#62 – Col. William R. Montgomery

29 10 2008

Report of Col. William R. Montgomery, First New Jersey Infantry

O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 2 [S# 2] — CHAPTER IX, pp. 437-438

NEAR FORT ALBANY, VA., July 23, 1861

SIR: I have the honor to report that, by instructions of Brigadier-General Runyon, commanding Fourth Division, Northeastern Virginia, with fifteen companies, seven of the First (my own), and eight of the Second (McLean’s) New Jersey Volunteers, I left Vienna and marched to join you at Centreville. On the march we encountered your retreating forces, which, by personal authority, exertions of officers, men, and the bayonet, we endeavored, though ineffectually, to rally and turn back. We took position in rear of your camps and immediately in front of the enemy, then proceeded in person to your headquarters, and received your instructions to assume command of my own and McLean’s regiments, and hold our position. On sending for the latter regiment it was ascertained it had retired and was on the retreat, and continued to do so, for reasons doubtless its colonel will duly explain.

About 2 o’clock in the morning, having ascertained that the forces had retreated, and my command left entirely unsupported, I deemed it proper to retire, leaving your hospitals in charge of Surgeon Taylor, of my regiment, who nobly volunteered for that purpose with my sanction, to the mercy of the enemy.

I kept on and covered the rear of our retreating forces till we reached Fairfax Court-House, when, finding a regiment encamped but preparing to take up its march, I notified its commander he would be in rear, and the probability of the enemy’s Black Cavalry annoying him. We continued our march in rear of other forces, finally joined and escorted Hunt’s battery to this point, where, during the storm of yesterday, I disposed of my regiment as I best could. When we marched from Vienna four companies, two of each regiment, were on detached duty, and one other was left to hold the place till the former companies should return, then the whole to proceed to join us. They marched accordingly, but were met on the way and turned back, and those of the Second joined us here. To-day we are employed in getting in our camp equipage from Camp Trenton.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Colonel, Commanding First Regiment New Jersey Volunteers

Brig. Gen. I. McDOWELL,

Commanding Federal Forces

#61 – Lieut. Oliver D. Greene

28 10 2008

Report of Lieut. Oliver D. Greene, Second U.S. Artillery

O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 2 [S# 2] — CHAPTER IX, pp. 436-437

ALEXANDRIA, VA., July 24, 1861

SIR: In compliance with your circular order of this date, just received, I have the honor to report that, on the morning of the 21st instant, my battery was placed in position in reserve near Centreville by Colonel Miles, commanding division, in person. Shortly afterwards, I received an order to hasten to the front with it, at Bull Run, as the enemy were there in force, and supposed to be attempting to turn our left flank. I took it forward as rapidly as possible, and came into action on the crest of a hill about six hundred yards from the enemy’s line of skirmishers. I opened fire immediately upon a fixed battery partially masked by the woods, at a distance of about fifteen hundred yards, and also upon a point where it was known another masked battery was placed. The enemy were congregated in considerable force inside of the first battery, but as soon as I got the range the spherical case shot dispersed them and they disappeared from that position for nearly three hours. I then ceased firing, while skirmishers were thrown to the front from Colonel Richardson’s brigade to feel the strength of the enemy in the edge of the woods in front of us. They were found to be in overwhelming force, and as our skirmishers retired theirs advanced in very strong force, but incautiously presented their flank to my battery. I threw in canister and spherical case as rapidly as possible, killing and wounding several, the first shot knocking over three. I kept up this fire for about five minutes, when I supposed the enemy were driven from that immediate vicinity. I then turned the fire of the battery upon columns of dust seen rising above the woods and indicating the march of troops in mass. Whether any effect was produced or not by this fire I cannot say.

At this time Lieutenant Prime, of the Engineers, directed my attention to a group of thirty or forty horsemen, evidently officers, on the plateau opposite, who, with maps on their horses’ necks, were apparently taking a view of our position and strength at a safe distance. By digging a hole under the trail I got two pieces bearing upon them at an angle of twenty-five or thirty degrees. The distance must have been two and one-half or three miles, but the first shot sent the center figure of the group to the rear; the second scattered the remainder in all directions. Firing was then ordered to cease at all the guns, for some time nothing appearing worth attention, until finally a cloud of dust was seen approaching our position from the direction of Manassas upon a road that was entirely concealed by woods from our sight except at one bare spot within our best range, and the range of this point we had got accurately before. The guns were all prepared with shell and spherical case, and pointed upon this spot. When the head of the column appeared it proved to be a battery of light artillery. I opened fire upon it instantly, and fired with the utmost rapidity. The smoke of the guns obscured my sight, so that I saw none of the effect produced, but Colonel Richardson, who was looking with a glass, informed me afterwards that I cut them up badly, and forced them to turn back. We saw them no more. Shortly after this one of my men called my attention to the battery we first fired upon. The enemy were endeavoring to plant field piece, the horses of which were just passing to the rear as I looked with my glass. I opened upon them with spherical case, firing several rounds. When the smoke cleared away there was no gun to be seen, and the battery gave me no more trouble during the day.

About this time heavy re-enforcements commenced being sent into the main action from Manassas, passing along the plateau opposite, and at about two miles distance. I fired upon them as often as large masses could be seen to justify firing at such a distance. Not much effect was produced, so far as I could see. One column of cavalry was, however, scattered in all directions by a solid shot. Very little firing was done by us for the next two hours, at which time we were ordered to Centreville to protect our left flank and our retreat. I chose a position on the crest of a hill, which from its shape gave me command of the ground to our left, and also of the road along which our division was retiring. From the position I could perfectly sweep with my fire 180 degrees front right and left down a gentle slope. Four regiments were placed as my supports, and the force at the point could have stopped double its number.

At this time an unauthorized person gave the order to retreat. I refused to obey the order, but all my supporting regiments but one (Colonel Jackson’s Eighteenth New York) moved off to the rear. Colonel Jackson most gallantly offered his regiment as a support for the battery, saying “that it should remain by me as long as there was any fighting to be done there.” The above-mentioned unauthorized person again made his appearance at this time and again ordered me to retreat, and ordered Colonel Jackson to form in column of division on my right and retreat with me, as all was lost. The order was, of course, disregarded, and in about two minutes the head of a column of the enemy’s cavalry came up at a run, opening out of the woods in beautiful order. I was prepared for it, and the column had not gone more than a hundred yards out of the woods before four shells were burst at their head and directly in their midst. They broke in every direction, and no more cavalry came out of the woods. Shortly after my battery was ordered to fall a little farther to the rear, to form in a park of artillery. At that point the battery remained until about 12 o’clock at night, when it was ordered to take up the line of march for Washington, which point it arrived at in perfect order, although much exhausted, men and horses having been hard at work for thirty hours, almost without food and water and without sleep.

My officers, Lieutenants Cushing, Harris, and Butler, were coolly and assiduously attentive to their duties during the day. The accuracy of our fire was mainly owing to their personal supervision of each shot. The men of the company behaved well, and every one seemed to try and do his duty in the best possible manner. My only trouble was to keep the drivers from leaving their horses to assist at the guns.

To Lieutenant Prime, of the Engineers, and Colonel Richardson, of the Third Michigan Regiment, I am indebted for the most valuable assistance in securing the best effect from the firing.

One of the officers and one of the men were struck by spent balls, but I am happy to say we had no loss either in men or horses.

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


First Lieutenant, Second Artillery, Comdg. Light Co.

G. F. H. COWDREY, Acting Asst. Adjt. Gen.,

Second Brig., Fifth Div., Colonel Davies, Comdg.

More on the So-Called “Army of Northeastern Virginia”

25 10 2008

You’ll notice in Col. Pratt’s report that he uses “Army N. E. Va” in the closing.  As I’ve discussed here and here, I’ve never been able to find any documentation creating or formally recognizing an Army of Northeastern Virginia.  Pratt’s report is one of only three references to such an organization in the Official Records.  The other two are Porter’s endorsement (dated August 19, 1861) of Burnside’s report, and Robert E. Lee’s reference to his own army in a September 3, 1862 letter to Jefferson Davis (OR, Series I, Volume XII/2, p 559).  Pratt’s report is exceptional in that it contains the first reference to the army that is contemporary to the battle, as the report is dated July 22.  Pratt was a judge before and after the war, so maybe he was predisposed to timely record keeping.  Or maybe he pre-dated the report.  I honestly don’t know.

I don’t want to belabor this point.  McDowell was in command of the Department of Northeastern Virginia, and the federal troops within that department.  But every reference I’ve found to the Army of Northeastern Virginia, with the exception of Pratt’s report, was written after McDowell’s army was broken up.  I can’t find any mention of the Army of Northeastern Virginia in the New York Times for 1861.

#60 – Col. Calvin E. Pratt

24 10 2008

Report of Col. Calvin E. Pratt, Thirty-first New York Infantry

O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 2 [S# 2] — CHAPTER IX, pp. 434-435


Camp near Alexandria, Va., July 22, 1861

SIR: In accordance with Paragraph 723 of General Regulations for the U.S. Army, I have the honor to report the operations of my regiment during the engagement of yesterday.

In obedience to your order, the regiment was ready to march from camp near Centreville at 2.30 a.m. While proceeding to the field I was detached from my regiment and ordered to take command of the Sixteenth and Thirty-second Regiments New York Volunteers, to support Lieutenant Platt’s battery. I turned over the command of the Thirty-first Regiment to Lieut. Col. William H. Browne, and took command as directed; made a reconnaissance in company with Colonel Matheson, of the Thirty-second, Lieutenant-Colonel Marsh, of the Sixteenth, and Lieutenant Platt, of the artillery, and placed said regiments in proper position. I afterwards threw out as skirmishers of the Thirty-second a company under Captain Chalmers, and a platoon under Lieutenant — of the Sixteenth, and sent them about a mile to the front and left of our position, to guard a road leading from the enemy’s right to our left and rear. In about one hour I was ordered by Col. Dixon S. Miles, the division commander, to proceed with the two regiments and the battery to the front, where I was relieved from command of them and resumed charge of my own regiment. Soon afterwards, by directions of Colonel Miles, I proceeded to the extreme left of our division and supported Major Hunt’s battery. Having thrown out Captain Heiss with his company as skirmishers in the defiles about a quarter of a mile on our left, I rested the remainder of my regiment on the skirt of a wood in rear of the artillery.

About the same time Lieutenant-Colonel Browne, with two companies, was detailed by me to reconnoiter a ravine and wood where it was suspected the enemy was concealed. After deploying and penetrating the ravine to a considerable distance, all at once a smart fire of rifles was opened upon him from a force concealed in the thick timber. He returned the fire and continued skirmishing, assisted by a detachment of Massachusetts Volunteers, until his men were safely covered. The desired effect of compelling our adversaries to discover themselves having thus been attained, Richardson’s battery opened upon them a destructive fire of case-shot and shell. The skirmishers were recalled, and Lieutenant-Colonel Browne reported having discovered a masked battery and a force of at least a thousand men.

Soon afterwards it was discovered that a force of infantry and cavalry, variously estimated at from 2,500 to 4,000 men, were marching on our left through the woods and defile to turn our flank.

Pursuant to your order, the line of battle was changed to our left flank, and four companies were detached from my regiment, and thrown into the left and rear as skirmishers, under command of Frank Jones, acting major, who held the enemy in check. He received a fire of five volleys of rifles, and retired from the wood, but they did not succeed in drawing our fire, which was reserved for the advance to take our batteries.

At about 6.30 p.m. the order was received to retire upon Centreville. My regiment remained to allow the battery to precede us, being the last except the Sixteenth to quit a field that had successfully been held against tremendous odds.

I deem it to be a duty to give the names of the officers of my regiment who were engaged in the battle, and to whose coolness and judgment I am indebted for the success that attended my regiment:

Lieut. Col. William H. Browne; Acting Maj. Frank Jones; Acting Adjutant Edward Frossard; Volunteer Aides A. L. Washburn and Frank Hamilton, jr.; Maj. Frank H. Hamilton, M. D., surgeon; Lucien Damainville, M.D., assistant surgeon; George Marvin, acting assistant surgeon; Edward A. Brown, acting assistant surgeon.

Company A–Capt. J. J. S. Hassler, First Lieut. Robert R. Daniel, Acting Second Lieut. W. W. Smith.

Company B–Capt. L. C. Newman, First Lieut. D. E. Smith, Second Lieut. Eugene Frossard.

Company C–Capt. Alex. Raszewski, First Lieut. Louis Domanski.

Company D–Capt. M. O. McGarry, First Lieut. J. H. Bradley, Second Lieut. R. L. Knight.

Company E–Capt. August Heiss, First Lieut. C. E. Klein, Second Lieut. H. Schickhardt.

Company F–First Lieut. F. Pross, Second Lieut. Louis H. Brown.

Company G–First Lieut. Oliver J. Rogers, Second Lieut. W. D. Prentiss.

Company H–Capt. David Lamb, First Lieut. Asa B. Gardner.

Company I–Capt. John A. Rue, Chaplain S. W. Waldron (acting first lieutenant), Second Lieut. Hamilton Hair.

Company K–Capt. John H. Watts, First Lieut. William Maitland, Second Lieut. F. E. Waldron.

Among those not soldiers who rendered effective and gallant service among the skirmishers was John M. Pierce, who with his rifle killed a field officer and one soldier of the advancing foe.

To conclude, the non-commissioned officers and soldiers of my command behaved with such gallantry that it were invidious to make distinctions until the time for promotion shall actually have arrived.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Colonel, Commanding Thirty-first New York Volunteers


Commanding Second Brigade, Fifth Division, Army N. E. Va

#59 – Lieut. Col. Samuel Marsh

24 10 2008

Report of Lieut. Col. Samuel Marsh, Sixteenth New York Infantry

O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 2 [S# 2] — CHAPTER IX, pp. 433-434


Near Alexandria, Va., July 24, 1861

SIR: The Sixteenth Regiment New York State Volunteers, under the immediate command of Lieutenant-Colonel Marsh, left camp near Alexandria, on Tuesday, July 16, in obedience to orders, and proceeded toward Fairfax Court-House as far as Annandale, where the regiment bivouacked for the night. On Wednesday, at daybreak, we resumed our march, having filed off to the left and taken the old Braddock road. At 8.30 a.m. we came upon barricades and obstructions, which had been placed across the road by the rebels to impede our progress.  The Sixteenth Regiment led the advance, preceded by Companies A and K of the Eighteenth Regiment and Companies A and B of the Sixteenth Regiment, as skirmishers. About three miles from Fairfax our skirmishers fell in with the first rebel outposts, and exchanged shots with them, when they hastily fell back without doing us any injury. We continued our march for a mile farther as rapidly as the roads could be cleared, when we again came upon a strong force, upon which the outposts had fallen back. Here a brisk skirmish took place. The regiment was promptly formed in line and placed in position. While this was being done, two wounded men of the Eighteenth Regiment were brought in. The regiment was advanced in line of battle for about half a mile through the woods in good order, supported on the left by the Eighteenth Regiment, when we came upon a battery and extensive intrenchments which had been secretly abandoned. We then proceeded by the road without further difficulty to within half a mile of Fairfax Court-House, when we came to the abandoned camp of the Fifth Alabama Rifles, who had fled at our approach. Learning here that General McDowell had already occupied Fairfax, we halted for the night. On Thursday morning we resumed our march toward Centreville, and halted near there until Sunday morning, the 21st instant. At 2.30 o’clock a.m. of that day we advanced with the main body towards Bull Run.

The position assigned to the regiment was on the left wing, to support the batteries commanded by Major Hunt, to defeat any flank movement on the part of the rebels. Here the regiment remained in position from 10 o’clock a.m. until 4 o’clock p.m., during which time there was no appearance of the enemy in our neighborhood, with the exception of a small detachment who fired on Companies B and G, which had been thrown forward in the direction of Bull Run to act as skirmishers. In this skirmish Lieutenant Hopkins received a slight wound in the heel. At 5 p.m. a large force of the enemy, since ascertained to have numbered 3,000 rifles and 2,000 cavalry, were seen rapidly advancing down a deep and well-protected ravine on our left. The position of the regiment was immediately changed by your order to front this advance, and the batteries were brought into position so as to rake the ravine. When the batteries opened their fire the enemy were thrown into confusion and disorder, but rallied in a moment and poured in three or four volleys, which passed over our heads.

During the operations of the day, it is but just to add that the Thirty-first Regiment, under Colonel Pratt, was stationed on our left, and acted in conjunction with our regiment with coolness and bravery. The Sixteenth Regiment was the last to quit the field, and retired in good order, falling back on the heights of Centreville. During the night of the 21st, in obedience to orders, the regiment, in connection with the entire force, fell back to Fairfax Court-House, and on the succeeding day returned to its camp near Alexandria.


Lieutenant-Colonel, Commanding Sixteenth Regiment


Acting Adjutant


Commanding Second Brigade, Fifth Division

Piedmont Station

23 10 2008

My friend David Langbart recently made a trip to Delaplane, VA, and snapped the below photos (he uses some kind of newfangled camera: the image is transferred to something called film, which is then developed into negatives, from which prints are made, whatever any of that means).  Situated about 25 miles southeast of Winchester, in 1861 Delaplane was known as Piedmont Station.  This is where elements of Joe Johnston’s Army of the Shenandoah boarded train cars bound for Manassas Junction, beginning on July 19th with the brigade of Thomas J. Jackson.

I’m not sure if any of the structures were there in 1861.  Here’s a link to some Piedmont Station/Delaplane markers courtesy of Historical Marker Database.

All views are east toward Manassas.

Davies’ Reports

22 10 2008

A couple of interesting things in Davies’ reports (or is that Davies’s reports?  I can’t decide): as you can see at the end of the first report, Davies was led by some captured Confederates to believe that the troops he faced at Blackburn’s Ford were under the command of Robert E. Lee.  In case you didn’t know, they weren’t.  Davies squared off against Longstreet, mostly, though Bonham and D. R. Jones were also in the area.

In the second report, Davies requested a court of inquiry over the perceived slight to his command by McDowell in his report.  I wasn’t aware of this, and have to look into this more.

I have thus far refrained from posting reports pertaining to the fight at Blackburn’s Ford on July 18th.  I’ll post them once I get all the Bull Run reports up.

Photo from www.generalsandbrevets.com