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.





More on the Army of Northeastern Virginia

19 01 2007

In response to my post about the origin of the name Army of Northeastern Virginia, blogger David Woodbury commented:

It’s not much, but when A. Porter submitted Ambrose Burnside’s report, he refers to Burnside’s command as the Second Brigade, Second Division, Army of Northeastern Virginia. Series I, vol. 2, p. 395.

After a quick check of the OR’s, I responded:

As for the report of Porter: that’s Andrew Porter, First Brigade commander of Hunter’s Division who took over command of the division when Hunter was wounded. He does mention the name of the army, but this cover letter to Burnside’s report was not written until August 19, while Burnside’s report itself was sent from Hdqrs. Second Brigade, Second Division, Major [!!!] General McDowell’s Column and dated July 24. Porter’s own report on page 383 refers to the First Brigade, Second Division, of the Army. It was written on July 25. If anything, this probably supports the ex post facto origins of the Army of Northeastern Virginia.

David’s post last year about McDowell’s misspelled headstone played some role in feeding my interest in First Bull Run.  Thanks for that, David, and thanks for taking the time to comment here.





McDowell Forwards Intelligence on Enemy Dispositions to Army Headquarters

31 10 2020

CORRESPONDENCE, ORDERS, AND RETURNS RELATING TO OPERATIONS IN MARYLAND, PENNSYLVANIA, VIRGINIA, AND WEST VIRGINIA FROM APRIL 16 TO JULY 31, 1861

CORRESPONDENCE, ETC. – UNION

O. R. – Series I – VOLUME 2 [S #2] CHAPTER IX, pp. 722-723

[Memorandum for General Scott.]

Hdqrs. Department Northeastern Virginia,
Arlington, June 25, 1861.

Lieut. Col. E. D. Townsend,
Asst. Adjt. Gen., Headquarters of Army:

Statement of Mr. J—–u, a man on whom I rely:

Arrived at Fairfax Court-House Thursday, 20th instant; found there Prince William company and the Rappahannock—about sixty-five in each company. Friday morning these companies went to Fairfax Station, leaving nobody in the town. Friday night the South Carolina regiments began to come, and Saturday night it was said there were three regiments at the Court-House and another coming; saw the three himself—amounting to about 3,000 men. Started for the Junction about 8.30; went by Germantown and Centreville. At Germantown saw Gregg’s South Carolina regiment—about 1,000. The road between Fairfax and Centreville much obstructed about one mile before you get to the Bald Hill, where there are five cannon planted.

At Centreville, Bonham, of South Carolina, was in command. He had other troops besides his own regiment and the artillery. At Bull Bun there was an entrenchment on the right bank—four guns. Two regiments of South Carolinians stationed there; they had been there but a short time. Bull Bun Crossing is five miles from Centreville and two from Manassas Junction. Arrived at Manassas Junction at 10 o’clock a. m.; saw General Beauregard; staid until 3 p. m.; returned the same way he went. On reaching Bull Run, found the South Carolina regiments had struck their tents, had their wagons packed, and were moving in the direction of Centreville and Fairfax Court-House, taking their four cannon with them, occupying the road for about two miles. Had a difficulty in passing the column. The colonel asked if he had a pass; showed him one from General Beauregard; was then allowed to pass. He was cautioned by the colonel not to speak of movements of troops even to their own men. These regiments did not come to the Court-House. At Centreville things were not as they were when he went through first. At Germantown found Gregg’s regiment had broken up its camp and moved to the Court-House, and was encamped near the Little River turnpike, about one-quarter mile from the Court-House. Learned that Gregg’s place at Germantown had been supplied by another regiment or regiments, and supposes it may have been by those he passed at Bull Bun and those which were on the march to the front.
At Fairfax Station there were about 800 men—Virginians. The South Carolina regiments were all (except one—Spratt’s) about 1,000 men each. Forty of Gregg’s regiment had the measles. The two regiments on the march from Bull Bun had about fifty wagons for their baggage and supplies, old road and farmers’ wagons, five to six horses each. Wagons well crammed up to the bows. The South Carolina regiments were the best armed and equipped and in high spirits, “freezing for a fight,” being much elated by the Vienna affair. Negroes with them as servants. Cavalry, estimated, all told, 1,500; 500 Louisianians and 1,000 Virginians; mounted so-so as to Virginians; those from Louisiana good. Virginia cavalry armed irregularly with double-barreled shot-guns, pistols, fowling-pieces, some carbines, and sabers. Horse furniture indifferent, made up of odds and ends. Louisiana cavalry better in all respects—men, horses, arms, and equipments. The total at the Junction and the places this side he estimated at 20,000, all told. There are twenty Kentucky well-mounted guerrillas. Five of them took the Connecticut man prisoner. The Connecticut man seemed well pleased with being a prisoner. Subsistence, chiefly ship biscuit and fresh beef. Crops—wheat very fine; grass, corn, and oats indifferent. They seemed to be expecting an attack from us. Saw no guns at Germantown. Saw five guns harnessed at Court-House. Saw five guns at Centreville. Saw four guns at Bull Bun.

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

IRVIN MCDOWELL,
Brigadier- General.





Brig. Gen. Irvin McDowell Assumes Command of Department of Northeastern Virginia

6 10 2020

CORRESPONDENCE, ORDERS, AND RETURNS RELATING TO OPERATIONS IN MARYLAND, PENNSYLVANIA, VIRGINIA, AND WEST VIRGINIA FROM APRIL 16 TO JULY 31, 1861

CORRESPONDENCE, ETC. – UNION

O. R. – Series I – VOLUME 2 [S #2] CHAPTER IX, pp. 653-654

Hdqrs. Department Northeastern Virginia,
Arlington, May 29, 1861.

Lieut. Col. E. D. Townsend,
Asst. Adjt. Gen., Hdqrs. of the Army, Washington, D. C.:

Colonel : I arrived here too late in the afternoon of the 27th to assume on that day formally, in orders, the command of the department, but I reported to Major-General Sandford at this place, and received from him such information as to the state of affairs as he was able then to give me. I encamped the night of the 27th with the New Jersey brigade, and early on the morning of the 28th went to Alexandria, and was occupied from 5 a. m. till 9 o’clock at night in examining the position occupied by the troops and looking into the condition of the men.

Defensive works under construction. – The works at Alexandria had not been commenced nor even laid out as late as 10 o’clock a. m. yesterday, nor had the plans been definitely determined upon. A want of tools in the first place, and in the second place of means of transportation for the men from the wharf in Alexandria to the hill to be fortified, and changes made necessary by a better knowledge of the ground, were the principal causes given for the delay. Both the Michigan regiment and the New York Zouaves were bivouacked and encamped on the site, leaving but a few men in town. I trust, therefore, that the Navy Department may be requested to [retain] the Pawnee at her present station. The works at the bridge-head of the Long Bridge were progressing finely, and the report to me was that the men were working diligently. The main work covering the Aqueduct and ferry opposite Georgetown was in a fair state. The Sixty-ninth New York is the only regiment at work on it, and they seemed to me to be working admirably.

Subsistence and means of transportation. – Subsistence is furnished to the troops away from the vicinity of Alexandria by returns on the main depot in Washington. This, and the utter absence of any wagons on this side, the want of means of communication on the part of some of the regiments, and the inexperience of most of the commanders, have caused the supplies to be irregularly and insufficiently furnished. One regiment has hired on its own account, out of private means, some wagons to procure its supplies. Forage has also been wanting. A depot is to be established at Alexandria, which will afford supplies to the troops in that vicinity. The depot in Washington might answer for all the others, provided the regiments be furnished with wagons to go for them. I suppose the Quartermasters Department in Washington has not at this time enough wagons to supply the force here with its allowance for its baggage merely, which would require about 200.

For the purpose of giving greater efficiency and a better administration of affairs, I have organized the troops not now brigaded into three brigades, and placed them under the colonels ordered to report to me in their letters of appointment. If a portion of the allowance of wagons for the regimental baggage were sent on and placed under the control of the brigade commanders, I think a better state of affairs will be gained at the least cost. With a view to movements in that direction, I have directed Colonel Stone to ascertain and report the amount of rolling stock on the Alexandria and Manassas Gap Railroad, and the amount of material required to place the road in working order.

I beg to request that some of the recent graduates heretofore assigned to the duty of instructing the volunteer regiments may be sent here for the same purpose and other duty. The only assistant quartermaster in the department is at Alexandria, to be in charge of the Quartermaster’s and Commissary Departments. I have to request that another officer of that department, furnished with funds, be sent for duty at headquarters. The troops are occupying houses in some cases, and fields, and cutting wood for fuel. Shall not rent and compensation be paid? If so, funds are needed for that purpose, as well as the hiring of means of transportation where the same has not been furnished.

I have the honor to be, colonel, very respecfully, your most obedient servant,

Irvin McDowell,
Brigadier- General, Commanding.





Notes on “Early Morning of War” – Part 4

14 05 2017

51gm8atoyol-_sx329_bo1204203200_To recap, here’s how this works: as I read Edward Longacre’s study of the First Battle of Bull Run, The Early Morning of War, I put little Post-Its where I saw something with which I agreed or disagreed, or which I didn’t know, or which I did know and was really glad to see; essentially, anything that made me say “hmm…” So I’ll go through the book and cover in these updates where I put the Post-It and why. Some of these will be nit-picky for sure. Some of them will be issues that can’t have a right or wrong position. Some of them are, I think, cut and dry. So, here we go:

Chapter 4: Green and Green Alike (Don’t get me started on this quote – some view it as an indication of Lincoln’s raw, common sense. I see it as evidence of his poor grasp of military realities – if, in fact, he said it.)

P. 91 – The first sentence of this chapter is one of my great pet peeves: “On the day Irvin McDowell assumed command of the Army of Northeastern Virginia…”

The footnote for this paragraph cites Starr’s Bohemian Brigade and Warner’s Generals in Blue. Neither of these are primary sources (nothing wrong with that), and neither of them discuss the origin of the name Army of Northeastern Virginia (this is the first time the name is used in this book.) Why does this note not cite some order creating the army, or some report referring to it for the fist time? Because, as far as I’ve been able to determine, there never was any organization on the books called The Army of Northeastern Virginia. The moniker was only applied post-battle, and post formation of The (Federal) Army of the Potomac. Why is this important? What difference does it make? Maybe none. But it bugs the heck out of me when I see it. OK, enough on that, let’s move on.

Pp. 93-94 – The author notes that McDowell was hampered not only by “inadequate communications” south of the Potomac, but also faced a shortage of wagons to carry rations for his army when on the march. He had to deal with a “lack of cooperation from superiors and colleagues alike,” and that McDowell would later attribute this to Winfield Scott’s dissatisfaction with his elevation to command of the army in the field. General J. K. F. Mansfield was an instrument in Scott’s obstruction of McDowell’s efforts.

P. 101 – In the same vein, McDowell later claimed that he “had no opportunity to test my machinery…” That is, he couldn’t drill his new regiments in battlefield, brigade sized evolutions. When he did exercise a group of eight regiments together, Scott accused him of “trying to make some show.” The author points out that failure to drill regiments as brigades and divisions resulted in the inability to use them as such in practice. This gives some insight into the time-honored opinion that the “piece-meal” insertion of units into the battle was key to Union defeat.

P. 103 – The author raises a good question: Why was Daniel Tyler, who held no volunteer or regular army rank, and who had been out of the army for almost 30 years, given command of the largest division in McDowell’s army? Other than a generally favorable remark from W. T. Sherman (“has a fair reputation”), a good reason isn’t offered. The author notes and provides evidence that the men in the ranks were left unimpressed by Edith Carow (Mrs. Theodore) Roosevelt’s grandfather. [As a side note, I found some evidence in Alan Gaff’s If This is War that, despite having personally drilled the 2nd Wisconsin Volunteers of his division at least once, the men were less than familiar with Tyler, as some of them believed he attempted to rally the men on Henry House Hill, when he was nowhere in the vicinity. I’m guessing they confused him with another white-haired officer, Samuel Heintzelman.]

P. 108 – The author notes that the June 1 raid on Fairfax Court House by Lt. Charles H. Tompkins, and his “wildly inflated estimate of the troops” there “inhibited McDowell from making further reconnaissances.” He also states that “some historians” claim this also resulted in a postponement on the eventual movement on Manassas and allowed more time for Beauregard to strengthen the defenses there. [Delays leading to defeat, and separately to plan failure, will be a recurring theme.]

PP. 108-112 – On June 3, Scott directed McDowell to give an estimate of the number of troops he would need to make a move on the Bull Run Line (and maybe Manassas Gap), in conjunction with Patterson’s movement against Harper’s Ferry. McDowell’s was to be a supporting role. McDowell returned a number that was very low, a total of 17,000 men including a 5,000 man reserve. McDowell felt this would perhaps compel Beauregard to fall back on Richmond. Even when credible reports established that Beauregard had 20,000 on the line, McDowell still thought the move (and men), which would bypass Fairfax Court House, could succeed via a move toward Vienna. [The author does not explore this line of thought, but here we see an indication that McDowell is thinking along the lines of Scott’s campaign in Mexico, a series of turning movements by smaller forces, in the face of which the enemy would withdraw.]

As a test, McDowell ordered a foray to Vienna. The misfortune that befell Brig. Gen. Schenck at that place seemed “to have infected his men with a deep-seated fear of ‘masked batteries,’ one that politicians and newspaper editors would play up.” [All of which may be true, but I have yet to find any creditable evidence that this in any way impacted the orders to and dispositions of McDowell’s force when it eventually moved out. There are more practical reasons for those than some “fear” of masked batteries, a theme that runs through many chronicles of the campaign.]

P. 112 – The author notes that as of June 24, McDowell had access to fewer than 14,000 troops in his department [a much better term to use than a formal army name, by the way], but that he remained confident that if he could properly train, organize, and motivate all the men he would receive over the next few weeks they could defeat the rebels “if they needed to fight them at all. He [McDowell] continued to believe that a well-mounted advance might persuade” the rebels to fall back to better defenses nearer the Rappahannock River. [And here it is: I don’t think McDowell ever stopped believing that.]

P. 113 – By late June, those in power were getting anxious for a move. McDowell would say later that whenever he mentioned the obstacles he was facing, he received the same response regarding the relative “green-ness” of his men and those of the enemy [it’s tough sometimes to nail down just who first flung this classic, but misguided, comeback McDowell’s way – I’ve seen it attributed to both Scott and Lincoln]. The author correctly points out that it was the “government’s” lack of patience that was pressuring for a move, not that of “the people” or “the press.” [Of course, that buck stops with POTUS.] And so on June 21, Scott directed McDowell to present a “finished plan to ‘sweep the enemy from Leesburg to Alexandria’ in cooperation with a column from Patterson’s army.”

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7





Victory at Bull Run – What Was McDowell’s Game Plan?

24 05 2015

51PK6Qew8sL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_John Hennessy is working on a new edition of his seminal tactical study, The First Battle of Manassas: An End to Innocence, July 18-21, 1861. I’ve corresponded with the author enough to learn that this will be one of the rare updated editions that owners of the original will consider a “must have.” Mr. Hennessy discussed the new book somewhat in a recent interview with Civil War Talk Radio, which you can listen to here.

During this interview, you’ll hear the author discuss one of the great mysteries of the campaign – what exactly was Irvin McDowell’s vision of victory for his army (which ex post facto became known as The Army of Northeastern Virginia)? Many authors/historians have made the assumption – and it can only be an assumption – that McDowell envisioned a swift flank attack which would overwhelm his opponent and result in a set-piece victory, rolling up and decisively defeating Beauregard in a classic clash of arms.

The definition of victory here is not just semantics. It is critical in assessing McDowell’s plans and actions, and in determining why they failed.

I believe victory in McDowell’s mind was something other than what almost all chroniclers and critics of the campaign have assumed. I won’t tell you what to think, but will make a suggestion that may help you think for yourself: the answer can perhaps be found in what McDowell wrote before the battle and in what he did during it. In order to discern that, I think you must cast aside assumptions of what he must have intended and take him at his word – and actions. If you do that, then the inexplicables of the campaign may become more explicable. What appears to be a complex plan (given the traditional assumption of intent) may become less so.

Read McDowell’s plans. Look at what he did. Does that jive with your assumptions regarding his intent? To use a sports analogy, would you as a reporter rely on a head football coach’s post-defeat comments about his game plan when you have the actual game plan and video to look at? Especially when the game plan and video don’t support those comments?

Post-defeat comments: “We really wanted to establish the running game, but that didn’t work out.” Game plan: we must exploit the opponent’s secondary. Game film: first three possessions each consisted of three incomplete down-field passes and a punt.

Get it?





Time Line

30 05 2009

CHRONOLOGY*

(All times are approximate and are based on those given in the after action reports by unit commanders, in testimony before the Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War, or in postwar reminiscences.)

*From Ballard, T. First Bull Run Staff Ride Guide

27 May 1861

  • Brig. Gen. Irvin McDowell is assigned command of the Department of Northeastern Virginia and the military forces camped in and around Washington.

9 July 1861

  • McDowell’s military force, called the Army of Northeastern Virginia, is scheduled to march to Manassas Junction on this day, but a lack of sufficient supplies delays the movement.

16 July 1861

  • McDowell’s army begins its march toward Manassas Junction. By evening Brig. Gen. Daniel Tyler’s division has reached Vienna, Col. David Hunter’s and Col. Dixon S. Miles’ divisions have arrived at Annandale, and Col. Samuel P. Heintzelman’s division is at Pohick Creek.

17 July 1861

  • Commanding the Confederate Army of the Potomac at Manassas Junction, Brig. Gen. Pierre G. T. Beauregard informs the Confederate War Department of McDowell’s advance and asks for reinforcements.
  • Confederate authorities order the independent brigade of Brig. Gen. Theophilus H. Holmes at Fredericksburg to reinforce Beauregard.
  • In Richmond Col. Wade Hampton’s independent Hampton Legion is also ordered to Manassas Junction.
  • At Leesburg the 8th Virginia Infantry of Col. Philip St. George Cocke’s brigade is ordered to Manassas Junction.

1130:

  • The head of McDowell’s army, Tyler’s division, reaches Fairfax Courthouse.

18 July 1861

0100:

  • At Winchester General Joseph E. Johnston receives a telegram from the Confederate War Department informing him of McDowell’s advance and directing him to go to Beauregard’s assistance “if practicable.”

1100:

  • Tyler’s division arrives at Centreville. Tyler moves a portion of Col. Israel B. Richardson’s brigade south of Centreville and instigates a lively skirmish in what becomes known as the Battle of Blackburn’s Ford.

1200:

  • Johnston’s Army of the Shenandoah departs Winchester for Manassas Junction.
  • Hunter’s and Miles’ divisions arrive near Fairfax Courthouse, and Heintzelman’s division near Sangster’s Station (near what is now Clifton).
  • Unaware of Tyler’s skirmish at Blackburn’s Ford, McDowell personally reconnoiters the area around Sangster’s Station, searching for a location to turn the Confederate right flank.
  • In the evening Brig. Gen. Thomas J. Jackson’s brigade, leading Johnston’s army, camps near Paris, Virginia, seventeen miles from Winchester, while the remainder of the army halts along the Shenandoah River.
  • Although the skirmish at Blackburn’s Ford provided McDowell with intelligence about Confederate positions and strength, he fears the skirmish has caused the Confederates to reinforce their right flank. McDowell orders his engineers to reconnoiter north of the Stone Bridge, on the Confederate left.

19 July 1861

0900:

  • After arriving at Piedmont Station, Jackson’s brigade departs for Manassas Junction.

1500:

  • Col. Francis S. Bartow’s brigade departs Piedmont Station for Manassas Junction.
  • Johnston directs his cavalry and artillery to continue to Manassas Junction by road.

20 July 1861

0700:

  • Johnston boards a train for Manassas Junction, along with Brig. Gen. Barnard E. Bee and portions of Bee’s brigade.
  • Brig. Gen. E. Kirby Smith remains at Piedmont Station to expedite the transportation of the remainder of Johnston’s army.

1200:

  • Johnston and Bee arrive at Manassas Junction. After Johnston suggests an attack against McDowell’s army, Beauregard proposes to attack the Union left flank at Centreville. Johnston requests that Beauregard put the plan in writing.
  • Hunter’s, Heintzelman’s, and Miles’ divisions arrive at Centreville. Brig. Gen. Theodore Runyon’s division guards the railroad from Alexandria.
  • McDowell’s engineers discover the undefended Sudley Ford and Poplar Ford, north of the Stone Bridge. McDowell plans an attack for the following day. Hunter’s and Heintzelman’s divisions will march around the Confederate left, crossing at Sudley and Poplar fords, while other troops create diversions at the Stone Bridge and Blackburn’s Ford.

21 July 1861

0230:

  • McDowell’s army begins its march against Beauregard. Tyler’s division (with the exception of Richardson’s brigade), followed by Hunter’s and Heintzelman’s divisions, march west on the Warrenton Turnpike. Richardson’s brigade, along with Col. Thomas A. Davies’ brigade of Miles’ division, moves toward Blackburn’s Ford. Col. Louis Blenker’s brigade of Miles’ division remains at Centreville in reserve.
  • Beauregard submits his plan to attack the Union left flank at Centreville to Johnston, who approves it.

0530:

  • Tyler’s division clears the Cub Run Bridge and Hunter’s and Heintzelman’s divisions follow. After crossing Cub Run, Hunter and Heintzelman turn north from the turnpike toward Sudley and Poplar fords.

0600:

  • Tyler arrives in front of Stone Bridge and opens fire with his 30- pounder rifle on Col. Nathan G. Evans’ brigade.

0700:

  • Concerned about the artillery fire near the Stone Bridge, Johnston orders Bee, Bartow, and Jackson to move closer to the Confederate left to be able to provide support if needed. Beauregard also sends the newly arrived Hampton Legion to the left.

0800:

  • Johnston and Beauregard place themselves on a hill to the rear of Brig. Gen. Milledge L. Bonham’s brigade in anticipation of Beauregard’s flank attack.

0830:

  • Signal officer Capt. E. Porter Alexander discovers the Union column marching toward Sudley Ford to outflank the Confederate left and reports the movement to Evans and Johnston.
  • Evans moves the bulk of his command from the Stone Bridge to Matthews’ Hill to block the Union flank march.
    Although Johnston is apprehensive that the Union troops reported north of the Stone Bridge may be those of Patterson’s army arriving from the Shenandoah Valley, he continues with the plan to attack Centreville.

0930:

  • Hunter’s division arrives at Sudley Ford. After a short delay the column crosses Bull Run and continues south. Instead of crossing at Poplar Ford, Heintzelman’s division follows Hunter’s division.

1030:

  • The head of Hunter’s column, Col. Ambrose E. Burnside’s brigade, engages Evans’ command on Matthews’ Hill.

1100:

  • As the firing increases on the Confederate left, Johnston and Beauregard ride toward Henry Hill.
  • Col. Andrew Porter’s brigade of Hunter’s division arrives on Matthews’ Hill, moving onto nearby Dogan Ridge.
  • Capt. Charles Griffin’s and Capt. James D. Ricketts’ batteries arrive on Dogan Ridge.
  • The brigades of Bee and Bartow (with Bee in command of both units) arrive on Henry Hill and shortly thereafter both brigades move to Matthews’ Hill to support Evans.

1130:

  • Col. William T. Sherman’s and Col. Erasmus Keyes’ brigades of Tyler’s division cross Bull Run, just north of the Stone Bridge. Sherman continues toward Matthews’ Hill, Keyes, accompanied by Tyler, moves to Young’s Branch, east of the Stone house.
  • Col. William B. Franklin’s and Col. Orlando B. Willcox’s brigades of Heintzelman’s division arrive on Matthews’ Hill. Col. Oliver O. Howard’s brigade is close behind.
  • Outflanked, Evans, Bee, and Bartow are forced to withdraw from Matthews’ Hill and fall back to Henry Hill.
  • The Hampton Legion arrives near the Robinson house on Henry Hill.
  • Hearing the increased firing coming from the left flank, Johnston scraps Beauregard’s attack plan and rides toward Henry Hill. Beauregard follows.

1200:

  • Jackson’s brigade arrives on Henry Hill.
  • Johnston and Beauregard arrive on Henry Hill.
  • Jackson is slightly wounded.

1300:

  • Keyes is ordered to attack Henry Hill near the Robinson house. He sends two of his four regiments forward, but they are driven back. Keyes’ entire brigade withdraws to the vicinity of the Stone Bridge.

1400:

  • Griffin’s and Ricketts’ batteries move from Dogan Ridge to Henry Hill. Griffin unlimbers north of the Henry house and Ricketts south of the house.

1430:

  • Griffin moves two guns of his battery to the right of Ricketts, where the 33d Virginia Infantry captures the guns. The remainder of Griffin’s battery withdraws from Henry Hill.
  • The 14th Brooklyn recaptures Griffin’s two guns.
  • The 4th and 27th Virginia Infantries, with assistance from the 49th Virginia Infantry, 6th North Carolina Infantry, and two companies of the 2d Mississippi Infantry, capture Ricketts’ battery and Griffin’s two guns.
  • The 1st Michigan Infantry attempts and fails to recapture Ricketts’ guns.
  • The 11th Massachusetts Infantry recaptures Ricketts’ battery, and the 4th and 27th Virginia Infantries fall back to their former positions.
  • The 5th Virginia Infantry, Hampton Legion, 4th Alabama Infantry, and 7th Georgia Infantry recapture Ricketts’ guns.
  • Bee is mortally wounded and Bartow is killed. Ricketts is wounded and captured. The 11th Massachusetts Infantry falls back to the Manassas-Sudley Road.

1500:

  • Sherman’s brigade begins an attack against Henry Hill, and Howard’s brigade moves to Chinn Ridge.
  • The 13th New York Infantry skirmishes with the Hampton Legion around the Henry house.
  • The 2d Wisconsin Infantry unsuccessfully assaults Henry Hill.
  • The 79th New York Infantry unsuccessfully assaults Henry Hill. The regiment commander, Col. James Cameron, brother of the Secretary of War, is killed.
  • Sherman’s last regiment, the 69th New York Infantry, along with the 38th New York Infantry of Willcox’s brigade, assault Henry Hill and recapture Ricketts’ and Griffin’s guns. Col. Wade Hampton is severely wounded.
  • The 18th Virginia Infantry of Cocke’s brigade, along with remnants of several other Confederate units on Henry Hill, recaptures the Union guns. Sherman’s and other Union units near Henry Hill withdraw to the Warrenton Turnpike.

1530:

  • Two regiments of Howard’s brigade arrive on Chinn Ridge. Two other regiments remain in reserve near the Warrenton Turnpike.

1600:

  • Col. Arnold Elzey’s and Col. Jubal A. Early’s brigades arrive on Chinn Ridge. General Smith briefly takes command of Elzey’s brigade but is wounded and Elzey resumes command.
  • Howard brings forward his other two regiments to Chinn Ridge.
  • With the assistance of 150 troopers of Col. J. E. B. Stuart’s cavalry, the brigades of Elzey and Early outflank Howard’s brigade and drive it back to the Warrenton Turnpike.

1700:

  • Retreat of the Union Army begins.




#39 – Col. Ambrose E. Burnside

3 09 2008

Reports of Col. Ambrose E. Burnside, First Rhode Island Infantry, Commanding Second Brigade, Second Division

O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 2 [S# 2] — CHAPTER IX, pp.395-399

WASHINGTON, D.C., August 19, 1861

SIR: I have the honor to forward the inclosed report of Col. A. E. Burnside, late commander Second Brigade, Second Division, of the Army of Northeastern Virginia, in relation to the battle of the 21st ultimo, and in doing so I desire to supply an omission in my own report of the 25th(*) ultimo, viz: to bring the names of Major Wentworth and Quartermaster Cornell, of the Eighth New York State Militia, to the favorable notice of Brigadier-General McDowell. The above-mentioned officers are deserving of high commendation for their good conduct during the battle at Bull Run.

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

A. PORTER,

Brigadier-General, U. S. Army, late Comdg. Second Div.

Capt. J. B. FRY,

Assistant Adjutant-General

—–

HDQRS. SECOND BRIGADE, SECOND DIVISION,

MAJOR-GENERAL McDOWELL’S COLUMN,

Washington, July 24, 1861

SIR: I have the honor to report that the brigade under my command, in common with the rest of the division, left Washington at 3 o’clock p.m. on Tuesday, July 15; encamped that night at Annandale; occupied Fairfax Court-House, and encamped there on Wednesday. On Thursday, July 17, proceeded to Centreville, where we remained till Sunday morning, July 21, when the whole Army took up its line of march to Bull Run.

Nothing of moment occurred till the arrival of the division at the crossing of Bull Run, about 9.30 o’clock, when intelligence was received that the enemy was in front with considerable force. The brigade was ordered to halt for a supply of water and temporary rest. Afterwards an advance movement was made, and Colonel Slocum, of the Second Rhode Island Regiment, was ordered to throw out skirmishers upon either flank and in front. These were soon confronted by the enemy’s forces, and the head of the brigade found itself in presence of the foe. The Second Regiment Rhode Island Volunteers was immediately sent forward with its battery of artillery, and the balance of the brigade was formed in a field to the right of the road.

At this time, much to my sorrow, I met you retiring from the field, severely wounded, and was requested to take charge of the formation of the division in the presence of the enemy. Finding that the Second Regiment Rhode Island Volunteers was closely pressed by the enemy, I ordered the Seventy-first Regiment New York Militia and the Second Regiment New Hampshire Volunteers to advance, intending to hold the First Regiment Rhode Island Volunteers in reserve. But owing to delay in formation of the two former regiments, the First Rhode Island Regiment was at once ordered on the field of action. Major Balch, in command, gallantly led the regiment into action, where it performed most effective service in assisting its comrades to repel the attack of the enemy’s forces. The Second Rhode Island Regiment of Volunteers had steadily borne the enemy’s attack, and had bravely stood its ground, even compelling him to give way. At this time Colonel Slocum fell mortally wounded, and soon after Major Ballou was very severely injured by a cannon ball, that killed his horse and crushed one of his legs. The regiment, under command of Lieutenant-Colonel Wheaton, continued gallantly to hold its position.

Soon after, Colonel Martin, of the Seventy-first Regiment New York State Militia, led his regiment into action, and planting the two howitzers belonging to the regiment upon the right of his line, worked them most effectively against the enemy’s troops. The battery of the Second Rhode Island Regiment, on the knoll upon the extreme right, was used in silencing the heavy masked battery of the enemy in front, occasionally throwing in shot and shell upon the enemy’s infantry, six regiments of which were attempting to force our position. Captain Reynolds, who was in command of this battery, served it with great coolness, precision, and skill.

The Second Regiment New Hampshire Volunteers, under Colonel Marston, was now brought into the field, and rendered great service in defending the position. Colonel Marston was wounded early in the action, and Lieutenant-Colonel Fiske ably directed the advance of the regiment.

Thus my whole brigade was brought into the engagement at the earliest possible moment, and succeeded in compelling the enemy to retire. We were wholly without support, bearing the brunt of the contest, until relieved by Major Sykes, of the Third [Fourteenth] Infantry, U.S. Army, who formed his battalion most admirably in front of the enemy, and pouring in a destructive fire upon his lines, assisted in staggering him. At that moment, after the fight had continued an hour or more, Colonel Heintzelman’s division was seen marching over the hill opposite our left flank, and attacking the enemy at that point, the opposing force was soon dispersed. This point being gained, and the enemy retiring in confusion before the successful charge of Colonel Heintzelman’s division, I withdrew my brigade into the woods in rear of the line, for the purpose of supplying the troops with ammunition, which had become well-nigh exhausted. The Second Regiment New Hampshire Volunteers was sent forward to assist one of Colonel Heintzelman’s brigades, at that time three-quarters of a mile distant, and driving the enemy before them. The battery of the Second Rhode Island Volunteers’ changed its position into a field upon the right, and was brought to bear upon the force which Colonel Porter was engaging. The enemy’s infantry having fallen back, two sections of Captain Reynolds’ battery advanced, and succeeded in breaking the charge of the enemy’s cavalry, which had now been brought into the engagement.

It was nearly 4 o’clock p.m., and the battle had continued for almost six hours since the time when the Second Brigade had been engaged, with everything in favor of our troops and promising a decisive victory, when some of the regiments engaging the enemy upon the extreme right of our line broke, and large numbers passed disorderly by my brigade, then drawn up in the position which they last held. The ammunition had been issued in part when I was ordered to protect the retreat. The Seventy-first Regiment New York State Militia was formed between the retreating columns and the enemy by Colonel Martin, and the Second Regiment Rhode Island Volunteers by Lieutenant-Colonel Wheaton. The First Regiment Rhode Island Volunteers moved out into the field at the bottom of the gorge near the ford, and remained for fifteen minutes, until a general retreat was ordered. The regiment then passed on to the top of the hill, where it was joined by the remainder of the brigade, and formed into column. Large bodies of stragglers were passing along the road, and it was found impossible to retain the order which otherwise would have been preserved. Yet the brigade succeeded in retiring in comparatively good condition, with Arnold’s battery of artillery and Captain Armstrong’s company of dragoons bringing up the rear.

The retreat continued thus until the column was about emerging from the woods and entering upon the Warrenton turnpike, when the artillery and the cavalry went to the front, and the enemy opened fire upon the retreating mass of men. Upon the bridge crossing Cub Run a shot took effect upon the horses of a team that was crossing. The wagon was overturned directly in the center of the bridge, and the passage was completely obstructed. The enemy continued to play his artillery upon the train, carriages, ambulances, and artillery wagons that filled the road, and these were reduced to ruin. The artillery could not possibly pass, and five pieces of the Rhode Island Battery, which had been safely brought off the field, were here lost. Captain Reynolds is deserving of praise for the skill with which he saved the lives of his men. The infantry, as the files reached the bridge, were furiously pelted with a shower of grape and other shot, and several persons were here killed or dangerously wounded. As was to be expected, the whole column was thrown into confusion, and could not be rallied again for a distance of two or three miles. The brigade reached Centreville at 9 o’clock p.m., and entered into the several camps that had been occupied the night before, where the brigade rested until 10 o’clock, when, in pursuance to orders from the general commanding, the retreat was continued. The column reached Washington about 9 a.m. Monday morning, when the several regiments composing the brigade repaired to their respective encampments.

In the movements of my brigade upon this unfortunate expedition I was greatly assisted and advised by his excellency Governor Sprague, who took an active part in the conflict, and who was especially effective in the direction and arrangement of the battery of light artillery attached to the Second Rhode Island Volunteers. It would be invidious to mention officers of the different corps who distinguished themselves upon the field for coolness and bravery. Where all performed their duty so well, I cannot feel justified in specifying particular instances of fidelity. The officers and men were prompt, steady, and brave, and performed the several parts assigned to them in the most gallant manner.

Our loss has been very severe. The Second Regiment particularly suffered greatly. The death of Colonel Slocum is a loss not only to his own State, which mourns the death of a most gallant and meritorious officer, who would have done credit to the service, while his prominent abilities as a soldier would have raised him high in the public estimation. He had served with me as major of the First Regiment Rhode Island Volunteers, and when he was transferred to a more responsible position I was glad that his services had been thus secured for the benefit of his country. His associate, Major Ballou, of the same regiment, was deserving of the highest commendation as a brave soldier and a true man.

Captain Tower, of the Second Regiment Rhode Island Volunteers, received his death-wound at the very commencement of the battle. He was young, a brave and promising officer, who is deeply lamented by his comrades and friends. Captain Smith, of the Second Regiment Rhode Island Volunteers, was known among us for his many good qualities of head and heart. Lieutenant Prescott, of the First Rhode Island Regiment, was also killed in the early part of the action, while gallantly encouraging his company. He was a noble-hearted Christian man, whose memory will be ever fresh in the hearts of his friends.

Among those who are missing I have to mention the names of Lieutenant Knight, of the First Regiment Rhode Island Volunteers, and Dr. James Harris, of the same regiment. Both were men whom we can hardly afford to lose, and I trust that some measures may be taken by which their fate may be known. Dr. Harris was especially active upon the field of battle in dressing the wounds of the disabled soldiers, and, knowing no distinction between friend and foe, treated the enemy’s wounded men with the same kindness and consideration as those of our own troops. He is probably a prisoner.

Other officers might be mentioned had I the data at hand to specify, but I have not yet received reports from the Seventy-first New York and Second New Hampshire Volunteers. I append a list of casualties so far as reports have been received.(+)

It is a sad duty to record a defeat accompanied with the loss of so many valuable lives. But defeat should only make us more faithful still to the great cause of humanity and civilization, in order that every disaster should be more than compensated for by an enduring victory. I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

A. E. BURNSIDE,

Colonel, Commanding Brigade

Colonel HUNTER,

Commanding Second Division

—–

PROVIDENCE August 3, 1861

COLONEL: You will observe that my report of the movements of my brigade at Bull Run on the 21st ultimo is dated July 24, but three days after the battle. It was made out in the rough on that day, and the next morning (25th) orders came to my camp directing me to get my First Rhode Island Regiment in readiness to leave for Providence on the 7 p.m. train. The work incident to moving a regiment with its baggage so occupied me that I had no time to revise my report, but sent it in as it was, intending at my leisure to make a supplementary one. It will not seem strange that many omissions and some inaccuracies should have occurred, which I now hope to correct.

I stated that after Colonel Hunter was wounded he directed me to “take charge of the formation of the division in the presence of the enemy,” when I should have said, that part of the division in presence of the enemy. I, of course, knew that you commanded the division by virtue of your superior rank; but you were at that time, as you will remember, in command of your brigade, which you were just bringing into action.

In another part of my report I mention the arrival of Colonel Heintzelman’s division on our left. It was Sherman’s brigade, with the Sixty-ninth New York Militia in advance, that arrived at about 12.30 o’clock, and by a most deadly fire assisted in breaking the enemy’s lines, and soon after 1 o’clock the woods on our front, which had been so obstinately held, were cleared of the enemy. My brigade had now been engaged since about 10.30 o’clock.

In my first report I mentioned the opportune arrival of Major Sykes’ battalion. I beg to again mention the bravery and steadiness manifested by Colonel Martin and his entire regiment, Seventy-first, both on the field and during the retreat. Colonel Marston, of the Second New Hampshire, was badly wounded in the shoulder, but, notwithstanding, he remained in the saddle under fire after his wound was dressed, his horse being led by his orderly. The regiment under charge of Lieutenant-Colonel Fiske conducted itself most gallantly. Both officers and men deserve great praise.

Of the two Rhode Island regiments I have already spoken more fully, but cannot close this without again attesting to the admirable conduct of Lieutenants-Colonel Wheaton, of the Second Regiment, and Majors Balchand Goddard, of the First, with the staff and company officers and men of both regiments. No troops could have behaved better under fire.

By an omission in copying my first report the name of Capt. William L. Bowers, quartermaster First Rhode Island Regiment, who is reported missing, was not mentioned. He was a brave and efficient officer, whom I could ill afford to lose. I have good reason to hope that he is alive in the hands of the enemy, and well cared for. Since my original report I have learned that some others of our missing are in Richmond; among them Lieutenant Knight and Dr. Harris, of the First Rhode Island Regiment.

I beg to supply an important omission in my first report, by attesting to the courage and efficiency of my personal staff, Chaplain Woodbury, of the First Rhode Island Regiment, aide-de-camp; Lieutenant and Adjutant Merriman, First Rhode Island Regiment, A. A. A. G., and Lieutenant Beaumont, U.S. Cavalry, aide-de-camp, who were all active in their assistance on the field. Lieutenant Beaumont being in the regular service, I beg to recommend him to the notice of the commanding general as a most gallant and deserving young officer. Captain Curson, Seventy-first New York, division quartermaster, and Captain Goodhue, Second New Hampshire, division commissary, rendered most efficient service in their departments. Captain Reynolds’ battery did such good service in so many parts of the field that it has a place in several reports, which renders it unnecessary for me to make further mention of it.

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

A. E. BURNSIDE,

Colonel, Commanding Second Brigade

Col. ANDREW PORTER, U.S.A.

(*) No. 32, P. 383

(+) See division return, p. 387





What’s in a Name?

12 01 2007

Interesting.  I’ve received not one comment regarding the misspelling of McDowell’s name on his headstone.

A note regarding the Union OOB:  I can’t find any documentation of the existence of a Union Army of Northeastern Virginia.  This is the name typically used for McDowell’s army at Bull Run.  The Department of Northeastern Virginia was created on 5/28/1861 from part of the Department of the East with boundaries enclosing Virginia east of the Allegheny Mountains and north of the James River with the exception of a sixty mile radius around Fort Monroe.  It was commanded by McDowell until 7/25/1861 when it was attached to the Military Division of the Potomac; it was merged with the Department of the Potomac on 8/17/1861 (see Eicher and Eicher, Civil War High Commands, p 837).  But none of the reports or correspondence from First Bull Run reference an Army of Northeastern Virginia – instead they refer to the Department or simply “McDowell’s Corps.”  The moniker appears to be an after the fact creation, and that is the story I’m sticking with unless you can prove otherwise!





Kansas at First Bull Run

23 11 2006

 

Much has been written of the civilians present at the First Battle of Bull Run, mostly in a dismissive, derogatory manner.  David Detzer treats the matter more practically and, I think, fairly in Donnybrook.  Many of these observers had familial or official ties to the men of McDowell’s army (I hesitate to refer to the army as “Army of Northeastern Virginia”, because while I have found that there was such a department, I can find nothing on any such officially named army).  Quite a few were politicians, including the Secretaries of State and the Treasury.  Secretary of War Cameron shuttled back and forth between Washington and McDowell’s HQ.  Various senators and representatives from congress were present, as many of the participants were their constituents.  These included Senator Wilson of Massachusetts, Senator Wade of Ohio, and  Congressman Ely of New York, who wandered so near the front that he was captured by the rebels.  Rhode Island governor Sprague – who later would capture one of the most sought after prizes of the Civil War, Secretary Chase’s daughter, the alluring Kate – took a hand in the direction of infantry and artillery on the battlefield.

And among those present at the battle were two senators from western states who would later become Union generals, John Logan of Illinois and James Lane of Kansas. 

“Jim” Lane was the proud owner of perhaps the worst hairdo outside of A Flock of Seagulls.  That’s his picture at the end of the Kansas Again post.  Here’s a photo of Mr. and Mrs. Lane:   

lane-wife.jpg 

My favorite Lane photo can be found in Edward Leslie’s deeply flawed The Devil Knows How to Ride: The True Story of William Clarke Quantrill and His Confederate Raiders.  That photo, showing an impossibly coiffed Lane, is reproduced courtesy of the Kansas State Historical Society, but I couldn’t find it on their website.  I imagine it is a moneymaker for them.  If anyone has a digital copy of it, let me know.  

Senator Jim (not to be confused with Reverend Jim, pictured here)   

rev-jim-2.jpg

was born in either Boone County, KY or Lawrenceburg, IN, in 1814.  His father was a judge and politician, and at one time a member of Congress.  Jim followed his father into the law and politics, led Indiana troops in the war with Mexico, and eventually represented Indiana in Congress (1853-1855), where he voted in favor of the Kansas-Nebraska act.  

In 1855, Lane relocated to Kansas, perhaps to help organize the Democrat party in the territory.  Corruption in the party there led to the formation of the Topeka Movement, a free-state organization.  The movement was a coalition of New Englanders and Westerners, and Lane headed up the western contingent.  While no abolitionist, Lane was opposed to pro-slavery efforts to admit slavery into the territories through nefarious means.  He came to lead the military arm of the movement and took to appearing in military garb.

In 1856, on behalf of the free-state Topeka government Lane petitioned Congress for Kansas’ admission to the Union as a state.  Oddly, all of the signatures on the petition appeared to be written by the same person.  While he was in Washington, fighting broke out between pro-slavery and free-state forces in Kansas.  Lane raised an army and entered Kansas from Iowa and Nebraska.  Union army forces under territorial governor John Geary calmed things down, and Lane returned to his law practice and farm.

In 1858, Jim Lane killed another free-state settler over a property line disagreement.  He was acquitted of murder but maintained his political influence, and when Kansas was admitted to the Union in 1861 Lane represented the new state in the U. S. Senate.  In the early days of the war, Lane formed a group of Kansas men called the Frontier Guard and assigned them the role of protecting the White House.

Around this time, Lane and President Lincoln became friendly, and AL would later take sides with Lane in disputes with Kansas Governor Charles Robinson, the former leader of the New England contingent of the Topeka Movement.  Lincoln appointed Lane a brigadier general of US volunteers in August 1861.  You won’t find him in Generals in Blue – his commission was cancelled in March of 1862 because sitting congressmen were not permitted to hold a general officer commission.  However he was reinstated the following month.  As far as I know, Lane is the only person to hold both the office and the commission without being required to give one up, a sign of one hell of a politician.

During the war Lane directed some small operations along the Missouri-Kansas border.  He was reelected to his seat in the Senate in 1865.  At the end of the war, he directed Captain Redleg Terrell and Fletcher to apprehend the outlaw Josey Wales, telling Fletcher:   

frank-schofiled.jpg 

“The war’s over. Our side won the war. Now we must busy ourselves winning the peace. And Fletcher, there’s an old saying: To the victors belong the spoils.”  To which Fletcher responded with the classic:  

fletcher.jpg

“There’s another old saying, Senator: Don’t piss down my back and tell me it’s raining.” Senator Lane came back with his own classic, in response to Fletcher’s outrage at the killing of his guerrillas after their surrender: “They were decently treated. They were decently fed and then they were decently shot. Those men are common outlaws, nothing more.”  It’s ironic that an actor named Schofield played Lane in the film, because the real Senator  had a run in with General John Schofield in the aftermath of the raid on Lawrence.

[Edit] Some folks didn’t “get it”: the above is a reference to the film “The Outlaw Josey Wales”.  The film is fiction.  

OK, sorry about that!  Anyway, after Lincoln’s assassination Lane unfortunately took the side of Andrew Johnson in his veto of the Civil Rights bill and drew the ire of the Radical Republicans.  Coincidentally, he came under investigation for some shady war contracts by which he may have illegally profited.  On July 1, 1866, while riding with two friends in Leavenworth, KS, Lane drew his revolver and shot himself in the mouth.  He died ten days later and is buried in Oak Hill Cemetery, Lawrence, KS (photo from www.findagrave.com).  More on Lane and what he did at Bull Run later.

lane-grave.jpg

 

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