Report of Capt. Richard Arnold, Fifth U. S. Artillery
O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 2 [S# 2] — CHAPTER IX, pp. 416-417
WASHINGTON, D.C., July 25, 1861
SIR: In compliance with your order, I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations of Light Company D, Second Artillery, in the battle of the 21st instant, at Bull Run:
The brigade to which my battery was attached halted, on arriving to the right and rear of the enemy to rest the men and prepare for action, and the battery was placed under cover in a ravine to await further orders. As soon as the brigades in advance became engaged, I was ordered to place my battery to the left and rear, to guard well that flank, and prevent its being turned and the enemy gaining our rear. Scarcely was this position reached when orders came to move forward as quickly as possible to the support of Captain Ricketts, then warmly engaged in front and in great peril. The pieces were immediately limbered, and the battery run up under whip and spur, and placed in position about eight hundred yards from the enemy’s lines, to support and give confidence to the volunteers. A rapid and incessant fire was kept up for one hour and a half, throwing at least four hundred rounds of shot, shell, spherical case, and some canister, and I was informed did good execution. Their loss from artillery must have been very heavy. During all this time the battery was exposed to a severe and most accurate artillery fire.
Owing to the great loss of horses, the exhaustion of the men, and the fear that I should not be able to bring my pieces off the field, the volunteers supporting me having left the position assigned them very soon after I commenced firing, I was induced, after consultation with my officers, to withdraw to the left and rear, when Lieutenant Barriger was dispatched to Colonel Heintzelman. He returned without finding him. I then, in the absence of any superior officers, moved to the right, where I thought I could be of great service, and at once received orders from Captain Fry to cover the retreat, as I was informed the order to retreat had been given.
During the rest of the day I commanded the left section and brought up the rear, the right section, under Lieutenant Barriger, being in advance of the regular cavalry. At one time a body of the enemy’s cavalry threatened our rear, but two rounds of canister dispersed them, and we were not again threatened until we arrived near Cub Run, when the battery was exposed to a severe flank and enfilading fire from artillery and infantry to a bridge across that stream, which had been destroyed or broken in by the advanced trains and artillery. Seeing at once that it was impossible to push forward or extricate the guns, I gave orders to spike them and clear as many horses as possible. Had my battery not been detailed in the rear, it might have been saved; but it was sacrificed to prevent a total rout and great loss, which would certainly have ensued had not the display of cavalry and artillery given the impression that the Army was retiring in good order.
Too much praise cannot be bestowed upon the officers of my company, Lieutenants Barriger and Throckmorton, for their gallantry and efficiency during the action. The non-commissioned officers and privates all to a man stood to their posts and performed their duties most gallantly.
From fifteen to twenty horses were killed and wounded on the battlefield and at Cub Run.
The following is a list of the killed, wounded, and missing.(*)
I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Captain, Fifth Artillery, Comdg. Light Co. D, Second Artillery
To the ACTING ASSISTANT ADJUTANT-GENERAL,
(*) Embodied in division return, p. 405