#107 – Capt. H. G. Latham

31 05 2008

Report of Capt. H. G. Latham, Commanding Section of Artillery

O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 2 [S# 2] — CHAPTER IX, pp. 553-554

The first section of my battery had been stationed for some days before the 21st on a bluff bank of Bull Run a short distance, say one hundred yards, on the left of the ford. It was aided by the second section of Rogers’ Loudoun Artillery, under Lieutenant Heaton. The second section of my battery, under Lieutenant Davidson, had been some days before detached and assigned to the command of Major (now Brigadier-General) Evans. About 10 o’clock on the morning of the 21st the enemy’s skirmishers appeared, crossing the open ground in my front. Almost at the same time they brought a single piece of artillery to bear upon my position, and opened fire. I returned the fire from my half battery, and immediately another gun was added to the first and joined in the fire upon me. They fired shot, shell, and grape. After a short time, however, their guns ceased firing, one or more of their pieces having been disabled by our fire, and my half battery remained for some time inactive.

I subsequently moved my half battery to an eminence in the open field about six hundred yards east of the Lewis house, for the purpose of protecting the advance of Colonels Withers and Preston’s regiments. Here I was rejoined by the left section of my battery, under command of Lieutenant Davidson. I was ordered by Captain Harris, of the Engineers, to advance; was conducted by him across the field to a position on the ridge about four hundred yards north of the Lewis house, where I remained but a short time, until I was conducted by him across a ravine leading to the mouth of Young’s Branch. I took position upon the ridge next beyond the ravine, being about three-quarters of a mile southwest of my first position, and about —- yards east of the Henry house. Here I opened fire upon the re-enforcements of the enemy appearing upon the brow of the hill a little to the right of our front, and distant about seven hundred yards. I continued this fire, and aided in checking the advance of the enemy, who were driven back from this point in disorder. I moved my battery about three hundred yards to the right, and continued to fire upon the retreat until the charge of our cavalry, near the close of the battle, rendered it no longer safe to our troops to do so.

For the action of my second section I must refer to the report of General Evans, to whose command they had been assigned, and with whom they acted during the battle. I feel it a duty to speak in terms of high approval of my command during the engagement. My lieutenant (Foukes) and my gunners (Richardson and Rice) rendered most efficient service. The men served the guns with spirit and skill. We endeavored to do our duty, leaving to others to attribute to us such commendations as we may deserve.

I cannot refrain from expressing my admiration of the skill and coolness with which Captain Harris, of the Engineers, selected and led me into position, and tender him my thanks for the kindness and courtesy with which he introduced me to my first field of actual service. I annex a report of the casualties of the day:

Casualties.–1 man wounded; 1 horse killed, 3 wounded.

Respectfully, colonel, your obedient servant,


Captain, Artillery


Commanding Fifth Brigade, Virginia Volunteers

#106 – Capt. John S. Langhorne

31 05 2008

Report of Capt. John S. Langhorne, Thirtieth Virginia Cavalry

O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 2 [S# 2] — CHAPTER IX, pp. 552-553


SIR: I have to report at the battle of the 21st July my company was detailed as a support to the first section of the Loudoun Artillery, when they were exposed to the heavy fire (cross-fire) from the enemy’s batteries. We were not relieved from that duty until a late hour of the day, when, with several squadrons of cavalry, under command of Lieutenant-Colonel Munford, of Radford’s regiment, we were ordered to intercept and charge the retreating column of the enemy. This was done with spirit and alacrity by my command, and resulted in the capture of thirty-two prisoners, ten horses, three wagons, one wagon of ammunition, a large and valuable assortment of surgical instruments, thirty-six muskets, a number of pistols, all of which, with the exception of the pistols, one wagon, and two horses have been delivered to the proper authorities at Manassas.

My command lost two horses, and two men wounded from the accidental discharge of their own guns; also six shot-guns in the charge.

I hope some effort will be made to remount my men and supply those with arms who have lost them through an order given by the commander of the squadron when the charge was made.



Captain Company B, Radford’s Regiment

MEM.–As to the number killed by my command I decline speaking. I know it was very considerable.

J. S. L., Captain, &c.


Commanding Fifth Brigade, Virginia Volunteers

Microsoft Live Search

27 05 2008

Thanks to this post by Eric Wittenberg, I’m aware that Microsoft has given up on its digitization project.  A good many of the digital books I have listed on my First Bull Run Books and Articles On-Line page are part of this project.  For now the links work, but if the project indeed “goes dark”, they’ll be worthless and I’ll have to find alternatives.  As I do, I’ll change the hyperlinks.  If you run across a link that doesn’t work, drop me a note.  If you have an alternative site address, let me know that, too.

Charleston Related Civil War Readings

27 05 2008

One of the most popular posts I’ve made here at Bull Runnings is A Few Charleston Civil War Sites.  I still receive questions and comments on that article, and in an attempt to answer a few of the inquiries I’ve received, I went through my library and pulled out my books relating to the campaign to capture the seat of secessia, AKA the Holy City:

In 1970, E. Milby Burton published The Siege of Charleston, 1861-1865.  This book provides an overview of military activities in the vicinity from the outbreak of the rebellion to the fall of the city.

Patrick Brennan’s Secessionville: Assault on Charleston, was published in 1996 and chronicles events leading up to and following the battle of June 16, 1862.  I’ve used this book and the author’s General’s Tour in Blue & Gray magazine to tour James Island.

Written by Stephen R.Wise and published in 1994, Gate of Hell: Campaign for Charleston Harbor, 1863 covers the activities around the city, including Battery Wagner and James Island, during the summer of 1863.

Siege Train: The Journal of a Confederate Artilleryman in the Defense of Charleston, edited by Warren Ripley and published in 1986, is the wartime diary of Confederate Major Edward Manigault.  Manigault is a pretty big name in Charleston.

The Civil War at Charleston is a collection of Charleston Evening Post and Charleston News and Courier articles published during the Civil War Centennial from 1960-1965.  The articles were written by Warren Ripley and Arthur M. Wilcox.

Charleston at War: The Photographic Record 1860-1865, is a Frassanito-like then-and-now photo book by Jack Thomson put out by Thomas Publications in 2000.  Very handy, if not very cool, to take along when touring the town, as is Confederate Charleston: An Illustrated History of the City and the People during the Civil War, by Robert N. Rosen (1994).

For what it’s worth, that’s what I have in my library for Charleston (excluding books on the outbreak of the war).

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. – May 30, 1884

26 05 2008

Supreme Court Chief Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr, about 1930

Holmes’ Our Hearts were Touched with Fire speech, delivered to the John Sedgwick Post No. 4, Grand Army of the Republic.  Here is a site that identifies those individuals remembered by Holmes.


Not long ago I heard a young man ask why people still kept up Memorial Day, and it set me thinking of the answer.  Not the answer that you and I should give to each other – not the expression of those feelings that, so long as you live, will make this day sacred to memories of love and grief and heroic youth – but an answer which should command the assent of those who do not share our memories, and in which we of the North and our brethren of the South could join in perfect accord.

So far as this last is concerned, to be sure, there is no trouble.  The soldiers who were doing their best to kill one another felt less of personal hostility, I am very certain, than some who were not imperilled by their mutual endeavors.  I have heard more than one of those who had been gallant and distinguished officers on the Confederate side say that they had had no such feeling.  I know that I and those whom I knew best had not. We believed that it was most desirable that the North should win; we believed in the principle that the Union is indissoluable; we, or many of us at least, also believed that the conflict was inevitable, and that slavery had lasted long enough.  But we equally believed that those who stood against us held just as sacred conviction that were the opposite of ours, and we respected them as every man with a heart must respect those who give all for their belief.  The experience of battle soon taught its lesson even to those who came into the field more bitterly disposed.  You could not stand up day after day in those indecisive contests where overwhelming victory was impossible because neither side would run as they ought when beaten, without getting at least something of the same brotherhood for the enemy that the north pole of a magnet has for the south–each working in an opposite sense to the other, but each unable to get along without the other.  As it was then, it is now.  The soldiers of the war need no explanations; they can join in commemorating a soldier’s death with feelings not different in kind, whether he fell toward them or by their side.

But Memorial Day may and ought to have a meaning also for those who do not share our memories.  When men have instinctively agreed to celebrate an anniversary, it will be found that there is some thought of feeling behind it which is too large to be dependent upon associations alone.  The Fourth of July, for instance, has still its serious aspect, although we no longer should think of rejoicing like children that we have escaped from an outgrown control, although we have achieved not only our national but our moral independence and know it far too profoundly to make a talk about it, and although an Englishman can join in the celebration without a scruple.  For, stripped of the temporary associations which gives rise to it, it is now the moment when by common consent we pause to become conscious of our national life and to rejoice in it, to recall what our country has done for each of us, and to ask ourselves what we can do for the country in return.

So to the indifferent inquirer who asks why Memorial Day is still kept up we may answer, it celebrates and solemnly reaffirms from year to year a national act of enthusiasm and faith.  It embodies in the most impressive form our belief that to act with enthusiam and faith is the condition of acting greatly.  To fight out a war, you must believe something and want something with all your might. So must you do to carry anything else to an end worth reaching.  More than that, you must be willing to commit yourself to a course, perhaps a long and hard one, without being able to foresee exactly where you will come out.  All that is required of you is that you should go somewhither as hard as ever you can.  The rest belongs to fate. One may fall at the beginning of the charge or at the top of the earthworks; but in no other way can he reach the rewards of victory.

When it was felt so deeply as it was on both sides that a man ought to take part in the war unless some conscientious scruple or strong practical reason made it impossible, was that feeling simply the requirement of a local majority that their neighbors should agree with them?  I think not: I think the feeling was right – in the South as in the North.  I think that, as life is action and passion, it is required of a man that he should share the passion and action of his time at peril of being judged not to have lived.

If this be so, the use of this day is obvious.  It is true that I cannot argue a man into a desire.  If he says to me, “Why should I seek to know the secrets of philosophy? Why seek to decipher the hidden laws of creation that are graven upon the tablets of the rocks, or to unravel the history of civilization that is woven in the tissue of our jurisprudence, or to do any great work, either of speculation or of practical affairs?”, I cannot answer him; or at least my answer is as little worth making for any effect it will have upon his wishes if he asked why I should eat this, or drink that.  You must begin by wanting to. But although desire cannot be imparted by argument, it can be by contagion. Feeling begets feeling, and great feeling begets great feeling.  We can hardly share the emotions that make this day to us the most sacred day of the year, and embody them in ceremonial pomp, without in some degree imparting them to those who come after us.  I believe from the bottom of my heart that our memorial halls and statues and tablets, the tattered flags of our regiments gathered in the Statehouses, are worth more to our young men by way of chastening and inspiration than the monuments of another hundred years of peaceful life could be.

But even if I am wrong, even if those who come after us are to forget all that we hold dear, and the future is to teach and kindle its children in ways as yet unrevealed, it is enough for us that this day is dear and sacred.

Accidents may call up the events of the war.  You see a battery of guns go by at a trot, and for a moment you are back at White Oak Swamp, or Antietam, or on the Jerusalem Road.  You hear a few shots fired in the distance, and for an instant your heart stops as you say to yourself, “The skirmishers are at it”, and listen for the long roll of fire from the main line.  You meet an old comrade after many years of absence; he recalls the moment that you were nearly surrounded by the enemy, and again there comes up to you that swift and cunning thinking on which once hung life and freedom – “Shall I stand the best chance if I try the pistol or the saber on that man who means to stop me? Will he get his carbine free before I reach him, or can I kill him first?”  These and the thousand other events we have known are called up, I say, by accident, and, apart from accident, they lie forgotten.

But as surely as this day comes round we are in the presence of the dead.  For one hour, twice a year at least – at the regimental dinner, where the ghosts sit at table more numerous than the living, and on this day when we decorate their graves – the dead come back and live with us.

I see them now, more than I can number, as once I saw them on this earth.  They are the same bright figures, or their counterparts, that come also before your eyes; and when I speak of those who were my brothers, the same words describe yours.

I see a fair-haired lad, a lieutenant, and a captain on whom life had begun somewhat to tell, but still young, sitting by the long mess-table in camp before the regiment left the State, and wondering how many of those who gathered in our tent could hope to see the end of what was then beginning.  For neither of them was that destiny reserved.  I remember, as I awoke from my first long stupor in the hospital after the battle of Ball’s Bluff, I heard the doctor say, “He was a beautiful boy”, and I knew that one of those two speakers was no more. The other, after passing through all the previous battles, went into Fredericksburg with a strange premonition of the end, and there met his fate.

I see another youthful lieutenant as I saw him in the Seven Days, when I looked down the line at Glendale.  The officers were at the head of their companies. The advance was beginning. We caught each other’s eye and saluted. When next I looked, he was gone.

I see the brother of the last – the flame of genius and daring on his face – as he rode before us into the wood of Antietam, out of which came only dead and deadly wounded men.  So, a little later, he rode to his death at the head of his cavalry in the Valley.

In the portraits of some of those who fell in the civil wars of England, Vandyke has fixed on canvas the type who stand before my memory.  Young and gracious faces, somewhat remote and proud, but with a melancholy and sweet kindness.  There is upon their faces the shadow of approaching fate, and the glory of generous acceptance of it. I may say of them, as I once heard it said of two Frenchmen, relics of the ancien regime, “They were very gentle. They cared nothing for their lives.”  High breeding, romantic chivalry – we who have seen these men can never believe that the power of money or the enervation of pleasure has put an end to them.  We know that life may still be lifted into poetry and lit with spiritual charm.

But the men, not less, perhaps even more, characteristic of New England, were the Puritans of our day.  For the Puritan still lives in New England, thank God! and will live there so long as New England lives and keeps her old renown.  New England is not dead yet.  She still is mother of a race of conquerors–stern men, little given to the expression of their feelings, sometimes careless of their graces, but fertile, tenacious, and knowing only duty.  Each of you, as I do, thinks of a hundred such that he has known.  I see one – grandson of a hard rider of the Revolution and bearer of his historic name – who was with us at Fair Oaks, and afterwards for five days and nights in front of the enemy the only sleep that he would take was what he could snatch sitting erect in his uniform and resting his back against a hut. He fell at Gettysburg.  His brother , a surgeon, who rode, as our surgeons so often did, wherever the troops would go, I saw kneeling in ministration to a wounded man just in rear of our line at Antietam, his horse’s bridle round his arm–the next moment his ministrations were ended. His senior associate survived all the wounds and perils of the war, but, not yet through with duty as he understood it, fell in helping the helpless poor who were dying of cholera in a Western city.

I see another quiet figure, of virtuous life and quiet ways, not much heard of until our left was turned at Petersburg.  He was in command of the regiment as he saw our comrades driven in.  He threw back our left wing, and the advancing tide of defeat was shattered against his iron wall. He saved an army corps from disaster, and then a round shot ended all for him.

There is one who on this day is always present on my mind.  He entered the army at nineteen, a second lieutenant.  In the Wilderness, already at the head of his regiment, he fell, using the moment that was left him of life to give all of his little fortune to his soldiers.  I saw him in camp, on the march, in action.  I crossed debatable land with him when we were rejoining the Army together. I observed him in every kind of duty, and never in all the time I knew him did I see him fail to choose that alternative of conduct which was most disagreeable to himself.  He was indeed a Puritan in all his virtues, without the Puritan austerity; for, when duty was at an end, he who had been the master and leader became the chosen companion in every pleasure that a man might honestly enjoy. His few surviving companions will never forget the awful spectacle of his advance alone with his company in the streets of Fredericksburg.  In less than sixty seconds he would become the focus of a hidden and annihilating fire from a semicircle of houses. His first platoon had vanished under it in an instant, ten men falling dead by his side. He had quietly turned back to where the other half of his company was waiting, had given the order, “Second Platoon, forward!” and was again moving on, in obedience to superior command, to certain and useless death, when the order he was obeying was countermanded.  The end was distant only a few seconds; but if you had seen him with his indifferent carriage, and sword swinging from his finger like a cane, you would never have suspected that he was doing more than conducting a company drill on the camp parade ground.  He was little more than a boy, but the grizzled corps commanders knew and admired him; and for us, who not only admired, but loved, his death seemed to end a portion of our life also.

There is one grave and commanding presence that you all would recognize, for his life has become a part of our common history.  Who does not remember the leader of the assault of the mine at Petersburg? The solitary horseman in front of Port Hudson, whom a foeman worthy of him bade his soldiers spare, from love and admiration of such gallant bearing? Who does not still hear the echo of those eloquent lips after the war, teaching reconciliation and peace? I may not do more than allude to his death, fit ending of his life. All that the world has a right to know has been told by a beloved friend in a book wherein friendship has found no need to exaggerate facts that speak for themselves. I knew him, and I may even say I knew him well; yet, until that book appeared, I had not known the governing motive of his soul. I had admired him as a hero. When I read, I learned to revere him as a saint. His strength was not in honor alone, but in religion; and those who do not share his creed must see that it was on the wings of religious faith that he mounted above even valiant deeds into an empyrean of ideal life.

I have spoken of some of the men who were near to me among others very near and dear, not because their lives have become historic, but because their lives are the type of what every soldier has known and seen in his own company. In the great democracy of self-devotion private and general stand side by side. Unmarshalled save by their own deeds, the army of the dead sweep before us, “wearing their wounds like stars.” It is not because the men I have mentioned were my friends that I have spoken of them, but, I repeat, because they are types. I speak of those whom I have seen. But you all have known such; you, too, remember!

It is not of the dead alone that we think on this day. There are those still living whose sex forbade them to offer their lives, but who gave instead their happiness. Which of us has not been lifted above himself by the sight of one of those lovely, lonely women, around whom the wand of sorrow has traced its excluding circle–set apart, even when surrounded by loving friends who would fain bring back joy to their lives? I think of one whom the poor of a great city know as their benefactress and friend. I think of one who has lived not less greatly in the midst of her children, to whom she has taught such lessons as may not be heard elsewhere from mortal lips. The story of these and her sisters we must pass in reverent silence. All that may be said has been said by one of their own sex –

But when the days of golden dreams had perished,
And even despair was powerless to destroy,
Then did I learn how existence could be cherished,
Strengthened, and fed without the aid of joy.
Then did I check the tears of useless passion,
weaned my young soul from yearning after thine
Sternly denied its burning wish to hasten
Down to that tomb already more than mine.

Comrades, some of the associations of this day are not only triumphant, but joyful.  Not all of those with whom we once stood shoulder to shoulder–not all of those whom we once loved and revered–are gone.  On this day we still meet our companions in the freezing winter bivouacs and in those dreadful summer marches where every faculty of the soul seemed to depart one after another, leaving only a dumb animal power to set the teeth and to persist – a blind belief that somewhere and at last there was bread and water.  On this day, at least, we still meet and rejoice in the closest tie which is possible between men – a tie which suffering has made indissoluble for better, for worse.

When we meet thus, when we do honor to the dead in terms that must sometimes embrace the living, we do not deceive ourselves.  We attribute no special merit to a man for having served when all were serving.  We know that, if the armies of our war did anything worth remembering, the credit belongs not mainly to the individuals who did it, but to average human nature.  We also know very well that we cannot live in associations with the past alone, and we admit that, if we would be worthy of the past, we must find new fields for action or thought, and make for ourselves new careers.

But, nevertheless, the generation that carried on the war has been set apart by its experience.  Through our great good fortune, in our youth our hearts were touched with fire.  It was given to us to learn at the outset that life is a profound and passionate thing. While we are permitted to scorn nothing but indifference, and do not pretend to undervalue the worldly rewards of ambition, we have seen with our own eyes, beyond and above the gold fields, the snowy heights of honor, and it is for us to bear the report to those who come after us.  But, above all, we have learned that whether a man accepts from Fortune her spade, and will look downward and dig, or from Aspiration her axe and cord, and will scale the ice, the one and only success which it is his to command is to bring to his work a mighty heart.

Such hearts – ah me, how many! – were stilled twenty years ago; and to us who remain behind is left this day of memories. Every year – in the full tide of spring, at the height of the symphony of flowers and love and life – there comes a pause, and through the silence we hear the lonely pipe of death. Year after year lovers, wandering under the apple trees and through the clover and deep grass, are surprised with sudden tears as they see black veiled figures stealing through the morning to a soldier’s grave. Year after year the comrades of the dead follow, with public honor, procession and commemorative flags and funeral march – honor and grief from us who stand almost alone, and have seen the best and noblest of our generation pass away.

But grief is not the end of all. I seem to hear the funeral march become a paean. I see beyond the forest the moving banners of a hidden column. Our dead brothers still live for us, and bid us think of life, not death – of life to which in their youth they lent the passion and joy of the spring. As I listen, the great chorus of life and joy begins again, and amid the awful orchestra of seen and unseen powers and destinies of good and evil our trumpets sound once more a note of daring, hope, and will.

#33 – Col. George Lyons

26 05 2008

Report of Col. George Lyons, Eighth New York Militia

O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 2 [S# 2] — CHAPTER IX, pp. 387-388


Arlington, Va., July 23, 1861

I hereby submit the following report of my regiment’s doings in the engagement on the 21st instant:

On arriving on the ground, I was ordered to form line of battle on the right of the Fourteenth Regiment. We were then ordered to advance to a fence a short distance in front; then moved by the right along the road. We here received a destructive fire from the enemy, which caused a temporary break. We ascended the hill, and were called upon by Major Wadsworth, of General McDowell’s staff, to charge the woods on our right. Three companies on the right (Captain Burger, Captain Gregory, and Captain Johnson) dashed forward in the woods, dislodging the enemy. We then left the woods, and immediately formed line in face of the enemy on the brow of a hill. We here received a fire from the enemy, and returned it. The fire now became so hot that the men were ordered to fall back in the woods. One company of the left wing did not come into action up to this time.

I was now called upon to aid the Twenty-seventh Regiment, and rallied what force could be gathered at the time under direction of Quartermaster Cornell. I then collected the remaining portions of the regiment on the skirts of the woods, and with them I tried to form a junction with the Fourteenth Regiment, which was well on the right. The force under Major Sykes made a charge. A portion of my regiment became entangled with them, and moved forward with them. I called on Major Wentworth to rally the men, which was found impossible to do, they were so scattered. At this time the retreat was sounded, and we left the field.

I cannot close this communication without calling your attention to the valuable assistance rendered by Major Wentworth and Quartermaster Cornell, and the gallant conduct of Captain Johnson and his command and the handsome and self-sacrificing conduct of Surgeon Foster Swift, Asst. Surg. G. A. Winston, and Asst. Surg. C. S. De Graw, by declining to leave the wounded, and were consequently made prisoners.



Colonel Eighth Regiment N. Y. S. M.


Commanding Brigade

#32 – Col. Andrew Porter

25 05 2008

Report of Col. Andrew Porter, Sixteenth U. S. Infantry, Commanding Second Division and First Brigade, Second Division

O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 2 [S# 2] — CHAPTER IX, pp.383-387


Arlington, Va., July 25, 1861

SIR: I have the honor to submit the following account of the operations of the First Brigade, Second Division, of the Army, in the battle before Manassas, on the 21st instant.(*) The brigade was silently paraded in light marching order at 2 o’clock in the morning of that day, composed as follows, viz: Griffin’s battery; marines, Major Reynolds; Twenty-seventh New York Volunteers, Colonel Slocum; Fourteenth New York State Militia, Colonel Wood; Eighth New York State Militia, Colonel Lyons; battalion regulars, Major Sykes; one company Second Dragoons, two companies First Cavalry, four companies Second Cavalry, Major Palmer. Total strength, 3,700. The marines were recruits, but through the constant exertions of their officers had been brought to present a fine military appearance, without being able to render much active service. They were therefore attached to the battery as its permanent support through the day.

Owing to frequent delays in the march of troops in front, the brigade did not reach Centreville until 4.30 a.m., and it was an hour after sunrise when the head of it was turned to the right to commence the flank movement. The slow and intermittent movements of the Second Brigade (Burnside’s) were then followed through the woods for four hours, which brought the head of our division to Bull Run and Sudley’s Mill, where a halt of half an hour took place, to rest and refresh the men and horses. From the heights on this side of the run a vast column of the enemy could be plainly descried, at the distance of a mile or more on our left, moving rapidly towards our line of march in front. Some disposition of skirmishers was then directed to be made at the head of the Column by the division commander, in which Colonel Slocum, of the Second Rhode Island Regiment, was observed to bear an active part. The column moved forward, however, before they were completed, and in about thirty minutes emerged from the timber, when the rattle of musketry and occasional crash of round shot through the leaves and branches of the trees in our vicinity betokened the opening of battle.

The head of the brigade was immediately turned slightly to the right, in order to gain time and room for deployment on the right of the Second Brigade. Griffin’s battery found its way through the timber to the fields beyond, followed promptly by the marines, while the Twenty-seventh took direction more to the left, and the Fourteenth followed upon the trail of the battery, all moving up at a double-quick step. The enemy appeared drawn up in a long line, extending along the Warrenton turnpike from a house and haystacks upon our extreme right to a house beyond the left of the division. Behind that house there was a heavy masked battery, which, with three others along his line on the heights beyond, covered the ground upon which we were advancing with all sorts of projectiles. A grove in front of his right wing afforded it shelter and protection, while the shrubbery along the road, with fences, screened somewhat his left wing. Griffin advanced to within a thousand yards, and opened a deadly and unerring fire upon his batteries, which were soon silenced or driven away. Our right was rapidly developed by the marines, Twenty-seventh, Fourteenth, and Eighth, with the cavalry in rear of the right, the enemy retreating with more precipitation than order as our line advanced.

The Second Brigade (Burnside’s) was at this time attacking the enemy’s right with, perhaps, too hasty vigor. The enemy clung to the protecting wood with great tenacity, and the Rhode Island Battery became so much endangered as to impel the commander of the Second Brigade to call for the assistance of the battalion of regulars. At this time I received the information through Capt. W. D. Whipple, A. A. G., that Colonel Hunter was seriously wounded, and had directed him to report to me as commander of the division; and in reply to the urgent request of Colonel Burnside, I detached the battalion of regulars to his assistance. For an account of its operations I would respectfully beg a reference to the inclosed report of its commander, Major Sykes [No. 35].

The rebels soon came flying from the woods towards the right, and the Twenty-seventh completed their rout by charging directly upon their center in the face of a scorching fire, while the Fourteenth and Eighth moved down the turnpike to cut off the retiring foe, and to support the Twenty-seventh, which had lost its gallant colonel, but was standing the brunt of the action, with its ranks thinning in the dreadful fire. Now the resistance of the enemy’s left was so obstinate that the beaten right retired in safety.

The head of Heintzelman’s column at this moment appeared upon the field, and the Eleventh and Fifth Massachusetts Regiments moved forward to the support of our center, while staff officers could be seen galloping rapidly in every direction, endeavoring to rally the broken Eighth; but this laudable purpose was only partially attained, owing to the inefficiency of some of its field officers.

The Fourteenth, though it had broken, was soon rallied in rear of Griffin’s battery, which soon took up a position farther to the front and right, from which his fire was delivered with such precision and rapidity as to compel the batteries of the enemy to retire in consternation far behind the brow of the hill in front. At this time my brigade occupied a line considerably in advance of that first occupied by the left wing of the enemy. The battery was pouring its withering fire into the batteries and columns of the enemy whenever they exposed themselves. The cavalry were engaged in feeling the left flank of the enemy’s positions, in doing which some important captures were made–one by Sergeant Sacks, of the Second Dragoons, of a General George Steuart, of Baltimore. Our cavalry also emptied the saddles of a number of the mounted rebels.

General Tyler’s division was engaged with the enemy’s right. The Twenty-seventh was resting in the edge of the woods, in the center, covered by a hill, upon which lay the Eleventh and Fifth Massachusetts, occasionally delivering a scattering fire. The Fourteenth was moving to the right flank. The Eighth had lost its organization. The marines were moving up in fine style in rear of the Fourteenth, and Captain Arnold was occupying a height on the middle ground with his battery. At this juncture there was a temporary lull in the firing from the rebels, who appeared only occasionally on the heights in irregular formations, but to serve as marks for Griffin’s guns.

The prestige of success had thus far attended the efforts of our inexperienced, but gallant, troops. The lines of the enemy had been forcibly shifted nearly a mile to their left and rear. The flags of eight regiments, though borne somewhat wearily, now pointed towards the hill from which disordered masses of rebels had been seen hastily retiring.

Griffin’s and Ricketts’ batteries were ordered by the commanding general to the top of the hill on our right, supporting them with Fire Zouaves and marines, while the Fourteenth entered the skirt of woods on their right, to protect that flank, and a column, composed of the Twenty-seventh New York, Eleventh and Fifth Massachusetts, First Minnesota, and Sixty ninth New York, moved up towards the left flank of the batteries; but so soon as they were in position, and before the flanking supports had reached theirs, a murderous fire of musketry and rifles, opened at pistol range, cut down every cannoneer and a large number of horses. The fire came from some infantry of the enemy, which had been mistaken for our own forces, an officer on the field having stated that it was a regiment sent by Colonel Heintzelman to support the batteries.

The evanescent courage of the zouaves prompted them to fire perhaps a hundred shots, when they broke and fled, leaving the batteries open to a charge of the enemy’s cavalry, which took place immediately. The marines also, in spite of the exertions of their gallant officers, gave way in disorder; the Fourteenth on the right and the column on the left hesitatingly retired, with the exception of the Sixty-ninth and Thirty-eighth New York, who nobly stood and returned the fire of the enemy for fifteen minutes. Soon the slopes behind us were swarming with our retreating and disorganized forces, whilst riderless horses and artillery teams ran furiously through the flying crowd. All further efforts were futile; the words, gestures, and threats of our officers were thrown away upon men who had lost all presence of mind and only longed for absence of body. Some of our noblest and best officers lost their lives in trying to rally them.

Upon our first position the Twenty-seventh was the first to rally, under the command of Major Bartlett, and around it the other regiments engaged soon collected their scattered fragments. The battalion of regulars, in the mean time, moved steadily across the held from the left to the right, and took up a position where it held the entire forces of the rebels in check until our forces were somewhat rallied. The commanding general then ordered a retreat upon Centreville, at the same time directing me to cover it with the battalion of regulars, the cavalry, and a section of artillery. The rear guard thus organized followed our panic-stricken people to Centreville, resisting the attacks of the rebel cavalry and artillery, and saving them from the inevitable destruction which awaited them had not this body been interposed.

Among those who deserve especial mention I beg leave to place the following names, viz:

Captain Griffin, for his coolness and promptitude in action, and for the handsome manner in which he handled his battery. 

Lieutenant Ames, of the same battery, who, after being wounded, gallantly served with it in action, and being unable to ride on horseback, was helped on and off a caisson in changes of position.

Captain Tillinghast, A. Q. M., who was ever present where his services were needed, carrying orders, rallying troops, and serving with the batteries, and finally, I have to state with the deepest sorrow, was mortally wounded.

Major Sykes and the officers of his command, three of whom (Lieutenants Latimer, Dickinson, and Kent) were wounded, who by their discipline, steadiness, and heroic fortitude, gave eclat to our attacks upon the enemy, and averted the dangers of a final overthrow.

Major Palmer and the cavalry officers under him, who by their daring intrepidity made the effectiveness of that corps all that it could be upon such a field in supporting batteries, feeling the enemy’s position, and covering our retreat.

Major Reynolds, marines, whose zealous efforts were well sustained by his subordinates, two of whom, Brevet Major Zeilin and Lieutenant Hale, were wounded, and one, Lieutenant Hitchcock, lost his life.

Col. H. W. Slocum, who was wounded while leading his gallant Twenty-seventh New York to the charge, and Maj. J. J. Bartlett, who subsequently commanded it, and by his enthusiasm and valor kept it in action and out of the panic. His conduct was imitated by his subordinates, of whom two, Capt. H. C. Rodgers and Lieut. H. C. Jackson, were wounded, and one, Ensign Asa Park, was killed.

In the last attack Col. A.M. Wood, of the Fourteenth New York State Militia, was wounded, together with Capts. R. B. Jordan and C. F. Baldwin, and Lieuts. J. A. Jones, T. R. Salter, R. A. Goodenough, and C. Scholes, and Adjutant Laidlaw.

The officers of the Fourteenth, especially Maj. James Jourdan, were distinguished by their display of spirit and efficiency throughout the action.

Surg. Charles C. Keeney, of the medical department, who by his professional skill, promptitude, and cheerfulness made the condition of the wounded of the Second Division comparatively comfortable. (He was assisted to a great extent by Dr. Rouch, of Chicago, a citizen.)

During the entire engagement I received extremely valuable aid and assistance from my aides-de-camp, Lieuts. C. F. Trowbridge and F. M. Bache, both of the Sixteenth Infantry.

Lieut. J. B. Howard, Fourteenth New York State Militia, A. A. Q. M. for the brigade, who by zealous attention to his duties succeeded in safely bringing the wagons of my brigade to Arlington.

The staff officers of the Second Division commander, viz, Capt. W. D. Whipple, Lieutenants Cross and Flagler, served with me after the fall of Colonel Hunter, and I am indebted to them for gallant, faithful services during the day. Captain Whipple had his horse killed under him by a cannon ball.

Acting Asst. Adjt. General Lieut. W. W. Averell sustained the high reputation he had before won for himself as a brave and skillful officer, and to him I am very greatly indebted for aid and assistance, not only in performing with the greatest promptitude the duties of his position, but by exposing himself most fearlessly in rallying and leading forward the troops, he contributed largely to their general effectiveness against the enemy. I desire to call the attention of the commanding general particularly to him.

In conclusion, I beg leave to submit the inclosed return of killed, wounded, and missing in my brigade.(+) Since the above reports were handed in many of the missing have returned, perhaps one-third of those reported. The inclosed report of Colonel Burnside, [No. 39], commanding Second Brigade, was sent to me after the above report was written. While respectfully calling the attention of the general commanding to it, I would also ask leave to notice some misconceptions under which the colonel commanding the Second Brigade seems to have labored at the time of writing his report, viz: Of his agency in the management or formation of the Second Division, on the field; 2d, of the time that his brigade was entirely out of the action, with the exception of the New Hampshire Regiment; 3d, of the position of his brigade in the retreat, and particularly of the position of the Seventy-first New York, as he may have mistaken the rear guard, organized under my direction by your orders, for the enemy.

Captain Arnold’s battery and the cavalry were directed and placed in their positions by my senior staff officer up to the time when Colonel Heintzelman ordered the cavalry to the front of the column.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Colonel Sixteenth Infantry, U. S. Army, Comdg

Brig. and Div. Capt. J. B. FRY,

Assistant Adjutant-General

* See also No. 39, p. 395

+ Division return shows 126 killed, 297 wounded, 346 missing

Table – Return of casualties in the Second Division (Union) of Northeastern Virginia, at the Battle of Bull Run, July 21, 1861

#105 – Col. William Smith

24 05 2008

Report of Col. William Smith, Forty-ninth Virginia Infantry

O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 2 [S# 2] — CHAPTER IX, pp.551-552


July 31, 1861

SIR: On the morning of the 21st instant I was posted, by order of Colonel Cocke, on Bull Run, nearly north from Lewis’ house, to protect a detachment of Rogers’ battery of two guns, under the command of Lieutenant [Heaton]. The enemy made his appearance in the pines some three or four hundred yards distant, but some three or four well-directed shots induced him to retire.

About 1.30 o’clock p.m. I received your order if not in the presence of an enemy to join you promptly with my command. I did so; two Mississippi companies of Colonel Moore’s regiment having fallen in at my call promptly on my left on the way. On reporting to you I was ordered to fall in on the left of the line then formed and forming, which I promptly proceeded to do, you accompanying us for a quarter of a mile or more.

My battalion, the right under the immediate command of Lieut. Col. Edward Murray, and the left under the similar command of Maj. Caleb Smith, had scarcely taken their position when they found themselves in the presence of two of the enemy’s batteries, which were afterwards gallantly carried. My left had scarcely opened its fire before a heavy column of the enemy advanced from my left on the crest of the ridge or hill on a line parallel with our line of battle, with every prospect of having my flank turned without difficulty. At this critical moment two regiments came up, posted themselves on my left, protected my flank, and opened upon the enemy at a distance of about eighty yards, with admirable effect. I do not know the names of these regiments nor of their commanding officers, and have to regret it, as it would afford me pleasure to name them on account of the critical and efficient service which they rendered. From some persons acquainted with these regiments I ascertained that one was from Mississippi, and I have an impression that the other was from North Carolina.

I went into action with but three companies of my regiment, forming a battalion consisting of about two hundred and ten men, and regret to inform you that my loss was very severe, being ten killed and thirty wounded. Maj. Caleb Smith and Capt. H. C. Ward fell early in the action; Major Smith badly wounded, with a leg broken and fractured a little below the hip, and still in a critical condition, and Captain Ward of a wound in the abdomen, from which he died about 12 at night in a state of delirium, cheering on his men to the charge.

I hope I may say one word in praise of my men. But three days together–strangers to each other, of course–without that confidence essential to combined effort, and without discipline, and in their first battle, they yet met the crisis in which circumstances placed them with a hardihood and courage which command my admiration.

I have the honor, general, to be, with high consideration, your obedient servant,


Colonel Forty-ninth Regiment Virginia Volunteers


#104 – Col. Robert T. Preston

23 05 2008

Report of Col. Robert T. Preston, Twenty-eighth Virginia Infantry

O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 2 [S# 2] — CHAPTER IX, pp. 549-551


Camp, July, 1861

COLONEL: In obedience to your order of the 23d instant, that “commanders of regiments and of detached troops of all arms serving with the command of Colonel Cocke, on the 21st instant, in the battle of Manassas, will immediately make report to the colonel commanding the Fifth Brigade of the services performed by their respective commands on that glorious day,” I have respectfully to report:

The Twenty-eighth Regiment Virginia forces, C. S. Army, under my command, was, in obedience to orders, marched from Camp Mason on the 17th instant, and at about 4 p.m. on the same day encamped upon the position assigned it on the right of the road leading from Manassas Junction by Lewis’ Ford of Bull Run and upon the high ground within about half a mile of Lewis’ Ford, and was also intended to regard and defend the Island Ford of Bull Run, lying nearly a mile southeast of its position.

During the interval until the 21st the encampment was frequently changed for the purpose stated, and the regiment turned out under arms several times by night and day to repel expected attacks upon the position.

Colonel Withers having some days previously crossed Ball’s Ford and taken position in the woods, I was ordered on the evening of the 19th instant to cross the ford and defend it in conjunction with his command against the attack of the enemy. I occupied the right of the road leading from Ball’s Ford towards Centreville on the night of the 19th, and again on the night of the 20th instant. Both regiments on the nights referred to posted pickets along the Centreville road, and I also posted pickets upon the approaches to the Island Ford. For greater security I ordered Company K, Captain Deyerle, to take position with the advance picket, and make proper resistance before retiring upon my position.

During the early part of the night picket runners informed me that the pickets of a body of the enemy were posted within half a mile of our advance pickets. They also reported that they could hear a sound as of speeches made in the enemy’s camp, responded to by laughter and cheers. At 2 o’clock on the morning of the 21st pickets reported the noise of large bodies of the enemy and quantities of artillery passing over the turnpike in the direction of the stone bridge. The passing artillery was distinctly audible from my quarters.

At — o’clock a.m. the regiment was turned out under your order, and proceeded to occupy a position to resist the enemy if he should approach along the Centreville road. The two regiments were formed in line of battle, the Twenty-eighth resting on the right side of the road, parallel with and protected by the wood which intervened between their position and open ground. I subsequently caused the fence to be removed farther within the wood, so as to deprive the enemy of a material protection to his advance.

Two days before, in company with Captain Harris, of the Engineers, I made a personal reconnaissance of the Centreville road and approaches to the Island Ford on Bull Run, he explaining the topography of the grounds around us.

After remaining in this position until — a.m., dispatching couriers from time to time with information of all occurrences likely to be of interest to yourself, I received orders from brigade headquarters to recross the creek by way of Ball’s Ford or the fish-dam crossing, and take position below Ball’s Ford in the heavy timber on the south side of the ford. This order was executed with rapidity and exactness. The regiment deployed in line, its right resting on the ford. The Eighteenth Regiment crossed the creek by way of the ford, passing along our line, occupied the left, next the hill. The two regiments covered the road from the creek to the hill.

At — p.m. an order was received from you directing the advance of my regiment to the battle-field. The order was obeyed with alacrity. The Twenty-eighth passed in line across the field past the Lewis house (headquarters), through the orchard below the house, across the first ravine, upon the farm road leading from Lewis’ to Mrs. Henry’s house. It there halted, faced to the left, commenced to advance by a narrow lane nearly at right angles to its course up to this point. Its progress was stopped for a few moments by the passage of Latham’s battery, taking position, and afterwards by the Washington Battery coming from the direction of the field of battle. This obstruction removed, the regiment resumed its march. Advancing nearly half a mile, it was fired upon by the enemy, concealed in the woods on the right. By this fire six men of Company B, Captain Wilson, were wounded. This fire was promptly and effectually returned by Company B, Captain Wilson’s company, and several of the enemy killed and wounded.

At this moment a few of the enemy were discovered who had advanced beyond the road, and whose escape was intercepted by the passage of the regiment. Upon presenting a pistol at one of them he cried out that he was “an officer and a gentleman,” and yielded himself and companions prisoners. The men wounded and captured proved to be the advance of the First Regiment Michigan Volunteers, of the Federal Army. Among those who surrendered were Col. O. B. Willcox and Captain—, the former of whom had been wounded in the arm by the fire of Company B, Captain Wilson.

My advance continued about half a mile farther through a dense wood, when it entered the road to Sudley’s Mill. There it was stopped by Kemper’s battery, which in passing occupied the road entirely. The regiment was halted for a few moments and the men ordered to lie down from a very heavy fire of the combatants, which passed over them, and which it was not in position to return. By this fire one man of Company C (Captain Bowyer) was wounded.

I was here in some uncertainty in regard to my position. Beyond was a warm conflict between the Second and Eighth Regiments South Carolina Volunteers (Colonels Kershaw and Cash) and the enemy. The woods were very dense. I had never seen the ground before. I was wholly without a guide. I therefore availed myself of the unavoidable delay occasioned by the passage of the battery to procure such information of the relative positions of the combatants as to prevent ourselves from firing into or being fired into by our friends. Riding forward I met with Colonel Kershaw, who, in reply to my request that he would aid in leading me into position, furnished me a guide in Lieutenant Hardy, who rode forward and rendered important aid in that capacity. The battery having passed, the regiment renewed its march. It had advanced a short distance through a narrow road in the woods when, to my deep regret, Lieutenant Hardy was killed by a fire from the enemy, some of whom, and among them the man who shot Lieutenant Hardy, were immediately fired on and killed by my advanced company (A) Captain Patton.

I at once ordered the colors to the front, and emerging upon open ground returned obliquely across a short neck of woods and came in sight of the enemy, who were escaping from the woods in rapid and scattered retreat to their main body upon the turnpike. An effort was made to overtake them, but after pursuing them to the crest of the hill next the turnpike and above the stone house (Matthews’) the regiment was countermarched in a line parallel with the route of the enemy. Advancing upon this route I was directed by General Beauregard in person to cross the turnpike and scour the woods beyond. In performing this service I detached Company A, Captain Patton, with orders to examine the stone house of Matthews, from which a hospital flag was suspended.

In this house were found a large number of the wounded enemy, some dead, and thirty-six men, who surrendered themselves prisoners. Among them were two officers, a surgeon, and assistant surgeon. The latter was liberated on parole, and directed to take charge of and assist the enemy’s wounded. There were also found in the house about one hundred arms. I then passed beyond the stone house through the wood designated by General Beauregard, found several killed and wounded, and sent one of the latter, a Carolinian, to the care of our surgeons. The advance of the regiment stopped at this point, being the same, as I learned subsequently, where a severe conflict had occurred between Major (now Brigadier-General) Evans and the enemy. The regiment was then countermarched over the same ground to the turnpike, and down the same to the stone bridge.

From this point I was ordered by General Beauregard to march in the direction of the White House. This order was under execution when I was directed by order of General Beauregard to take post near Mitchell’s Ford, on Bull Run. The regiment reached this point at — o’clock the same night, a distance of about — miles from the field of battle.

The conduct of the command when called into action or exposed to a fire which they could not return, authorizes me to assure you that it may be relied on for any service which requires courage, energy, and obedience. I shall congratulate myself if it be your opinion that its opportune arrival contributed in any degree to arrest the progress of the enemy at a critical point and period of the fight.

I annex a return of the casualties during the fight.

Respectfully, colonel, your most obedient,


Colonel Twenty-eighth Virginia Infantry, C. S. Army


Commanding Fifth Brigade, Virginia Forces, C. S. Army

Bill Christen on Pauline Cushman

22 05 2008

Author Bill Christen

Spy of the CumberlandLast night I heard friend Bill Christen speak at the Western Pennsylvania Civil War Round Table.  His PowerPoint presentation was on Miss “Major” Pauline Cushman, who is also the subject of Bill’s book, Pauline Cushman: Spy of the Cumberland.  The program was superb, and held the attention of the sixty or so folks in attendance for a good hour or more.  I don’t get to see Bill very often, and didn’t have time to really speak with him last night, but it was a pleasure to see his presentation and to finally meet his lovely wife, Glenna Jo.  Check out Bill’s Cushman site here.