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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Battles and Leaders of the Civil War

4 02 2010

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

General Ewell at Bull Run – Campbell Brown

Virginia Scenes in ‘61 – Constance Cary Harrison

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

Incidents of the First Bull Run – John Imboden

Responsibilities of the First Bull Run – Joseph Johnston

The Confederate Commissariat at Manassas – L. B. Northrup





Gruesome Yard Sale

17 01 2010

I received the following from John Hennessy this evening.  Like him, this is something I’ve never heard of before.  The 12th Alabama was not attached to Ewell’s brigade until after the battle.  Your comments are encouraged.

Here’s a little thing that falls into the realm of the obscure and the  bizarre.  The letter is from When I Think of Home: The Civil War  Letters of William Harrison “Tip” Crow, ed. by Dewayne R. Welborn, Owasso, OK, 1996.  page 17-18.  Letter to his father, August 24, 1861,  from Manassas.   Crow was in the 12th Alabama.

Dear Father

there has been something else come up of which I wish to inform you I wrote you a letter yester day but every hour here brings up something new   Order issued by the Colonel that the clothes of the dead men to be sold   Thomas’ showel [shawl] and coat have to be put  up at the highest bidder and sold and if it had not been just eh kindness of our Captain [Higgins] his shirts would have been sold  he had to give them in according to the order but he did not and told me to keep them    I wanted the showel and I in tend to have it as I will make some man pay 12 dollars for it    I here some of them talking about biding for it but I dont [want] any body els shal have his things to stroe about….Lem is going to get hte coat   this is one thing that hurts me to think Tom and I have always been to gether and have been like brothers and now I have to pay a big price to get his things….  I do think we have the most tiranical officers at the head of this Regiment that ever men were under but you [know] that it won’t do to say any thing    experienced me that have been in the service before say they never heard of dead men’s clothes being sold before….

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Springfield, IL: Part VI – Lincoln Tomb and Miscellaneous Statuary

2 01 2010

On October 9-12 this year my family and I visited Springfield, IL (see overview of the trip here).  On the 11th, we visited The Lincoln Tomb in Springfield’s Oak Hill Cemetery.  Unfortunately, the tomb (run by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency) was not open – budget constraints again.  And even the exterior was not fully accessible: the second level of the exterior was closed for repairs.  It was an overcast day to begin with, and I was losing what little light I had.  Here are some images of the tomb and the statuary on and in front of it.  The nose of the Gutzon Borglum bust is shiny from the rubbing hands of thousands of visitors.  The four Larkin Mead tableaux around the obelisk depict the cavalry, navy, artillery, and infantry.  Click on the thumbs for larger images, and click the images for larger ones still:

          

Here is a view of the tomb from the rear, and also of the stained glass window that allows light into the interior:

 

At the bottom of the hill behind the tomb is the crypt in which Lincoln’s body resided initially and, halfway up the hill, a marker to another vault to which his body was subsequently removed prior to completion of the tomb:

     

Across from the crypt at the bottom of the hill is a chime tower, inlaid with the slab on which Lincoln’s body first rested:

 

We stayed our first night (10/9-10) a little outside town near the power plant at the Crowne Plaza hotel, in the lobby of which is this grouping of Lincoln and some children On the Road to Greatness:

This grouping (Springfield’s Lincoln, 2004 by Larry Anderson) sits on the Adams St. mall between the Lincoln-Herndon Law Offices and the Old State Capitol.

    

 There are two sculptures outside the Springfield Union StationVisitor Center, across the street from the ALPLM.  The first shows Abe clutching his coat against a cold prairie wind (A Greater Task, 2006 by John McClarey); the second is an interactive photo-op (Lincoln, 2006 by Mark Lundeen).

       

Inside the Visitor Center is this cool model of Lincoln’s funeral train:

       

On Monday the 12th, before driving back to St. Louis to catch our flight home, the boy and I drove over to the current Illinois State Capitol, on the grounds of which are two fine statues of Lincoln (Lincoln of the Farewell Address, 1918 by Andrew O’Connor) and Stephen Douglas (1918 by Gilbert Riswold).

     

I really enjoyed our trip to Springfield, even if it was a little chilly.  I consider that a small price to play for smaller crowds and shorter lines.  Springfield is a must visit for all Lincoln, Civil War, Presidential, and American history enthusiasts.  I hope to return some day to catch the other sites I missed this time around.

Part I

Part II

Part III

Part IV

Part V

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JCCW – Gen. Daniel Tyler Part I

25 07 2009

Testimony of Gen. Daniel Tyler

Report on the Conduct of the War, Vol. 2, pp. 198-206

WASHINGTON, January 20, 1862.

General DANIEL TYLER sworn and examined.

By the chairman:

Question. Will you please state what is your rank and position in the army, or what it was?

Answer. I was a brigadier general, second in command under General McDowell.

Question. You were present at the battle of Bull Run?

Answer. I was there.

Question. Please give a brief and concise statement of what you saw there, and how the battle was conducted, &c.; do this without questioning at first; I want to get particularly what, in your judgment, caused the disaster of that day.

Answer. The first great trouble was the want of discipline and instruction in the troops. The troops needed that regimental and brigade instruction which would have enabled them to act together in masses with advantage.

Question. Were there any other more proximate causes than that?

Answer. There was a great want of instruction and professional knowledge among the officers—the company and regimental officers.

Question. Well, sir, give a concise history of that battle.

Answer. I will begin back to the occupation of Falls’ Church. The first advance made by our troops, after the occupation of Alexandria, Arlington Heights, Fort Corcoran, and Roach’s Mill, was to Falls’ Church. That was made by me with the Connecticut brigade, about the 5th of June. I remained in that division, commanding the advance of the army, until the advance upon Manassas. When we advanced upon Manassas I was assigned to the command of a division of four brigades. My line of march was by Vienna to Flint Hill, and from there I had authority from General McDowell to take either the route by Fairfax Court-House, or the route by Gormantown, as my judgment should indicate. I took the advance through Gormantown, and arrived there in advance of any other division of the army, on the turnpike to Centreville. We continued our march until about 4 o’clock in the evening, and then bivouacked for the night. I think that was the first misfortune of our .movement. I think, if we had gone on to Centreville that night we should have been in much better condition the next day. I was ordered by General McDowell to take my division forward at 7 o’clock on Thursday morning and attack Centreville, he assigning me two twenty-pounders to assist in that attack. On arriving at Centreville, I found that the enemy had evacuated their fortifications, and that Cox’s division, as I was told by the people there, had passed over Stone Bridge, and Bonham, with the South Carolina and Georgia troops, had passed down by Blackburn’s Ford.

I waited there an hour and a half, getting such information as I could collect, and then, not finding General McDowell, or hearing from him, I took a squadron of cavalry and four companies of light infantry and went forward with General Richardson towards Blackburn’s Ford. After passing through the woods there we came out immediately upon Bull Run. From that point we had a very good view of Manassas. We found they had not occupied the left bank of Bull Run at all. There is a distance, along the stream there, of about a thousand yards of perfectly open country. There is not a tree until you get to Bull Run, and then it is covered with trees. I got there in the morning, with merely my staff and this squadron of cavalry and the light infantry. I was perfectly astonished to find they had not occupied that position on the left bank. It had complete control of it, so complete control that, after we got our artillery in position, we had the whole control of that valley. Beauregard, in his official report, complains that we threw shot in his hospital. We did, but we did not know it was his hospital; we thought it was his headquarters. The whole ground there, clear over almost into Manassas, was commanded by that position. This was a chain of heights, extending along the whole of this ford, and completely controlling the bottom of Bull Run.

As soon as I found out the condition of things I sent back for Ayres’s battery—Sherman’s old battery—and had it brought and put into position. After firing two or three shots they replied to us; but having only smoothbore guns they could not reach us. After the two twenty-pounders came up we had eight pieces in position, commanding the whale of that run. They could not make a move in front of the woods there without our controlling them. They made no movement at all; we could see no show of force. All we could see was some few around their battery. I then took Richardson’s brigade and filed it down there to see what there was in the bottom. This was evidently on the direct road to Manassas. They marched down through in front of the whole of that wood, without bringing any fire upon them. I sent some skirmishers into the woods, and there were some thirty or fifty shots fired from a few men.

I saw an opening where we could have a chance to get in a couple of pieces of artillery, and I ordered Captain Ayres to take a couple of his howitzers and go into that opening and throw some canister shot into the woods. The very moment he came into battery it appeared to me that there were 5,000 muskets fired at once. It appears by Beauregard’s report that he had seventeen regiments in front there. They were evidently waiting for our infantry to get into the woods there. Ayres threw some ten or fifteen canister shot in among them, but was forced to come out, which he did very gallantly, with the loss of one man and two horses. We then came on the hill, and the whole eight pieces were placed in position, and we exchanged with them 415 shots in three-quarters of an hour, our shots plunging right in among them. They fired at an angle of elevation, and the consequence was that we lost but one man; whereas our artillery was plunging right into them, and every shot had its effect.

The Rev. Mr. Hinds, who was taken prisoner on Monday after the fight, was taken down to Bonham’s camp there. He has lately been exchanged and returned, and represents their loss there at some 300 or 400 men that day. My idea was that that position was stronger than the one above. But that is a mere matter of opinion. But after this affair of Thursday that point was never abandoned. We held that point until after the battle of Sunday. Richardson’s brigade was left there, and Davies’s brigade supported him. And when General Ewell tried to cut us off at Centreville on Sunday afternoon they repulsed him. We could have made a first-rate artillery fight there on Friday morning before Johnston’s force came up. We knew of the arrival of Johnston’s forces on Friday afternoon, because we could hear the arrival of the cars up the Winchester road.

My division was stationed on Cub Run from Thursday evening, except Keyes’s brigade, which was left back at Centreville. My orders were for my division to move forward on Sunday morning to Stone Bridge, and threaten that bridge. We left our camp at half-past two o’clock in the morning, and arrived there a little past six o’clock. The fire was opened immediately after getting the division posted, say at a quarter past six o’clock. Our first fire was the signal for Richardson to open fire at Blackburn’s Ford at the same time. Under the instruction to threaten Stone Bridge, it was contemplated that Hunter and Heintzelman, after passing over by Sedley’s Church, would drive the enemy away from the front of the bridge, and enable us to repair the Stone Bridge, which General McDowell assumed to be ruined, and would be destroyed. We had a bridge framed and prepared for that purpose.

Now, at that time, when that should have been done, my division was to pass over the bridge and take part in the action in front of the bridge. About 11 o’clock, seeing that Hunter’s column was arrested on the opposite side of Bull Run, and that they were requiring assistance, I ordered over Sherman’s brigade, containing the 69th and 79th New York, a Wisconsin, and another regiment, with orders to come into line on the right of the troops that we saw attacked, which we supposed, from the appearance of them, to be Hunter’s division. They did so, and Sherman’s brigade made a very gallant attack there, and relieved Burnside’s brigade from the embarrassment they were in. General Burnside, in his official report, acknowledged that he was taken out of a very tight place.

At that time we supposed the battle to have been won. I had had no opportunity of seeing what had been done on the other side until the moment that I came into line with Keyes’s brigade on the left of Sherman’s brigade, and at that moment I saw Captain Fry, of General McDowell’s staff, standing by the fence, crying out “Victory! victory! We have done it! we have done it!” He supposed, and I supposed, and General McDowell at that time supposed, that the victory was substantially won. That was about half- past 12 o’clock. To show that he had some reason to believe that, we passed from that point with my division clear down to the Canady House on the Warrenton turnpike, driving the enemy without any show of resistance. There was hardly a gun fired. There appeared to be a general flight before us.

It was not until we got to that house that we met the enemy in any force at all. They had occupied a plateau of ground immediately above it with their batteries. Ricketts had his fight further over on the other side, while we attacked them by way of the road. At that point my brigade, after carrying the house twice, were repulsed and fell back under the hill. And at that moment, through General Keyes’s aid, who was with me, I sent verbal information to General McDowell that we were going to try to turn the batteries on the plateau by a movement below the Stone Bridge. That movement was subsequently made. We continued under the hill, advancing with the Connecticut brigade, with General Keyes’s brigade, until we reached a point considerably below the position of the enemy’s batteries on the plateau. And as Keyes faced his brigade to the right, to advance up the hill to attack the batteries, we had the first intimation of the retreat of the army by seeing them pouring over towards Sedley’s Church.

By Mr. Gooch:

Question. At what time was that?

Answer. That was, perhaps, nearly three o’clock. Keyes’s brigade then faced to the left and took the same route back under the hill by which they had made the advance, recrossed Bull Run at the original point of crossing, went on up the Warrenton turnpike, at or near the hospital, and on the Centreville side of Bull Run, and continued their retreat towards Centreville. I did not see General McDowell on the field, and I did not receive any orders from him during that day.

Question. Have you anything further to state?

Answer. Nothing. I suppose you ask opinions about the panic. It has been very much discussed before military circles.

Question. We have heard various speculations as to the reason why the battle was not commenced earlier on Sunday; will you state the reason why the battle was delayed to so late an hour on that day?

Answer. The impossibility of moving an army of 22,000 men, with their ammunition, ambulances, &c., over a single turnpike.

By Mr. Odell:

Question. Did not the most of the column wait in the road until Keyes’s brigade, which was back at Centreville, came up and joined you?

Answer. No, sir. The reason why the battle was delayed was this: The advancing so large an army as I have stated over one common road; and for the further reason that the country between Cub Run and Bull Run was supposed to be occupied by the enemy, and it became indispensable for the leading division, being without cavalry, and with no knowledge of the country, to move slowly, in order to protect themselves against any surprise on the part of the enemy, and force a position we had not the least conception of.

By Mr. Gooch:

Question. Was yours the leading division?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. Were the rest of the divisions delayed by your movement?

Answer. They were not more than was absolutely necessary under the circumstances.

Question. What time did your movement commence?

Answer. At half-past two o’clock, as will appear by the official reports of Generals Schenck, Sherman, and Keyes.

Question. You were to advance how far?

Answer. To the Stone Bridge, about two and a half miles.

Question. And the other divisions turned off from the road on which you advanced before they reached Stone Bridge?

Answer. Yes, sir; some two miles from the bridge.

Question. At what time did the rear of your division reach Stone Bridge?

Answer. Keyes’s brigade, being delayed to guard the road going down to Manassas, did not reach Stone Bridge until about 11 o’clock. But that brigade was acting under the orders of General McDowell.

Question. At what time did the portion of the division under your command reach Stone Bridge?

Answer. It reached there by six o’clock, perhaps a quarter before six. We opened fire, as General Beauregard states, at six o’clock. Our time said half-past six, but I presume their time was nearer right than ours. I was there more than half an hour, posting my division, before we opened fire.

Question. Then do I understand you to say that none of the other divisions were held back by any portion of your division?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. The last part of your division had reached the point where Hunter’s and Heintzelman’s divisions were to turn off in time so as not to hold them back at all?

Answer. The two leading brigades of my division, Schenck’s and Sherman’s, arrived at the Stone Bridge in the neighborhood of and before six o’clock. Keyes’s brigade, having been detained by General McDowell’s order, arrived about eleven o’clock. Keyes’s brigade, therefore, is the only brigade that could have interfered with the movement of Hunter’s and Heintzelman’s divisions. That brigade of Keyes’s had no artillery. And so soon as General Schenck got his brigade on the line of the road, I saw the difficulty that there might be in consequence of Keyes’s brigade being left back at Centreville, having two miles of road to pass over, that they might interfere with Hunter’s column I then sent an aid back to tell General Keyes that as he had no artillery he should file immediately off the Warrenton turnpike into the fields, and immediately clear the turnpike for the use of the other columns. And I deemed it of so much importance, that after sending my aid, I rode back myself and saw the leading regiment of his brigade file into the fields, and gave him a positive order to put his brigade into the fields entirely out of the way of the other divisions. General Keyes reported to me that he did so, and I have no doubt of the fact, for I saw the leading regiment file off.

Question. Did any of the other divisions, or any portions of the other divisions, pass through a part of your division in order to get forward of them?

Answer. When Keyes’s brigade reached the road they occupied it, and Keyes’s brigade passed along parallel to the road and entirely out of their way. He was enabled to do that because he had no artillery. The others having artillery, there was no other place for them to pass, except up the road and over the bridge at Cub Run.

Question. At what time did the rear of your division—I do not mean to include Keyes’s brigade, but the rear of that which was with you that morning—pass the point where Hunter and Heintzelman turned off to the right?

Answer. We passed there before four o’clock.

Question. Or in two hours after you started?

Answer. Yes, air.

Question. Then do I understand you to say that the road was clear, so far as your division was concerned, up to the turning-off point after four o’clock, with the exception that Keyes’s portion of your division was then on that road?

Answer. Alongside the road, but off it.

Question. Why did you move first, as you were to move the shortest distance over the road?

Answer. That was the order of march by General McDowell. I did not see General McDowell or hear from him after the fight began, until we got back to Centreville.

By Mr. Odell :

Question. Did the fact of Keyes’s brigade not joining yours impede the progress of the other columns?

Answer. I do not think it did in the least.

Question. You did not receive an order from General McDowell to hasten your march?

Answer. No, sir ; I received no orders from General McDowell after I left him on Saturday night It was my suggestion to put Keyes’s brigade in the field. After seeing the head of his first regiment file into the fields, I did not wait there, but immediately pushed forward to post the other brigades at the Stone Bridge.

Question. Was there any portion of the march, with reference to Centreville Cross Roads or anything, retarded, so far as you know by your column?

Answer. No, sir; not that I know of.

By Mr. Gooch:

Question. Was it understood that Keyes, with his brigade, should march up and join your division in advance of the movement forward of all the other troops?

Answer. I presume so. That was the understanding—to keep the division together.

Question. I understand you to say that it was expected that Keyes should move up in advance of any other portion of the army, and join your division?

Answer. Certainly; for General McDowell said, “The first division, (Tyler’s,) with the exception of Richardson’s brigade, will move first.”

Question. That was not done, was it?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. Why did he not move forward so as to keep out of the way of the remainder of the army?

Answer. He states that he did not interfere with them.

Question. You say he turned off into the field. Why could he not, with the road clear before him, if he was in advance, move forward so as to keep clear of the others?

Answer. He might, if the movements were made with perfect regularity.

Question. He had no artillery, and was first on the road. Why did he not pass over the road so as to offer no obstruction?

Answer. Because, by passing into the field he would have given the rear columns the advantage of two miles and a half of clear track, which there was a possibility might be interfered with, but which was not interfered with.

Question. Were Hunter’s and Heintzelman’s columns in advance of the position where Keyes turned off the main road?

Answer. .No, sir; they moved from behind Centreville on the morning of the 21st.

Question. If he was first on the road, and they were behind him, and he had nothing but infantry, why could he not have moved forward with sufficient celerity to leave the road open to the rest as fast as they advanced?

Answer. He could if the column in advance of him had moved with perfect regularity.

Question. What column was in advance?

Answer. Sherman’s brigade and Schenck’s brigade.

Question. Then it was your division which obstructed his movement forward :

Answer. We did not obstruct him at all. When I ordered Keyes into the field he had not reached the rear of my division. But seeing the possibility of an interference, I ordered him into the field.

Question. If he had marched up and joined your division, as your division then was, would the rear of his brigade have extended back to the junction of the road where the others turned off?

Answer. At the time he joined us?

Question. Yes, sir.

Answer. I think it would at that moment; but still we were all advancing.

Question. Then did you make the movement into the field with Keyes’s brigade in order to prevent that difficulty?

Answer. It was to prevent a circumstance that might occur. It was to prevent difficulty, when I knew there were two brigades in advance of him, and to carry out the instruction to march through the field. It was not that any difficulty had occurred, but to take every precaution against any such occurrence. I had not seen the head of Hunter’s and Heintzelman’s columns, and I did not know where they were. But foreseeing the difficulty of moving 20,000 men over* one turnpike, after getting the artillery and wagons and ammunition into line, I saw that there must be difficulty, and to obviate that as far as possible I rode back and ordered Keyes, who was without artillery, to file out into the field. At that time I did not know where Hunter’s and Heintzelman’s columns were, and I did not know that they had moved a foot.

Question. Did you see the rear of General Keyes’s column?

Answer. I did not. I only saw the leading regiment filed into the field.

Question. You do not know whether Hunter’s and Heintzelman’s columns was directly in the rear of Keyes’s brigade or not?

Answer. No, sir; but I wanted to provide against a contingency.

Question. At that moment you did not know the condition of things in the rear of Keyes’s command?

Answer. I did not. I had no idea where Hunter’s and Heintzelman’s columns were. I supposed they were on the road, however, but I did not know where; but I wanted to do all in my power to remedy any possible difficulty that might occur.

By Mr. Chandler:

Question. The first attack on Thursday, I understood you to say, was made by a single brigade?

Answer. It was made by four companies of a brigade. There were never more than 300 men, except artillery, engaged with the enemy at any time.

Question. Supported by a brigade?

Answer. Yes, sir; by Richardson’s brigade.

Question. Should that attack on Thursday have been made at all, unless it was followed up and made successful?

Answer. It was not an attack. It was merely a reconnoissance to ascertain what force they had there on Bull Run. It was not the intention to make an attack. And the very moment the force of the enemy was discovered, which it was important to know, ‘that moment the troops were withdrawn, and merely a cannonade kept up in order to see what effect it would have upon the men in the bottom of Bull Run. The whole affair was over before six o’clock. It was one of those advance engagements that spring np sometimes without any expectation of anything very important coming froin it.

Question. It was intended as a mere reconnoissance?

Answer. Yes, sir. After we had ascertained the force of the enemy there, I ordered Richardson to withdraw his brigade. He was very anxious to make an attack at the time, and was very confident that he could repulse them and force them out of the woods. I told him our object was not to bring on an engagement. But there was one thing very significant in that affair. Richardson’s brigade moved along the whole front of that wood, and skirted it along without being attacked, though Beauregard says he had seventeen regiments in the woods there. The reason was that Richardson was supported by the artillery on the hill, and the enemy would have suffered very severely if he had made any attack.

Question. Was it your understanding that Patterson was to hold Johnston in the valley of Winchester?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. You did not expect Johnston down there?

Answer. No, sir.

Question. Had Patterson held Johnston, what, in your judgment, would have been the result of that battle?

Answer. We should have whipped Beauregard beyond a question.

Question. Then you deem that the real cause of that defeat was the failure of Patterson to hold Johnston back?

Answer. Undoubtedly. From Blackburn’s Ford we could have a fair view of Manassas, and could see what they had there; and I have never had the least doubt that if Patterson had kept Johnston’s army out of the way we would have whipped Manassas itself.

By Mr. Gooch:

Question. You think if you had driven Beauregard into and upon Manassas, you could have driven him out of it?

Answer. Yes, sir; if Johnston had been kept out of the way. There has been a great deal said about their fortifications there. It was the understanding that, from Flint Hill to Gormantown, we should find a succession of very severe abattis and batteries, which would render it a very difficult passage for our troops. We first fell in with, on advancing from Flint Hill, an abattis, which was so miserably constructed that the axe-men of one of our Maine regiments cut it out in the course of fifteen minutes, so that our brigade passed right on. We found a second one of the same character; and then we found an abandoned battery, which two rifled guns could have knocked to pieces in fifteen minutes. At Centreville all the fortifications were of exactly the same character. They were the meanest, most miserable works ever got up by military men. And I have no reason to believe that, even back as far as Manassas, they were much better constructed than they were on this side the run.

Question. Then you attribute the advantages of the enemy in that fight, and the advantages which they probably would have had at Manassas, so far as they would have had any, to the natural location of the country, rather than to any earthworks or artificial works that had been erected?

Answer. Yes, sir; at Manassas particularly. There they had an elevation in their favor, and we would have been obliged to attack them there to some disadvantage.

Question. I suppose you knew, when you moved forward to make the attack, you were moving forward with undisciplined troops; but you also knew you were to attack undisciplined troops?

Answer. We supposed our men were equal to theirs, and we found them to be so.

Question. You did not expect perfection in our movements any more than you did in theirs?

Answer. There was nothing in their troops that I saw that induced me to believe that their discipline and instruction was in any way superior to ours.

Question.  Do you know the particulars of the loss of Griffin’s and Ricketts’s batteries that day?

Answer. They were on the opposite side of the hill from me, and I did not see them. But I think the loss of those two batteries created the panic.

Question. Do you think it very probable the issue of that battle would have been different if those batteries had not been lost?

Answer. I think if we could have had two good batteries there we could have done a great deal better than we did. I think the loss of those two batteries had a great effect upon us.

By Mr. Odell:

Question. Did you receive from General McDowell, through his aid, Mr. Kingsbury, orders to make a more rapid advance?

Answer. No, sir; I did not.





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.





JCCW – Gen. Robert Patterson Part II

1 07 2009

Testimony of Gen. Robert Patterson

Report on the Conduct of the War, Vol. 2, pp. 89-98

WASHINGTON, January 7, 1862.

General R. PATTERSON resumed as follows:

I omitted yesterday to read a letter from the general-in-chief, dated July 5, 1861. It is as follows:

“HEADQUARTERS OF THE ARMY, “Washington July 5, 1861—11 p. m.

“Major General PATTERSON, Hagerstown Md.:

“Your letter of the 4th is received. Orders were sent this morning to Madison for the 3d and 4th regiments from Wisconsin to repair to Williamsport via Chambersburg and report to you.

“The 19th and 28th New York regiments leave here for Hagerstown tomorrow at half past 2 p. m. You will have to provide transportation for them thence to the post you may order them to.

“If any three months men will re-engage for the long term, designate a regular officer of your command to muster them, provided a sufficient number can be obtained to form a regiment.

“Having defeated the enemy, if you can continue the pursuit without too great a hazard, advance via Leesburg or Strasburg towards Alexandria, but consider the dangerous defiles, especially via Strasburg, and move with great caution, especially via Strasburg, halting at Winchester, and threatening a movement by Strasburg or the passage of the Potomac twice, and coming down by Leesburg may be the more advantageous movement.”

On the 6th of July I sent to the general-in-chief an official report of the battle of Falling Waters.—(Appendix No. 34.) It is due to the officers who distinguished themselves that it should be made known. It has been made public, and never yet, for some reason or other, allowed to go out of the Adjutant General’s office. I also sent a circular, accompanying the report.— (Appendix No. 35.) In a telegram, of date July 6, I informed the general- in-chief that “the insurgents have unquestionably received large re-enforcements, and are said to have 26,000 men, with 24 guns, many rifled, and some of very large calibre.” I then expected to have by the night of the 8th 18,000 men and 16 guns, and intended to march on the 9th and attack them. On the 8th of July an order was issued (Appendix No. 36) reducing the number of tents to four common and one wall tent to each company, and also an order to march the next morning.—(Appendix No. 37.) On the 11th of July I issued a circular (Appendix No. 38) requiring division, brigade, and regimental commanders and quartermasters to have their commands ready to march at a moment’s warning. On the 19th of July I telegraphed the general-in-chief that “the 2d and 3d Pennsylvania volunteers demand discharge, and I send them home to-morrow.” On the 20th General Cadwalader sent in a report (Appendix No. 39) of the dates of expiration of term of service of the different regiments composing his division, in which he states “his fear that the men of two of his regiments would give us trouble,” and “that there was a strong feeling in one regiment on the subject of returning to-morrow.” On the 19th of July I reported to the adjutant general of the army (Appendix No. 40) “that almost all the three months volunteers refuse to serve one hour after their time, except three regiments.”

I closed my narrative yesterday with a reference to my report of July 17 to the general-in-chief, in which I stated that the term of service of 18 of my 26 regiments would expire within seven days. It should be remembered that this report of mine was from Charlestown where I had gone on the 17th, having on the day appointed made the demonstration ordered by General Scott on the 13th, and performed my part perfectly. No information was sent to me on either the 14th, 15th, or 16th, the last being the day on which General Scott said Manassas would be attacked. If any change took place, and the attack was not to be made on the 16th, then it was the imperative duty of the general-in-chief to have informed me, that I might have arranged my movements in accordance, and have made my demonstrations against Winchester at the proper time. Confident that Manassas Junction would be attacked on Tuesday, I moved from Martinsburg on Monday, and drove Johnston’s pickets in on Tuesday. If I had known the assault on the Junction would not have been made until Sunday, I would not have moved until Saturday. I am not therefore responsible for the appearance of Gen eral Johnston at Manassas on Sunday, the 21st. The same neglect or inattention kept me from being at Manassas to meet Johnston. No information of any kind was given me by General Scott from the 13th to the 17th.

On the 17th he telegraphed me, (Appendix No. 41,) “McDowell’s first day’s work has driven the enemy beyond Fairfax Court-House; the Junction will probably be carried to-morrow.” This anticipation was unfortunately not realized.

Let me recapitulate the essence of General Scott’s last three despatches. On the 12th, “Go to Charlestown; I will attack Manassas on Tuesday.” On the 13th, “If not strong enough to meet the enemy early next week, make demonstrations, so as to detain him in the valley of Winchester.” On the 17th, “McDowell’s first day’s work has driven the enemy beyond Fairfax Court-House ; the Junction will probably be carried to-morrow.” With this despatch of the 17th in possession, I and the officers under me were relieved from great anxiety, indeed were very exultant. With Fairfax Court-House in possession of our troops, and the Junction to be taken the next day, all I had to do was to be ready to meet and repel the attack which all expected.

On the 18th of July General Scott telegraphed me (Appendix No. 42) as follows: “I have certainly been expecting you to beat the enemy; if not, to hear that you had felt him strongly, or at least have 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 re-enforcements towards Manassas Junction? A week is enough to win a victory. The time of volunteers counts from the day of muster into the service of the United States. You must not retreat across the Potomac. If necessary, when abandoned by the short-term volunteers, intrench somewhere, and wait for re-enforcements.” I had no doubt that the opinion of the general-in-chief was correct, that “a week was enough to win a victory.” My own army had gained a decided victory in less than four hours on the day I crossed the Potomac, and it was the opinion of myself and all the officers under my command that we would have gained many victories several days earlier if the general-in-chief had not emasculated my army by ordering from me my regulars, (infantry, artillery, and cavalry,) with the Rhode Island regiment and battery, just at the moment when they were most needed. But the want of artillery and transportation compelled me to wait at Martinsburg until the enemy, previously my superior in men and guns, had time to be re-enforced heavily with both, and to intrench themselves at Winchester having nearly 50 field guns, and more siege guns, of the heaviest calibre and of longer range, than I had of all kinds.

Were I disposed to indulge in recrimination I might retort with some severity upon the lieutenant general the expression so unjustly used towards myself. For full three months after the remark General Scott has been obliged to retire from the command of an army in which are concentrated all the choice troops of the country without that victory with which he was so anxious to close his brilliant career In fact, the whole country, who looked for the most brilliant results from the rawest of all troops, now apprehend, as well, perhaps, as the lieutenant general himself, that one who attempts to precipitate a victory will run the risk of finding also that “a week is long enough for a defeat.”

On the same day, the 18th, I sent three telegrams and one letter (Appendix Nos. 43, 44, 45, and 46) to the general-in-chief, informing him of the condition of my command; that many of my men “were without shoes;” the men had received no pay, and neither officers nor soldiers had money to purchase with ; that under the circumstances I could not ask or expect the three months men to stay longer than one week; that I had “that day appealed almost in vain to the regiments to stand by the country for a week or ten days; the men were longing for their homes, and nothing could detain them;” that “Captain Newton had been sent that day to Harper’s Ferry to arrange for defence, and re-establish communication with Maryland;” that the general’s order had been obeyed ” to threaten and make demonstrations to detain Johnston at Winchester;” that Johnston had been largely re-enforced, and that even if I could “take Winchester it would be only to withdraw my men, and be forced to retreat, thus losing the fruits of victory.” At 1.30 a. m. that morning I telegraped General Scott that “telegraph of date received. Mine of to-night gives the condition of my command. Some regiments of my command have given warning not to serve an hour over their time. To attack under such circumstances the greatly superior force at Winchester is most hazardous. My letter of the 16th gives you further information.”

I will read here my letters of the 14th and 16th to the general-in-chief:

“MARTINSBURG, Virginia, July 14, 1861.

“I have thus far succeeded in keeping in this vicinity the command under General Johnston, who is now pretending to be engaged in fortifying at Winchester, but prepared to retire beyond striking distance if I should advance far. To-morrow I advance to Bunker Hill, preparatory to the other movement. If an opportunity oilers I shall attack, but, unless I can rout, shall be careful not to set him in full retreat upon Strasburg. I have arranged for the occupation of Harper’s Ferry, opposite which point I have directed provisions to be sent. Many of the three months volunteers are very restless at the prospect of being retained over their time. This fact will soon cause you to hear of me in the direction of Charlestown. Want of ample transportation for supplies and baggage has prevented my moving earlier in the direction I desired.”

In my letter of the 16th, from Bunker Hill, I wrote:

“I have the honor to report, for the information of the general-in-chief, my advance and arrival at this place yesterday, opposed only by a body of six hundred cavalry, of which one was killed and five taken prisoners. Tomorrow I move upon Charlestown. A reconnoissance shows the Winchester road blocked by fallen trees and fences placed across it, indicating no confidence in the large force now said to be in Winchester. I send you a sketch, prepared by Captain Simpson, of the works said to have been erected in the vicinity of Winchester. Preparations have already been commenced to occupy and hold Harper’s Ferry with the three years troops. If the general-in-chief desires to retain that place, (and I advise it never to be evacuated,) I desire to be at once informed by telegraph. I have to report that the time of service of a very large portion of this force will expire in a few days. From an undercurrent expression of feeling I am confident that many will be inclined to lay down their arms the day their time expires. With such a feeling existing, any active operations towards Winchester cannot be thought of until they are replaced by three years men. Those whose term expires this week, and will not remain, I shall arrange to send off by Harper’s Ferry; those for Philadelphia via Baltimore; those for Harrisburg via Hagerstown. If Harper’s Ferry is to be held, after securing that, I shall, if the general-in-chief desires, advance with the remainder of the troops via Leesburg, provided the force under Johnston does not remain at Winchester, after the success which I anticipate from General McDowell. I wish to be advised if these preparations meet with the approval of the general-in-chief. The Wisconsin regiments are without arms and accoutrements, which I have directed the commander of Frankfort arsenal to provide.”

On the 17th I wrote from Charlestown:

“The term of service of the Pennsylvania troops (eighteen regiments) expires within seven days, commencing to-morrow. I can rely on none of them renewing service. I must be at once provided with efficient three years men, or withdraw to Harper’s Ferry. Shall I occupy permanently Harper’s Ferry, or withdraw entirely? I wrote yesterday on this subject, and now wish to be informed of the intentions of the general-in-chief. My march to-day was without opposition or incidents of importance. The country has been drained of men. This place has been a depot for supplies for force at Winchester, and the presence of the army is not welcome.”

I telegraphed the general-in-chief from Charlestown, at 1.30 a. m., on the 18th: “Telegram of date received. Mine of to-night gives the condition of my command. Some regiments have given warning not to serve an hour over time. To attack under such circumstances, against the greatly superior force at Winchester, is most hazardous. My letter of the 16th gives you further information. Shall I attack?”

On the same day, at 1 p. m., I telegraphed the general-in-chief: “I have succeeded, in accordance with the wishes of the general-in-chief, in keeping General Johnston’s force at Winchester. A reconnoissance in force on Tuesday caused him to be largely re-enforced from Strasburg. With the existing feeling and determination of the three months men to return home, it would be ruinous to advance or even to stay here without immediate increase of force to replace them. They will not remain. I have ordered the brigades to assemble this afternoon, and shall make a personal appeal to the troops to stay a few days, until I can be re-enforced. Many of the regiments are without shoes; the government refuses to furnish them. The men have received no pay, and neither officers nor soldiers have money to purchase with. Under these circumstances I cannot ask or expect the three months volunteers to stay longer than one week. Two companies of Pennsylvania volunteers were discharged to-day and ordered home. I to-day place additional force at Harper’s Ferry and re-establish communication with Maryland. I send Captain Newton to prepare for its defence.”

On the same day I telegraphed again to the general-in-chief: “Telegram of to-day received. The enemy has stolen no march upon me. I have kept him actively employed, and, by threats and reconnoissance in force, caused him to be re-enforced. I have accomplished, in this respect, more than the general-in-chief asked, or could be expected, in face of an enemy far superior in numbers, with no line of communication to protect.”

On the 18th I wrote from Charlestown as follows: “I arrived at this place on the 17th instant; nothing of importance occurred on the march. The principal inhabitants left some ten days since, anticipating its occupation by the federal troops. It was till our arrival the location of a band of secession militia, engaged in pressing into the service the young men of the country.

“I have to acknowledge the receipt of two telegrams from the general-in-chief, of the 17th and 18th instant, both looking to a movement and attack upon Winchester. A state of affairs existed which the general-in-chief is not aware of, though, in some respects, anticipated by his instructions, that if I found the enemy too strong to attack, to threaten and make demonstrations to detain him at Winchester. I more than carried out the wishes of the general-in-chief in this respect. Before I left Martinsburg I was informed of a large increase of Johnston’s command, and of the visit to Winchester of the leading members of the confederate army. Just before General McDowell was to strike I advanced to Bunker Hill, causing surprise, and, I have since learned, an additional increase of force. On Tuesday I sent out a reconnoitring party towards Winchester; it drove in the enemy’s pickets, and caused the army to be formed in line of battle, anticipating an attack from my main force. This party found the road barricaded and blocked by fallen trees. The following day I left for this place.

“Before marching from Martinsburg I heard of the mutterings of many of the volunteer regiments, and their expressed determination not to serve one hour after their term of service should expire. I anticipated a better expression of opinion as we approached the enemy, and hoped to hear of a willingness to remain a week or ten days. I was disappointed, and when I was prepared for a movement to the front, by an order for the men to carry two days’ provisions in their haversacks, I was assailed by earnest remonstrances against being detained over their term of service; complaints from officers of want of shoes and other clothing, all throwing obstacles in the way of active operations. Indeed, I found I should, if I took Winchester, be without men, and be forced to retreat, thus losing the fruits of victory. Under the circumstances neither I nor those on whom I could rely could advance with any confidence.

“I am therefore now here with a force which will be dwindling away very rapidly. I to-day appealed almost in vain to the regiments to stand by the country-for a week or ten days. The men are longing for their homes, and nothing will detain them. I send Captain Newton to-day to Harper’s Ferry to arrange for defence and re-establish communication with Maryland and the Massachusetts regiments. The 3d Wisconsin will soon be there. Lieutenant Babcock has been at Sandy Hook several days trying to get the canal in operation, prepare the entrance to the ford, putting in operation a ferry, and reconstructing the bridge. Depots for all supplies will soon be established, and there I shall cause to be turned in the camp equipage, &c., of the regiments. And to that place I shall withdraw if I find my force so small as to render my preserit position unsafe. I cannot intrench sufficiently to defend this place against a large force. I shall direct the regiments to be sent to Harrisburg and Philadelphia, to be mustered out by Captain Hastings and Major Ruff and Captain Wharton.

On the 19th I wrote to the adjutant general of the army:

“Almost all the three months volunteers refused to serve an hour over their time, except three regiments, which will stay ten days; the most of them are without shoes and without pants. I am compelled to send them home, many of them at once. Some go to Harrisburg, some to Philadelphia, one to Indiana, and, if not otherwise directed by telegraph, I shall send them to the place of muster, to which I request rolls may be sent, and Captain Hastings, Major Ruff, and Captain Wharton ordered to muster them out. They cannot march, and unless a paymaster goes to them they will be indecently clad and have just cause to complain.”

I will state here that the troops I appealed to to remain were those from Pennsylvania. I did not appeal to the Indiana regiment, but the next day they marched up to my headquarters and offered to remain. I was very much delighted I assure you.

As I have before stated, at 1.30 a. m. of the 18th of July I telegraphed General Scott that “some regiments of my command have given warning not to serve an hour over their time. To attack under such circumstances the greatly superior force at Winchester is most hazardous. My letter of the 16th gives you further information,” and closed by asking, “Shall I attack?” Let it be borne in mind that this was despatched at half past one in the morning; and to be ready for the order to attack, if it came, the following order, addressed to commanders of divisions and brigades, was issued: “Have cooked provisions provided immediately for your men in haversacks, and be ready to march whenever called upon.” General Scott might have left it to my discretion to act as circumstances required, or have ordered me to attack Johnston, or have ordered me to march with all speed to Leesburg and join with McDowell in the attack on Manassas. If left to myself, I would, as the correspondence proves, have done the latter; and if I had, it is probable that with my little army in the action, Bull Run would not have been a drawn battle. I had carefully and correctly kept General Scott advised of all my movements, and of the great superiority of the enemy; and when goaded by the taunt, “a week is enough to win a victory,” I asked “shall I attack,” the responsibility of an answer, negative or affirmative, is evaded.

General Scott begins his despatch of the 18th with, “I have certainly been expecting you to meet the enemy,” and closes by saying, “You must not recross the Potomac. If necessary, when abandoned by the short-time volunteers, intrench somewhere and wait for re-enforcements.” These passages do not fit well together in the same despatch, and come with a bad grace after having ordered me to go to Charlestown and “make demonstrations to detain Johnston in the valley of Winchester.” I knew, and so repeatedly informed General Scott, that Johnston was far superior in men and artillery. After the council of July 9 was held, reliable information was received by me that General Johnston was so largely re-enforced with men and guns as to render an assault upon his intrenchments utterly hopeless. The immense superiority of the enemy at Winchester in men and guns, as well as in position, was well known. The information was obtained from Union men who had been there, from prisoners, from deserters, and from various sources, all agreeing on an average of forty thousand men and over sixty guns. A captain named Morrill, or Wellmore, belonging to a Maryland regiment, and taken prisoner at Charlestown by a party from Harper’s Perry, gave forty thousand. A gentleman of Berkeley county, of high respectability, serving under Johnston as an unwilling Virginia volunteer in Jackson’s brigade at the battle of Falling Waters, subsequently gave the following statement, taken down by General Negley, and by him given to me:

“General Jackson retreated with his brigade, consisting then of four regiments and four pieces of artillery, (Captain Pendleton,) to Big Spring, three and a half miles south of Martinsburg. General Johnston arrived at Darkesville the same night with about fourteen thousand men. He was then re-enforced by one regiment and one battery (four guns) flying artillery. General Jackson retreated to that point. The army made a stand there for four days; they then retreated to Winchester. When we arrived there, we found fortifications commenced by the militia. All the army then assisted, and in two days the city was fortified all around, within two miles of the suburbs, with intrenchments. Re-enforcements commenced pouring in. Ten forty-two pounders were placed, masked, around the fortifications; also artificial thickets planted for riflemen. The force consisted of forty-two thousand, including four thousand militia. General Johnston then received a despatch, as read to the men, that General Patterson was out of the way; that he had gone to get in Beauregard’s rear; and that Jeff. Davis had ordered him to cut off General P. in order to save the country; that Gen. B. had been attacked by an overwhelming force. General Johnston’s army moved at 1 o’clock p. m. Thursday, consisting of nine brigades, with fifty- two pieces of flying artillery, including three ten-inch columbiads, represented to me as such. Amongst the artillery was a detachment of the Washington Artillery, consisting of eight guns, four of which were rifled cannon. General J. took with him thirty-five thousand men, leaving the militia and volunteers, to the number of seven thousand, in Winchester.”

Another gentleman gave the following statement, taken by General Cadwalader, and by him given to me. Mr. ——— says:

“General Johnston’s force at Winchester was forty-two thousand men, infantry, artillery, and cavalry, of which eight hundred Virginia cavalry, under Colonel Stuart, and three hundred from southern States. Forty regiments, thirty-five thousand men, left Winchester at 1 o’clock p. m. on Thursday, by order of General Beauregard; took the road to Berry’s Ford, on the Shenandoah, thirteen and a half miles over the Blue Ridge to Piedmont Station, on the Manassas Gap railroad, fifteen miles, making twenty-eight and a half miles, requiring two days’ march. Freight and passenger cars had been hauled over the road, on their own wheels, to Strasburg last week, and on them Johnston’s forces were expected to be transported on the Manassas railroad from Piedmont to Manasas Junction, thirty-eight to forty miles. There remained at Winchester 7,000 troops until Saturday afternoon, when they left for Strasburg on their way to Manassas, except about 2,500 of the militia of the neighboring counties, disbanded and sent home. A large quantity of arms in boxes was sent to Strasburg. The Virginia cavalry remained, (under Colonel Stuart,) and went to Berrysville to observe the movements of General Patterson’s column. The rest of the cavalry went with General Johnston. They had at Winchester sixty-two pieces of artillery in position in the fortifications; about ten 42-pounders (some they thought were columbiads) were left. The remainder were taken by General Johnston. A detachment of the Washington Artillery, from New Orleans, had eight heavy guns, of which four were 32-pounders. These were hauled by twenty-eight horses each, the rest (smaller guns) by six and four horses each. Part, if not all of them, were brass rifled guns. The fortifications surrounded Winchester, except to the southward, upon the high ground; very heavy earthworks made with bags and barrels filled /with earth, &c. In front of the breastworks deep trenches were dug communicating below with inside of the works. The guns were all masked with artificial thickets of evergreens, which were intended in some cases to be used as ambuscades for riflemen and sharpshooters. Among the regiments was one of Kentucky riflemen armed with heavy bowie-knives. They refused to take more than one round of cartridges. They proposed to place themselves in the bushes for assault. All the fences had been levelled for miles in front of Winchester. The fortifications extended two and a half miles. The trees had been feHed between Bunker Hill and Winchester to impede our advance. Fifteen hundred sick at Winchester confined with measles, dysentery, and typhoid fever. Prisoners taken from our column were sent to Richmond. Wise has been recalled, it is said, with his troops from Western Virginia. Beauregard and Davis had done it in opposition to General Lee’s advice.”

On the 23d of July General Scott, a witness who cannot be suspected of a desire to overrate the enemy’s force in men and guns, telegraphed to General Banks, at Harper’s Ferry, (App. No. 47,) ” there are nine 32-pounders, four 44-pounders, two 6-pounders, and a very large amount of powder, balls, and shell at Winchester.” Add to these siege guns the twenty field guns reported by General Cadwalader and Captain Newton on the 20th June, and you have from two of our own officers of the highest rank in the service, Scott and Cadwalader, official information that the enemy at Winchester had double the number of guns I had. But it is well-known that Johnston carried over fifty guns, some of the largest calibre, with him.

On the same day he telegraphed to General Banks, (App. No. 48,) “I deem it useful, perhaps highly important, to hold Harper’s Ferry. It will probably soon be attacked, but not, I hope, before I shall have sent you adequate re-enforcements. A Connecticut regiment may soon be expected by you. Others shall to-morrow be ordered to follow.” This despatch speaks for itself. If my army was stronger than Johnston’s, why, I again ask, send re-enforcements to General Banks? A most reliable and respectable gentleman furnished my engineer with a detailed statement (App. No. 49) giving the regiments from each State—say, two from Kentucky, two from Tennessee, five from Alabama, five from Georgia, one from North Carolina, five from Mississippi, two from Maryland, &c.—making a total force of over 35,000 confederate troops at Winchester. These statements, which I have seen and examined, with the names of the gentlemen who furnished them, with many others taken by different officers from different persons at different times and places, agree very much in the main facts. From these and other documents, and from information obtained in various ways, there is no doubt of the fact that General Johnston had not only the advantage of extensive intrenchments in his own country, with abundant supplies, and a railroad which could bring him re-enforcements at the rate of 12,000 men a day, and I could get none, but that he had at least three men and four guns to my one, and that nothing but the good order of my column saved it from annihilation and capture by Johnston”. Why should I have made an attack with such awful odds against me? I had done all I was asked to do, and all that was necessary, if General Scott’s plan of attack on Manassas had been carried out in season. I was informed that, on the 16th, the assault on Manassas would be made; and had no information to the contrary until the receipt of General Scott’s telegram of the 17th, saying it would probably be taken on the 18th. I then supposed it would be taken en the 18th, and had no information of the repulse of General McDowell’s column until I heard through the newspapers of the unfortunate affair of the 21st. It is just within the bounds of possibility that, with a frightful slaughter of my men, I might have taken Winchester. But why hazard the safety of the army, possibly of the country, upon such a contingency?  If General Scott had taken the Junction, I was in position, my army intact, ready for anything required of me. If our army had been repulsed at Manassas, I was in position to do what I did do—prevent the army from crossing the Potomac to assail Washington, Baltimore, and Philadelphia, and desolating Maryland and Pennsylvania. If I could with heavy loss have taken Winchester, it would have been a bloody and a barren victory. I had but twenty- six regiments under my command; of these the terms of service of eighteen from Pennsylvania and one from Indiana expired within ten days. I could not have held Winchester if I had taken it. The general-in-chief knew when the term of service of the regiments in my army, and at Washington, expired. If General McDowell’s army could not be got ready to fight on the 16th, no battle ought to have been fought then. I knew that General Johnston was too good a soldier to retreat with an army of over 18,000 men and twenty-two guns before an army of 10,000 men and six guns, for that was about the relative strength the day my army entered Martinsburg. He would not retreat except for a purpose. It was the opinion of the officers of the old army, and of most of the new, that Johnston had a trap set for me, and many feared I would fall into it. But fortunately I had full and reliable information which convinced me, and every officer of my staff, that Johnston’s object in falling back as I advanced was to lure me on to an attack on the entrenched camp at Winchester. If the bait had taken defeat was inevitable, and a large portion of my army would probably have been destroyed, and the residue been made prisoners of war. The affair would have been more disastrous than that of Bull Run, for my force had no intrenchments to fall back upon. The Potomac was behind me, and the retreat would have been a disgraceful rout. The enemy, flushed with two victories instead of one, and no army intact to check them, would have been in possession of Washington, Baltimore, and possibly Philadelphia within five days. If General Scott really “supposed” me “superior in numbers,” why the necessity of ordering me “not to retreat across the Potomac, but to intrench somewhere and wait for re-enforcements.” Why send re-enforcements if I was stronger than the enemy? Did I retreat, or attempt to retreat, across the Potomac? Certainly not. I held Harper’s Ferry until I was relieved on the 25th of July, and would, under the order of the 18th, have held it until the crack of doom, unless relieved or ordered away. On the 20th of July I telegraphed General Scott as follows: “With a portion of his force Johnston left Winchester, by the road to Millwood, on the afternoon of the 18th—his whole force 35,200.” That is, he marched with that number of confederate troops—leaving 7,000 volunteers and militia in Winchester. With this information in the hands of the general- in-chief what excuse can be given for fighting on the 21st, when it is apparent to the eye of any one who reads the reports of General McDowell, and of his division and brigade commanders, that our army was in no degree fitted for the encounter? The frank, manly, and soldier-like report of General McDowell proves this. If General Scott chooses to fight, or force others to fight when not ready, I am not responsible for the unfortunate result. My case is in a nut-shell. Johnston’s force was always much stronger than mine in men and guns. I was not to fight unless I was equal or superior to him, but to threaten in order to keep him at Winchester until Manassas was attacked, which, by instructions, was to be on Tuesday, the 16th. Johnston was kept until the Thursday following, and the attack on Manassas was not made till Sunday, the 21st, and then not in the morning. Had others discharged their duty, mine having been accomplished, the contest would have been different in its results. Had the enemy been beaten at Manassas all praise would have been bestowed on my command for having manoeuvred to keep Johnston so long at Winchester. I have gone over my papers, in detail, to enable the committee to understand the operations and conduct of my column. I have asked for a court of inquiry, and it has been refused. I have asked, through the Senate of the United States, for all the correspondence between General Scott and myself, and all the orders of that distinguished soldier to me. This, also, has been refused, and for the same reason, that it would be incompatible with the public interests. I do not question the propriety of the refusal. The knowledge of the fact that it would be injurious, and very injurious, has caused me to submit to all manner of misrepresentations for the last six months. The youngest soldier in the army is entitled -to fair play. I have been a major general for nearly forty years, and hope it will not be denied to me. I was honorably discharged on the 19th of July—two days before the battle of Bull Run. On that day I was pleading with the troops to stand by the government. I am not here to make a defence—there is no official charge against me. My record is perfect. I seek controversy with no man. But if there is any man of sufficient rank and character, or of rank without character, or character without rank, to entitle him to consideration, who has any charge to make against my military conduct, I not only will invite but will thank him to make it, and bring it before a court-martial or of inquiry, and I will meet it. All I ask is justice, strict justice for service rendered. It is the duty of the government to protect the character of officers who have performed their duty, been honorably discharged, and are unjustly assailed. I am confident this committee will see fair play.

[At the request of the witness the committee will consider the question of attaching his farewell order to his testimony.]

Adjourned till to-morrow.





Southern Historical Society Papers

7 04 2009

Volume 9, #3 “Reminiscences of the Army of NVA” mentions Kirby-Smith’s route to the battlefield.

Volume 9, #7/8 “Memoirs of First MD Regiment”

Voulme 9, #10/11/12 “Memoirs of First MD Regiment”

Volume 10, #8/9 “Reminiscences of the War” covers the action at Fairfax CH at end of May 1861.

Volume 10, #10/11 “Reminiscences of 1st Manassas” see here

Volume 11, #6 “The Washington Artillery” covers them during the Battle.

Volume 13, 1885, “General Ewell at First Manassas”

Volume 14, 1886, “General Ewell at First Manassas”

Volume 17, 1889, “Bury Me in the Field, Boys!”, a memoir of Wheat by his brother

Volume 19, 1891, “History of the First Battle of Manassas and the Organization of the Stonewall Brigade”

Volume 19, 1891, “The Soubriquet ‘Stonewall’”

Volume 23, 1895, “Historical Sketch of The Rockbridge Artillery, C. S. Army”

Volume 23, 1895, “First Manassas”, Close of Battle, Cavalry Pursuit

Volume 23, 1895,”Beginning And The Ending”

Volume 24, 1896, “The Black Horse Troop”

Volume 26, 1898, “William Henry Chase Whiting, Major-General C. S. Army” covers his part in the batle.

Volume 28, 1900, “Harper’s Ferry And First Manassas”

Volume 28, 1900, “Thomas R. R. Cobb”

Volume 29, 1901, “Memoir Of Jane Claudia Johnson”

Volume 30, 1902, “Black Horse Troop”

Volume 30, 1902, “The First Manassas.”

Volume 32, 1904, “General Eppa Hunton At The Battle Of Bull Run, July 21, 1861″ 

Volume 32, 1904, “The Pulaski Guards.”

Volume 34, 1906, Maryland Line in the “First Battle Of Manassas”

Volume 34, 1906, “Thirty-Third Virginia At First Manassas”

Volume 35, 1907, “From Manassas To Frazier’s Farm.”

Volume 35, 1907, “Dedication Of A Bronze Tablet In Honor Of Botetourt Battery.”





The Oxford Guide to American Military History

24 03 2009

I picked this one (sorry, couldn’t find a photo) up a couple days ago for $8, used.  I was flipping through it, and randomly chose a Civil War entry just to see what it had to say.  I settled on Ewell, Richard Stoddert – at Bull Run, he commanded a brigade in Beauregard’s Amy of the Potomac, and was stationed on the far right of the Confederate line near Union Mills.  The entry was written by Ervin L. Jordan, Jr. of the University of Virginia.  It included this curious bit:

“Old Bald Head” subsequently fought during the Wilderness to Petersburg Campaign, but poor health and his wife’s increasing Unionist sentiments culminated in his being relieved of field command in May 1864.”

ewellI’ve read a bit on Ewell, but honestly don’t recall his wife (whom he famously introduced as “Mrs. Brown”, even after their marriage, her second) having expressed Unionist sentiments, or those sentiments having played a role in Ewell’s reassignment.  The article cites a 1940 biography by Percy Hamlin, and one from 1991 by Samuel Martin.  The book was published in 1999, and while Donald Pfanz’s standard on Ewell came out in 1998, these encyclopedia type books take years to put together, so maybe Mr. Jordan didn’t have access to that fine piece of scholarship (in which I could find no support for the Unionist claim).  If anyone can expand on this aspect of Lizinka of which I was previously unaware, please enlighten me.





#78 – Maj. John B. Walton

23 03 2009

Report of Maj. John B. Walton, Washington Artillery, of Operations July 18

O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 2 [S# 2] — CHAPTER IX, pp. 465-467

HDQRS. BATTALION WASHINGTON ARTILLERY,

Camp Louisiana, August 2, 1861

GENERAL: Referring to circular order under date of August 1, requiring a detailed report of the operations of all the troops under my command, including a list of the killed and wounded during the action on Thursday, July 18, I have the honor to report that during the night of the 16th of July I was informed by letters that my batteries might be required on the following day, to be distributed according to the following order:

Distribution of Major Walton’s Battalion, July 15, 1861

Second Brigade, General Ewell, in advance of Union Mills Ford, two 12-pounder howitzers, two rifled guns; Third Brigade, General Jones, at McLean’s Ford, one 6-pounder, one 12-pounder howitzer; Fourth Brigade, General Longstreet, at Blackburn’s Ford, two 6-pounders; Fifth Brigade, Colonel Early, at or near Union Mills Ford, one 12-pounder howitzer, one rifled gun; position of Union Mills Ford, one 6-pounder; total number of pieces, 11.

By command of General Beauregard:

THOS. JORDAN,

Assistant Adjutant-General

Subsequently, on the morning of the 17th of July, I was instructed, through Captain Ferguson, your aide-de-camp, to send immediately, via Camp Walker, to the farm house on the hill just this side of the encampment of the company then holding Union Mills Ford, the pieces of my battalion designated for the brigades of Ewell and Early and the one for the defense of said ford, and enter into communication with General Ewell and Colonel Early and await their orders. The other parts of my battalion and my command it was ordered should take post at or near McLean’s farm, and await orders. In obedience to these instructions I at once, upon receipt of the last orders, moved my whole command to the positions indicated, and reported to the officers of the brigades respectively. A battery of four guns, two 12-pounder howitzers and two rifled guns, under command of Lieutenants Rosser, Lewis, and Slocomb, were sent to Union Mills Ford, and reported to General Ewell. A section of a battery–one rifled 6-pounder and one 12-pounder howitzer–under Lieutenant Squires, commanding, and Lieutenant Richardson reported to Colonel Early near Union Mills Ford. The other parts of my battalion, 6-pounder guns and one 12-pounder howitzer, under my immediate command, took position on McLean’s farm, commanding McLean’s Ford, there awaiting your further orders. About 6 o’clock p.m. 17th ultimo I received from yourself in person orders to go at an early hour in the morning to Union Mills Ford with one 12-pounder howitzer in addition to the battery I had previously ordered to that position upon the road.

Whilst crossing Camp Walker I encountered Colonel Early, in command of his brigade, who communicated to me an order to exchange two rifled guns of Rosser’s battery for two howitzers, one of Squires’ section and one I was conducting to Union Mills Ford, which was promptly accomplished. The distribution of the batteries and command then was as follows:

Four 12-pounder howitzers, Lieutenant Rosser, Union Mills Ford; three 6-pounder rifled guns, Lieutenant Squires, with Colonel Early’s brigade; two 6-pounders, under Lieutenant Whittington and Lieutenant Adam, at McLean’s farm house; two 6-pounders, under Lieutenant Garnett, at Blackburn’s Ford; two 6-pounders, under Captain Miller, at McLean’s Ford.

Subsequently the two 6-pounders of Lieutenant Garnett and the two of Lieutenant Whittington were joined with the three rifled guns of Lieutenant Squires, making his command seven guns, which were all of the battalion of the Washington Artillery actually engaged in the action of the 18th ultimo. The two guns under Captain Miller, with Jones’ brigade, though frequently in position and under fire, did not become engaged. The battery under Lieutenant Rosser, with which I remained, under the orders received on the evening of the 17th ultimo, was constantly in position during the day, in momentary expectation of an attack on that point from the enemy, who had been seen the evening before and during the entire day reconnoitering our position, small squads frequently emerging from the woods on the other side of the ford near the railroad. This battery, however, had no opportunity of firing a gun, thus disappointing as brave and efficient a command as any in the engagement on that memorable day.

In consequence of my absence from that part of the field where the engagement took place I am obliged to refer you to the annexed copy of the report of Lieutenant Squires, who commanded the seven guns engaged in the action, from which, general, you will be enabled to estimate the gallant services which that small portion of my command rendered in that artillery duel against the odds of more than two to one. My loss in this engagement was six wounded–Captain Eshleman, Fourth Company; Privates Zebel, Tarleton, and G. W. Muse, of First Company, and Privates Baker and Tully, of Third Company. Private Muse died during the night from the effect of his wounds.

I would ask your attention to the report of Lieutenant Squires in relation to the brave conduct of the officers and non-commissioned officers especially named by him, and avail myself of the opportunity afforded me to confirm his report of the gallant conduct of all the officers and the rank and file who were so fortunate as to be engaged on that day.

To Lieutenant Squires is due great credit for his coolness, skill, and daring under the peculiar circumstances by which he was surrounded. Never before having been under fire, and having under his command guns and men other than those of his own company, he on all hands is acknowledged, assisted by the devotion and courage of the brave officers and men who acted with him, to have done much towards the accomplishment of a wonderful victory, as honorable to his State and his corps as gratifying to his companions and  to his country.

I have the honor to be, general, your obedient servant,

J. B. WALTON,

Major, Commanding

General P. G. T. BEAUREGARD, C. S. A.,

Commanding First Corps, Army of the Potomac








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