Wheat’s Report

7 01 2009

Well, I finally found a copy or Major C. R. Wheat’s report of the actions of the 1st Special Louisiana Battalion at Bull Run.  It was hiding in plain sight in the Supplement to the ORs, and was sent to me by friend of Bull Runnings Jonathan Soffe.

As discussed in this post, the report of Wheat’s commander N. G. Evans claims that the Battalion captured a regimental color during the fight.  Wheat’s report unfortunately does not mention any captured banner, however he does make mention of the capture of some artillery pieces.  Is it possible that the captured colors in question were actually those of a battery?

Also, I have more on the Wheat ambrotype recently “discovered” by Mike Musick and discussed here and here.  Mike sent me a big packet of info, which I mentioned here.  I haven’t forgotten – I just haven’t had time to get to it yet.

#110a – Maj. Chatham R. Wheat

6 01 2009

Supplemental Report

Report of Major Chatham Roberdeau Wheat, First Special Battalion Louisiana Volunteers


Manassas, [Virginia],

August 1, 1861

Sir: I beg leave herewith, respectfully, to report the part taken by the First Special Battalion of Louisiana Volunteers, which I had the honor to command in the battle of July 21.

According to your instructions, I formed my command to the left of the Stone Bridge, being thus at the extreme left of our lines.  Your order to deploy skirmishers was immediately obeyed by sending forward Company B under Captain [Alexander] White.  The enemy threatening to flank us, I caused Captain [Jonathan W.] Buhoup to deploy his Company D as skirmishers in that direction.

At this conjuncture, I sent back, as you ordered, the two pieces of artillery which you had attached to my command, still having Captain [John D.] Alexander’s troop of cavalry with me.  Shartly after, under your orders, I deployed my whole command to the left, which movement, of course, placed me on the right of the line of battle.

Having reached this position, I moved by the left flank to an open field, a wood being on my left.  From this covert, to my utter surprise, I received a volley of musketry which unfortunately came from our own troops, mistaking us for the enemy.  Apprehending instantly the real cause of the accident, I called out to my men not to return the fire.  Those near enough to hear, obeyed; the more distant, did not.

Almost at the same moment, the enemy in front opened upon us with musketry, grape, canister, round shot and shells.  I immediately charged upon the enemy and drove him from his position.  As he rallied again in a few minutes, I charged him a second and a third time successfully.

Finding myself now in the face of a very large force – some 10,000 or 12,000 in number – I dispatched Major [Robert G.] Atkins to you for reinforcements and gave the order to move by the left flank to the cover of the hill; a part of my command, [by] mistake, crossed the open field and suffered severely from the fire of the enemy.

Advancing from the wood with a portion of my command, I reached some haystacks under cover of which I was enabled to damage the enemy very much.  While in the act of bringing up the rest of my command to this position, I was put hors de combat by a minie ball passing through my body and inflicting what was at first thought to be a mortal wound and from which I am only now sufficiently recovered to dictate this report.  By the judicious management of Captain Bouhup I was borne from the field under the persistent fire of the foe, who seemed very unwilling to spare the wounded.

Being left without a field officer, the companies rallied under their respective captains and, as you are aware, bore themselves gallantly throughout the day in the face of an enemy far outnumbering us.

Where all behaved so well, I forbear to make invidious distinctions, and contenting myself with commending my entire command to your favorable consideration.  I beg leave to name particularly Major Atkins, a distinguished Irish soldier, who as a volunteer Adjutant, not only rendered me valuable assistance but with a small detachment captured three pieces of artillery and took three officers prisoner.  Mr. early, now Captain Early, also, as a volunteer Adjutant, bore himself bravely and did good service.

My Adjutant, Lieutenant [William] Dickinson was wounded while gallantly carrying my orders through a heavy fire of musketry.

Captain [Obed P.] Miller of Company E, and Lieutenants [Thomas W.] Adrian and [Frank S.] Carey were wounded while leading their men into the thickest of the fight.

All of which is respectfully submitted,

C. R. Wheat.

Major, First Special Battalion,

Louisiana Volunteers

N. G. Evans,

Brigadier-General of Confederate States of America

[Wheat Papers, in possession of Mr. Charles L. Dufour, New Orleans, Louisiana]

#82b – Capt. James H. Waters

5 01 2009

Supplemental Report

Report of Captain James Harley Waters, Fifth Virginia Volunteers


Dear Sir: I have to report to you that neither my company nor myself was at Stone Bridge on the evening of July 21 as, unser your order, I had taken my whole company near the house on the hill above the battery with instructions to search for the dead and wounded and carry them off the field.

I had with me at the battery more than two-thirds of my company, which went into the battle eighty strong and but for those sent back with the wounded and killed during the fight, I think I might have counted at the battery all but three or four.  I do not know of any that left the field without my leave.

J. H. Waters,

Captain, [West Augusta Guards] Company L,

Fifth Regiment Virginia Volunteers

Colonel Harper


Captain Waters had my consent to look after his killed and wounded as stated.  The order to march in pursuit was received after my consent was given and I could not delay to collect his company.

[John W. Daniel Papers (#158), Manuscripts Division, Special Collections Department, University of Virginia Library]

#82a – Col. James W. Allen

4 01 2009

Supplemental Report

Report of Colonel James Walkinshaw Allen, Second Virginia Infantry


Sir: I have the honor to make the following report of the operations of the regiment under my command, on Sunday, July 21.  About 1 p.m. I was directed to station my regiment on the edge of a pine thicket to support the battery immediately on my right, with directions to fire when the enemy appeared in sight over the hill, then to charge and drive them back with the bayonet.  In this position my men lay somewhat under cover of the hill for more than an hour and a half, during all of which time they were exposed to the effect of shells and shot from the enemy’s batteries, which had advanced under cover of the hill towards my left flank.

Many of my men and officers were wounded by explosions which took place in their immediate midst, yet they stood their ground, awaiting the approach of the infantry.  Colonel [Arthur Campbell] Cummings, on my left, met them endeavoring to turn our flank.

After advancing, two of his companies fell back through my left, which was kept in position by the coolness of Captain [William Norborne] Nelson, who gallantly maintained his position, though thus exposed to both a front fire of grape and shell, and a flank fire from the enemy’s musketry.

At this juncture, I was informed by Major [Lawson] Botts (whose coolness, energy and perseverance in ralying the men deserves special commendation) that my left was turned.  Not seeing the enemy in front, I directed that the three left companies be drawn back to meet them.  This order was partially misunderstood by the center companies for a general direction to fall back, and all the line turned.  I at once gave the order to charge, but the thicket was so close and impenetrable only a part of the right wing, under Lieutenant-Colonel [Francis] Lackland, could be formed about thirty yards in rear of their original position; I then gave the order to form in the rear of the thicket, the enemy having advanced to the position originally occupied by the left of the regiment, judging from their fire, for it was utterly impossible to see them.

At the moment Colonel [Robert T.] Preston, who was on my right and in rear of the battery, advanced, and Lieutenant-Colonel Lackland, with about 100 of my right, charged on the enemy’s battery, drove them from their pieces, and took position immediately in front of the guns, sheltering themselves as much as possible by them.  Wishing to secure one of the rifle cannon, he ordered five or six men to take it to the rear, but did not proceed more than fifty yards when the enemy opened on his right, which, being unsupported, he was compelled to retire with the few men under his command, having lost nine killed and thirty-four wounded in the charge.

The line did not retire until after our battery was withdrawn.  The list of killed and wounded having been handed in, it is unnecessary to repeat it.  I cannot, however, close this report without again making honorable mention of Captain Nelson, who gallantly fell at his post, supposed to be mortally wounded; to the gallantry of Lieutenant-Colonel Lackland, who with but a handful of men charged on the enemy’s battery and actually brought one of their rifled guns some distance to the rear with but four men; to Lieutenant Harrison, Company D, who was shot dead whilst most gallantly charging with his men; to Lieutenant Mainer, Company E, who fell whilst advancing on the enemy; to Captain [William Lawrence] Clark, who fell dangerously wounded whilst leading his men, and to Adjutant Hunter who aided materially in rallying to the charge.  The coolness of the men under the fire of the enemy’s batteries for more than an hour was most commendable, especially as they had to receive [shots], without being able to return any of the fire.

Respectfully submitted,

[James Walkinshaw Allen]

Brigadier-General T. J. Jackson

[Samuel J. C. Moore Papers, Southern Historical Collection, Library of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill]

#82g – Col. Arnold Elzey

3 01 2009

Supplemental Report

Report of Brigadier-General Arnold Elzey


Headquarters, Fourth Brigade,

Camp at Fairfax Station,

July 25, 1861

Sir: In compliance with your instructions, I have the honor to make the following report of the services of my brigade during the day of the 21st of July, 1861:

The brigade left Piedmont at daylight on the 21st inst., and after much delay and detention on the railroad, arrived at Manassas Junction about 12 M., when it received orders to detach a regiment to remain at the Junction to guard a weak point, and then to proceed to Lewis House, near the battle-field, and hold itself in waiting.  Col. A. P. Hill’s regiment, being the smallest – four companies not having come up from Piedmont – was designated for the service.  Brigadier-General Smithaccompanied the brigade to the battle-field, and continued to exercise the command over it with which he had been empowered at Piedmont.  The march to the field, part of the way, was performed in double-time.  The battle raged fiercely, and Gen. Smith ordered the brigade to pass the Lewis House and proceed to the scene of action.

On entering the field to the left, Gen. Smith was shot from his horse, and the entire command reverted to myself.  The brigade was formed in line of battle, with the 10thVirginia regiment in reserve.  About this time Captains Hill and Cunningham, of Gen. Smith’s staff, reported to me.  I detached Capt. Cunningham with four companies of the 10th Virginia regiment to hold a captured battery, and directed Capt. Hill to conduct Beckham’s battery to a point on the left.  The position was well selected, and the battery under Lieut. Beckham was admirably served and made a decided impression on the enemy.  Having received intelligence that our left was weakened, I determined to make a movement in that direction, and accordingly, to march by the left flank through a wood to the left and then to the front.  The brigade in line – 3d Tennessee regiment on the right, 1st Maryland in the centre, 10th Virginia on the left – passed an open field and through a wood.  On arriving at the edge of the woods, the enemy was discovered but a short distance in front, Stars and Stripes waving.  I ordered the line to open fire.  A brisk and terrific fire was kept up for a few seconds, and the enemy disappeared.

The comandwas ordered to advance, and on rising the crest of an open field, nothing could be seen but the dead bodies of men and horses.  The line continued to advance, and on coming to a thicket in front, again encountered the enemy, and opened fire; the charge was ordered, the thicket cleared, and the enemy dispersed.  I was ordered by Gen. Beauregard to retire with my command to the hill in rear, from which I subsequently took up a position across the stone bridge.  It is with pride and pleasure that I refer to the coolness and gallantry of the whole command during the day.  The fire upon the enemy was well-directed and destructive, and they sustained his fire with the indifference of veteran troops.  The Maryland regiment was under Lieut.-Col. G. H. Steuart and Major Bradley T. Johnson; the 3d Tennessee under Col. Vaughan, Lieut. Col. Reese, and Major Morgan, and the 10th Virginia regiment under Col. Gibbons, Lieut.-Col. Warren, and Major Walker.

I cannot speak too highly of the gallantry and good service of my personal staff, Lieutenants Chetney, McDonald, and Contee.  They were repeatedly exposed to the enemy’s fire in delivering orders, and rendered excellent service in obtaining information of his whereabouts.

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

Arnold Elzey,

Brigadier-General Commanding 4th Brigade

Major Thomas G. Rhett,

Ass’t Adj’t Gen.

Imboden’s Report

1 01 2009

imbodenIf you read my post on Imboden’s Report prior to about 2:30 PM on Jan. 1, you will notice that it looks a little different now.  Prompted by a question from Craig, I took a look at another source for the report.  The original post was taken from the Supplement to the Official Records, a copy of which was provided me by Jonathan Soffe.  Correspondence with Jim Burgess at Manassas NBP revealed that Imboden’s report is also published in the second volume of The Rebellion Record, which I have here in my office.  That publication showed that there are some differences between it and the version of the report published in the Charleston Daily Courier which served as the basis for the report in the Supplement.  Those differences included punctuation and paragraphs, as well as variation in text and the inclusion of a large portion of text missing from the Supplement.  So I have replaced my earlier post with the report as it appears in the Rebellion Record.  Read it again as I think it is significantly different.

The report prompted me to send a note to Jim with regards to the single gun which Imboden identified as belonging to the 4th Alabama.  Since I’d never seen reference to the Alabamians having their own cannon before, I turned to Jim for clarification.  His response confirmed my suspicions:

Imboden’s report is also published in The Rebellion Record (Vol. 2, p.43).  We have always interpreted Imboden’sreference to the gun with the 4th Alabama as actually being Lt. Clarke Leftwich’s piece from the Lynchburg Artillery (Latham’s Battery).   This was one of the two guns assigned to Evans’ brigade, Lt. George Davidson commanding the other 6-pounder of the section near the entrance to Robinson’s Lane.    Imboden’s reference to the horses running off with the limber for the gun in question appears remarkably similar to what Leftwich experienced.   In a letter published in the Richmond Enquirer, Aug. 6, 1861, Leftwich takes issue with Imboden’s published report and states that it was the horses for his caisson that took flight from the yard of the Stone House.   He further states, “As to the Alabama Regiment crossing to the north side of the Warrenton road…with our gun, that, too, is incorrect.   Our two six-pounders were brought from the Stone Bridge directly to the scene of action… unattended by the Alabama regiment or a single individual except those commanding and manning the guns…. No gun or piece of artillery took position between the Staunton battery and the enemy, or with the Alabama regiment at any portion of the fight, except our two six-pounders.  Nor was any piece north of the Warrenton road except ours, during the engagement.”

Happy New Year’s Eve!

Jim Burgess

Next up – get a copy of Leftwich’s letter!

Imboden photo from www.generalsandbrevets.com

#82f – Capt. John D. Imboden

30 12 2008

Supplemental Report

Report of Captain John D. Imboden of the “Staunton Artillery”


Manassas Junction, Virginia

July 22, 1861

I submit the following summary report of the part taken in the engagement of yesterday, by the battery of the brigade – the Staunton Artillery – under my command.  The battery arrived at Camp Walker, below the Junction, at 11.30 o’clock the night before the battle, with men and horses greatly fatigued by a forced march of thirty-two miles, commenced at daybreak over an extremely rough and steep, hilly road.  Having had but four hours’ sleep, and that on the ground without shelter, on a rainy night, since the preceding Wednesday night at Winchester, and no food on Saturday except breakfast, which was kindly furnished us by some ladies at Salem, in Fauquier, my men were so tired on getting into camp that they threw themselves upon the ground to snatch a few hours’ rest.

A little after sunrise on Sunday morning, the lamented General Bee sent for me to his quarters, and informed me of the approach of the enemy, and that he was ordered to “the stone bridge” with his brigade and a battery, not so much exhausted as mine, and asked me if we would “stand that?”  I replied, “Not if we can help it.”  He then ordered me to put the battery in motion immediately, and let my wagons remain, and bring our rations and forage after us to the field.  In about twenty minutes we were in motion, very much stimulated by a cannonade which had been opened so near Camp Walker that one of the balls came whizzing over us just as we started.  After a rapid march of about five miles we met the infantry of the brigade, who had gone by a nearer route.  General Bee, in person, then joined the battery, and rode with us about a mile and selected the ground we were to occupy, remaining till after the firing commenced on both sides.  To his consummate judgment in choosing our ground, we are indebted for our almost miraculous escape from utter destruction.  We were placed on the slope of a hill facing to the West, with a slight depression or ravine, running almost parallel with the base of the hill.  We came “into battery” and unlimbered in this depression, being thus sheltered by a swell in the ground to our front five or six feet high.  Our position commanded a beautiful open farm, which rose gently from the valley in front of us, back to the woods about 1,500 yards distant.  In the edge of these woods a heavy column of the enemy was marching to the southward, while we were descending the hill to our position.  At the moment we wheeled into line, I observed one of their batteries of six guns do the same thing, and they unlimbered simultaneously with us.  We immediately loaded with spherical-case shot, with the fuze cut for 1,500 yards.  General Bee ordered me not to fire till they opened on me, as he had sent the Fourth Alabama Regiment, Colonel Jones, across the valley to our right to occupy a piece of woods about 500 yards nearer to the enemy, and he wished this regiment, together with one 6-pounder they had along with them, to get fairly into position before we fired.  He had hardly uttered the order, however, when the enemy’s battery – six long-rifle 10-pounder Parrott guns, afterwards captured by our troops – within 150 yards of our first position, opened on us with elongated cylindrical shells.  They passed a few feet over our heads, and very near the General and his staff in our rear, and exploded near the top of the hill.  We instantly returned the compliment.  General Bee then directed me to hold my position till further orders and observe the enemy’s movements towards our left, and report to him anything I might discover of importance.  This was the last time my gallant, heroic General ever spoke to me.  Seeing us fairly engaged, he rode off to take charge of his regiments.  The firing of both batteries now became very rapid – they at first over-shot us and burst their shells to our rear, but at every round improved their aim and shortened their fuze.  In about fifteen minutes we received our first injury.  A shell passed between two of our guns and exploded amongst the caissons, mangling the arm of Private J. J. Points with a fragment in a most shocking manner.  I ordered him to be carried off the field to the surgeon at once.  He was scarcely gone when another shell exploded at the same place and killed a horse.  About this time the enemy began to fire too low, striking the knoll in our front, from ten to twenty steps, from which the ricochet was sufficient to carry the projectiles over us; they discovered this, and again began to fire over us.  After we had been engaged for perhaps a half hour, the enemy brought another battery of four guns into position about 400 yards south of the first, and a little nearer to us, and commenced a very brisk fire upon us.  A shell from this last battery soon plunged into our midst, instantly killing a horse and nearly cutting off the leg of Private W. A. Siders, just below the knee.  He was immediately taken to the surgeon.  A few minutes afterwards another shell did its work by wounding 2nd Lieut. A. W. Garber so severely in the wrist that I ordered him off the field for surgical aid.  We now had ten guns at work upon us, with no artillery to aid us for more than an hour except, I believe, three rounds fired by the gun with the Alabama Regiment.  It ceased fire, I have heard, because the horses ran off with the limber and left the gun without ammunition.  During this time the enemy’s infantry was assembling behind, between and to the right (our left) of their battery in immense numbers, but beyond our reach, as we could only see their bayonets over the top of the hill.  Two or three times they ventured in sight when the Alabamians turned them back on their left by a well-directed fire, and we gave them a few shot and shells on their right with the same result, as they invariably dropped back over the hill when we fired at them, as almost every shot made a gap in their ranks.

After we had been engaged for, I suppose, nearly two hours, a detachement of some other battery (the New Orleans Washington Battalion, I believe,) of two guns, formed upon our right and commenced a well-directed fire, much to our aid and relief.  My men by this time were so overcomewith the intense heat and excessive labor, that half of them fell upon the ground completely exhausted.  The guns were so hot that it was dangerous to load them – one was temporarily spiked by the priming wire hanging out of it, the vent having become foul.  My teams were cut to pieces, five of the horses were killed out of one single piece, and other teams partially destroyed, so that, alone, we could not much longerhave replied to the enemy’s batteries as briskly as was necessary.

We were now serving the guns with diminished numbers – Lieuts. Harman and Imboden working at them as privates; the latter had the handspike in his hand directing his piece, when one of the rings was shot off the trail by a piece of a shell.  After our friends on the right commenced firing, the enemy advanced a third battery of four pieces down the hill, directly in front of and about six hundred yards distant from us, upon which we opened fire immediately and crippled one of their guns by cutting off its trail, compelling them to dismount and send the piece away without its carriage.  While this last battery was forming in our front, a vast column of thousands of infantry marched down in close order, about two hundred yards to its right.  I did not then know where the several regiments of our brigade were posted.  We heard firing upon our right and left, but too far off to protect us from a sudden charge, as we were in the middle of an open field, and not a single company of infantry visible to us on the right, left or rear.  At the moment the enemy’s main column came down the hill, we observed the head of another column advancing down the valley from our left, and therefore concealed by a hill, and not over 350 or 400 yards distant.  At first I took them for friends and ordered the men not to fire on them.  To ascertain certainly who they were, I sprang upon my horse and galloped to the top of the hill to our left, when I had a nearer and better view.  There were two regiments of them.  They halted about three hundred yards in front of their own battery on the hill-side, wheeled into line, with their backs towards us, and fired a volley, apparently at their battery.  This deceived me, and I shouted to my men to fire upon the battery, that these were friends who would charge and take it in a moment.  Fortunately, my order was not heard, or not obeyed by all the gunners, for some of them commenced firing into this line, which brought them to the right-about, and they commenced advancing towards us, when their uniform disclosed fully their character.  I instantly ordered the second section of my battery to limber up and come on the hill where I was, intending to open upon them with canister.  Anticipating this movement, and intending to make the hill to the left too hot for us, or seeing me out there alone, where I could observe their movements and report them, their nearest battery directed and fired all its guns at me at once but without hitting me or my horse.  I galloped back to my guns, and found that the two guns on our right had left the field, and we were alone again.  My order to limber up the second section was understood as applying to the whole battery, so that the drivers had equalled the teams sufficiently to move all the guns and caissons, and the pieces were all limbered.  On riding back a short distance, where I could see over the hill again, I discovered the enemy approaching rapidly, and so near that I doubted our ability to save the battery; but by a very rapid movement up the ravine, we avoided the shells of the three batteries that were now directed at us, sufficient to escape with three guns and all the caissons.  The fourth gun, I think, was struck under the axle by an exploding shell, as it broke right in the middle and dropped the gun in the field.  We saved the team.  Their advance fired a volley of musketry at us, without effect, when we got over the hill out of their reach, and a few moments afterwards heard the infantry engage them from the woods some distance to the south of us.  Seeing no troops where we first crossed the hill amongst whom we could fall in with and prepare for the battle again, and having had no communication with or from any human being for, I suppose, three hours, and not knowing where to find our brigade or any part of it, I determined to retire to the next hill, some 400 yards distant, and there form the remnant of my battery, and await the opportunity for further service.

Just as we were ascending this second hill we met General T. J. Jackson with the First Virginia Brigade, hastening on to the field of battle.  I reported to him my condition and perplexity.  He directed me to fall in between two of his regiments and return to the first hill again and fight with him.  I did so with a remnant of my men and guns.  The caissons, except one, were empty, and many of the men were ready to faint from sheer exhaustion.  We got into position 300 or 400 yards north of the ground we at first occupied, within full view of the enemy’s heavy column of divisions advancing towards us.  We opened fire at once, but slowly, as we had not over four or five men left able to work the guns, respectively, and ammunition had to be brought from a caisson, left two hundred yards in the rear because we were unable to get it up with the guns.  Every shot here told with terrible effect, as we could see a lane opened through the enemy after almost every fire.  Our first gun was worked, during this part of the action, by the Captain, First Lieutenant, and two privates.  In the course of three-quarters of an hour, our supply of shot and shells was exhausted – the men could no longer work – we had nothing but some canister left, which was useless at so great a distance.  A fresh battery came upon the field, and General Jackson ordered me to retire with my men and guns to a place of safety, which I did, and had no further part in the fight.

We were the first battery of the left wing of the army engaged.  We were in the fight till near its close, having been engaged altogether upwards of four hours.  We fired about 460 rounds of ball and case-shot, our whole supply, during the action.  The only serious damage to my men I have mentioned above.  Privates Points and Siders will doubtless get well, but will lose their wounded limbs.  Lieut. Garber may save his hand.

Several others were slightly touched with fragments of shells without injury.  I had 71 horses on Sunday morning, before the battle commenced; 10 of those are killed and missing, and 21 more variously injured and at present wholly unserviceable, leaving me but 40 horses fit for work.  My harness is half destroyed and lost.  One piece is dismounted, but will be as good as ever when remounted on a new carriage.  All my officers behaved throughout with heroic coolness and bravery, and the conduct of the men was that of veterans.

No company in the army was more exposed, and none, I believe, so long a time, and yet no man quailed.  There were instances of individual heroism worthy of special notice; but where all did so well, it would seem almost invidious to single out individuals.

Respectfully submitted,

J. D. Imboden,

Captain, Battery, Third Brigade, C. S. A.

Brigadier-General W. H. C. Whiting,

Commanding, Third Brigade, Army of the Shenandoah

[An abridgement of this report appeared in the Charleston Daily Courier, Charleston, South Carolina, July 29, 1861.  That article appears in the Supplement to the Official Records, Vol. I, Addendum to Series 1, Vol 2, pp. 174-179]

#82e – Capt. Thomas J. Goldsby

28 12 2008

Supplemental Report

Report of Captain Thomas J. Goldsby, Fourth Alabama


Headquarters, Fourth Alabama Regiment

Camp Bee, near Manassas, [Virginia]

July 29, 1861

Sir: In obedience to your order of July 26, I submit the following report of the operations of the regiment, immediately preceding and during the battle of July 21.

In the evening of Thursday, July 18, we left our camp near Winchester, and started upon a forced march, across the Blue Ridge, en route for Manassas.  We marched all that night and the next day, arriving at Piedmont after nightfall on July 19.  At that point we took the cars and arrived at Manassas Junction about 9 o’clock on Saturday, July 20.  Our tents were left at Winchester, and the supply of food was scant and insufficient.  The men arrived at Camp Walker about ten o’clock a. m. on Saturday, hungry and much exhausted by the exposure and fatigue.

We bivouacked that day and night, obtaining some food which, with some rest, much refreshed and strengthened the men.

On Sunday, July 21, immediately after breakfast, we received the order to “fall in” with knapsacks and arms and take up the line of march towards where the fire of the enemy first opened.  After marching in that direction some three or four miles – most of the distance in double-quick time – our direction was suddenly changed towards the left of our line of battle, to which we marched a distance of some two miles, in quick and double-quick time.  The day was exceedingly hot, and the supply of water being small, the men arrived on the battlefield much exhausted.

I suppose it was about 9 o’clock a. m., when we reached a skirt of woods about 250 or 300 yards from the enemy’s line, when we halted and formed in line of battle.  The enemy were right in front of us in overpowering numbers – Sherman’s Battery fully commanding our position, supported by immense bodies of infantry. 

Hardly had we halted and formed before the order came to advance, which we did in double-quick, through the open field to within 100 yards of the enemy’s line, where we were commanded to “halt and lie down.”

The left of our regiment was in the cornfield, and the right in the open field.  The fire at once became general – our men rising to fire and lying down to load.

Our advance was covered by one piece of artillery, the fire of which did much to divert the attention of the enemy from our advance movements.  Even in that our of peril we could not fail to admitre the accuracy and effect of its aim.  Unfortunately, after three rounds, the horses attached to the caisson became frightened and ran off, leaving the piece without ammunition and leaving us unprotected by artillery, except in so far that the gallant [John Daniel] Imboden was permitted, by the heavy fire in his front, to yield us occasional shots.  Although they could come but seldom, when they did come we recognized in them the booming “God cheer” of Virginia to Alabama.

For an hour and a half the Fourth Alabama sustained the most galling and destructive fire.  Our brave men fell in great numbers, but they died as the brave love to die – with faces to the foe, fighting in the holy cause of liberty.  Of course, it is impossible for me to say how many were opposed to us.  I only judge, from the incessant and tremendous fire that was kept up, that we were greatly outnumbered.

The force intended for our support on the right and left having been withdrawn for three-quarters of an hour, alone and unaided, except by Imboden’s Battery, we held our position, driving back on three separate occasions the advancing columns of the enemy and enabling reinforcements to come up.  At last, outflanked on the right and left and exposed to fire from three sides, we were ordered to fall back.

Our gallant Colonel [Egbert J.] Jones, who, during the hottest of the engagement, sat conspicuously on his horse – as calm as a statue – giving orders as they came, fell severely wounded in this movement.

We retired in good order through the woods on our left and, descending a hill, again formed in line of battle on a branch which runs through the ravine.  On our right, as we descended the hill, we observed two regiments drawn up in close column in line of battle.  These, being one-quarter of a mile behind the position which we had just left and where we expected to find reinforcements, we confidently regarded by us as friends.  They returned our signal, and we were on the point of forming behind them, when, as we unfurled our flag, they opened a murderous fire upon our ranks, killing some and wounding many, among the latter, Lieutenant-Colonel [Evander M.] Law and Major [Charles L.] Scott, both of whom had displayed great gallantry and done much to inspire us by their example.

Left, thus, without field officers and almost surrounded by the enemy, we again fell back, after returning in kind and with effect the compliments of our supposed friends through a pine wood to an open field, where we halted and awaited orders.  The thirst of the men was intense and almost intolerable.

At this place, a half mile behind our original position, amid the bursting of shells and the rattling storm of musketry, our heroic General [Barnard Elliott] Bee rode up to the regiment and inquired what body of troops we were.  Being told that “it was what remained of the Fourth Alabama,” he replied, with an expressive gesture, “This is all of my brigade that I can find – will you follow me back to where the firing is going on?”  “To the death,” was the response, whereupon he put himself on the left of our line and marched us by the left flank to where the fight was raging around Sherman’s Battery.

As we were nearing the scene, a train of artillery that was falling back cut our line, thus separating the left company from the rest of the regiment.  This company, with our General at its head, obliqued to the right, upon the open field, when our gallant and beloved commander fell, mortally wounded.  The rest of the regiment, not seeing the direction which the head of the column had taken, marched straight forward through the wood, exposed at every step to a galling fire.

Deprived, as we then were, of our Brigadier-General, of our Colonel, of our Lieutenant-Colonel and Major, not knowing our friends from our enemies, and exposed to a murderous fire, with no opportunity of returning it, we marched back, reformed our line, and awaited orders.

We remained on the field until the battle closed, with ranks thinned, it is true, but yet always with a perfect organization.

The regiment was exposed to heavy fire for seven or eight hours, and during the whole time, and particularly during that portion of it when they were actually engaged, the officers and men exhibited the most admirable coolness and gallantry.

I cannot refrain from mentioning the gallant conduct of Major Howard, the aide-de-camp of General Bee.  He was ever where the fire was the hottest, and though wounded, remained on the field until the close of the action.

Such, Sir, is a succinct account of the operations of this regiment, called for by your order.

The list of the killed and wounded, hereto appended, will testify that the regiment did not shrink from sealing with its best blood its devotion to the cause.

We rejoice at the glorious victory which was won on that ever memorable field, but over our exultation there is thrown the pall of private sadness by the death and wounding of those we love.

It would be invidious, if it were possible, to enumerate individual acts of heroism, where every man did his duty.

Captain Goldsby,

Commanding Regiment

General Whiting,

Commanding Third Brigade, Army of the Shenandoah

[Daily Dispatch, newspaper, Richmond, Virginia, August 17, 1861]

More Official Reports

22 12 2008

suppToday I received in the mail a most welcome care package from e-quaintance Jonathan Soffe of  the UK and www.firstbullrun.com.  Jon was kind enough to send me the Bull Run reports from the Supplement to the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, only one of which I had.  These include reports from Rob Wheat of the 1st Special Louisiana Battalion and Thomas Goldsby of the 4th Alabama Infantry.  I’ll be transcribing  and posting these reports over the next few weeks.

Thanks Jon!

Old Bull Run Report of Fourteenth Found

15 11 2008

Brooklyn Daily Eagle, March 17, 1901, Page 6 (see here)

Old Bull Run Report of Fourteenth Found.


Turned Over to War Veterans’ Association After Nearly Forty Years.


Written By Colonel Fowler

Describes Part the Regiment Took in the First Great Battle of the Civil War.


Colonel Fowler’s report to Colonel Porter of the part taken by the Fourteenth Regiment in the first battle of Bull Run, which has been lost for nearly forty years, has been found and turned over to the Wasr Veterans’ Association.  Several weeks ago it was learned that this report and a number of other papers were in a packet which had been picked up near Arlington, Va., in 1861, and could be had for the asking.  The finder, it was said, had put them away with other souvenirs of the war and only lately had learned that the survivors of the Red Legged Devils would like to have them.

The writing is as clear and distinct as though done yesterday.  Colonel Wood was wounded and captured in the battle and Lieutenant Colonel Fowler took command.  Colonel Porter was the regular Army officer in command of the brigade to which the Fourteenth was assigned.  The report reads as follows:

Report Text

The other papers were a consolidated report of the morning of July 19, ahile the regiment was on its way to the battlefield, and showing that its strength was 843 officers and men; an order from General McClellan, dated August 4, and assigning the Fourteenth, with the Twenty-second and Thirtieth New York Volunteers, to Colonel Keyes’ brigade; an order from McClellan constituting Keyes’ and Wadsworth’s brigades a division to be commanded by Brigadier General Irwin McDowell, United States Army; an order from McDowell assigning the four regiments Keyes’, which was known as the Iron Brigade, to positions.  The Fourteenth and Twenty-second were left where they were.

The other two were ordered to take position on the line with the Twenty-second.  The morning report referred to above is signed by Colonel Wood and L. L. Laidlaw, a lieutenant in G. who was acting adjutant.  In the battle of Bull Run Wadsworth was an aid on McDowell’s staff, ranking as a major.  After Woods’ injury he stuck by the Fourteenth and was breveted a colonel on the field.  He was soon made a general and he always, so the vets say, took great interest in the Fourteenth.


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