#76 – Brig. Gen. James Longstreet

20 03 2009

Report of Brig. Gen. James Longstreet, C. S. Army, of Action at Blackburn’s Ford

O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 2 [S# 2] — CHAPTER IX, pp. 461-463

SIR: I have the honor to report that in obedience to the orders of the general commanding I took my position at this ford on the 17th instant, my brigade being composed of the First, Eleventh, and Seventeenth Regiments of Virginia Volunteers. My line of defense being quite extended, I threw out a line of skirmishers to the water’s edge, covering my entire front, holding strong reserves in readiness to defend with the bayonet any point that might be violently attacked.

At 11.30 o’clock a.m. on the 18th my pickets reported the enemy advancing upon the ford in heavy columns of infantry and a strong artillery force. At 12 m. the pickets retired without firing. My artillery (two pieces) were placed in convenient position, with orders to retire the moment it was ascertained that our pieces were commanded by those of the enemy. The first shot from his battery discovered the advantage of his position, and our artillery was properly withdrawn. A fire from the artillery of the enemy was kept up about half an hour, when their infantry was advanced to the attack. He made an assault with a column of three or four thousand of his infantry, which, with a comparatively small force of fresh troops, was with some difficulty repelled. A second and more determined attack was made after a few minutes, which was driven back by the skirmishers, and the companies of the reserve thrown in at the most threatened and weakest points. I then sent a staff officer to Colonel Early for one of the reserve regiments of his brigade. Before the arrival of that regiment a third, though not so severe, attack was made and repulsed. Colonel Hays, Seventh Regiment Louisiana Volunteers, came in and promptly took position in time to assist in driving back the enemy the fourth time, when I ordered the advance, and called on Colonel Early for the balance of his brigade. The passage of the stream was so narrow and difficult, however, that I soon found it would be impossible to make a simultaneous movement, and ordered the troops that had succeeded in crossing to return to their positions. A few small parties, under command of Captain Marye, Seventeenth Regiment Virginia Volunteers, who behaved with great gallantry, met parties of the enemy on the other side of the stream with the bayonet, and drove them back. Colonel Early, with the balance of his brigade, Seventh Regiment Virginia Volunteers, commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Williams, and the Twenty-fourth Regiment Virginia Volunteers, commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Hairston, arrived in time to receive the fire of the last attack, but had not been placed in a position where they could fire with effect upon the enemy.

The presence of these regiments probably intimidated the enemy as much as the fire of the troops that met him.  Immediately after this attack the enemy’s infantry retired, and his artillery was opened upon us. The battery under Captain Eshleman was called for, and flew into position–four 6-pounders and three rifled guns. The action was thus continued for one hour, when the enemy fell back upon Centreville, some three miles. I am pleased to say that our young artillerists proved themselves equal, if not superior, to the boasted artillerists of the enemy.

Captain Eshleman was severely wounded early in the action. We lost under their artillery six–one killed, five wounded, and one horse wounded; whilst we have reason to believe that the loss of the enemy during the same fire was very much greater. Our loss from the various attacks of the infantry columns was sixty-three killed and wounded. We have no means of learning positively the probable loss of the enemy. Prisoners taken then and since report it from nine hundred to two thousand. These statements were made to myself and members of my staff by the prisoners–the first estimate by a private, the latter by a lieutenant.

I have had command of the brigade so short a time, and have been so busily occupied during that time, that I have been able to make the acquaintance of but few of the officers; I am, therefore, unable to mention them by name, as I would like to do, and must refer you to the detailed reports of the regimental commanders. The officers seemed to spring in a body to my assistance at the only critical moment. To discriminate in such a body may seem a little unjust, yet I feel that I should be doing injustice to my acquaintances were I to fail to mention their names–not that I know them to be more distinguished than some others, but that I know what I owe them. Colonel Moore, First Regiment Virginia Volunteers, severely wounded; Colonel Garland, Eleventh Regiment Virginia Volunteers, and Colonel Corse, Seventeenth Regiment Virginia Volunteers; Lieutenant-Colonels Fry, Funsten, and Munford; Majors Harrison (twice shot and mortally wounded), Brent, and Skinner, displayed more coolness and energy than is usual amongst veterans of the old service. I am particularly indebted to Lieutenant-Colonel Munford and Major Brent, who having a spare moment and seeing my great need of staff officers at a particular juncture, offered their assistance. Surgeons Cullen, Thornhill, and Davis, Assistant Surgeons Murray, Snowden, and Chalmers, were in the heat of the action much oftener than their duties required, and were exceedingly active and energetic. Lieut. F. S. Armistead, acting assistant adjutant-general, and Lieut. P. T. Manning, aide-de-camp, were very active and gallant in the discharge of their duties. Capt. Thomas Walton and Capt. Macon Thompson, volunteer aids, under their first fire and in their first service, are worthy of their newly-adopted profession. Under a terrific fire these staff officers seemed to take peculiar delight in having occasion to show to those around them their great confidence in our cause and our success.

I inclose the reports of the different commanders, and refer to them for the names of the killed and wounded of their commands.

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

JAMES LONGSTREET,

Brigadier-General

Col. THOMAS JORDAN,

Assistant Adjutant-General





#75 – Brig. Gen. David R. Jones

20 03 2009

Report of Brig. Gen. David R. Jones, C. S. Army, of Operations at McClean’s Ford

O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 2 [S# 2] — CHAPTER IX, p. 461

HEADQUARTERS THIRD BRIGADE,

Camp Pettus, August 3, 1861

In obedience to instructions conveyed by circular of the 1st of August, instant, I have the honor to submit the following report of my brigade, at that time composed of the Fifth South Carolina Regiment and Seventeenth and Eighteenth Regiments of Mississippi Volunteers, for the 18th day of July, during the battle fought on that day at Blackburn’s Ford, on Bull Run:

My command was placed in position at McLean’s Ford, on Bull Run, and did not participate in the engagement of that date. The enemy in some force occupied a position on Rocky Run, about one mile and a half in front and to the left of my position, and were prevented from making a nearer reconnaissance of our lines by the vigilance of my pickets, which were kept well in advance.

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

D. R. JONES,

Brigadier-General, Commanding

Col. THOMAS JORDAN

Act. Asst. Adjt. Gen., First Corps, Army of the Potomac





#74 – Col. R. E. Rodes

17 03 2009

Report of Col. R. E. Rodes, Fifth Alabama Infantry, of Skirmish at Fairfax Court-House

O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 2 [S# 2] — CHAPTER IX, pp. 459-461

UNION MILLS STATION, Fairfax County, Va., July 24, 1861

CAPTAIN: In obedience to General Ewell’s instructions, I have the honor to present herein a statement in relation to the skirmish which occurred between a portion of my command and the enemy on the morning of the retreat of the advance guard of our Army to Bull Run and in relation to the retreat of this regiment.

On the night before the retreat referred to I sent Captain Shelley’s company (E) armed with rifled muskets, to sustain my advance guard.

This company had remained at the outpost on Braddock’s old road, some three and one-half miles from the regiment, until 7 a.m. on the morning of the 17th instant, when they returned towards camp to get provisions, having been sent off in such a hurry as to prevent their making preparations for breakfast, and had gotten within three-fourths of a mile of camp before the approach of the enemy was announced to them by one of my couriers coming in with a prisoner, who had been taken by a sentinel (Private Wethered, of Company H). The outpost and guard fell back fighting, not very severely, but killing several of the enemy. One of the guard (Kennedy, of Company H) killed two, having taken two deliberate musket-shots from the same spot at four of the Federalists, all of whom fired at him.

Shelley’s company, having advanced again to sustain the guard, had a sharp skirmish with them. This skirmish took place four hundred yards in advance of our breastworks, which are three-quarters of a mile east of our encampment, and which were by this time occupied by the main body of my command. Our skirmishers, being completely outflanked, retired in good order to their station in the barricades. The enemy did not follow them then, nor had they followed them twenty minutes after, when an officer of the regiment, Captain Fowler, returned to the breastworks.

They had outflanked my position to the right during the skirmish, for they could be seen crossing the clearing along the edge of which we were posted in large numbers. Up to and after the close of the skirmish I had received no definite orders to retreat, but had learned that General Bonham’s command was retreating, and that the troops at Fairfax Station were about to retreat. I had sent a courier to General Ewell for instructions, and an officer, Capt. J. D. Webb, to General Bonham, with orders to remain with him until his troops began to fall back. Captain Webb found the general’s command had already evacuated  their positions at the Court-House, and were on the Centreville road, and, upon telling General Bonham his instructions from me, received from him the reply, “Tell Colonel Rodes to commence his retreat immediately, and inform General Ewell of it.” General Ewell had already advised me, but after Captain Webb left me, of General Bonham’s movements.

As soon after the message from General Bonham as I could assemble the companies on the center of our line of defenses our retreat began. We retreated without molestation and in good order to McLean’s Ford, where I reported to General Jones, marching the regiment, except one company, across Bull Run. Just before sunset I was ordered by General Beauregard, through Colonel Chisolm, to move down to Union Mills. In obedience to this order, the regiment at once recrossed the run, and joined the main body of General Ewell’s command at the mills.

The result of the skirmish may be summed up thus: On our side two men wounded slightly–one in the leg, the other in the ear; on the side of the enemy, one prisoner and at least twenty killed and wounded. This estimate I consider safe. Two prisoners taken in the battle of the 21st, who state that they were in the column which advanced along Braddock’s road, stated the loss as much heavier–one, fifty killed and wounded; the other, seventy. These reports come to me from men of this regiment who conversed with said prisoners. In our retreat we lost eight or ten tents and two barrels of crackers; but this, in the case of the tents, was because the tents were thrown out of one wagon in order to give room for the many sick men we had.

Respectfully, your obedient servant,

R. E. RODES,

Colonel, Commanding Fifth Regiment Alabama Volunteers

Capt. FITZHUGH LEE,

Act. Asst. Adjt. Gen., Second Brigade, Army of the Potomac





#73 – Capt. Del. Kemper

16 03 2009

Report of Capt. Del. Kemper, Alexandria/Light Artillery, of Retreat from Fairfax Court-House and Skirmish at Mitchell’s Ford

O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 2 [S# 2] — CHAPTER IX, pp. 458-459

ARTILLERY QUARTERS ADVANCED FORCES:

FIRST BRIG., FIRST CORPS, ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,

Vienna, July 25, 1861

GENERAL: On the morning of Wednesday, the 17th instant, while in camp at Fairfax Court-House, about 7 a.m. I received information from you of the approach of the enemy, and a reiteration of orders previously given in regard to the disposition of my guns. Two were at once placed in battery in front of Colonel Williams’ regiment, on the Alexandria turnpike, and two in front of Colonel Kershaw’s position, on the Falls Church road. At 8 o’clock the enemy came in sight on the Flint Hill road, and orders were received to fall back. In conjunction with Colonel Kershaw’s regiment and Captain Wickham’s troop I enjoyed the privilege of covering this retreat, the rear guard being under Colonel Kershaw’s command, to whose report [No. 67] I beg to refer for any additional details. The enemy seemed not disposed to press us closely, and we reached Centreville without incident worthy of note about 12 m., and rested until midnight, when the march was resumed to Bull Run.

We arrived at Mitchell’s Ford a little before daybreak on the morning of the 18th. Two of my guns were posted on the hill in front of the trenches at Mitchell’s Ford; the others in the trenches. At 12 m. (Thursday, 18th) the enemy opened fire from one or more rifled guns in front of our position at a distance of one and one-half miles. This firing was completely at random until 12.30 o’clock, when they obtained the range of my position and fired many rounds of case and solid shot at us, but without  injury to us, while a light battery moved up toward us. I then opened fire upon the latter, firing six solid shot, and had the satisfaction of driving back the battery and its supports. I have since understood that this was Sherman’s battery, and that the amount of damage done them was considerable. We at once retired to the trenches in obedience to your orders.

Late in the evening, about 4 o’clock, I was ordered to accompany, with one gun, Colonel Kershaw’s regiment to the hill which we had before occupied, in front of Mitchell’s Ford, for the purpose of driving a body of infantry and cavalry from the cover of the hills beyond. Two solid shot and three spherical case having accomplished this object to Colonel Kershaw’s satisfaction, we returned to our respective positions in and behind the trenches. We were inactive listeners to the heavy firing on our right, and about dusk were ordered to move with Colonel Kershaw’s regiment to the left of the intrenchments.

I am glad to be able to add that no member of my command suffered any injury during these operations.

Respectfully, general, your obedient servant

DEL. KEMPER,

Captain, Comdg. Battery of Light Artillery from Alexandria

Brigadier-General BONHAM,

Commanding. First Brigade, &c.





#72 – Col. R. C. W. Radford

15 03 2009

Report of Col. R. C. W. Radford, Thirtieth Virginia Cavalry, of Operations of Cavalry Brigade, July 17 to 20

O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 2 [S# 2] — CHAPTER IX, pp. 457-458

CAMP GREGG, VIENNA, July 27, 1861

CAPTAIN: In accordance with special order dated headquarters First Brigade, Camp Beauregard, Army of Potomac, July 23, 1861, I have the honor to report that at early dawn on the 17th instant I was informed of the approach of the enemy on Fairfax Court-House. Captain Ball’s company was sent out to watch their movements, and remained out until the main body of our forces had taken up the line of retreat, in consequence of which he was compelled to abandon a portion of his baggage. A squadron, composed of the companies of Captains Wickham and Flood, was ordered to report to Colonel Kershaw, to form a part of the rear guard of the advanced forces.

A squadron under Colonel Munford and three companies under my own command were stationed in central positions, so as to operate as might be deemed necessary. Lieutenant-Colonel Munford acted during the retreat with Colonel Bacon’s regiment, and the companies under my own command with Colonel Cash’s regiment.

The only loss sustained by the cavalry during the retreat was of Privates William Mallow and John Mays, of the company under Captain Pitzer, who were on picket duty on a very advanced post, and are supposed to have been taken prisoners by the enemy. The retreat was conducted in perfect order and to my entire satisfaction, bringing off everything, with the exception of the articles left by Captain Ball. At Centreville a halt of several hours was made, when Captains Payne and Powell were ordered with their companies to watch the movements of the enemy. Two strong pickets, under command of Lieutenants Halsey and Brocker, were also sent on the roads occupied by the enemy. A detail of five men was also made to go, during the night of the 17th instant, with Colonel Lipscomb to reconnoiter on the cross-roads leading into the Braddock road.

While making the reconnaissance this party was fired into by a scouting party of the enemy, and Private William Walton’s horse shot under him, in consequence of which he was forced to leave him with all his equipage. The party returned without further accident, and my command left Centreville at midnight for Mitchell’s Ford, on Bull Run, and took a position immediately in rear of General Bonham’s headquarters.

On the 18th instant the cavalry under my command were under fire from the enemy’s cannon for two hours, and were then ordered to occupy the position between the brigades of Generals Cocke and Bonham. After the firing had ceased I was ordered, with my command, to examine all of the fords on Bull Run and to scour the country. We continued to watch the fords until the morning of the 21st instant.

I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

R. C. W. RADFORD,

Colonel Virginia Volunteers, Comdg. Cavalry, First Brigade

Captain STEVENS,

Asst. Adjt. Gen., First Brigade, Army of the Potomac





#71 – Col. E. B. C. Cash

13 03 2009

Report of Col. E. B. C. Cash, Eighth South Carolina Infantry, of Operations July 18 and 19

O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 2 [S# 2] — CHAPTER IX, p. 457

HDQRS. EIGHTH REGIMENT SOUTH CAROLINA VOLS.,

Camp Victory, July 31, 1861

In obedience to orders from the general commanding the First Brigade, Army of the Potomac, I beg leave to submit the following report of the operations of the Eighth Regiment South Carolina Volunteers during the 18th, 19th, and 20th July instant:

Having sufficiently recovered from a serious attack of sickness I assumed command of my regiment on the morning of the 18th, and found it posted on the south side of Bull Run, on the extreme left, my right resting on the left of Colonel Williams’ Third Regiment South Carolina Volunteers. On the 18th there was heavy cannonading to the right of my position, and occasionally balls and shells were thrown very near my lines. On the 19th and 20th my position was strongly fortified by voluntary labor from my regiment. On the 19th Colonel Kershaw’s regiment was posted upon my left, and with it Captain Kemper’s battery of light artillery. I have the honor to be, general, your obedient servant,

E. B. C. CASH,

Colonel Eighth Regiment South Carolina Volunteers

Brig. Gen. M. L. BONHAM





#70 – Lieut. Col. J. W. Henagan

12 03 2009

Report of Lieut. Col. J. W. Henagan, Commanding Eighth South Carolina Infantry, of Operations July 17 and 18

O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 2 [S# 2] — CHAPTER IX, pp. 455-457

HDQRS. EIGHTH REG’T SOUTH CAROLINA VOLS.,

Camp Victor, Vienna, July 29, 1861

In obedience to General Orders, No.–, from headquarters First Brigade, Army of the Potomac, I ask leave to report the operations of the Eighth Regiment South Carolina Volunteers from the morning of the 17th to the 18th instant, inclusive, during which time, in consequence of the illness of Colonel Cash, the command devolved upon me.

At a very early hour on the morning of the 17th repeated and rapid discharges of artillery and musketry were reported at a distance of from two to three miles to my right. This proved to be an attack by the advance guard of the enemy’s columns upon pickets stationed on the Falls Church and Alexandria roads. These pickets having been driven in, orders from brigade headquarters required me to take position behind the intrenchments which had been thrown up at a distance of three hundred yards in front of my camp on both sides of the road leading from Germantown towards the Flint Hill school-house, and known as the Old Georgetown road. A gun from Captain Shields’ howitzer battery had been previously placed in position on the right of this road, and was in charge of Lieutenant McCarthy. For the protection of this piece I threw Company G, Captain Harrington, into the trenches on the right, and detailed Company C, Captain Coit, to operate as skirmishers in the woods on the extreme right of the earthworks. Company D, Captain Miller, was deployed at a distance of one hundred and fifty yards in front and on the left of my position. Company A, Captain Hoole, was on picket at a barricade one and a quarter miles in advance, on the Flint Hill road, and Captain Hough, of Company B, with part of his command, was on picket at a point on the Fox Mill road about one mile to the left of Captain Hoole. The remainder of Company B, under Lieutenant Johnson, was stationed at a stone bridge one and a quarter miles from Germantown, on the Little River turnpike, in the direction of Centreville. These pickets had been placed overnight, and received orders at a very early hour from brigade headquarters to dispute every inch of ground if driven in during the day.

The firing which had been first heard upon the right gradually inclined towards the left, indicating a movement towards my front. A few minutes before 8 o’clock the enemy appeared in large force, advancing upon the barricade behind which Captain Hoole was stationed–his skirmishers beating the woods on both sides and far to the left. Captain Hoole retired upon the nearer approach of the column, and fell back upon the line of skirmishers in my front. The noise of axes at the barricades and the words of command given by those who were in charge of the party by whom it was cut away were distinctly heard by Captain Coit at his advanced position. I had as yet received no orders to draw in my pickets, although the enemy could now be plainly seen deploying across the road at a distance of four hundred to five hundred yards in front of my line. The delay on the part of the enemy in advancing immediately upon my position led me to suspect a flank movement was intended upon my left, and this, if successful, would have necessarily involved the sacrifice of Captain Hough’s command. My surmise was soon confirmed by the rapid movement of the enemy’s skirmishers to the left in squads of four or five, while his advance still bore slowly down on my front.

Although I had been advised of the original purpose of the commanding general to fall back upon Centreville and Bull Run, the apparent impossibility of now withdrawing in safety from the immediate presence of a largely superior force led me to suppose that there had been a change in the plan of operations, and that it was expected a stand should be made in our present position. I communicated this supposition to the men of my command, and it is due them to say that the degree of alacrity with which they assumed the positions assigned them severally and the coolness with which they prepared to meet the overwhelming numbers immediately opposing them entitle them to most honorable mention. At this critical juncture, and as he was on the point of opening fire upon the advancing enemy, Lieutenant McCarthy received orders to withdraw his gun from position and rejoin his battery. My command was thus left unsupported, while I was every instant expecting my skirmishers to engage those of the enemy. The distance between the enemy’s advance and my skirmishers was reduced to less than one hundred yards before I received orders to withdraw my command and take position in the retreating column. I immediately dispatched two of the mounted staff to the relief of the skirmishers and pickets, and filed out of the trenches, retiring in good order through Germantown to the Centreville road, where the column had been halted and awaited my coming. I was for some time fearful that the detached companies which I had been compelled to leave on duty would be cut off before they could rejoin the regiment, and this would certainly have been the case but for the personal exertions of Col. R. D. Howard, volunteer aide-de-camp to the colonel, and Capt. J. C. McClenaghan, regimental quartermaster, who at the imminent peril of their own safety sought and conducted across the fields the skirmishing parties and pickets, and overtook the column near Centreville. Two shots were fired upon Captain Hough’s command as it passed through Germantown, but without effect.

At Centreville the column was halted, and my regiment assigned to position on the crest of the hill on the left of the road leading to Fairfax Court-House and behind the Brown Church. Here I was ordered to remain in line of battle, with my right next the road and fronting the approach from Fairfax Court-House. I detailed Company H, Captain Singletary, to take position as picket in the woods about one mile in front of my line, and Companies I, Captain Stackhouse, and G, Captain Harrington, were deployed as skirmishers at a distance of two hundred yards in front, extending from the turnpike to the Chantilly road.

At 12 o’clock p.m. my picket came in and reported the presence of the enemy in the woods near their late position. This was communicated to brigade headquarters, and at 1 o’clock I was ordered to draw in my outposts and join the column retiring towards Manassas. This was quietly done, my skirmishers reporting the sound of the tramp of men in the woods immediately in their front. At daybreak the column reached Bull Run. I left two companies, K, Captain S, and D, Captain Miller, on the north side of the run, to picket the Centreville road until the rear guard should come in, and, crossing at Mitchell’s Ford, I was ordered into position on the extreme left, my right resting on Colonel Williams’ Third Regiment South Carolina Volunteers, and my left extending to the distance of one mile above the ford. The regiment still occupying this position, Colonel Cash appeared in the lines early on Thursday and resumed command.

Respectfully submitted.

JNO. W. HENAGAN,

Lieutenant-Colonel, Commanding Eighth S.C. Volunteers





#69 – Col. T. G. Bacon

10 03 2009

Report of Col. T. G. Bacon, Seventh South Carolina Infantry, of Skirmish at Mitchell’s Ford

O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 2 [S# 2] — CHAPTER IX, pp. 454-455

HDQRS. SEVENTH REG’T SOUTH CAROLINA VOLS.,

August 2, 1861

GENERAL: In obedience to an order received from headquarters First Brigade, Army of the Potomac, of this date, issued pursuant to an order of August 1, received from Manassas as, I have the honor to submit the following report:

Early on the morning of the 18th July the enemy appeared on a high hill about twelve hundred yards from the intrenchments in which the Seventh South Carolina Regiment was placed, on the northwest side of the road leading from Mitchell’s Ford over Bull Run to Centreville. By 9 a.m. of that day they had located their batteries, and forthwith commenced firing upon the embankments behind which we were situated, throwing both shot and shell. Random firing was kept up during the day against this and adjacent points until the close of the battle fought by General Longstreet’s brigade, situated below and to the right of the Seventh Regiment. The batteries were rifled and 6-pounder cannon, throwing 6-pound round shot and 12-pound conical shell. No injury was received by the Seventh Regiment from any of the shots, nor did anything occur further worthy of mentioning.(*)

Respectfully submitted.

THOS. G. BACON,

Colonel, Commanding Seventh Regiment S.C. Volunteers

Brig. Gen. M. L. Bonham,

Commanding First Brigade, &c.

(*) See report No. 90, post





#68 – Col. J. H. Williams

9 03 2009

Report of Col. J. H. Williams, Third South Carolina Infantry, of Retreat from Fairfax Court-House and Skirmish at Mitchell’s Ford

O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 2 [S# 2] — CHAPTER IX, pp. 453-454

CAMP GREGG, Vienna, Va., August 2, 1861

I have the honor to report that I occupied the advanced position on the main turnpike road leading from Fairfax Court House to Alexandria when the enemy appeared in movement on the morning of the 17th upon the advanced forces at Fairfax. My baggage train, which had been kept in readiness, was immediately forwarded in the direction of Bull Run, carrying everything of value. My two companies on picket at the barricade across the Alexandria turnpike road, three miles from camp, and therefore in danger of being cut off by the column of the enemy advancing along the Flint Hill road, were called in, and my regiment marched through Fairfax to a position on the right of the road in front of Colonel Bacon’s camp, the right wing of the battalion being stationed behind the intrenchments, the left wing drawn up under the hill to the left of the works. When the line of march was taken up I followed in rear of Colonel Withers as far as Centreville, and arriving at that place deployed my regiment on the right, occupying the village.  This position I held until ordered to Bull Run, following in rear of the artillery. Arriving there, I deployed along the right bank of the stream, my right resting on the left of the intrenched works, my left extending up the stream across the road which leads from Mitchell’s Ford along the right bank. My men, though much fatigued and in want of sleep, completed by 10 o’clock a.m. temporary breastworks of timber and brushwood, and awaited under arms the attack of the enemy, who soon after appeared in heavy force in our front and opened a brisk cannonade upon our whole line. One of my companies (Captain Jones’, on picket across the stream at Roberts’ house) received several well directed fires of the enemy, but retired under orders without loss. The enemy’s fire was kept up at intervals until 5 o’clock p.m., many of their missiles passing above and falling around us, but without doing any damage.

My regiment was not engaged in the musketry fire on the right in the afternoon of the 18th, being  in position in expectation of an attack upon the center of our general line.

I must here express my high appreciation of the soldierly qualities and bearing of the troops under my command exhibited in the march from Fairfax, which was certainly a dangerous and trying one, and of their conduct while under fire. Of their fortitude, courage, and the prompt execution of all orders under such unfavorable circumstances I cannot speak too highly. On every occasion I received the active cooperation of all the field and staff officers and all the officers and men under my command.

Very respectfully,

J. H. WILLIAMS,

Colonel Third Regiment South Carolina Volunteers

Brig. Gen. M. L. BONHAM,

Commanding First Brigade, Army of the Potomac





#67 – Col. J. B. Kershaw

8 03 2009

Report of Col. J. B. Kershaw, Second South Carolina Infantry, of Retreat from Fairfax Court-House and Skirmish at Mitchell’s Ford

O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 2 [S# 2] — CHAPTER IX, pp.451-453

HDQRS. SECOND PALMETTO REG’T, SOUTH CAROLINA VOLS.,

Vienna, Va., July 26, 1861

GENERAL: In obedience to your order, as soon as I could obtain the proper materials, I proceed to report the operations of my command from the 17th to 21st instant, inclusive, in two separate reports:

In accordance with your orders I had prepared my command to cover the movement of the advance forces from Fairfax Court-House to Bull Run whenever it should be ascertained that the enemy were approaching our position in overwhelming force. On the morning of the 17th, at an early hour, the drums of the enemy announced their movement towards Fairfax Court-House, and soon after sunrise one of the pickets stationed on the road from Flint Hill to the Falls Church road, midway between the two points, was seen rapidly retreating across the field, having two pickets of fifty men each, consisting of Captain Haile’s company and a part of Captain Rhett’s, all under the command of Captain Haile, stationed on the Falls Church road, one-half under Lieutenant Canty, two miles distant from camp, the remainder about a mile farther at the barricades, under Captain Haile in person, whose orders required that they should engage the enemy when he appeared and fall back fighting.

I at once apprehended that they would be flanked and cut off, since their left was entirely uncovered by the retreat of the picket first mentioned. Accordingly, accompanied by Mr. A. E. Doby, of my staff, I visited the pickets, instructing them to fall back one upon the other, and both to retire together so soon as it was ascertained that the enemy had passed them to the left. Hearing firing in the direction of Flint Hill, I rode to the point whence the picket had retreated, and found the enemy’s skirmishers occupying the open ground, as far as could be seen in the direction of the Vienna road, with a heavy column occupying the woods in their rear, but not at that time advancing. I returned to Captain Haile’s picket, renewed my caution, caused a barricade to be erected at the position of my nearest picket, and ordered them forward to the intersection of the Flint Hill road, to support Captain Haile and to observe the approach of the enemy along that road. Having made these dispositions I returned to camp, and found my regiment drawn up on their parade ground, tents and baggage packed and sent off as far as transportation had been provided for them, and ready for movement.

At this time I received your order in person directing me to recall the pickets, and immediately dispatched Mr. Edward Wallace, of my staff, for that purpose. I posted the companies of Captains Hoke and Cuthbert in the woods to the right of the Falls Church road, Captain Casson in reserve in front of my camp upon the road, Captain Rhett, with the remainder of his company, in front in the log-house on the road, Captain Perryman’s rifles in a wood in front of the left of the trenches, Kemper’s battery, with two pieces, occupying the trenches. By this rime the enemy, after firing a few cannon shot, had deployed their line of battle directly in front and to the left of Captain Perryman’s position, and it was announced to me that the movement to Bull Run had already been commenced by the withdrawal of Colonel Williams from his original position on the Alexandria road. I placed in position at the entrance of them into Fairfax Court-House three companies of infantry, under command of Lieutenant-Colonel Jones, and threw Captain Casson’s company on the hill on the left of the road at the hospital, placing a section of Kemper’s battery in position at the Court-House.

Receiving your orders to fall back, anxious for the safety of my picket, who had not yet returned, the enemy being now far in the rear of the position where the pickets had been posted, I went forward with Captain Hoke’s company and Captain Rhett’s to the hill near Wilcoxson’s, where I awaited their arrival. Shortly after they appeared, and my movement commenced. Withdrawing all the companies and Kemper’s battery from the Falls Church road, I occupied with them, alternating with the detachment of Lieutenant-Colonel Jones, each successive intrenchment from that point to the Germantown road as they were severally vacated by the regiments in charge of them, having in the mean time been re-enforced by the arrival of Captain Wickham’s squadron of cavalry, composed of his own and Captain Flood’s company.

Arrived at the fork of the road, I moved one battalion towards Germantown to replace Colonel Cash, and took position on the Centreville road on the hill commanding the village of Fairfax with two pieces of artillery and the other battalion, directing the other two pieces to take position in the rear at the intersection of the cross-road from Germantown, to which the first battalion had been directed to proceed. So soon as Colonel Cash had advanced sufficiently on his march I moved the whole command in good order to Centreville without interference, where we took position, much fatigued from the excessive heat of the day, at Artillery Hill.

At midnight I was informed that the march had been resumed to Bull Run, and so soon as all the troops had left the village of Centreville I put my command in motion in the following order: First, the cavalry; second, Kemper’s battery; third, infantry, with a small cavalry vedette a short distance in the rear. In this order we marched without interruption to Mitchell’s Ford, Bull Run, where my regiment resumed the position which they had occupied some weeks before in the intrenchments of their own construction. Two pieces of Kemper’s battery were placed in position in the trenches on the left of the road, the remaining two placed under direction on  Kemper’s Hill north of the run, also on the left of the road. The cavalry were directed to return to their regiment.

On the 18th instant Captain Wallace’s company was stationed at Butler’s, on the Centreville road, to observe the approach of the enemy. While there an officer of the enemy, or employe’ in their quartermaster’s department, O’Brien by name, rode up to Captain Wallace and asked for General McDowell. Immediately perceiving his mistake he drew his pistol and turned to make his escape, but was immediately killed by Captain Wallace’s men. Later in the day the enemy appeared in force, and Captain Wallace withdrew his company. Captains Perryman and Cuthbert were thrown out in the morning with their companies to support Kemper’s half battery on the hill, which was commanded by Captain Kemper in person.

About noon a heavy artillery fire was opened upon our lines from the enemy’s artillery posted near Rough’s, which continued for some time without response on our part; but the range of Captain Kemper’s position, having been ascertained by the enemy, and their fire becoming more threatening, Captain Kemper fired a half dozen apparently most effective shots and retired in safety to the trenches, covered by Captains Perryman’s and Cuthbert’s rifles. After a few shots at this retreating party the enemy turned their attention almost exclusively to the troops posted to the right of our brigade. During the day there were many narrow escapes in the trenches occupied by my regiment, and the bravery and spirit of my whole command was strikingly displayed in their contempt of the danger and their eagerness for a nearer approach of the enemy.

About 4 o’clock in the afternoon, by your direction, I detached the companies of Captains Hoke, Cuthbert, Casson, and Haile, and assuming the command myself, with one piece of Captain Kemper’s artillery, under his own command, reoccupied Kemper’s Hill. Reconnoitering with Messrs. Doby and Wallace, of my staff, it was ascertained that the enemy occupied in force the graveyard near Holden’s and the ravine between Holden’s and Robert’s house with skirmishers in the open field on their right. After three shots from Kemper’s battery, which produced evident confusion in the enemy’s ranks, I received an order from General Beauregard to return immediately, which was promptly obeyed. Soon after the enemy ceased firing and withdrew. About sunset, by your order, my regiment moved with Captain Kemper’s battery and took position on the left of your command, where we remained without incident until Sunday, the 21st instant.

One unpleasant feature of the abandonment of Fairfax Court-House was the loss of much private baggage, some tents, knapsacks, and camp kettles, and all the hospital stores, for the want of sufficient transportation, which this regiment has never had. The knapsacks of Captains Rhett’s and Haile’s companies were lost in consequence of those companies being on picket guard when the movement commenced, and time was not afforded them to recover them.

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

J. B. Kershaw,

Colonel Second Regiment South Carolina Volunteers

Brig. Gen. M. L. BONHAM

Commanding First Brigade, &c.








Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 838 other followers