Kirkland’s Report

1 02 2008

kirklandgrave3.jpgFor more on Kirkland, see this earlier post.  Good stuff.

#87 – Col. William W. Kirkland

1 02 2008


Report of Col. W. W. Kirkland, Eleventh North Carolina Infantry



Mitchell’s Ford, July 23, 1861

GENERAL: I have the honor to report the following facts concerning the operations of the regiment under my command during the actions of the 18th and 21st:

On the 18th I was ordered to take up a position in rear of the howitzer battery to support it. Subsequently I was directed to proceed to the extreme left as its defense. Throwing up a slight breastwork, I directed my men to kneel down and await the approach of the enemy, but as the attack was confined exclusively to the right, we had no opportunity to engage. After the action I was directed to post the regiment in the trenches which formed the center of your brigade, and here remained, perfecting and erecting breastworks, until the morning of Sunday, the 21st, when word was brought that the enemy was advancing against our left in great force, and had drawn up a strong column of about ten thousand, composed of infantry, cavalry, and artillery, with which he menaced our center. You ordered me at this time to proceed to some point near the enemy and report his proceedings as they developed themselves. I took the road leading to Roberts’ house, and from that eminence perceived that a battery of light pieces had been put in position to the left of the road, about opposite the center of our brigade, and farther to the right a heavy piece of ordnance, which I supposed was a 24-pounder, had been arranged in battery. This column must have been the reserve. Soon both light and heavy pieces opened upon our right and center, and as you are aware, continued a heavy fire for ten hours. Many shot and shell passed over and into the trenches occupied by my regiment, but fortunately no man was touched.

At 3 p.m., by your order, we assisted in the pursuit of the enemy, who was flying before our victorious columns who had so gallantly and so bloodily fought them through ten long hours. I must tell you that the officers and men showed a coolness under fire and an eagerness to advance which was very gratifying. I call your special attention to Maj. J. M. Richardson and Adjutant James A. Walthall, who were unremitting in their efforts to instruct the men in duties of which they had but little knowledge, owing to the recency of our organization.

Regretting, general, that I cannot report that the opportunity offered us to meet the enemy at the point of the bayonet,

I remain, very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Eleventh Regiment North Carolina Volunteers, Commanding

Brigadier-General BONHAM,

Commanding First Brigade, Army of the Potomac

Kirkland’s Grave – Oh, The Things We Find

18 05 2007

 Well, I’m off to throw away my money at Pimlico.  Hopefully it won’t take an eventual mortal injury in the feature for me to break even this year.  I’ll have my computer with me while in Baltimore, but I doubt I’ll have internet access.  So this post will have to do until I get back on Sunday.  Sometimes we manage to hit a Civil War site on the ride home – last year it was Monocacy.  I’ll keep my fingers crossed.

I mentioned here that I learned an interesting tidbit on William Whedbee Kirkland as a result of my visit to Elmwood Cemetery in Shepherdstown a couple of weeks ago.  Since I have a little time before we hit the road, let’s get it out of the way.

kirkland.jpgAt First Bull Run, Kirkland was colonel of the 11th North Carolina Volunteers, part of Brig. Gen. Milledge Luke Bonham’s First Brigade of Beauregard’s Army of the Potomac.  This apparently simple information can be confusing, however, since the 11th NCV was later designated the 21st North Carolina Infantry.  There was a later change to the regimental numbers, as well as designations of units as either North Carolina Infantry (NCI) or North Carolina State Troops (NCST).  It’s confusing, but when this change happened the NCV units had to change numbers, and those who became NCI regiments did so by changing their NCV number by ten.  It’s similar to the difference between the numbering of Pennsylvania Reserve regiments and their eventual PA volunteer infantry numbers, which you can figure out by adding 29 to the reserve number.  Confused?  If so, you get it.  But if you’re looking for the biography of the 11th NCV in a reference work like Crute, you need to look at the 21st NCI.  That’s the case for all of the NCV units, 2nd through 15th, except for the 10th, which became the 1st Artillery. 

Now, give me a minute while I try to remember my name.

You may recall from this earlier article that the later General Kirkland was related by marriage to Lieut. Gen. William J. Hardee.  When Hardee’s son Willie was gravely wounded in the late war Battle of Bentonville, his father sent him to the Kirkland home in Hillsboro (now Hillsborough), outside of Raleigh, NC.  It was there that young Willie died, and it was in the Kirkland family’s churchyard that he was buried.

After the war, Kirkland worked in the “commission business” in Savannah, GA.  The famous Broadway star Odette Taylor was actually Kirkland’s daughter, Bess, and her father eventually moved to New York where he worked for the post office.  Bess married another actor, one R. D. MacLean, whose real name was R. D. Shepherd of, you guessed it, Shepherdstown, WV (the acting couple are buried in Hollywood, CA, where they had moved to work in silent motion pictures – she was in Buster Keaton’s The Saphead; he seems to have had more success).  Apparently the elder Kirklands were tight with the Shepherd family, as Mrs. Kirkland – who at some point divorced her husband – is buried in the Shepherd family lot.  Kirkland, due to infirmity, spent the last 15 years of his life in the Washington, DC Soldier’s Home.  When he died in 1915, he was buried in Elmwood in what Ezra Warner wrote in 1959 was an unmarked grave. 

To bring the thread full circle, Kirkland’s burial plot (below, from my trip) was restored in 1990 by the citizens of his hometown, Hillsborough, NC.  I am not sure if the Susan Wilkins next to whom Kirkland is buried is his ex-wife, second wife, or what.  But check out the inscription on Kirkland’s stone.  Click on the thumbnail for larger pictures. 


I’m getting a sort of rakish vibe from Kirkland.  I don’t know if it’s because of his divorce, his post-war wanderings, his Hollywood connections, or the fact that after he dropped out of West Point he became a U. S. Marine.  Regardless, I’m looking forward to doing his bio sketch.  Any info you readers can provide is appreciated. 

Captain Richard Watt York* (4), Co. I, 6th North Carolina Infantry, On the Battle

27 08 2015

The Battle of Manassas.

The North Carolina Standard (extra) has a letter from an officer of the late Col. Fisher’s Regiment giving an account of the participation of the Sixth North Carolina Regiment in the battle, and relating some interesting incidents of the engagement. He says

The battle commenced in the morning, with heavy cannonading on the right and centre, both sides maintaining their positions. The dull booming of the cannon was distinctly heard by us as we were disembarking from the cars; and, as soon as that was done, our Regiment was formed and moved off in quick time, notwithstanding our weary march from Winchester; and, though tired and apparently exhausted, yet, the terrible cannonading in the centre and on the right nerved every arm, brightened every eye and quickened every step. On we went through the dust that rose in clouds, until we reached a point when we filed to the left to a spring, where our canteens were filled with fresh water by companies; and, as each company received its water, were marched to the shade, and allowed to lied down and rest.

After the watering operation was finished, we proceeded, and were halted under cover of a hill in rear of one of our batteries, and ordered to load and rest, and immediately we loaded and laid our weary limbs upon the grass, and many fell into a doze, notwithstanding the battle was raging around us; but men who had not slept for three nights on a forced march could sleep anywhere. This was about seven o’clock, and the sun shone brightly, and the cannonading became more intense, dense clouds of smoke rose from the opposite hills, the earth shook with the awful thunder, and continued to wax hotter and hotter, when almost instantaneously the men cried out, “Colonel Fisher, we’re ready.” He replied: “I know that.” Suddenly his clear voice rang out, “Attention!” when every man spring with new life to his place in the ranks, shouldered his musket, and at the command “Forward, march,” we moved briskly up the hill, and formed a line of battle in rear of one of our batteries, where we could see distinctly the columns of smoke rising up from the enemy’s batteries on the opposite hills, while the balls were whistling around us.

Suddenly we shifter position further to the left in a road running by a thick wood, and still the balls were whistling over us. A slug from a rifled cannon passed through our ranks, but there was no wavering, but intent on the attack, you could read on every brow the stern resolve to conquer or die. Here we stood resting on our arms, with the wounded lying around us, and ever and anon some one would breathe his last; when again rang the clarion voice, and led by our gallant Colonel, we filed through the dense tangled undergrowth, and sped onward until we struck a ravine which led directly up to Sherman’s Battery**, and were halted with the two right flank companies, under Capts. Freeland and York, within forty yards of the guns and a Regiment of the United States army supporting them, when the command of fire was given, when we silenced the battery at the first fire. Capts. Kirkland and Avery led the men around the point of woods and charged the battery and drove every man from the pieces. About this time some officer cried out to cease firing, as we were firing into our own men.

Exposed to a raking fire from the enemy, and fired into by our friends, Colonel Fisher ordered us to retreat, which was done in some disorder, owing to the cry that we were firing into friends; and it was here that the gallant Colonel Fisher fell in front of the battery, leading on his men to the charge. He was shot through the head with a ball. May he rest in the soldier’s Heaven; for a nobler, braver, more gallant man never led a column to victory.

That portion of the Regiment rallied by the gallant Lightfoot and Webb pitched into the hottest of the fight and joined in the final charge, when the enemy were pit to a precipitate flight, and joined in the pursuit for several miles. No more gallant spirits strode over that field than Lieutenant Colonel Lightfoot and Major Webb. The remainder of the Regiment, under different officers, fell in with other Regiments and fought to the last. No Regiment behaved with more bravery and gallantry than the North Carolina Sixth Infantry on that memorable field. Led up into the hottest of the fight, within a few yards of a battery that was raking our army, they delivered their fire with the deadliest precision. Our loss was about sixty killed and wounded. Among the officers, our gallant Colonel Fisher fell early in the attack. Lieutenant Colonel Lightfoot was wounded in the calf of the leg, but never stopped, although on foot, as were all our field officers. Captain Avery was shot in the leg, but, like a brave man as he is, never left the field. Lieut. W. P. Mangum was severely wounded in the left side. The report that Major Webb was killed is untrue; though exposed to a most terrible fire, he escaped uninjured.

Several regiments claim the honor of silencing and taking this battery. It was taken by the 6th Infantry N. C. State Troops. The regiment, as I have stated, was led up within 40 yards of it, and their fire silenced it, and Col. Lightfoot, Maj. Webb, Captains Kirkland, Avery, and Lieutenants Avery and Mangum, marched right up to it with their men, and passed beyond it, and received a galling fire from the left, when they were ordered to cease firing and fall back. Maj. Webb was resting on one of the pieces, facing the fire, and our men retreated in good order, all the while delivering their fire.

About sunset, the enemy were charged by our army, and put in disorder, and ran like turkeys, pursued by our infantry, cavalry and artillery for several miles, until darkness stopped them. Our Regiment was in the charge, under Col. Lightfoot and Major Webb.

“To the victors belong the spoils,” and in this case they were enormous. Sixty-odd pieces of cannon, every piece they had but two, a large amount of small arms, a church full of knapsacks, blankets, ammunition, haversacks, &c., &c., with which our men are abundantly supplied.

Some twelve or fifteen hundred prisoners were taken, and a large number of officers.

Our loss was considerable, though I do not know how many we had killed and wounded – though very considerable; for it could not have been otherwise, fighting from sunrise until dark. Though our loss is not near so great as we at first supposed. The loss of the enemy is enormous; for they received our deadly shots with a bravery worthy of a better cause.

I visited the field after the battle, and it was indeed a sickening, heart-rending sight. The enemy lay piled in heaps, and horses strewn all along. I counted forty horses in a distance of fifty yards. Around Sherman’s batteries, where our Regiment fired, every horse and cannoneer was killed, and lay in one indiscriminate heap. All overt the battle field were strewed the dead and dying. Some had placed their arms under their heads as they went to their last sleep. Others folded their arms across their breasts, some with features distorted with fists clenched as they wrestled in the agonies of death; others wore the calm, placid smile which should grace the face of a soldier dying in a glorious cause. In the little clump of cedars the wounded had crawled and died, and lay there in ghastly heaps.

Our dead were buried with the honours due them and our wounded removed to different places in the interior, where they will be properly attended to .

Richmond Examiner, 8/1/1861

Clipping Image

Contributed by John Hennessy

* While the author is not identified in this article, the passage regarding the taking of “Sherman’s Battery” is identical to that authored by Capt. York and printed in the 8/6/1861 Fayetteville, North Carolina Observer and transcribed here.

** Sherman’s (Ayres’s) Battery (Co. E, 3rd US) was nowhere near the 6th NC, and in fact did not cross Bull Run. The author is here referring to a section of Griffin’s West Point Battery (Co. D, 5th US.) Sherman’s Battery was from the time of the Mexican War a very well-known battery, and was reported in many areas of the field by both Confederate and Union participants, nearly always in error. This battery is sometimes also referred to by historians as William. T. Sherman’s battery and, while it was attached to that colonel’s brigade, it derived it’s title not from him but from past commander Thomas. W. Sherman.

R. W. York at 

Captain Richard Watt York (3), Co. I, 6th North Carolina Infantry, On the Capture of “Sherman’s Battery”*

14 08 2015

Who Took Sherman’s Battery? – A letter to the Raleigh Standard, from Capt. York, answers this question fully: –

“Several regiments claim the honor of silencing and taking this battery. iIt was taken by the 6th Infantry N. C. State Troops.i The regiment was led up within 40 yards of it, and their fire silenced it, and Col. Lightfoot, Maj. Webb, Capts. Kirkland, Avery, and Lieuts. Avery and Mangum, marched right up to it with their men, and passed beyond it, and received a galling fire from the left, when they were ordered to cease firing and fall back. Maj. Webb was resting on one of the pieces, facing the fire, and our men retreated in good order, all the while delivering their fire.” Around Sherman’s battery where our Regiment fired, every horse and cannoneer was killed, and lay in one indiscriminate heap. All over the battle field were strewed the dead and dying. Some had placed their arms under their heads as they went to their last sleep. Others folded their arms across their breasts, some with features distorted and fists clenched as they wrestled in the agonies of death; others wore the calm, placid smile which should grace the face of a soldier dying in a glorious cause. In the little clump of cedars, the wounded had crawled and died, and lay there in ghastly heaps.**

“That portion of the Regiment rallied by the gallant Lightfoot and Webb, pitched into the hottest of the fight, and joined in the final charge, when the enemy were put to a precipitate flight, and joined in the pursuit for several miles. No more gallant spirits strode over that field, than Lt. Col. Lightfoot and Maj. Webb. The remainder of the regiment, under different officers, fell in with other regiments and fought to the last. No regiment behaved with more bravery and gallantry than the North Carolina 6th Infantry, on that memorable field. Led up into the hottest of the fight, within a few yards of a battery that was raking our army, they delivered their fire with the deadliest precision.”

(Fayetteville, North) Carolina Observer, 8/6/1861.

Clipping Image

Contributed by John Hennessy

* Sherman’s (Ayres’s) Battery (Co. E, 3rd US) was nowhere near the 6th NC, and in fact did not cross Bull Run. The author is here referring to a section of Griffin’s West Point Battery (Co. D, 5th US.) Sherman’s Battery was from the time of the Mexican War a very well known battery, and was reported in many areas of the field by both Confederate and Union participants, nearly always in error. This battery is sometimes also referred to by historians as William. T. Sherman’s battery and, while it was attached to that colonel’s brigade, it derived it’s title not from him but from past commander Thomas. W. Sherman.

**The passage between those marked with quotation marks appears to have been written by the editors.

See a more complete version of this letter published in the Richmond Examiner here.

R. W. York at 

Bull Runnings Elsewhere

6 03 2010

Facebook friend Garry Adelman alerted me to this site for the Averasboro (NC) Battlefield and Museum, which features a snippet from this article I wrote on the death of Willie Hardee at the Battle of Bentonville.  I’m flattered they used my article, but wish they had linked to it so interested folks could read the whole thing.  In addition, I’ve written articles on Hardee in-law William Kirkland and on the town in which Willie is interred, Hillsborough, NC.  Check them out.

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#66 – Brig. Gen. M. L. Bonham

5 03 2009

Report of Brig. Gen. M. L. Bonham, C. S. Army, Commanding First Brigade, of Retreat from Fairfax Court-House and Skirmish at Mitchell’s Ford

O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 2 [S# 2] — CHAPTER IX, pp. 449-450


Camp Gregg, July 31, 1861

GENERAL: In making, in obedience to your orders, a report of the operations of my brigade on the 18th instant, I beg leave to make a brief statement of the events immediately preceding that day, and which are closely connected with it.

On the morning of the 17th instant, at Fairfax Court-House, the advance forces of the Army of the Potomac under my command consisted of the Second Regiment South Carolina Volunteers, Colonel Kershaw; Third, Colonel Williams; Seventh, Colonel Bacon; Eighth, Colonel Cash; the Eighteenth Virginia Volunteers, Colonel Withers, temporarily attached; part of Colonel Radford’s cavalry.; Captains Wickham’s, Ball’s, Powell’s, and Payne’s troops of cavalry, and the batteries of Captain’s Kemper and Shields. Early that morning I received from my scouts confirmation of what I had been hearing many hours previous, viz, that the enemy would probably advance upon me that morning by the Alexandria, Flint Hill, and, it was said, the Falls Church roads.

In obedience to your orders, which I had previously received, to fall back on the approach of an enemy to attack my position in “superior force,” I ordered my baggage and supply wagons to be put in immediate motion, and to be parked in rear of Bull Run, Mitchell’s Ford. This was promptly and successfully accomplished by Colonel Kemper, assisted by Lieutenant Washington, quartermaster, and Major Kennedy, commissary for the command, with but little loss.

Between 8 and 9 o’clock I heard the report and saw the smoke of the enemy’s artillery at Flint Hill, about two miles off, and learned at the same time that my pickets were being driven in. I immediately ordered the troops to their trenches, their places having been previously designated, which order was obeyed with the greatest alacrity and enthusiasm, the body of the troops not knowing that they were to fall back at all. My plan of falling back on Bull Run, based upon your instructions, I had previously explained to the commanding officers of corps, assigning each his position on the march at Centreville and at Bull Run in a confidential order, which I did not deliver till on the march.

Finding the enemy did not seem to be approaching by the Falls Church road, I ordered the pickets to be withdrawn from that road. About 9 o’clock the enemy made his appearance in large force on the Flint Hill slope, and, deploying his columns, moved down toward the Court-House, his lines extending a great distance across the open fields, stretching out from Flint Hill to the Court-House. I awaited his approach till a part of his force had arrived within a half mile of my works, to be satisfied that his force was such “superior force” as I had heard it would be and as came within the intent of your order.

Having satisfied myself that he was concentrating around me a force many times my number–in three columns, from Alexandria upon my right, upon my left at Germantown, from the same place, and having sent word to General Ewell that I was about to begin my movement–I ordered my regiments to take up the line of march according to my prearranged plan, and directed Kershaw’s regiment (which with Kemper’s battery and Wickham’s and Floyd’s troops of cavalry, constituted my rear guard) to file, as they retired, through the trenches as the preceding regiments filed out. The column thus fell back in perfect order to Centreville, the enemy not venturing to attack my rear guard. At dark our pickets were within a few hundred paces of each other.

At midnight, Major Rhett having returned from a personal interview with yourself, I resumed the march, in obedience to your orders, and at daylight put my command in position at Mitchell’s Ford, on Bull Run, the place previously assigned me, placing two pieces of Kemper’s battery six hundred yards in front of my center, on Kemper’s Hill, supported by two companies of light troops, in order to give the enemy’s advancing column a few shots before retiring to the position assigned those pieces behind the run. The Eleventh North Carolina Volunteers, Colonel Kirkland, and the Eighth Louisiana Battalion, Colonel Kelly, reported to me during the morning. The former, having been kept for a while in reserve, was placed on the extreme left; the latter was held in reserve in rear of the center of my position.

At about 12 m. the enemy, following up his movements of the day previous, opened a heavy cannonade on my position, which was kept up most of the day, throwing shell and shot into every portion of my command, but fortunately without injury to the troops. As the range of his guns and the weight of his metal were greater than my own, Captain Kemper’s two pieces, with the two supporting companies, were withdrawn to their position in the rear of the run, but not till some effective shots had been made at the enemy. In the course of a few hours he attacked the position of General Longstreet at Blackburn’s Ford, a short distance to my right, from which he was most gallantly repulsed. He then began to show his troops in some force in my front. By your leave I ordered Colonel Kershaw, with four companies of his regiment and one piece of Kemper’s battery, to move forward to Kemper’s Hill, and open fire upon that force. It was promptly and gallantly executed, three or four effective shots being thrown into the grove near Butler’s house, doing some execution and scattering the enemy in every direction.

I cannot too highly commend the conduct and bearing of all the officers and men under my command. Everything that characterizes gallant people prepared to perish before a superior force, if necessary, for the defense of their homes, was exhibited by them throughout the trying and fatiguing operations of the 17th and 18th of July. Inclosed I send reports of officers of my command as far as received.

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


Brigadier-General, Commanding

Brig. Gen. G. T. BEAUREGARD,

Commanding Army of the Potomac

#64 – Gen. G. T. Beauregard

22 02 2009

Reports of General G. T. Beauregard, Commanding Confederate Army of the Potomac, of Operations from July 17 to 20

O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 2 [S# 2] — CHAPTER IX, pp. 439-448

MANASSAS, July 17, 1861


President of the Confederate States:

The enemy has assailed my outposts in heavy force. I have fallen back on the line of Bull Run, and will make a stand at Mitchell’s Ford.If his force is overwhelming I shall retire to the Rappahannock Railroad Bridge, saving my command for defense there and future operations. Please inform Johnston of this, via Staunton, and also Holmes. Send forward any re-enforcements at the earliest possible instant and by every possible means.




Manassas, August –, 1861

GENERAL: With the general results of the engagement between several brigades of my command and a considerable force of the enemy in the vicinity of Mitchell’s and Blackburn’s Fords, at Bull Run, on the 18th ultimo, you were made duly acquainted at the time by telegraph, but it is my place now to submit in detail the operations of that day.

Opportunely informed of the determination of the enemy to advance on Manassas, my advanced brigades, on the night of the 16th of July, were made aware from these headquarters of the impending movement, and in exact accordance with my instructions (a copy of which is appended, marked A), their withdrawal within the lines of Bull Run was effected with complete success during the day and night of the 17th ultimo, in face of and in immediate proximity to a largely superior force, despite a well-planned, well-executed effort to cut off the retreat of Bonham’s brigade first at Germantown and subsequently at Centreville, whence he withdrew by my direction after midnight without collision, although enveloped on three sides by their lines. This movement had the intended effect of deceiving the enemy as to my ulterior purposes, and led him to anticipate an unresisted passage of Bull Run.

As prescribed in the first and second sections of the paper herewith, marked A, on the morning of the 18th of July, my troops, resting on Bull Run from Union Mills Ford to the stone bridge, a distance of about eight miles, were posted as follows:

Ewell’s brigade occupied a position in vicinity of the Union Mills Ford. It consisted of Rodes’ Fifth and Seibels’ Sixth Regiments of Alabama, and Seymour’s Sixth Regiment Louisiana Volunteers, with four 12-pounder howitzers of Walton’s battery, and Harrison’s, Green’s, and Cabell’s companies of Virginia Cavalry.

D. R. Jones’ brigade was in position in rear of McLean’s Ford, and consisted of Jenkins’ Fifth South Carolina and Burt’s Eighteenth and Featherston’s Seventeenth Regiments of Mississippi Volunteers, with two brass 6-pounder guns of Walton’s battery, and one company of cavalry.

Longstreet’s brigade covered Blackburn’s Ford, and consisted of Moore’s First, Garland’s Eleventh, and Corse’s Seventeenth Regiments Virginia Volunteers, with two 6-pounder brass guns of Walton’s battery.

Bonham’s brigade held the approaches to Mitchell’s Ford. It was composed of Kershaw’s Second, Williams’ Third, Bacon’s Seventh, and Cash’s Eighth Regiments South Carolina Volunteers; of Shields’ and Del. Kemper’s batteries, and of Flood’s, Radford’s, Payne’s, Ball’s, Wickham’s, and Powell’s companies of Virginia Cavalry, under Colonel Radford.

Cooke’s brigade held the fords below and in the vicinity of the stone bridge, and consisted of Withers’ Eighteenth, Lieutenant-Colonel Strange’s Nineteenth, and R. T. Preston’s Twenty-eighth Regiments, with Latham’s battery, and one company of cavalry, Virginia Volunteers.

Evans held my left flank, and protected the stone bridge crossing, with Sloan’s Fourth Regiment South Carolina Volunteers, Wheat’s special battalion Louisiana Volunteers, four 6-pounder guns, and two companies of Virginia Cavalry.

Early’s brigade, consisting of Kemper’s Seventh and Early’s Twenty-fourth Regiments Virginia Volunteers; Hays’ Seventh Regiment Louisiana Volunteers, and three rifled pieces of Walton’s battery–Lieutenant Squires–at first were held in position in the rear of and as a support to Ewell’s brigade, until after the development of the enemy in heavy offensive force in front of Mitchell’s and Blackburn’s Fords, when it was placed in rear of and nearly equidistant between McLean’s, Blackburn’s, and Mitchell’s Fords.

Pending the development of the enemy’s purpose, about 10 o’clock a.m. I established my headquarters at a central point (McLean’s farmhouse), near to McLean’s and Blackburn’s Fords, where two 6-pounders of Walton’s battery were in reserve, but subsequently during the engagement I took post to the left of my reserve.

Of the topographical features of the country thus occupied it must suffice to say that Bull Run is a small stream, running in this locality nearly from west to east to its confluence with the Occoquan River, about twelve miles from the Potomac, and draining a considerable scope of country from its source in Bull Run Mountain to a short distance of the Potomac at Occoquan. At this season habitually low and sluggish, it is, however, rapidly and frequently swollen by the summer rains until unfordable. The banks for the most part are rocky and steep, but abound in long-used fords. The country on either side, much broken and thickly wooded, becomes gently rolling and open as it recedes from the stream. On the northern side the ground is much the highest, and commands the other bank completely. Roads traverse and intersect the surrounding country in almost every direction. Finally, at Mitchell’s Ford the stream is about equidistant between Centreville and Manassas, some six miles apart.

On the morning of the 18th, finding that the enemy was assuming a threatening attitude, in addition to the regiments whose positions have been already stated, I ordered up from Camp Pickens as a reserve, in rear of Bonham’s brigade, the effective men of six companies of Kelly’s Eighth Regiment Louisiana Volunteers and Kirkland’s Eleventh Regiment North Carolina Volunteers, which, having arrived the night before en route for Winchester, I had halted in view of the existing necessities of the service. Subsequently the latter was placed in position to the left of Bonham’s brigade.

Appearing in heavy force in front of Bonham’s position, the enemy, about meridian, opened fire with several 20-pounder rifled guns from a hill over one and a half miles from Bull Run. At the same time Kemper, supported by two companies of light infantry, occupied a ridge on the left of the Centreville road, about six hundred yards in advance of the ford, with two 6-pounder (smooth) guns. At first the firing of the enemy was at random, but by 12.30 p.m. he had obtained the range of our position, and poured into the brigade a shower of shot, but without injury to us in men, horses, or guns. From the distance, however, our guns could not reply with effect, and we did not attempt it, patiently awaiting a more opportune moment.

Meanwhile a light battery was pushed forward by the enemy, whereupon Kemper threw only six solid shot, with the effect of driving back both the battery and its supporting force. This is understood to have been Ayres’ battery, and the damage must have been considerable to have obliged such a retrograde movement on the part of that officer. The purposes of Kemper’s position having now been fully served, his pieces and support were withdrawn across Mitchell’s Ford to a point previously designated, and which commanded the direct approaches to the ford.

About 11.30 o’clock a.m. the enemy was also discovered by the pickets of Longstreet’s brigade advancing in strong columns of infantry with artillery and cavalry on Blackburn’s Ford. At meridian the pickets fell back silently before the advancing foe across the ford, which, as well as the entire southern bank of the stream for the whole front of Longstreet’s brigade, was covered at the water’s edge by an extended line of skirmishers, while two 6-pounders of Walton’s battery, under Lieutenant Garnett, were advantageously placed to command the direct approach to the ford, but with orders to retire to the rear as soon as commanded by the enemy.

The northern bank of the stream in front of Longstreet’s position rises with a steep slope at least fifty feet above the level of the water, leaving a narrow berme in front of the ford of some twenty yards. This ridge formed for them an admirable natural parapet, behind which they could and did approach under shelter in heavy force within less than one hundred yards of our skirmishers. The southern shore was almost a plain, raised but a few feet above the water for several hundred yards; then rising with a very gradual, gentle slope and undulations back to Manassas. On the immediate bank there was a fringe of trees, but with little if any undergrowth or shelter, while on the other shore there were timber and much thick brush and covering. The ground in rear of our skirmishers and occupied by our artillery was an old field, extending along the stream about one mile, and immediately back for about half a mile to a border or skirting of dense second-growth pines. The whole of this ground was commanded at all points by the ridge occupied by the enemy’s musketry, as was also the country to the rear for a distance much beyond the range of 20-pounder rifled guns by the range of hills on which their batteries were planted, and which it may be further noted commanded also all our approaches from this direction to the three threatened fords.

Before advancing his infantry the enemy maintained a fire of rifled artillery from the batteries just mentioned for half an hour; then he pushed forward a column of over three thousand infantry to the assault, with such a weight of numbers as to be repelled with difficulty by the comparatively small force of not more than twelve hundred bayonets with which Brigadier-General Longstreet met him with characteristic vigor and intrepidity. Our troops engaged at this time were the First and Seventeenth and four companies of the Eleventh Regiments Virginia Volunteers. Their resistance was resolute, and maintained with a steadiness worthy of all praise. It was successful, and the enemy was repulsed. In a short time, however, he returned to the contest with increased force and determination, but was again foiled and driven back by our skirmishers and Longstreet’s reserve companies, which were brought up and employed at the most vigorously-assailed points at the critical moment.

It was now that Brigadier-General Longstreet sent for re-enforcements from Early’s brigade, which I had anticipated by directing the advance of General Early with two regiments of infantry and two pieces of artillery. As these came upon the field the enemy had advanced a third time with heavy numbers to force Longstreet’s position. Hays’ regiment, Seventh Louisiana Volunteers, which was in advance, was placed on the bank of the stream under some cover to the immediate right and left of the ford, relieving Corse’s regiment (Seventeenth Virginia Volunteers). This was done under a heavy fire of musketry with promising steadiness. The Seventh Virginia, under Lieutenant-Colonel Williams, was then formed to the right, also under heavy fire, and pushed forward to the stream, relieving the First Regiment Virginia Volunteers. At the same time two rifled guns brought up with Early’s brigade were moved down in the field to the right of the road, so as to be concealed from the enemy’s artillery by the girth of timber on the immediate bank of the stream, and there opened fire, directed only by the sound of the enemy’s musketry.

Unable to effect a passage, the enemy kept up a scattering fire for some time. Some of our troops had pushed across the stream, and several small parties of Corse’s regiment, under command of Captain Marye, met and drove the enemy with the bayonet; but as the roadway from the ford was too narrow for a combined movement in force, General Longstreet recalled them to the south bank. Meanwhile the remainder of Early’s infantry and artillery had been called up; that is, six companies of the Twenty-fourth Regiment Virginia Volunteers, under Lieutenant-Colonel Hairston, and five pieces of artillery, one rifled gun, and four 6-pounder brass guns, including two 6-pounder guns under Lieutenant Garnett, which had been previously sent to the rear by General Longstreet. This infantry was at once placed in position to the left of the ford, in a space unoccupied by Hays, and the artillery was unlimbered in battery to the right of the road, in a line with the two guns already in action. A scattering fire of musketry was still kept up by the enemy for a short time, but that was soon silenced.

It was at this stage of the affair that a remarkable artillery duel was commenced and maintained on our side with a long-trained professional opponent, superior in the character as well as in the number of his weapons, provided with improved munitions and every artillery appliance, and at the same time occupying the commanding position. The results were marvelous, and fitting precursors to the artillery achievements of the 21st of July. In the outset our fire was directed against the enemy’s infantry, whose bayonets, gleaming above the tree-tops, alone indicated their presence and force. This drew the attention of a battery placed on a high, commanding ridge, and the duel began in earnest. For a time the aim of the adversary was inaccurate, but this was quickly corrected, and shot fell and shells burst thick and fast in the very midst of our battery, wounding in the course of the combat Captain Eshleman, five privates, and the horse of Lieutenant Richardson. From the position of our pieces and the nature of the ground their aim could only be directed at the smoke of the enemy’s artillery. How skillfully and with what execution this was done can only be realized by an eye-witness. For a few moments their guns were silenced, but were soon reopened. By direction of General Longstreet, his battery was then advanced by hand out of the range now ascertained by the enemy, and a shower of spherical case, shell, and round shot flew over the heads of our gunners. But one of our pieces had become hors de combat from an enlarged vent.

From the new position our guns fired as before, with no other aim than the smoke and flash of their adversaries’ pieces, renewed and urged the conflict with such signal vigor and effect, that gradually the fire of the enemy slackened, the intervals between their discharges grew longer and longer, finally to cease, and we fired a last gun at a baffled, flying foe, whose heavy masses in the distance were plainly seen to break and scatter in wild confusion and utter rout, strewing the ground with castaway guns, hats, blankets, and knapsacks as our parting shell were thrown among them. In their retreat one of their pieces was abandoned, but from the nature of the ground it was not sent for that night, and under cover of darkness the enemy recovered it.

The guns engaged in this singular conflict on our side were three 6-pounder rifled pieces and four ordinary 6-pounders, all of Walton’s battery, Washington Artillery, of New Orleans. The officers immediately attached were Captain Eshleman, Lieuts. C. W. Squires, Richardson, Garnett, and Whittington. At the same time our infantry held the bank of the stream in advance of our guns, and the missiles of the combatants flew to and fro above them, as cool and veteran-like for more than an hour they steadily awaited the moment and signal for the advance.

While the conflict was at its height before Blackburn’s Ford, about l o’clock p.m., the enemy again displayed himself in force before Bonham’s position. At this time Colonel Kershaw, with four companies of his regiment (Second South Carolina) and one piece of Kemper’s battery, were thrown across Mitchell’s Ford to the ridge which Kemper had occupied that morning. Two solid shot and three spherical case thrown among them with a precision inaugurated by that artillerist at Vienna effected their discomfiture and disappearance, and our troops in that quarter were again withdrawn within our lines, having discharged the duty assigned.

At the close of the engagement before Blackburn’s Ford I directed General Longstreet to withdraw the First and Seventeenth Regiments, which had borne the brunt of the action, to a position in reserve, leaving Colonel Early to occupy the field with his brigade and Garland’s regiment.

As a part of the history of this engagement I desire to place on record that on the 18th of July not one yard of intrenchments nor one rifle pit sheltered the men at Blackburn’s Ford, who, officers and men, with rare exceptions, were on that day for the first time under fire, and who, taking and maintaining every position ordered, cannot be too much commended for their soldierly behavior.

Our artillery was manned and officered by those who but yesterday were called from the civil avocations of a busy city. They were matched with the picked light artillery of the Federal Regular Army–Company E, Third Artillery, under Captain Ayres, with an armament, as their own chief of artillery admits, of two 10-pounder Parrott rifled guns, two 12-pounder howitzers, and two 6-pounder pieces, aided by two 20-pounder Parrott rifled guns of Company G, Fifth Artillery, under Lieutenant Benjamin. Thus matched, they drove their veteran adversaries from the field, giving confidence in and promise of the coming efficiency of that brilliant arm of our service.

Having thus related the main or general results and events of the action of Bull Run, in conclusion it is proper to signalize some of those who contributed most to the satisfactory results of that day. Thanks are due to Brigadier-Generals Bonham and Ewell and to Colonel Cocke and the officers under them for the ability shown in conducting and executing the retrograde movements on Bull Run directed in my orders of the 8th of July–movements on which hung the fortunes of this Army.

Brigadier-General Longstreet, who commanded immediately the troops engaged at Blackburn’s Ford on the 18th, equaled my confident expectations, and I may fitly say that by his presence at the right place at the right moment among his men, by the exhibition of characteristic coolness, and by his words of encouragement to the men of his command, he infused a confidence and spirit that contributed largely to the success of our arms on that day.

Colonel Early brought his brigade into position and subsequently into action with judgment, and at the proper moment; he displayed capacity for command and personal gallantry.

Colonel Moore, commanding the First Virginia Volunteers, was severely wounded at the head of his regiment, the command of which subsequently devolved upon Major Skinner, Lieutenant-Colonel Fry having been obliged to leave the field in consequence of a sun-stroke.

An accomplished, promising officer, Maj. Carter H. Harrison, Eleventh Regiment Virginia Volunteers, was lost to the service while leading two companies of his regiment against the enemy. He fell, twice shot, mortally wounded.

Brigadier-General Longstreet, while finding on all sides alacrity, ardor, and intelligence, mentions his special obligations to Colonels Moore, Garland, and Corse, commanding severally regiments of his brigade, and to their field officers, Lieutenant-Colonels Fry, Funsten, Munford, and Majors Brent and Skinner, of whom he says, “They displayed more coolness and energy than is usual among veterans of the old service.” General Longstreet also mentions the conduct of Captain Marye, of the Seventeenth Virginia Volunteers, as especially gallant on one occasion, in advance of the ford.

The regiments of Early’s brigade were commanded by Colonel Harry Hays and Lieutenant-Colonels Williams and Hairston, who handled their commands in action with satisfactory coolness and skill, supported by their field officers, Lieutenant-Colonel De Choiseul and Major Penn, of the Seventh Louisiana, and Major Patton, of the Seventh Virginia Volunteers.

The skill, the conduct, and the soldierly qualities of the Washington Artillery engaged were all that could be desired. The officers and men attached to the seven pieces already specified won for their battalion a distinction which I feel assured will never be tarnished, and which will ever serve to urge them and their corps to high endeavor. Lieutenant Squires worthily commanded the pieces in action. The commander of the battalion was necessarily absent from the immediate field, under orders in the sphere of his duties, but the fruits of his discipline, zeal, instruction, and capacity as an artillery commander were present, and must redound to his reputation.

On the left, at Mitchell’s Ford, while no serious engagement occurred, the conduct of all was eminently satisfactory to the general officers in command.

It is due, however, to Col. J. L. Kemper, Virginia forces, to express my sense of the value of his services in the preparation for and execution of the retreat from Fairfax Court-House on Bull Run. Called from the head of his regiment, by what appeared to me an imperative need of the service, to take charge of the superior duties of the quartermaster’s department with the advance at that critical juncture, he accepted the responsibilities involved, and was eminently efficient.

For further information touching officers and individuals of the First Brigade, and the details of the retrograde movement, I have to refer particularly to the report of Brigadier-General Bonham, herewith No. 66.

It is proper here to state that while from the outset it had been determined on the approach of the enemy in force to fall back and fight him on the line of Bull Run, yet the position occupied by General Ewell’s brigade, if necessary, could have been maintained against largely superior force. This was especially the case with the position of the Fifth Alabama Volunteers, Colonel Rodes, which that excellent officer had made capable of a resolute protracted defense against heavy odds. Accordingly, on the morning of the 17th ultimo, when the enemy appeared before that position, they were checked and held at bay with some confessed loss in a skirmish in advance of the works, in which Major Morgan and Captain Shelley, Fifth Regiment Alabama Volunteers, acted with intelligent gallantry, and the post was only abandoned under general, but specific, imperative orders, in conformity with a long-conceived established plan of action and battle.

Capt. E. P. Alexander, Confederate States Engineers, fortunately joined my headquarters in time to introduce the system of new field signals, which under his skillful management rendered me the most important service preceding and during the engagement.

The medical officers serving with the regiments engaged were at their proper posts and discharged their duties with satisfactory skill and zeal, and on one occasion at least, under an annoying fire, when Surgeon Cullen, First Regiment Virginia Volunteers, was obliged to remove our wounded from the hospital, which had become the special target of the enemy’s rifled guns, notwithstanding it was surmounted by the usual yellow hospital flag, but which, however, I hope for the sake of past associations was ignorantly mistaken for a Confederate flag. The name of each individual medical officer I cannot mention.

On the day of the engagement I was attended by my personal staff, Lieut. S. W. Ferguson, aide-de-camp and my volunteer aides-de-camp, Colonels Preston, Manning, Chesnut, Miles, Chisolm, and Hayward, of South Carolina, to all of whom I am greatly indebted for manifold essential services in the transmission of orders on the field and in the preliminary arrangements for the occupation and maintenance of the line of Bull Run.

Col. Thomas Jordan, assistant adjutant-general; Capt. C. H. Smith, assistant adjutant-general; Col. S. Jones, chief of artillery and ordnance;  Major Cabell, chief quartermaster; Capt. W. H. Fowle, chief of subsistence department; Surg. Thomas H. Williams, medical director, and Assistant Surgeon Brodie, medical purveyor, of the general staff, attached to the Army of the Potomac, were necessarily engaged severally with their responsible duties at my headquarters at Camp Pickens, which they discharged with an energy and intelligence for which I have to tender my sincere thanks.

Messrs. McLean, Wilcoxen, Kinchelo, and Brawner, citizens of this immediate vicinity, it is their due to say, have placed me and the country under great obligations for the information relative to this region, which has enabled me to avail myself of its defensive features and resources. They were found ever ready to give me their time without stint or reward.

Our casualties, in all sixty-eight killed and wounded, were fifteen (including two reported missing) killed, and fifty-three wounded, several of whom have since died. The loss of the enemy can only be conjectured. It was unquestionably heavy. In the cursory examination, which was made by details from Longstreet’s and Early’s brigades, on the 18th of July, of that part of the field immediately contested and near Blackburn’s Ford, some sixty-four corpses were found and buried. Some few wounded and at least twenty prisoners were also picked up, besides one hundred and seventy-five stand of arms, a large quantity of accouterments and blankets, and quite one hundred and fifty hats.

The effect of this day’s conflict was to satisfy the enemy he could not force a passage across Bull Run in the face of our troops, and led him into the flank movement of the 21st of July and the battle of Manassas, the details of which will be related in another paper.

Herewith I have the honor to transmit the reports of the several brigade commanders engaged and of the artillery; also a map of the field of battle.(*)

The rendition of this report, it is proper to say in conclusion, has been unavoidably delayed by the constantly engrossing administrative duties of the commander of an army corps composed wholly of volunteers, duties vitally essential to its well being and future efficiency, and which I could not set aside or postpone on any account.

I have the honor to be, general, your obedient servant,


General, Commanding

General S. COOPER,

Adjutant and Inspector General, C. S. Army

[Inclosure A.]

Special ORDERS, No. 100


Manassas Junction, July 8, 1861

Paragraph IV, of Special Orders, No. 51, from these headquarters, dated June 20, 1861, is revoked, and if attacked by a superior force of the enemy, the three brigades of the Army of the Potomac, serving in Fairfax County, will retire in the following manner and order:

I. The First Brigade on Mitchell’s Ford, of Bull Run, by way of Centreville.

II. The whole of the Fifth Brigade on Bull Run stone bridge, and adjacent fords, making a stand, if practicable, at the suspension bridge across Cub Run.

III. The Second Brigade, except Colonel Rodes’ regiment, will fall back via the railway and adjacent roads on Union Mills Ford and the railroad bridge across Bull Run, burning the bridges on their way.

The Fifth Regiment Alabama Volunteers, Colonel Rodes, will retire by way of Braddock’s old road and the nearest side roads to McLean’s Ford, on Bull Run, or Union Mills Ford, as most practicable. These brigades, thus in position, will make a desperate stand at the several points hereinbefore designated on the line of Bull Run, and will be supported as follows:

I. The Third Brigade will move forward to McLean’s Ford.

II. The Fourth Brigade will repair to Blackburn’s Ford.

III. The Sixth Brigade will be advanced to Union Mills Ford.

IV. Major Walton’s battery will repair to McLean’s farm-house by the shortest practicable route, with which he shall at once make himself and his officers thoroughly acquainted. At said farm-house he will await further orders.

Should the enemy march to the attack of Mitchell’s Ford via Centreville the following movements will be made with celerity:

I. The Fourth Brigade will march from Blackburn’s Ford to attack him on the flank and center.

II. The Third Brigade will be thrown to the attack of his center and rear towards Centreville.

III. The Second and Sixth Brigades united will also push forward and attack him in the rear by way of Centreville, protecting their own right flanks and rear from the direction of Fairfax Station and Court-House.

IV. In the event of the defeat of the enemy, the troops at Mitchell’s Ford and stone bridge, especially the cavalry and artillery, will join in the pursuit, which will be conducted with vigor but unceasing prudence, and continued until he shall have been driven beyond the Potomac.

V. The garrison of Camp Pickens and all existing guards and pickets inside of the lines of Bull Run and the Occoquan River will remain in position until otherwise ordered.

VI. The chiefs of the several staff corps attached to these headquarters will take all necessary measures to secure an efficient service of their respective departments in the exigency.

By order of Brigadier General Beauregard:


Acting Assistant Adjutant General


The plan of attack prescribed within would have been executed with modifications affecting First and Fifth Brigades to meet the attack upon Blackburn’s Ford but for the expected coming of General Johnston’s command, which was known to be en route to join me on the 18th of July.


General, Commanding

(*) Map not found.

Hillsborough, NC

25 03 2008


This past Saturday, an off day between the 1st & 2nd rounds of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, the family piled into our rental car and drove to Hillsborough, outside of Raleigh.  You can’t swing a dead cat in Hillsborough without hitting a historical marker of some sort.

The town was laid out in 1754, and due in large part to its situation along an Indian trading path that stretched from Petersburg, VA to Augusta, GA, Hillsborough became the center of the North Carolina back country.  Hillsborough was the home of five General Assemblies during the 1770’s and 1780’s, and residents who played a prominent role in the Revolution included a signer of the Declaration of Independence (William Hooper, who relocated from Wilmington), a member of the Continental Congress (Thomas Burke, also wartime governor of NC), and Brigadier General Francis Nash, who was mortally wounded at the Battle of Germantown.  The house owned by Nash and, after his death, Hooper still stands at 118 W. Tyron St.  British General Cornwallis camped in Hillsborough in 1781, and the Tory David Fanning (say that like The Virgin Connie Swail) captured Gov. Burke there later that same year.

This blog focuses on the Civil War, so let’s fast forward a bit. William Kirkland built Ayr Mount (376 St. Mary’s Rd.) in 1815, and the home would remain in the Kirkland family until 1971.  In 1833, William W. Kirkland was born there (I’ve written about Kirkland here and here).  Ayr Mount is now a historic site open to the public – but I didn’t have time to go there.  I did revisit St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church, where many Kirklands, Ruffins, and Pettigrews lie buried, and took a new photo of the Willie Hardee grave (though I must have been there at a similar time of day last time – this is one tough stone to photo).  Click on the thumbnails for a larger image.

st-matthews.jpg hardee1.jpg hardee2.jpg


The Visitor’s Center is in the Dickson House.  As the war neared its close, General Wade Hampton made this his headquarters, and it was in the office building outside the house that Joseph Johnston and members of the Confederate Cabinet met to discuss surrendering to the armies of William T. Sherman.  It was from there that Johnston rode out on April 18, 1865, bound for the nearby Bennett (Bennitt) Farm.  Here’s a photo of the house – I forgot to take one of the office building.

dickson1.jpg dickson4.jpg dickson3.jpg


Hillsborough was also home to the Burwell School, a female academy operated by the Rev. Robert Burwell and his wife from 1837 to 1857.  In 1836 it became “home” to a teenaged slave named Elizabeth Hobbes.  In 1855, Elizabeth bought her freedom, married, moved to Washington, worked as a dressmaker in the White House and in 1868 published her memoir, Behind the Scenes; or Thirty Years a Slave, and Four Years in the White House, under her married name, Elizabeth Keckly.  She, along with her boss, Mary Todd Lincoln, was the recent subject of this book.

burwell.jpg keckly.jpg

Hillsborough has a ton to offer the history-minded traveler, and lots of shops and such to satisfy the non-history-minded spouses with which many of us seem to travel. 

#86 – Brig. Gen. Milledge L. Bonham

31 01 2008


Report of Brig. Gen. M. L. Bonham, C. S. Army, Commanding First Brigade, First Corps

O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 2 [S# 2] — CHAPTER IX, pp 518-521


Camp Gregg, August 1, 1861

GENERAL: I had ordered reports from my officers of the operations of the 21st of July previous to the 1st instant, though I had not until that day received instructions to do so. Between the 18th and 21st of July I placed on my extreme left Kershaw’s regiment with Kemper’s battery, both to give support to the left or center of your whole line, as circumstances might require, and to keep watch on the enemy’s movements, should he attempt to cross any part of his force by Cub Run Ford, between Colonel Cocke’s position at stone bridge and my own at Bull Run. Colonel Kirkland’s regiment was placed in my center, on the ground previously occupied by Colonel Kershaw. The enemy continued up to evening of the 20th to make some display of force in my front, but to what extent it was impossible to ascertain, as his force was under cover of the hills and woods. My command was kept on the alert, and my scouts and pickets kept careful watch on his movements, under the expectation that he was preparing to move directly on my position.

About 2.30 o’clock on the morning of the 21st Colonel Kirkland, field officer of the day for my command, a vigilant officer, came in from visiting his pickets beyond the run and informed me that he had heard the rumbling to my left front of artillery wagons. I directed him to renew his efforts to ascertain its character, and before daylight he confirmed his suspicions that it was the enemy in force, which I communicated to headquarters. I also sent across the run General McGowan, one of my volunteer aides, who brought me the same intelligence. I directed him to report to you in person, and crossing myself (it was now light) to the grove near Butler’s house, directly in my front, I perceived by my field-glass, dimly in the distance, the enemy in large force proceeding along the Warrenton turnpike towards the stone bridge, Colonel Cocke’s position. This fact I immediately communicated to headquarters, and directed my whole command to prepare for action, as I supposed the assault would be made early along our whole line.

Early in the morning the enemy’s fire was opened upon my position from the batteries in my front, throwing shot and shell from rifled cannon, and kept up until the afternoon, with occasional exchanges of small-arms between the advance troops. The distance was such that my own field pieces could do but little execution, and my fire was reserved for a closer encounter. My men occupied through the day the trenches under this pretty regular fire of shell and shot, exhibiting a coolness and steadiness worthy of veterans.

While standing a little after noon with General Johnston and yourself on Lookout Hill, in rear of my position, watching the progress of the engagement on my left, where the enemy’s chief force seemed to be concentrating, I received an order from yourself in person to detach to the support of our troops engaged on the left, two of my regiments, with one battery. I immediately sent forward Kershaw and Gash with Kemper’s battery.

Between 5 and 6 o’clock in the afternoon I received an order from General Johnston to move forward upon Centreville with most of my command and General Longstreet’s which order was at once obeyed. Before we had reached the position which the enemy had occupied in our front he abandoned his camp, with indications of a precipitate retreat. I continued the pursuit to near Centreville, when the enemy opened with his artillery upon the route of my column as indicated by the dust. Colonel Lay, with a small escort, having gone forward to make a reconnaissance, found his artillery and infantry drawn up on the hills between the run and Centreville, covering the approach to that place. I ordered my own infantry to deploy in the woods to the left of the road and General Longstreet’s to the right placing a battery of artillery in the road, and the cavalry in the rear, under cover.

By the time the deployment was completed it was dark. After the lapse of a half hour or more I moved the whole command to the run, to refresh themselves preparatory to executing such order as I might receive from you, reporting the fact to yourself at Manassas. During the night the enemy abandoned his position at Centreville. On the following morning I received an order to move forward with two regiments, some artillery and cavalry, to Centreville, where my command, during an incessant fall of rain, took possession of and collected together as far as practicable a large quantity of commissary supplies, tents, wagons, horses, with one piece of artillery, four caissons, and a large quantity of ammunition, and a number of prisoners, sending to Manassas all that could be forwarded that evening. The following day I was ordered to occupy Vienna.

I shall find it difficult to do justice to the fortitude, the patriotism, and the steady courage of the officers and men composing my command, through their hard labors of several weeks in the trenches at Fairfax Court-House; the falling back from that place to Bull Run, and their occupation of the trenches for four successive days through all changes of weather, much of the time without food, and entirely without covering, their readiness to meet the foe at any odds at Fairfax, and the willingness to encounter him at all times at Bull Run, command my highest admiration. To those gentlemen who belonged to my staff in South Carolina as the major-general of the South Carolina State troops, and who so promptly responded to the first call from the State of Virginia for assistance, at all times cheerfully rendering me every aid in their power in the organization of the troops which have been at different times under my command, coming with me to Manassas at the beginning of military operations in this quarter, and sustaining me under every trial and difficulty, I am much indebted. Col. W. C. Moragné, Maj. S. W. Nelson, and Maj. B. H. Whitner, of my regular staff, and Maj. E. Spann Hammond, of my volunteer staff, were called home by imperative duties previous to these operations. To Lieut. Col. W. D. Simpson, Lieut. Col. A. P. Aldrich, and Lieut. Col. James M. Lipscomb, of my regular staff, am I greatly indebted for most active and efficient services during the whole time of the operations of my command from the 17th to the 22d of July, inclusive, each executing every order delivered him with the utmost alacrity, and frequently under circumstances of peril. I am also indebted to Maj. Thomas J. Davies, of my regular staff’, and Maj. S. W. Melton, and Alfred Moss (the latter of Virginia), my volunteer aides, for similar active and efficient services; and to Major Melton I am further indebted for very valuable aid as military secretary. I am also much indebted to my volunteer aides, Majs. S. S. Tompkins, W. P. Butler; and M. B. Lipscomb, for valuable assistance in the performance of various duties connected with my command from the time they joined me at Centreville to the close of the operations. To General S. McGowan, volunteer aide, who also joined me at Centreville, I am under many obligations for his valuable assistance during the operations of my command from the 17th to the 21st, inclusive, under circumstances of peril and exposure.

I desire to mention in most favorable terms the valuable services of Col. George W. Lay, Virginia forces, who acted as my adjutant-general during the above-mentioned operations. To Capt. W. H. Stevens, of the Engineers, C. S. Army, am I greatly indebted for his indefatigable labors in putting Fairfax Court-House in a state of defense, and his constant attention to the execution of all Orders extended through him, both in camp and in the field. It is also proper to mention the valuable aid rendered Captain Stevens by General Johnson Hagood, of South Carolina; Professor Venable, of South Carolina College; and Mr. Nyllis, of the Eighth Regiment South Carolina Volunteers, as volunteer assistant engineer in the construction of the works at Fairfax Court-House. Of Captains Wickham, Ball, Powell, and Payne, and the officers and men of their commands, who have been with me from about the time of my arrival at Manassas early in May, I wish to make my acknowledgments for valuable and efficient services, at all times cheerfully rendered. I desire to make favorable mention also of Colonel Radford and his cavalry, who joined me at a late period, and who have ever promptly executed all my orders. Captain Kemper and the officers and men of his battery are deserving of my highest approbation. They were the first artillery to occupy Artillery Hill at Centreville under my orders. They have been kept steadily in the front, and have shown themselves worthy of the position and the great cause in which they are engaged. The distinguished parts performed by Colonels Kershaw and Cash and Captain Kemper, as also by Colonel Radford’s cavalry and the other troops of cavalry belonging to my command, was somewhat under your own observation on the 21st of July, and to their reports I respectfully refer. Col. J. L. Kemper, of the Seventh Regiment Virginia Volunteers, is entitled to my highest approbation, not only for his generous acceptance of the place of quartermaster with my advanced command, but also on account of his activity and efficiency as a member of my staff in carrying my orders on the 17th, as well as the 18th, at Bull Run. To Colonels Williams, Bacon, Kirkland, and Kelly, and Captain Shields, and the officers and men of their commands, I am also indebted for the promptness, cheerfulness, and energy with which they performed all the duties assigned to them; and I commend the entire command for the spirit and patriotism with which they performed all their duties. To Major Kennedy, commissary of my command, and Lieutenant Washington, assistant quartermaster, C. S. Army, am I also indebted for active and efficient services.

For more minute details of the operations of the different corps I respectfully refer to the reports of the commanders of those corps.

I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Brig. Gen., Comdg. First Brigade, First Corps, Army Potomac

Brig. Gen. G. T. BEAUREGARD,

Commanding First Corps, Army Potomac


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