Report of Lieut. Edward B. Hill, First U.S. Artillery
O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 2 [S# 2] — CHAPTER IX, pp 365-366
JULY 26, 1861
SIR: I have the honor to report that on Sunday, the 21st day of July, at 2.30 a.m., we left our camp at Centreville to proceed to Bull Run. At 5 o’clock we opened the action by firing the heavy rifled gun attached to our battery, eliciting no response. We then moved forward to the foot of the hill, and took a position in the woods on the right. A battery of the enemy presenting itself opposite us, doing much injury to one of our regiments, we opened upon it, and after an hour’s sharp firing completely destroyed it. We then used the heavy rifled gun with great advantage. In the afternoon we took a position on the left with Captain Ayres’ battery, but found it untenable on account of masked batteries of the enemy, the precise situation of which we could not ascertain. We then moved up the hill and halted. The enemy fired shell into this position, and we were ordered to go farther on. We then halted for a few moments, and soon after moved on over the hill. I was detained in the rear of the battery attending to one of the caissons which had lost a wheel. In the mean time Captain Ayres’ battery passed by me, so as to come between myself and our battery in front.
When I was ready to move on, I found Captain Ayres’ battery preparing for action at the brow of the hill. I then learned that our battery had been attacked by a body of secession cavalry, and all cut to pieces. Captain Ayres then advised me to attach my caisson, battery-wagon, and forge to his battery, and that I should go on and try to discover what had become of our own. On riding ahead I found a complete scene of destruction; wheels, limber-boxes, guns, caissons, dead and wounded men and horses were scattered all along the road. I was enabled, however, to find two pieces which I could bring along, and two men, Corporal Callaghan and Private Whitenech. I applied to the division commander for a detail of men to assist in bringing off these pieces, which he seemed indisposed to grant. Captain Ayres, on my applying to him, furnished me with men to act as teamsters, and placed my two pieces in his battery.
We thus arrived at the foot of the hill, when the enemy opened a fire of musketry upon us, which created the utmost confusion in our already retreating column. My men were obliged to leave the battery-wagon, forge, and caisson. At Centreville the retreating column made a stand, and I reported myself to Major Barry, chief of artillery, who attached me to Lieut. O. D. Greene’s battery at my request. My two pieces were then placed in position with the rest of the artillery to resist an attack. Colonel Jackson, of the New York Eighteenth Regiment, most kindly lent me a number of men to aid me as teamsters in place of those of Captain Ayres, whom I returned. We soon after received an order to retreat to Fairfax. Owing to the inexperience of my men I did not get my horses harnessed in time, and consequently when I started was nearly half a mile in rear of the whole retreating column. I finally caught up to Major Hunt’s battery, and was advised by him to push ahead, which I did. At Fairfax I received an order to proceed immediately to Washington. I reached Fort Albany, opposite Washington, at 11 o’clock Monday morning, July 22, where Lieutenant Cook, of the Twenty-fifth Regiment, kindly received me, and gave me all that was necessary to restore me after the fatigues of the march.
I feel particularly indebted to Captain Ayres and to the officers of his battery–Lieutenant Greene, Colonel Jackson, and Major Hunt–for their valuable aid through the difficulties and embarrassments of the retreat from Bull Run to Washington.
I have the honor to be, your most obedient servant,
EDWD. BAYARD HILL,
Second Lieutenant, First Artillery
Capt. J. H. CARLISLE