–and under the concentrated fire of their artillery. In this affair the Fifth, (Jenkins’) South Carolina and Captain Fontaine’s company of the Eighteenth Mississippi Regiment are mentioned by General Jones as having shown conspicuous gallantry, coolness, and discipline under a combined fire of infantry and artillery. Not only did the return fire of the brigade drive to cover the enemy’s infantry, but the movement unquestionably spread through the enemy’s ranks a sense of insecurity and danger from an attack by that route on their rear at Centreville, which served to augment the extraordinary panic which we know disbanded the entire Federal Army for the time. This is evident from the fact that Colonel Davies, the immediate adversary’s commander, in his official report, was induced to magnify one small company of our cavalry which accompanied the brigade into a force of 2,000 men, and Colonel Miles, the commander of the Federal reserves at Centreville, says the movement caused painful apprehensions for the left flank of their army.

General Ewell, occupying for the time the right of the lines of Bull Run, at Union Mills Ford, after the miscarriage of my orders for his advance upon Centreville, in the afternoon was ordered by General Johnston to bring up his brigade into battle, then raging on the left flank. Promptly executed as this movement was, the brigade, after a severe march, reached the field too late to share the glories as they had the labors of the day.  As the important position at the Union Mills had been left with but a slender guard, General Ewell was at once ordered to retrace his steps and resume his position,. to prevent the possibility of its seizure by any force of the enemy in that quarter. Brigadier-General Holmes, left with his brigade as a support to the same position in the original plan of battle, had also been called to the left, whither he marched with the utmost speed, but not in time to join actively in the battle. Walker’s rifled guns of the brigade, however, came up in time to be fired with precision and decided execution at the retreating enemy, and Scott’s cavalry, joining in the pursuit, assisted in the capture of prisoners and war munitions.

This victory, the details of which I have thus sought to chronicle as fully as were fitting an official report, it remains to record was dearly won by the death of many officers and men of inestimable value, belonging to all grades of our society. In the death of General Barnard E. Bee the Confederacy has sustained an irreparable loss, for, with great personal bravery and coolness, he possessed the qualities of an accomplished soldier and an able, reliable commander. Colonels Bartow and Fisher and Lieutenant-Colonel Johnson, of Hampton’s Legion, in the fearless command of their men, gave earnest of great usefulness to the service had they been spared to complete a career so brilliantly begun. Besides the field officers already mentioned as having been wounded while in the gallant discharge of their duties, many others also received severe wounds, after equally honorable and distinguished conduct, whether in leading their men forward or in rallying them when overpowered or temporarily shattered by the largely superior force to which we were generally opposed.

The subordinate grades were likewise abundantly conspicuous for zeal and capacity for the leadership of men in arms. To mention all who, fighting well, paid the lavish forfeit of their lives, or at least crippled, mutilated bodies, on the field of Manassas, cannot well be done within the compass of this paper; but a grateful country and mourning friends will not suffer their names and services to be forgotten and pass away unhonored.

Nor are those officers and men who were so fortunate as to escape the thick-flying deadly missiles of the enemy less worthy of praise for their endurance, firmness, and valor, than their brothers in arms whose lives were closed or bodies maimed on that memorable day. To mention all who exhibited ability and brilliant courage were impossible in this report; nor do the reports of brigade and other subordinate commanders supply full lists of all actually deserving of distinction. I can only mention those whose conduct came immediately under my notice or the consequence of whose actions happened to be signally important. It is fit that I should in this way commend to notice the dauntless conduct and imperturbable coolness of Colonel Evans, and well indeed was he supported by Colonel Sloan and the officers of the Fourth South Carolina Regiment, as also Major Wheat, than whom no one displayed more brilliant courage until carried from the field shot through the lungs, though happily not mortally stricken. But in the desperate, unequal conflict to which these brave gentlemen were for a time necessarily exposed, the behavior of officers and men generally was worthy of the highest admiration, and assuredly hereafter all there present may proudly say, We were of that band who fought the first hour of the battle of Manassas. Equal honors and credit must also be awarded in the pages of history to the gallant officers and men who, under Bee and Bartow, subsequently marching to their side, saved them from destruction, and relieved them from the brunt of the enemy’s attack.

The conduct of General Jackson also requires mention as eminently that of an able, fearless soldier and sagacious commander, one fit to lead his efficient brigade. His prompt, timely arrival before the plateau of the Henry house, and his judicious disposition of his troops, contributed much to the success of the day. Although painfully wounded in the hand, he remained on the field to the end of the battle, rendering invaluable assistance.

Col. William Smith was as efficient as self-possessed and brave. The influence of his example and his words of encouragement were not confined to his immediate command, the good conduct of which is especially noticeable, inasmuch as it had been embodied but a day or two before the battle.

Colonels Harper, Hunton, and Hampton, commanding regiments of the reserve, attracted my notice by their soldierly ability, as with their gallant commands they restored the fortunes of the day at a time when the enemy by a last desperate onset with heavy odds had driven our forces from the fiercely-contested ground around the Henry and Robinson houses. Veterans could not have behaved better than these well-led regiments.

High praise must also be given to Colonels Cocke, Early, and Elzey, brigade commanders; also to Colonel Kershaw, commanding for the time the Second and Eighth South Carolina Regiments. Under the instructions of General Johnston these officers reached the field at an opportune, critical moment, and disposed, handled, and fought their respective commands with sagacity, decision, and successful results, which have been described in detail.

Col. J. E. B. Stuart likewise deserves mention for his enterprise and ability as a cavalry commander. Through his judicious reconnaissance of the country on our left flank he acquired information, both of topographical features and the positions of the enemy, of the utmost importance in the subsequent and closing movements of the day on that flank, and his services in the pursuit were highly effective.

Capt. E. P. Alexander, C. S. Engineers, gave me seasonable and material assistance early in the day with his system of signals. Almost the first shot fired by the enemy passed through the tent of his party at the stone bridge, where they subsequently firmly maintained their position in the discharge of their duty–the transmission of messages of the enemy’s movements–for several hours under fire. Later, Captain Alexander acted as my aide-de-camp in the transmission of orders and in observation of the enemy.

I was most efficiently served throughout the day by my volunteer aides, Colonels Preston, Manning, Chesnut, Miles, Rice, Hayward, and Chisolm, to whom I tender my thanks for their unflagging, intelligent, and fearless discharge of the laborious, responsible duties Intrusted to them. To Lieut. S. W. Ferguson, aide-de-camp, and Colonel Hayward, who were habitually at my side from 12 noon until the close of the battle, my special acknowledgments are due. The horse of the former was killed under him by the same shell that wounded that of the latter. Both were eminently useful to me, and were distinguished for coolness and courage until the enemy gave way and fled in wild disorder in every direction–a scene the President of the Confederacy had the high satisfaction of witnessing, as he arrived upon the field at that exultant moment.

I also received from the time I reached the front such signal service from H. E. Peyton, at the time a private in the Loudoun Cavalry, that I have called him to my personal staff. Similar services were also rendered me repeatedly during the battle by T. J. Randolph, a volunteer acting aide-de-camp to Colonel Cocke. Capt. Clifton H. Smith, of the general staff, was also present on the field, and rendered efficient service in the transmission of orders.

It must be permitted me here to record my profound sense of my obligations to General Johnston for his generous permission to carry out my plans with such modifications as circumstances had required. From his services on the field as we entered it together, already mentioned, and his subsequent watchful management of the re-enforcements as they reached the vicinity of the field, our countrymen may draw the most auspicious auguries.

To Col. Thomas Jordan, my efficient and zealous assistant adjutant-general, much credit is due for his able assistance in the organization of the forces under my command and for the intelligence and promptness with which he has discharged all the laborious and important duties of his office.

Valuable assistance was given to me by Major Cabell, chief officer of the quartermaster’s department, in the sphere of his duties-duties environed by far more than the ordinary difficulties and embarrassments attending the operations of a long organized regular establishment.

Col. R. B. Lee, chief of subsistence department, had but just entered upon his duties, but his experience and long and varied services in his department made him as efficient as possible.

Capt. W. H. Fowle, whom Colonel Lee had relieved, had previously exerted himself to the utmost to carry out orders from these headquarters to render his department equal to the demands of the service. That it was not entirely so it is due to justice to say was certainly not his fault.

Deprived by the sudden severe illness of the medical director, Surg. Thomas H. Williams, his duties were discharged by Surg. R. L. Brodie to my entire satisfaction; and it is proper to say that the entire medical corps of the Army at present, embracing gentlemen of distinction in the profession, who had quit lucrative private practice, by their services in the field and subsequently did high honor to their profession.

The vital duties of the ordnance department were effectively discharged under the administration of my chief of artillery and ordnance, Col. S. Jones.

At one time, when reports of evil omen and disaster reached Camp Pickens with such circumstantiality as to give reasonable grounds of anxiety, its commander, Colonel Terrett, the commander of the intrenched batteries, Captain Sterrett, of the C. S. Navy, and their officers, made the most efficient possible preparations for the desperate defense of that position in extremity; and in this connection I regret my inability to mention the names of those patriotic gentlemen of Virginia by the gratuitous labor of whose slaves the intrenched camp at Manassas had been mainly constructed, relieving the troops from that laborious service, and giving opportunity for their military instruction.

Lieut. Col. Thomas H. Williamson, the engineer of these works, assisted by Capt. D. B. Harris, discharged his duties with untiring energy and devotion as well as satisfactory skill.

Capt. W. H. Stevens, engineer C. S. Army, served with the advanced forces at Fairfax Court-House for some time before the battle. He laid out the works there in admirable accordance with the purposes for which they were designed, and yet so as to admit of ultimate extension and adaptation to more serious uses as means and part of a system of real defense when determined upon. He has shown himself to be an officer of energy and ability.

Maj. Thomas G. Rhett, after having discharged for several months the laborious duties of adjutant-general to the commanding officer of Camp Pickens, was detached to join the Army of the Shenandoah just on the eve of the advance of the enemy, but volunteering his services, was ordered to assist on the staff of General Bonham, joining that officer at Centreville on the night of the 17th, before the battle of Bull Run, where he rendered valuable services, until the arrival of General Johnston, on the 20th of July, when he was called to the place of chief of staff of that officer. It is also proper to acknowledge the signal services rendered by Cols. B. F. Terry and T. Lubbock, of Texas, who had attached themselves to the staff of General Longstreet. These gentlemen made daring and valuable reconnaissances of the enemy’s positions, assisted by Captains Goree and Chichester; they also carried orders to the field, and on the following day accompanied Captain White-, head’s troop to take possession of Fairfax Court-House. Colonel Terry, with his unerring rifle, severed the halliard, and thus lowered the Federal flag found still floating from the cupola of the court-house there. He also secured a large Federal garrison flag, designed, it is said, to be unfurled over our intrenchments at Manassas.

In connection with the unfortunate casualty of the day, that is the miscarriage of the orders sent by courier to Generals Holmes and Ewell to attack the enemy in flank and reverse at Centreville, through which the triumph of our arms was prevented from being still more decisive, I regard it in place to say a divisional organization, with officers in command of divisions, with appropriate rank, as in European services, would greatly reduce the risk of such mishaps, and would advantageously simplify the communications of a general in command of a field with his troops.

While glorious for our people, and of crushing effect upon the morale of our hitherto confident and overweening adversary, as were the events of the battle of Manassas, the field was only won by stout fighting, and, as before reported, with much loss, as is precisely exhibited in the papers herewith, marked F, G, and H,(@) and being lists of the killed and wounded. The killed outright numbered 369, the wounded 1,483, making an aggregate of 1,852.

The actual loss of the enemy will never be known; it may now only be conjectured. Their abandoned dead, as they were buried by our people where they fell, unfortunately were not enumerated, but many parts of the field were thick with their corpses as but few battle-fields have ever been. The official reports of the enemy are studiously silent on this point, but still afford us data for an approximate estimate. Left almost in the dark in respect to the losses of Hunter’s and Heintzelman’s divisions, first, longest, and most hotly engaged, we are informed that Sherman’s brigade, Tyler’s division, suffered in killed, wounded, and missing 609; that is, about eighteen per cent. of the brigade. A regiment of Franklin’s brigade (Gorman’s) lost twenty-one per cent., Griffin’s (battery) loss was thirty per cent., and that of Keyes’ brigade, which was so handled by its commander as to be exposed to only occasional volleys from our troops, was at least ten per cent. To these facts add the repeated references in the reports of the more reticent commanders to the “murderous” fire to which they were habitually exposed, the “pistol-range” volleys, and galling musketry of which they speak as scourging their ranks, and we are warranted in placing the entire loss of the Federalists at over forty-five hundred in killed, wounded, and prisoners. To this may be legitimately added as a casualty of the battle the thousands of fugitives from the field, who have never rejoined their regiments, and who are as much lost the enemy’s service as if slain or disabled by wounds. These may not be included under the head of missing, because in every instance of such report we took as many prisoners of those brigades or regiments as are reported missing.

A list appended exhibits some 1,460 of their wounded and others who fell into our hands and were sent to Richmond.(*) Some were sent to other points, so that the number of prisoners, including wounded who did not die, may be set down as not less than 1,600. Besides these a considerable number who could not be removed from the field died at several farm-houses and field hospitals within ten days following the battle.

To serve the future historian of this war I will note the fact that among the captured Federalists are officers and men of forty-seven regiments of volunteers, besides from some nine different regiments of regular troops, detachments of which were engaged. From their official reports we learn of a regiment of volunteers engaged, six regiments of Miles’ division, and the five regiments of Runyon’s brigade, from which we have neither sound nor wounded prisoners. Making all allowances for mistakes, we are warranted in saying that the Federal army consisted of at least fifty-five regiments of volunteers, eight companies of regular infantry, four of marines, nine of regular cavalry, and twelve batteries of forty-nine guns. These regiments at one time, as will appear from a published list appended, marked K, numbered in the aggregate 54,140, and average 964 each. From an order of the enemy’s commander, however, date, July 13, we learn that one hundred men front each regiment were directed to remain in charge of their respective camps. Some allowance must further be made for the sick and details, which would reduce the average to eight hundred men. Adding the regular cavalry, infantry, and artillery present, an estimate of their force may be made.(+)

A paper appended, marked L, exhibits in part the ordnance and supplies captured, including some twenty-eight field pieces of the best character of arm, with over one hundred rounds of ammunition for each gun, thirty-seven caissons, six forges, four battery wagons, sixty-four artillery horses completely equipped, 500,000 rounds of small-arms ammunition, 4,500 sets of accouterments, over 500 muskets, some nine regimental and garrison flags, with a large number of pistols, knapsacks, swords, canteens, blankets, a large store of axes and intrenching tools, wagons, ambulances, horses, camp and garrison equipage, hospital stores, and some subsistence.

Added to these results may rightly be noticed here that by this battle an invading army, superbly equipped, within twenty miles of their base of operations, has been converted into one virtually besieged and exclusively occupied for months in the construction of a stupendous series of fortifications for the protection of its own capital.

I beg to call attention to the reports of the several subordinate commanders for reference to the signal parts played by individuals of their respective commands. Contradictory statements found in these reports should not excite surprise, when we remember how difficult if not impossible it is to reconcile the narrations of bystanders or participants in even the most inconsiderable affair, much less the shifting, thrilling scenes of a battlefield.

Accompanying are maps showing the positions of the armies on the morning of the 21st July and of three several stages of the battle; also of the line of Bull Run north of Blackburn’s Ford. These maps, from actual surveys made by Capt. D. B. Harris, assisted by Mr. John Grant, were drawn by the latter with a rare accuracy worthy of high commendation.(#)

In conclusion, it is proper and doubtless expected that through this report my countrymen should be made acquainted with some of the sufficient causes that prevented the advance of our forces and prolonged vigorous pursuit of the enemy to and beyond the Potomac. The War Department has been fully advised long since of all of those causes, some of which only are proper to be here communicated. An army which had fought as ours on that day, against uncommon odds, under a July sun, most of the time without water and without food except a hastily-snatched scanty meal at dawn, was not in condition for the toil of an eager, effective pursuit of an enemy immediately after the battle.

On the following day an unusually heavy and unintermitting fall of rain intervened to obstruct our advance with reasonable prospect of fruitful results. Added to this, the want of a cavalry force of sufficient numbers made an efficient pursuit a military impossibility.

Respectfully, your obedient servant,

G. T. BEAUREGARD,

General, Commanding

General S. COOPER,

Adjutant and Inspector General, Richmond, Va

*Summarized in No.121, post.

@Namely: 3 colonels, 1 major, 13 captains, 36 lieutenants, 2 quartermasters, 5 surgeons, 7 assistant surgeons, 2 chaplains, 15 citizens, and 1,376 enlisted men.

+Report No. 120, post.

#Not found





#81 – Gen. Joseph E. Johnston

18 01 2008

 

Reports of General Joseph E. Johnston, commanding Confederate Armies of the Shenandoah and of the Potomac, of operations from May 23 to July 22, with order of battle

O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 2 [S# 2] — CHAPTER IX, pp 470-480 

HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,

Fairfax Court. House, October 14, 1861

SIR: I have the honor to submit to the honorable Secretary of War a report of the operations of the troops under my command, which terminated in the battle of Manassas.

I assumed command at Harper’s Ferry on the 23d of May. The force at that point then consisted of nine regiments and two battalions of infantry, four companies of artillery, with sixteen pieces without caissons, harness, or horses, and about three hundred cavalry. They were, of course, undisciplined, several regiments without accouterments, and with an entirely inadequate supply of ammunition.

I lost no time in making a complete reconnaissance of the place and its environs, in which the chief engineer, Major (now Brigadier-General) Whiting, ably assisted. The result confirmed my preconceived ideas. The position is untenable by any force not strong enough to take the field against an invading army and to hold both sides of the Potomac. It is a triangle, two sides being formed by the Potomac and the Shenandoah, and the third by Furnace Ridge. The plateau thus inclosed, and the end of Furnace Ridge itself, the only defensible position, which, however, required for its adequate occupation double our numbers, was exposed to enfilade and reverse fires of artillery from heights on the Maryland side of the river. Within that line the ground-was more favorable to an attacking than to a defending force. The Potomac can be easily crossed at many points above and below, so that it is easily turned. It is twenty miles from the great route into the valley of Virginia from Pennsylvania and Maryland, by which General Patterson’s approach was expected. Its garrison was thus out of position to defend that valley or to prevent General McClellan’s junction with General Patterson. These were the obvious and important objects to be kept in view. Besides being in position for them, it was necessary to be able on emergency to join General Beauregard.

The occupation of Harper’s Ferry by our Army perfectly suited the enemy’s views. We were bound to a fixed point; his movements were unrestricted. These views were submitted to the military authorities. The continued occupation of the place was, however, deemed by them indispensable. I determined to hold it until the great objects of the Government required its abandonment. The practicable roads from the West and Northwest, as well as from Manassas, meet the route from Pennsylvania and Maryland at Winchester. That point was, therefore, in my opinion, our best position. The distinguished commander of the Army of the Potomac was convinced, like myself, of our dependence upon each other, and promised to co-operate with me in case of need. To guard against surprise and to impose upon the enemy, Major Whiting was directed to mount a few heavy guns upon Furnace Ridge and otherwise strengthen the position.

I was employed until the 13th of June in continuing what had been begun by my predecessor, Colonel (now Major-General) Jackson–the organization, instruction, and equipment of the troops, and providing means of transportation and artillery horses. The river was observed from the Point of Rocks to the western part of the county of Berkeley, the most distant portions by the indefatigable Stuart with his cavalry. General Patterson’s troops were within a few hours of Williamsport, and General McClellan’s in Western Virginia were supposed to be approaching to effect a junction with Patterson, whose force was reported by well-informed persons to be eighteen thousand men.

On the morning of the 13th of June information was received from Winchester that Romney was occupied by two thousand Federal troops, supposed to be the vanguard of McClellan’s army. Col. A. P. Hill, with his own (Thirteenth) and Colonel Gibbons’ (Tenth) Virginia Regiments, was dispatched by railway to Winchester. He was directed to move thence towards Romney, to take the best position and best measures to check the advance of the enemy. He was to add to his command the Third Tennessee Regiment, which had just arrived at Winchester. During that day and the next the heavy baggage and remaining public property were sent to Winchester by the railway, and the bridges on the Potomac destroyed.

On the morning of the 15th the Army left Harper’s Ferry for Winchester–the force had been increased by three regiments since the 1st of June—and bivouacked four miles beyond Charlestown.

On the morning of the 16th intelligence was received that General Patterson’s army had crossed the Potomac at Williamsport; also, that the United States force at Romney had fallen back. A courier from Richmond brought a dispatch authorizing me to evacuate Harper’s Ferry at my discretion. The Army was ordered to gain the Martinsburg turnpike by a flank movement to Bunker Hill, in order to place itself between Winchester and the expected advance of Patterson. On hearing of this, the enemy recrossed the river precipitately.

Resuming my first direction and plan, I proceeded to Winchester. There the Army was in position to oppose either McClellan from the west or Patterson from the northeast, and to form a junction with General Beauregard when necessary. Lieut. Col. George H. Steuart, with his Maryland battalion, was sent to Harper’s Ferry to bring off some public property said to have been left. As McClellan was moving southwest-ward from Grafton Colonel Hill’s command was withdrawn from Romney. The defense of that region of country was intrusted to Colonel McDonald’s regiment of cavalry.

Intelligence from Maryland indicating another movement by Patterson, Colonel Jackson, with his brigade, was sent to the neighborhood of Martinsburg to support Colonel Stuart. The latter officer had been placed in observation on the line of the Potomac with his cavalry, his increasing vigilance and activity relied on to repress small incursions of the enemy, to give intelligence of invasion by them, and to watch, harass, and circumscribe their every movement. Colonel Jackson was instructed to destroy such of the rolling stock of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad as could not be brought off, and to have so much of it as could be made available to our service brought to Winchester.

Major Whiting was ordered to plan defensive works, and to have some heavy guns and navy carriages mounted. About twenty-five hundred militia, under Brigadier-General Carson, were called out from Frederick and the neighboring counties to man them.

On the 2d of July General Patterson again crossed the Potomac. Colonel Jackson, pursuant to instructions, fell back before him. In retiring he gave him a severe lesson in the affair at Falling Waters. With a battalion of the Fifth Virginia Regiment (Harper’s) and Pendleton’s battery of field artillery he engaged the enemy’s advance. Skillfully taking a position where the smallness of his force was concealed, he engaged them for a considerable time, inflicted a heavy loss, and retired when about to be outflanked, scarcely losing a man, but bringing off forty-five prisoners.

Upon this intelligence the Army, strengthened by the arrival of General Bee and Colonel Elzey and the Ninth Georgia Regiment, was ordered forward to the support of Jackson. It met him at Darkesville, six miles from Martinsburg, where it took up a position for action, as General Patterson, it was supposed, was closely following Colonel Jackson. We waited for him in this position four days, hoping to be attacked by an adversary at least double our numbers, but unwilling to attack him in a town so defensible as Martinsburg, with its solid buildings and inclosures of masonry. Convinced at length that he would not approach us I returned to Winchester, much to the disappointment of our troops, who were eager for battle with the invaders. Colonel Stuart, with his cavalry as usual, remained near the enemy.

Before the 15th of July the enemy’s force, according to the best intelligence to be obtained, amounted to about thirty-two thousand. Ours had been increased by eight Southern regiments. On the 15th of July Colonel Stuart reported the advance of General Patterson from Martinsburg. He halted, however, at Bunker Hill, nine miles from Winchester, where he remained on the 16th. On the 17th he moved to his left to Smithfield. This created the impression that he intended to attack us on the south, or was merely holding us in check while General Beauregard should be attacked at Manassas by General Scott. About I o’clock on the morning of July 18 I received from the Government a telegraphic dispatch informing me that the Northern Army was advancing upon Manassas, then held by General Beauregard, and directing me, if practicable, to go to that officer’s assistance, after(*) sending my sick to Culpeper Court-House. In the exercise of the discretion conferred by the terms of the order, I at once determined to march to join General Beauregard. The best service which the Army of the Shenandoah could render was to prevent the defeat of that of the Potomac. To be able to do this it was necessary, in the first instance, to defeat General Patterson or to elude him. The latter course was the most speedy and certain, and was therefore adopted. Our sick, nearly seventeen hundred in number, were provided for in Winchester. For the defense of that place the militia of Generals Carson and Meem seemed ample, for I thought it certain that General Patterson would follow my movement as soon as he discovered it. Evading him by the dispositions made of the advance-guard, under Colonel Stuart, the Army moved through Ashby’s Gap to Piedmont, a station of the Manassas Gap Railroad. Hence the infantry were to be transported by the railway, while the cavalry and artillery were ordered to continue their march.

I reached Manassas about noon on the 20th, preceded by the Seventh and Eighth Georgia Regiments and by Jackson’s brigade, consisting of the Second, Fourth, Fifth, Twenty-seventh, and Thirty-third Virginia Regiments. I was accompanied by General Bee, with the Fourth Alabama, the Second, and two companies of the Eleventh Mississippi. The president of the railroad company had assured me that the remaining troops should arrive during the day. I found General Beauregard’s position too extensive, and the ground too densely wooded and intricate, to be learned in the brief time at my disposal, and therefore determined to rely upon his knowledge of it and of the enemy’s positions. This I did readily from full confidence in his capacity.

His troops were divided into eight brigades, occupying the defensive line of Bull Run. Brigadier-General Ewell’s was posted at the Union Mills Ford; Brig. Gen. D. R. Jones’ at McLean’s Ford; Brigadier-General Longstreet’s at Blackburn’s Ford; Brigadier-General Bonham’s at Mitchell’s Ford; Colonel Cocke’s at Ball’s Ford, some three miles above; and Colonel Evans, with a regiment and battalion, formed the extreme left at the stone bridge. The brigades of Brigadier-General Holmes and Colonel Early were in reserve in rear of the right. I regarded the arrival of the remainder of the Army of the Shenandoah during the night as certain, and Patterson’s junction with the Grand Army on the 22d as probable.

During the evening it was determined, instead of remaining in the defensive positions then occupied, to assume the offensive and attack the enemy before such a junction. General Beauregard proposed a plan of battle, which I approved without hesitation. He drew up the necessary order during the night, which was approved formally by me at 4.30 o’clock on the morning of the 21st. The early movements of the enemy on that morning and the non-arrival of the expected troops prevented its execution. General Beauregard afterwards proposed a modification of the abandoned plan, to attack with our right while the left stood on the defensive. This, too, became impracticable, and a battle ensued different in place and circumstances from any previous plan on our side.

Soon after sunrise on the morning of the 21st a light cannonade was opened upon Colonel Evans’ position. A similar demonstration was made against the center soon after, and strong forces were observed in front of it and of the right. About 8 o’clock General Beauregard and I placed ourselves on a commanding hill in rear of General Bonham’s left. Near 9 o’clock the signal officer, Captain Alexander, reported that a large body of troops was crossing the valley of Bull Run some two miles above the bridge. General Bee, who had been placed near Colonel Cocke’s position, Colonel Hampton, with his Legion, and Colonel Jackson, from a point near General Bonham’s left, were ordered to hasten to the left flank. The signal officer soon called our attention to a heavy cloud of dust to the northwest and about ten miles off, such as the march of an army would raise. This excited apprehensions of General Patterson’s approach.

The enemy, under cover of a strong demonstration on our right, made a long detour through the woods on his right, crossed Bull Run two miles above our left, and threw himself upon the flank and rear of our position. This movement was fortunately discovered by us in time to check its progress, and ultimately to form a new line of battle nearly at right angles with the defensive line of Bull Run.

On discovering that the enemy had crossed the stream above him, Colonel Evans moved to his left with eleven companies and two field-pieces to oppose his advance, and disposed his little force under cover of the wood near the intersection of the Warrenton turnpike and the Sudley road. Here he was attacked by the enemy in immensely superior numbers, against which he maintained himself with skill and unshrinking courage. General Bee moving towards the enemy, guided by the firing, had with a soldier’s eye selected the position near the Henry house, and formed his troops upon it. They were the Seventh and Eighth Georgia, Fourth Alabama, Second Mississippi, and two companies of the Eleventh Mississippi, with Imboden’s battery. Being compelled, however, to sustain Colonel Evans, he crossed the valley and formed on the right and somewhat in advance of his position. Here the joint force, little exceeding five regiments, with six field pieces, held the ground against about fifteen thousand United States troops for an hour, until, finding themselves outflanked by the continually arriving troops of the enemy, they fell back to General Bee’s first position, upon the line of which Jackson, just arriving, formed his brigade and Stanard’s battery. Colonel Hampton, who had by this time advanced with his Legion as far as the turnpike, rendered efficient service in maintaining the orderly character of the retreat from that point; and here fell the gallant Lieutenant-Colonel Johnson, his second in command.

In the mean time I waited with General Beauregard near the center the full development of the enemy’s designs. About 11 o’clock the violence of the firing on the left indicated a battle, and the march of a large body of troops from the enemy’s center towards the conflict was shown by clouds of dust. I was thus convinced that his great effort was to be made with his right. I stated that conviction to General Beauregard, and the absolute necessity of immediately strengthening our left as much as possible. Orders were accordingly at once sent to General Holmes and Colonel Early to move with all speed to the sound of the firing, and to General Bonham to send up two of his regiments and a battery. General Beauregard and I then hurried at a rapid gallop to the scene of action, about four miles off. On the way I directed my chief of artillery, Colonel Pendleton, to follow with his own and Alburtis’ batteries.

We came not a moment too soon. The long contest against fivefold odds and heavy losses, especially of field officers, had greatly discouraged the troops of General Bee and Colonel Evans. Our presence with them under fire and some example had the happiest effect on  the spirit of the troops. Order was soon restored and the battle re-established, to which the firmness of Jackson’s brigade greatly contributed. Then, in a brief and rapid conference, General Beauregard was assigned to the command of the left, which, as the younger officer, he claimed, while I returned to that of the whole field. The aspect of affairs was critical, but I had full confidence in the skill and indomitable courage of General Beauregard, the high soldierly qualities of Generals Bee and Jackson and Colonel Evans, and the devoted patriotism of their troops.

Orders were first dispatched to hasten the march of General Holmes’, Colonel Early’s, and General Bonham’s regiments. General Ewell was also directed to follow with all speed. Many of the broken troops, fragments of companies, and individual stragglers were reformed and brought into action with the aid of my staff and a portion of General Beauregard’s. Colonel (late Governor) Smith with his battalion and Colonel Hunton with his regiment were ordered up to re-enforce the right. I have since learned that General Beauregard had previously ordered them into the battle. They belonged to his corps. Colonel Smith’s cheerful courage had a fine influence, not only upon the spirit of his own men, but upon the stragglers of the troops engaged. The largest body of these, equal about four companies, having no competent field officer, I placed under the command of one of my staff, Col. F. J. Thomas, who fell while gallantly leading it against the enemy. These re-enforcements were all sent to the right to re-establish more perfectly that part of our line. Having attended to these pressing duties at the immediate scene of conflict, my eye was next directed to Colonel Cocke’s brigade, the nearest at hand. Hastening to his position, I desired him to lead his troops into action. He informed me, however, that a large body of the enemy’s troops beyond the stream and below the bridge threatened us from that quarter. He was therefore left in his position.

My headquarters were now established near the Lewis house. From this commanding elevation my view embraced the position of the enemy beyond the stream and the approaches to the stone bridge, a point of especial importance. I could also see the advances of our troops far down the valley in the direction of Manassas, and observe the progress of the action and the maneuvers of the enemy.

We had now sixteen guns and two hundred and sixty cavalry and a little above nine regiments of the Army of the Shenandoah and six guns, and less than the strength of three regiments of that of the Potomac, engaged with about thirty-five thousand United States troops, among whom were full three thousand of the old Regular Army. Yet this admirable artillery and brave infantry and cavalry lost no foot of ground. For nearly three hours they maintained their position, repelling five successive assaults by the heavy masses of the enemy, whose numbers enabled him continually to bring up fresh troops as their preceding columns were driven back. Colonel Stuart contributed to one of these repulses by a well-timed and vigorous charge on the enemy’s right flank with two companies of his cavalry.

The efficiency of our infantry and cavalry might have been expected from a patriotic people accustomed like ours to the management of arms and horses, but that of the artillery was little less than wonderful. They were opposed to batteries far superior in the number, range, and equipment of their guns, with educated officers and thoroughly instructed soldiers: We had but one educated artillerist, Colonel Pendleton, that model of a Christian soldier, yet they exhibited as much superiority to the enemy in skill as in courage. Their fire was superior both in rapidity and precision.

About 2 o’clock an officer of General Beauregard’s adjutant-general’s office galloped from Manassas to report to me that a United States army had reached the line of Manassas Gap Railroad, was marching towards us, and then but three or four miles from our left flank. The expected re-enforcements appeared soon after. Colonel Cocke was then desired to lead his brigade into action to support the right of the troops engaged, which he did with alacrity and effect. Within a half hour the two regiments of General Bonham’s brigade (Cash’s and Kershaw’s) came up, and were directed against the enemy’s right, which he seemed to be strengthening. Fisher’s North Carolina regiment was soon after sent in the same direction. About 3 o’clock, while the enemy seemed to be striving to outflank and drive back our left, and thus separate us from Manassas, General E. K. Smith arrived with three regiments of Elzey’s brigade. He was instructed to attack the right flank of the enemy, now exposed to us. Before the movement was completed he fell, severely wounded. Colonel Elzey, at once taking command, executed it with great promptitude and vigor. General Beauregard rapidly seized the opportunity thus afforded him, and threw forward his whole line. The enemy was driven back from the long-contested hill, and victory was no longer doubtful.

He made yet another attempt to retrieve the day. He again extended his right with a still wider sweep to turn our left. Just as he reformed to renew the battle Colonel Early’s three regiments came upon the field. The enemy’s new formation exposed his right flank more even than the previous one. Colonel Early was therefore ordered to throw himself directly upon it, supported by Colonel Stuart’s Cavalry and Beckham’s battery. He executed this attack bravely and well, while a simultaneous charge was made by General Beauregard in front. The enemy was broken by this combined attack. He lost all the artillery which he had advanced to the scene of the conflict. He had no more fresh troops to rally on, and a general rout ensued.

Instructions were instantly sent to General Bonham to march by the quickest route to the turnpike to intercept the fugitives, and to General Longstreet to follow as closely as possible upon the right. Their progress was checked by the enemy’s reserve and by night at Centreville. Schenck’s brigade made a slight demonstration towards Lewis’ Ford, which was quickly checked by Holmes’ brigade, which had just arrived from the right. His artillery, under Captain Walker, was used with great skill. Colonel Stuart pressed the pursuit on the enemy’s principal line of retreat, the Sudley road. Four companies of cavalry, under Colonel Radford and Lieutenant-Colonel Munford, which I had held in reserve, were ordered to cross the stream at Ball’s Ford to reach the turnpike, the line of retreat of the enemy’s left. Our cavalry found the roads encumbered with dead and wounded (many of whom seemed to have been thrown from wagons), arms, accouterments, and clothing.  A report came to me from the right that a strong body of U.S. troops was advancing upon Manassas. General Holmes, who had just reached the field, and General Ewell, on his way to it, were ordered to meet this unexpected attack. They found no foe, however.

Our victory was as complete as one gained by infantry and artillery can be. An adequate force of cavalry would have made it decisive. It is due, under Almighty God, to the skill and resolution of General Beauregard, the admirable conduct of Generals Bee, E. K. Smith, and Jackson, and of Colonels (commanding brigades) Evans, Cocke, Early, and Elzey, and the courage and unyielding firmness of our patriotic volunteers. The admirable character of our troops is incontestably proved by the result of this battle, especially when it is remembered that little more than six thousand men of the Army of the Shenandoah with sixteen guns, and less than two thousand of that of the Potomac with six guns, for full five hours successfully resisted thirty-five thousand U.S. troops with a powerful artillery and a superior force of regular cavalry. Our forces engaged, gradually increasing during the remainder of the contest, amounted to but — men at the close of the battle. The brunt of this hard-fought engagement fell upon the troops who held their ground so long with such heroic resolution. The unfading honor which they won was dearly bought with the blood of many of our best and bravest. Their loss was far heavier in proportion than that of the troops coming later into action.

Every regiment and battery engaged performed its part well. The commanders of brigades have been already mentioned. I refer you to General Beauregard’s report for the names of the officers of the Army of the Potomac who distinguished themselves most. I cannot enumerate all of the Army of the Shenandoah who deserve distinction, and will confine myself to those of high rank: Colonels Bartow and Fisher (killed); Jones (mortally wounded); Harper, J. F. Preston, Cummings, Falkner, Gartrell, and Vaughn; J. E. B. Stuart, of the cavalry, and Pendleton, of the artillery; Lieutenant-Colonels Echols, Lightfoot, Lackland, G. H. Steuart, and Gardner. The last-named gallant officer was severely wounded.

The loss of the Army of the Potomac was 108 killed, 510 wounded, and 12 missing. That of the Army of the Shenandoah was 270 killed, 979 wounded, and 18 missing. Total killed, 378; wounded, 1,489; missing, 30. That of the enemy could not be ascertained. It must have been four or five thousand. Twenty-eight pieces of artillery, about five thousand muskets, and nearly five hundred thousand cartridges, a garrison flag, and ten colors were captured on the field or in the pursuit. Besides these we captured sixty-four artillery horses, with their harness, twenty-six wagons, and much camp equipage, clothing, and other property abandoned in their flight.

The officers of my staff deserve high commendation for their efficient and gallant services during the day and the campaign, and I beg leave to call the attention of the Government to their merits. Maj. W. H. C. Whiting, chief engineer, was invaluable to me for his signal ability in his profession and for his indefatigable activity before and in the battle. Major McLean, chief quartermaster, and Major Kearsley, chief commissary, conducted their respective departments with skill and energy. Major Rhett, assistant adjutant-general, who joined me only the day before, was of great service. I left him at Manassas, and to his experience and energy I intrusted the care of ordering my troops to the field of battle as they should arrive, and forwarding ammunition for the artillery during the action. Capts. C. M. Fauntleroy, C. S. Navy, T. L. Preston, assistant adjutant-general, and Lieut. J. B. Washington, aide-de-camp, conveyed my orders bravely and well on this their first field, as did several gallant gentlemen who volunteered their services–Colonel Cole, of Florida; Major Dens, of Alabama; Colonel Duncan, of Kentucky. Lieut. Beverly Randolph, C. S. Army, aided Col. F. J. Thomas in the command of the body of troops he led into action and fought with gallantry. With these was my gallant friend Capt. Barlow Mason, who was mortally wounded. I have already mentioned the brave death of my ordnance officer, Col. F. J. Thomas. I was much indebted also to Cols. J. S. Preston, Manning, Miles, and Chisolm, and Captain Stevens, of the Engineer Corps, members of General Beauregard’s staff, who kindly proffered their services and rendered efficient and valuable aid at different times during the day. Col. G. W. Lay, of General Bonham’s staff, delivered the instructions to the troops sent in pursuit and to intercept the enemy, with much intelligence and courage.

It will be remarked that the three brigadier-generals of the Army of the Shenandoah were all wounded. I have already mentioned the wound of General Smith. General Jackson, though painfully wounded early in the day, commanded his brigade until the close of the action. General Bee, after great exposure at the commencement of the engagement, was mortally wounded just as our re-enforcements were coming up.

The apparent firmness of the U.S. troops at Centreville, who had not been engaged, which checked our pursuit; the strong forces occupying the works near Georgetown, Arlington, and Alexandria; the certainty, too, that General Patterson, if needed, would reach Washington with his army of thirty thousand men sooner than we could, and the condition and inadequate means of the Army in ammunition, provisions, and transportation prevented any serious thoughts of advancing against the capital. It is certain that the fresh troops within the works were in number quite sufficient for their defense. If not, General Patterson’s army would certainly re-enforce them soon enough.

This report will be presented to you by my aide-de-camp, Lieut. J. B. Washington, by whom, and by General Beauregard’s aide, Lieutenant Ferguson, the captured colors are transmitted to the War Department.

Most respectfully, your obedient servant,

J. E. JOHNSTON, General

*This word erased from some official copies of the report.  See Mr. Davis’ indorsement p. 478

The ADJUTANT AND INSPECTOR GENERAL, C.S.. Army

[Indorsement]

The telegram referred to by General Johnston in this report as received by him “about 1 o’clock on the morning of the 18th July” is inaccurately reported. The following is a copy:

RICHMOND, July 17, 1861

General J. E. JOHNSTON, Winchester, Va.:

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

S. COOPER,

Adjutant and Inspector General

The word “after” is not found in the dispatch before the words “sending your sick,” as is stated in the report; so that the argument based on it requires no comment. The order to move “if practicable” had reference to General Johnston’s letters of 12th and 15th July, representing the relative strength and positions of the enemy under Patterson and of his own forces to be such as to make it doubtful whether General Johnston had the power to effect the movement.

JEFFERSON DAVIS

—–

HDQRS. DEPARTMENT OF NORTHERN VIRGINIA,

Centreville, February 3, 1862

SIR: My attention has been called to the fact that in the enumeration of the officers who distinguished themselves in the battle of Manassas the name of Col. S. B. Gibbons, commanding the Tenth Virginia Regiment, was omitted. This omission was due to unaccountable carelessness, and is a matter of regret and mortification to me. I beg that it may be corrected in my report on file in your office, and the correction published. Colonel Gibbons and his gallant regiment played an important part at a critical time, and injustice to them, even accidentally, is unpardonable. Colonel Elzey, to whose brigade Colonel Gibbons belongs, made honorable mention of him in his report.

Most respectfully, your obedient servant,

J. E. JOHNSTON,

General

General S. COOPER ADJUTANT

Inspector General

—–

SPECIAL ORDERS, No. –

HDQRS. ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,

July 20, 1861

The following order is published for the information of division and brigade commanders:

I. Brigadier-General Ewell’s brigade, supported by General Holmes’ brigade, will march via Union Mills Ford and place itself in position of attack upon the enemy. It will be held in readiness either to support the attack upon Centreville or to move in the direction of Sangster’s Cross-Roads, according to circumstances.

The order to advance will be given by the commander-in-chief.

II. Brigadier-General Jones’ brigade, supported by Colonel Early’s brigade, will march via McLean’s Ford to place itself in position of attack upon the enemy on or about the Union Mills and Centreville road. It will be held in readiness either to support the attack upon Centreville or to move in the direction of Fairfax Station, according to circumstances, with its right flank towards the left of Ewell’s command, more or less distant, according to the nature of the country and attack.

The order to advance will be given by the commander-in-chief.

III. Brigadier-General Longstreet’s brigade, supported by Brigadier-General Jackson’s brigade, will march via McLean’s Ford to place itself in position of attack upon the enemy on or about the Union Mills and Centreville road. It will be held in readiness either to support the attack on Centreville or to move in the direction of Fairfax Court-House, according to circumstances, with its right flank towards the left of Jones’ command, more or less distant, according to the nature of the country.

The order to advance will be given by the commander-in-chief.

IV. Brigadier-General Bonham’s brigade, supported by Colonel Bartow’s brigade, will march via Mitchell’s Ford to the attack of Centreville, the right wing to the left of the Third Division, more or less distant, according to the nature of the country and of the attack.

The order to advance will be given by the commander-in-chief.

V. Colonel Cocke’s brigade, supported by Colonel Elzey’s brigade, will march via stone bridge and the fords on the right thereof to the attack of Centreville, the right wing to the left of the Fourth Division, more or less distant, according to the nature of the country and of the attack.

The order to advance will be given by the commander-in-chief.

VI. Brigadier-General Bee’s brigade, supported by Colonel Wilcox’s brigade, Colonel Stuart’s regiment of cavalry, and the whole of Walton’s battery, will form the reserve, and will march via Mitchell’s Ford, to be used according to circumstances.

VII. The light batteries will be distributed as follows:

1. To Brigadier-General Ewell’s command, Captain Walker’s six pieces.

2. To Brigadier-General Jones’, Captains Alburtis’ and Standard’s batteries, eight pieces.

3. To Brigadier-General Longstreet’s, Colonel Pendleton’s and Captain Imboden’s batteries, eight pieces.

4. To Brigadier-General Bonham’s, Captains Kemper’s and Shields’ batteries, eight pieces.

5. To Colonel Cocke’s, Colonel Hunton’s and Captains Latham’s and Beckham’s batteries, twelve pieces.

VIII. Colonel Radford, commanding cavalry, will detail, to report immediately, as follows:

To Brigadier-General Ewell, two companies of cavalry.

To Brigadier-General Jones, two companies of cavalry.

To Brigadier-General Longstreet, two companies of cavalry.

To Brigadier-General Bonham, three companies of cavalry.

To Colonel Cocke, the remaining companies of cavalry, except those in special service.

IX. The Fourth and Fifth Divisions, after the fall of Centreville, will advance to the attack of Fairfax Court-House via the Braddock and turnpike roads, to the north of the latter.

The First, Second, and Third Divisions will, if necessary, support the Fourth and Fifth Divisions.

X. In this movement the First, Second, and Third Divisions will form the command of Brigadier-General Holmes; the Fourth and Fifth Divisions that of the second in command. The reserve will move upon the plains between Mitchell’s Ford and stone bridge, and, together with the Fourth and Fifth Divisions, will be under the immediate direction of General Beauregard.

By command of General Beauregard:

THOMAS JORDAN,

Assistant Adjutant-General

—–

SPECIAL ORDERS, No. —

HDQRS. ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,

July 21, 1861–4.30 a.m.

The plan of attack given by Brigadier-General Beauregard in the above order is approved, and will be executed accordingly.

J. E. JOHNSTON,

General, C. S. Army





#25 – Col. William T. Sherman

3 10 2007

 

Report of Col. William T. Sherman, Thirteenth U. S. Infantry, Commanding Third Brigade, First Division

O.R. — SERIES I–VOLUME 2 [S# 2] — CHAPTER IX, pp 368 – 371

HDQRS. THIRD BRIGADE, FIRST DIVISION,

Fort Corcoran, July 25, 1861

SIR: I have the honor to submit this my report of the operations of my brigade during the action of the 21st instant. The brigade is composed of the Thirteenth New York Volunteers, Colonel Quinby; Sixty-ninth New York, Colonel Corcoran; Seventy-ninth New York, Colonel Cameron; Second Wisconsin, Lieutenant-Colonel Peck, and Company E, Third Artillery, under command of Capt. R. B. Ayres, Fifth Artillery. We left our camp near Centreville, pursuant to orders, at 2.30 a.m., taking place in your column next to the brigade of General Schenck, and proceeded as far as the halt before the enemy’s position near the stone bridge at Bull Run. Here the brigade was deployed in line along the skirt of timber, and remained quietly in position till after 10 a.m. The enemy remained very quiet, but about that time we saw a regiment leave its cover in our front and proceed in double-quick time on the road toward Sudley Springs, by which we knew the columns of Colonels Hunter and Heintzelman were approaching. About the same time we observed in motion a large force of the enemy below the stone bridge. I directed Captain Ayres to take position with his battery near our right and open fire on this mass, but you had previously detached the two rifled guns belonging to this battery, and finding the smoothbore guns did not reach the enemy’s position we ceased firing, and I sent a request that you should send to me the 30-pounder rifled gun attached to Captain Carlisle’s battery. At the same time I shifted the New York Sixty-ninth to the extreme right of the brigade.

Thus we remained till we heard the musketry fire across Bull Run, showing that the head of Colonel Hunter’s column was engaged. This firing was brisk, and showed that Hunter was driving before him the enemy till about noon, when it became certain the enemy had come to a stand, and that our forces on the other side of Bull Run were all engaged—-artillery and infantry. Here you sent me the order to cross over with the whole brigade to the assistance of Colonel Hunter. Early in the day, when reconnoitering the ground, I had seen a horseman descend from a bluff in our front, cross the stream, and show himself in the open field, and, inferring we could cross over at the same point, I sent for ward a company as skirmishers, and followed with the whole brigade, the New York Sixty-ninth leading. We found no difficulty in crossing over, and met no opposition in ascending the steep bluff opposite with our infantry, but it was impassable to the artillery, and I sent word back to Captain Ayres to follow if possible, otherwise to use his discretion. Captain Ayres did not cross Bull Run, but remained with the remainder of your division. His report, herewith, [No. 27], describes his operations during the remainder of the day.

Advancing slowly and cautiously with the head of the column, to give time for the regiments in succession to close up their ranks, we first encountered a party of the enemy retreating along a cluster of pines. Lieutenant-Colonel Haggerty, of the Sixty-ninth, without orders, rode out and endeavored to intercept their retreat. One of the enemy, in full view, at short range, shot Haggerty, and he fell dead from his horse. The Sixty-ninth opened fire upon this party, which was returned; but, determined to effect our junction with Hunter’s division, I ordered this fire to cease, and we proceeded with caution toward the field, where we then plainly saw our forces engaged. Displaying our colors conspicuously at the head of our column, we succeeded in attracting the attention of our friends, and soon formed the brigade in rear of Colonel Porter’s. Here I learned that Colonel Hunter was disabled by a severe wound, and that General McDowell was on the field. I sought him out, and received his orders to join in the pursuit of the enemy, who was falling back to the left of the road by which the Army had approached from Sudley Springs. Placing Colonel Quinby’s regiment of rifles in front, in column by divisions, I directed the other regiments to follow in line of battle, in the order of the Wisconsin Second, New York Seventy-ninth, and New York Sixty-ninth.

Quinby’s regiment advanced steadily down the hill and up the ridge, from which he opened fire upon the enemy, who had made another stand on ground very favorable to him, and the regiment continued advancing as the enemy gave way, till the head of the column reached the point near which Ricketts’ battery was so severely cut up. The other regiments descended the hill in line of battle under a severe cannonade; and the ground affording comparative shelter against the enemy’s artillery, they changed direction by the right flank and followed the road before mentioned. At the point where this road crossed the ridge to our left front, the ground was swept by a most severe fire of artillery, rifles, and musketry, and we saw in succession several regiments driven from it, among them the zouaves and battalion of marines.

Before reaching the crest of this hill the roadway was worn deep enough to afford shelter, and I kept the several regiments in it as long as possible; but when the Wisconsin Second was abreast of the enemy, by order of Major Wadsworth, of General McDowell’s staff, I ordered it to leave the roadway by the left flank, and to attack the enemy. This regiment ascended to the brow of the hill steadily, received the severe fire of the enemy, returned it with spirit, and advanced delivering its fire. This regiment is uniformed in gray cloth, almost identical with that of the great bulk of the secession army, and when the regiment fell into confusion and retreated toward the road there was an universal cry that they were being fired on by our own men. The regiment rallied again, passed the brow of the hill a second time, but was again repulsed in disorder.

By this time the New York Seventy-ninth had closed up, and in like manner it was ordered to cross the brow of the hill and drive the enemy from cover. It was impossible to get a good view of this ground. In it there was one battery of artillery, which poured an incessant fire upon our advancing columns, and the ground was very irregular, with small clusters of pines, affording shelter, of which the enemy took good advantage. The fire of rifles and musketry was very severe. The Seventy-ninth, headed by its colonel (Cameron), charged across the hill, and for a short time the contest was severe. They rallied several times under fire, but finally broke and gained the cover of the hill.

This left the field open to the New York Sixty-ninth, Colonel Corcoran, who in his turn led his regiment over the crest, and had in full open view the ground so severely contested. The firing was very severe, and the roar of cannon, muskets, and rifles incessant. It was manifest the enemy was here in great force, far superior to us at that point. The Sixty-ninth held the ground for some time, but finally fell back in disorder.

All this time Quinby’s regiment occupied another ridge to our left, overlooking the same field of action and similarly engaged.

Here, about 3.30 p.m. began the scene of confusion and disorder that characterized the remainder of the day. Up to that time all had kept their places, and seemed perfectly cool and used to the shells and shot that fell comparatively harmless all around us; but the short exposure to an intense fire of small-arms at close range had killed many, wounded more, and had produced disorder in all the battalions that had attempted to destroy it. Men fell away talking and in great confusion. Colonel Cameron had been mortally wounded, carried to an ambulance, and reported dying. Many other officers were reported dead or missing, and many of the wounded were making their way, with more or less assistance, to the buildings used as hospitals.

On the ridge to the west we succeeded in partially reforming the regiments, but it was manifest they would not stand, and I directed Colonel Corcoran to move along the ridge to the rear, near the position where we had first formed the brigade. General McDowell was there in person, and used all possible efforts to reassure the men. By the active exertions of Colonel Corcoran we formed an irregular square against the cavalry, which were then seen to issue from the position from which we had been driven, and we began our retreat towards that ford of Bull Run by which we had approached the field of battle. There was no positive order to retreat, although for an hour it had been going on by the operation of the men themselves. The ranks were thin and irregular, and we found a stream of people strung from the hospital, across Bull Run and far towards Centreville. After putting in motion the irregular square, I pushed forward to find Captain Ayres’ battery. Crossing Bull Run, I sought it at its last position before the brigade crossed over, but it was not there; then, passing through the woods where in the morning we had first formed line, we approached the blacksmith-shop, but there found a detachment of the secession cavalry, and thence made a circuit, avoiding Cub Run Bridge, into Centreville, where I found General McDowell. From him I understood it was his purpose to rally the forces, and make a stand at Centreville. But, about 9 o’clock at night, I received, from General Tyler in person the order to continue the retreat to the Potomac. This retreat was by night, and disorderly in the extreme. The men of different regiments mingled together, and some reached the river at Arlington, some at Long Bridge, and the greater part returned to their former camps at or near Fort Corcoran. I reached this point at noon the next day, and found a miscellaneous crowd crossing over the Aqueduct and ferries.

Conceiving this to be demoralizing, I at once commanded the guard to be increased, and all persons attempting to pass over to be stopped.

This soon produced its effect; men sought their proper companies and regiments, comparative order was restored, and all were posted to the best advantage.

I herewith inclose the official report of Captain Kelly, the commanding officer of the Sixty-ninth New York; also full lists of the killed, wounded, and missing. Our loss was heavy, and occurred chiefly at the point near where Ricketts’ battery was destroyed. Lieutenant-Colonel Haggerty was killed about noon, before we effected a junction with Colonel Hunters division. Colonel Cameron was mortally wounded leading his regiment in the charge, and Colonel Corcoran has been missing since the cavalry charge near the building used as a hospital.

Lieutenants Piper and McQuesten, of my personal staff, were under fire all day, and carried orders to and fro with as much coolness as on parade. Lieutenant Bagley, of the Sixty-ninth New York, a volunteer aide, asked leave to serve with his company during the action, and is among those reported missing. I have intelligence that he is a prisoner and slightly wounded. Colonel Coon, of Wisconsin, a volunteer aide, also rendered good service during the day.

I have the honor to be, your obedient servant,

W. T. SHERMAN,

Colonel, Commanding Brigade

Capt. A. BAIRD,

Assistant Adjutant-General, First Division








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