#49 – Lieut. Col. Addison Farnsworth

30 09 2008

Report of Lieut. Col. Addison Farnsworth, Thirty-eighth New York Infantry

O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 2 [S# 2] — CHAPTER IX, pp. 413-416



Camp Scott, near Alexandria, Va., July 29, 1861

SIR: In compliance with my duty, I respectfully submit the following report of the operations of my regiment during the recent battle at or near Bull Run, on the 21st July, 1861:

On the morning of the 21st, in obedience to brigade orders, the regiment was formed, the men equipped in light marching order, and prepared to leave its bivouac at or near Centreville. The march, however, was not commenced until 6 o’clock a.m., when the regiment, with others constituting the brigade, advanced towards the scene of future operations.

After a fatiguing march over dusty roads, and at times through dense woods, the men suffering greatly from the intense heat and a great lack of water, and submitting to the same with a true soldierly spirit, the regiment, with others of the brigade, was halted in a field, in full view of the enemy, on the right of his line of intrenchments, and within range of his artillery. After a very brief rest the regiment was formed in line of battle, and ordered by Colonel Willcox, the commandant of the brigade, to advance to a slight eminence fronting the enemy’s batteries and about half a mile distant, to the support of Griffin’s battery, which was then prepared to take up a position at that point. This order was promptly executed, the men, led by yourself and encouraged by the gallantry of their officers, moving forward in gallant style in double-quick time, subjected a greater portion of the way to a terrible and deadly fire of grape and canister and round shot from the enemy’s works on our front and right flank. Arriving at the brow of the eminence in advance of the battery which it was intended to support the regiment was halted, and commenced, in fact, the attack of Colonel Heintzelman’s division on the right flank of the enemy, engaging a large force of his infantry, and by a well-directed fire completely routing an entire regiment that was advancing in good order and driving it into a dense woods in the distance.

After remaining in this position for some time, finding that the enemy’s artillery was telling with fearful effect upon our ranks, subjected as we were to a direct and flank fire from his batteries, the regiment was ordered to retire down a slight declivity, which was done in good order, affording it for a time partial protection from the enemy’s fire.

At this time Griffin’s battery was moving to a position on our right, and the regiment was ordered by Colonel Heintzelman, in person, to advance to its protection. Advancing by the flank under a galling fire, the regiment was halted within supporting distance of Griffin’s battery, which had now opened upon the enemy, and properly formed to resist a threatened attack from the enemy’s cavalry and infantry, which had shown themselves in large numbers on the borders of a grove to the right and front. In this position my regiment, under a spiteful and destructive fire from the enemy’s batteries, remained until forced to retire, and its presence not being deemed requisite because of the fact that Griffin’s battery had been compelled to leave the field. Retiring to a road about one hundred yards distant, my regiment was again formed in line of battle, and under the eye of the commander-in-chief, General McDowell, the men, inspired by his presence upon the field and led by yourself, it dashed gallantly up the hill towards a point where Ricketts’ battery had been abandoned, in consequence of its support, the First Fire Zouaves and First Michigan Regiment, having previously been compelled to retreat in the face of superior numbers and a great loss in their ranks.

Before arriving at the brow of the hill we met the enemy in large force; one of his infantry regiments, apparently fresh upon the field, advancing steadily towards us in line of battle. A large number of the men of this regiment had advanced in front of their line, and had taken possession of Ricketts’ battery, and were endeavoring to turn the guns upon us. A well-directed and destructive fire was immediately opened upon the enemy by my regiment and a portion of another that had rallied on our left (I think the Fourteenth New York State Militia), and after a sharp conflict he was’ forced to retreat in disorder and with great loss, seeking shelter in the woods from whence he had previously emerged.

The enemy not succeeding in taking with him Ricketts’ battery, which seemed to have been the chief object of his attack, it fell into the hands of my regiment, by whom three of its guns were dragged a distance of three hundred yards, and left in a road, apparently out of the reach of the enemy. Another rally was then again made by my regiment, the gallant men readily responding to the orders of their officers. Advancing in double-quick time to the right and front towards a dense woods, in which the enemy had been concealed in large force during the day, and from which evidences of a retreat were now visible, my regiment, with detached portions of others of our force, became engaged in a sharp and spirited skirmish with the enemy’s infantry and cavalry, and we appeared for a time to have complete possession of the field.

This was the last rally made by my regiment. Suddenly and unexpectedly, the enemy, re-enforced by fresh troops, literally swarming the woods, poured in upon us a perfect shower of lead from his musketry; his batteries reopened upon us with terrible effect, and a panic at this moment seeming to have taken possession of our troops generally, a retreat was ordered, and my regiment in comparatively good order commenced its march towards Centreville, where a greater portion of it arrived about 9 o’clock that night. Here, on the same ground that we had bivouacked previous to the battle, the regiment was halted. After a rest of about two hours it again resumed its march, joining in the general movement made by the Army towards this place. After a forced and wearisome march of seven hours, the men suffering from the great fatigue of the previous fifteen hours, without food for that length of time, with scarcely water enough to moisten their parched tongues, many of them wounded, sick, and otherwise disabled, my regiment, with the exception of about fifty who had straggled from their respective companies and joined the mass that were thronging to the capital, halted at its original camp-ground near Alexandria, the only regiment of the brigade that did so–the only regiment, in fact, that was under fire during the previous day that returned to and occupied their old camp-grounds previous to their advance towards the field of battle. It is with great pride, sir, that I mention this fact, evincing, as it emphatically does, a degree of subordination commendable in any regiment, and reflecting great credit upon the gallant officers and men of my own, particularly under the extraordinary circumstances connected with the occasion.

From the time my regiment was ordered in the field until forced to retire therefrom – a period of four hours – it was almost constantly under fire from the enemy’s batteries and engaged with the infantry; and to your coolness and courage alone during that time, your frequent orders for the men to lie down when the enemy’s fire was the hottest, and your constant efforts to protect them as far as possible at all times, was the regiment saved from presenting a larger number of casualties than its large list now shows.

Of the courage displayed by the men generally on the field during the entire day; of the readiness of the gallant fellows to obey at all times all orders, I cannot speak in too high terms or express in words my admiration. During all my experience in a former campaign and presence on many a battle-field, I have never witnessed greater bravery or moral soldierly requisites than were displayed by the men of my own regiment during the entire battle.

The conduct of the officers generally I cannot speak too highly of. Always at their posts cheering on their men by their soldierly examples, and displaying marked gallantry under the trying circumstances, I acknowledge my inability to do them justice in words. Major Potter was disabled during the early part of the engagement while gallantly performing his duty, and subsequently fell into the hands of the enemy. The brave Captain McQuaide, while cheering on his men, fell from a severe wound in the leg. Lieut. Thomas S. Hamblin, a gallant young officer, also received a wound in his leg while discharging his duty, and he, with the former officer, subsequently fell into the hands of the enemy. Captains McGrath and Allason both received injuries during the engagement, the former by being run down by the enemy’s cavalry (from the effects of which he is now suffering) and the latter by a slight musket-shot. Lieut. John Brady, jr., while bravely participating in the fight, was severely wounded in the arm. Asst. Surg. Stephen Griswold was on the field and under a heavy fire, at all times humanely and fearlessly discharging his duties to the wounded. He and Quartermaster Charles J. Murphy, who was assisting the wounded, were also taken prisoners.

In conclusion, I again assert my inability to do justice to the gallant conduct of the officers generally, and while it would afford me great pleasure to mention the names of many whose conduct fell under my personal observation, I must refrain from doing so, lest by omitting others I should do injustice to many equally as meritorious. Annexed is a list of the casualties in my regiment.(*)

Respectfully submitted.


Lieut. Col., Commanding Thirty-eighth Regiment,

Second Scott Life Guard

Col. J. H. H. WARD,

Comdg. Second Brigade, Third Division, Volunteers

(*) Embodied in division return, p. 405.

#48 – Maj. Alonzo F. Bidwell

29 09 2008

Report of Maj. Alonzo F. Bidwell, First Michigan Infantry

O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 2 [S# 2] — CHAPTER IX, pp. 411-413


Washington City, July 25, 1861

SIR: I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations of the First Regiment Michigan Infantry, on the 21st instant, at the battle of Bull Run:

At 2.30 o’clock of that morning the regiment left its bivouac, and was in position, with the other regiments of Colonel Willcox’s brigade, prepared for the advance. At 6 o’clock the forward movement commenced, and about 12 o’clock noon, after a long, rapid march over roads thick with dust, and where but a scant supply of water could be obtained, the regiment was halted with the brigade in a field to the right of the road leading from Centreville, and on the right of the enemy’s entrenchments. After a brief rest, the regiment, together with Arnold’s battery, moved across the road and took position in a wheat-field, the other regiments composing the brigade having moved towards the battle-field. But a short time elapsed when the regiment was ordered forward, and at a double-quick was hastened to the scene of action to support the Fire Zouaves, who had charged and fallen back. Moving in column by platoon along the slope of the hill under the fire of the enemy’s batteries we lost one color-bearer and several of our men. The regiment was here filed to the left along a ravine, then marched up the hill, and formed in line of battle near its summit, directly in front of the enemy’s position. The regiment was at once ordered to charge, and moved gallantly on, exposed to a sharp fire, up to a fence intervening between it and the enemy’s works. Here some little confusion occurred, the position of the enemy not being clearly understood, so rapid had been our movements, and the regiment halted, firing and loading under the cover of the fence. An order given at this time not clearly heard, a portion of the line fell back to reload. They were at once rallied back to the fence, when the regiment was reformed in line of battle and led on by Colonel Willcox in advance of our center, the regiment, responding to the wave of his cap with a cheer, cleared the fence, and charged down the slope upon the enemy’s battery.

A heavy and well-directed fire was at once opened upon us from his batteries and by his infantry, screened by the woods on both our flanks. The regiment moved bravely on, the fire becoming very destructive. The enemy being hid from view, and their fire coming from every direction, the line was broken, and the men in detachments, guided by their officers, when the enemy could be distinguished, loaded and fired with the utmost coolness and precision. At this time heavy masses of the enemy advanced along the road near their battery to our right, and, flanking us, their fire became actually murderous. The men stood it coolly, and advancing, divided as they were, into the line of woods, answered his fire. The enemy’s fire being continuous from every quarter, their infantry advancing on us through the wood in great force, our officers and men falling all about us, the regiment unsupported in rear or flank, there was but one thing to be done, and, gathering what we could about the colors, we fell back and reascended the acclivity to the spot from whence our first charge was made. Here we rallied as many of the men of the regiment as was possible, and endeavored to collect stragglers from other regiments.

In the hope that we could more successfully stop fugitives by retiring more from the line of fire, we fell back and continued our efforts to reform. The enemy now appearing in overwhelming strength on the right, we moved on to our bivouac of the morning, near Centreville, which was occupied by the regiment in comparatively good order.

After two or three hours’ rest, in obedience to orders, the regiment took up the line of march in good order for Washington.

Inclosed I transmit a list of the casualties of the day.(*) The loss is heavy, and occurred mostly in front of the enemy’s batteries. The loss of the officers is very large proportionately to the men, and is sufficient proof not only of their gallantry, but of the murderous fire that the regiment sustained. No troops could have maintained their formation for any length of time under such a fire. Hurried into action after a march of twelve miles over an exceedingly dusty road, with but little water and no time for rest and refreshment, our fatigued men evinced a courage, coolness, and endurance that entitle them to the highest praise.

The regiment went into the action four hundred and seventy-five men and twenty-five commissioned officers strong, and returned with a loss of nine officers and one hundred and eight men killed, wounded, and missing; being a proportion of loss of one-third of the officers and one-fifth of the men lost or injured in the vicissitudes of the day.

Of the fate of Colonel Willcox there is no certain information. It is known, however, that his horse was shot under him, and that he received a wound in the arm while advancing upon the enemy’s battery at the head of the regiment, and it was while engaged in the act of binding up his wound, as is believed, that Captain Withington, of Company B, who was acting as major, received a wound and fell on the field.

Captain Butterworth, Company C, was also shot, and has not since been heard from. Captain Lum, of Company A, acting as lieutenant-colonel, was wounded in the knee, and is now in Washington, as is also Captain Graves, of Company K. Lieutenants Casey, Company G, Mauch, of Company F, and Parks, of Company H, were also wounded, and have not been heard from. Lieutenant Warner, of Company I, also wounded, is now in Washington. Of those brave men who have met their fate in the engagement I cannot speak in too high terms. The regiment will cherish the memory of their gallantry. Nor can I refrain from referring with highest commendation to the valuable services, bravery, and good conduct of all the officers on the field. Where all performed acts of gallantry and valor, it would be invidious to particularize, and I trust that all will alike find in the terrible proportion of their loss the best record of individual worth.

Yours, respectfully,


Major, Commanding

Colonel WARD,

Comdg. Second Brigade, Alexandria, Va.

(*) Embodied in division return, p. 405.

#47 – Col. J. H. Hobart Ward

29 09 2008

Report of Col. J. H. Hobart Ward, Thirty-eighth New York Infantry, Commanding Second Brigade, Third Division

O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 2 [S# 2] — CHAPTER IX, pp. 410-411


Camp near Shooter’s Hill, July 29, 1861

SIR: The temporary command of this brigade having devolved upon me in consequence of the mishap to Colonel Willcox, I have the honor to transmit herewith the following report; also, the regimental reports of a portion of the brigade, viz: From the First Michigan Regiment, the Scott Life Guard (Thirty-eighth Regiment New York State Volunteers), containing detailed accounts of their action during the engagement near Bull Run, on Sunday, 21st instant; the remaining regiments of the brigade, viz, the Fire Zouaves (Eleventh Regiment New York State Volunteers) and Arnold’s battery having already rendered their reports to division headquarters.

This brigade commenced the action under command of Colonel Willcox, of Michigan, who was wounded while gallantly leading his command, and whose bravery could not have been excelled, and who is now a prisoner in the hands of the enemy. While I deeply deplore the circumstances by which it became my duty to forward this report, yet it affords me much gratification to speak in terms of the highest commendation of the brave and officer-like conduct of the gentlemen composing his staff, viz, Lieutenants Woodruff, Parker, and Edie,  in their efforts to bring order out of chaos under a most galling and deadly fire from the enemy. Having myself been in command of the Thirty-eighth Regiment (Scott Life Guard) New York State Volunteers during the action, I am unable to speak as particularly as could be desired of other regiments of the brigade from personal observation, and respectfully refer you to their respective reports. The reports of killed and wounded furnish sufficient evidence of their fidelity and courage. But of the field officers of the Fire Zouaves I can speak in terms of unqualified praise. Colonel Farnham, Lieutenant-Colonel Cregier, and Major Leoser were incessant in their exertions in rallying and encouraging their men. The officers and men of the First Michigan nobly discharged their duty to their country, and well may their State feel proud of her defenders. The officers and men of the Thirty-eighth being under my own supervision, I can only corroborate the report rendered by Lieutenant-Colonel Farnsworth. Where all acted so well it would appear invidious to make comparisons; but in the case of Lieutenant-Colonel Farnsworth, Thirty-eighth Regiment, I cannot find words to express my admiration of his conduct. He was confined to a sick bed for several days previous to the engagement, and arrived on the scene of action in an ambulance; and the fact of his rising from a sick bed and entering the field with his regiment, and his courage and coolness during the day, entitle him to the highest commendation.

In conclusion, I most respectfully submit that the duty of making this report devolving upon me at so late a day – intelligence of the absence of Colonel Willcox not having reached me until the day after the battle – renders it impossible to give a more detailed statement.

My duty as commander of the brigade being ended with this report, I am, sir, your obedient servant,


Colonel Thirty-eighth N. Y. V. Second Brig., Third Div.

Col. W. B. Franklin,

Commanding Third Division

#46 – Col. O. B. Willcox

28 09 2008

Report of Col. O. B. Willcox, First Michigan Infantry, Commanding Second Brigade, Third Division

O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 2 [S# 2] — CHAPTER IX, pp. 408-410

DETROIT, MICH., September 3, 1862

GENERAL: My brigade, the Second, of Heintzelman’s division, marching in rear of Franklin’s brigade, arrived at the Sudley Ford at about 12.30 p.m., July 21, 1861. The brigade now consisted of the First Michigan, Eleventh New York (Fire Zouaves), Thirty-eighth New York, and Arnold’s battery. The Fourth Michigan had been left at Fairfax Station and Fairfax Court-House by the order of General McDowell. Halting for rest and water, I obeyed the general’s orders to post Arnold’s battery on a hill commanding the ford, with the First Michigan for support, and at 1 o’clock pushed forward with my two remaining regiments up the Sudley and Brentsville road. We marched about two miles, and came upon the left of what I supposed to have been Franklin’s line, near the junction of the Warrenton and Sudley roads. The troops on our left were engaged in a desultory fire with the enemy, posted in the thicket and ravine across the Warrenton road, not far from the Robinson house. The Thirty-eighth New York was quickly formed in order of battle, and the zouaves were hastening into line, when I received an order to detach a regiment for the support of Ricketts’ battery (of Franklin’s brigade), posted on a hill a quarter of a mile to our right and front, near Dogan’s house. I led up the zouaves for this important service, leaving the Thirty-eighth under its gallant and experienced colonel, Hobart Ward. Ricketts was soon ordered to take a new position near the Robinson house. The zouaves followed in support, and finally formed line on the right flank of the battery, with two companies in reserve.

Up to this time the enemy had fallen back, but now he formed the remains of his brigades engaged with Hunter in the morning, viz, Bee’s, Barton’s, and Evans’, in a new line, upon Jackson’s brigade of fresh troops, making altogether 6,500 infantry, 13 pieces of artillery, and Stuart’s Cavalry, according to General Beauregard’s report. This force was posted in the belt of woods which skirted the plateau southwardly, and lying in the angle formed in that direction, between the Warrenton and Sudley roads, about a mile from the Warrenton road, and with its left resting on the Brentsville and Sudley road.

Ricketts’ battery had crossed the Sudley road from its post near Dogan’s house, and was within musket-range of the woods, which stretched from that road around from his right towards his front, and forming a pocket, which almost enveloped the battery, with its support.

The enemy were first discovered by Colonel Heintzelman lining the woods in our front. He ordered up the zouaves, commanded by Colonel Farnham. The ground was slightly rising before us, and the enemy opened a heavy but not destructive fire as we reached the crest. The zouaves returned the fire, but immediately fell back, bewildered and broken. Stuart’s Cavalry charged upon them from the woods on the right, but were scattered by a fire from the two reserve companies, with a loss (ascertained from the Southern papers) of twenty-nine killed and wounded. Meantime Ricketts’ cannoneers were being picked off. With Colonel Heintzelman’s approval, and a promise of re-enforcements, I collected some one hundred zouaves, and, with Captain Downey and others of their officers, made a dash into the woods on our right, and killed, wounded, and captured about thirty of the enemy. Returning in a few minutes, I found the field cleared of both friends and foe, except the killed and wounded. The horses, men, and two officers of Ricketts’ battery lay stretched upon the ground, but the enemy had not yet seized it. Recrossing the Sudley road, I met the First Michigan, Major Bidwell commanding, and, marching back with this regiment, we found the enemy now drawn up in a thin line across the field and in possession of the battery. Advancing to the fence on the roadside, the First Michigan opened fire. The right wing fell back to reload, owing to a blundering order, but the left stood firm, expelled the enemy, and retook the battery. The troops here opposed to us I believe to have been the Seventh Georgia. Colonel Heintzelman now came up, and ordered us promptly forward, and, with the promise of another regiment, it was my design to turn the enemy’s left. The left wing of the First Michigan recrossed the field, struck into the woods beyond the zouaves, succeeded in destroying and capturing a small number of the enemy, and pushing back his extreme left out of that part or point of the woods adjacent to the Sudley road.

Meantime the right wing of the First Michigan reformed, and advanced in good order. I met it, and we pushed on towards the next point of woods. From this point I found the enemy’s left discovered us by our fire, and we became engaged with their rear rank, their front being occupied by the advancing troops of Franklin’s or Sherman’s brigade. The officers and men of the First Michigan stood up bravely at this critical moment, holding on anxiously for re-enforcements. But, from all I can learn, the Thirty-eighth, which was ordered up to me, was directed to the left of the Robinson house (instead of to the right and along the Sudley road), came in contact with the enemy’s center, and never reached me.

It was now 4 o’clock. General Beauregard had been gathering new re-enforcements. General Kirby Smith had joined him with a portion of Johnston’s army. Our scattered troops were contending in fractions against the enemy’s army, in position and massed on the plateau, with his artillery sweeping every approach. General Johnston was brining fresh troops to turn our own right. The Twenty-eighth Virginia attacked my own handful from the rear in the woods, and I had the ill-fortune to be wounded, and a few moments afterwards captured. But I was spared witnessing the disaster which further pursued our arms.

In this report I have only endeavored to supply partly the information that was not known or found in any other report, in consequence of my capture. Permit me to add, further, that the Thirty-eighth New York was distinguished for its steadiness in ranks, and for gallantly repelling a charge made upon it by the New Orleans Tigers. The zouaves, though broken as a regiment, did good service, under my own eyes, in the woods, and detachments of them joined other regiments in the fight. The First Michigan deserves the credit of advancing farther into the enemy’s lines than any other of our troops, as their dead bodies proved after the battle.

I only regret that, from the fact of my separation from Arnold’s battery, I cannot add any testimony of my own to the well-known gallantry with which he and his command conducted themselves.

I have the honor to be, general, very respectfully, yours,


Brigadier-General, late Colonel First Michigan Infantry

Brig. Gen. L. Thomas,

Adjutant-General U. S. Army


WASHINGTON, D.C., July 21, 1865

This report is respectfully forwarded. It gives some details not in previous reports. The Thirty-eighth New York, Colonel Ward, was in the rear and  little to the right of the Robinson house, and did not get up as far as the house. After the zouaves, I led up the First Minnesota and then the First Michigan, and both were repulsed. They, however, rallied and passed to the right into the woods, and the First Michigan, on the extreme right, held the most advanced position we occupied that disastrous day. My division, when I marched from Alexandria, had an aggregate of 9,463 men, but from detachments made by the commanding general at different times, I went into action with less than 5,000 men. The Third Brigade, Colonel Howard, did not arrive on the field until late in the day, about the time the panic commenced. He was detached soon after we crossed Cub Run, early in the day, by General McDowell. I did not see the brigade until some half hour after I was wounded and after the Brooklyn Fourteenth gave way.

In consequence of the wounding and capture of Captain Ricketts, I have no report of his battery. His first lieutenant, Douglas Ramsay, I saw late in the day doing his duty faithfully and well. A few moments later he was shot dead, and soon after we lost the battery.

The accompanying report from Fairfax Station, dated July 17, 1861, properly belongs to this report.



#45 – Lieut. Edmund Kirby

28 09 2008

Report of Lieut. Edmund Kirby, First U.S. Artillery

O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 2 [S# 2] — CHAPTER IX, p. 407

WASHINGTON, D.C., July 23, 1861

SIR: I submit the following report:

On Sunday, July 21, Capt. J. B. Ricketts was ordered to place his battery in position at about one thousand five hundred yards from the enemy. An order was afterwards received to advance about one thousand yards, which was executed at a trot, and where we remained in battery, firing as fast as possible, until obliged to retreat, leaving six rifled guns on the field.

Capt. J. B. Ricketts was severely wounded at this critical moment, and First Lieut. Douglas Ramsay was killed.

Lieut. W. A. Elderkin conducted the limbers and caissons to the rear, as I was separated from the battery at the moment the retreat became general. I joined the battery soon after and continued the retreat, but was obliged to abandon everything at Bull Run except three limbers and fifty-six horses.

The non-commissioned officers and privates acted with great bravery, and remained on the field as long as possible. Our casualties are: Left on the field, 6 rifled guns and 49 horses; abandoned on the read, 6 caissons, 3 limbers, 1 battery-wagon, and 1 forge.

Killed: 1 officer and 11 men; wounded, 1 officer and 14 men. Total 27.(*)

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

My present station is the Park House, foot of Seventh street, Washington, D. C.

Respectfully submitted.


Second Lieutenant, First U.S. Artillery, Comdg. Light Company I

(*) Nominal lis of casualties omitted.

A Scythe of Fire

26 09 2008

Image of 8th GA colors used at Bull Run from this site on 9/26/2008.

I’ve finished reading A Scythe of Fire, a Warren Wilkinson and Steven Woodworth collaboration on the 8th GA infantry regiment put together after the former’s untimely death.  I was encouraged to read it based on Wilkinson’s classic (if that word can be applied to such a recent book) Mother May You Never See The Sights I Have Seen.  While Scythe is a nice read, with some good stuff on First Bull Run and an officer’s roster for that battle I’ll use in my Confederate OOB, I found it disappointing on a few levels.  The book builds to its climax at Gettysburg, but then quickly moves through the nearly two years remaining in the war in pitifully few pages, and pretty much ignores the survivors after Appomattox.  Most disturbing was the obvious disdain for some folks exhibited by (I’m assuming) Woodworth, especially for Joe Johnston.  The same old saws are hauled out – afraid to fight, protective of his reputation, yada yada yada – in the form of unsupported opinion presented as fact.  And of course this had to be reinforced in every sentence and paragraph that used Johnston’s name.  God, that stuff is so tired.  It irks me.  It’s irksome.  But there was worthwhile content, including some surprising things about late war desertions that, as far as the 8th Georgia goes at least, fly in the face of conventional wisdom.  Given that most of those leaving the ranks did so by deserting to the enemy, the theory that they wanted to go home to care for their loved ones falls apart.  Sorry if that bit of moonlight wilts your magnolias.

Right now I’m taking some time of from my ACW reading to brush up on the Gilded Age, with Devil in the White City and American Eve.  The latter will help me in expanding on my Kilpatrick Family Ties material which I hope to turn into a round table presentation (any takers?), and both books will help when I tackle the later life of a Bull Run personality.  Until I’m finished with them, the picture of Scythe of Fire will remain at the bottom of the right hand column of this page.

#41a – Col. Henry P. Martin

25 09 2008

Report of Col. Henry P. Martin, Seventy-first New York Militia

O.R.–SERIES I–VOLUME 51 Part 1 [S# 107], pp. 22-23



New York, August 1, 1861

In accordance with orders, I herewith submit a report of the action of the Seventy-first Regiment New York State Militia in the engagement at Bull Run on the 21st of July:

We were ordered to commence the march, with the First and Second Rhode Island and the Second New Hampshire Regiments leading, and the Seventy-first Regiment bringing up the rear of the brigade, toward the battle-field a little after 2 a.m., and having marched steadily almost without a halt for eight hours we arrived upon the position assigned for our division. On our arrival the two Rhode Island and the New Hampshire regiments were drawn up in line, and the Seventy-first was ordered to pass in front of these regiments to a position in advance and to the right of the brigade, and also in front of two pieces of artillery, which I suppose belonged to Griffin’s battery. No sooner had we formed line than the right piece came dashing forward at full speed through our right wing, without any previous intimation being given. The men broke away and allowed the piece to pass, and immediately after its passage dropped back into their positions in line. Shortly after this the left piece executed the same maneuver, and with the same results. After remaining in this position about a quarter of an hour, exposed to the cannonading of the enemy, which they were directing toward us, we were ordered with our brigade to an adjoining field to engage a portion of the enemy that had debouched from their works, and fully equal in number to our own brigade, and after a severe contest, in which many valuable lives were lost and many of our best officers wounded, among whom were Captain Ellis, Company F; Captain Hart, Company A, and Lieutenant Embler, Company H, we succeeded in repulsing them and compelling them to retreat. In this conflict we were greatly assisted by two of Captain Dahlgren’s 12-pounder howitzers, in charge of Captain Ellis, Company I, of this regiment. After the retreat, General McDowell, with his staff, rode around the field in rear of our brigade, waving his glove in token of victory, and we all considered the day was ours. We were then ordered to retire to the edge of the wood, still in view of the enemy’s works and in reach of their cannon, and there to rest, as we had done all the duty that would be required of us, and would not be called into action again. After about all hour’s rest we were told the enemy was getting the best of us, and were ordered to retire to the field we had at first occupied and take the most advanced position on that field. Here we stood in line of battle waiting the approach of the enormous column of re-enforcements of the enemy from Richmond and Manassas. The head of this column was directed in front of the center of our regiment, and when it was within 500 yards of us we received the order to retire, which we did in line of battle in common time, not one man running. The brigade remained together on the retreat and arrived at our old bivouac, about one mile and a half from Centerville, all in good order. Here we again received orders to continue the retreat to Washington, and marched over the Long Bridge as a brigade. Hereunto appended is a return of our losses.(*) In closing my report I cannot but say that all praise is due to you, sir, for your coolness and daring during the engagement, and to your brave Rhode Island regiments, to whom we feel indebted for many acts of kindness, and to Governor Sprague, of your State, for his great courage and gallant conduct on the field.

Your obedient servant,


Colonel Seventy-first Regiment New York State Militia


Acting Brigadier-General, Second Brigade, U.S. Army

(*) Nominal list (omitted) shows a total of sixty-two killed, wounded, prinsoners, and missing.  See table, p. 18.

#44a – Col. Willis A. Gorman

25 09 2008

Report of Col. Willis A. Gorman, First Minnesota Infantry

O.R.–SERIES I–VOLUME 51 Part 1 [S# 107] pp. 20-23


Washington, July 26, 1851

SIR: I have the honor to communicate, as colonel of the First Minnesota Regiment of Volunteers, the events connected with the movements of my command, comprising a part of your brigade:

On Tuesday morning, the 16th instant, in obedience to your order, we took up the line of march, and on the evening of Thursday arrived at Centerville and bivouacked until Sunday morning, the 21st instant, at 2.30 o’clock, when we again took up our line of march, in obedience to your orders, to meet the enemy, then known to be in large force between Bull Run and Manassas Station, Va. Our march from Centerville to Bull Run was not marked by any extraordinary event, my regiment leading the advance of your brigade. On arriving at Bull Run the battle began to rage with great warmth with the advance column of infantry and artillery of another division, both being hotly engaged. Here Captain Wright, of the military engineers, serving as an aide upon the staff of Colonel Heintzelman, commanding our division, informed me that my regiment was needed to flank the enemy upon the extreme left; whereupon I moved forward at “quick” and “double-quick” time, until we arrived at an open field looking out upon the enemy’s lines. After holding this position a short time, Captain Wright, by your direction, ordered me through the woods, to take position near the front and center of the enemy’s line, in an open field, where we came under the direct fire of the enemy’s batteries, formed in “column by division”. After remaining in this position for some ten minutes I received orders from both your aides and those of Colonel Heintzelman to pass the whole front of the enemy’s line, in support of Ricketts’ battery, and proceed to the extreme right of our line and the left of the enemy, a distance of about a mile or more. The movement was effected at “quick” and “double-quick” time, both by the infantry and artillery, during which march the men threw from their shoulders their haversacks, blankets, and most of their canteens, to facilitate their eagerness to engage the enemy. On arriving at the point indicated, being the extreme left of the enemy, and the extreme right of our line, and in advance of all other of our troops, and where I was informed officially that two other regiments had declined to charger we formed a line of battle, our right resting within a few feet of the woods and the left at and around Ricketts’ battery and upon the crest of the hill, within fifty or sixty feet of the enemy’s line of infantry, with whom we could have conversed in an ordinary tone of voice. Immediately upon Ricketts’ battery coming into position, and we in “line of battle,” Colonel Heintzelman rode up between our lines and that of the enemy, within pistol shot of each, which circumstance staggered my judgment whether those in front were friends or enemies, it being equally manifest that the enemy were in the same dilemma as to our identity. But a few seconds, however, undeceived both, they displaying the rebel and we the Union flag. Instantly a blaze of fire was poured into the faces of the combatants, each producing terrible destruction owing to the close proximity of the forces, which was followed by volley after volley, in regular and irregular order as to time, until Ricketts’ battery was disabled and cut to pieces and a large portion of its officers and men had fallen, and until Companies H, I, K, C, G, and those immediately surrounding my regimental flag were so desperately cut to pieces as to make it more of a slaughter than an equal combat, the enemy manifestly numbering five guns to our one, besides being intrenched in the woods and behind ditches and pits, plainly perceptible, and with batteries on the enemy’s right enfilading my left flank and within 350 yards direct range. After an effort to obtain aid from the Fire Zouaves, then immediately upon our left, two or three different orders came to retire, as it was manifest that the contest was too deadly and unequal to be longer justifiably maintained. Whereupon I gave the command to retire, seeing that the whole of our forces were seemingly in retreat. Every inch of ground, however, was strongly contested by skirmishers through the woods, by the fences, and over the undulating ground until we had retired some 400 yards in reasonably good order, to a point where the men could procure water, and then took up a regular and orderly retreat to such point as some general officer might indicate thereafter.

I feel it due to my regiment to say that before leaving the extreme right of our line the enemy attempted to make a charge with a body of perhaps 500 cavalry, who were met by my command and a part of the Fire Zouaves and repulsed with considerable loss to the enemy but without any to us. I am more than gratified to say that I kept the large body of my regiment together and marched from the field in order and on the march, and near an open space where Colonel Heintzelman’s column left the Centerville and Manassas road in the morning and passed to the right we, in conjunction with others, repulsed the enemy’s cavalry, who attempted to charge. Before leaving the field a portion of the right wing, owing to the configuration of the ground and the intervening woods, became detached, under the command of LieutenantColonel Miller, whose gallantry was conspicuous throughout the entire battle and who contested every inch of the ground with his forces thrown out as skirmishers in the woods and succeeded in occupying the original ground on the right after the repulse of a body of cavalry. I deem it worthy of remark that during a part of the engagement my regiment and that of the enemy at some points became so intermingled as scarcely to be able to distinguish friends from foes and my forces made several prisoners, among whom was Lieutenant-Colonel Boone, of Mississippi, who is now in Washington and fully recognizes his captors. I regard it as an event of rare occurrence in the annals of history that a regiment of volunteers not over three months in the service marched up without flinching to the mouth of batteries of cannon supported by thousands of infantry and opened and maintained a fire until one-fifth of the whole regiment was killed, wounded, or made prisoners before retiring, except for purposes of advantage of position. My heart is full of gratitude to my officers and men for their gallant bearing throughout the whole of this desperate engagement, and to distinguish the merits of one from another would be invidious and injustice might be done. Major Dike and my adjutant bore themselves with coolness throughout. My chaplain, Rev. E. D. Neill, was on the field the whole time and in the midst of danger, giving aid and comfort to the wounded. Doctor Stewart, while on the field, was ordered to the hospital by a medical officer of the army. Doctor Le Boutillier continued with the regiment and actually engaged in the fight, neither of whom have been heard from since. That I have not unfairly or unjustly to the truth of history stated the facts in regard to the gallant conduct of my regiment is fully proved by the appended list of killed and wounded, showing 49 killed, 107 wounded, and 34 missing. The names and companies to which they belong, in detail, will more fully appear in the accompanying list and abstracts.(*) Among the incidents of the engagement my command took several prisoners, among whom was Lieutenant.Colonel Boone, of the Mississippi regiment, taken personally by Mr. Irvine, of my regiment, and since said prisoner’s confinement in the Capitol at Washington City Mr. Irvine, in company with Hon. Morton S. Wilkinson, U.S. Senator from Minnesota, visited him, when he promptly recognized Mr. Irvine as his captor and thanked him very cordially for his humane treatment and kindness to him as a prisoner. I deem it but just that this fact should be officially known, as Lieutenant-Colonel Boone was an officer of the highest rank taken in the battle.

The humble part which I have performed as an officer commanding one of the regiments of your brigade, individually and otherwise, is now left to you and those commanding the division.



Colonel First Regiment of Minnesota


Comdg. First Brigade Colonel Heintzelman’s Div.,

Northeastern Virginia

Supplement to the official report of Colonel Gorman, of the First Regiment of Minnesota

CAMP MINNESOTA, July 26, 1861

The regimental flag borne by my color-bearer has through its folds one cannon ball, two grape-shot, and sixteen bullets, and one in the staff. The color guard were all wounded but the color-bearer, one mortally. The company flag of Company I was pierced with five balls and one on the spear head. Please attach this to my report.

Very respectfully,


Colonel First Regiment of Minnesota

(*) Omitted

Brian Dirck on Goodwin’s Lincoln

25 09 2008

Brian Dirck has a refreshing conclusion to his review of Doris Kearns Goodwin’s A Team of Rivals.  He mirrors some of my thoughts on some of the weaknesses of Goodwin’s book.  I’m sure some Lincoln scholars have noticed the same weaknesses as does Dirck, but for whatever reasons they don’t seem anxious to discuss them.  Most Lincoln hobbyists, I think, tend to read her book and find confirmation of their own long held opinions, and so predictably gush over it.  (Now, don’t get confused like one of my readers did – check his comment on this post, and my response – I’m no Abe basher.  But he had faults.)  Kudos to Brian for his objectivity and his willingness to state his thoughts publicly.

While I’m at it, I want to put in another plug for Russell McClintock’s Lincoln and the Decision for War (I wrote a little about it here).  It’s the best examination of the days between AL’s election and the firing on Ft. Sumter I’ve seen so far, and it presents a Lincoln far more human – and far more believable – than Goodwin’s.

Cocke’s Report

24 09 2008

Take some time to read the report of Col. Philip St. George Cocke.  This report is easy to miss because it’s not included in Volume 2 of the ORs, where the bulk of the Bull Run reports are grouped – instead it’s in a supplemental volume, #51, Part 1.  It is a very thorough report and well worth reading.  I’ve yet to get around to writing Cocke’s biographical sketch, but keep in mind a couple things.  He was the original commander of the line of Bull Run, until he was replaced with Milledge Luke Bonham, who was then replaced with P. G. T. Beauregard – lots of conflict over state militia ranks and Provisional Army of the Confederate States (PACS) ranks, with Cocke coming out on the short end.  Cocke would be dead by his own hand before the end of the year.  Also, Cocke should not be confused with Philip St. George Cooke, a fellow Virginian and West Point graduate who remained loyal to his country, headed up the cavalry of the Army of the Potomac, and is probably best remembered as the father-in-law of J. E. B. Stuart.