#2 – Col. Orlando B. Willcox

15 02 2009

Reports of Col. Orlando B. Willcox, First Michigan Infantry, of Skirmish at Fairfax Court-House

O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 2 [S# 2] — CHAPTER IX, pp 309-310

HEADQUARTERS SECOND BRIGADE, THIRD DIVISION,

Fairfax Station, July 17, 1861

SIR: After leaving the Old Fairfax road this noon with my brigade, we proceeded with an advance guard in skirmishing order and pioneers with axes, and felt our way until the skirmishers came upon this point. The enemy fled precipitately without firing a shot, but we succeeded in capturing a sergeant, a corporal, and nine men, belonging to the First Alabama Rifle Regiment. They occupied two camps, and are reported to have been two regiments, of about 1,000 men each, from Alabama and Louisiana. We found every evidence of hasty departure—provisions; fires burning; a box of medical instruments, partly consumed; a secession flag, &c., in their camps. Our most extended skirmishers towards the left saw also some cavalry scattering and flying.

The enemy must have been early apprised of our coming, but whether their main body had left before we commenced cutting the road I cannot tell. The earthworks were, as supposed, near the railroad. There was a masked earthwork in the woods farther about a mile west of the station, but no guns in any of them. I await the colonel’s further orders at this point, having promptly returned after following the Fairfax road two and a half miles and communicating with Colonel Miles.

Very respectfully,

O. B. WILLCOX,

Colonel, Commanding Second Brigade

Capt. C. McKEEVER,

Assistant Adjutant-General, Third Division

[Indorsement]

This is the only secession flag captured during the first Bull Run campaign.

S. P. HEINTZELMAN,

Colonel Seventeenth United States Infantry

—–

FAIRFAX STATION, July 18, 1861

Capt. J. B. FRY,

Assistant Adjutant-General, Fairfax Court-House:

SIR: I have just received a dispatch from Colonel Heintzelman. He is still at Sangster’s, waiting orders. Not knowing whether he has succeeded in communicating with you otherwise, I deem it best to report the fact myself.

I can get guides to Wolf Run Shoals and Bacon Race Church. I deem it necessary to have both telegraphic and railway communication with Alexandria. Have sent word to this effect to General Runyon, and hope it is approved by General McDowell, but would respectfully suggest that orders be issued.

If we could have struck this point and Sangster’s about three hours earlier we might have taken about three thousand prisoners. The bridges beyond have been burnt by the enemy.

Very respectfully,

O. B. WILLCOX,

Colonel, Commanding Second Brigade

Please forward the inclosed. Can I have a small mounted party of soldiers for carrying dispatches? I have to communicate with yourself, Colonel Heintzelman, and Alexandria, and the horses have to be taken from the teams.

Respectfully, &c.,

O. B. W.





#16 – Casualties, Tyler’s Division, July 21, 1861

14 02 2009

O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 2 [S# 2] — CHAPTER IX, p 351

16p351

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#6 – USA Artillery Lost July 21, 1861

13 02 2009

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

6p328

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#6 – USA Casualties July 21, 1861

11 02 2009

O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 2 [S# 2] — CHAPTER IX, p 327

6p327

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#120 – CSA Estimate of USA Troop Strengths July 21, 1861

10 02 2009

O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 2 [S# 2] — CHAPTER IX, p 569

120p569 Click for clearer image





#1 – USA Troop Strengths July 16-17, 1861

8 02 2009

O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 2 [S# 2] — CHAPTER IX, p 309

 

 

1p309

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#1 – Brig. Gen. Irvin McDowell

7 02 2009

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

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

GENERAL ORDERS, No. 17

HDQRS. DEP’T N. E. VIRGINIA,

Arlington, July 16, 1861

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By command of Brigadier-General McDowell:

JAMES B. FRY,

A. A. G.

—–

FAIRFAX COURT-HOUSE, July 17, 1861

Lieut. Col. E. D. TOWNSEND,

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

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

Most respectfully, your obedient servant,

IRVIN McDOWELL,

Brigadier-General

—–

HDQRS. DEPARTMENT NORTHEASTERN VIRGINIA,

Fairfax Court-House, July 18, 1861

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

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

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

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

IRVIN McDOWELL,

Brigadier-General, Commanding

Lieut. Col. E. D. TOWNSEND,

Assistant Adjutant-General, Headquarters Army

—–

HDQRS. DEPARTMENT NORTHEASTERN VIRGINIA,

Centreville, July 19, 1861–12.30 a.m.

 Brigadier-General TYLER,

Commanding First Division:

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

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

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

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

Very respectfully, &c.,

 [IRVIN McDOWELL]

—–

HDQRS. DEPARTMENT NORTHEASTERN VIRGINIA,

Centreville, Va., July 19, 1861

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

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

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

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

 IRVIN McDOWELL,

Brigadier-General, Commanding

Lieut. Col. E. D. TOWNSEND,

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

—–

[Inclosure]

GENERAL ORDERS, No. 19

HDQRS. DEP’T. N. E. VIRGINIA,

Fairfax Court-House, July 18, 1861

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

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

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

By command of General McDowell:

JAMES B. FRY,

Assistant Adjutant-General

—–

HDQRS, DEPARTMENT NORTHEASTERN VIRGINIA,

Centreville, July 20, 1861

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

IRVIN McDOWELL

Brigadier-General

Lieut. Col. E. D. TOWNSEND,

Assistant Adjutant-General, Headquarters of the Army

Table – USA Troop Strengths July 16-17, 1861





Blackburn’s Ford

2 02 2009

So far this site has been mostly silent on the fight at Blackburn’s Ford on July 18, 1861.  It was initially known as the Battle of (or at) Bull (or Bull’s) Run, before the bigger battle three days later.  I’m not really sure why I chose to treat the actions separately, but I’ve changed my mind.  I’m going to go back and start posting the ORs pertaining to Blackburn’s Ford.  For now, the actions in the Valley will not be a part of this site, though that may change at some point.

I think I’m also going to try to post the tables from the ORs as well – numbers and losses.  This requires a little more work converting the files into images that I can post, but I think I have the hang of it.

I hope you enjoyed the last few of letters from W. T. Sherman and T. J. Goree.  Other letters and diaries to come.  Be sure to read the comments to these – I have some pretty bright readers who contribute mightily to this site via the comments section.





#82d – Brig. Gen. S. R. Gist, Maj. R. A. Howard, Capt. A. Vander Horst

20 01 2009

Supplemental Report

Report of States Rights Gist, R. A. Howard, and A. Vander Horst

SUPPLEMENT TO THE O.R. – VOL.1: REPORTS ADDENDUM TO SERIES I, VOL. 2, pp 191-193

General [Barnard Elliott] Bee was ordered to Camp Walker on Saturday, July 20, where he remained with his command until Sunday morning.  About 5 o’clock a.m. Sunday, General Bee received orders from General [Pierre Gustave T.] Beauregard to advance his command to the left of General [Thomas Jonathan] Jackson’s Brigade and to support either General Jackson’s or [Philip St. George] Cocke’s commands near Stone Bridge.

Immediately he put his Brigade, consisting of the Second Mississippi, Colonel [William C.] Falkner; the Fourth Alabama, Colonel [Egbert J.] Jones; two companies of the Eleventh Mississippi under command of Lieutenant-Colonel [Philip F.] Liddell; and a battery of four 6-pounders under Captain [John D.] Imboden, in motion and advance in pursuance of his orders until he came up with General Jackson’s Brigade, when he formed his command in close column by Division on the left of Jackson and to the right of Cocke’s command.

General Bee, in a few minutes after taking his position, was informed that the enemy had [illegible] their turning our left flank; he instantly sent his Brigade in motion and advanced by the left flank in the direction of the enemy passing by General Cocke’scommand, after a conference with him.

After advancing about one mile, General Bee formed his line of battle by placing the battery of Captain Imboden in the right and near to a house on a small eminence; Colonel [William M.] Gardner’s Regiment to the left of the battery; Colonel Falkner’s Regiment to the right of the battery; and Colonel [Egbert J.] Jones’ Regiment to the right of Colonel Falkner.  [He sent] forward the two companies of Lieutenant [Philip Frank] Liddell to support a battery attached to the command of General [Nathan George] Evans at the request of General Evans, who approached and conferred with General Bee at the moment of his formation of line of battle.

At this time, Evans’ Brigade was to the front and right of General Bee’s Brigade and about engaging the enemy.  Evans requested General Bee to advance to his assistance as his force was small.  General Bee instantly advanced the regiments of Colonel Falkner and Jones to his assistance.

A portion of Evans’ Brigade about this time engaged the advance guard of the enemy.  General Bee advanced his regiments to the front and right about 400 yards, formed the Second Mississippi in line in rear of a piece of woods and the Fourth Alabama on a line of fence to the right about 150 yards in advance of the Second Mississippi Regiment and on the right of Evans’ line.

General Bee was just before this informed by Evans that a column of the enemy was advancing on his right and rear.  General Bee ordered the Second Mississippi Regiment to advance through the woods and engage the enemy, the regiment of Evans, supposed to be the Fourth South Carolina Volunteers, having at this time retired from their position in front.  He also ordered the Fourth Alabama regiment which was there under fire to advance and led them in person, under a most disastrous fire to the top of the hill in front of the former position of the regiment.

At this time the Second Mississippi, the Fourth Alabama, the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Liddell and Imboden’s Battery were engaging the enemy with great vigor.  General Bee retired his line after a close and severe engagement with an overpowering force of the enemy for on-half to three-quarters of an hour.

From this period to his fall from a mortal wound, General Bee led each regiment and seven companies of his command into the hottest fire.  He displayed almost superhuman energy in rallying his forces and charging again and again.  His staff are of the opinion that General Bee first retired his line in consequence of the information given him by Evans, that a column of the enemy were cutting him off by the rear and right, which information was an entire mistake, as the column proved to be friends.  For the last action of the regiment, in the after part of the day, we would refer to the reports of the commanding officers.

General Bee fell whilst leading two companies of the Second Mississippi under Captain [Merritt B.] Miller and a portion of the Fourth Alabama regiment into the midst of the enemy’s fire.  He was borne from the field by his staff and died the next day.  He testified again and again to the bravery and gallantry of officers and privates of his command after he received his death wound.

His reputation is a rare one; his memory will live forever and we confidently entrust both to his successor in command of his Brigade and friend, General [William Henry Chase] Whiting.

S. R. Gist,

R. A. Howard,

A. Vander Horst

[National Archives]





#82c – Maj. William H. C. Whiting

18 01 2009

Supplemental Report

Report (incomplete) of Major William Henry Chase Whiting

SUPPLEMENT TO THE O.R. – VOL.1: REPORTS ADDENDUM TO SERIES I, VOL. 2, pp 185-189

Headquarters, Third Brigade,

Camp Bee, August 1, 1861

Major: Having been assigned to the command of the Third Brigade, in consequence of the death of the lamented Brigadier-General [Barnard Elliot] Bee, the duty devolves upon me of presenting a report of the operations of the Brigade on July 21, compiled from the reports of the commanding officers engaged and from the notes of the distinguished aides of General Bee, Brigadier-General [States Rights] Gist, Adjutant-General of South Carolina; Major R. A. Howard of Texas; Colonel [William Pinkney] Shingler; Major [Walter H.] Stevens; Captain [A.] Vander Horst of South Carolina; and Lieutenant [James Hoffman] Hill, C. S. A., Assistant Adjutant-General.

The Brigade bivouacked at Camp Walker the night of July 20.  The First Tennessee and a portion of the Eleventh Mississippi together with the Sixth North Carolina had not joined in consequence of detention on the railroad.

At 5 a. m. on July 21, General Bee received orders from General [Pierre Gustave T.] Beauregard to advance to the support of the position occupied by Generals [H. Grey] Latham and [Philip St. George] Cocke near Stone Bridge and to its right, immediately putting his command, consisting of the Second Mississippi, Colonel [William Clark] Falkner, two companies of the Eleventh Mississippi under Lieutenant-Colonel [Philip Frank] Liddell, the Fourth Alabama, Colonel [Eggbert J.] Jones and Imboden’s Battery of four 6-pounders in motion.  He shortly took post in Latham’s left and Cocke’s right in close column of Division.  Here he was joined by the Eighth Georgia, Lieutenant-Colonel [William Montgomery] Gardner and the Seventh Georgia, Colonel [Lucius J.] Gartrell.

Arriving upon the ridge occupied by the Lewis House, General Bee advanced across the adjacent ravine upon the ‘ridge of pines,’ dispatching Major Howard to the front to make a reconnaissance of the ground.

On leaving the thickets, which cover the ridge of pines, nearly the whole field of the day’s operations was in view.  The ground is chiefly covered and occupied by several small farms; through the middle, from left to right runs a small creek, a branch of Bull Run.  On the left are dense thickets of oak and pine extending across the Manassas Road.  On the right of the Centreville Turnpike, as one looks from the ridge of pines southwest, is an isolated wood surrounded by fields of grass and corn beyond the creek.  This grove or “wood of pines” to the right and front proved important positions in the early part of the day.  In advance of the ridge of pines and on either side of a levee, connecting the Lewis ridge with the Centreville Turnpike across the ridge of pines, are two small houses, that of the Widow Henry on the left and of Robinson on the right.  These houses became conspicuous marks during the action and are important in locating the movements.  Beyond the cleared ground of the farms and distant about 1500 yards from the ridge of pines is a thick skirt of timber, where upon in a fron of pines a mile to a mile and a half the enemy were collected in heavy numbers.  Although other troops of the enemy were plainly visible in large force to the right in the distance, this space in front of the ridge of pines formed their principal field of attack.  General Bee proceeded at once to assault the position.

He had scarcely posted his battery near the Widow Henry’s house and a little to the right of it, when the enemy’s artillery opened a heavy fire from six rifled guns.  Line of battle was advanced at once, the General directing Captain [John D.] Imboden to maintain his position until further orders and placing Colonel Gartrell and Colonel Gardner with the Seventh, Eighth, and Ninth Georgia in the left of the battery; Colonel Falkner, Second Mississippi on the right; Colonel Jones, Fourth Alabama on the right of Falkner and detaching Lieutenant-Colonel Liddell to the “isolated wood” at the request of General [Nathan George] Evans, to support a gun of his posted near the left of the wood and well advanced toward the enemy.  General Evans’ force being small, he requested the General’s aid and with that view the Second Mississippi and Fourth Alabama were thrown rapidly on the creek and the whole line advanced.  General Evans was now hotly engaged with the enemy’s advance.  The Second Mississippi took a position in the grove above mentioned and the enemy made a demonstration on Stone Bridge against General Evans, while making his movement on our left in force, which General Evans, leaving part of his command near the bridge, promptly marched with the remainder to resist it near the branch and the isolated wood.  His command was engaged with the enemy’s advance when General Bee arrived upon the field.

The Fourth Alabama formed along a line of fence connecting it with the pine grove to the right.  This movement was led straight at the enemy by General Bee in person, conducting the Fourth Alabama through the fields and attacking the enemy strongly posted about a small farm house a little in advance of the position.  Here for three-quarters of an hour a fierce battle ensued in which the men, and their General were alike, distinguished.  In the meantime, the enemy had posted two more batteries and Imboden was contending manfully against fourteen pieces of artillery arranged in three batteries.  The horses of the caissons attached to General Evans’ guns on the left of the isolated wood took fright and ran to the rear, thus depriving that gun which had been effectively severed of its ammunition.  Against one of those batteries, the General directed the advance of a part of the Mississippians who delivered an effective fire upon them, naturally aiding Imboden.

He (General Bee) received information from General Evans that a column of the enemy was moving upon his right and rear.  General Bee instantly dispatched Major Howard and Captain Vander Horst to ascertain the fact; but before they could return the information was repeated and the General reluctantly ordered his line of battle [illegible].  As this proved to be a mistake the column refused to move while bravely bringing the Fourth Alabama into the fire.  The movement of General Bee was organized expressly to capture the enemy’s left battery then fiecely playing upon [...illegible...] turning out to be either Jackson’s or a portion of some other brigade who had now arrived on the field.  It is regarded as a misfortune, since it deprived our troops of selected positions, exposed them to severe and disastrous fire in moving to a new one in the rear, and naturally disheartened them by the backward movement.  It is probable enough that the overwhelming numbers of the enemy could have forced the Brigade sooner or later from its position, but up to that time, they not only had not done so, but the Fourth Alabama led by the General in person was holding the most advanced position attained by any of our troops during the battle.

It was during this backward movement that our heaviest loss was sustained in both officers and men.  The Eighth Georgia had been joined by its gallant chief, Colonel [Francis S.] Bartow and had moved from the left of Imboden toward the grove of pines in the right and front, its then commander and distinguished Lieutenant-Colonel [William] Montgomery Gardner severely wounded.  The Colonel of the Fourth Alabama, [Eggbert J.] Jones, was mortally struck down.  The whole line fell back behind the creek and reformed upon the ridge near the first position later in the morning, the enemy steadily following and advancing his batteries.  Here the Brigade was joined by the troops of the Hampton Legion under Colonel Wade Hampton.  Deprived of their leader with most of their field officers shot, the Brigade still enticed the fight directed by their General in person.  The Second Mississippi in particular, seven companies strong, charged with other troops and captured Rickett’s Battery, all the horses of which they killed with their musketry.  The honor of this brilliant feat of arms they share with a portion of the Eleventh under Lieutenant-Colonel Liddell, the Sixth North Carolina which lost its Colonel, [Charles F.] Fisher, and a portion of Colonel Hampton’s Legion.

Three batteries of the enemy were taken in all, near the line occupied by the Third Brigade; [...illegible...] Preston and his men of Jackson’s Brigade.  This Brigade and a portion of those of Colonel [Jubal Anderson] Early were, I learn, greatly distinguished in battle on the left of the Third [Brigade] where the enemy persistently concentrated heavy columns of attack.

For six hours the battle had raged with doubtful future, the ridge to which  the Widow Henry’s and the Robinson House are situated being alternately in the hands of the contending forces (Colonel Early’s Brigade, Army of the Potomac) when Brigadier-General [Edmund Kirby] Smith, second in command of the Army of the Shenandoah, advanced on either side of the Manassas Road and across the ridge and threw their command fiercely at the enemy’s right…

[W. H. C. Whiting]

Major T. G. Rhett

Assistant Adjutant-General,

Headquarters, Duncan’s House

[National Archives]








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