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

6 02 2010

McDOWELL’S ADVANCE TO BULL RUN

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Nathan G. Evans

1 08 2009

Colonel Nathan “Shanks” Evans commanded the Seventh Brigade in Beauregard’s Army of the Potomac at Bull Run.  His command is often referred to as a demi-brigade due to its size: it consisted of one full regiment, the 4th SC, Wheat’s 1st Special Louisiana Battalion, Alexander’s and Terry’s troops of the 30th VA Cavalry, and one section of Latham’s battery.  All told, he had about 1,100 infantrymen with him on the far left of the Confederate line on the morning of July 21, 1861.  But what he managed to do with those men made him, for a time, a hero. 

Using the advantages of terrain, Evans managed to hold back Burnside’s men until reinforced by Bee and Bartow, which in turn gave Johnston and Beauregard time to send much of their widespread and late arriving manpower to Henry Hill.  He would follow up this success later in the year with a victory as the commander of the Confederate forces engaged at Ball’s Bluff, also known as the Battle of Leesburg.  That action would earn him the thanks of the Confederate Congress.

 But today Evans is probably best known not for his military achievments early in the war, but rather for his “barellita”, a one gallon jug of whiskey carried by an aide that accompanied him in camp and field.  His reputation as a hard drinker dogged him throughout his Confederate career, and perhaps played a role in his slow promotion and a series of transfers that earned his men the sobriquet of “The Tramp Brigade”.  He would end the war without a command and in relative obscurity.

Evans’s penchant for drink was a widely held impression from early on.  In a letter to his mother written 10/18/1861, Longstreet staffer T. J. Goree wrote:

[Evans] is very much censured for not attacking [an isolated Federal force a few days after Ball’s Bluff], but the truth of the matter is he was so elated by his victory at Leesburg that he got a little drunker than usual, and was consequently not in a condition to do anything.  Some of the officers under him speak of preferring charges against him.  Genl Evans is one of the bravest men I ever saw, and is no doubt a good officer when sober, but he is unfortunately almost always under the influence of liquor.  Cutrer, ed., Longstreet’s Aide: The Civil War Letters of Major Thomas Goree, p 51

 As for the photo below, I have no idea what’s going on there, but the two men are holding hands.  As I said here, things were different back then.  I think.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

evans2

This article was originally published on 9/13/2007, as part of the Nathan George Evans biographical sketch.





William T. Sherman

28 07 2009

Colonel William. T. Sherman (while his commission as BGUSV was dated 5/17/61, he was not nominated until 8/2/61 and was confirmed three days later) commanded a brigade in Daniel Tyler’s division of McDowell’s army during the First Bull Run campaign.  He’s been in the news lately thanks to a couple of programs on The History Channel (see here and here).  The battle marked an inauspicious beginning to his storied Civil War career, and he would end up as the commanding general of the U. S. Army after his friend U. S. Grant became president.  But at Bull Run, Sherman committed his brigade in the same piecemeal fashion favored by his fellow commanders on both sides.  I’m not too hard on those fellows, because McDowell’s army of about 35,000 was the largest ever assembled on the North American continent up to that point, and the only man in the country experienced in commanding a force of even 40% its size was Winfield Scott.

As with all Union generals from Ohio, I’m finding the interrelationships surrounding Sherman and shaping his rise to brigade command somewhat labyrinthine.  Sherman briefly partnered in a law firm with members of the Ohio McCooks and his influential in-laws the Ewings.  And the colonel of the 1st OHVI in Schenck’s brigade of Tyler’s Division, Alexander McCook?  His middle name was McDowell.  Powerful Treasury Secretary Salmon Chase, during this time sometimes referred to as General Chase, was from Ohio, and Sherman’s brother Thomas was elected to fill Chase’s vacated senate seat when the latter was appointed to Lincoln’s cabinet.  It doesn’t take long to realize that a non-political general was a rare bird indeed.

Brian Downey recently wrote of a post-war scandal involving Sherman and the widow of Joseph Audenried, who as a young Lt. served on the staff of Sherman’s direct superior Tyler during the campaign.  John Tidball, who was also with McDowell’s army in the summer of ‘61, would wind up on Sherman’s staff years later, when “Uncle Billy” held the highest military office in the land.  Tidball’s biography (discussed here) includes his sketch of his boss at that time which touches on Sherman’s affection for the ladies (page 415):

He was exceedingly fond of the society of ladies, and took as much delight in dancing and such pleasures as a youth just entering manhood, and with them he was as much of a lion as he was a hero with his old soldiers.

With those of the romantic age he was often sprightly upon their all absorbing topic of love and matrimony, a condition of mind that he regarded as a mere working out of the inflexible laws of nature; but while regarding it in this light he did not condemn or ridicule the romantic side of it as mere nonsensical sentimentality.  From young ladies with whom he was intimately acquainted he was fond of extracting the kiss conceded by his age and position, and which they were not loath to grant, nor upon which neither parents or beaux were disposed to frown.  By the envious it was said that in these osculatory performances he sometimes held in so long that he was compelled to breathe through his ears.

Cump, you dog!

This article was originally posted on 5/26/2007, as part of the William T. Sherman biographical sketch.





JCCW – Gen. John G. Barnard

15 07 2009

Testimony of Gen. John G. Barnard

Report on the Conduct of the War, Vol. 2, pp. 160-162

WASHINGTON, January 11, 1862.

General JOHN G. BARNARD sworn and examined.

By the chairman:

Question. Were you at the battle of Bull Run?

Answer Yes, sir.

Question. In what capacity?

Answer I was the chief of the engineer corps of General McDowell’s army.

Question. Without going minutely into the matter, will you state concisely to what you attribute the disaster to our army in that battle?

Answer. One of the influential causes was, I think, the loss of time in getting under way the morning of the fight. The fact that the repulse turned into a disastrous defeat I attribute to the fact that our troops were all raw. General McDowell had not even time to see all his troops They were brigaded only for the march, and put under officers whom the troops had not time to know, and who had no time to know the troops; and they had not been under military training long enough to be thoroughly educated as to what they had to do. With every disposition to fight well, they had not acquired the knowledge and experience they should have had, and when they were driven back on the narrow roads, in small bodies, they became so mixed up that it was almost impossible to recognize them.

Question. You attribute the first bad phase of that battle to the fact that our troops did not get on the ground in time?

Answer. Yes, sir. I think an hour’s difference would have gained the battle. We had almost gained it as it was.

Question. What caused that delay?

Answer. There were two cause distinct from each other. One was that in the plan of attack General Tyler’s division was to move first on the Warrenton turnpike to Stone Bridge, while the really attacking column which was to turn the enemy’s left flank, and which consisted of Hunter’s and Heintzelman’s divisions, had to follow Tyler until they reached the road where they were to turn off to make this detour. The road into which they were to turn was not a beaten, travelled road, but a mere country path. And Tyler’s division was not out of the way so that they could get up to that turn-off for an hour and a half later than was expected. So that, instead of getting at that point at four o’clock, the head of Hunter’s column was not able to get there until, say about half-past five. That was the first cause.

Question. What delayed Tyler’s division; did you ever know?

Answer. When General McDowell and his staff rode along after waiting for the columns to get in motion—this was at four or half past four o’clock— we found the columns standing in the road waiting for one of Tyler’s brigades to get out of camp and under motion. Perhaps there was some fault in planning it, in overlooking the fact that Tyler’s division was so large, including three brigades, and the want of experience that we all had in moving large bodies of men. But whether it was General Tyler’s fault in not getting his troops under way in time, I am not competent enough to decide. I think that after we had waited for some time General McDowell had to stop the last brigade of Tyler’s division until Hunter’s division filed past.

I said there were two causes for that delay. The second was the much longer time it took for the column of Hunter’s to get around to Sudley’s Ford than we calculated for. In going over the ground as far as we could the day before, we fell upon the enemy’s patrol, and, not liking to attract their attention that way, we did not explore the ground up to the ford. We found that the ground was perfectly free; that there was nothing to obstruct cavalry or artillery; and the guide took them by a detour, saying that we would be exposed to the enemy’s batteries if we took the shorter road. So that we were three or four hours making that march through the woods. We did not get to the ford until half past nine or ten o’clock, and we ought to have been there at six o’clock. We succeeded in our operations. We deceived the enemy as to the point we were going to attack. We turned his left flank. He actually did not know the point of attack until twelve o’clock, when he commenced accumulating his forces at that point. If we had been earlier, we should have got on the Warrenton turnpike, in the rear of Stone Bridge, before he could have got there We should have concentrated three divisions there.

Question. There was a strong brigade on Centreville Heights after the retreat began?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. What would have been the effect of ordering up that force to support the retreating columns?

Answer. When I saw that there was danger of losing the battle—when I saw the first charge, the first repulse of the Zouave regiment, the first capture of Ricketts’s battery—I began to fear that we would be beaten. I had felt confident of a victory up to that time, but then I began to see the possibility of a repulse. We supposed that the Stone Bridge was unguarded, and if we were beaten, and the enemy should cross there, we would be cut off. I had got separated from General McDowell, and I hunted up the adjutant, who was behind attending to some duty, and requested him to order up the brigade at Centreville to the Stone Bridge, in order to support us there, as we supposed the division of Tyler had entirely got across the bridge. General McDowell left that brigade at Centreville as a reserve at a central point, as he was afraid that while we were operating on the enemy’s left, making this long detour to do so, the enemy would pass Blackburn’s Ford and manoeuvre up by Centreville on our left flank. I had rather overlooked that until I saw it in General McDowell’s report.  And General Beauregard says that if we had not anticipated him, he would have attacked us. He actually did send an order to General Ewell to move up and attack our communication that way; and the reason it was not done was because the order miscarried in some way, so that that part of his plan failed. If they had attacked and carried that position at the same time that we were repulsed on our left, we would have been worse off than we were.

Question. But would not have been defeated, would you, if that strong division at Centreville had been at the fight? They would have gone right through them, would they not?

Answer. If our line had held out for a half an hour longer, we would have beaten the enemy as it was, because Schenck’s brigade at the Stone Bridge was at that moment just ready to act. The enemy had made an abattis on the other side; cut down the woods for some two hundred yards back from the bridge. Two of Tyler’s brigades had crossed over to join our left. Schenck’s brigade had remained at the bridge, and Captain Alexander had cut through the abattis and was ready to move on the enemy’s right just at the moment that they received news that our men were retreating. I believe if we had held out a half an hour, or even but a quarter of an hour, longer, we should have beaten them.

Question. If Patterson had held Johnston back, what would have been the effect?

Answer. We should have beaten them. That was the only thing that saved them.

Question. At what time before the battle commenced was it understood that Patterson was not holding Johnston back?

Answer. All that I knew about it, and all, I believe, that was distinctly known in the army about it, was that we heard the railroad cars running all night long. We were near enough at Centreville to hear the locomotives at Manassas.

Question. Suppose that when Patterson turned off from Bunker Hill to Charlestown, the moment that he knew he was no longer able to hold Johnston back, he had given notice to General Scott, and that notice had come to you, what would have been the effect of it upon your councils, had you heard it the day before the battle?

Answer. I think we should have fought any way. We could not have delayed any longer; that would have done us no good. The time of the three months’ volunteers was expiring. We had made that march to fight, and I think we would have fought.

Question. Suppose you had held your own there until Patterson had followed Johnston down?

Answer. If we had received something definite—a communication of that kind—I think it is likely the determination would have been altered.

Question. I mean if that communication had been given directly from Patterson to General Scott, and from General Scott had been sent immediately to you, I suppose the effect upon your council would have been at least to wait until Patterson had followed Johnston down?

Answer. If we had received the information in a distinct form, we might have acted differently. I know that, with what information we had, it was uncertain. The question was discussed, “Shall we defer the attack?” and it was concluded that we better fight as soon as we could. We heard the railroad cars running all night, and presumed that Johnston’s forces were coming in. But the moral effect of a delay would have been bad, and that action at Blackburn’s Ford had a bad effect on the army.

Answer. Could you not have brought up 10,000 or 15,000 more troops from Washington by a little delay?

Answer. By stripping Washington entirely of all its troops we might have done so, I suppose. I do not recollect what the whole force was here then.

Question. General Tyler was sent around to make a reconnoissance merely, as we have been told, not to make an attack, on the 18th?

Answer. He was not expected to go further than Centreville, I think. I think he was not expected to make any attack at all.

Question. Seeing that he did make an attack, he should have carried those batteries, should he not, if he could have done so? And if he had, would it not have cleared the way for the next battle, so that you could have turned their left?

Answer. He ought not to have made the attack at all without knowing that he could do something. He ought to have made the attack with the intention of carrying the position, or not have made it at all. I was on the spot, and warned him twice that it was not intended to fight a battle there; that it was on the straight road to Manassas, at one of the strongest crossings on Bull Run, and that it was evident the enemy was moving up his force to meet us there. And as he had no orders to fight, and as there was no plan to fight there, I did all I could to get him to desist. I had no objection to his opening his artillery fire, for that was a sort of reconnoissance, to make them show just what they were. But I had no idea that they were going to march down to the Run and fight as they did.





Note From the Family of Romeyn Ayres

23 06 2009

I received this email the other day:

Hello Harry,

Thanks so much for doing a blog entry on my father’s great great grandfather, Romeyn Beck Ayres.   Today, Father’s Day, he had just shown me a photo from a magazine of Lincoln at Antietam where he inquired to the editors and they read the caption claiming Romeyn was 5th over to the left from Lincoln, the only one not wearing a hat.   But I found a caption online that says it was Col. Alexander S. Webb.  The photos on your site seem to confirm it was not him.

I am printing out the information you posted to show my father tomorrow.  This may be what wins him over re the internet.

Thanks again,

Tim Ayres

p.s.  I have my own wordpress blog, where I produce and rotate host a long running poetry show on our local college station.   Small world. 

madriveranthology.wordpress.com

Here’s a cropped version of the photo to which I think Tim is referring – click the thumbnail for a larger image:

AL-at-Antietam

The bareheaded fellow bears more of a resemblance to Webb than to Ayres.  That’s George Custer on the far right, by the way.

I’m not done with Ayres, commander of Sherman’s Battery (E, 3rd US) at Bull Run.  There’s a pretty cool story regarding his plot in Arlington National Cemetery and another of Tim’s ancestors. 





Manassas National Battlefield Park Photos May 2009

19 06 2009

These images were recorded on May 29-30, 2009; for the most part in the company of fellow blogger Craig Swain.  Click on the thumbs for larger images.

 01---Brownell01a---Ricketts

Visitor’s Center (VC) displays of Francis Brownell’s musket and 11th NY uniform worn at the occupation of Alexandria; Capt. James B. Ricketts’s sword and sash worn at First Bull Run.

 03---Bartow02---Bartow04---Bartow05-Bartow

Francis Bartow monument on the Henry Hill Trail; trees marking the site of the base to an earlier monument to Bartow erected in September 1861; two images of the base.

07---Henry-House06---Henry-Grave08---Matthews-Hill-From-Hen

The Henry House; Judith Henry grave; view north to Matthews Hill from the Henry House.

10---Ricketts11---Ramsey-Marker12---7th-GA13---7th-GA14---Ricketts

View south along Ricketts’ line toward VC; site of death of Lt. Ramsey of Ricketts’ Battery; two images of 7th GA marker near Ricketts’ guns; view north along Ricketts’ line toward Matthews Hill.

15---Signal-Hill16---Signal-Hill

Two views of the monument at Signal Hill in Manassas, marking the position of E. P. Alexander’s signal station.  The earthworks to the rear of the monument are off limits.

19---Path-to-Mayfield-Fort20---Mayfield-Fort

Entry to the path leading to Mayfield Fort in Manassas, part of Beauregard’s system of defensive earthworks; Mayfield Fort.

21---Blackburn's-Ford22---Blackburn's-Ford23---Blackburn's-Ford24---Blackburn's-Ford

Parking lot on north side of Blackburn’s Ford; three views from north to south side of ford, panning to west.

25---Cub-Run26---Cub-Run28---Cub-Run27---Cub-Run

View west along Warrenton Pike (Lee Highway) toward Cub Run (new bridge is lighter pavement); view west to run; view east to run; view of run from the west.

29---Reynolds30---Reynolds

View south from Reynolds’ RI Battery on Mattews Hill south to Henry Hill; view east along Reynolds’ line.

31--Stovall32---Stovall33---Stovall

View east along Stone Bridge Trail toward the monument Private George T. Stovall of the 8th GA; two views of the marker.

34---Carter-Cemetery35---Carter-Cemetery

Two views of the Carter Family Cemetery on the Stone Bridge Trail, both looking south.

36---Farm-Ford

Area marked as Farm Ford on Bull Run, where the brigades fo Sherman and Keyes crossed.  NPS Ranger Jim Burgess believes the actual ford lies about 200 yards upstream from here.

37---Imboden38---Imboden-to-Dogan

View north to Matthews Hill from Imboden’s position on Henry Hill, Reynolds’ guns in the distance; view northwest to Dogan’s Ridge from Imboden’s position, Dogan House in the distance.

40---Entry-to-Sudley-Rd-Tra39---Sudley-Rd-Trace41---Sudley-Rd-Trace

Entrance to original Sudley Road trace near the VC, looking south with Sudley Rd to the right; the trace looking north to the VC; the trace looking south.

42---Stone-House46---Stone-House44---Stone-House45---Stone-House

The Stone House at the intersection of the Sudley-Manassas Rd and the Warrenton Pike – view north from the Pike; view southwest from the rear of the house; two interior images.

47---Buck-Hill48---Buck-Hill49---Buck-Hill

Buck Hill to the north of the Stone House – view south to Henry Hill; view north to Matthews Hill; view east toward the Stone Bridge.

52---Chinn-Ridge

Chinn Ridge looking north – the area of the repulse of Col. O. O. Howard’s brigade.

50---Thornberry51---Thornberry

The Thornberry House near Sudley Springs – Union soldiers took shelter in this house (much changed from the original) after the battle.





SHSP – Harper’s Ferry and First Manassas

3 06 2009

Southern Historical Society Papers

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

Harper’s Ferry And First Manassas

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

RESERVE ORDNANCE TRAIN, A. N. VA.,

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

Wednesday, September 9th, 1863

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

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

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

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

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

* * * * *

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

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

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

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

Sunday, September 20th, [1863]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CAMP NEAR GORDONSVILLE: [VA.]

Tuesday, December 22, 1863

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

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

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

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

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

HEADQUARTERS RODES’S DIVISION

CAMP NEAR ORANGE C. H. [VA.]

March 10th, 1864

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

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

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

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

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

NOTES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

11. See note 5.

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

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

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

15. See note 8.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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





Time Line

30 05 2009

CHRONOLOGY*

(All times are approximate and are based on those given in the after action reports by unit commanders, in testimony before the Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War, or in postwar reminiscences.)

*From Ballard, T. First Bull Run Staff Ride Guide

27 May 1861

  • Brig. Gen. Irvin McDowell is assigned command of the Department of Northeastern Virginia and the military forces camped in and around Washington.

9 July 1861

  • McDowell’s military force, called the Army of Northeastern Virginia, is scheduled to march to Manassas Junction on this day, but a lack of sufficient supplies delays the movement.

16 July 1861

  • McDowell’s army begins its march toward Manassas Junction. By evening Brig. Gen. Daniel Tyler’s division has reached Vienna, Col. David Hunter’s and Col. Dixon S. Miles’ divisions have arrived at Annandale, and Col. Samuel P. Heintzelman’s division is at Pohick Creek.

17 July 1861

  • Commanding the Confederate Army of the Potomac at Manassas Junction, Brig. Gen. Pierre G. T. Beauregard informs the Confederate War Department of McDowell’s advance and asks for reinforcements.
  • Confederate authorities order the independent brigade of Brig. Gen. Theophilus H. Holmes at Fredericksburg to reinforce Beauregard.
  • In Richmond Col. Wade Hampton’s independent Hampton Legion is also ordered to Manassas Junction.
  • At Leesburg the 8th Virginia Infantry of Col. Philip St. George Cocke’s brigade is ordered to Manassas Junction.

1130:

  • The head of McDowell’s army, Tyler’s division, reaches Fairfax Courthouse.

18 July 1861

0100:

  • At Winchester General Joseph E. Johnston receives a telegram from the Confederate War Department informing him of McDowell’s advance and directing him to go to Beauregard’s assistance “if practicable.”

1100:

  • Tyler’s division arrives at Centreville. Tyler moves a portion of Col. Israel B. Richardson’s brigade south of Centreville and instigates a lively skirmish in what becomes known as the Battle of Blackburn’s Ford.

1200:

  • Johnston’s Army of the Shenandoah departs Winchester for Manassas Junction.
  • Hunter’s and Miles’ divisions arrive near Fairfax Courthouse, and Heintzelman’s division near Sangster’s Station (near what is now Clifton).
  • Unaware of Tyler’s skirmish at Blackburn’s Ford, McDowell personally reconnoiters the area around Sangster’s Station, searching for a location to turn the Confederate right flank.
  • In the evening Brig. Gen. Thomas J. Jackson’s brigade, leading Johnston’s army, camps near Paris, Virginia, seventeen miles from Winchester, while the remainder of the army halts along the Shenandoah River.
  • Although the skirmish at Blackburn’s Ford provided McDowell with intelligence about Confederate positions and strength, he fears the skirmish has caused the Confederates to reinforce their right flank. McDowell orders his engineers to reconnoiter north of the Stone Bridge, on the Confederate left.

19 July 1861

0900:

  • After arriving at Piedmont Station, Jackson’s brigade departs for Manassas Junction.

1500:

  • Col. Francis S. Bartow’s brigade departs Piedmont Station for Manassas Junction.
  • Johnston directs his cavalry and artillery to continue to Manassas Junction by road.

20 July 1861

0700:

  • Johnston boards a train for Manassas Junction, along with Brig. Gen. Barnard E. Bee and portions of Bee’s brigade.
  • Brig. Gen. E. Kirby Smith remains at Piedmont Station to expedite the transportation of the remainder of Johnston’s army.

1200:

  • Johnston and Bee arrive at Manassas Junction. After Johnston suggests an attack against McDowell’s army, Beauregard proposes to attack the Union left flank at Centreville. Johnston requests that Beauregard put the plan in writing.
  • Hunter’s, Heintzelman’s, and Miles’ divisions arrive at Centreville. Brig. Gen. Theodore Runyon’s division guards the railroad from Alexandria.
  • McDowell’s engineers discover the undefended Sudley Ford and Poplar Ford, north of the Stone Bridge. McDowell plans an attack for the following day. Hunter’s and Heintzelman’s divisions will march around the Confederate left, crossing at Sudley and Poplar fords, while other troops create diversions at the Stone Bridge and Blackburn’s Ford.

21 July 1861

0230:

  • McDowell’s army begins its march against Beauregard. Tyler’s division (with the exception of Richardson’s brigade), followed by Hunter’s and Heintzelman’s divisions, march west on the Warrenton Turnpike. Richardson’s brigade, along with Col. Thomas A. Davies’ brigade of Miles’ division, moves toward Blackburn’s Ford. Col. Louis Blenker’s brigade of Miles’ division remains at Centreville in reserve.
  • Beauregard submits his plan to attack the Union left flank at Centreville to Johnston, who approves it.

0530:

  • Tyler’s division clears the Cub Run Bridge and Hunter’s and Heintzelman’s divisions follow. After crossing Cub Run, Hunter and Heintzelman turn north from the turnpike toward Sudley and Poplar fords.

0600:

  • Tyler arrives in front of Stone Bridge and opens fire with his 30- pounder rifle on Col. Nathan G. Evans’ brigade.

0700:

  • Concerned about the artillery fire near the Stone Bridge, Johnston orders Bee, Bartow, and Jackson to move closer to the Confederate left to be able to provide support if needed. Beauregard also sends the newly arrived Hampton Legion to the left.

0800:

  • Johnston and Beauregard place themselves on a hill to the rear of Brig. Gen. Milledge L. Bonham’s brigade in anticipation of Beauregard’s flank attack.

0830:

  • Signal officer Capt. E. Porter Alexander discovers the Union column marching toward Sudley Ford to outflank the Confederate left and reports the movement to Evans and Johnston.
  • Evans moves the bulk of his command from the Stone Bridge to Matthews’ Hill to block the Union flank march.
    Although Johnston is apprehensive that the Union troops reported north of the Stone Bridge may be those of Patterson’s army arriving from the Shenandoah Valley, he continues with the plan to attack Centreville.

0930:

  • Hunter’s division arrives at Sudley Ford. After a short delay the column crosses Bull Run and continues south. Instead of crossing at Poplar Ford, Heintzelman’s division follows Hunter’s division.

1030:

  • The head of Hunter’s column, Col. Ambrose E. Burnside’s brigade, engages Evans’ command on Matthews’ Hill.

1100:

  • As the firing increases on the Confederate left, Johnston and Beauregard ride toward Henry Hill.
  • Col. Andrew Porter’s brigade of Hunter’s division arrives on Matthews’ Hill, moving onto nearby Dogan Ridge.
  • Capt. Charles Griffin’s and Capt. James D. Ricketts’ batteries arrive on Dogan Ridge.
  • The brigades of Bee and Bartow (with Bee in command of both units) arrive on Henry Hill and shortly thereafter both brigades move to Matthews’ Hill to support Evans.

1130:

  • Col. William T. Sherman’s and Col. Erasmus Keyes’ brigades of Tyler’s division cross Bull Run, just north of the Stone Bridge. Sherman continues toward Matthews’ Hill, Keyes, accompanied by Tyler, moves to Young’s Branch, east of the Stone house.
  • Col. William B. Franklin’s and Col. Orlando B. Willcox’s brigades of Heintzelman’s division arrive on Matthews’ Hill. Col. Oliver O. Howard’s brigade is close behind.
  • Outflanked, Evans, Bee, and Bartow are forced to withdraw from Matthews’ Hill and fall back to Henry Hill.
  • The Hampton Legion arrives near the Robinson house on Henry Hill.
  • Hearing the increased firing coming from the left flank, Johnston scraps Beauregard’s attack plan and rides toward Henry Hill. Beauregard follows.

1200:

  • Jackson’s brigade arrives on Henry Hill.
  • Johnston and Beauregard arrive on Henry Hill.
  • Jackson is slightly wounded.

1300:

  • Keyes is ordered to attack Henry Hill near the Robinson house. He sends two of his four regiments forward, but they are driven back. Keyes’ entire brigade withdraws to the vicinity of the Stone Bridge.

1400:

  • Griffin’s and Ricketts’ batteries move from Dogan Ridge to Henry Hill. Griffin unlimbers north of the Henry house and Ricketts south of the house.

1430:

  • Griffin moves two guns of his battery to the right of Ricketts, where the 33d Virginia Infantry captures the guns. The remainder of Griffin’s battery withdraws from Henry Hill.
  • The 14th Brooklyn recaptures Griffin’s two guns.
  • The 4th and 27th Virginia Infantries, with assistance from the 49th Virginia Infantry, 6th North Carolina Infantry, and two companies of the 2d Mississippi Infantry, capture Ricketts’ battery and Griffin’s two guns.
  • The 1st Michigan Infantry attempts and fails to recapture Ricketts’ guns.
  • The 11th Massachusetts Infantry recaptures Ricketts’ battery, and the 4th and 27th Virginia Infantries fall back to their former positions.
  • The 5th Virginia Infantry, Hampton Legion, 4th Alabama Infantry, and 7th Georgia Infantry recapture Ricketts’ guns.
  • Bee is mortally wounded and Bartow is killed. Ricketts is wounded and captured. The 11th Massachusetts Infantry falls back to the Manassas-Sudley Road.

1500:

  • Sherman’s brigade begins an attack against Henry Hill, and Howard’s brigade moves to Chinn Ridge.
  • The 13th New York Infantry skirmishes with the Hampton Legion around the Henry house.
  • The 2d Wisconsin Infantry unsuccessfully assaults Henry Hill.
  • The 79th New York Infantry unsuccessfully assaults Henry Hill. The regiment commander, Col. James Cameron, brother of the Secretary of War, is killed.
  • Sherman’s last regiment, the 69th New York Infantry, along with the 38th New York Infantry of Willcox’s brigade, assault Henry Hill and recapture Ricketts’ and Griffin’s guns. Col. Wade Hampton is severely wounded.
  • The 18th Virginia Infantry of Cocke’s brigade, along with remnants of several other Confederate units on Henry Hill, recaptures the Union guns. Sherman’s and other Union units near Henry Hill withdraw to the Warrenton Turnpike.

1530:

  • Two regiments of Howard’s brigade arrive on Chinn Ridge. Two other regiments remain in reserve near the Warrenton Turnpike.

1600:

  • Col. Arnold Elzey’s and Col. Jubal A. Early’s brigades arrive on Chinn Ridge. General Smith briefly takes command of Elzey’s brigade but is wounded and Elzey resumes command.
  • Howard brings forward his other two regiments to Chinn Ridge.
  • With the assistance of 150 troopers of Col. J. E. B. Stuart’s cavalry, the brigades of Elzey and Early outflank Howard’s brigade and drive it back to the Warrenton Turnpike.

1700:

  • Retreat of the Union Army begins.




JCCW – Gen. Irvin McDowell Part II

27 05 2009

Testimony of Gen. Irvin McDowell

Report on the Conduct of the War, Vol. 2, pp. 41-47

WASHINGTON, January 23, 1862.

General IRVIN McDOWELL recalled and examined.

By Mr. Chandler:

Question. There are one or two points in relation to the battle of Bull Run upon which the committee desire you to make some further explanation. You state in your official report, under date of August 4, 1861, that there was delay in the first division in getting on the road on the morning of the battle, and that this was a great misfortune. Will you please state more fully in relation to that delay?

Answer. In my general order, No. 22, of July 20, 1861, providing for the movement of the several divisions to attack the enemy, it was arranged that General Tyler’s division should move at half past two a. m., precisely, on the Warrenton turnpike to threaten the possession of the bridge. General Tyler’s division consisted of four brigades, three only of which moved at this time, as directed in the order referred to. Schenck’s and Sherman’s brigades were one mile from Centreville on the road from Centreville to the Stone Bridge—on the right and left of the road; Keyes’s brigade was about a half a mile to the east of Centreville, on the right of the same road going west; the second division—Hunter’s—was about two miles from Centreville, and to the east of it. This division was ordered to move at two o’clock a. m. precisely. Heintzelman’s division was two miles distant from Centreville, and east of it, on what is called the old Braddock road. This division was to move at half past two a. m. precisely. Heintzelman’s division consisted of the brigades of Wilcox, Franklin, and Howard. Hunter’s division consisted of the brigades of Burnside and General Andrew Porter. All these divisions had the road in common, from the encampment of Sherman’s and Schenck’s brigades to the point where the road to Sudley’s Springs turned off to to the right—at a blacksmith’s shop—a little over a mile. Tyler was to move at half past two a. m., and Hunter was to move half an hour earlier, so that he might close up on Tyler’s division. Heintzelman was to move at half past two a. m., so as to fall in the rear of Hunter’s division. Tyler was expected to get over the ground, between the encampment of his advanced brigade and where the road turned off to the right at the blacksmith shop, in time to offer no obstructions to the road, which was to be used in common by all the divisions. I was sick during the night and morning, and did not leave my headquarters—a little over a mile, perhaps a mile and a quarter, east of Centreville—until I thought all the divisions were fully in motion, so as to give myself as much rest as possible. When I had got beyond Centreville about a mile, I passed the troops lying down and sitting down on the wayside. Upon asking why they did not move forward, the reply came to me that the road was blocked up. I saw some men coming from the left of the road through a cornfield into the road. When I asked to what regiment they belonged, they said the 2d New York, which formed a part of Schenck’s brigade. I went forward, urging the troops to move on, until I got to the blacksmith’s shop, where the road turned off to Sudley’s Springs. I was making every effort, personally and by my aides, to have the road cleared, in order that Hunter’s and Heintzelman’s divisions might take up their march to the right by way of Sudley’s Springs, to carry out the plan of battle.

By Mr. Odell:

Question. Whose division blocked up the road?

Answer. The first division, General Tyler’s division. Major, now General, Barnard, who was the chief of engineers on my staff, in his report to me, dated July 29, 1861, says as follows: “You are aware of the unexpected delay. The two leading brigades of Tyler’s did not clear the road for Hunter to this point (blacksmith shop, where the road turned to the right) until half past five.” That was three hours after the time fixed to start.

By Mr. Chandler:

Question. What was the distance from the encampment of Tyler’s leading brigades to the blacksmith shop?

Answer. About a mile. I directed one of my staff to notice when General Tyler commenced firing. It was six o’clock. Colonel, now General Heintzelman, in his report to me of July 31, states as follows:

“At Centreville we found the road filled with the troops, and were detained three hours to allow the divisions of Generals Tyler and Hunter, to pass. I followed them with my division immediately in rear of the latter.”

I will mention that General Tyler in moving forward as the troops were then moving forward—some 18,000 men—was so supported that it was felt that he might move with confidence and promptness upon the road. I have been thus particular in making this explanation because General Tyler has written me a letter, complaining that my report does him injustice, and asking me to set him right in reference to this matter of delay. Under the circumstances I did not feel that I could make any change. He also stated that he received no orders from me during the day.

By Mr. Chandler:

Question. I notice in your report that you state that you sent an aide-de-camp to General Tyler to direct him to press forward his attack, as large bodies of the enemy were passing in front of him to attack the division which had crossed over. Will you state what this order was, and by whom it was sent?

Answer. I sent an order to General Tyler to press forward the attack from a point near where this road that turns off at the blacksmith shop crosses Bull Run, near Sudley’s Springs. I sent Lieutenant Kingsbury, my aide-de-camp, to General Tyler to press forward his attack, because I saw columns of dust, indicating large bodies of troops, moving up in front of General Tyler’s division, and as but a small part of Hunter’s division had, at that time, crossed Bull Run, I was afraid he would be crushed before we could get a sufficient body of troops forward to support him. Lieutenant Kingsbury reported to me that he had gone to General Tyler, and found General Tyler, with his aide-de-camp, near a tree, in the branches of which he had some men observing the troops of the enemy coming up on the opposite side. Lieutenant Kingsbury reported to me that he had told General Tyler it was my order he should press forward his attack, and General Tyler replied, “What does he mean? Does he mean that I shall cross the stream?” Lieutenant Kingsbury said : “I give you the message exactly as it was given to me;” to which General Tyler returned answer, “I have a great mind to send some” regiment, or brigade, or something, “across the stream ” Lieutenant Kingsbury made me a written report of this, which ,I mislaid.  And while I was waiting at the blacksmith shop to see which direction the battle was to take I also sent an order to General Tyler by my then aide-de-camp, Major Wadsworth, now General Wadsworth.

By Mr. Gooch :

Question. When was Keyes’s brigade ordered to move?

Answer. General Tyler states, in his report, that it was ordered to move at two o’clock in the morning. I did not give any orders to General Keyes, but to Tyler. General Tyler was ordered to move at 2 1/2 a. m. He must have given the order to bring up his rear brigade at two o’clock. General Keyes says: “In compliance with the orders of Brigadier General Tyler, I have the honor to report my operations, leaving my camp at Centreville at two o’clock a. m.”

Question. You were aware, when you gave the order to General Tyler, that Keyes’s brigade was encamped at Centreville?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. Was there anything between Keyes’s brigade and the remainder of General Tyler’s division?

Answer. Nothing.

Question. Was there anything to prevent Keyes’s brigade from moving up and joining the rest of the division?

Answer. There ought to have been nothing. There was, because I believe Hunter’s division got into the road before him.

Question. Then if he was interrupted or obstructed in moving up and joining the remainder of Tyler’s division, whose fault was it?

Answer. It must either have been his fault in getting off so late, if he was ordered to move at 2 o’clock by General Tyler, or the fault of some of Hunter’s division in going too soon.

Question. The intention was that the whole of General Tyler’s division should move from the point where Sherman and Schenck were encamped, and on the Warrenton turnpike, at 2 1/2 o’clock?

Answer. Yes, sir. This brigade of Keyes’s had, in consequence of previous movements, become dislocated from the other two, but that, practically, had no effect upon the march of Sunday morning. What I wished to do was to post this force of Tyler’s at or near the Stone Bridge, and under the cover of his force make this flank movement to the right.

Question. Can you state whether or not Schenck’s and Sherman’s brigades had moved forward past the point where the road turns off at the blacksmith shop in time to give the road to the other divisions as they came up ?

Answer. They had not; that is just the point.

Question. Then the other divisions of the army were held back, not only by Keyes’s brigade, but by the other brigades of Tyler’s division?

Answer. Keyes did not hold them back; he went into the field and they came up.

Question. Then they were held back by Schenck’s and Sherman’s brigades?

Answer. Yes, sir; by the slow movement of that part of the force.

Question. It has been said that General Tyler ordered Keyes’s brigade up to join him prior to the day of the battle, and that order was countermanded by you, and the brigade remained back where it was.

Answer. That may have been, but it is a matter of no sort of consequence whatever. I do not know whether that was so or not. But it was of no consequence, because General Tyler and the whole of his forces were ahead; the others were behind.

Question. Would there have been any advantage in stationing the several divisions differently; that is, having some divisions which had further to march stationed where Tyler’s was?

Answer. No, sir; Tyler got his position there logically from the way the force marched to Centreville. Tyler was to throw himself between Fairfax Court-House and Centreville. Hunter started from Anandale, and behind Tyler; Miles was below, and Heintzelman further below still. When Tyler moved forward to Centreville and commenced the fight at Blackburn’s Ford the other divisions were behind. Now to have changed them around would simply have made an unnecessary inversion; there would have been no particular object in it. I should have ordered forward first whichever division might have occupied Tyler’s position, so that, under cover of that, I might have made my flank movement to the right with the other divisions.

Question. It was desirable, then, that a force should be at Stone Bridge before any force passed up toward Sudley’s Springs ?

Answer. I think so. I wanted a strength there, and then, under cover of that, I could move my other divisions up. Had that not been done, there was danger that the other divisions going up to Sudley’s church, having the longest distance to go, might be attacked and cut off.

Question. It was necessary that that division of the army which was to move to Stone Bridge should have the road, and reach and pass the point where the blacksmith shop stands, before the remaining portion of the army should turn off towards Sudley’s Springs?

Answer. That was part of my well determined plan. I thought that was the better way. I do not think any other would have been a safe movement.

Question. I wish to ask you whether the force you left at Centreville was regarded by you as a reserve, or whether they were stationed as they were posted at the different points that day because it was necessary to have troops there to protect the rear of your army?

Answer. More the latter than the former, though partly both; to act as a reserve and, at the same time, to guard against an attack on our left or right. I remained at the turn-off by the blacksmith shop for nearly an hour, in doubt whether there would be an attack above at all. I was inclined to look for it at the left. And I have learned since that General Beauregard intended to attack me at eight o’clock, at Blackburn’s Ford; and when General Tyler commenced firing at Stone Bridge and received no response, I was in doubt. In my order for the battle I say: “The enemy has planted a battery on the Warrenton turnpike to defend the approach to Bull Run, has mined the Stone Bridge,” &c. I wanted to commence the attack on that point, which I was afraid I could not turn, and under cover of that attack to throw a large force up to the right. We expected the Stone Bridge to be a strong point, with batteries in position, regular works, &c. We expected the bridge would be blown up so that we could not use it, and I had made preparations so that the engineer should have another bridge to be used there. We were to make our move to the right and attack them under cover of this attack at the bridge.

Question. If it had not been for the disposition of the forces of Miles’s division which you made on the day of the battle, would not your whole army have been exposed and liable to be cut off?

Answer. Yes, sir; by a movement of the enemy on my left.

Question. That is, by a movement from the enemy’s right on your left?

Answer. Yes, sir; I can show you how I felt on that subject by referring you to my general order No. 22, in which I say : “The fifth division (Miles’s) will take position at the Centreville Heights ; Richardson’s brigade will, for the time, become part of his (Miles’s) division, and will continue in its present position. One brigade will be in the village, and one near the present station of Richardson’s brigade. This division will threaten Blackburn’s Ford, and remain in reserve at Centreville. The commander will open fire with artillery only, and will bear in mind that it is a demonstration only that he is to make. He will cause such defensive works, abattis, earthworks, &c., to be thrown up as will strengthen his position. Lieutenant Prime, of the engineers, will be charged with this duty.” I will also further, in relation to this same matter, give an extract from my report: “I had also felt anxious about the road from Manassas by Blackburn’s Ford to Centreville, along the ridge, fearing that while we should be in force to the front, endeavoring to turn the enemy’s position, we ourselves should be turned by him by this road; for if he should once obtain possession of this ridge, which overlooks all the country to the west to the foot of the spurs of the Blue Ridge, we should have been irretrievably cut off and destroyed. I had, therefore, directed this point to be held in force, and sent an engineer to extemporise some field-works to strengthen their position.”

Question. And you say now that you understand it was the intention of Beauregard to attack you at that point?

Answer. I have understood since that General Beauregard intended in the first place to attack me at 8 o’clock on the morning of the battle, and to attack me on my left, at this Blackburn’s Ford, or in its vicinity; and I have also understood that during the battle he did order a heavy attack to be made in that direction. An attack was made there, but not in the force he intended. It failed on account of an order which he gave one of the commanders having miscarried.

Question. Would it, in your opinion, have been judicious, at any time prior to the rout of our army, to have ordered the force, or any portion of it, stationed at Centreville on to the field of action?

Answer. I do not think it would have been judicious to have sent them one moment earlier than they were sent for. A reference to the reports of Colonel Davies, Colonel Richardson, and Hunt, of the artillery, I think, will show this. They were there having a heavy attack on the left, which would have been heavier but for the failure I have referred to. General Barnard, in his report of July 29, says:

“It will be seen from the above that the combination, though thwarted by different circumstances, was actually successful in uniting three entire brigades, (excepting the brigade of Schenck, which had just opened its way to fall on the enemy’s right at the moment when our lines finally gave way in front,) upon the decisive point.

“A fault, perhaps, it was that it did not provide earlier for bringing the two brigades of Miles (in reserve at Centreville) into action. One of his brigades (Richardson’s) actually did participate, though not on the battle-field; and in its affair on Blackburn’s Ford probably did neutralize the attack of the enemy.”

General Barnard did not then know the extent of that affair on the left. He thought that only Richardson was engaged in it. A reference to the reports of Colonel Davies, commanding a brigade under Colonel Miles, Colonel Hunt, commanding a battery of artillery, and of Colonel Miles, will show why only one brigade from Centreville was sent forward to the front. And it will show that the affair on the left was a matter of much greater importance than General Barnard seems at that time to have supposed it to be. Davies’s brigade was actually engaged, as was also that of Richardson, in repelling the attack of the enemy on the left. Colonel Miles, in his report, says that he received an order to put two brigades on the Warrenton turnpike at the bridge, and a staff officer was sent to order forward Davies’s brigade; that whilst this staff officer was executing his instructions, Davies sent word that he wanted the reserve forward where he was, as he was attacked by 3,000 of the enemy; that the staff officer, therefore, properly suspended the giving of the order, and reported immediately to Colonel Miles, and this caused him to advance with only one brigade, Blenker’s, to the position on the Warrenton turnpike.

Question. The shortest road from Manassas to Centreville was by Blackburn’s Ford?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. When the retreat of our army took place, had the way by Blackburn’s Ford not have been obstructed by the force you had placed there or near there, could not the enemy have moved forward immediately upon Centreville and cut off the retreat of your whole army?

Answer. Yes, sir; and I refer again to my report in answer to that question.

“At the time of our retreat, seeing great activity in this direction, (Blackburn’s Ford,) also firing and columns of dust, I became anxious for this place, fearing if it were turned or forced the whole stream of our retreating mass would be captured or destroyed. After providing for the protection of the retreat by Porter’s or Blenker’s brigade, I repaired to Richardson, and found the whole force ordered to be stationed for the holding of the road from Manassas by Blackburn’s Ford to Centreville on the march for Centreville under orders from the division commanders. I immediately halted it and ordered it to take up the best line of defence across the ridge that their position admitted of, and subsequently taking in person the command of this part of the army. I caused such disposition of the force as would best serve to check the enemy.”

By Mr. Odell:

Question. Was the attack on Blackburn’s Ford on Thursday, the 18th of July, made by your order?

Answer. No, sir, it was not. On July the 18th I was between Germantown and Centreville, General Tyler’s division being between my then position and Centreville. I wrote him the following note, which was carried to him by General, then Colonel, Wadsworth, my aide-de-camp:

“BETWEEN GERMANTOWN AND CENTREVILLE,

“July 18, 1861—8.15 a. m.

“BRIGADIER GENERAL TYLER—General: I have information which leads me to believe you will find no force at Centreville, and will meet with no resistance in getting there. Observe well the roads to Bull Run and to Warrenton. Do not bring on any engagement, but keep up the impression that we are moving on Manassas. I go to Heintzelman to arrange about the plan we have talked over.”

The plan was for the army to go around and attack the enemy’s right. I will give an extract from General Tyler’s report of July 27 as bearing on this question:

HEADQUARTERS FIRST DIVISION DEPARTMENT NE. VIRGINIA,

Washington City, July 27, 1861.

“General McDOWELL, Commanding Department:

“SIR : On the 18th instant you ordered me to take my division, with the two 20-pounder rifled guns, and move against Centreville, to carry that position. My division moved from its encampment at 7 a. m. At 9 a. m. Richardson’s brigade reached Centreville, and found that the enemy had retreated the night before; one division on the Warrenton turnpike, in the direction of Gainesville, and the other, and by far the largest division, towards Blackburn’s Ford, on Bull Run.”

This order of mine that I have referred to was given to him in person by then Major Wadsworth, who also cautioned him verbally from me not to do too much in the way of keeping up the impression that we were moving on Manassas.

I will now read from General Barnard’s report of July 29. He was the chief of engineers on my staff:

“It should be borne in mind that the plan of campaign had been to turn the position and turn Manassas by the left; that is to say, that from Fairfax Court- House and Centreville we were to make a flank movement toward Sangster’s and Fairfax Station, and thence to Wolf Run Shoals, or in that direction.

“In my interview with the commanding general he said nothing to indicate any change of plan; but, on the contrary, his remarks carried the impression that he was more than ever confirmed in his plan, and spoke of the advance on Centreville as a ‘demonstration.’

“In proposing therefore to reconnoitre the enemy’s position at Blackburn’s Ford, it was not with the slightest idea that this point would be attacked; but a reconnoissance would be the carrying out of a ‘ demonstration.’

“Whilst I was awaiting Captain Alexander, l encountered Matthew C. Mitchell, who was secured as a guide. Representing himself as a Union man and a resident of that vicinity, I was engaged questioning him, when intelligence was received that General Tyler had sent back for artillery and infantry, and that the enemy was in sight before him. Riding to the front, I joined General Tyler and Colonel Richardson. Proceeding with them a short distance further, we emerged from the woods, and found ourselves at a point at which the road commences its descent to Blackburn’s Ford. The run makes here a curve or bow towards us, which the road bisects. The slopes from us towards it were gentle and mostly open. On the other side the banks of the run rise more abruptly, and are wooded down to the very edge of the run. Higher up a clear spot could be seen here and there; and still higher, higher than our own point of view, and only visible from its gently sloping towards us, an elevated plateau, comparatively open, in which Manassas Junction is situated.

“Although, owing to the thickness of the wood, little could be seen along the edge of the run, it was quite evident from such glimpses as we could obtain that the enemy was in force behind us. I represented to General Tyler that this point was the enemy’s strong position, on the direct road to Manassas Junction; that it was no part of the plan to assail it. I did not, however, object to a “demonstration,” believing that it would favor what I supposed still to be the commanding general’s plan of campaign.

“The two 20-pounders, of Parrott’s, had been ordered up. They were opened upon the enemy’s position, firing in various directions, without our being able to perceive the degree of effect they produced. They had fired perhaps a dozen rounds, when they were answered by a rapid discharge from a battery apparently close down to the run and at the crossing of the road. The 20-pounders continued their fire, directing at this battery, and Ayre’s battery was brought up and stationed on the left. The enemy’s batteries soon ceased answering. After ours had continued playing for about a half an hour, I felt it a useless expenditure of ammunition, and so stated to you, (Captain Fry, who arrived on the spot shortly before this,) and presumed General Tyler concurred in this opinion, as the firing soon ceased.

“I supposed this would be an end of the affair. But perceiving troops filing down towards the run, I thought it necessary to impress General Tyler with the fact that it was no part of the plan of the commanding general to bring on a serious engagement. I directed Captain Alexander (engineers) to state this fact to him, which he did in writing, having stated the same verbally before.”

My own order was not to bring on an engagement, and here was the chief of my engineers, and my adjutant general besides, urging the same thing on General Tyler.





JCCW – Gen. Israel B. Richardson

10 05 2009

Testimony of Gen. Israel B. Richardson

Report on the Conduct of the War, Vol. 2, pp. 19-28

WASHINGTON, December 24, 1861

General J. B. RICHARDSON sworn and examined.

By Mr. Chandler:

Question. General, you accompanied the army to Bull Run, did you not?

Answer. I commanded a brigade in that action.

Question. What time did you with your brigade leave your intrenchments; that is, what time did you start?

Answer. I started from Chain Bridge the morning of the 16th of July, I think.

Question. That was Monday morning, was it not?

Answer. I believe it was; it was the 15th or 16th of July—about that time.

Question. At what time did you reach Fairfax with your brigade?

Answer. We took the direct road to Vienna alone; there we concentrated with the rest of General Tyler’s division of four brigades; mine was the second brigade of his division. We stayed one night at Vienna, and then moved to Germantown, where we stayed one night; then, on the morning of the 18th, my brigade took the lead and moved on to Blackburn’s Ford, on Bull Run, or Occoquan.

Question. What day of the week was that?

Answer. It was the morning of Thursday that we took the lead.

Question. And your brigade was in that first action at Blackburn’s Ford?

Answer. Mine was the only one that was engaged at Blackburn’s Ford.

Question. Your four regiments?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. What time on Thursday did you reach Blackburn’s Ford?

Answer. We reached within a mile of Blackburn’s Ford with the brigade, I should think, about noon. We came to a halt a mile from the ford, finding the enemy in position there at their batteries. We came on top of a hill, where we could see down the slope of a hill towards the batteries, and could see the men in the batteries.

Question. Did your brigade advance from that position nearer to the batteries?

Answer. Yes, sir. General Tyler directed me to make a movement with the brigade, in advance, to try and find the position and strength of the enemy, if possible. Accordingly I first moved on to the front a separate detachment of 160 skirmishers. At the same time two pieces of artillery (rifled 10-pounders) were brought into position on the top of the hill where we had arrived; and soon after another battery (Captain Ayres’s) of 6-pounder guns and 12-pounder howitzers were brought into action. The skirmishers advanced until they came into action in a skirt of timber on this side of the run, in front of the enemy’s position; and then I detached three other companies to their support, and two guns of Captain Ayres’s battery, who moved up to the skirt of timber with two companies of cavalry. They commenced fire from that point to assist the skirmishers, who were in the action already. I moved up to the timber myself, and proposed to General Tyler to form the four regiments in line of battle on the outside of the timber and move in.

Question. To charge upon the batteries?

Answer. Yes, sir. The New York 12th, Colonel Walworth, was the nearest to where I was. I had it conducted in column of companies down the ravine, out of view, and near the position where I was in front of the timber, and had it deployed in line of battle in support of those that were in action already. I formed the New York 12th on the left of the battery, and directed Colonel Walworth to make a charge into the woods. I spoke a few words of encouragement to the regiment before they went on. I told them that it was a good regiment, and I expected they would do well. As soon as I had given this direction, I ordered up the Massachusetts 1st, through the same ravine, out of reach of the enemy’s fire. The enemy could bring neither cannon nor musketry to bear upon them the way I brought them. I formed the 1st Massachusetts in line of battle on the right of the battery, then the 3d Michigan on the right of them, and then the 2d Michigan still to the right—all in line of battle. When I had finished putting the 2d Michigan on the line at the right, I moved back to see what had become of the New York 12th on the left. It had probably taken me as much as twenty minutes to go through with this formation. I found, on arriving at the left, parts of two companies of the New York 12th, about sixty men altogether, retreating outside of the woods, carrying along a few wounded. I asked them what the matter was, and where they were going. They said the regiment were all killed, and they were falling back; that the rest of the regiment had fallen back—those that were not killed. Says I, “What are you running for? There is no enemy here; I cannot see  anybody at all. Where is your colonel?” They knew nothing about it. They knew nothing about any of their officers. I could not find any officers with the men at all, I believe. The men halted and faced around, and then fell back again. The other three regiments, at the same time, were standing firm and ready to advance; and the skirmishers, at the same time, held their ground in the woods in front. I sent an aid to General Tyler to acquaint him of the retreat of the New York 12th, and he came down to see me. I proposed to him to rally the New York 12th in the woods as a support, and move on with the other three regiments against the batteries; and I, at the same time, asked him where Sherman’s brigade of his division was. They moved from camp at Germantown at the same time as we did in the morning, and we had been halted and in action at the place as much as two hours. He said that brigade had not yet arrived. General Tyler then said that it was not a part of the plan of battle to do anything more at that point than a mere demonstration—to make a reconnoissance to find the force of the enemy; and, as I .understood him, it was against orders to bring on a general engagement at that place. He then ordered me to fall back with the three regiments ‘in rear of the batteries—not to undertake to rally the New York 12th. “Let them go,” he said. So I accordingly fell back with the three regiments in rear of the batteries. I took the regiments back in good order, without bringing them under the fire of the enemy’s cannon at all. The enemy found that we had fallen back in rear of the batteries, and then they commenced the fire of their artillery again, which had been aimed at us to reach the woods in front.  As soon as they discovered we had fallen back, they directed the fire of their artillery against our batteries on the hill again, which were in their original position.

Question. One word right here: do you think you could have captured the enemy’s batteries with your force if you had not fallen back?

Answer. I think if the other brigades had come up to our support we could have done it.

Question. What number of men do you think you would have lost in capturing those batteries?

Answer. We had already lost about 60 men, and I had the idea that by losing as many more we could have taken the batteries; because some of our skirmishers had crossed the ravine, and one of them was so near that he was shot by the revolver of one of the enemy’s officers; and another man killed one of the men at the guns inside the intrenchments, so he said, and the captain of the skirmishers—Captain Bernsneider—reported the same thing.

Question. Had you captured that battery on Thursday night, and a general advance had taken place promptly on Friday morning, what, in your opinion, would have been the result?

Answer. We should probably have avoided their being re-enforced; have avoided the re-enforcements under General Johnston and General Davis, that took place by railroad on Friday and Saturday nights—they both came up during those nights; we should probably have avoided altogether fighting on Sunday; at least we should have probably turned Manassas by the rear before those re-enforcements had come up.

Question. So that, in your judgment, there would not have been a severe engagement at all had you captured that battery on Thursday night?

Answer. No, sir. From what we have learned since, we find that they had probably a brigade of infantry opposed to us at first. But they continually increased their force until they had some 7,000 or 8,000 men in position.

Question. If your supports had come up?

Answer. I think we could have carried the batteries, but we might not have been able to have retained them with one brigade.

Question. Precisely, I understand that. Was it your intention, when you formed your brigade in line of battle, to capture those batteries?

Answer. Yes, sir. The musketry fire particularly was very heavy against us. After we had fallen back behind our batteries the head of General Sherman’s brigade came up, and I spoke to him. He asked me how many the enemy had in front. I told him they were strong there; that they had, I thought, from 8,000 to 10,000 men, which turns out to have been nearly the case, from what we have heard since through their reports. The other three regiments of my brigade, besides the New York 12th, remained as firm as I ever saw any regiments in the war with Mexico, at any time. No man thought of going to the rear.

Question. All eager for a fight?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. After you had retired, as you have stated, you remained there until Sunday, did you?

Answer. No, sir; we went back to Centreville for the purpose of getting water and rations. There was no water near there that we had found then; I had found some for myself and horse in a ravine, but I did not consider that there was enough for a brigade of troops. We fell back to Centreville, and the next morning moved up again and dug for water and found it.  We moved up to the same position in rear of the batteries, throwing out pickets in front of the position down towards the timber.

Question. How long did you remain at Centreville?

Answer. Over night only, and marched back at daylight.

Question. And you then remained in camp there till Sunday morning?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. Did you take any part in the battle on Sunday?

Answer. Yes, sir.

By the chairman:

Question. Why was it concluded to fight that battle on Sunday, without any knowledge of where Patterson and his men were, and of the position of Johnston?  Did you know at the time where they were? I will ask that first.

Answer. Yes, sir; I knew General Johnston was on our right before we moved from there at all.

Question. On Sunday morning?

Answer. Before we moved from the river I knew General Johnston was in that direction from this fact: About a week before we moved towards Bull Run at all, I was ordered to make a reconnoissance from the Chain Bridge, on the road to Vienna, with a squadron of United States cavalry, to see whether it was a practicable road for artillery and wagons, for my brigade to move on to Vienna. Vienna is about eleven miles from Chain Bridge. I made the reconnoissance, and went a mile beyond Vienna, and found nothing but an abatis across the road where the enemy had been at work. It was probably a fatigue party who had gone back, giving up the idea of making an abatis there. I came back and reported to General McDowell. He told me that there was a meeting of the officers to which he read his instructions for carrying on that campaign, and wished to read me the plan which had been submitted to General Scott, and which had not been disagreed to so far. He read over to me this plan, and stated to me the brigades and divisions which were to move on such and such roads. My brigade was to move to Vienna, and there was to join the other three brigades of General Tyler’s division. General Tyler was then to move on to Germantown, where other divisions were to concentrate with his, and then, on getting to Centreville, the whole army would move up on the roads to the left. He stated to me that each division was from 10,000 to 12,000 men strong, and that our division—Tyler’s—would be a little the strongest, as it looked towards Johnston on the right. Johnston, he said, was in that direction. But General Scott thought that if Johnston moved towards Manassas, Patterson “should be on his heels,” as he expressed it. Says I, “General, are there any cross-roads to communicate from the right of the line to the left, so that if one of these columns is attacked by two or three times its numbers, it can concentrate on any of the other columns, or any of the other columns can concentrate on it ?” He said it was not known whether there were any cross-roads or not on which any troops could concentrate; but that our columns were very heavy, and would be able to protect themselves. Since then we have found that there were abundance of cross-roads all through the country where troops could concentrate, if a person had been acquainted with them.

Question. Then when that battle was fought on Sunday it was expected that Johnston would be down?

Answer. It was known that he was on our right.

Question. You expected he would participate in the battle?

Answer. I expected something all the time, for I asked General McDowell why this column of ours was stronger than any of the others—12,000 instead of 10,000—and he said because it looked towards General Johnston.

Question. Was there any insurmountable obstacle to tearing up that railroad on which Johnston was expected to come down before the battle was fought?

Answer. That was in front of our position, and we knew nothing of it. I did not even know there was a railroad there until I heard the cars running Friday and Saturday, both up from Richmond and down the other way. We heard them running all night.

Question. If you had known of the road when you first advanced, would it not have been easy for a skirmishing party to have gone out and destroyed it, so that Johnston’s army could not have come down there, at least quite as conveniently as they did?

Answer. I could not answer that, because I do not know the force Johnston had there.

Question. My idea was not to encounter a force, but for a scouting party to tear up the rails and obstruct the road.

Answer. Yes, sir; but then they could have marched the distance in a day or night. They could have come down part of the way by cars, and then marched the rest of the way.

By Mr. Chandler:

Question. These re-enforcements did not begin to arrive until Friday night, I understand you to say.

Answer. Friday and Saturday we heard the cars running all night. The next morning we spoke of it, and concluded that fifty car-loads had come.

By the chairman:

Question. I asked you the question because I could not see why they came to the conclusion to fight that battle on Sunday, when they knew the disadvantages to which they were subjected.

Answer. I knew nothing about the railroads there. I knew there were railroads in the rear of Manassas that this army was intended to cut off, but where they were I did not know until I heard the cars.

By Mr. Chandler:

Question. You took part in the battle on Sunday?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. Did you remain at Blackburn’s Ford?

Answer. On Saturday there was a council of commanding officers of divisions and brigades, and I was called there, among the others, to hear the plan of attack for the next day. The main army was to move on the road to the right of Centreville and make their attack some three or four miles above where we were at Blackburn’s Ford. These attacks the other officers would know more about than I do. My brigade was to remain in position in front of Blackburn’s Ford. It was not to hazard an engagement on any account whatever. I received written instructions to that effect in addition to verbal instructions. It was not to hazard an attack at all, but merely to make a demonstration with artillery, and perhaps skirmishers, but nothing more than a demonstration. If necessary, the positions were to be intrenched by abatis or earthworks thrown up on the road according to the discretion of the commanding officers.

By the chairman:

Question. What, in your judgment, led to the disasters of that day?

Answer. I will state all I know about it, and then I can draw some conclusion afterwards.

Question. Of course; that is all I expect.

Answer. The other three brigades of General Tyler’s division were detached to make an attack to my right. They were to be in action by daylight in the morning, and as soon as I heard the report of his artillery I was to commence the fire, with my artillery, on the front. At the same time my brigade was detached from General Tyler’s command, and, together with the brigade of General Davies, of New York, and the brigade of General Blenker, we were constituted three brigades of the reserve under Colonel Miles, of the United States army. I was to consider myself under his command. I waited until some 8 or 9 o’clock in the morning of Sunday before I heard the artillery on my right.

By Mr. Chandler:

Question. The attack was to have commenced at daylight?

Answer. Yes, sir. I said to the officers the night before—to General Tyler especially—”It is impossible, general, to move an army of regular troops under two hours, and you will take at least that time to move volunteers; and if reveille is not beaten before two o’clock in the morning you cannot get into action at daylight; it is impossible.” Said I, “If you beat reveille at 12 o’clock, with volunteer troops, you may get into action at daylight, but not before ; that is the best you can do.” Other officers heard me, I have no doubt, but I addressed myself particularly to General Tyler, as he had been my commanding officer. I waited until 8 o’clock in the morning before I heard a gun fired on the right, and then I commenced a cannonade on the enemy’s line with my artillery, About this time Colonel Davies came up with his brigade, and inquired the date of my commission as colonel, and told me his, and found he ranked me eleven days. He took command of the two brigades. At the same time I showed him my position in front of Blackburn’s Ford. He wished a good position for artillery to play. I took him to a hill some 600 yards on our left, with a ravine between, and showed him a good position for his battery to operate on a stone-house, in front of us about a mile, which was said to be the enemy’s headquarters, and which our rifled ten-pounder guns could easily reach. He immediately took up that position, which was at a log-house on this hill to our left, which was fully as high, and a little higher, than the hill we were on. We kept up a fire from two batteries of artillery until 11 or 12 o’clock in the day—perhaps until noon. About that time Colonel Miles showed himself to us. He came to a log-house where I was, near my position—for there was a log-house there also—on the top of the hill. I showed him that re-enforcements were coming in in front of us. In fact, before he came I had reported to him that some three bodies of men had already come into the intrenchments in front of us. One body was probably two regiments, and the others were one regiment each—as much as that. They appeared to come from off in a direction towards the south. That was about 12 o’clock in the day. Colonel Miles came down himself, and I showed him, with a glass I had, the bayonets of some of the men coming in front of us on the road—the last detachment. I will say here that they did not answer with cannon at all in front of us that day. Colonel Miles then went away. In the forepart of the afternoon he came back again, and said that he did not believe the enemy were in front of us. At the same time, between these two visits, we could see men moving in the direction of Manassas, up towards the attack in front, which was then going on; and about that time the enemy were also falling back. After they had advanced from Manassas, they then fell back in great disorder along the roads.

Question. That was in sight of your guns?

Answer. Yes, sir. We opened upon them with a ten-pounder rifled gun from our position. Colonel Miles at that time said that he believed they were retreating towards Manassas, and that he thought we could force the position in front of us, and that we had better go down and try “to drive them out,” as he expressed it. Said I, “Colonel Miles, I have a positive order in my pocket for this brigade not to attack at all.” I took it out and showed it to him. Says he, “That is s positive.” And he said nothing more about making an attack then; but he proposed throwing out a few skirmishers. We threw out 160 skirmishers, and I think three other companies in support of them. They moved down to the edge of the woods, and then the advance of the skirmishers were driven in by a volley of musketry right off. I then ordered the skirmishers back, satisfied that the enemy were there in considerable force. About the time that was over we could see batteries of horse artillery and bodies of cavalry and infantry moving in large force back again towards the Stone Bridge, which was some three or four miles from us. Lieutenant Prime, of the engineers, had at that time been down with a party of skirmishers to see if he could find any place where we could make a good attack in front. He came back and made the observation at that time that before night Centreville would be our front instead of our rear; as much as to say that we had got to change our line of battle; that we were beaten on the right. I had thought about noon that it might be necessary for us to repel an attack. I got together a party of pioneers, about forty, and I had about sixty axe-men detailed from the Michigan regiments, to use all the axes and spades we had. I commenced to make an abatis of heavy timber between my position and Colonel Davies, on my left. I also threw up an intrenchment across the road, with rails and dirt, to sweep the road in front of us. I knew the enemy, if they attacked our position, must go through the woods in column on our right, and would have to deploy under our fire, and move up against our battery which I had put in the road. We worked on that abatis until about two hours before night, when we had it completed, and I considered the position safe. The timber was very heavy; some of the pieces were two feet in diameter; nothing could possibly get through it. I had it completed as far as Davies’s position two hours before sunset, and I took him over to look at it. It met with his views completely. About two hours before sunset I heard heavy firing of musketry, and of artillery also, near Davies’s brigade, on my left. An officer came over and informed me that the enemy had made an attack with a column of infantry, some 5,000 strong, on Davies’s position ; that he had caused his infantry to lie down in support of his guns; that Hunt’s battery had opened with canister shot, and fired some forty rounds, and that the enemy had fallen back in confusion, and that in five minutes not one man was in sight. They came across Bull Run on our left, and to the left of Hunt’s battery. They came up a ravine leading towards his battery, and had come within 300 yards before they were seen. They were then a dense mass of men, and the officers were trying to deploy them in line of battle. They were within 300 yards, the most effective distance for canister shot. Major Hunt immediately opened his battery, and fired some forty rounds of canister shot, when the enemy fell back. That was reported to me about two hours before sunset. At the time this firing was going on, an officer of Colonel Miles’s staff came to me and ordered my brigade to retreat on Centreville. Notwithstanding I had been ordered by General McDowell to hold this position at all hazards, still, as I was under Colonel Miles’s direct authority, I could not disobey the order, and so I put the brigade in march.

Question. You had repulsed the enemy when this order was given?

Answer. Colonel Davies had repulsed them. We did not know how that had turned them. On getting within some three-quarters of a mile of Centreville with my brigade I met Colonel Davies, and asked him what the object of this movement was. He said he did not know. I asked him if the enemy had attacked him on our left. He said they had, and that he had repulsed them handsomely. But the object of this movement he knew nothing about. On getting within three-quarters of a mile of Centreville, some officer of -General McDowell’s staff ordered me to put my brigade in line of battle, facing both the road from Centreville to Blackburn’s Ford and the road from Centreville to Union Mills, which was about four miles on the left of Blackburn’s Ford, and try to hold that position, if possible. I put the brigade in position, leading from between the two roads, and on some slight hills that commanded the advance in front. While I was busy in putting my brigade in line of battle, I found that a great many other regiments of different brigades had been formed in line of battle both on my right and my left. Some of my regiments I placed in line of battle, and some in close column by divisions, to be ready to repel an attack of cavalry which might be made down the road, as I supposed the enemy’s cavalry would come first in advance of the infantry. Soon after making this disposition, I found that some of my regiments had been moved from the position I had placed them in, and deployed into line; among others, the third Michigan. I inquired the reason of it, and Colonel Stevens, of the third Michigan—lieutenant colonel of that regiment—came to me about that time and inquired of me particularly why his regiment had been deployed from the position of close column by divisions into line of battle. He said that Colonel Miles had directed the movement. He said he wished to know which to obey, whether to obey Colonel Miles or me. I told him he had no business to move that regiment without the order came through me. He said he did not know what to do. Says I, “What is the matter?” Says he, “Colonel Miles comes here continually and interferes; and,” said he, ” we have no confidence in Colonel Miles.” Said I, “Why?” “Because,” says he, “he is drunk.” Soon after this conversation, Captain Alexander—now Colonel Alexander of the general staff and corps of engineers—came up to me and said that General McDowell intrusted the whole disposition of the troops around that point to me. I told him I could do nothing as long as I was continually interfered with by a drunken man. I told him that Colonel Miles was drunk, and that he was continually changing everything that I did. He said that General McDowell knew that Colonel Miles was drunk, and that that would soon be attended to, and to go on and make my disposition of the troops. Several batteries of artillery had been placed in position on the hills, but I think the line of battle did not reach from one road to the other; it was too long a distance between them. That is to say, we were too far in advance. But there were also some hills behind us which were a little higher than the ground we stood on. Colonel Alexander said that the present line of battle was not a good one, and he would propose throwing back the right and left so that they could reach from one road to the other, and have the right flank rest on some woods on one road, and the left flank rest on some woods on the other road, and thus be secured against cavalry. I told him that I would make that disposition as fast as I could, as I believed it was better than the first one. The first disposition had been directed by Colonel Miles. I had the batteries of artillery with Major Barry, who was the chief of artillery at that time, massed in the centre and placed on these commanding hills; and I had the line of battle formed in front of the guns in a hollow, the batteries being high enough to play over the men’s heads. The men were in the ravine in front, covered from the enemy’s fire if they should come up. I considered that they were completely covered, and could not be hurt until the enemy came into close action, while, at the same time, our batteries could not be carried at all until the enemy came within sixty yards of our muskets. Of course our artillery had full sweep in the commanding position it had, which I considered the best position I could place our line in. I considered it a better line than the first because it was shorter, and at the same time our men were better protected.

By the chairman:

Question. We do not care so much about the particulars.

Answer. I want to show why the second line was better than the first, because it has been brought in evidence to show that the first line was better than the second. At the same time not all the infantry were placed in this position. Battalions in column closed in mass were placed behind the intervals of the battalions in front for support, so that we actually had two lines of battle instead of one, having more force to it than the first line that was formed.

Question. What happened to this line?

Answer. While I was going on with this General McDowell rode up to me. Said he, “Great God, Colonel Richardson, why didn’t you hold on to the position at Blackburn’s Ford ?” I replied, “Colonel Miles ordered me to retreat to Centreville, and I obeyed the order.” General McDowell said nothing more, except to take the general command of the troops. I said to him, “Colonel Miles is continually interfering with me, and he is drunk, and is not fit to command.” I understood him to say that he had already relieved him from command, and desired me to go on with the preparations; that I had charge of all the troops at that point. I told him I would go on with the preparations as fast as I could. About half an hour before sunset when the lines were complete, the head of the enemy’s cavalry made its appearance through the woods on the road towards Blackburn’s Ford. I believe I was the first officer that saw that cavalry. I was standing by the side of a battery of 10-pounders, with a young lieutenant of artillery—Lieutenant Benjamin—I think he commanded the battery. Says I, “There is the head of the enemy’s cavalry; you open on them with your two guns immediately and as fast as you can.” He had his guns fired—I think it was twice each—on the head of the enemy’s cavalry, and they fell back and we saw nothing more of them. The shells appeared to take effect, for they retreated immediately. Just before this Colonel Miles came up to where I was. Said he, “Colonel Richardson, I don’t understand this.” I was marching the 3d Michigan regiment over to the right at that time to fill up a space between them and the next regiment. Says he, “You should march that regiment more to the left.” Says I, “Colonel Miles, I will do as I please; I am in command of these troops.” Says he, “I don’t understand this, Colonel Richardson.” Says I, “Colonel Miles, you are drunk,” and I turned away to lead off my men. Says he, “I will put you in arrest.” Says I, “Colonel Miles, you can try that on if you have a mind to.” I led the regiment on and placed them in position. He watched me, but said nothing more. At that time he could hardly sit on his horse. I could see from his reeling in the saddle, from his incoherent language, and from his general appearance, that he was drunk. I had been acquainted with Colonel Miles long before.

By Mr. Chandler:

Question. He had command of those three brigades through the day?

Answer. Yes, sir; the reserve.

Question. Why were they not ordered, or one brigade of them ordered, in front instead of being kept in the rear?

Answer. I have always thought that if Blenker’s brigade, which was at Centreville, had been brought up to support me at my right—Davies’s brigade was already on my left and had just repelled the enemy—we could have held that position until morning, when Runnion’s reserve of 10,000 men at Fairfax Station could have come up. Some of his reserve had already arrived that night, and the rest of the reserve—among others the 37th New York, which is in my brigade now—was at Fairfax. They could have moved up against the morning, and then we should have been 24,000 strong, with the 35 guns which we had saved on the field already. They certainly could have held the position which I had held for three days alone.

By the chairman:

Question. Do you know any reason why that disposition was not given to the troops?

Answer. I cannot say why it was not made. But I have always thought that if a battery of artillery and some cavalry had been placed in the road at Centreville, so as to have opened on the fugitives, they could have been rallied at that place. I knew of something having been done once before like that. I know that at Buena Vista—although I was not there—some troops ran from Buena Vista as far as Saltillo, and Major Webster, who had command of two 24-pounder howitzers at Saltillo, loaded his guns and threatened to fire on them if they went any further; and they stopped at that place.

Question. Then you consider that Colonel Miles’s order to you to retreat from the position you had fortified, while Davies had repulsed the enemy—

Answer. I think if Blenker’s brigade had been brought up on our right we could have held our position until morning, when a further reserve could have re-enforced us. And then, by cutting the timber in that direction, in two or three hours we could have made a position that we could have held. At the same time there is another thing I would like to say. From what we have learned since, the enemy handled every reserve they had, whereas our reserves were not handled at all. The three brigades of reserves—Blenker’s, Davies’s, and mine—that were on the field that day, and Runnion’s reserve, which was at Fairfax Station, six miles off, I believe, and not handled at all, make 24,000 men who were useless, whereas the enemy handled all their reserves. This is nothing new. I said the same thing that night.

By Mr. Chandler:

Question. Runnion’s reserve was only six miles off, you say?

Answer. At Fairfax Station.

Question. How many men?

Answer. Ten thousand.

Question. So that in reality there came under fire in that battle about 16,000 of our troops ?

Answer. O! more than that. We marched 50,000 men and 49 pieces of artillery, of which we saved 35 pieces.

Question. So that about 26,000 were actually under fire ?

Answer. I do not like to state about that.








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