#10 – Capt. Henry F. Clarke

13 01 2008


Report of Capt. Henry F. Clarke, Commissary of Subsistence, U. S. Army, of the subsistence of the Army from July 15 to 21

O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 2 [S# 2] — CHAPTER IX, pp 236 – 238

ARLINGTON, VA., August 2, 1861

CAPTAIN: For the information of the general commanding the department, I have the honor to submit the following report in reference to the subsistence of the Army under his command during its recent operations in front:

On the 15th ultimo the commanders of divisions were directed to see that all the troops of their respective commands have cooked and in their haversacks by 3 p.m. the next day three days’ rations, and orders were given that five days’ additional subsistence should be loaded into wagon trains on the day of march, and follow the Army on the day succeeding, and that a specified number of beef cattle should be driven forward with each train.

Owing to the necessary number of wagons not being furnished in season to uninstructed and many worthless teamsters and green teams, and to some of the roads being bad, only one of the trains–that in charge of First Lieut. J. P. Hawkins, Second Infantry, A. C. S.–was able to overtake the Army on the morning of the 18th. It, with ninety head of beef cattle, July traveling all the previous night, arrived at Fairfax Court-House on the morning stated, before the Army had taken up its march. During the morning, while the Army was moving forward to Centreville, it was thought the other subsistence trains, in charge of First Lieuts. G. Bell, First Artillery, and James Curtis, Fifteenth Infantry, intended for Colonel Heintzelman’s and General Tyler’s divisions, respectively, would not reach the Army in season, and I was directed to distribute the subsistence in the train present as equally as possible amongst the several divisions. Fourteen wagons, containing about 17,000 rations, were sent, in charge of Lieutenant Hawkins, to the Fifth Division; the remaining wagons were directed to immediately proceed to Centreville, and I had made the best arrangements in my power to distribute the provisions they contained amongst the other three divisions.

Shortly after our arrival at Centreville I was officially informed that the train with sixty-five head of beef cattle, in charge of Lieutenant Curtis, was in the vicinity, and the train with seventy head of beef cattle, in charge of Lieutenant Bell, was at Fairfax Court-House. I then directed the first of these trains to come forward to Centreville and encamp for the night, and the second to come forward with as little delay as possible, and myself conducted the remaining wagons of Lieutenant Hawkins’ train, and turned them over to the officer (Lieutenant Merrill) directed by General Tyler to receive and distribute to the First Division the subsistence stores they contained.

I endeavored to distribute the subsistence stores equally amongst the several divisions according to the strength of each; but in consequence of the necessity of breaking up the train in charge of Lieutenant Hawkins which was intended for the divisions of Colonels Miles and Hunter, and the late arrival of the others, difficulties arose, and I may not have succeeded in my object.

Making due allowance for all losses on the march, according to the reports of the officers conducting the trains and my own observation at least 160,000 complete rations were received by the Army at and in the  vicinity of Centreville; sufficient for its subsistence for five days.

In a circular from department headquarters, dated at Centreville, July 20, 1861, commanders of divisions were directed to give the necessary orders that an equal distribution of the subsistence stores on hand might be made immediately to the different companies in their respective commands, so that they should be provided with the same number of days’ subsistence, and that the same be cooked and put into the haversacks of the men; and they were informed that the subsistence stores then in possession of each division, with the fresh beef that could be drawn from the chief commissary, must last to include the 23d instant. The three days’ subsistence it was directed the troops should have in their haversacks by 3 p.m. on the 16th of July should have lasted them to the afternoon of the 19th. After the distribution made in compliance with the circular above referred to, I know of several instances in which subsistence stores remained in possession of division and brigade commissaries, and of others in which provisions were left on the ground of the encampments on the morning of the 21st of July.

From personal observation on the march on the morning of the 21st of July, I know that generally the haversacks of the men were filled–whether properly or not I do not know. Regimental officers should be held accountable for that. During the battle and following it I noticed many filled haversacks, canteens, blankets, and other property lying on the ground, their owners having doubtless thrown them away to get rid of the labor of carrying them on so hot a day and under such trying circumstances.

I beg leave to call your attention to the reports of Lieutenants Bell, Hawkins, and Curtis. The duties they performed were highly important, all who are acquainted with the difficulties under which they labored and overcame will know that they acted with judgment and energy and for the best interests of the Government.

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


Captain and Commissary of Subsistence


Assistant Adjutant-General, Arlington, Va.

#9 – Lieut. Frederick E. Prime

13 01 2008

Report of Lieut. Frederick E. Prime, U.S. Corps of Engineers

O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 2 [S# 2] — CHAPTER IX pp 234 – 236

SIR: In compliance with your instructions, I have the honor to report as follows with respect to my duties on Sunday, the day of the battle:

Early in the morning I proceeded with Colonel Miles, to whose staff I was attached, to Centreville, leaving my tool wagon and detachment at the cross-roads in Centreville. The battery near the road from Fairfax Court-House having been examined by Colonel Miles, the pioneers of the Garibaldi Guard were directed to construct a [redoubt] with two embrasures, so as to sweep the old Braddock road, and resist any attempt to outflank us from the left, by Union Mills road or road from Gaines’ Ford. The road being still obstructed by the other columns, by order of Colonel Miles I started Colonel Davies’ brigade on the road to Blackburn’s Ford, reaching that road by a short cut across the fields. I then returned to Colonel Miles, and examined some positions for intrenchments on the left of the Blackburn road. These positions having been chosen, I was directed to proceed towards Blackburn’s Ford with my tools. Reaching Colonel Richardson’s brigade, I was informed that Colonel Davies was in command. I proceeded to the extreme left of the line and reported to him. I shortly after returned to the center, where Captain Hunt’s battery was stationed.

I was directed by Colonel Richardson to remain near the battery and keep watch on the movements of the enemy. Colonel Richardson proceeded to make an abatis to cover a road for infantry and artillery, which should connect with the left. This road was formed on the skirt of the wood by cutting down the trees necessary for the abatis. Considerable progress was made in a battery across the road with three embrasures. This had a log revetment for the interior slope, and some ten or twelve feet of dirt in front. Captain Hunt’s battery having been ordered to the left, Lieutenant Greene’s battery was advanced to replace it, two pieces being on the right of the road and two on the left. An excellent view could be obtained of the infantry, cavalry, and artillery, as they moved either towards or from the main battle-field, the road in many places passing over cleared ground.

One hundred and sixty skirmishers were directed to proceed by a ravine our left to feel the enemy. I proceeded with them. On approaching the road near Bull Run the enemy’s skirmishers fired upon them and they fell back, the orders being that no engagement should be brought on. Shortly afterwards I was directed by Colonel Miles to send my men and implements to Centreville, and to return with him, in order to attend to the defenses of that point. Shortly before reaching Centreville I was directed by Colonel Miles to put Colonel Blenker’s brigade in motion immediately for Warrenton Bridge. I did so, and on Colonel Miles’ arrival at Centreville I received orders to accompany the brigade and make a stand at Warrenton Bridge, or, if circumstances rendered it necessary, to countermarch and take a defensive position at Centreville.

The road was now thronged with a mingled mass of footmen, mounted men, wagons, &c. Before reaching the head of the column I received from an officer of high rank intelligence that the Army was in full retreat. I requested him to send the battery at the rear of the column back to Centreville. As I reached each regiment I had them deployed to the right and left to cover the retreat, with instructions to fall back slowly to Centreville. Colonel Blenker, with his leading regiment deployed in line of battle and covered with a line of skirmishers, asked for authority to move forward, so as to check any advance of the enemy’s cavalry. Deeming my instructions sufficient, I gave the necessary order in Colonel Miles’ name, and was glad to learn from Colonel Blenker next day that an advance of cavalry had been checked and some prisoners released. I then returned to Centreville for orders, and, finding Colonel Miles had been relieved of his command, reported to General McDowell. By his direction I proceeded towards the Union Mills to ascertain if there were any signs of the enemy in that direction. None being found, I was, on my return, directed to post the Twenty-seventh Pennsylvania Regiment on the right of the Blackburn Ford road. On returning from the discharge of this portion of my duty I was unable to find general headquarters. I remained with Greene’s battery until I was informed that the Army had been ordered to fall back to Fairfax Court-House and make a stand.

At 3.30 Monday morning I was at Fairfax Court-House with my wagon, ready to carry out such orders as I might receive. The troops continued to file through the town, and I ascertained from Colonel Blenker that new orders had been issued, directing the troops to fall back to their old positions on the south side of the Potomac. I started my wagon and detachment for the engineer depot at Fort Runyon, and, at Colonel Richardson’s request, accompanied him and his rear guard of two Michigan regiments. These, I believe, were the last troops that left Fairfax Court-House, and covered the retreat as far as the cross-roads formed by the Alexandria turnpike and road through Arlington Mills. I shortly afterwards ordered an advance, reaching Alexandria about noon on Monday.

Before closing my report I wish to mention Sergeant Field and ten men from the Fourth New Jersey (three months’) Volunteers, who accompanied my tool wagon and brought it back in safety, being the most of the time separated from me.

Respectfully submitted,


First Lieutenant, Engineers


Corps of Engineer’s, Washington, D.C.