#27 – Capt. Romeyn B. Ayres

3 10 2007


Report of Capt. Romeyn B. Ayres, Fifth U.S. Artillery

(Edit – Commanding Light Battery E, 3rd U. S. Artillery)

O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 2 [S# 2] — CHAPTER IX, pp. 373-374



Camp Corcoran, Virginia, July 25, 1861.

SIR: I have the honor to report the part taken in the battle of the 21st instant by this battery.

The battery advanced in the morning with the brigade to which it was attached—Col. W. T. Sherman’s—on the center route upon the front of the enemy’s position. The battery operated from this position at times upon the enemy’s batteries and troops as occasion offered. About noon I started with the brigade, as ordered, to cross the open ground, the run, and to rise the bluff, with a portion of the battery, one section being detached at this time, operating upon a battery to the left. On arriving at the run it at once was apparent that it was impossible to rise the bluff opposite with the pieces. I sent an officer immediately to report the fact to Colonel Sherman and ask instructions. I received for reply that I should use my discretion.

I immediately returned to the central position. I remained at this point, operating upon the enemy’s guns and infantry, till ordered by General Tyler to cover the retreat of the division with the battery.

A body of cavalry at this time drew up to charge the battery. The whole battery poured canister into and demolished them. The battery moved slowly to the rear to Centreville.

I will add, that the coolness and gallantry of First Lieut. Dunbar R. Ransom on all occasions, and particularly when under fire of three pieces, with his section at short range, when the battery was about to be charged by a large body of cavalry, and also when crossing a broken bridge in a rough gully, and fired upon in rear by the enemy’s infantry, were conspicuous. The good conduct of First Lieut. George W. Dresser, Fourth Artillery, was marked, especially when threatened by cavalry, and at the ravine referred to above. Second Lieut. H. E. Noyes, cavalry, was energetic in the performance of his duties.

I lost four horses killed on 18th; two horses wounded on 18th; seven horses on 21st; three caissons, the forge, and a six-mule team and wagon (excepting one mule), on the 21st. I sent all these caissons, &c., ahead when preparing for the retreat, to get them out of the way. The fleeing volunteers cut the traces and took the horses of the caissons.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Captain, Fifth Artillery, Commanding Company E.


Third Artillery, A. A. A. G.



5 responses

20 10 2007
This Battery Just Keeps Going, and Going, and Going… « Bull Runnings

[…] in his narrative, then “A.G.C” was mistaken.  Sherman’s Battery did not cross Bull Run (see Ayres’ OR).  Only Ricketts’s Battery I, 1st US, Griffin’s West Point Battery, and Reynolds’s Rhode […]


2 11 2008
Sherman’s Battery, and Sherman’s Battery, Too, but not Really « Bull Runnings

[…] think the answer can be found in Ayres’s official report (I’ve made a new page for it here), and his Cullum and Heitman entries, the starting points for all biographical sketches of West […]


29 08 2010
Gil R.

Ayres refers to Lt. George W. Dresser of the 4th Artillery, but that battery wasn’t at the battle. Was he serving in a staff position? (His New York Times obituary, which I found through Google, confirms that he was at the battle, but says nothing more about this.)


29 08 2010
Harry Smeltzer

Dresser was a member of the USMA class of May, 1861, and he was commssioned a 2nd LT in the 4th Arty upon graduation. However, Dresser along with most graduates of the two classes of 1861 proceeded upon graduation to Washington to train volunteer troops then assembling there. When McDowell’s army advanced, most of the officers in Washington at the time attached either to staffs or to regular units like the artillery. Keep in mind that at the time of the battle Ayres had been assigned to the 5th Arty, Co. E – a unit that had yet to be organized. But he was still with his old command at the time of the battle.

Dresser in fact appears to have spent little time with the 4th Arty. After Bull Run he served in the defenses of Washington until the Peninsula Campaign, where it looks like he was perfoming staff engineering duties. He was acting Ordnance officer for 3d Corps theough 7 Days until the evacuation in August, then he went back to West Point to teach Arty tactics until August 1863.

He did command his battery in Tennessee from Dec. ’63 to March ’64, and served with the IG dept in Washington and with the 5th Corps until the end of the war. He resigned in Oct. of 1865 (he had received two brevets but no regular promotion past 1st LT).

He became a civil engineer and died at Newport, RI in 1883, at the young age of 46 and only two months after the death of his wife, at whose funeral service he took ill. Both he and his wife were buried in Newport.

Dresser’s Cullum number is 1906. Here’s his NYT obit:


2 09 2010
Gil R.

That all makes perfect sense. Thanks for the explanation!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: