JCCW – Col. William W. Averell

4 08 2009

Testimony of Col. William W. Averell

Report on the Conduct of the War, Vol. 2, pp. 213-218

WASHINGTON, January 28, 1862.

Colonel WILLIAM W. AVERELL sworn and examined.

By Mr. Gooch:

Question. What is your rank in the army?

Answer. I am lieutenant in the 3d regiment of regular cavalry and colonel of the 3d regiment of Pennsylvania cavalry, now commanding the second cavalry brigade.

Question. Were you at the battle of Bull Run?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. In whose division?

Answer. I was in General Hunter’s division, acting as assistant adjutant general to Colonel Andrew Porter at that time.

Question. What, in your judgment, caused the disaster of that day?

Answer. They commenced, I presume, almost from the time we started from Arlington, from the other side of the river. There were great many causes that combined to lose the day to us. The most apparent cause, however, at the time we first felt we were beaten, that we had to retire—and that we had felt for some time beforehand—was the want of concentration of the troops; the feeling that we ought to have had more men in action at one time.

Question. The want of concentration on the field?

Answer. Yes, sir. We crossed the run with 18,000 men. I do not believe there were over 6,000 or 8,000 actually engaged at any one time.

Question. There were more than that number engaged during the day?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. Was it impossible to bring more men into action, or were not the proper steps taken to do so?

Answer. I am unable to say. I was not present at the council the night before, although I was almost immediately made aware by Colonel Porter of all that had taken place in the council. But as to what orders were given to other commanders of divisions or brigades I do not know.

Question. All you know is in relation to the management of your own division on the field?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. Were or not as many men of your own division brought into battle at any one time as could have been brought in?

Answer. I think they were.

Question. Was not the nature of the battle-field such that it was exceedingly difficult to bring a large body of men into action at any one time?

Answer. I think it was about as fine a battle-field as you can find between here and Richmond. I have no idea there was any better.

Question. Was the field favorable for the movement and manoeuvering of large bodies of men?

Answer. One or two divisions of the size we had then could have manoeuvred very well.

Question. I speak of the field as a whole?

Answer. Well, sir, to come to the causes of the disaster, another cause was perhaps the fall of General Hunter, who was wounded at the beginning of the action. That took Colonel Porter away from his brigade to look after the brigade that Colonel Burnside commanded. It was thrown into confusion, and Burnside was in danger of losing his battery, and came to Colonel Porter for a battalion of regulars to help him. That was diverted from the position it was originally intended for; from the extreme right to the extreme left of our division. They were the flank of the division, thrown out to lash the enemy, as you might say; that battalion being to our extreme right what the knot is to the lash. At the beginning of the action they could have inflicted very severe and telling blows upon the enemy. But as it was they were taken to the extreme left of the division. General Porter went to look after the affairs of that division. The enemy were repulsed and commenced giving way rapidly. In the mean time I had formed the brigade into line, developed it, and deployed it. The report of General Porter will tell you how it was done. The whole line of the centre of the enemy gave way, followed by the wings as far as we could see, and we drove them rapidly back. For the first two or three hours it seemed as though nothing could stop us. At the end of two or three hours, Heintzelman’s column came on the same ground; the 2d Minnesota, the 38th New York, and the 5th and 11th Massachusetts. There was a want of a headquarters somewhere on the field. All the staff officers who knew anything about the position of the enemy had to act without orders. I had the command of Colonel Porter’s brigade for about an hour and a half or two hours. After standing a half an hour in line, under a severe fire, without venturing to give an order to move, I formed the 8th and fourteenth New York in column, and pushed them down the road right straight to the house where we afterwards lost the batteries and everything. They went down in fine style, perfectly cool and in good order. They were going so rapidly that the enemy could not keep the range—were constantly losing the range; and the column was not cut much—had but very few casualties. When they got down to where the road they were on crossed the turnpike, then, by some misunderstanding, an order was sent to them to turn up that road, instead of keeping on according to the previous purpose, and thus those two regiments were diverted to the left. If they had gone up to that hill at the time the enemy were going away, they could, I believe, have taken that house and held that position.  And then Griffin’s battery could have gone up there in safety, and they could have cut off the retreat of those rebels who were flying before Burnside’s brigade and Sykes’s battalion, probably 2,000 or 3,000 of them. Turning up this road kept our troops under the fire of the enemy’s batteries, and subjected them to a desultory fire from those running rebels, which broke them up. The eighth New York broke and never afterwards formed to any extent—not over 200. The field officers left the field and went back off the ground. There were only two officers in that regiment who afterwards displayed any courage and coolness at all that was observable—two field officers, the quartermaster and the major, I think. Griffin’s battery was then without support; and as I was passing by his battery at that time, he called to me and said he was without support, and asked what he should do. I saw the fourteenth New York collecting in little masses over to the left of the field. I rode as rapidly as possible over to them, collected them, and marched them over to the rear of Griffin’s battery.

Question. How many men did the regiment have then?

Answer. It was pretty nearly formed. .

Question. Pretty nearly full?

Answer. Yes, sir; I should think that three-fourths of the men were there. They formed very well, did very well, indeed. The officers behaved well; but, as I said before, this feeling was uppermost: want of orders. Lieutenant Whipple, who was acting assistant adjutant general to the division commander, and reported to Colonel Porter after General Hunter fell, and myself met about this time. We talked over the position of affairs, and came to the conclusion that that hill in front of us was the key-point of the enemy’s position, and must be taken before the battle would be given up. We felt that we had won the battle; but in order to make it decisive and hold the position, we would have to take that hill. We agreed upon a plan which was to collect the regiments in the centre of the field : the fifth and eleventh Massachusetts, the second Minnesota, the thirty-eighth New York, and, I think, Colonel Coffer’s regiment, sixty-ninth, I think—five or six regiments—and to send them up on the hill in line. Put the fourteenth on the right, with the marines and zouaves, and then move them all up together with Griffin’s battery in the centre. That would make an embrasure of troops for the battery to fire through, and they never could take the battery as long as these supports were on its flanks, neither could their cavalry ever charge upon the infantry line as long as the battery was there. We went over to the centre and succeeded in getting these five regiments started. I found Colonel Franklin and two or three other officers there who assisted me. Colonel Franklin was conspicuous. Colonel Wadsworth was also conspicuous in starting these regiments. Just about this time I became aware that General McDowell had come on the field from this fact. We saw the battery moving up on the hill. I had gone to Griffin and notified him of this plan, telling him these troops were going to move up, not to mistake them for the enemy and fire upon them. He had necessarily, from his position, to fire over their heads at one point of the movement, if he kept up his fire. A great many incidents occurred along about that time that I presume you have heard many times.

Question. We want the main statement.

Answer. The battery was seen moving up on the hill, and without any support except the marines and zouaves. The New York 14th was then down in a hollow; they had followed Griffin’s battery for about half the distance. There were two slopes coming down to each other; Griffin was on one slope and the enemy was on the other, which was a little higher than-the one we were on. The 14th went down into the hollow and there waited. The marines and zouaves went up with the battery, and had to cross a deep run with high banks on each side.

Question. Did Ricketts’ battery go with Griffin’s?

Answer. It joined it in this movement. I immediately rode over to the right of the field and inquired where General McDowell was. I found him on top of a little hill in a little field beyond the turnpike. In going over I had spoken to the 14th, and told them to push up to the woods on the right of Griffin’s battery. They went forward finely in line. I followed the 14th, going around the right flank of it, and got up on the hill where General McDowell was. General McDowell called out to the colonel of the 14th to march the regiment by flank. There was probably a delay of two or three minutes in executing that movement. I spoke, then, to the General, and said: “General, if that battery goes up on the hill it will be lost; the woods are full of the enemy, for I have seen them there. I had then been on the ground seven hours watching closely with a glass all the movements. Said I, “For heaven’s sake let the 14th go up in the woods.” Marching them by the flank, changing the movement, was sending them up in rear of the battery, where they could have no effect upon the enemy on the flank. General McDowell said: “Go and take the 14th where you want it.” I immediately went to the 14th, changed its direction to the woods, and told it to take the double quick. The battery was still moving. The general said it was too late to recall the movement. I was so apprehensive that the battery would meet with a disaster there that I rode up to where the battery was. The marines were then sitting down in close column on the ground on the left of the battery. The battery was then getting into position and unlimbering. The fire zouaves were still in rear of the battery. The zouaves immediately commenced a movement, rose up and moved off in rear of the battery, a little to the right. I rode up then to the left of the battery, and there met Colonel Heintzelman. I saw some troops immediately in front of us, not over 75 or 100 yards off. I should say it was at least a regiment; we could see their heads and faces very plainly. I said to Colonel Heintzelman: “What troops are those in front of us?” He was looking off in another direction. I said: “Here, right in front of the battery.” I do not remember the reply he made, but I dropped my reins and took up my glasses to look at them, and just at that moment down came their pieces, rifles and muskets, and probably there never was such a destructive fire for a few minutes. It seemed as though every man and horse of that battery just laid right down and died right off. It was half a minute—it seemed longer—before I could get my horse down out of the fire. I then went to the marines and halloed to them to hurry on. Their officers were standing behind them keeping them in ranks; but the destruction of the battery was so complete that the marines and zouaves seemed to be struck with such astonishment, such consternation, that they could not do anything. There were probably 100 muskets fired from the zouaves and marines—not over that; and they, of course, fired too high. They were below the battery, and where the battery was we could not see more than half of the bodies of the rebels, and what they did fire was ineffective. They began to break and run down the hill, and nothing could stop them, and then the enemy rushed right over there like a lowering cloud—right over the hill.

Question. Why did not the batteries open upon those men in front?

Answer. I do not know from actual operation why they did not. The battery was unlimbered, and the men were standing at the guns. In going down the hill, after the general wreck, I saw an officer galloping along a little in front of me. I recognized Major Barry, and cried out, “Halloo, Barry, is that you?” He said, “Yes,” Said I, “Where is Griffin?” He said, “I am afraid he is killed.” I said, “That battery is lost; I am afraid we are gone up,” or some remark to that effect. Barry then said: “I am to blame for the loss of that battery. I put Griffin there myself.” Well, the 14th, by this time, had reached the woods on the right, The 38th New York, which led the column on the left, which we intended to support when they got there, had reached this little cross-road, and the 14th and 38th held on very well—indeed, splendidly. The enemy came right over the brow of the hill, and their fire was very deadly. They made a rush over the top of the hill, and their cavalry made their appearance at the same time; this 14th and 38th hung on for fifteen minutes there, while all the officers about there tried to collect these scattered troops and get them back to that position to the assistance of the 14th and 38th, and appealed to them in every way that possibly could be done. But it was of no avail. What there was left of the battery, a few limbers and caissons that had live horses to drag them, came galloping down the hill, right through this mass of running troops, and occasionally a horse would fall, and the whole thing would get all tangled up.

Question. Was or not that the beginning of the panic?

Answer. That was the turning point of the affair, right there.

Question. Did you not look upon that as the turning point upon the field?

Answer. Yes, sir; oh! yes, sir. We had eight regiments marching towards that hill then.

Question. Were those batteries properly supported when they moved up the hill?

Answer. No, sir; that is shown from the fact that they were taken.

Question. If they had been properly supported they would not have been taken?

Answer. No, sir.

Question. Could they have been properly supported?

Answer. Yes, sir; the troops were there to do it.

Question. Then it was a mistake to order those batteries forward without a proper support—a mistake on the part of some one?

Answer. It must have been so.

Question. Do you know why Captain Griffin did not open fire upon the regiment in front of them?

Answer. It was generally understood that these troops were mistaken.

Question. By whom was the mistake made?

Answer. It was understood that these troops were mistaken for our own, and Captain Griffin was ordered not to fire. My impression is that it was the chief of artillery on the field who made the mistake.

Question. Who was the chief of artillery?

Answer. Major Barry.

Question. General Franklin’s brigade came on after that, did they?

Answer. Well, sir, they were partially on the field then. I do not know exactly what troops composed his brigade. He was there himself. Then Sykes’s battalion moved across and occupied this hill in the middle ground, and held it. Our troops then scattered all over the battle-field, their backs turned towards the enemy, and all going to the rear.

Question. The capture of that battery, and the rapid retreat of the horses and men in the vicinity of the battery, tended to create confusion among all those in the rear?

Answer. Yes, sir; that taken in connexion with the exhaustion of the men. There was no water for the men to drink about there, except in the rear, and a great many were dying of thirst. Everybody wanted water. Well, sir, it was a pretty hot day; and it was probably a little unfortunate for us that the water was in the rear of the field of battle. We then came back to our first position on the field of battle. If we had had a fresh division there, or a fresh brigade there, we could have made a stand. Johnston’s forces—that is, I have been told since they were Johnston’s forces—made their appearance on the field at that time.

Question. Just at the time of the loss of the batteries?

Answer. Yes, sir. They deployed in several lines on our extreme right, and with the rapidity, apparently, of fresh troops. The moral effect of that deployment had a great deal to do with the panic among our troops.

Question. That happening at the same time with the loss of the batteries?

Answer. Yes, sir. If we had not lost the batteries, and had had a fresh brigade there, we could have made a stand there, because our troops formed very well back on our first position. The 27th New York formed first, and stood steady (though the men were very much exhausted) for nearly half an hour, while the other fragments of regiments gathered in their places about them, the enemy’s artillery throwing projectiles right through us all the while. We had no artillery to reply to them, only a section of the battery of Captain Arnold. We had no artillery, no fresh troops, and could not make a stand, but were forced to retire.

Question. Then you attribute the disasters of the day to the loss of Griffin’s and Ricketts’ batteries, the great exhaustion of the men from the want of water, and the fact that Johnston’s troops came on the field fresh just at the tune of the loss of the batteries?

Answer. Yes, sir. Those three causes alone would have been sufficient to have defeated us. But there were many other minor causes that had their effect. There was a want of discipline in our troops.

Question. The troops were not familiar with their officers?

Answer. Yes, sir; that was one thing. That they could have stood was shown in the way that Sykes’s battalion stood, because they were disciplined, and came off the field in regular order.





JCCW – Gen. Andrew Porter

2 08 2009

Testimony of Gen. Andrew Porter

Report on the Conduct of the War, Vol. 2, pp. 210-213

WASHINGTON, January 21, 1862.

General ANDREW PORTER sworn and examined.

By Mr. Chandler:

Question. What is your position and rank in the army?

Answer. I am a brigadier general of volunteers, and at present provost marshal.

Question. Were you at the battle of Bull Run?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. What position did you hold there?

Answer. I commanded the first brigade of the second division.

Question. General Hunter’s division?

Answer. Yes, sir; General Hunter was cut down almost at the first fire, and I then commanded the division.

Question. Hunter’s division was on the extreme right that day?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. Will you go on and give as briefly as may be the action which that division took on the day of that battle?

Answer. I would rather refer you to my report, which was made up immediately afterwards from my notes, which I have not since read. It contains accurate details, and if I attempt to state it now I would perhaps not recollect everything.

Question. Was it in your division that the rout commenced?

Answer. I cannot tell.

Question. Were Ricketts’ and Griffin’s batteries in your division?

Answer. Griffin’s battery was in my division. Ricketts’ battery came up afterwards. I do not now recollect whose division he was in.

Question. Were you near Griffin’s battery at the time it was captured?

Answer. I was within a couple of hundred yards, I suppose. I recollect very distinctly the volley that was fired from the woods. I was far enough off to see that that part of the game was played out after that fire.

Question. You were there when that regiment from the woods opened fire?

Answer. Yes, sir; but some little way off—200 or 300 yards.

Question. Had you seen any confusion or symptoms of a rout previous to that volley?

Answer. Yes, sir. The volunteer regiments were constantly breaking. They would break, and then we would rally two or three regiments and bring them up again. The New York 14th (Brooklyn) that behaved so well was broken nearly all to pieces at the first fire. But they rallied again and went up with Griffin’s battery, and stood their ground remarkably well.

Question. Do you consider that Griffin’s battery had sufficient support at that time?

Answer. The troops were not at all reliable. If they had been reliable, and could have been kept up to their work, I should think there was sufficient support.

Question. Was the position of that battery a good position with the support it had?

Answer. That is a mere matter of opinion. I would not like to criticise the act of others. I did not put it there.

Question. You stationed it some thousand yards further in the rear, I believe?

Answer. Not a thousand yards. But I put it in a position where it did most murderous execution.

Question. And where you considered it safe?

Answer. Yes, sir; because the enemy could not have got over to it without passing over a thousand yards of ground. I know the fuses were cut for a thousand yards, and they were pretty accurate.

Question. Had these batteries been retained in an effective position and properly supported, do you think it would have made any difference in the result of the day?

Answer. That would be a mere matter of opinion.

Question. We ask your opinion as a military man.

Answer. My experience of military life is not sufficient to warrant me in setting up any opinion against officers senior to me.

Question. You had hardly any seniors upon that field, had you? All the generals in command were brigadiers, were they not?

Answer. The only brigadier there was General McDowell. I was only a colonel. General Hunter was a general officer, but he was cut down almost at the first fire.

Question. Was it the understanding among the officers of the army that General Patterson was to hold Johnston in the valley of Winchester, so that he should not take part in that battle?

Answer. I cannot say; I knew nothing of that at the time, and I do not think that the officers generally had any idea of it one way or another.

Question. Up to the day of the fight?

Answer. Yes, sir; I know that some person told me that Patterson had been ordered down, but that was a mere matter of conversation from some irresponsible person who came out from Washington. I said nothing about it to anybody, for I supposed it was a state secret.

Question. Had Patterson detained Johnston in the valley of Winchester, so that no re-enforcements would have been brought down from Johnston to Beauregard, what in your opinion would have been the result of that battle?

Answer. Well, it might have ended one way or the other. Our troops could not stand the attacking of the enemy; they were played out quite early. The men were exhausted—somehow or other they seemed to have no heart in the matter. The officers were more to blame than the men. We had the enemy whipped up to 3 o’clock. Then their re-enforcements came up. Whether our men would, without that, have retained their success I do not know. The enemy had Manassas to fall back upon. They had skilful generals in command. I think we should have prevented the rout at all events.

Question. You would have prevented the rout but for the last re-enforcements that came down?

Answer. I think so.

Question. Was it not the understanding among the officers of the army that re-enforcements from Johnston had arrived during Friday or Saturday night, or prior to the battle on Sunday?

Answer. That I do not recollect. I have an impression that such was the case, but I do not recollect it distinctly. It would have been mere supposition on our part any how, for we gained no information from spies or in any other way in regard to their forces.

Question. Only from the whistling of the locomotives and the movement of die trains?

Answer. I did not hear anything of that. There were two or three hills intervening between my position and that.

Question. Was there any detention Sunday morning in your march?

Answer. Yes, sir. Our orders were to get under way at 2 or half past 2 o’clock in the morning. We got out into the road and were delayed a great while there. We were formed on the road in front of my camp. I had the reserve brigade in the rear. After some delay we then moved on some distance and halted again; and we kept pottering along, pottering along in that way, instead of being fairly on the road. It was intended that we should turn their position at daylight, as we could have done very easily but for the delay. There was a great deal of delay—very vexatious delay. I do not know what was the cause of it. The whole affair was extremely disagreeable to me. I was disgusted with the whole thing, and I asked no questions, and I did not want to know who was to blame.

Question. Suppose you had been on that road by daylight, as you say you might have easily been, and had reached your position and turned their left as early as was intended, what effect do you think it would have had?

Answer. I think it would have had a very beneficial effect.

Question. And all the time you were delayed the enemy were changing their order of battle?

Answer. No, sir; I do not think they knew where we were going to attack them. When we got to Bull Run we were left on a high point, and we could see in the distance two different columns of dust. Captain Griffin and my staff were with me. I remarked upon it. We saw it coming, but did not know whether it was General Heintzelman coming in from above, or whether it was the enemy. We rather thought it was Heintzelman, as we expected him there if he was successful. The enemy came closer while we were staying there three-quarters of an hour, probably more. We could see their guns, and could see some blue pantaloons. We could distinguish this, when Major Woodbury came to me and said we had got now to Bull Run, and suppose we go down and have a consultation. I mentioned what I had seen to them. They had not observed it before. General Hunter moved the column and started them at once forward, threw out skirmishers, but before the skirmishers on the left were deployed they were at work. The enemy had just got there then, for we saw them coming two or three miles off at first. If we had got around there first we probably would have had the position in open ground to fight them. As it was we went right out from the woods. If we had got there a little earlier we could have chosen our position there to meet them.

Question. In that case you would have flanked them?

Answer. Yes, sir; we would have got between them and their re-enforcements. The plan of the battle was admirable; it could not have been better. Every thing was as well looked to and taken care of as could be.

Question. The only fault was this delay?

Answer. It may not have been a fault.

Question. Accident, then.

Answer. The fact existed. If we had gotten off in time, as we might, we would have got in around them.

By Mr. Covode:

Question. Were not Griffin’s and Ricketts’ batteries moved too far forward to be supported by infantry?

Answer. Not with good infantry.

By Mr. Gooch :

Question. Was the battery properly supported with infantry?

Answer. As well as could be. There were one or two regiments that did as well or better than any other volunteer regiments. As I said, the Brooklyn 14th behaved remarkably well.

By Mr. Covode:

Question. Were you in a position to see the enemy that were mistaken for our troops at the time they opened on the batteries?

Answer. I saw that regiment going by in the distance. I was 200 or 300 yards off.

By Mr. Gooch:

Question. What number of infantry supported those two batteries?

Answer. I cannot tell. The marines were intended for the support of Griffin’s battery in the first place. The Brooklyn 14th rallied on the battery in its first position. There was another regiment there; I do not now remember distinctly which it was. There was enough to support it if the troops had been steady. If we had had the same number of such troops as we have now they could have supported it. I know one regiment of the old regulars would have held it.

Question. How many guns were in those two batteries?

Answer. There were twelve. There were four rifled guns and two howitzers in Griffin’s battery. I do not recollect exactly about Ricketts’ battery, as it was not under my command.





JCCW – Gen. Daniel Butterfield

27 07 2009

Testimony of Gen. Daniel Butterfield

Report on the Conduct of the War, Vol. 2, pp. 207-210

WASHINGTON, January 20, 1862.

General DANIEL BUTTERFIELD sworn and examined.

By Mr. Chandler:

Question. What is your rank and position in the army?

Answer. I am a brigadier general of volunteers, and lieutenant colonel of the 12th regiment of infantry in the regular service.

By Mr. Odell:

Question. We want to know something about your connexion with the army under General Patterson’s command. Were you colonel of the 12th New York regiment under General Patterson?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. You first came to Washington?

Answer. Yes, sir; under orders from the governor of the State.

Question. And you went where from Washington?

Answer. From Washington we led the first advance over the Long Bridge in May into Virginia. About the 6th of July, I think, on a Sunday, we left Washington by rail to Baltimore, and thence to Hagerstown. We remained at Hagerstown one day. Hearing that General Patterson was going to make a fight or an advance the next day, the men were anxious to go ahead. We left Hagerstown at 6 o’clock at night, and came up with the advance guard to Martinsburg at 3 o’clock in the morning, 26 miles, besides fording the Potomac. That shows how anxious the men were to be in at the fight.

Question. How long did you remain at Martinsburg?

Answer. We remained there until Monday, the 15th.

Question. Where did you then go?

Answer. To Bunker Hill.

Question. What was the distance?

Answer. From 9 to 12 miles. I do not remember the exact distance.

Question. What did you understand was the object of that advance?

Answer. I understood the object was to advance on the position of the enemy.

Question. The enemy under General Johnston?

Answer. Yes, sir; at Winchester.

Question. Was that the understanding of the officers generally?

Answer. That was the general impression prevailing among the officers and troops, that we were going after Johnston at Winchester.

Question. What was the temper of the troops while you were at Bunker Hill?

Answer. They were very anxious for a fight; you might say “spoiling for a fight,” some of them. The three regiments under my command were anxious for a fight.

Question. Was there any dissatisfaction in the army there?

Answer. Not any in my brigade. I knew nothing at all about the other regiments at that time. I was assigned, shortly after my arrival at Martinsburg, to the command of a brigade which consisted of the 12th and 5th New York militia and the 19th and 28th New York volunteers. I started from Martinsburg with the command of this brigade. I had had command of it for some time at Martinsburg; I know they were generally very anxious for a fight. With regard to the disposition of the other troops in the army there I knew nothing at that time. My time was fully occupied in taking care of my own men.

Question. In your intercourse with the officers of that force did you hear any dissatisfaction expressed?

Answer. Not the slightest. On the contrary, the general expression of the officers, of my own regiments particularly, was one of the greatest anxiety to get into a fight. They expressed great dissatisfaction in being ordered away from Washington, as they thought they would then see no fighting. I had a personal interview with General Scott, and he told me it was a very important movement indeed, and that we would probably be in a fight sooner than by remaining here, and when I told my officers that they were perfectly willing and anxious to go.

Question. Did you understand that the object of your going from here to Martinsburg, to Patterson’s column, was to prevent Johnston from joining Beauregard?

Answer. I did not at the time we moved.

Question. Did you after you got there?

Answer. I did not until after the whole affair was over. I did not understand that that was the particular object for which General Scott designed us. He simply told me that our movement was a very important one, one of great importance. He made that remark to me before we left Washington, on the 6th of July. He said: “I have picked out your regiment as one of the best disciplined, and we calculate that you will lead the way; that you will not disappoint us in the estimate we have made of you.” I supposed from that that there was work of some kind cut out for us there.

Question. How long did you remain at Bunker Hill?

Answer. We remained there two days. We left Bunker Hill to go to Charlestown on the 17th of July.

Question. What was the effect of your position at Bunker Hill upon the enemy?

Answer. It was a threatening position upon the enemy. We were twelve miles from Winchester, and we were in close expectation of a fight there; the troops expected it.

Question. Did you make any demonstration forward from Bunker Hill?

Answer. Yes, sir; while at Bunker Hill the Rhode Island battery and some other troops—I think Colonel Wallace’s Indiana regiment and some cavalry— went out to within six miles of Winchester, where they found an abatis constructed across the road, with a cavalry picket, which they drove in. They threw some shells towards Winchester. I afterwards understood that the effect of that demonstration was to draw up the whole of Johnston’s army in line of battle behind their intrenchments at Winchester. This I learned from a young officer who was attached to the staff and went out with the expedition.

Question. Was this abatis a serious impediment to the movement of a large body of troops?

Answer. It was simply trees felled across the road—not much of an impediment ; this young officer who gave me the account of it stated that a large number of trees had been felled across the road to impede the advance of the army. I supposed it was merely a precaution to enable the force behind to get into line to receive any body of men coming up.

Question. Did you receive any orders while at Bunker Hill to make an attack upon the enemy?

Answer. I do not now remember. I have got copies of all the orders I received. If there are any such orders among them I can send them to the committee. Our orders generally came about 11 o’clock at night, and were promulgated immediately. We oftentimes used to keep the orders sent to us to be sent out by staff officers to be read to the colonels, deeming it necessary to have it done at once.

Question. At what time did you receive your order to go to Charlestown?

Answer. I think we got it at 11 o’clock the night before we moved. We moved to Charlestown on the 17th. I am very positive the order came between 10 and 11 o’clock at night to move the next morning at daylight.

Question. What was the effect of that movement upon the troops?

Answer. Well, sir, it was bad.

Question. Why was it bad?

Answer. Well, sir; one colonel came to me and said that the men said they were retreating; and that if they carry their colors at all they would carry them boxed up.

Question. Was it not a retreat?

Answer. I did not so consider it at the time.

Question. Was it not a retreat, so far as your relative position to the enemy was concerned?

Answer. I did not consider it so at the time, from the nature of the country, as shown by the map. I was not consulted or advised what the nature of the movement was. I simply received the order and obeyed it. . I did not know but what it was an attempt to cut off General Johnston from making a junction with Beauregard, by getting our army between him and Manassas.

By the chairman:

Question. Was it not the understanding of the troops when they started that they were merely going down to another road, and then to throw themselves in the rear of Johnston?

Answer. I had that impression, and I think I circulated it as a matter of policy among the troops. If I did pot circulate and give currency to it, I explained that we could make such a move when we got to Charlestown as would not bring us in front of the intrenchments prepared for us at Winchester.

Question. Which, in your opinion as a military man, was the better position to prevent Johnston from joining Beauregard—Bunker Hill or Charlestown?

Answer. I should have selected Charlestown if my movements could have been concealed, because I could have attacked Johnston, with his army marching in flank, if he had attempted to move. I would not have attacked him at Winchester, where he was intrenched and prepared to defend himself.

By Mr. Odell:

Question. In leaving Bunker Hill for Charlestown did you not free Johnston from our control?

Answer. No, sir; not if our movements were directed to hold him. The army was in position at Charlestown, if it was determined to cut Johnston off from joining Beauregard, to be thrown in between him and the Shenandoah.

Question. How far is Charlestown from Winchester?  More or less than Bunker Hill?

Answer. A greater number of miles. But we would have no further to go to reach the line which Johnston would have to take to Manassas than we would at Bunker Hill?

Question. Do you know what our force was at Bunker Hill?

Answer. I had no positive knowledge. I judged it to be about 20,000.

Question. Did you at any time offer to make a fight with your portion of the army there?

Answer. I stated to General Sanford that we had come there for a fight; that we were ready to fight; and if there was going to be a fight, we wanted to be counted in, and we were willing to lead at any time when the fight was opened.





JCCW – Gen. Daniel Tyler Part II

26 07 2009

Testimony of Gen. Daniel Tyler

Report on the Conduct of the War, Vol. 2, pp. 206-207

WASHINGTON, January 22, 1862.

General DANIEL TYLER re-examined.

The witness said: I made one mistake in my testimony when before the committee on Monday last. I then stated that I received no orders from General McDowell during the day of the battle of Bull Run. That was an error. I did receive an order from him about 11 o’clock in the morning to press the attack. That was the time when Sherman’s brigade advanced and relieved Burnside’s brigade.

By Mr. Gooch:

Question. What regiments were engaged in the action at Blackburn’s Ford?

Answer. Two Michigan regiments, a regiment from Massachusetts, and one from New York. The skirmishers belonging to those regiments were those who were engaged with the enemy. The others were sustaining the skirmishers in the woods.

Question. What was the conduct of the Massachusetts regiment, Colonel Cowdin?

Answer. Colonel Cowdin’s regiment I had immediately under my eye during the whole of that affair. They behaved like gallant, brave men, and had no superiors, as a regiment, in my opinion, on the field.

Question. The regiment was well commanded?

Answer. Yes, sir; it was well led and well commanded. I will say thaton Sunday Ayres’s battery repulsed the charge of the enemy’s cavalry on the Warrenton turnpike, and that was what effectually checked and drove off the pursuit.

By Mr. Covode:

Question. Did you know, before the engagement on Sunday, that Johnston had arrived with his force?

Answer. Yes, sir; we knew that Johnston’s forces began to arrive Friday afternoon, for we could hear, at Blackburn’s Ford, the trains arrive at Manassas, and we knew they came on the Winchester road. On Saturday afternoon I told General Cameron that, in my opinion, Johnston’s army had arrived. At the time we received orders on Saturday evening previous to the battle, I asked General McDowell this question: “General, what force have we to fight to-morrow?” He replied: “You know, general, as well as I do.” My reply was, “General, we have got the whole of Joe Johnston’s army in our front, and we must fight the two armies.” I gave him the reason for that belief, that we had heard the trains coming in. He made no reply.

Question. What, in your judgment, would have been the result if you had fought them the day before?

Answer. I believe we would have whipped them beyond question before Johnston’s forces arrived. I never had a doubt that, single-handed, we could have whipped Beauregard’s army.





JCCW – Gen. Daniel Tyler Part I

25 07 2009

Testimony of Gen. Daniel Tyler

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

WASHINGTON, January 20, 1862.

General DANIEL TYLER sworn and examined.

By the chairman:

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

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

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

Answer. I was there.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Mr. Gooch:

Question. At what time was that?

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

Question. Have you anything further to state?

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

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

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

By Mr. Odell:

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

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

By Mr. Gooch:

Question. Was yours the leading division?

Answer. Yes, sir.

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

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

Question. What time did your movement commence?

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

Question. You were to advance how far?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Answer. Yes, sir.

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

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

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

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

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

Answer. We passed there before four o’clock.

Question. Or in two hours after you started?

Answer. Yes, air.

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

Answer. Alongside the road, but off it.

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

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

By Mr. Odell :

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Mr. Gooch:

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

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

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

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

Question. That was not done, was it?

Answer. Yes, sir.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Question. What column was in advance?

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

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

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

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

Answer. At the time he joined us?

Question. Yes, sir.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Mr. Chandler:

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

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

Question. Supported by a brigade?

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

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

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

Question. It was intended as a mere reconnoissance?

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

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

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. You did not expect Johnston down there?

Answer. No, sir.

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

Answer. We should have whipped Beauregard beyond a question.

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

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

By Mr. Gooch:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Mr. Odell:

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

Answer. No, sir; I did not.





JCCW Testimony

24 07 2009

I need to get around to writing up a description of the Joint Congressional Committee on the Conduct of the War, commonly referred to as the JCCW.  For now, I guess you can check out this Wikipedia entry.  If you’re more daring, check out Bruce Tap’s Over Lincoln’s Shoulder.

I hope you’ve been reading the testimony as I post it.  If you read everything sequentially, you see how the committee members are striving to make their points, attempting to back the witnesses into corners, favoring certain testimonies over others, looking to get their man.  Gradually, you become proud of some witnesses for sticking to their guns and are repulsed by others for pandering to the committee.  And you begin to realize that this had less to do with finding the truth than with establishing a truth.





JCCW – Col. Craig Biddle

24 07 2009

Testimony of Col. Craig Biddle

Report on the Conduct of the War, Vol. 2, pp. 194-198

WASHINGTON, January 18, 1862.

Colonel CRAIG BIDDLE sworn and examined.

By the chairman:

Question. Did you serve under General Patterson in his campaign into Virginia?

Answer. Yes, sir; I was his aide-de-camp.

Question. We desire a statement, in as brief yet comprehensive a manner as occurs to you, of the military incidents of that campaign, beginning with your movement from Martinsburg to Charlestown. That probably is the most of the military part that we care to inquire into. What number of men did you have at Martinsburg?

Answer. I do not recollect precisely the number. I would not like to state that except from the documents.

Question. About how many do you suppose?

Answer. I suppose we had about 18,000 men; that is, after Colonel Stone came up with his command.

Question. You marched from Martinsburg with about that number?

Answer. I think so.

Question. Where did you go?

Answer. To a place called Bunker Hill, and then diverged to Charlestown.

Question. What was your object in going to Bunker Hill?

Answer. To make a demonstration against Johnston, who was supposed to be at Winchester, and to create the impression that we were going to Winchester.

Question. Was he at Winchester while you were at Martinsburg?

Answer. We supposed so; or rather he remained at Bunker Hill a day, and then fell back on Winchester.

Question. You advanced to Bunker Hill with the intention of giving him battle?

Answer. If he was there, that was the idea. The idea was either to attack him there—it was estimated that the column was not strong enough to attack him, and therefore we meant by demonstration to hold him there as long as we could.

Question. Was not the object of your army to hold Johnston in the valley of Winchester until after the battle at Manassas?

Answer. We hoped to do so. I understood that was the object.

Question. You went to Bunker Hill?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. That was on the road from Martinsburg to Winchester, was it?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question How long did you remain at Bunker Hill?

Answer. I think we were there only a day.

Question. One day?

Answer. I think so; we went on the 16th, which was Tuesday, and stayed there until Thursday or Friday, I think. No, sir; we got to Charlestown on Sunday morning, and we must have left Bunker Hill on Saturday.

Question. From Bunker Hill you made a reconnoissance still further towards Winchester?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. With a view of advancing the army still further?

Answer. Yes, sir. I ought to say to you that I am not a military man. This was my first experience in military matters. I voted for Mr. Lincoln, and I thought it my duty to set an example and go in the field, if necessary, and I joined General Patterson’s staff; but upon questions relating to the military conduct of the campaign I do not feel my judgment sufficiently good for the committee to take.

Question. You came here at the instance of General Patterson to give us, I suppose, such information as he desires to have stated. I do not know precisely what he wants. We have a pretty full account of that transaction. But he wanted us to examine you. I do not know exactly to what points, and therefore I wish you to testify to anything material which occurs to you.

Answer. Anything I should say would, of course, be very much like the observations of any other person who was not a military man.

Answer. Very well; state any facts that may occur to you as material to General Patterson or to the government.

Answer. The point I have always understood to be in controversy was the propriety of General Patterson’s going on to Winchester.

By Mr. Odell:

Question. We are not discussing or examining any controversy here; we merely want the facts.

Answer. I do not speak of what is said or thought here, but of what is said by others.

By the chairman:

Question. If we had summoned you I should know what it was for; but I do not know. I want General Patterson to have a fair hearing, and to let his witnesses who were with him state what they may know in relation to the matter.

Answer. I was present, of course, at all the discussions. The discussion at Martinsburg was as to whether or not General Patterson should go on to Winchester. General Patterson was very full of that himself. He was determined to go to Winchester; but the opinions of all the regular officers who were with him were against it. The opinions of all the men in whose judgment I had any confidence were against it. They seemed to have the notion that General Patterson had got his Irish blood up by the fight we had had at Falling Waters, and was bound to go ahead. He decided upon going ahead against the remonstrances of General Porter, who advised against it. He told me he considered he had done his duty, and said no more. The movement was delayed in consequence of General Stone’s command not being able to move right away. It was then evident that there was so much opposition to it that the general was induced to call a council of the general officers in his command, at which I was present. They were unanimously opposed to the advance. That was at Martinsburg.

Question. You did advance to Bunker Hill?

Answer. The order of General Scott was, that if he thought he was not strong enough to attack Johnston he was to make a demonstration and endeavor to hold him there as long as he could. General Scott had fixed Tuesday, the 16th, as the day on which this was to be done. Those despatches I saw. General Patterson advanced on Tuesday, and held him there until Thursday afternoon; and we were all as confident as possible that the battle at Manassas had been fought, and that General Patterson had succeeded in doing all he could; and the flank movement down to Charlestown was considered judicious by everybody, especially as we considered that our utility there was at an end.

Question. You say that before that, at Martinsburg, it was not thought best to attack Johnston?

Answer. It was thought by all the officers there that a forward movement was not advisable; that our troops were entirely undisciplined. Although it was thought perfectly proper to attack in the open field, as General Patterson had been trying to do ever since he started, yet it was perfectly idle to attack the intrenchments at Winchester. Everybody represented the force of General Johnston as from 30,000 to 40,000.

Question. Where were you when you heard that he had been re-enforced ?

Answer. At Martinsburg, I think.

Question. Was it not at Bunker Hill that you first heard that?

Answer. No, sir; I do not think so.

Question. Do you think it was before the council of war was held at Martinsburg?

Answer. I think so.

Question. It is your opinion, then, that General Patterson could not have prevented General Johnston from going to Manassas?

Answer. I do not think he could possibly have done anymore than he did. As I say, my opinion is founded upon the opinions of all those gentlemen in whom I have the utmost confidence. I consider General Porter one of the most accomplished officers I ever had the pleasure to meet with.

Question. When did you first hear any complaints there that the regiments wanted to go home?

Answer. I think there was no question about their going until they got to Charlestown. The time of none of them expired until then. They all expected to go home at the end of their three months. There was no appeal made to them until we got to Charlestown.

Question. They manifested no dissatisfaction before that time?

Answer. No, sir; I do not know as they did until at Charlestown, when they expected to go home. I recollect perfectly the discussions that took place in regard to those troops. The regular officers said the troops would not stay a day after their time had expired. The general said: “Well, you will see.” They said: “We know, because we saw it in Mexico.” I said: “This is entirely a different matter; this is a fight for the existence of our government, and the men will not dare go home, I think.” General Patterson took it up and went out and made a direct appeal to the men. The general speaks very well under all circumstances, and he made remarkably good speeches then, as I thought, and as all thought. The general went to his son’s regiment, which was a very fine regiment, and which we understood was willing to remain. The general made a speech to them, but to our surprise a considerable number of them refused to put up their muskets when the question was put to them. The officers were very much mortified at this, and spoke to the men, and finally they got them, with few exceptions, to put up their muskets. But still it was a sort of touch-and-go with them. That was the first time the fear crossed my mind that there would be trouble. The general then went to the other regiments, but found that it was not feasible at all; from one-half to two-thirds refused to go. He finally got to an Irish regiment and made a very powerful appeal to them, knowing the Irish character very well. He carried them with a sort of shout, and they all said they would remain. They all lifted up their mnskets. But he had hardly turned his back when they hallooed out, “Shoes and pants!” “Shoes and pants!”

Question. And it was evident, then, that you could do no more?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. You did not expect after you turned off to Charlestown that there would be any fighting?

Answer. It was supposed that if it were necessary to advance we could advance better from Charlestown than from Bunker Hill. We had not such a long line to protect; Bunker Hill was clear in the enemy’s country, where it was not possible to do anything with the supplies we had.

Question. Then you knew very well it was no longer possible to hold Johnston from going to Manassas?

Answer. We thought he had gone.

Question. And if he had gone you supposed you could not have prevented his going?

Answer. We thought we could do it better if we should advance from Charlestown than from the other place, because we could get supplies. It was the opinion of the quartermaster, commissary, and engineers, that we were on a false line at Bunker Hill, and that the enemy would get in our rear.

Question. Of course you did not know whether he had gone or not?

Answer. We heard he had gone on Thursday afternoon.

Question. That was the first you heard of it?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. If he had gone why did you not go to Winchester?

Answer. We thought we should do no good, for if we went there we would have to come back again; we could not hold it.

By Mr. Odell:

Question. Where did General Sanford join you; was he with you at Martinsburg with his re-enforcements?

Answer. I think he joined us at Martinsburg.

Question. Did you include his men in the 18,000 you said you had there?

Answer. Yes, sir; I think we did.

Question. The understanding among your officers, I think you said, was to fight or to hold Johnston in the valley of Winchester?

Answer. We understood that that was what was desired; to fight him if we could, or, if not, to hold him there as long as we could; that is, for this fixed time; to hold him there on the 16th, which was the day that General Patterson was directed to hold him there.

Question. Was that all that he was directed to do; to hold him there one day?

Answer. That was the day on which he was to make an advance, to pretend to attack him, or rally to attack him, in order to hold him there. General Scott was to let General Patterson know on what day he wanted him to advance, or to make an attack, whichever he was able to do; and General Scott intimated to him, or telegraphed him directly, that it was on the 16th that he wanted him to do so; and having held the enemy there until Thursday afternoon, he conceived that he had done all that General Scott desired him to do. It was impossible to hold him any longer time there, for the time of the men was expiring then. There is an impression abroad in regard to General Patterson’s popularity among the men. I believe General Patterson was always an extremely popular commander, and that all this dissatisfaction with him was got up afterwards; it was entirely an afterthought.

Question. While at Bunker Hill, the night before you left there, were any orders issued to march on the enemy?

Answer. I think there were such orders.

Question. Did not General Patterson issue orders at Bunker Hill, the night before you marched to Charlestown, for an attack on the enemy?

Answer. I think such orders were written. I do not think they were issued. I think General Patterson was again persuaded not to make an advance. General Patterson was extremely popular with the army until after those men got home. They all expected to be received at home with great homage; but General Patterson having asked them to stay, and they having refused, the first question asked of them after they got home was, “Why did you not stay? why did you refuse to remain?” And in order to answer that question they had to get up some excuse, and it took the form very often of abuse of General Patterson.

Question. Were not the men in good spirits and ready to fight while at Bunker Hill?

Answer. Yes, sir; the men were ready to fight at any time. I always conceived that the spirit of the men was broken when they were ordered back across the Potomac. They had been hanging on week after week, and had got the impression that there was to be no fight at all; and they did not want to be kept there on the borders for no purpose at all. And the men had got the idea that their time was out, and there would be no fight at all. When this order was given everybody was in the highest possible spirits. They dashed across the river, and the whole army was aroused to go forward. We got two orders from Washington. The general did not mind the first order; then there was another one which said, “I have twice ordered you to send on all the regular troops.” And the men came back from over the river, and became greatly disheartened.

By Mr. Covode:

Question. Did you not believe all the time, up to the time when you turned back to Charlestown, that the men would remain over their time if they could have been led forward against the enemy?

Answer. I think, if the thing had been put through in a spirited way from the first, after they had got into it, they would not have backed out. There were various reasons which justified the men. The force had been raised in a great hurry—in a month or two—and a great many of their officers were totally inefficient. They had a perfect dread of going into battle with their officers, and they wanted to go back and enter into new organizations the next day after they got back.








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