Report of Lieut. C. W. Squires, Washington Artillery, of Action at Blackburn’s Ford
O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 2 [S# 2] — CHAPTER IX, pp. 467-469
CAMP LOUISIANA, August 1, 1861
SIR: I have the honor to make the following report:
Early on the morning of the 18th ultimo the three pieces of artillery under my command were ordered to march in the direction of Blackburn’s Ford with Col. Jubal A. Early’s brigade. On reaching McLean’s farm house we were joined by two more pieces of our battalion, under command of Lieut. J. B. Whittington and L. A. Adam. We were directed by the commanding officer (Colonel Early) to form one battery and act together. We were ordered to take position behind a piece of woods within a short distance of Bull Run, and place the command in such a position as would enable us to move in any direction. We had not been in this position ten minutes before the enemy began firing rifled shell and round shot at the hospital which was on our right, but did little or no execution. Soon after we heard the firing of our infantry, which was apparently returned by the enemy with musketry and cannon. We now received orders to take our battery to an open ground within a half mile of Blackburn’s Ford, where we were again halted, with instructions to follow behind the Seventh Louisiana Regiment with two rifled cannon, holding one rifled and two 6-pounders in reserve with Colonel Kemper’s volunteer regiment. The guns were detached under Lieutenant Richardson, assisted by Capt. B. F. Eshleman, of the Fourth Company, who had been with us during the morning. We were now joined by Lieut. J. J. Garnett with a section which was attached to General Longstreet’s brigade.
Hearing firing, and supposing it to be our rifled cannon under Lieutenant Richardson, I left the five pieces under command of Lieutenant Garnett, and rode in that direction to see if my battery of five pieces in the rear could be used, and get orders to bring them on the field. I found the guns in battery firing through a thick piece of woods, and appeared to have done good execution, as the enemy were now driven back and nothing could be seen of them. Lieutenant Garnett in the mean time received orders to join us, which he did. The guns were ordered to form in battery on the left, which order was promptly obeyed. Orders came to cease firing, as the enemy had retreated. We rested about fifteen minutes, when a courier came, stating that the enemy had rallied and the infantry were marching in column of companies to attack our battery on the right flank. We then received orders to find out their position and commence firing, which order was obeyed.
We at first directed our fire against the infantry, whose bayonets we could see over the tree tops, but had not fired five rounds before the enemy brought a battery in position on a high hill directly in front of us and opened their fire. I immediately gave orders to the gunners to fire a little below the point from whence the smoke of the enemy’s guns came. The firing now became general on both sides, the enemy firing at first over our heads, but gradually getting our range. We returned their fire, and were informed by General Longstreet that we were doing great execution. The enemy’s guns ceased firing for a few minutes, and it appeared that something had happened. Our battery in the mean time kept up rapid firing. The enemy soon opened again, their shells bursting in the very midst of our battery, wounding Capt. Eshleman, Privates H. L. Zebel, J. A. Tarleton, and G. W. Muse, of First Company, and Privates H. Tully and A. Baker, of Third Company; also Lieutenant Richardson’s horse, the lieutenant himself barely escaping with his life. G. W. Muse died of his wound during the night.
At this point Lieutenant Garnett brought orders from the general commanding to advance by hand to the front, which was no sooner executed than a shower of shell, spherical case, and round shot flew over our heads. One of our guns was disabled, the vent having been enlarged, which rendered it useless. Seeing that our men could not stand the work much longer I sent Lieutenant Garnett to General Longstreet, commanding him to state our condition. He brought an order to withdraw piece by piece from the left, leaving one piece to return the fire of the enemy, gun for gun. It was evident that the enemy was retiring, as his shots were few and long intervals between each discharge. At this juncture we were ordered to fire the last gun at the retreating foe.
To Lieutenants Richardson, Garnett, and Whittington I would call your especial attention, all having behaved well. To Sergeants E. Owen, J. M. Galbraith, and J. M. Brewer, and Corporals Ruggles, Payne, Fellows, and Ellis, and to all the cannoneers and drivers I am much indebted for coolness and obedience to all my orders. I would recommend most highly to your kind attention Sergeants Edward Owen and John M. Galbraith. They behaved gallantly through the whole engagements, reporting at every moment the different positions of their guns and every little item of interest connected therewith.
We fired three hundred and ten rounds during the engagement, had one horse killed and five wounded.
Very respectfully, major, your obedient servant,
C. W. SQUIRES,
First Lieutenant, Battalion Washington Artillery
Maj. J. B. WALTON,
Commanding Battalion Washington Artillery