#13 – Lt. John P. Hawkins

13 02 2008

Report of Lieut. John P. Hawkins, Acting Commissary of Subsistence, U.S. Army, of the subsistence of the Army from July 16 to 22

O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 2 [S# 2] — CHAPTER IX, pp 343-344

WASHINGTON, D.C., August 2, 1861

CAPTAIN: I have the honor to make the following report on the part performed by myself in connection with the commissary department subsisting the Army recently in the field under Brigadier-General McDowell:

On the evening of the 17th July I procured from Captain Symonds, commissary of subsistence at Alexandria, Va., a lot of provisions equal in bulk to fifty-six wagon loads, being in the principal parts of the ration equal to 64,700 rations, and in coffee and sugar a little over 70,000 rations. After some delay in getting the train started, occasioned by refractory teamsters, I at last got under way, and proceeded to join the main body of the Army at Fairfax Court-House, which I reached by 7 o’clock next morning, having traveled all night. Shortly after my arrival there the Army commenced the move towards Centreville, and its progress was so slow that the train was delayed there till evening before trying to make any move towards accompanying the troops. At this place Captain Clarke, C. S., relieved me from the charge of all the train excepting fourteen wagons with assorted loads, and with these, at about 4 p.m., I proceeded towards Centreville, via the Braddock road. The troops of my division (Fifth) were reached about 9 p.m., and as there was an immediate necessity for the distribution of the rations, they were divided out as rapidly as possible, without waiting for provision returns or any formal papers, beyond a return of the troops of the different organizations of the division, in order to give out to each its pro rata share of the whole amount. The troops marched on the 16th from the Potomac, carrying three days’ rations in their haversacks. The rations issued by me from my stores were for about two days and a half, commencing on the 19th. Subsequently, Lieutenant Curtis, of the Commissary Department, turned over to me additional stores sufficient to make a three days’ supply for the division, ending on the evening of the 21st.

In addition to the supplies in wagons, I took charge of, from Alexandria, ninety head of beef cattle, at estimated weight equal to 48,600 rations (deducting fifty per cent. gross). A portion of these was turned over to me for distribution to the Fifth Division and to Colonel Willcox’s brigade. On the evening of the 19th, by direction of Captain Clarke, C. S., I started on my return to Alexandria, with twenty-five wagons, to procure more supplies. I reached there on the morning of the 20th, but by reason of vexatious delays was unable to get the train loaded and on the way before 2 o’clock the next day, when I started with it to join the Army, and would have been able to have done so by 12 o’clock that night, but was ordered to return when within three miles of Centreville. The wagons all reached Alexandria safely on the morning of the 22d.

I have mentioned in my report that the troops started on the march with three days’ rations in their haversacks, but from that amount are to be deducted the coffee, sugar, beans, and rice, for the reason that, no transportation being allowed, the camp-kettles and mess-pans were not taken along. (I speak only of the Fifth Division, which obeyed the order literally.) So there were no means for the proper preparation of these parts of the ration, and they were in reality of but little account to the soldiers. In future marches without transportation, I would respectfully recommend that the bread and meat rations be increased, or that the order for the march should prescribe a certain number of camp-kettles to be carried by hand by each company, sufficient to make coffee and soup in.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,


First Lieutenant, Second Infantry, A. C. S.

Capt. H. F. CLARKE,

Commissary of Subsistence, Washington, D. C.

#12 – Lt. James Curtis

13 02 2008


Report of Lieut. James Curtis, Acting Commissary Subsistence, U. S. Army, of the subsistence of the Army from July 16 to 22

O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 2 [S# 2] — CHAPTER IX, pp 340-342

ARLINGTON HOUSE, VA., August 1, 1861

SIR: In obedience to your order of the date of yesterday, I have the honor to submit the following report of my operations in conducting subsistence stores to the army of General McDowell during its recent advance to Centreville and Bull Run:

On the 16th day of July a train of fifteen wagons from the Maine regiments, under charge of one Graves, wagon-master, reported to me at the storehouse of Lieutenant Grey, Second Artillery, A. C. S., near Fort Corcoran. These teams were in excellent order and under good management. These wagons I loaded with stores that day. On the morning of the 17th July I received from Capt. O. H. Tillinghast, A. Q. M., U. S. A. fifty more wagons. Of these I loaded forty-nine the same day, making in all a train of sixty-four wagons. These last teams were hastily put together, and not used to work, and were illy provided with extra materials to supply breakage, &c. The teamsters also were a great many of them utterly unfit for their business. In fact, the management of the train was a matter of great difficulty. One wagon, which was broken, I left behind in charge of Lieutenant Grey.

At 4 p.m. of the 17th I started for Falls Church with my train, intending to camp at that place for the night. But the teams worked so badly, and there was so little organization, that I was obliged to make frequent stops to keep together. There were some ten or twelve of the teams that were unable to pull one-half an ordinary load, and these caused me great trouble.

From 7 p.m. of the 17th instant until 3 a.m. of the 18th I was engaged in getting my train over the hill just beyond Camp Tyler, which is the worst on the whole road. I was obliged to change and double teams, and after getting over my teams were perfectly exhausted. I therefore stopped until daylight, to feed and give my train a few hours’ rest. At about 8 a.m. I moved on, reaching Vienna at 12 m., where I rested until 2.30 p.m.

In rear of my train I had sixty-five beef cattle. These I found no difficulty with. At 2.30 p.m. I moved on from Vienna with an escort of twenty men from the New Jersey regiment stationed there under Col. W. R. Montgomery. This was the first escort I had had. When near Fairfax Court-House I received an order to go by way of Germantown and to follow by the Centreville road. I came up with my train and cattle with the rear of the Army just after dark, and as it was impossible for my teams to pull farther that night, I camped, under the instructions of Captain Tillinghast, alongside of the road. There were at this time some ten or twelve of my wagons back on the road. I found that if I delayed to help these worthless teams over every little hill I should not be up in time with the mass of my stores, which I knew would be much needed. These teams, however, all joined me within two days, except one wagon, which was, I believe, turned over and badly broken, and left behind.

On the morning of the 19th, in obedience to your orders, I distributed the contents of forty-nine wagons to the division of Colonel Heintzelman. I then had two forage wagons, making in all fifty-one wagons that had come up, or thirteen wagons still behind, which joined afterwards, as I have stated. I found the men in an almost starving condition, and it was impossible, under the circumstances, to make out papers or go through any formalities. I divided the provisions in my train equally  as possible, and, by your order, parked my train near headquarters; the cattle near, and sixty-five in number, as when I started. Some of my other wagons having come up, I turned over six or seven with their stores to Lieutenant Hawkins, Second Infantry, A. C. S., by your order.

Having done this, you directed me to repair to Fairfax Station, to take charge of and forward all supplies for the Army. I arrived there at about 6 p.m. of the 19th, and immediately took the necessary steps to prepare storehouses and clear the track of the obstructions which the rebels had placed upon it, and which were very formidable, they having filled the deep cut there with trees and earth at least ten or twelve feet in depth and for a space of about two hundred feet.

I had on the 20th received a lot of rifle-cannon ammunition and one hundred and fifty boxes of small-arm cartridges, directed to Lieutenant Strong, Ordnance. These I was obliged to unload below the cut, and about a half mile from the station. On the morning of the 21st Capt. H. C. Symonds, C. S., sent me about ten thousand rations. I also received from Capt. E. O. Tyler, A. Q. M., on this date, five wagons, complete, and three thousand pounds oats, and from the camp at Centreville about thirty boxes muskets (old). This was all I had on hand on the evening of the 21st.

During the day I had been engaged in telegraphing the War Department of the progress of the battle, as near as I could judge. When the retreat commenced I telegraphed the War Department, “Shall I abandon this post, and by what roads” The answer was, “No.” I then telegraphed, “I have a large quantity of rifled cannon and small-arm ammunition. Shall I send it in by train?” To this I got no answer. I then received a dispatch directing me to throw everything from cars and send them in for troops, which I accordingly did. I did not send back the ammunition, because they telegraphed their intention to send more men and hold the position, and I judged also that, after the severe fight, if our men made a stand, they would want it. I therefore retained it, with everything on hand, as I stated.

We remained at the station expecting the arrival of troops until about 3 a.m. of the 22d, when our pickets reported that the northeast road to Alexandria had been blocked up by felling trees across it, and that the rebel cavalry were making their appearance near us. Shortly after this the War Department ordered the abandonment of the position by way of the railroad track to meet the cars which were on the way. Colonel McCunn of one of the New York regiments, was in command. The retreat was conducted in a quiet and orderly manner, every man being in his place. But upon arriving at Burke’s Station, where the First New Jersey three months’ men were, the scene beggared description. They lined the track, crowded into and ahead of our ranks, and acted other wise in the most disgraceful manner. I could see no officers, and it was a mere armed mob. In this shape, with our own ranks in good order, but surrounded by the citizen soldiers of New Jersey, we met the cars, upon which they speedily crowded, leaving us the best chances we could get after they had finished. I need not state what the result would have been had there been an attack upon us. The property which I had in charge at Fairfax Station I was obliged to leave, as I could not transport it. The twenty horses belonging to the wagons were mostly ridden in by teamsters and irresponsible persons, but the five wagons and three thousand pounds of oats were left behind. The teamsters were not willing to take them around by the roads at a time when we all supposed that the enemy was in full pursuit.

To sum up, there was left at Fairfax Station about 10,000 rations, 150 boxes small-arm cartridges, 87 boxes rifled-cannon ammunition, 30 boxes (about) old fire-arms, 5 wagons, and 3,000 pounds of oats. This is all I know of.

After reaching Alexandria I reported to Captain Symonds there, and to you in person near Arlington.

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


First Lieutenant, Fifteenth Infantry, A. C. S.

Capt. H. F. CLARKE,

Chief Commissary General McDowell’s Army, Arlington, Va

#11 – Lt. George Bell

13 02 2008


Report of Lieut. George Bell, Acting Commissary Subsistence, Army, of the Subsistence of the Army from July 16 to 22

O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 2 [S# 2] — CHAPTER IX, pp 338-340

WASHINGTON, D.C., August 1, 1861

SIR: In compliance with your instructions of the 31st ultimo, I have the honor to submit the following report:

On the 16th ultimo about fifty wagons arrived at Alexandria, Va., for the transportation of subsistence stores for General McDowell’s command. On the following day you directed me to forward about sixty more, sufficient for the amount of stores. These were in a very incomplete condition for the road, very few of the horses being shod; a large number of teamsters and wagon-masters very inexperienced; the horses new; a number of wagons requiring linchpins before they could be moved; also requiring hame-strings, extra traces, links, &c., necessary to produce a rapid and secure movement on the road. My whole attention was directed to putting them in proper condition, neglecting for a time my legitimate duties in the subsistence department. The recent establishment of the quartermaster’s depot in Alexandria, the constant and continued employment of the workmen for the volunteers, their limited number, besides its utter destitution of all the essentials of a quartermaster’s depot, compelled me to send to Washington for what requisites I could obtain.

Immediately after General McDowell’s presence there more energy was displayed. On the evening of the 17th and morning of the 18th 60,000 complete assorted rations, in parcels or sections of 15,000 each, were packed by me in about fifty-four wagons. I also attached one extra wagon to each section with the substantial parts of the ration. These wagons I turned over to Lieutenant Hawkins, U.S. Army, in a complete condition as far as the requirements of the Quartermaster’s Department were concerned. I then packed for myself, in a similar manner with the extra, 45,000 rations in about forty-eight wagons; all the hard bread in boxes. About 108,000 rations were taken by Lieutenant Hawkins and myself on the 18th ultimo. I also took seventy beef cattle.

On the 18th, with an escort of about two hundred men of the New Jersey Volunteers, commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Moore, I left Alexandria for Colonel Heintzelman’s command. The only information I could obtain before their departure was, they intended taking the extreme left. I was informed by General Runyon, commanding, that they had gone to Occoquan, and started on the road for that place. After having proceeded several miles, I was informed by an officer he had just left Colonel Heintzelman at Fairfax Station. I immediately changed my course, and proceeded direct to Fairfax Court-House, with the intention of going from thence to the station. I arrived at the Court-House about 4.45 p.m., and finding no person there from whom I could obtain any information, parked temporarily my train, sent Mr. Burns forward to look for you for orders, and proceeded myself direct to Fairfax Station to see Colonel Heintzelman. I found he had left a place two miles from there, on the advance, a few hours previous. As the cattle were completely exhausted by the extreme heat and the horses much tired, I camped for the night, and at 4 o’clock a.m. on the 19th started for Centreville, joining you about 8 o’clock a.m. After assisting you in the distribution of my stores, I returned the same night with the above one hundred empty wagons to Alexandria, arriving there about 6 o’clock on the morning of the 20th.

Mr. Leech accompanied me as chief wagon-master. We commenced loading as soon as practicable. I directed Mr. Leech to forward to Cloud’s Mill all the wagons as soon as loaded, and wait there until the entire train was completed. By 4 o’clock on the afternoon of the 21st ultimo all were on the road. I loaded, in sections of complete assorted rations of 7,000 and 14,000, 70,000 rations, and thirty wagons with the substantial parts of the ration–bread, meat, sugar, coffee, &c. About twenty-five wagons, with forage, &c., accompanied the train, with a few empty wagons for contingencies, as about sixty were idle in Alexandria when we left.

Lieutenant-Colonel Moore, with about three hundred New Jersey Volunteers, again joined me at Cloud’s Mill, which we left in complete order, expecting to join the command before daylight on the morning of the 22d. I was at the head of the train, and turned off about eight miles from Alexandria on a road I had previously traveled to avoid the hills. After proceeding from three to five miles farther I met a gentleman, who informed me the Army was routed and in full retreat. I proceeded about haft a mile farther, and met Lieutenant Stockton, of Colonel Hunter’s staff, with Colonel Hunter, wounded. He, in substance, told me the same. Believing that the presence of so large a train might embarrass the troops under any circumstances, and a delay of a few hours not materially affect them, I sent an express to General Runyon, requesting him to telegraph to Washington for instructions, and commenced parking my train in different fields along the road in small sections in such a manner it could advance or retire with rapidity, all the sections moving simultaneously.

I found, by approaching the rear, that Mr. Leech had failed to follow me, and taken about forty-five or fifty-five wagons on the road I left. I immediately sent a messenger to stop his train where it was, and also any cattle that might be on the road advancing, and to await further orders from me. (He was about one and a quarter miles from me.) After closing up his train he came up. I then directed him to park his train in a grass field, so he could move rapidly in either direction. I directed an expressman to proceed at once to General McDowell’s staff, and obtain such orders from you, or any reliable officer of the staff, as would control me. Lieutenant Mcintosh, of the New Jersey Volunteers, kindly volunteered, as also did Lieutenant-Colonel Moore. I also requested Lieutenant Mcintosh to examine carefully everything he could with reference to the movements, and return without delay. The expressman from General Runyon returned with the following order:

“General Scott directs you to halt, and govern your future movements by what you hear from the advance.” About 3.30 a.m. on the 22d ultimo Lieutenant Mcintosh returned, and said he had seen Lieutenant Hawkins, who told him the troops were retiring. He (Lieutenant Mcintosh) went on, and met a member of General McDowell’s staff (whose name he heard, but forgot), who informed him the Army were retiring, and expected to be at Arlington by daylight, if not cut off, and to tell me to get the wagons out of the road, so as not to embarrass them. He said he met some drovers with cattle hurrying back rapidly by your orders. I immediately ordered Mr. Burns to direct Mr. Leech to start without delay for Alexandria with such wagons as were with him, and started off the train with me. Mr. Leech followed me at the distance of a few hundred yards. The entire train arrived safely in Alexandria, without the loss of a wagon, before 7.30 a.m. on the 22d ultimo. A number of the wagons in the rear were stopped on the outskirts of the city and their contents taken. Also, after their arrival, I understand, a number were taken by troops of Colonel Davies’ brigade, but of the command I have nothing definite. I know the provisions left the Wagons after their return. I am confident all returned. As great disorder and confusion prevailed in Alexandria, I was apprehensive the wagons would be seized by the returning troops. I immediately proceeded to Washington and reported the fact to the Subsistence Department, who very judiciously ordered the entire train to Washington, with the cattle, which had also returned in safety. I am satisfied this movement alone saved the provisions from an unavoidable seizure.

Lieutenant-Colonel Moore and Lieutenant and Adjutant Mcintosh, of the New Jersey Volunteers, assisted in every possible manner, and kindly volunteered for any duty I might assign them to. The officers of Lieutenant-Colonel Moore’s command were also desirous of offering any aid in their power. Mr. Burns was invaluable to me as an assistant.

I have turned over all the stores in the train. The loss of hard bread was very heavy, from the inconvenience of transporting it and the breakage of the barrels.

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


First Lieutenant, First Artillery, A. C. S.

Capt. H. F. CLARKE, C. S.

In charge of Subsistence of General McDowell’s command