#38 – Capt. Charles Griffin

24 07 2008

Report of Capt. Charles Griffin, Fifth U.S. Artillery

O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 2 [S# 2] — CHAPTER IX, p. 394


COLONEL: In compliance with your instructions, I have the honor to report that Battery D, Fifth Regiment of Artillery, arrived on the battle-field near Manassas at about 11.30 a.m. on the 21st instant, after a march of near twelve miles. The battery immediately opened on the enemy’s battery at about one thousand yards’ distance, and continued firing until his battery was silenced or forced to retire. The battery then advanced about two hundred yards, and opened upon a regiment of infantry formed upon the right of their line, causing it to fall back. The battery then changed position to the right and front, and opened upon a regiment formed near the enemy’s right and a little in front of the one first referred to, doing deadly execution, and causing it to retreat in much confusion.

An order was then received through Major Barry, Fifth Artillery, to advance to the brow of the hill, near the position occupied by the enemy’s battery when we first arrived on the field, The battery opened upon the enemy’s battery amidst a galling fire from his artillery, and continued firing for near half an hour. It then changed position to the right and fired two rounds, when it was charged by the enemy’s infantry from the woods on the right of our position. This infantry was mistaken for our own forces, an officer on the field having stated that it was a regiment sent by Colonel Heintzelman to support the battery. In this charge of the enemy every cannoneer was cut down and a large number of horses killed, leaving the battery (which was without support except in name) perfectly helpless. Owing to the loss of men and horses, it was impossible to take more than three pieces from the field. Two of these were afterwards lost in the retreat, by the blocking up of the road by our own forces and the complete exhaustion of the few horses dragging them. The same thing happened with reference to the battery-wagon, forge, and one caisson. All that is left of the battery is one Parrott rifle gun and one 12-pounder howitzer limber.

Of the 95 men who went into action 27 are killed, wounded, and missing, and of 101 horses 55 are missing.(*)

*          *          *          *          *          *          *          *

In conclusion, I would state that my officers and men behaved in a most gallant manner, displaying great fearlessness, and doing their duty as becomes brave soldiers.

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


Captain, Fifth Artillery, Commanding Battery D

P. S.–In addition, I deem it my duty to add that Lieutenant Ames was wounded so as to be unable to ride on horse at almost the first fire; yet he sat by his command directing the fire, being helped on and off the caisson during the different changes of front or position, refusing to leave the field until he became too weak to sit up. I would also mention Captain Tillinghast, A. Q. M., who gallantly served with the battery, pointing a piece and rendering valuable assistance.


Captain, Fifth Artillery


Commanding Second Brigade

(*) Nominal list omitted

Loyalties and Justifications

24 07 2008


The report of Major Innis Palmer mentions the capture of Confederate General George “Maryland” Steuart.  Recently, I asked a question in a chat room, and not having received much of a response there, I thought I’d ask you folks what you think.

Let’s for a minute accept that many Confederate soldiers felt justified in taking up arms against their former country because of the primacy of their loyalty to their states.  I’m not saying I necessarily accept that as justification, but for the sake of this argument, let’s say it’s a true assumption.

What then do we make of the likes of Steuart (of Maryland, above left) and Simon Buckner or John Breckenridge (of Kentucky, above center and right)?  Were these men traitors to both their country and their states?  They were born, raised and resided in states that did not secede, and chose simply between a purely foreign country and the one of their birth or residence (as opposed to folks like John Gibbon and Winfield Scott).  Are they to be viewed any differently than, say, John C. Pemberton (who was at least married to a Virginian so may have had a significant nag factor to contend with, not to mention some wealth in a seceded state)?  What do you say?