Reports of Col. William N. Pendleton, C. S. Army, Commanding Artillery, of the Battle of Bull Run
O.R.–SERIES I–VOLUME 51 Part 1 [S# 107], pp. 34-36
NEAR MANASSAS, July 23, 1861
GENERAL: As directed I report concerning the batteries under my command – those of Captain Alburtis, Captain Stanard, and the Rockbridge Artillery – that they arrived from Winchester at Manassas Junction about 2 o’clock on Saturday, 20th instant, and were assigned position for rest under shelter of some woods near the center of the line of defenses; that early on the morning of Sunday, 21st, Captain Stanard’s battery, having a rifled gun, was assigned for immediate service to General Jackson’s brigade, and advanced under my guidance with a portion of the Washington Artillery from New Orleans, under Major Walton, and with one of the guns of the Rockbridge Artillery by General Jackson’s special request, toward the scene of action then beginning on our left. While thus advancing my own course was changed by an order from the adjutant-general directing me to take the batteries under my command from the forward and exposed situation where they had rested to a better place farther back, and to await orders in readiness to move on notice into action. I accordingly conducted by a route indicated the remaining guns of the Rockbridge Artillery and Captain Alburtis’ battery to a point between army headquarters and the field, and there halting reported in person for orders. Again directed to await in readiness, I did so until yourself rapidly passing gave the word, and by your order we hastened to the scene and arrived in proper place about 12 m. In the midst of action – raging with great severity – our position was skillfully adjusted by General Jackson. Being promptly arranged, these batteries all opened upon the enemy a well-directed and most effective fire. By this timely and telling attack, continued perhaps an hour or more, the batteries of the enemy were greatly crippled and their advance effectually checked. Under cover, however, of some brushwood, and because when seen they could not for a considerable time be distinguished from our own troops, a body of the enemy’s infantry succeeded in gaining a point near the batteries on the left. They were promptly met by a charge from the infantry that had, under General Jackson, for our protection, held place in our rear. From the melee thus occasioned almost in our midst it became necessary at once to remove our guns to another point. They were accordingly limbered immediately and withdrawn to a second position to the right and rather farther back. But the work done was sufficient; the enemy, crippled by our cannon and driven by the fire and bayonets of our brave infantry, gave up the day and began to retreat, and we could only hasten that retreat by a fire well aimed from the guns of longest range. I rejoice to testify to the admirable conduct of all the officers and men under my command and observation. Without exception they behaved with exemplary coolness, skill, and persevering determination, and I am thankful indeed to be able to state that under the shield of a guardian Providence we were nearly all mercifully preserved.
W. N. PENDLETON,
Colonel, Artillery, &c.
General JOSEPH E. JOHNSTON,
MANASSAS JUNCTION, July 23, 1861
GENERAL: I have the honor to report to you the conduct and condition of the Rockbridge Artillery in connection with the battle of the 21st instant, as attached to your noble brigade and under my immediate command:
By command of the adjutant-general, this battery, with that of Captain Alburtis, was detained near our resting position on the night of the 20th under my command, awaiting orders to move at any moment, Captain Stanard’s battery and that of Major Walton having been sent on to your support. While we thus waited the action began to rage far to the left, and after some time General Johnston passed with his staff and directed me to advance with one of the batteries, leaving the other to follow with some infantry that were to come on. With this battery I accordingly hastened on, leaving that of Captain Alburtis to follow as directed. On the way I was met by a courier from General Beauregard urging up all the artillery. Increasing if possible our already rapid advance, in consequence of sending a messenger to bring on Captain Alburtis at once, I proceeded with the Rockbridge Artillery to the scene. Near the field’ we came up with the battery of Major Walton and part of Captain Stanard’s, awaiting orders. Here on inquiry of General Johnston I learned the general course we were to take, and being urged to press forward all that could advance, I carried on this battery, with the two guns of Captain Stanard, word being left for Captain Alburtis to join us immediately. Pressing along the narrow and difficult road through the pine thicket we reached the point where you were standing as suitable for our position. Here the pieces were all as speedily as possible brought into action and continued their skillfully directed and well-sustained fire for perhaps some three hours, doing immense damage to the enemy and contributing an important share to the glorious victory of the day. The batteries of the enemy having, under the powerful fire directed against them, become greatly crippled, an advance was attempted by them to carry our batteries. Under cover of the brushwood on our left, and because they could not be distinguished from our own men, so that our fire was for a time withheld from them, they succeeded in getting very near us on the left. At this moment the infantry in the rear, acting as our support, rushed forward with charged bayonets and a close contest ensued almost in our midst of ball and bayonet. From this melee it became necessary for us promptly to withdraw. The pieces were therefore limbered and removed, a movement which was accomplished in perfect order, the last piece of the Rockbridge Artillery continuing to fire upon the advancing enemy until all the rest had been limbered and were in motion. By the time we had reached the second position, to the right and farther back, the enemy, crippled by our cannon and driven by our gallant infantry, were in full retreat, and the only additional service left for us was to expedite that retreat by sending after our routed invaders a few balls from the guns of longest range. The officers and men of this battery, like all the rest under my observation, behaved with exemplary courage, constancy, and skill. All performed their parts with fidelity and precision, and are entitled to a just measure of honor for their good conduct. Lieutenant Brockenbrough received a slight wound in the face, Corporal Jordan experienced a severe bruise on and temporarily disabling the foot, and Private Singleton was shot by a musket-ball in the arm, the wound being painful and serious, but it is hoped not dangerous. A slight contusion on the hip by a spent ball from the left and a slight graze on the lower tip of the right ear were the only approaches to a wound experienced by myself. We had no piece injured and no horse killed in the entire fight. One or two horses were slightly injured (among them my own) by a flesh shot in the leg, and one or two that had been allowed to infantry officers for use in the action were killed, but there are no other casualties.
W. N. PENDLETON,
Colonel, Provisional Army, Confederate States, and
Acting Captain Rockbridge Artillery
General T. J. JACKSON,
Commanding First Brigade