First Bull Run Campaign Markers

20 06 2009

Craig Swain has but up an index to  HMDB entries for markers associated with the First Bull Run Campaign over at To the Sound of the Guns.  This is a handy reference, and one you’ll want to read over before visiting the area.  (I’ll add a link on the blogroll page.)  Check it out.

Manassas National Battlefield Park Photos May 2009

19 06 2009

These images were recorded on May 29-30, 2009; for the most part in the company of fellow blogger Craig Swain.  Click on the thumbs for larger images.


Visitor’s Center (VC) displays of Francis Brownell’s musket and 11th NY uniform worn at the occupation of Alexandria; Capt. James B. Ricketts’s sword and sash worn at First Bull Run.


Francis Bartow monument on the Henry Hill Trail; trees marking the site of the base to an earlier monument to Bartow erected in September 1861; two images of the base.


The Henry House; Judith Henry grave; view north to Matthews Hill from the Henry House.


View south along Ricketts’ line toward VC; site of death of Lt. Ramsey of Ricketts’ Battery; two images of 7th GA marker near Ricketts’ guns; view north along Ricketts’ line toward Matthews Hill.


Two views of the monument at Signal Hill in Manassas, marking the position of E. P. Alexander’s signal station.  The earthworks to the rear of the monument are off limits.


Entry to the path leading to Mayfield Fort in Manassas, part of Beauregard’s system of defensive earthworks; Mayfield Fort.


Parking lot on north side of Blackburn’s Ford; three views from north to south side of ford, panning to west.


View west along Warrenton Pike (Lee Highway) toward Cub Run (new bridge is lighter pavement); view west to run; view east to run; view of run from the west.


View south from Reynolds’ RI Battery on Mattews Hill south to Henry Hill; view east along Reynolds’ line.


View east along Stone Bridge Trail toward the monument Private George T. Stovall of the 8th GA; two views of the marker.


Two views of the Carter Family Cemetery on the Stone Bridge Trail, both looking south.


Area marked as Farm Ford on Bull Run, where the brigades fo Sherman and Keyes crossed.  NPS Ranger Jim Burgess believes the actual ford lies about 200 yards upstream from here.


View north to Matthews Hill from Imboden’s position on Henry Hill, Reynolds’ guns in the distance; view northwest to Dogan’s Ridge from Imboden’s position, Dogan House in the distance.


Entrance to original Sudley Road trace near the VC, looking south with Sudley Rd to the right; the trace looking north to the VC; the trace looking south.


The Stone House at the intersection of the Sudley-Manassas Rd and the Warrenton Pike – view north from the Pike; view southwest from the rear of the house; two interior images.


Buck Hill to the north of the Stone House – view south to Henry Hill; view north to Matthews Hill; view east toward the Stone Bridge.


Chinn Ridge looking north – the area of the repulse of Col. O. O. Howard’s brigade.


The Thornberry House near Sudley Springs – Union soldiers took shelter in this house (much changed from the original) after the battle.

JCCW – Gen. Louis Blenker

18 06 2009

Testimony of Gen. Louis Blenker

Report on the Conduct of the War, Vol. 2, pp. 75-77

WASHINGTON, January 6, 1862

General Louis BLENKER sworn and examined.

By the chairman:

Question. Were you at the Bull Run fight?

Answer. Not a great fighter, but I did what I could. I was present from the first until the last hour.

Question. To what do you attribute the defeat of that day particularly?

Answer. My idea is that the general-in-chief, General McDowell—an honorable officer, a very well-educated officer—at that time had not prepared enough his staff officers, and all the other plans were spoiled by the baggage wagons which he had ordered to be there not coming as he ordered. The whole trouble was in going in so risky a way that any general—even the greatest in the world—would be beaten that day, if the enemy was strongest. But the enemy were losing a great deal more than we. They were retreating. But still I do not think it is a blame for anybody to lose that battle. It was a panic, all at once. There was a panic which nobody can explain. The colonels there, a great many of them, never have a command. They look around and say: What shall we do? That is strange music—the bullet—and strange feeling to be killed. But what to do is the question. They are running. Some begin to retreat, and it is not possible to give orders to keep them together. If one regiment runs, the others go too. That has been the case in every army— French army, Austrian army, and every good army in the world. I would not blame any officer for that. The regiment I had three times ordered, was ordered to retreat; and then I see I can do a little more if I stay. And then I think I advance two miles further against the enemy. I see the spirit was good in my troops. I see a great deal there that I shall never forget in my life. It is the most interesting matter for me, indeed, in my military experience—that battle. I never had a chance to study a great deal. I am only a brigade officer, but if the moment comes I know what to do. The enemy only risk a little attack of cavalry, and if that was a good attack they would go further. But General McDowell, he was so much hurt that I feel the greatest sympathy for him to-day. I would not allow anybody to blame him to-day. He was not assisted enough. I was, in the evening, at the council where the plan was discussed. Of course Colonel Miles was in the best spirits with him, and he said: “We have but little anxiety to be in the reserve.” But the general said: “‘Colonel, you can be sure there is great danger if we do not have that reserve there, and so we make our preparations.” The next day they fight; and the orderly came with the message that the battle is lost. There were a great many around me, and it would have curious effect. They asked: “What is the matter?” I said, we are victorious. And they hurra. At once I make my preparation for an advance. After one mile we pass the troops retreating. My troops said: “What the devil is that?” I said, it is a mistake; go on. Not even my adjutant understand what I want. So I went to the front, and we make a good effect, because the enemy could see us. That was all I wanted at that time. I never expected to see anything else. I do not speak good enough English to express myself. But if the time comes I hope I may make good the honor conferred upon me.

Question. You understood, I suppose, at that time, the position of Patterson and Johnston to be about Winchester?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. Was it understood by you on the field that Patterson was to engage Johnston, or to prevent his going down to that battle?

Answer. I am very much informed now, because I had a conversation with General Sanford, who was with General Patterson’s division.

Question. What did you understand about the matter on that day?

Answer. I knew it just the same as General Sanford told me from what I have seen in the papers.

Question. What I mean is, not what General Sanford or the papers have said, but what was the understanding on the battle-field when you had the council?

Answer. The understanding was that Johnston was to be kept back there; there is no doubt that is so, and every one who knows anything about the operations would know that Johnston should never have had the chance to come to Manassas.

Question. Had Patterson held Johnston back, what would have been the result at Manassas?

Answer. There is no doubt we should have taken Manassas, because they were so much knocked down that they were just ready in a moment to retreat; both parties retreated. And because we are not a despotic educated army, we are here a peaceful nation, and we could not do better at first; but we will repair that the next time.

By Mr. Gooch:

Question. Your division was stationed at Centreville?

Answer. My brigade was, under the division of Colonel Miles.

Question. Was that a reserve stationed at Centreville, because it was necessary that that point should be protected?

Answer. It was both. It was stationed there as a reserve for the army engaged in the battle, and at the same time we made our position stronger, so that we should not be flanked by the right wing of the enemy. First, we were to be in reserve ready, for if we were not there they would come straight down to Alexandria and Washington.

Question. You would not have considered it a good plan for the commander- in-chief not to have left any force at Centreville on that day?

Answer. No commander-in-chief would do that.

Question. That was a point it was necessary to protect?

Answer. Necessary for all eventualities, and for all circumstances; that was the point.

Question. That force was only to be moved forward from that point in case it should be absolutely necessary to support the army already on the field?

Answer. Exactly; it was a reserve to be ready if they were called on, or be careful that no enemy should flank us; that is a disposition which must be taken under such circumstances.

By the chairman:

Question. We have had some testimony in relation to the condition of Colonel Miles that day, and I deem it but justice to him, as you were there and must know his condition, to ask you what was the condition of Colonel Miles that day, whether he was intoxicated at all, or partially so, or not?

Answer. I will tell you as a man of honor. Every word I say is truth and fact. I was with him the whole day till about two or three o’clock. There was nothing like intoxication. He took, once in awhile, a drop. Never mind, that is nothing. I never saw him intoxicated. From that time he was out observing. When I received that message that the battle was lost, I was the first man who sent an officer of the general staff to report to Washington, and I told him I would go right away with my brigade. He took my hand and said: ” Go and die on the ground.” I go then. The whole question about his intoxication was in the evening about five or six or seven o’clock. I did not see him then; but if I had seen him I would just as soon say he was drunk as to say he was not.

Question. Then I understand you to say that you saw him during the day down to three o’clock?

Answer. Yes, sir; and then he was in a fit condition to give every order as an officer, when I saw him last.

Question. What time was that?

Answer. Between three and four o’clock, or a little earlier, perhaps.

Eric Wittenberg on J. E. B. Stuart

18 06 2009

Mother Nature dumped 8 inches of rain on us in about an hour last night, after rain all the previous night and for a good part of the day yesterday.  That had the usual effect on the local athletic fields, so my son’s baseball game was cancelled last night (and quiet possibly will be cancelled tonight, too).  The upside of that was I had the rare opportunity to attend a meeting of the Western Pennsylvania Civil War Roundtable.  This was the first time this year that my schedule and those of my wife and son allowed me to go.

So last night I had  the pleasure to see old friend Eric Wittenberg for the first time in over a year and hear his talk on J. E. B. Stuart’s famous – or notorious, if you prefer – ride during the Gettysburg Campaign.  The presentation is based on Eric’s and J. D. Petruzzi’s fine study Plenty of Blame to Go Around.  As usual, Eric did a fine job, for the most part sans notes, with wife Susan manning the PowerPoint.  If he is appearing at a round table near you, or if you’re a program director looking for a speaker, don’t pass up the opportunity to see or book Eric.

JCCW – Gen. Charles P. Stone

17 06 2009

Testimony of Gen. Charles P. Stone

Report on the Conduct of the War, Vol. 2, pp. 73-75

WASHINGTON, January 5, 1862

General CHARLES P. STONE sworn and examined.

By Mr. Chandler:

Question. Were you present with General Patterson’s army, or near it, on or about the 20th of July last?

Answer. I was.

Question. Were you with him on his march from Martinsburg?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. In what capacity?

Answer. I commanded a brigade in that column for a part of the month of July.

Question. And you were with that column when it marched towards Johnston’s army?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. Will you explain to the committee the march and position of that column until it reached Bunker Hill? Explain it concisely, if you please.

Answer. Bunker Hill is on the road to Winchester. General Patterson’s column was concentrated at Martinsburg.

Question. And Johnston was at Winchester?

Answer. Supposed to be at Winchester.

Question. Give the date on which you started, and how far you went; explain the action of that column, not in detail, but in general.

Answer. So much has happened between that time and this that it is difficult for me to remember all the dates. We arrived at Harper’s Ferry on the 21st of July, the day of the battle of Bull Run.

Question. That is, on your retreat.

Answer. On our return.

Question. Assume that it was Tuesday or Wednesday when you left Bunker Hill.

Answer. Without giving the date of leaving Martinsburg, we made a march in one day as far as Mill Creek, or, as I believe it is now called, Bunker Hill. We remained there, I think, over one day. I remember being one day there. Then we moved in one day’s march from Bunker Hill, through Middleway, otherwise called Smithfield, to Charlestown. I think we arrived at Charlestown on Wednesday afternoon, and then remained there until the following Sunday, when we marched to Bolivar Heights.

Question. When you were at Martinsburg you were threatening Johnston’s force at Winchester, were you not?

Answer. I should think so.

Question. And when you reached Bunker Hill you threatened it still more?

Answer. I think so.

Question. Had you intrenched and remained at Bunker Hill, would not your close proximity have prevented Johnston from weakening his force at Winchester?

Answer. I do not think it would; I think it was so important a move for him to come down to Manassas that he would have abandoned every house and woman and child in Winchester for the sake of joining the other column.

Question. Could you not then have pursued him—you were within seven or eight miles—and compelled him to give battle before he struck the railroad?

Answer. I think so.

Question. Or, if General Patterson had thrown his force down between Johnston and the railroad, he would then have had to come out and give you battle, or else remain where he was?

Answer. If that had been done, yes, sir.

Question. Did you consider his force so strong that it was unsafe to retain your position at Bunker Hill, or take up that position between him and the railroad?

Answer. I certainly did not conceive that his force was so strong as to make it unsafe for us to intrench at Bunker Hill?

By the chairman:

Question. Do you know the reason why Patterson turned off from Bunker Hill to Charlestown?

Answer. At the time I supposed the object was to get on Johnston’s right flank.

By Mr. Chandler:

Question. But he actually went twenty odd miles from his right or left flank?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. Leaving the road perfectly open to go where he saw fit?

Answer. Yes, sir; I think so.

Question. Was it in contemplation by you at one time to have gone out and cut that railroad?

The witness: From the place below, before I came under General Patterson’s command?

Mr. Chandler : Yes, sir.

Answer. I wanted to do it.

Question. And had you done it, it would have been impossible for Johnston to have got his forces down here, would it not?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. Did you receive peremptory orders from General Patterson to join him at once?

Answer. I did.

Question. Do you know when, or if at all, General Patterson sent a request to Washington to have re-enforcements sent up to him?

Answer. I do not know.

By the chairman:

Question. I wish to know of you, as a military man, whether, if it had been the object and purpose of Patterson to encounter Johnston and prevent him from going down to Manassas on that road, you think he could have employed him so as to have had a battle with him? Was the position such that he could have forced him to an engagement?

Answer. I think he could have forced him to give battle.

Question. I mean if he had been ordered to prevent Johnston from going to Manassas. He was in a position to have done that by an engagement, was he not? You know the position of the two armies when you approached the nearest, when you turned off to Charlestown.

Answer. I think he was in a position at one time when he might either have brought Johnston to battle, or have joined General McDowell about as soon as Johnston could have joined the other side.

Question. What position was that when you suppose it was in his power to have effected that?

Answer. At Martinsburg.

By Mr. Chandler:

Question. Was he not in the same position at Bunker Hill?

Answer. I think he might have made a move there; but that is only a military opinion.

By the chairman:

Question. That is all we want.

Answer. I think he might have moved then, so as to have taken possession of the gaps of the Blue Ridge at least.

By Mr. Chandler:

Question. And had he taken possession of the gaps of the Blue Ridge, it would have been very difficult for Johnston to have dislodged him, would it not?

Answer. I think so; I thought so then.

By Mr. Odell:

Question. Did you understand, while you were there, that the object of Patterson’s division was to hold Johnston in check, and prevent him from joining Beauregard? We know from testimony that we have here that that was the object. I want to know if it was known to you while there?

Answer. Let me get your question exactly.

Question. The question is this: Was it your understanding that Patterson’s division of the army was to hold Johnston there, while General McDowell was engaged with Beauregard here?

Answer. I certainly thought that was the intention.

By Mr. Chandler s

Question. What was your estimate of the relative strength of Patterson’s and Johnston’s forces?

Answer. The best information I got of Johnston’s forces was that he had about 14,000 in the neighborhood of Harper’s Ferry. That was when I was on the river below.

Question. I mean when you were at Martinsburg and he was at Winchester?

Answer. I had lost there my independent means of getting information of him. The information I received there was through the reconnoissances ordered by General Patterson. That was very varied, indeed. Sometimes you would hear that he had 15,000, sometimes 22,000, sometimes 30,000.

Question. What was your own estimate, if you had any, of their force?

Answer. I imagined that he had not far from 20,000 men, including his militia.

Question. And your force was about 22,000. Was it not?

Answer. I do not know what General Patterson’s force was. I heard various estimates of that.

First Bull Run Field Guide

16 06 2009

I just sent off a draft of a First Bull Run Field Guide to my editor at Weider History Group, Chris Howland.  Chris is my editor for Smeltzer’s Six-Pack in America’s Civil War, and also now at Civil War Times, in which the Field Guide is scheduled to appear.  (There is a very complex organizational structure for editors at Weider, and I admit to not fully understanding how they all work together and what the hierarchies are.)

If you’re not familiar with it, the Field Guide is a relatively new regular item in Civil War Times.  It basically consists of about ten spots to hit when visiting a particular battlefield or city, including places to eat and see that aren’t necessarily directly associated with the events in question.  The guide is a two page spread including photos and an aerial map with pushpins for the sites.  I tried to focus on less often visited sites.

The draft is rough and I’m sure will take a lot of tweaking.  I don’t know yet which if any photos they’ll choose (I took them all a couple weeks ago while on a stomp with Craig Swain).  This will be the first thing I’ve published in Civil War Times (assuming it cuts the mustard), which is an older and more widely read magazine than America’s Civil War.  With the sesquicentennial of the battle coming up in 2011, I’m hoping more writing gigs will pop up.

The Maps of First Bull Run Update

16 06 2009

This for everyone who has been asking:

According to Ted Savas, Bradley Gottfried’s The Maps of First Bull Run was to ship from Savas Beatie’s warehouses yesterday (Monday June 15) to stores and wholesalers.