#2 – Brig. Gen. Robert C. Schenck

11 12 2020

Report of Brig. Gen. Robert C. Schenck, U. S. Army. [On the Action at Vienna, June 17, 1861]

O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 2 [S# 2] — CHAPTER IX, pp 126-128

Left camp with 668 rank and file, 29 field and company officers, in pursuance of General McDowell’s orders, to go upon this expedition with the available force of one of my regiments, the regiment selected being the First Ohio Volunteers. Left two companies—Company I and Company K, aggregate 135 men—at the crossing of the roads. Sent Lieutenant-Colonel Parrott, with two companies, 117 men, to Falls Church, and to patrol roads in that direction. Stationed two companies—D and F, 135 men—to guard railroad and bridge between the crossing and Vienna. Proceeded slowly to Vienna with four companies—Company E, Captain Paddock; Company C, Lieutenant Woodward, afterwards joined by Captain Pease ; Company G, Captain Bailey ; Company H, Hazlett ; total, 271 men.

On turning the curve slowly, within one-quarter of a mile of Vienna, were fired upon by raking masked batteries of, I think, three guns, with shells, round-shot, and grape, killing and wounding the men on the platform and in the cars before the train could be stopped. When the train stopped, the engineer could not, on account of damage to some part of the running machinery, draw the train out of the fire, the engine being in the rear. We left the cars, and retired to right and left of train through the woods. Finding that the enemy’s batteries were sustained by what appeared about a regiment of infantry and by cavalry, which force we have since understood to have been some fifteen hundred South Carolinians, we fell back along the railroad, throwing out skirmishers on both flanks; and this was about 7 p. m. Thus we retired slowly, bearing off our wounded, five miles, to this point, which we reached at 10 o’clock.

Casualties.—Captain Hazlett’s company, H, 2 known to be killed, 3 wounded, 5 missing; Captain Bailey’s company, G, 3 killed, 2 wounded, 2 missing; Captain Paddock’s company, E, 1 officer slightly wounded; Captain Pease’s, 2 missing.

The engineer, when the men left the cars, instead of retiring slowly, as I ordered, detached his engine with one passenger car from the rest of the disabled train and abandoned us, running to Alexandria, and we have heard nothing from him since. Thus we were deprived of a rallying point, and of all means of conveying the wounded, who had to be carried on litters and in blankets. We wait here, holding the roads for reenforcements. The enemy did not pursue.

I have ascertained that the enemy’s force at Fairfax Court-House, four miles from Vienna, is now about four thousand.

When the batteries opened upon us, Major Hughes was at his station on the foremost platform car. Colonel McCook was with me in one of the passenger cars. Both these officers, with others of the commissioned officers and many of the men, behaved most coolly under this galling fire, which we could not return, and from batteries which we could not flank or turn from the nature of the ground, if my force had been sufficient. The approach to Vienna is through a deep, long cut in the railway. In leaving the cars, and before they could rally, many of my men lost haversacks or blankets, but brought off all their muskets, except, it may be, a few that were destroyed by the enemy’s first fire or lost with the killed.

ROBT. C. SCHENCK,
Brigadier- General.

[Received at the War Department June 18,1861.]

I am enabled now to give you additional and exact details of the affair near Vienna last evening. A perfectly reliable Union man, residing in Vienna, [and who] was there during the attack, has arrived, bringing with him, in patriotic and Christian kindness, the six bodies of our killed who were left behind. I have sent them to Camp Lincoln by the train which has just left for burial. He reports also one wounded man remaining at Vienna, John Volmer, of Company G, for whom I have just sent an assistant surgeon and two men with the same gentleman who brought the killed in his wagon, carrying a flag of truce, to be displayed if necessary. When the wounded man arrives I will send him forward by a train to my camp, to be conveyed from there to Georgetown Hospital by ambulance.

The casualties, as I now am able accurately to state them, are as follows:

Dead, 8.—Captain Hazlett’s: 1st, George Morrison, of Company H, brought in to-day. 2d, David Mercer, of same company, brought off the field to this place, and died here. 3d, Daniel Sullivan, of Captain Bailey’s company, G. 4th, Joseph Smith, Company G, brought in to-day. 5th, Philip Strade, Company G. 6th, Thomas Finton, Company G. 7th, Eugene Burke, Company G. 8th, J. R. T. Barnes, Company G, shot in the passenger car that was carried away from us by the engineer, and died on his way to this camp.

Wounded and yet living, 4.—1st, David Gates, Company G, dangerously. 2d, B. F. Lanman, Company G, severely, but not dangerously. 3d, Henry Pigman, Company H, dangerously. (Those three were sent to the hospital this morning.) 4th, John Volmer, Company G, supposed dangerously; yet at Vienna and sent for.

Total killed and wounded, 12. None, I believe, are now missing.

From the same reliable source I ascertain that the whole force attacking us was at least 2,000, as follows: South Carolina troops, 800; these had left Fairfax Court-House on Sunday and gone over to the railway; two [hundred] came down yesterday through Hunter’s Grove. They sent, anticipating our coming to Fairfax Court-House, for 2,000 additional infantry, of whom only from 600 to 1,000 arrived before the attack. The enemy had cavalry, numbering, it is believed, not less than 200, and, in addition to these, was a body of 150 armed picked negroes, who were posted nearest us in a grain field on our left flank, but not observed by us, as they lay flat in the grain and did not fire a gun. The enemy had three pieces of artillery, concealed by the curve of the railway as we passed out of the cut, and more pieces of ordnance—six, our informant believes—arrived on the field, but not in time for action. The three pieces thus placed were fired very rapidly; must have been managed by skillful artillerists; but I cannot learn who was in command of the enemy. Our men picked up and brought away several round and grape shot, besides two or three shells, which did not explode because the Borman fuse had not been cut. This raking fire was kept up against the cars and upon us as we retired through the woods and along each side of the railway. Its deadliest effect was on Company G, on the third platform car from the front, and on Company H, on the second platform car. Company E, on the foremost car, was not touched. The first firing raked the train diagonally with round shot; the other, before the train came to a full stop, was cross-firing with canister and shells through the hind cars. The pieces were at a distance of about 150 yards, and no muskets or rifles were brought into action.

The rebels must have believed that our number far exceeded the little force of 271, or else I cannot understand why they made no pursuit nor came out, as we could discover, from the rise of ground behind which they were posted with their overwhelming numbers.

The enemy’s whole force left Vienna last night between 10 and 12 o’clock; supposed to have gone to Fairfax Court-House. It is understood that there is a considerable force assembled at that point, but cannot ascertain how many. None of the bridges have been burned, nor the railway interfered with, between this point and Vienna since we came down the road.

I send this, as we remain at this point without other facilities for correspondence or writing except to communicate by the Army telegraph, and I trust you will accept it in place of a formal written report.

I am, just now ordered by Brigadier-General Tyler to move forward with my brigade in the direction of Falls Church, for which I am now getting in readiness. I have already spoken of the skill and coolness with which Colonel McCook and Major Hughes, with other officers, helped to conduct our retirement to this place. It was a very slow and painful march, carrying in the arms of the men and in blankets and on rude litters made by the way their wounded comrades. But I must not omit to mention others.

Adjt. J. S. Parrott, my aide, Lieutenant Raynor, and Surgeon McMallen gave effective assistance. The company officers who were under fire generally behaved with coolness and gallantry. Captain Pease, of Company C, especially distinguished himself in protecting our rear and flanks, and I warmly recommend him to favorable consideration. The non-commissioned officers and men generally also behaved extremely well on the march, as we retired along the road. Captain Crowe, with Company D, which was among those I had left as patrol guards on the railway as we passed up, came up handsomely at double-quick step to our support, and Lieut. Col. E. A. Parrott, with his detachment of two companies, which had been thrown out to Falls Church and on the roads in that neighborhood, hearing of the attack on our advance, hastened by a cross-road to the line of the railroad to join and give us any support required.

I have, in my former dispatch, mentioned the disregard of my instructions and cowardly desertion of us by the engineer of the train. His name, I understand, is Gregg. One of the brakemen, Dormin, joined us, and carried a musket and gave good help. The enemy, I learn, burned that part of the train which was abandoned by the engineer.

ROBT. C. SCHENCK,
Brigadier- General.





#19 – Brig. Gen. Robert C. Schenck

5 03 2008

 

Report of Brig. Gen. Robert C. Schenck, U.S. Army, Commanding Second Brigade, First Division

O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 2 [S# 2] — CHAPTER IX, pp 357-361

2D BRIG., 1st DIV., DEP’T NORTHEASTERN VIRGINIA,

July 23, 1861

GENERAL: I have the honor to submit this report of the movements and service of my brigade in the battle of Bull Run, on the Gainesville road, on the 21st instant:

Leaving my camp, one mile south of Centreville, at 2.30 a.m. of that day, I marched at the head of your division, as ordered, with my command in column, in the following order: The First Regiment of Ohio Volunteers, Colonel McCook; the Second Ohio, Lieutenant-Colonel Mason; the Second New York State Militia, Colonel Tompkins, and Captain Carlisle’s battery of light artillery, six brass guns. To Captain Carlisle’s command was also attached the large Parrott gun (30-pounder), under direction of Lieutenant Hains, of the Artillery Corps.

Proceeding slowly and carefully, preceded by five companies of skirmishers of the First and Second Ohio, which I threw out on either side of the road, we approached the bridge over Bull Run, beyond which the rebels were understood to be posted and intrenched, and to within a distance, perhaps, of three-fourths of a mile of their batteries on the other side of the stream. In obedience to your command, on first discovery of the presence of the enemy’s infantry forming into line on the hill-side beyond the Run, I deployed my three regiments of infantry to the left of the road, and formed them in line of battle in front of his right. Thus my command was constituted–the left wing of our division, Colonel Sherman’s brigade, coming up and taking position to the right of the road.

After the fire had been opened by discharge of the large Parrott gun from the center in the direction of the enemy’s work, I moved my extended line gradually forward at intervals, taking advantage of the ground, until I had my force sheltered partly in a hollow, covered by a ridge and wood in front, and partly by the edge of the timber lying between us and the run. Here we lay, in pursuance of your orders, for, perhaps, two and a half or three hours, with no evidence of our nearness to the enemy except the occasional firing of musketry by our skirmishers in the wood in front, answered by the muskets or rifles of the enemy, to whom our presence and position were thus indicated, with a view to distract his attention-from the approach of Colonel Hunter’s force from above and in his rear. At this time I received your notice and order announcing that Hunter was heard from, that he had crossed, and was coming down about two miles above us, and directing that if I saw any signs of a stampede of the enemy in front I should make a dash with the two Ohio regiments, keeping the New York regiment in reserve. For this movement I immediately formed and prepared. Soon after, and when, by the firing of artillery and musketry in front at the right, it appeared that the rebels were actively engaged in their position by our forces on the other side of the stream, I received your order to extend my line still farther to the left, sending forward Colonel McCook’s regiment to feel the battery of the enemy, which was ascertained to be on the hill covering the ford, half a mile below the bridge, and supporting him with my two other regiments. This was immediately done. Colonel McCook advanced in that direction along the road, which we found to be a narrow track through a pine wood, thick and close with undergrowth, and flanked on either side by ambuscades of brush-work, which were now, however, abandoned. Reaching the head of this narrow road where it opened upon the stream, Colonel McCook found the battery to be a strong earthwork immediately opposite, mounted with at least four heavy guns, and commanding the outlet from the wood. An open space of hollow ground lay between, with a corn-field to the left, the direct distance across to the enemy’s battery being about three hundred and fifty yards. Behind this battery, and supporting it, were discovered some four regiments of the rebel troops, while rifle-pits were seen directly in front of it. The First Regiment was then deployed to the left in the edge of the woods and into the corn-field, one company (Captain Kell’s) being thrown forward towards the run up to within perhaps twenty yards of the battery.

While this was done I advanced the Second Ohio, followed by the Second New York, toward the head of the road, in supporting distance from the First Ohio, Lieutenant-Colonel Mason’s regiment filing also to the left. Receiving Colonel McCook’s report of the battery, and that it would be impossible to turn it with any force we had, I immediately dispatched a message to the center to bring up some pieces of artillery, to engage the enemy from the head of the road. In the mean time the enemy, discovering our presence and position in the woods, and evidently having the exact range of the road we were occupying, opened on us with a heavy fire of shells and round and grape shot. To avoid the effect of this as much as possible, I ordered the men to fall back into the woods on each side of the road, and was presently re-enforced by two guns of Ayres’ battery, under Lieutenant Ransom, which passed to the head of the road. A brisk cannonading was then opened, but a very unequal one, on account of the superior force and metal of the enemy. While this continued, I left my horse and passed through the woods, and remained some time by our guns, to be satisfied whether we were making any impression on the enemy’s work. I soon found that it was not thus to be carried, and such also was the opinion of the officer in charge of the guns. Retiring, I found that the most of my two regiments in the rear had fallen back out of range of the hot and constant fire of the enemy’s cannon, against which they had nothing to oppose. The suffering from this fire was principally with the Second New York, as they were in the line where most of the shell and shots fell that passed over the heads of the Second Ohio.

Taking with me two companies of the Second Ohio, which were yet in the woods maintaining their position, I returned to cover, and brought away Ransom’s guns. It was just at this place and point of time that you visited yourself the position we were leaving. I must not omit to speak with commendation of the admirable manner in which these guns of ours were handled and served by the officers and men having them in charge; and I may notice the fact also that, as we were withdrawing from this point, we saw another heavy train of the enemy’s guns arrive and move up the stream on the other side of their battery with which we had been engaged along what we supposed to be the road from Manassas towards where the battle was raging with our troops on the right.

My three regiments being all called in, then returned and rested in good order at the center of the front, near the turnpike. Here I was informed by Colonel McCook that you had crossed the run above with other portions of our division, and left with him an order for me to remain with my infantry in that position supporting Carlisle’s battery, which was posted close to the road on the right. This was about 1 o’clock p.m. Captain Carlisle, while we thus rested, was playing with much apparent effect upon the enemy’s works across the run with his two rifled pieces, as was also Lieutenant Hains with the large Parrott gun. Soon after, having successive and cheering reports, confirmed by what we could observe, of the success of our Army on the other side of the run, I discovered that bodies of the enemy were in motion, probably retreating to their right. To scatter these and hasten their flight I ordered into the road toward the bridge the two rifled guns, and had several rounds fired, with manifest severe effect. This, however, drew from the enemy’s batteries again a warm and quick fire of shell and with rifled cannon on our position in the road, which continued afterwards and with little intermission, with loss of some lives again in my New York regiment, until the close of the fight.

While this was going on, Captain Alexander, of the Engineer Corps, brought up the company of pioneers and axmen, which, with its officers and sixty men, had been entirely detailed from the regiments of my brigade, to open a communication over the bridge and through the heavy abatis which obstructed the passage of troops on our front beyond the run. To support him while thus engaged, I brought and placed on the road towards the bridge McCook’s and Tompkins’ regiments, detailing also and sending forward to the bridge a company of the Second New Yorkers, to cover the rear while cutting through the enemy’s abatis. A second company from Lieutenant-Colonel Mason’s command was also brought forward with axes afterwards, to aid in clearing the obstructions, and thus in a short time Captain Alexander succeeded in opening a passage.

Captain Carlisle’s battery was now posted on the hill-side in the open field to the left of the road toward the bridge. Very soon after, some reverse of fortune appearing to have taken place with our troops on the other side, who were falling back up the run, it was discovered and reported to me that a large body of the enemy had passed over the stream below the bridge, and were advancing through a wood in the low grounds at our left, with an evident purpose to flank us. To intercept this movement, I ordered forward into the road still lower down two of Carlisle’s brass howitzers, a few rounds from which, quickly served, drove the rebels from the wood and back to the other side of the stream. It was not long after this that the unpleasant intelligence came of our Army being in retreat from the front across the ford above, and the order was given to fall back on Centreville. The retreat of my brigade, being now in the rear of our division, was conducted in the reverse order of our march in the morning, the Second New York moving first, and being followed by the Second Ohio and First Ohio, the two latter regiments preserving their lines in good degree, rallying together and arriving at Centreville with closed ranks, and sharing comparatively little in the panic which characterized so painfully that retreat, and which seemed to me to be occasioned more by the fears of frightened teamsters, and of hurrying and excited civilians (who ought never to have been there), than even by the needless disorder and want of discipline of straggling soldiers.

Near the house which was occupied as a hospital for the wounded, about a mile from the battle-ground, a dashing charge was made upon the retreating column by a body of secession cavalry, which was gallantly repelled, and principally by two companies of the Second Ohio, with loss on both sides. Here also, in this attack, occurred some of the casualties to the Second New York Regiment. From this point to Centreville a portion of the First Ohio was detailed, under command of Lieutenant-Colonel Parrott, and acted efficiently as a rear guard, covering the retreat.

Arrived at Centreville, I halted the two Ohio regiments on the hill, and proceeded to call on General McDowell, whom I found engaged in forming the reserve of the Army and other troops in line of battle to meet an expected attack that night of the enemy at that point. I offered him our services, premising, however, that unfed and weary troops, who had been seventeen hours on the march and battle-field, might not be very effective, unless it were to be posted as a reserve in case of later emergency. General McDowell directed me to take them to the foot of the hill, there to stop and encamp. This I did, establishing the two regiments together in the wood to the west of the turnpike. After resting here about two hours, I was notified that your division, with the rest of the forces under the general commanding, were leaving Centreville, and received your order to fall back on Washington. I took the route by Fairfax Court-House, and thence across to Vienna, arriving at the latter place at 3.30 a.m. of the 22d, and there resting the troops for two hours in an open field. During the march we did what was possible to cover the rear of the scattered column then on the road.

Two miles, or less, this side of Vienna, Colonel McCook, with the main body of his regiment, turned upon the road leading to the Chain Bridge over the Potomac, thinking it might be a better way, and at the same time afford by the presence of a large and organized body protection to any stragglers that might have taken that route. Lieutenant-Colonel Mason, with the Second Ohio, marched in by the way of Falls Church and Camp Upton.

The return of the Ohio regiments to Washington was made necessary by the fact that, their term of service having expired, they are at once to be sent home to be mustered out of service.

Not having been able to obtain yet complete or satisfactory returns of all the casualties in the battle in the different corps of my brigade, I shall reserve the list of them for a separate report, which I will furnish as soon as practicable.

I remain, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

ROBT. C. SCHENCK,

Brigadier-General

Brigadier-General TYLER,

Commanding First Division





Lt. Col. Thomas Ford Morris, 17th New York Infantry, On the Battle and Camp

7 01 2021

THE BATTLE OF BULL RUN, FROM AN EYE-WITNESS

Camp Lorrilard, July 22.

I was an eye-witness of the battle at Bull Run yesterday. The 17th were not in the action, but thinking there would be a brush, I with one of our Captains, Bartram, left our camp early Sunday morning. We met with no adventure, and on arriving on the heights near Centreville, heard heavy guns and saw the smoke. We pushed on rapidly for two or three miles, and found ourselves at the head of the centre division under General Schenck. The men in this command appeared demoralized and under great excitement. On inquiring the cause, I learned that their General had led them on a concealed battery, and that they had been considerably cut up; we had evidence of this in the numbers brought into hospital. I obtained a good position on rising ground, and for three or four hours watched the progress of the battle made by the division on our right, Hunter’s. It was a magnificent sight, and cannot be forgotten. Our men were perfect heroes, and I would have had the world see their bayonet charges, forcing the enemy back, and still rallying in to drive them farther back. Our men were perfect heroes, and I would have had the world see their bayonet charge, forcing the enemy back, and still rallying to drive then farther back. I was within 200 yards of one of our 32 pounder rifled canon, and when the enemy came out in any considerable force on the hill opposite, this gun would drop a shell among them, that would scatter them like sheep. The captain and myself were obliged to go back near Centerville to get waster, as the wells were guarded to keep the water for the wounded. We had just obtained water, and about giving some to our horses, when a stampede took place, soldiers, ambulances, horsemen, and representing two regiments. I determined to rally them, and no circus rider ever mounted quicker. The captain and I rushed in front of the frenzied multitude, and called out to them to rally, which had no effect. I drew a pistol, and shouted I would shoot every man who attempted to pass me, that there they must stand. I succeeded beyond my hopes, and forming them in line, marched them back to their command, Gen. Schenck. Both of these regiments had lost their Colonels, one killed and one carried off wounded. We returned to the battle field, and just as one of the divisions made an advance, throwing out artillery on the open field, where it was soon at work splendidly. At this time a message came from Gen. McDowell saying the enemy were in full retreat. This was enough glory, and I determined to go back to our camp with news of victory. We had gone but a mile when we stopped by the roadside to eat lunch, and unbridled our horses that they might graze, when lo’! the whole of our force were in retreat. I supposed the enemy were closing, and as my horse is hart to bridle at all times, I thought I should be taken, and ordered the captain to return to our camp. It was a perfect pout, and I hope I many never witness anything like it again. Wagons, ambulances, guns, men mounted and dismounted. It was utterly impossible to stop the current. Officers were powerless, and until they reached Centreville, where the reserve under General Miles were drawn up, there was no order. The most of the regiments made a stand, but the two I rallied in the morning (if by any means they could reach the Potomac) never wou’d stop running till they got home. I remained at Centreville until there was comparative quiet, owing to the knowledge that there was no enemy chasing, when I started for camp, and arrived at 1 a.m., on the 22d.

July 26th.

Our regiment is now inside Fort Ellsworth, our pleasant camp (Lorrilard) in the grove on the hillside, had to be given up with its cool breezes and delightful shade, and we are now sweltering in the sun. Our men are continually employed shifting and mounting guns, and cutting down trees that obstruct the range of those already mounted. On a hill near us a body of sailors from the navy yard at Washington, are throwing up a battery, and altogether we have busy times. If the enemy had pursued our retreating columns, they would have taken thousands of prisoners, and all the fortifications on this side of the river, would have been in their hands now. To be sure, we determined to hold this place to the last, but with the force they could bring, we could not have kept them out 12 hours. The 17th would have been annihilated, there was no retreat for us and we knew it. Now it is utterly impossible for them to hurt us. They will approach no nearer than Fairfax. We can whip them in open field, I think, three to one. Their strength lies in batteries, and they are terrible. We have tried them now, and hereafter will fight cannon with cannon; there will be no more sending men to be cut down without being able to effect anything.

July 29th.

A week has passed and no attack had been made upon us, and probably none anticipated. What an error the rebels had made in not following up their advantage. Our men have worked very hard the past week; wheeling dirt for gun platforms, building the same, and mounting guns. We feel secure against any force the enemy can bring against us.

President Lincoln, Mr. Seward and General McDowell paid us a visit a few days since. I was in command, and had the pleasure of receiving them. I had a long chat with Mr. Lincoln who inquired into many details of the battle, &c. He is very affable. Yesterday we had a visit from Gens. McClellan and McDowell with their staff officers, some twenty or thirty in all. I was delighted with Gen. McClellan; he is very unassuming in his manners, but there is a same about him I like. He is the General for me, and I think, the man of the day.

T. F. Morris,
Lt.-Col. 17th Regt., N. Y. V.

Yonkers (New York) Examiner, 8/8/1861

Clipping image

Contributed by John J. Hennessy

17th New York Infantry Roster

Thomas Ford Morris at Fold3

Thomas Ford Morris at FindAGrave





#1 – Brig. Gen. Irvin McDowell

11 12 2020

Report of Brig. Gen. Irvin McDowell, U. S. Army. [On the Action at Vienna, June 17, 1861]

O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 2 [S# 2] — CHAPTER IX, pp 124-125

Headquarters Department Northeastern Virginia,
Arlington, June 18, 1861.

I have the honor to inclose a copy of my written instructions to General Schenck, under which his movement was made yesterday afternoon. The point to which it was intended the regiment should go by train, and establish itself for the twenty-four hours, had been occupied, for the day before, by the Sixty-ninth New York Regiment, under Colonel Hunter, commanding the brigade. The latter regiment had been sent there, on the return of General Tyler from his reconnaissance up the road, as an advance guard and a protection to the road, which had been repaired in anticipation of the demonstration I was to make on the notification of the General-in-Chief in favor of the attack on Harper’s Ferry. It is said the attack on the Ohio regiment was made by the South Carolinians. If so, they must have been moved forward from Centreville, where they have been stationed for some time past. This would seem to indicate that the reports of an advance of troops to their posts in front of this position are well founded. I have asked if it would accord with the plans of the General-in-Chief that a movement be made in force in the direction of Vienna, near which the attack was made. I learn from a reliable source that the force at Fairfax Court-House has been increased. Had the attack not been made, I would not suggest this advance at this time; but now that it has, I think it would not be well for us to seem even to withdraw. General Schenck applies for permission to send a flag of truce to Vienna to bury his dead and care for his wounded. I do not think this necessary for either purpose, but think the morale of the troops would be increased if they went over the ground again with arms in their hands. The distance by turnpike from Falls Church to Vienna is about six miles.

General Tyler, who is in advance, sends me word that he sees the country as far as Falls Church. No signs of any movement. He wants no more troops than he has, unless it is intended to hold permanently the position he occupies.

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

Irvin McDowell,
Brigadier General, Commanding.

Lieut. Col. E. D. Townsend,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Headquarters Army, Washington.

[Inclosure.]

Headquarters Department Northeastern Virginia,
Arlington, June 17, 1861.

Brigadier-General Schenck, Commanding Ohio Brigade:

Sir: The general commanding directs that you send one of the regiments of your command, on a train of cars, up the Loudoun and Hampshire Railroad to the point where it crosses the wagon-road running from Fort Corcoran, opposite Georgetown, southerly into Virginia.

The regiment, being established at that point, will, by suitable patrols, feel the way along the road towards Falls Church and Vienna, moving, however, with caution, and making it a special duty to guard effectually the railroad bridges and to look to the track. The regiment will go supplied for a tour of duty of twenty-four hours, and will move on the arrival at your camp of a train of cars ordered for that purpose, and will relieve all the troops of Colonel Hunter’s brigade now guarding the line.

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

JAMES B. FRY,
Assistant Adjutant-General.





McDowell and Army Headquarters Discuss the Reconnaissance to Vienna

21 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, p. 700

June 18,1861—1.35 a. m.

Brigadier-General Schenck: It is not intended you shall attempt to carry the position at Vienna.

Colonel Corcoran, with four companies, and Brigadier-General Tyler, with part of his brigade, will soon be with you.

Get your wounded attended to, and as soon as General Tyler arrives let them go down by the first train he may send.

Let me know when Colonel Corcoran and General Tyler arrive.

Let me have report early to-morrow morning.

IRVIN MCDOWELL,
Brigadier- General.


Arlington, June 18, 1861—5.20 a. m.

Lieut. Col. E. D. Townsend:

Will it accord with the plans of the General-in-Chief that a movement be made in force in the direction of Vienna, near which the attack was made on the Ohio regiment?

IRVIN MCDOWELL,
Brigadier- General.


Washington, June 18, 1861—6.30 a. m.

General McDowell, Arlington:

The General-in-Chief says do not make a movement in the direction of Vienna which is not necessary to bring General Schenck back to his camp.

E. D. TOWNSEND,
Assistant Adjutant-General.





“Pequot,” 2nd New York State Militia, On the Campaign

27 06 2020

Letter from Washington – The Great Battle Near Manassas.

Camp Powell (2d Reg’t N. Y. S. M.)
Washington, July 29, 1861.

Friend Irish: – You have probably heard or read so many statements in regard to the great battle at Bull (or Bloody) Run, that perhaps it is rather late for me to give my version of it, but as every one who participated has an experience to relate, I will give you mine, and as our regiment was in the same division and near the Connecticut boys throughout the eventful day, it may be of some interest. – Our march from our old encampment at Ball’s Cross Road to Vienna, and from thence to Fairfax and Centreville is what every correspondent has pictured. It was a very slow movement, owing to the many obstructions on the road. We came upon half made forts and entrenchments, abandoned camps with the food still cooking, and camp utensils lying about in confusion, and we flattered ourselves that the enemy were cowards and would not show fight. The sequel proved they were too sharp for us, and this apparent hasty retreat was only a bait to draw us still further into the trap.

We came before Centreville on Thursday, and with twenty thousand more Union troops rested on a hill-side all day, while less than three thousand men of Col. Richardson’ brigade were getting badly cut up by the Rebels at Bull’s Run, on the southern road. Just before sundown we were ordered up the hill and started at double quick, all “spoiling for a fight” and eager to avenge the slaughter of our brave friends of the N. York 12th Reg’t with whom we were neighbors for a long time in camp, but when we arrived in the town we found we were to take position on the northern road leading to Manassas, by the way of Gainesville, and about a mile from the battle field of that day. We bivouacked in a large field of oats, without any tents or protection from sun or rain, and worse than this, with half rations, (only one meal a day) until Sunday morning. The country seemed to have been cleared of everything eatable or drinkable, except a little stream near us called Rocky Run, and with hard bread (or iron crackers as the boys call them) and water, we were compelled to content ourselves. Hunger will make men desperate, and not withstanding the strict orders of Gen. McDowell, sundry cattle, sheep, chickens, pigs, &c, did disappear from the neighboring fields, and no one could account for them. We were ordered when starting, each man to take only his musket, canteen, one blanket and three day’s cooked rations. In this country, marching under a burning sun, no man can carry food enough for three days in addition to musket, blanket and a quart canteen of water, consequently much was thrown aside, and some water. Not until Saturday evening – four and a half day’s in all – did we see any thing more furnished by our venerated Uncle Samuel. Saturday noon we were informed by our brigade Quartermaster that we would be immediately served with rations for three day, which we must cook and pack to be ready for a march forward (and a probable fight) at 6 o’clock that evening. The order was a afterward countermanded, because we did not receive provisions until 6 o’clock, and then we had no utensils to cook with. But the junk beef, bacon, &c., was cut up and packed raw, coffee was made in our drinking cups, and agreeably with new orders we marched silently out into the road at about 2 ½ o’clock A. M. It was a bright moonlight night, and as we filed up the hill we could look back for a couple of miles and see the ten thousand bayonets of our division, with Col. Hunter’s division following. It was a splendid sight, and it was enough to inspire the weakest soul to see so many keeping step to the music of the Union; but with it came the sad reflection that so many of these brave soldiers would, never return. The truth is the officers on our side went into the fight with no confidence whatever in the result, but were careful not to say so to the men under their command. Most of the officers in our brigade at least, expected to be badly whipped, for an army never went into the field in worse condition for a successful fight. One trouble was our empty stomachs, and this probably influenced the result of the battle as much as any one thing except bad generalship. Our brigade was commanded by Gen. Schenck, and consisted of the 1st and 2d regiments of Ohio Volunteers, 2d regiment N. Y. S. M., and Carlisle’s battery of 2d artillery, – in all about twenty-five hundred men, and we were the advance of the army. About two miles from our starting point we were deployed into the woods n our left in line of battle, and advanced in this way, preceded by skirmishers for about two miles, occasionally getting a sight of a rebel picket running from us. In our rear were the 69th N. York, the 1st, 2d and 3d Conn, while the 2d Wisconsin was thrown into the woods on the right of the road. We were on what is called the Warrentown turnpike, a northern road to Manassas, and about two miles north of the battle ground of Thursday, but on the same creek or run. Col. Hunter’s division, consisting of the N. Y. 71st regiment, the two Rhode Island regiments, and others, took a side road, taking them still farther north so as to come round and attack the enemy on the flank, for we had ascertained that they were intrenched on the opposite side of the creek. The battle was commenced by shots from our long Parrott gun which throws 32 lb balls and shells. We were ordered to lie in the woods out of range or fire, and to be ready for a charge. About 10 o’clock we were ordered to advance into a pine grove, but o getting into it by a nice little road evidently cut for us (as we afterward ascertained) we were met by a tremendous discharge from a four gun masked battery, which we could feel but not see. It was barely two hundred yards from us, and we could distinctly hear their officers giving orders and cursing the damned Yankees! The fire was terrible, and we lost eight or ten men killed and as many wounded within fifteen minutes. This was all bourne by our 2d N. Y. regiment (the Ohio boys having gone forward to try and take the battery) and the General seeing that by remaining we must be cut to pieces, ordered us to retire. The sensation of lying flat on the ground to avoid a shower of shot, shell and canister cutting through the trees about breast high, is anything but pleasant, although very exciting. The third shot killed one of our lieutenants and a poor drummer boy, whose scream of agony as the shell tore him in pieces still rings in my ears. The men were firm and did not flinch, and I think exhibited other qualities surpassing courage, that of endurance, for they lay down expecting a death shot every instant, and remained there until ordered to retire. The wounds our men received in the woods at this time were of a very severe kind, caused mostly by shell and rape shot. I had a very narrow escape while sitting in a group of four; one of them received a grape shot through the shoulder and breast, and another, one through the leg and ankle, the third had his hat cut into fragments, while your humble servant was untouched, save by the branches and splinters of a little tree which stood beside us. While we were out of the fight I crossed the road and witnessed the operation of the big gun, noting the effects of the shot upon the enemy’s entrenchments. From the top of the high hill I could see the whole battle field at a glance. The valley was full of our men, all pushing forward attacking batteries on the opposite bank of the river, and Hunter’s division, on the extreme north, were doing some tall firing, though a full view of their operations was obstructed by the woods. Long clouds of dust are seen to arise from the roads leading from Manassas, as well as from Winchester, and with a good glass it could be seen that a steady stream of reinforcements was pouring in to the aid of the enemy. The battle was now hotly contested and for about two hours the volleys of musketry were incessant – one long roll of firing broke in upon only by the thundering notes of the heavy cannon. Just then we were ordered into the woods to support a portion of Sherman’s battery, which endeavored to silence the saucy little masked battery just opposite. After a brisk firing of fifteen minutes our battery was forced to retire, having lost half of its men and horses. The General who ordered us in to the wood to support the battery, forgot to order us out, after the battery was withdrawn, and but for our commander taking the responsibility, ten minutes longer would have finished our regiment. As we came up into the road again we met the three Connecticut regiments going down into the fight. They were full of pluck and anxious for a chance at the enemy.

At 3 o’clock we were ordered to take a new position down the road in full view of all the enemy’s batteries, ostensibly to support a battery of two guns, but in reality to draw the fire from our enemy’s batteries so our storming parties could have a better chance of success. The tow Ohio regiments were somewhat sheltered by a cleft in the road, but ours was terribly exposed. Grape shot, shell, round shot and canister were rained upon us without mercy. Great gaps appeared in our ranks caused by three missiles; four of our men were torn in pieces and as many wounded by the explosion of a single shell! Grape and round shot struck all around in front and behind us; in fact we seemed to be a target for two batteries, and how any of us came out alive from such an infernal cross-fire no man can tell. But flesh and blood could not stand it and we were ordered out of fire again. Up to this time we had not an opportunity to fire a single musket. We now began to see stragglers come up the hill from the battle, and by half past four the remains of the different regiments commenced filing past us in retreat. We saw the 69th with the brave Col. Corcoran at the head looking sad enough. He said he thought 500 of his boys were missing. Our regiment with the three Connecticut regiments were posted along the road covering the retreat, when suddenly above us a terrible panic was created by a charge of cavalry which had outflanked our lines, and came along the road sabreing and shooting every body. We tried to rally, and did give them a good many shots, but were obliged to retire into the woods followed by the troopers. Here legs did their duty, and a good pair saved one life as I can testify. Picking up a loaded rifle laid beside a dead secessionist, your friend took careful aim at the waist belt of one of the troopers and pulled the trigger, and it is a matter of firm belief with the undersigned that the said trooper will ever make another charge. (The rifle was covered with secession blood when I took it, but I have had it carefully cleaned and will send it to you as a souvenir. I took it from a dead Georgian. His revolver I have also, which I retain for future operations.) After our run from the cavalry we cleared a high fence and came upon an open field. We saw the Zouaves running a mile ahead of us, pursued in some cases by the horsemen. I first saw Col. Terry with the Connecticut Second emerging from the woods, and joined him with a number of our men, and shortly our men headed by our Lieut. Col. came out with both colors flying (state and national.) which were received with cheers. The 1st Conn. came out headed by Col. Burnham, and we formed in three lines of battle and marched in good order to Centreville.

The road to Centreville was a scene of the wildest confusion and disorder. Baggage and ammunition wagons loaded, were thrown over the embankments; ambulances filled with wounded soldiers were pushed aside, heavy pieces of artillery were lying by the road, the gunners having cut loose the horses and ridden them away, and the ground was covered with muskets, knapsacks, haversacks, blankets, canteens, &c. The rout was complete, and all discipline was lost. Every impediment to flight was cast aside, and it was every man for himself.

Our brigade attempted to rally at Centreville protected by the skirmishers of Col. Mile’s division (who although armed with Enfield rifles had acted as a reserve all day, while those in the hottest of the fight had nothing but smooth bore muskets,) but our General was missing, and we had no other alternative but to continue our retreat. When we arrived at Fairfax Court House our body of fugitives numbered about three thousand and was constantly increasing. We took a different route and I arrived at camp between two and three o’clock a. m. Provisions were immediately cooked for our famished men, who after being somewhat refreshed were ordered to march to the city the same day in the midst of a pouring rain.

We are now located in a camp at 7th st, about two miles from Pennsylvania Avenue, and the 2nd and 3d Connecticut regiments are within a stones throw of us. There are some twenty thousand troops in camp here, within two miles of us. I see Capt. Chapman daily, he is well and his company also.

We find in footing up our losses (2nd reg.) that we have 23 killed, 25 wounded and 17 prisoners, and about 100 missing – among the killed are our Surgeon and 2 first lieutenants, our two assistant Surgeons are prisoners. The soldiers bestow great blame on General Tyler, who may be brave but certainly lacks judgement and places little value on the lives of his command. A captain of the 2nd informs me that in the retreat the General threw away his sword – travelled off as fast as his horse could carry him. Certain it is, (for I saw it myself,) the cavalry and artillery of the regular U. S. Army was the first and foremost in the retreat. Gen. Miles commanding the reserve is said to have been beastly drunk all day. He is under arrest. This battle learned us all a lesson – that we have underrated the means and spirit of the south; that we went into battle without the precautions for a safe retreat if repulsed, which is quite as likely to be necessary as preparations for advancing; also the bad policy of sending half starved and exhausted soldiers into a battle under leaders in whom they have no confidence. I deeply regret that the most unpopular general officer in this locality is from Connecticut, and bitter threats are made against him for the failure of the battle on the 21st.

But I see I have spun this out to an unendurable length and it will tire you to read it. The story could be condensed in a few words, ”We went, we saw, and we were badly beaten.”

Pequot.

New London (CT) Weekly Chronicle, 8/8/1861

Clipping image

Contributed by John Hennessy

82nd New York Infantry Roster (the 2nd NYSM became the 82nd NYVI)





Private, Co. A*, 1st Minnesota Infantry, On the Battle and Retreat

13 03 2020

Our War Correspondence.
———————–
March To the Battle Field – The Battle – Dreadful Scenes – Behavior of Col. Gorman and Lieut. Col. Miller – Defence of the Regiment, &c. &c.
———————–
From our Regular Correspondent.

Camp Gorman, Alexandria,
July 23, 1861.

I returned here last night with sore feet, lame limbs, wet through, indescribably exhausted, and a heart beating with rapid pulsations for our losses and reverses in the battle at Bull’s Run. Partaking of refreshments at the hands of our colored cook, we retired to rest, and this is the first opportunity I have had to address you a faint description of the scenes of terror through which we have passed.

I will begin with the beginning. On Saturday last we were all encamped at Centreville, and at noon we had orders to prepare for march at 6 P.M. At this hour we had our three days’ rations in our haversacks, our muskets discharged and reloaded, and standing in our ranks, when the orders were countermanded so far as to extend the time till 2 o’clock next morning, when after a good rest we rose and accoutered and quipped as usual for march.

The morning was bright and the moon cast its silvery rays over a beautiful landscape; the atmosphere cool and pleasant, and every thing around us calculated to make us buoyant and hopeful. The column formed in line and passing through Centreville, and we were at once upon our march for the battle field. The sun rose on Sunday in all its glory, and all nature, as we progressed through woodland and fields, seemed aglow with fragrance and beauty.

On arriving into an open field, the occasional reports of artillery which we had heard at intervals grew louder and more frequent; and in the distance we descried the smoke that arose from the battle field. Here we halted a little to fill our canteens with water – a highly commendable move as the day grew hot and sultry. Here we shook hands with some of the Company “C” Second Infantry Regulars, which we relieved at Fort Ripley just as they were about to proceed in advance to the battle field, then three miles distant. Instantly we were again ordered to fall in, and in quick and double quick time, under the burning rays of a July sun, over a rough rocky road, over hills and through valleys, we approached the battle field, the roar of artillery and musketry growing louder and louder every moment. We were first brought into a field in the rear of the battle, and afterwards under the lead of Col. Heintzelman brought right up into the battle, passing regiment after regiment, or rather remnants of them, after they were cut up under the destructive fire of the enemy; and as we passed along the edge of the hill where the battle had for hours been raging with fury, and cannon balls and shells still scattered about, we saw the field covered with dead horses, and men carrying away the dead, dying and wounded. It was a terrible sight to see, but at that time it made little or no impression on us. Our brigade was marched over a little hill, where we were formed into a line of battle, our regiment on the extreme right, and the Fire Zouaves on our left, with Rickett’s battery in the centre. Here the battle raged with fury for upwards of two hours, in the course of which two other regiments were brought to our aid; but the once retreating enemy was reinforced with fifteen thousand of a reserve force, and they became to formidable for our shattered ranks. Yet our brave men did not yield before an aid of General Heintzelman came up to order us to retreat into the woods, with the words, “Why do you stand there to be slaughtered by the enemy?” Simultaneously with our retreat the whole column began to move to the rear, and a precipitous retreat of an unorganized army was the result, the enemy pursuing to harass us in the rear. Rickett’s battery was left on the battle field. The sight that met every eye for a moment, when retreating down the hill, miraculously escaping from the stream of musketry, artillery and shells, which formed the parting salute from the enemy, was horrible beyond description. There lay the dead, riddled with musket balls, in every conceivable condition, some with the skull pierced and brains scattered on the ground; others severed in pieces with cannon balls, and the wounded and dying suffering intense agonies, who called in vain for succor from those who could but save themselves by flight. It was a sad picture, and will carry sadness and sorrow to the hearts and homes of thousands throughout the North, who have lost a father, a son, a husband, a brother or a friend, at the battle of Bull’s Run.

In the rear of the battle field the woods and fields were strewed with knapsacks, haversacks, blankets and other garments, thrown aside in the hurried march into the battle and in the hasty retreat. Broken wagons, provisions, and implements of war lined the road from Bull’s Run to Alexandria – a distance of forty or fifty miles. Boxes of crackers, barrels of bacon and other provisions, and useless garments thrown off to facilitate the hasty retreat of an army of exhausted and fatigued men, will furnish the colored population along the line – who were busily appropriating them to their own use – clothing and provision for years, while the Federal Treasury will lose thousands.

Two miles beyond Centreville the retreating column was again thrown into confusion by shells falling into their midst, and the artillery and cavalry accelerating their speed, heedlessly rushed through, and no doubt over, our own men – leaving a cloud of dust to mark their rapid progress. Our column scattered again into the woods, and an engagement took place with our rear, which lasted but a short time, and resulted in the death of one man on our side. The enemy did not pursue us farther, as we ascertained next morning after passing this night in the woods. The main body marched on and halted at their encampments in and around Centreville for a couple of hours. Here Col. Gorman was seen for the first time after marching us into the battle field, his boasted bravery not being observed by any one – and his voice, so bold and commanding on dress parade, was either drowned in the roar and noise of the battle field, or else he must have kept himself at a safe distance. I have good authority for this statement – authority that can be substantiated by evidence. Lieut. Col. Miller, however, was very active in rallying us, pointing to the Stars and Stripes, and calling on us to justify the fond expectations which Minnesotians have placed in our Regiment. He was in the thickest of the fight, and Minnesota should justly acknowledge his bravery.

After a lapse of about two hours, the retreating column again took up the line of march through Fairfax to their former encampments in Alexandria and Georgetown. A part of our regiment is encamped in Washington. Most of those who were left exhausted along the line, have come here. Stragglers will continue to come in – yesterday quite a number arrived. I learn that four hundred fo the Minnesota First are encamped at Washington. A few of our men are in the Alexandria Hospital. It is impossible to give you any reliable information as to the number of our dead and wounded, as yet; but as soon as I can ascertain it, to any degree of certainty, the statistics shall be immediately forwarded to you.

The telegraph makes some disparaging and unjust statements about our regiment, which I presume some reporter innocently made up from unreliable camp rumors – which are as numerous as they are unreliable. Thus I find in this morning’s Baltimore Clipper the following;

The panic was commenced in a light battery commanded by a fat lieutenant. He was porceeding under orders to flank one of the enemy’s batteries, when a detachment of their cavalry made a dash at them. Instead of unlimbering and essaying to receive the charge with grape or canister, he turned and instantly fled, leaving two of the pieces on the field.

The Second Connecticut and the Minnesota (of Gen. Schenck’s brigade, which were exposed to the fire of the battery which the fat lieutenant had started to flank) then broke and run into the bushes. Instantaneously it seemed that the panic was communicated in all directions.

The above is but a conctanation of misstatements. The first statement about the battery is an evident absurdity. Of the “fat lieutenant” was not “unlimbering to receive the charge with grape or canister,” how could he “leave two pieces on the field.” Secondly, the Minnesota regiment does not belong to Gen. Schenck’s brigade, and we did not “break and run into the bushes” before the proper order was communicated through the proper officers, and then simultaneously with the Fire Zouaves (who always receive so much praise) and the whole column. It is a base slander on the Minnesota First, every man of which fought side by side with the Zouaves, whose bravery is universally acknowledged.

According to the telegraph reports, the enemy’s force at Bull’s Run ws 120,000, while ours is set down at 25,000, which latter number is by many considered exaggerated. I learned from some volunteers who formed the reserve force that there were a number of regiments not called into the field at all; and when taken into consideration that the enemy had the advantages of strong fortifications and masked batteries, acting as they did on the defensive, how could we look for any other result than a disgraceful rout, acting as we did on the aggressive.

There is considerable talk among the boys of trophies taken during the engagement, while some have taken prisoners, some secession flags, some pistols, revolvers and other implements of war, &c., &c.

Considerable excitement exists among the soldiers and others as to the probable attack on Washington, or retaking Alexandria, but I rather think the enemy will have enough to do to bury their dead and nurse their wounded. If they had not force enough to send out from Bull’s Run to head us off our retreat, how could they dare an attempt on the offensive when their policy this far has been on the defensive? We are safe enough here; and the movement to concentrate troops at Washington and on the Potomac is only to organize a strong force for another advance on the rebels.

Later – July 24th. – Mail facilities were cut off to Alexandria yesterday, and I send by a messenger to day. We are ordered to Washington to day, and once there with our regiment, I shall collect further details for you. Captain Wilkin is with us. He estimates the killed and wounded of the company at twenty.

Private.

(St. Paul, MN) Weekly Pioneer and Democrat, 8/9/1861

Clipping Image

Contributed by John Hennessy

* Captain Alexander Wilkin, mentioned in the last paragraph, was in command of Co. A of St. Paul, and so the letter writer is assumed to be a member of that company.





Capt. Adolph Nolte, Co. C, 13th New York Infantry, On the March and Blackburn’s Ford

18 03 2019

WAR CORRESPONDENCE.
———-
The March from Camp Union, and the Battle of Thursday

Camp near Centreville,
July 20, 1861.

I wrote in my last that we left Camp Union on the 16th. The columns started at 2 P.M., during the greatest heat, and marched through a dense forest, that was interrupted only by a few farms, towards Vienna, where, as is well known, Gen. Schenck attacked a masked battery with a locomotive.

We encamped with our tents in a swampy meadow ground, and at 6 o’clock next morning started again. Our march was a very difficult and tiring one. Artillery, baggage, cavalry and infantry crowded each other in a miserably narrow and rough forest road, which was seldom wide enough for two wagons to pass each other. Every moment the column halted. They had to stop and start again on a trot, stop again, and then march for miles in the greatest heat of the sun without a drop of water. The march was executed without the least regard for the men. Where there was water, we passed by. – Where there was none, we halted for hours in the most burning heat. If a well or spring was found at a little distance from the road, they said there was no time to bring water, and when (???) an hour in the burning heat.

During the march we were informed that Fairfax Court House had been evacuated, and accordingly our column passed along more to the right on the direct road to Manassas Junction. – In the afternoon we passed a rebel intrenchment which had been abandoned. The wood was blocked up at several places, with fallen trees, and their removal took considerable time. Towards evening we passed a place of about 20 houses, from which all the inhabitants had left. Only a few negroes remained. It seems as if the inhabitants had left in the greatest haste, and detachments of the 79th regiment began knocking to pieces everything left, and finally set fire to a house, which burned down.

On the approach of night, we came to a place where, on the very same day, the rebel troops had been encamped. We found their fires still burning. That day we had gone at least 16 miles. In the greatest heat and heavily loaded, and we threw ourselves, completely tired, upon the ground. In the same night we were twice started up by false alarms. The next morning we marched upon Centreville, which is situated about seven miles from Manassas Junction. Before Centreville we found some intrenchments abandoned by the rebels. Most of the inhabitants had left the place, and nothing was to be got there. Even the pump handles had been removed from the pumps.

At the head of the column marched a Wisconsin and the 12th Syracuse regiments. The latter came out from the forest about a mile and a half from Centreville upon a plateau, which formed a hill towards the opposite forest. It as suddenly saluted with a hail of canister and musket balls, which, from a masked battery and position, fell suddenly upon them. In spite of the experience of Bethel and Vienna, our Syracuse friends had unheedingly fallen upon the enemy’s cannons and muskets. The command was given to advance in battle order. The regiment formed with difficulty and advance, but when it had come to within fifty paces of the enemy’s position it was received with such a shower of canister and musket balls that it dispersed in all directions. They scattered through the whole forest, and five hours later, when we met with the rest of the regiment, there were not 200 men together.

One will ask now, why was not this attack supported? The answer is, because the brigades which followed were nearly three miles be[hind?].

After the Syracuse regiment had been repulsed a light battery was pushed forward to disperse the enemy’s artillery.

Our regiment, with the rest of those that constituted the brigade, lay about three miles behind the scene of action. We heard the cannon fire for nearly two hours until about 2 o’clock we received orders to advance. We advanced by way of Centreville and then we marched in quick and double quick time for two miles upon a narrow path through the dense forest. The heat was horrible and the dust was so that we nearly suffocated. I washed my mouth several times with a draught from my canteen, and from the pap that I spit out, one might have baked together a whole German Principality. When we arrived at the border of the forest, before which our guns operated, our regiment was placed to right and left of the road in the wood to await further orders. We were about 20 paces from the border of the forest. The cannonading was redoubled and ball from 6 and 12 pounders and cannister, whizzed like hail over our heads and struck the ground a few paces behind us. The cannonading kept up about an hour, more or less. Take it all in all, our men behaved well under their first baptism of fire. – We lay flat on the ground. When the first balls struck the branches and trees above our heads, it is true that several polite bows were made to these coarse fellows. Once when a charge of cannister whizzed over the heads of the middle division, about half a dozen tried to fall back in the rear. But half a score [?] brought them back immediately into line. Several of the men made curious faces behind the trees, but most made fun of it; and more quietness and indifference was shown than could be expected from green troops. In this position, in which we received all the balls that were intended for our artillery, which was placed on the border of the forest, we remained for more than an hour. In vain we hoped for an order to advance and try our Remington Rifles. Toward four o’clock, the artillery fire on our part was stopped, ostensibly because our guns could find no position to fire with advantage upon those of the enemy.

At last we found our column again, and went slowly back through the forest without having lost a man. On the way we found the dead and wounded of the Syracuse Regiment, 15 or 20 in number. With those of other regiments, the Ohio and Wis. There may have been thirty. One of the Syracuse regiment had one half of his head torn away sideways by a 6 pounder, so that upwards from the under jaw, there was nothing to be seen but a mass of raw flesh, blood and crushed bones. Another had his abdomen torn by a piece of shell, in a most horrible manner. The poor fellow begged for a drink of brandy, which I gave to him, as the surgeon told me he could not live for another hour. Others had musket balls in their breast or shoulders, and some had their feet crushed.

We went back to Centreville and from there a mile in advance towards the right flank of the enemy, where we took up our position. We spent here the 19th of July under hits or bushes – and to-day the 20th, we are not likely to go further. Since yesterday considerable regiments have come from Washington, so that the army will be 60,000 or 70,000 strong. Some heavy howitzers have also arrived to enable us to fire upon the enemy’s batteries from a greater distance. Our regiment lies to-day at the extreme advance post of the right flank, and when we move will be the vanguard. We shall then see whether we shall fare any better than the Syracusans.

Manassas is about 7 miles from here, and the entrenchments of the enemy are not a mile from us. We do not expect any movement to-day, but tomorrow (Sunday) we shall have a horrible sacred concert in spite of the ordinances of his Honor the Mayor of Rochester. Until then, good bye.

Rochester Evening Express, 7/25/1861

Clipping image

Contributed by John Hennessy

13th New York Infantry Roster

Adolph Nolte at Ancestry.com

Adolph Nolte at Fold3

Adolph Nolte at FindAGrave 





Capt. Henry Alanson Barnum, Co. I, 12th New York Infantry, On the March and Blackburn’s Ford (2)

16 09 2018

WAR CORRESPONDENCE.
———-
From Chain Bridge, 9 miles above Washington, on the Potomac, to within 4 miles of Manassas, Virginia, July 16th, 17th, 18th and 19th, 1861.
———-

Editors Standard: It is 2 ½ o’clock. P. M., Tuesday, July 16, and all is bustle and excitement at the camp of the Onondagas. All who are well are preparing themselves for a march. Guns and equipments are put in order, haversacks are filled with 3 days rations of bread, crackers and meat, canteens with coffee, and blankets are rolled snugly cornerwise, ends tied together and swung diagonally across the body, resting on one shoulder, extra clothing &c., are all packed away, and at the call of the drum 700 Onondagas march out on the color line, and in response to the clarion voice of our gallant Colonel, “right face,” and file away to the appointed pace for our regiment join our brigade in the line of march in the direction of the enemy. Lieut. Wilburt is placed in command of the camp, and those who are unfit for the fatigues of the march, with Dr. Todd as physician, hobble out to cheer us on and prove the chagrin which they feel at not being able to go with us. Our ladies have preceded us to the bridge to take leave of us at the farthest possible point. The 2d and 3d Michigan file across the bridge, passing our front, lusty cheers being exchanged between our regiments. Affecting leave taking occurs between our ladies and their husbands and daughters, (and in this connection I must mention the heroic composure of Mrs. Captain Brower and her, as well as our, daughter Miss Ada,) and we “forward, file right,” and on to the bridge which connects loyal and rebel soil. Reaching the center of the bridge we send back 3 hearty cheers to our old camp flag which floats from the bluff, which is answered by our “cripples” and the loud mouthed guns which command the bridge. Virginia’s “sacred soil” is reached, and we file slowly up the hills and along the fertile fields and vallies of this old commonwealth, once the pride of Americans, now the meanest of the rebel States.

Scarcely a male adult is to be seen, all who are able to bear the musket having volunteered or been pressed into the service of the confederate army. The women look from their windows with sorrowing countenances, while the slaves hang upon or grin through the fences, evidently uncertain in what sentiment to indulge. One beautiful young lady stands at her gate with a defiant air, but her unusual beauty is all that some of our gallants discovered, and they are at once “thirsty.” She complies with their request for water, but at the same time gives them to understand most emphatically that she is opposed to the invasion of Northern troops, and is decidedly a “secesher.” But few slaves are seen along our route, but many deserted houses are found, some elegantly furnished and provisioned. Most of the families found represent themselves to be of strong Union sentiments. One man sitting on a fence, points out the house in which the poll of the precinct was held at the election for or against secession, and informs us that it is the only precinct that gave a Union majority in Eastern Virginia. The boys gave three hearty cheers for the precinct, and at the request of the informant, 3 more for Western Virginia.

Our route extends through a beautifully wooded country, though everything about the improvements betokens a laxity in farm management which is not found in the north.

At about 7 miles from our start, we fall in with the skirmishers of the 79th Highlanders, and further along the 79th and the N.Y. 2d – come in in advance of use from near Alexandria. Carlisle’s battery rolls past us, and heavy guns looking like ugly customers to face. At 9 P,M. Vienna is reached, and the various regiments encamp in the open fields on the ground. Pickets are thrown out, company A, of the Michigan 2d and company I, of our regiment, are detailed as pickets to guard the General’s (Tyler) headquarters. Col. Walrath and all the officers camp on the ground with the men.

The Col. tells a good story of Adjutant Titus, who rouses up at about midnight, seizes his revolver and challenges “who comes there?” It was his horse which had got hold with his teeth in the oat bag, which the Adjutant was using for a pillow, and was shaking it up for his supper.

Here is where the rebel battery opened on the Ohio boys under Gen. Schenck. The charred remains of the cars which were burned are seen at the right of the road. Reville beats at day-break of the 17th, the numerous regiments form in line, preparatory to an advance. Our brigade is ordered to take the right. The 12th is in line, and in 4 minutes, being ready in advance of the other regiments, we are placed on the right and lead the brigade. Other brigades file into the road, and the body move slowly forward. The five miles from Vienna to Fairfax is traversed, and at 11 A.M. we are in sight of the batteries and entrenchments. The various brigades ployed to the right and formed by regiments in column of division, and rested in order of battle, awaiting the command for attack. The rebel flag is in plain view, flaunting defiance to the old stars and stripes. A hurried movement of the confederate troops is observed, and in short time a courier arrives and announced that the enemy had evacuated the town, and our troops soon marched in and took possession. Some lawless soldiers, not however belonging to our brigade, set fire to several houses, which act is strongly denounced by all. Stringent regulations have been made which will prevent all depredations, even to entering the houses of the inhabitants.

Two confederate soldiers from South Carolina, were found in a house sick. They are not molested. Our march is continued, and three miles beyond Fairfax we encamped upon an open space of several hundred acres, at about 5 P.M. We have been joined by large bodies of our troops, and the view as they all take position is worth a year’s existence to observe. Bodies of cavalry, artillery and infantry, to the number of over ten thousand, covering hill, valley and plain with horses, cannons, wagons, and stacks of arms, was truly an imposing sight. Each regiment bussies itself with rations and supper. Camp guards and pickets are posted. Capt. Brand’s company being detailed from our regiment as pickets, the wearied men roll themselves in their blankets and the bosom of mother earth furnishes them a resting place for the night. Deep slumber holds us all, save the watchful guard, till 3 P.M. [sic] of the 18th of July, when the sharp report of a picket’s rifles, followed by another and another, and then a volley, followed by the “long roll” from 20 bands. Every man springs to his feet, seizes his sword or musket, and regimental lines are formed in the briefest time possible, and await orders.

Day-break soon reveals the camp. The alarm seems to be nothing serious and rations and breakfast is the next thing in order. At 8 A.M. the column advances our brigade in front. Manassas Junction is seven miles ahead, where the enemy has assembled in force. A mile and a half from the Junction, and at noon we halt. The artillery is rapidly moved in front. Aids gallop back and forth, every thing betokening an attack on the enemy’s lines. Five hundred mounted riflemen ride past at the top of their speed. At 1 o’clock P.M., a deep mouthed report is heard, and then the sudden bursting of a shell informs us that our artillery has commenced to feel the pulse of the confederates. After several shots our fire is returned, which shows the location of the confederates. We are supported by a heavy force in our rear and on our right and left rear. An uneven open space some half mile square, surrounded by woods, divides the opposing forces. Our battery is planted on a hill on our side of the field, and our brigade rests under cover of the hill and on the rear left of the battery. Our skirmishers go round the field on the left, through the woods, and reconnoiter the enemy’s position. They bravely approach within 25 feet of their line and exchange shots with them. Having found their location, they retire, and the 1st Massachusetts and out skirmishers are ordered forward to attack at the right of their center. They filed down across the field, form in line of battle, and advance steadily into the woods.

A cannon ball from the enemy brings down one of our men at our battery, and an ambulance hurries up to bring him off. Now from the woods comes the report of continuous volleys of musketry, a dozen ambulances hurry down to the scene and return with the wounded; and after some minutes the 1st Massachusetts and our skirmishers retire, having been confronted by an overwhelming force. Two field pieces are hurried forward into the woods to silence their battery, but the odds are too heavy against them, nearly all their men are killed, and several horses, and the pieces in great danger of capture, when up gallops an aid to our position and gives the command, “forward the New York 12th to the “rescue.”

The clarion voice of our gallant Colonel rings out the command, “attention – forward, double quick, march,” and we file down across the field, near the woods, forward into line, and march shoulder to shoulder into the thick underbrush, about thirty rods, and cover the safe retreat of the piece. We continue, and advance still farther into the woods, when, on reaching the edge of a deep gully, a murderous fire opens upon us, which brings to the ground several of our brave fellows, and wounded others. We returned the fire, and at the command we fell on our faces, and loaded and fired in this position until it became apparent that we were fighting against immense odds, and a concealed foe who knows our position, while we are ignorant of theirs. Still the Col. cheered us on, and our boys poured in their volleys in the direction of their reports. A heavy body of cavalry, stationed near to cover our retreat, if forced into one, gallops away, to avoid the deadly volleys from the concealed battery, which pass through our ranks, when one of the line officers, through a mistake, gives out the word that the Colonel has ordered a retreat, when the regiment, except the two right companies and part of the third, breaks and flees in great confusion, running down the Colonel, Major, and Adjutant, who again and again try to rally them, but in vain.

The mistaken command allows the line to break, and once broken and in confusion, with the volleys from the enemy’s infantry and battery pouring in, a panic seems to seize the men, and rally, except when entirely out of danger, is evidently an impossibility.

Company A, Capt. Church, company I, and part of company E, Capt. Brower, stand their ground, and continue to return the fire of the enemy. At this time Lieut. Upton, aid of Gen. Tyler, rides up to us, and exageratedly praises our bravery, and cheers us to the work. He evinces wonderful coolness and bravery, and tells us he too is of New York, (Batavia) and her sons should not flinch before the rebels, who were perhaps the treacherous South Carolinians. One of the Captains ask him what we shall do; whether to stay, and risk a charge and capture, or retire, so as to be covered by our cannon. He replies that he will report our condition to the General, and return to us, and wheels on his horse and gallops away. We continue our fire until that of the enemy ceases, when, supposing they are preparing to charge us in force, we arise, “bout face,” “right dress,” and “forward, guide right,” till we emerge from the bushes and woods, where we halt, and Col Richardson rides up to us and tells us to stand till further orders. Soon adjutant Titus comes, and orders us back to our first position before the attack. The balance of the regiment form on us, and at nightfall we retire a couple of miles, and encamp.

A host of incidents occurred during the day, which I have not time to mention. The attack was a trying ordeal for our raw troops, and army officers say that no regiment of regulars would have stood longer than did ours; though Gen. Tyler censured our Colonel for our retreat. Army regulations will not allow me to safely speak as I think of the management of the General in command, but it will be sifted.

Every one is loud in their praise of the daring and courage of those who stood till the fire of the enemy ceased. I must also particularly mention Capt. Church and Lieut. Wood, of company A, Lieut’s. Combe and Drake, of company I, and the men under their command, as well of those of company E, who remained, and those of other companies who singly joined us. Veterans of a hundred battles could not have shown more coolness and bravery. Capt. Brower, of company E, had two men shot near him, who threw up their arms, exclaiming “I am shot.” He and Lieut’s. Horner and Abbott tried to prevent their men from breaking, and followed them only to attempt their rally. – Capt. Brower and Lieut. Abbott came back, but were so overcome with the excessive heat and fatigue that they had to be assisted from the field. Several of the men belonging to the companies that fled, came to us and asked for a place in the ranks, and fought bravely till the end.

H. A. B.

The following is a list of the killed, wounded and missing, as far as could be ascertained in the confusion following the battle:

Company A – Geo. N. Cheney, missing; Joe LaBeff and — Snyder, slightly wounded.
Company I – Michael Murphy, of Fulton, Killed.
Syracuse Daily Standard, 7/25/1861

Clipping image

Contributed by John Hennessy

Henry A. Barnum at Ancestry.com

Henry A. Barnum at Fold3 

Henry A. Barnum at FindAGrave.com

Henry A. Barnum was later awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions with the 149th New York Infantry at Missionary Ridge





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