McDowell’s Stuff

3 04 2009

mcdowellIrvin McDowell remains a murky figure.  Probably the biggest obstacle in learning more about the man is the fact that his personal correspondence and records, what are most commonly referred to as “papers”, were destroyed or otherwise lost after his death.  But while it’s generally accepted that fellow Union general George Thomas destroyed his own papers to prevent the “hawking” of his story, nobody is really sure what happened to McDowell’s stuff.

One of the first studies of Bull Run that I read, R. M. Johnston’s still essential Bull Run: Its Strategy and Tactics (1913), contains this tantalizing tidbit:

I was long in hopes of getting access to some papers left by General McDowell which are said to contain information of importance as to his relations with the authorities at Washington; unfortunately, I was unable to persuade those who have charge of them to let me see them.

Note that Johnston didn’t write that he had heard the papers might exist, or that he was unable to track down or contact the owners, but rather that he knew where they were and who had them, and was denied access.  It sure sounds like there was something out there in 1913.  Where is it now?  Does the answer lay amid Johnston’s own papers, wherever they may be?  Does it lie in other collections, like those of fellow Ohio general and assassinated President James A. Garfield, who named a son after McDowell?  Or perhaps in those of his friends the Chase family, also of Ohio?  Or maybe someplace as mundane as the records of the San Francisco Dept. of Parks and Recreation  (McDowell served as Park Commissioner for the city between his retirement from the army in 1882 and his death in 1885)?

Maybe someday I’ll get an email from some distant McDowell or Garfield or Chase relative, or from some clerk in San Francisco’s city hall, or some archivist somewhere, telling me they have a steamer trunk labeled “Maj. Gen. McDowell” and loaded with old letters and dispatches and diaries and memoirs.  It’s happened before – not to me, but it’s happened.





#1 – Brig. Gen. Irvin McDowell

7 02 2009

Reports of Brig. Gen. Irvin McDowell, Commanding U. S. Forces, of Operations from July 16 to 20, 1861, with Orders for Movements and a Return of Troops

O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 2 [S# 2] — CHAPTER IX, pp 303-308

GENERAL ORDERS, No. 17

HDQRS. DEP’T N. E. VIRGINIA,

Arlington, July 16, 1861

The troops will march to the front this afternoon in the following order:

1. The brigades of the First Division (Tyler’s) will leave their camps in light marching order, and go as far as Vienna, the Fourth Brigade (Richardson’s) taking the road across the Chain Bridge, and by way of Langley’s, Lewinsville, and Old Court-House; the others by the Georgetown turnpike and Leesburg Stone roads. The order of march of the several brigades to be arranged by the division commander.

2. The Second Division (Hunter’s) will leave their camps in light marching order, and go on the Columbia turnpike as far as the Little River turnpike, but not to cross it, the Second Brigade (Burnside’s) leading.

3. The Third Division (Heintzelman’s) will leave their camps in light marching order, and go on the old Fairfax Court-House road, south of the Orange and Alexandria Railroad, as far as the Accotink, or the Pohick, if he finds it convenient; the brigades to march in the order the division commander may direct.

4. The Fifth Division (Miles’)will proceed in light marching order, by the Little River turnpike as far as Annandale, or to the point where the road leads to the left to go into the old Braddock road (so called) which runs between the Little River turnpike and the Orange and Alexandria Railroad.

5. The brigades of the several divisions will be put in march in time to reach their respective destinations by dark.

6. The reserve will be held in readiness to march at the shortest notice, and will, on and after the 17th instant, keep constantly a supply of cooked rations on hand for two days.

7. Brigadier-General Runyon, commanding the reserve, will have command of all the troops not on the march to the front, including those in the fortifications and camps. He will, to-morrow, send two regiments up the Orange and Alexandria Railroad to aid the railroad managers in rebuilding it in the shortest possible time, the commanding officers to conform to the plans of the principal managers.

8. Brigadier-General Runyon will guard the Loudoun and Hampshire Railroad as far as the present camps of the Ohio Volunteers, and the Orange and Alexandria Railroad as far as it is or may be repaired.

9. The regiment now in Fort Corcoran, the Twenty-eighth New York; the Twenty-fifth New York, at Roach’s; the Twenty-first New York, at Fort Runyon, and the Seventeenth New York, at Fort Ellsworth, will not be removed from their present stations except in an emergency.

II. On the morning of the 17th the troops will resume their march after daylight in time to reach Fairfax Court-House (the Third Division, Sangster’s) by 8 o’clock a.m.

1. Brigadier-General Tyler will direct his march so as to intercept the enemy’s communication between Fairfax Court-House and Centreville, moving to the right or the left of Germantown, as he may find most practicable. On reaching the Centreville turnpike he will direct the march of his leading brigade either upon Centreville or Fairfax Court-House, as the indication of the enemy may require. The Second Brigade will move on the road in the direction not taken by the First. The rear brigades will be disposed of by the division commander as circumstances may require. Should he deem it best, a brigade may be sent on Fairfax Court-House direct from Flint Hill.

2. The Second Division (Hunter’s) will (after the road shall be cleared of the Fifth Division) move on the direct road to Fairfax Court-House by the Little River turnpike.

3. The Fifth Division (Miles’) will turn off from the Little River turnpike and gain the old Braddock road, which it will follow to its intersection with the road from Fairfax Court-House to Fairfax Station, where it will turn to the right and move on the Court-House.

4. The Third Division (Heintzelman’s) will move by the best and shortest of the roads to the south of the railroad till he reaches the railroad at Sangster’s. He will, according to the indications he may find, turn his Second and Third Brigades to the right, to go to Fairfax Station or to the front to support the First Brigade. He may find it necessary to guard the road coming up from Wolf Run Shoals and the one leading to Yates’ Ford.

III. The enemy is represented to be in force at Centreville, Germantown, Fairfax Court-House, and Fairfax Station, and at intermediate places, and on the road towards Wolf Run Shoals. He has been obstructing, as far as possible, the roads leading to Fairfax Court-House, and is believed on several of these to have thrown up breastworks and planted cannon. It is therefore probable the movements above ordered may lead to an engagement, and everything must be done with a view to this result.

The three following things will not be pardonable in any commander: 1st. To come upon a battery or breastwork without a knowledge of its position. 2d. To be surprised. 3d. To fall back. Advance guards, with vedettes well in front and flankers and vigilance, will guard against the first and second.

The columns are so strong and well provided that, though they may be for a time checked, they should not be overthrown. Each is provided with intrenching tools and axes, and if the country affords facilities for obstructing our march, it also gives equal facilities for sustaining ourselves in any position we obtain. A brigade should sustain itself as long as possible before asking for help from another. It can hardly be necessary to attack a battery in front; in most cases it may be turned. Commanders are enjoined to so conduct their march as to keep their men well closed up. This is of great importance. No man will be allowed to get into an ambulance or baggage wagon without written authority from the regimental surgeon or his superior. Guards will be placed over the ambulances and wagons to enforce this order.

Troops will march without their tents, and wagons will only be taken with them for ammunition, the medical department, and for intrenching tools. A small baggage train for each brigade, to take the camp-kettles, mess-pans, and mess kits, and the smallest allowance of personal baggage of the officers and men, will follow the divisions the day after they march. This train will consist of from twelve to fifteen wagons.

A subsistence train will follow at a day’s interval the First Division from Fort Corcoran and Vienna. A second subsistence train will follow the Second Division at a day’s interval. A wagon for forage will be taken with each battery and squadron. A herd of beef cattle will be sent with each subsistence train. There is on many of our regiments nothing to distinguish them from those of the enemy, and great care must be taken to avoid firing into each other.

The national color must be kept continually displayed, and, if possible, small national colors should be placed on the cannon of the batteries.

Division commanders will see that the axmen and engineers at the head of the columns (and men of the ordnance guard) are well provided and in condition to work efficiently. When there are no ax-slings, the axes will be carried and the muskets will be slung.

Department headquarters will be with the Second Division, on the Little River turnpike. Division commanders will communicate with them by every opportunity.

By command of Brigadier-General McDowell:

JAMES B. FRY,

A. A. G.

—–

FAIRFAX COURT-HOUSE, July 17, 1861

Lieut. Col. E. D. TOWNSEND,

Asst. Adjt. Gen., Hdqrs. of the Army, Washington:

We have occupied Fairfax Court-House, and driven the enemy towards Centreville and Manassas. We have an officer and three men slightly wounded. The enemy’s flight was so precipitate that he left in our hands a quantity of flour, fresh beef, intrenching tools, hospital furniture, and baggage. I endeavored to pursue beyond Centreville, but the men were too much exhausted to do so.

Most respectfully, your obedient servant,

IRVIN McDOWELL,

Brigadier-General

—–

HDQRS. DEPARTMENT NORTHEASTERN VIRGINIA,

Fairfax Court-House, July 18, 1861

SIR: The First Division, under General Tyler, is between Germantown and Centreville. The Second (Hunter’s) is at this place, just about to move forward to Centreville. The Fifth (Miles’) is at the crossing of the old Braddock road with the road from this to Fairfax Station, and is ordered forward to Centreville by the old Braddock road; Barry’s battery has joined it. One of Heintzelman’s brigades (Willcox’s) is at Fairfax Station. Heintzelman and his other brigade are below the station, but he has not reported to me since we have been here, and I have not been able to communicate with him. I think they are at Sangster’s Station. The four men wounded yesterday belong to Miles’ Division, who had some slight skirmishes in reaching his position. Each column encountered about the same obstructions–trees felled across the road–but the axmen cleared them out in a few moments.

There were extra-sized breastworks thrown up at this place, and some of them with embrasures revetted with sand bags. Extensive breastworks were also thrown up at the Fairfax Railroad Station and the road leading to Sangster’s.

A great deal of work had been done by them, and the number and size of their camps show they have been here in great force. Their retreat, therefore, must have a damaging effect upon them. They left in such haste that they did not draw in their pickets, who came into one of our camps, thinking, as it occupied the same place, it was their own. The obstructions to the railroad in the vicinity of the station, including the deep cut filled in with earth and trees, can be cleared out in a few hours. The telegraph poles are up, with the wires on them. I look to having communication by rail and telegraph in a very short time. Much flour, some arms, forage, tents, camp equipage were abandoned by them. I am distressed to have to report excesses by our troops. The excitement of the men found vent in burning and pillaging, which, however soon checked, distressed us all greatly. I go on to Centreville in a few moments.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

IRVIN McDOWELL,

Brigadier-General, Commanding

Lieut. Col. E. D. TOWNSEND,

Assistant Adjutant-General, Headquarters Army

—–

HDQRS. DEPARTMENT NORTHEASTERN VIRGINIA,

Centreville, July 19, 1861–12.30 a.m.

 Brigadier-General TYLER,

Commanding First Division:

There seems to be a misunderstanding on your part of the order issued for a brigade of your division to be posted in observation on the road leading to the place where your command was engaged yesterday (July 18). It was intended that the movement should have been made long before this.

The train of subsistence came up long ago. I have given no order or instruction of a change in this matter.

I thought that the brigade was posted as desired until just now, when Major Brown, who is just returned from  your headquarters, informs me that no action under these orders has been taken.

Give orders that will cause the brigade to be there where the previous instructions indicate by dawn this morning.

Very respectfully, &c.,

 [IRVIN McDOWELL]

—–

HDQRS. DEPARTMENT NORTHEASTERN VIRGINIA,

Centreville, Va., July 19, 1861

COLONEL: Learning yesterday there were but few troops of the enemy in this place,. I directed Brigadier-General Tyler to take it, and keep up the impression we were to advance in this direction. I then went to Colonel Heintzelman’s division, to make arrangements to turn the enemy’s right and intercept his communications with the South. I found on examining the country that the roads were too narrow and crooked for so large a body to move over, and the distance around too great to admit of it with any safety. We would become entangled, and our carriages would block up the way. I was therefore forced to abandon the plan of turning the enemy’s right, and to adopt my present one of going around his left, where the country is more open and the roads are broad and good. I gave orders, therefore, for the forces to move forward on the Warrenton turnpike so soon as the supply trains came up and the men could get and prepare their rations.

Whilst with Colonel Heintzelman’s division I learned that the advance had become engaged with the enemy. I therefore directed the movement, which in the first instance was to take place after the arrival and distribution of subsistence, to take place at once. By the time I got over from Colonel Heintzelman’s column the firing on both sides had ceased. I have directed General Tyler to make a report of the affair, which I will forward when it comes to hand. I learn from the medical director that there were three killed, twenty-one slightly and eight severely wounded; total, thirty-two. Of the severely wounded three have since died.

A negro, belonging, he says, to Colonel Fontaine, of Virginia, came in last night from the other side, saying his master had been killed at the first cannonading. He reports great havoc among the enemy, but his imagination is evidently too active to trust to his statements. All the divisions are now here or in the immediate vicinity. I have ordered General Runyon to station the larger part of the reserve on the railroad to guard it.

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

 IRVIN McDOWELL,

Brigadier-General, Commanding

Lieut. Col. E. D. TOWNSEND,

Asst. Adjt. Gen., Hdqrs. of the Army, Washington, D. C.

—–

[Inclosure]

GENERAL ORDERS, No. 19

HDQRS. DEP’T. N. E. VIRGINIA,

Fairfax Court-House, July 18, 1861

The troops will move to-day as follows: Heintzelman’s division will go to Little Rocky Run, on the road hence to Centreville. Miles’ division will go to Centreville. Tyler’s division will go beyond Centreville, on the road to Gainesville. Hunter’s division will go as near Centreville as he can get water.

The above movements will be made after supplies shall have been received. If the supply trains do not come up in time, division commanders will procure beef from the inhabitants, paying for it at the market rates by orders on the Chief of the Commissary Department at general headquarters.

The troops should be at the places indicated to-night, and they must have two days’ cooked rations in their haversacks.

By command of General McDowell:

JAMES B. FRY,

Assistant Adjutant-General

—–

HDQRS, DEPARTMENT NORTHEASTERN VIRGINIA,

Centreville, July 20, 1861

COLONEL: Yesterday was occupied mainly by the engineers in reconnoitering the defenses of the enemy on Bull Run, at and above the crossing of the Warrenton turnpike. Bull Run, though not a wide stream, is only to be crossed at certain places, owing to its precipitous, rocky banks. The Warrenton road crosses it over a stone bridge, which is mined and defended by a battery placed behind an unusually heavy abatis, whilst the bank on our side is clear. The ford above is also protected.

The object of the reconnaissance was to find a point which might be bridged or forded, so as to turn these places where the enemy are prepared for us. Thus far these efforts, five of them, have not been successful, the enemy being in such force on this side of the run as to make it impossible to ascertain. I wished yesterday to make the reconnaissance in force, but deferred to the better judgment of others–to try and get it by observation and stealth. To-day I propose to drive in the enemy and get the information required. If it were needed, the experience of the 18th instant shows we cannot, with this description of force, attempt to carry batteries such as these now before us.

I shall go forward early to-day and force the enemy beyond Bull Run, so as to examine it more closely than we have been able to do. I am told they obtain their supply of water from this stream. If so, and we get possession of the right bank, we shall force them to leave the now strong position of Manassas.

I am somewhat embarrassed by the inability of the troops to take care enough of their rations to make them last the time they should, and by the expiration of the term of service of many of them. The Fourth Pennsylvania goes out to-day, and others succeed rapidly. I have made a request to the regiment to remain a few days longer, but do not hope for much success. In a few days I shall lose many thousands of the best of this force. Will it suit the views of the General and the Government that they shall be replaced by long-service regiments? The numbers may be replaced, but it will not be an equal force.

I learn from a person who represents himself as having just come from General Patterson that he has fallen back.

There are rumors that Johnston has joined Beauregard. Yesterday some volunteers burned a house on Centreville Hill, which must have been seen by all the troops at Manassas; but the most thorough investigations did not lead to any discovery of the authors of this additional outrage.

I remain, colonel, most respectfully, your obedient servant,

IRVIN McDOWELL

Brigadier-General

Lieut. Col. E. D. TOWNSEND,

Assistant Adjutant-General, Headquarters of the Army

Table – USA Troop Strengths July 16-17, 1861





Why McDowell?

29 11 2007

 

winfield-scott.jpg  salmon-chase-2.jpg  irvin-mcdowell.jpg

Some thoughts have been bouncing around in my noggin regarding Winfield Scott (above, left) and his cranky behavior in the days leading up to Bull Run.  It seems to me he was giving some inconsistent direction to his commanders in the field, Patterson and McDowell.  I know the popular notion is that Patterson alone was to blame, but Scott alternated in his ideas of which man’s force was going to be the focus of the action in Virginia, and he failed to make sure everyone was on the same page.  And McDowell complained that he wasn’t receiving much cooperation from Washington, particularly when it came to getting wagons for his army.

I think there were at least two factors affecting Scott at this time.  First, he was suffering from chronic gout.  I get gout attacks about once a year, and as anyone who has experienced them can tell you they make you miserable with a capital M.  Every change in position is accompanied by pain, literally from your toes to the top of your head.  You can’t imagine that your condition will ever improve.  Your judgement is clouded, to say the least, and friends and family learn pretty quickly to keep their distance.  I can’t imagine how Scott dealt with the pain over an extended period.  I have to think that gout alone would have impaired his decision making.

Also, as I read more and more about the antebellum army I find that the most important thing to regular officers was rank and seniority.  As I recounted here, John Tidball noted that [p]romotion is the lifeblood of the soldier and anyone who disregards it is not worthy of the name.  Based on my reading, I know that Scott was no exception to this rule, and I think this was another contributor to his foul mood.  He must have been pretty hacked off that a brevet major, who had only attained the regular rank of 1st lieutenant, had been elevated over his objection to command the largest army ever assembled on the continent.  And I imagine he couldn’t have been too happy about who was behind Irvin McDowell’s (above, right) rise to prominence.

While Lincoln’s Secretary of War, Simon Cameron, was Scott’s superior on the org chart, it became apparent early on that he was in over his head.  But the war department was nonetheless being run, and the man doing much of the running was Treasury Secretary Salmon Chase (above, center).  During these days he was known as General Chase.  Chase was a former Ohio governor and senator, and it was during this time that many of Ohio’s native sons, including McDowell, became high ranking officers (see here and here).  I’ve understood that McDowell was tight with the Chase family, but I never realized just how tight.  While some historians have theorized that McDowell came to Chase’s attention during the early days of the war as an effective member of Scott’s staff, Irvin came from a family prominent in Ohio politics – his father was once mayor of Columbus.  And Peg Lamphier describes McDowell as a “family friend” on page 26 of Kate Chase & William Sprague, notes on page 62 that the cost of Kate’s Tiffany bridal tiara rose from $5,500 to $6,500 as a result of modifications made to it by family friend General McDowell, and says on page 73 that an ill Kate Chase-Sprague recovered at the McDowell home in Buttermilk Falls, NY in March 1864. 

Now, don’t get me wrong: I think McDowell possessed a good deal of common sense, as demonstrated here in his assessment of the situation in his plans for the advance on Manassas, and later in his perceptive understanding of the consequences of the proposed redeployment of his 1st Corps to the Shenandoah Valley in the Spring of 1862. But it sounds like there is more to the appointment of McDowell to the command of the Dept. of Northeastern Virginia than serendipity or noteworthy performance as a staff officer.

So, Scott is pretty much bed-or chaise-ridden with gout, and he’s witnessing not only the disregard for his own staffing preferences but the violation of the sanctity of seniority by political forces outside the army and even the War Department.  How did these factors influence his thought processes and his decision making during these critical days? 





#4 – McDowell’s Plan

30 10 2007

 

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

UNION CORRESPONDENCE, ETC.–#4

O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 2 [S# 2] — CHAPTER IX pp 719-721

HDQRS. DEPARTMENT NORTHEASTERN VIRGINIA,

Arlington, June(*) –, 1861

 Lieut. Col. E. D. TOWNSEND,

Asst. Adjt. Gen., Headquarters of the Army:

COLONEL: I have the honor to submit the following plan of operations, and the composition of the force required to carry it into effect, in compliance with the verbal instructions of the General-in-Chief:

The secession forces at Manassas Junction and its dependencies are supposed to amount at this time to–

Infantry          23,000

Cavalry          1,500

Artillery           500

Total               25,000

We cannot count on keeping secret our intention to overthrow this force. Even if the many parties intrusted with the knowledge of the plan should not disclose or discover it, the necessary preliminary measures for such an expedition would betray it; and they are alive and well informed as to every movement, however slight, we make. They have, moreover, been expecting us to attack their position, and have been preparing for it. When it becomes known positively we are about to march, and they learn in what strength, they will be obliged to call in their disposable forces from all quarters, for they will not be able, if closely pressed, to get away by railroad before we can reach them. If General J. E. Johnston’s force is kept engaged by Major-General Patterson, and Major-General Butler occupies the force now in his vicinity, I think they will not be able to bring up more than ten thousand men. So we must calculate on having to do with about thirty-five thousand men.

The objective point in our plan is the Manassas Junction. This is covered by the enemy’s troops stationed at Centreville, Germantown, Fairfax Court-House, Fairfax Station, a place between Fairfax Station and Sangster’s, and on the Occoquan. The position at Manassas may be reached by four routes: First, by the Leesburg stone road, Georgetown turnpike, and Loudoun and Hampshire Railroad, via Falls Church and Vienna; second, by way of the Little River turnpike and Fairfax Court-House; third, by way of the Orange and Alexandria Railroad; fourth, by way of the road south of the Orange and Alexandria road.

There is a fifth approach, from Dumfries or Evansport, by way of Brentsville, a march of about twenty-two miles, but the starting point is too far from the main direct approach to admit of its being used in the first instance without a superabundance of force. The country lying between the two armies is mostly thickly wooded, and the roads leading across it, except the turnpikes and railroads, are narrow, and in places sunken by the wear of travel and wash of rains. This makes it necessary to have the fewest possible number of carriages of any kind, and our forces, therefore, though the distance is short, will have to move over several lines of approach in order to get forward in time a sufficient body to operate with success. The Loudoun and Hampshire road is in working order as far as within five miles of Vienna, and no doubt could soon be repaired to that place. The Orange and Alexandria road, which I propose to look to as the main channel of supply, is now in working order some seven miles out of Alexandria, and from Manassas Junction to within fifteen miles of Alexandria. In the intermediate space the road has been destroyed as effectively as possible, and a long deep cut filled in with trees and earth. Nevertheless, all these obstacles can soon be removed with plenty of force and an adequate supply of proper materials.

Leaving small garrisons in the defensive works, I propose to move against Manassas with a force of thirty thousand of all arms, organized into three columns, with a reserve of ten thousand. One column to move from Falls Church or Vienna (preferably the latter), to go between Fairfax Court-House and Centreville, and, in connection with another column moving by the Little River turnpike, cut off or drive in (the former, if possible) the enemy’s advanced posts. The third column to move by the Orange and Alexandria Railroad, and leaving as large a force as may be necessary to aid in rebuilding it, to push on with the remainder to join the first and second columns.

The enemy is said to have batteries in position at several places in his front, and defensive works on Bull Run and Manassas Junction. I  do not propose that these batteries be attacked, for I think they may all be turned. Bull Run, I am told, is fordable at almost any place. After uniting the columns this side of it, I propose to attack the main position by turning it, if possible, so as to cut off communications by rail with the South, or threaten to do so sufficiently to force the enemy to leave his intrenchments to guard them; if necessary, and I find it Can be done with safety, to move a force as far as Bristoe, to destroy the bridge at that place.

I cannot learn that the enemy has any magazines at the Junction, and I am under the impression he receives his supplies, except fresh beef, from the south by the railroad. I am told that on most of the approaches abatis have been made and other preparations to obstruct the advance of our troops, and, as the roads are mostly through woods, and are narrow, it will be necessary the Army should go, in the first place, as free from baggage as possible-no tents; provisions only in the haversack; the only wagons being those necessary for carrying axes, spades, and picks, and ammunition for the infantry, and ambulances for the sick and wounded. A subsistence train should be ready in Alexandria to go by the Little River turnpike in case the Orange and Alexandria road cannot be repaired, and another should be ready at Vienna, under the guard to be left there, for the use of the column moving from that point, in case it should fail to reach in time the Orange and Alexandria road or the Little River turnpike, or the latter should not in time be cleared of the enemy.

Believing the chances are greatly in favor of the enemy’s accepting battle between this and the Junction, and that the consequences of that battle will be of the greatest importance to the country, as establishing the prestige in this contest on the one side or the other–the more so as the two sections will be fairly represented by regiments from almost every State–I think it of great consequence that, as for the most part our regiments are exceedingly raw and the best of them, with few exceptions, not over steady in line, they be organized into as many small fixed brigades as the number of regular colonels will admit, these colonels commanding brigades to be assisted by as many regular officers as can be collected for the purpose, so that the men may have as fair a chance as the nature of things and the comparative inexperience of most will allow.

If the three companies of artillery in this department are furnished with batteries, we shall have with the three regular and three volunteer batteries here and in Washington a sufficiency of artillery; though, if the nature of the country did not make it embarrassing, I would, on account of the confidence it gives new troops, have still more. Fortunately, the country is so wooded that our deficiency in cavalry will be the less felt. We shall need all we have for the ordinary work of escorts, advance pickets, &c. I think every arrangement should be made, that when the columns take up their line of march no step be taken in retreat, but that they should press forward to the ultimate point steadily and determinedly. If they are well led I think they will do so, and with every chance of success.

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

 IRVIN McDOWELL,

Brigadier-General, Commanding

* About June 24, 1861





#6 – Brig. Gen. Irvin McDowell

3 10 2007

 

Reports of Brig. Gen. Irvin McDowell, Commanding Federal Forces

O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 2 [S# 2] — CHAPTER IX, pp 316-328

CENTREVILLE, July 21, 1861–5.45 p.m.

We passed Bull Run. Engaged the enemy, who, it seems, had just been re-enforced by General Johnston. We drove them for several hours, and finally routed them.

They rallied and repulsed us, but only to give us again the victory, which seemed complete. But our men, exhausted with fatigue and thirst and confused by firing into each other, were attacked by the enemy’s reserves, and driven from the position we had gained, overlooking Manassas. After this the men could not be rallied, but slowly left the field. In the mean time the enemy outflanked Richardson at Blackburn’s Ford, and we have now to hold Centreville till our men can get behind it. Miles’ division is holding the town. It is reported Colonel Cameron is killed, Hunter and Heintzelman wounded, neither dangerously.

IRVIN McDOWELL,

Brigadier General, Commanding

Lieutenant-Colonel TOWNSEND

***

FAIRFAX COURT-HOUSE, July 21, 1861:

The men having thrown away their haversacks in the battle and left them behind, they are without food; have eaten nothing since breakfast. We are without artillery ammunition. The larger part of the men are a confused mob, entirely demoralized. It was the opinion of all the commanders that no stand could be made this side of the Potomac. We will, however, make the attempt at Fairfax Court-House. From a prisoner we learn that 20,000 from Johnston joined last night, and they march on us to-night.

IRVIN McDOWELL

Colonel TOWNSEND

***

FAIRFAX COURT-HOUSE, [July] 22, 1861

Many of the volunteers did not wait for authority to proceed to the Potomac, but left on their own decision. They are now pouring through this place in a state of utter disorganization. They could not be prepared for action by to-morrow morning even were they willing. I learn from prisoners that we are to be pressed here to-night and to-morrow morning, as the enemy’s force is very large and they are elated. I think we heard cannon on our rear guard. I think now, as all of my commanders thought at Centreville, there is no alternative but to fall back to the Potomac, and I shall proceed to do so with as much regularity as possible.

IRVIN McDOWELL

Colonel TOWNSEND

***

ARLINGTON, July 22, 1861

I avail myself of the re-establishing of telegraph to report my arrival. When I left the forks of the Little River turnpike and Columbia turnpike, where I had been for a couple of hours turning stragglers and parties of regiments upon this place and Alexandria, I received intelligence that the rear guard, under Colonel Richardson, had left Fairfax Court-House and was getting along well. Had not been attacked. I am now trying to get matters a little organized over here.

IRVIN McDOWELL,

Brigadier-General

E. D. TOWNSEND

***

HDQRS. DEPARTMENT NORTHEASTERN VIRGINIA,

Arlington, Va., August 4, 1861

Lieut. Col. E. D. TOWNSEND,

Asst. Adjt. Gen., Hdqrs. of the Army, Washington, D. C.

COLONEL: I have the honor to submit the following report of the battle of the 21st of July, near Manassas, Va. It has been delayed till this time from the inability of the subordinate commanders to get earlier a true account of the state of their commands.

In my communication to you of the 20th ultimo, I stated it as my intention to move that afternoon and drive the enemy from the east side of Bull Run, so as to enable the engineers to make a sufficiently accurate reconnaissance to justify our future movements. Later in the day they had obtained enough information of the passages across the stream to dispense with this reconnaissance, and it was decided to move without further delay.

It had been my intention to move the several columns out on the road a few miles on the evening of the 20th, so that they would have a shorter march in the morning; but I deferred to those who had the greatest distance to go, and who preferred starting early in the morning and making but one move.

On the evening of the 20th ultimo my command was mostly at or near Centreville. The enemy was at or near Manassas, distant from Centreville about seven miles to the southwest. Centreville is a village of a few houses, mostly on the west side of a ridge running nearly north and south. The road from Centreville to Manassas Junction runs along this ridge, and crosses Bull Run about three miles from the former place. The Warrenton turnpike, which runs nearly east and west, goes over this ridge through the village, and crosses Bull Run about four miles from it, Bull Run having a course between the crossings from northwest to southeast.

The First Division (Tyler’s) was stationed as follows: One brigade on the north side of the Warrenton turnpike and on the eastern slope of the Centreville ridge; two brigades on the same road and a mile and a half in advance to the west of the ridge; and one brigade on the road from Centreville to Manassas where it crosses Bull Run at Blackburn’s Ford, where General Tyler had the engagement of the 18th ultimo.

The Second Division (Hunter’s) was on the Warrenton turnpike, one mile east of Centreville.

The Third Division (Heintzelman’s) was on a road known as the old Braddock road, which comes into Centreville from the southeast about a mile and a half from the village.

The Fifth Division (Miles’) was on the same road with the Third Division, and between it and Centreville.

A map, which is herewith, marked A,(*) will show these positions better than I describe them.Friday night a train of subsistence arrived, and on Saturday its contents were ordered to be issued to the command, and the men required to have three days’ rations in their haversacks. (See appendix herewith, marked B.)

Saturday orders (copy herewith, marked c) were issued for the available force to march.

As reported to you in my letter of the 19th ultimo, my personal reconnaissance of the roads to the south had shown that it was not practicable to carry out the original plan of turning the enemy’s position on their right. The affair of the 18th at Blackburn’s Ford showed he was too strong at that point for us to force a passage there without great loss, and if we did, that it would bring us in front of his strong position at Manassas, which was not desired.

Our information was that the stone bridge over which the Warrenton road crossed Bull Run to the west of Centreville was mined, defended by a battery in position, and the road on his side of the stream impeded by a heavy abatis. The alternative was, therefore, to turn the extreme left of his position.

Reliable information was obtained of an undefended ford about three miles above the bridge, there being another ford between it and the bridge, which was defended. It was therefore determined to take the road to the upper ford, and, after crossing, to get behind the forces guarding the lower ford and the bridge, and after occupying the Warrenton road east of the bridge to send out a force to destroy the railroad at or near Gainesville, and thus break up the communication between the enemy’s forces at Manassas and those in the Valley of Virginia before Winchester, which had been held in check by Major-General Patterson.

Brigadier-General Tyler was directed to move with three of his brigades on the Warrenton road, and commence cannonading the enemy’s batteries, while Hunter’s division, moving after him, should, after passing a little stream called Cub Run, turn to the right and north, and move by a wood road around to the upper ford, and then turn south and get behind the enemy; Colonel Heintzelman’s division to follow Hunter’s as far as the turning-off place to the lower ford, where he was to cross after the enemy should have been driven out by Hunter’s division; the Fifth Division (Miles’) to be in reserve on the Centreville ridge.

I had felt anxious about the road from Manassas by Blackburn’s Ford to Centreville along this ridge, fearing that, whilst we should be in force to the front and endeavoring to turn the enemy’s position, we ourselves should be turned by him by this road. For if he should once obtain possession of this ridge, which overlooks all the country to the west to the foot of the spurs of the Blue Ridge, we should have been irretrievably cut off and destroyed. I had, therefore, directed this point to be held in force, and sent an engineer to extemporize some field works to strengthen the position.

The Fourth Division (Runyon’s) had not been brought to the front farther than to guard our communications by way of Vienna and the Orange and Alexandria Railroad. His advanced regiment was about seven miles in rear of Centreville.

The divisions were ordered to march at 2.30 o’clock a.m., so as to arrive on the ground early in the day, and thus avoid the heat which is to be expected at this season. There was delay in the First Division getting out of its camp on the road, and the other divisions were, in consequence, between two and three hours behind the time appointed–a great misfortune, as events turned out. The wood road leading from the Warrenton turnpike to the upper ford was much longer than we counted upon, the general direction of the stream being oblique to the road and we having the obtuse angle on our side.

General Tyler commenced with his artillery at 6.30 a.m., but the enemy did not reply, and after some time it became a question whether he was in any force in our front, and if he did not intend himself to make an attack, and make it by Blackburn’s Ford. After firing several times, and obtaining no response, I held one of Heintzelman’s brigades in reserve, in case we should have to send any troops back to re-enforce Miles’ division. The other brigades moved forward as directed in the general order.

On reaching the ford at Sudley Springs, I found part of the leading brigade of Hunter’s division (Burnside’s) had crossed, but the men were slow in getting over, stopping to drink. As at this time the clouds of dust from the direction of Manassas indicated the immediate approach of a large force, and fearing it might come down on the head of the column before the division could all get over and sustain it, orders were sent back to the heads of regiments to break from the column, and come for-ward separately as fast as possible.

Orders were sent by an officer to the reserve brigade of Heintzelman’s division to come by a nearer road across the fields, and an aide-de-camp sent to Brigadier-General Tyler to direct him to press forward his attack, as large bodies of the enemy were passing in front of him to attack the division which had crossed over.

The ground between the stream and the road leading from Sudley Springs south, and over which Burnside’s brigade marched, was, for about a mile from the ford, thickly wooded, whilst on the right of the road for about the same distance the country was divided between fields and woods. About a mile from the ford the country on both sides of the road is open, and for nearly a mile farther large rolling fields extend down to the Warrenton turnpike, which crosses what became the field of battle, through the valley of a small water-course, a tributary of Bull Run.

Shortly after the leading regiment of the First Brigade reached this open space, and whilst the others and the Second Brigade were crossing to the front and right, the enemy opened his fire, beginning with artillery and following it up with infantry.

The leading brigade (Burnside’s) had to sustain this shock for a short time without support, and did it well. The battalion of regular infantry was sent to sustain it, and shortly afterwards the other corps of Porter’s brigade and a regiment detached from Heintzelman’s division to the left forced the enemy back far enough to allow Sherman’s and Keyes’ brigades of Tyler’s division to cross from their position on the Warrenton road.

These drove the right of the enemy (understood to have been commanded by Beauregard) from the front of the field, and out of the detached woods, and down to the road, and across it, up the slopes on the other side. Whilst this was going on, Heintzelman’s division was moving down the field to the stream and up the road beyond. Beyond the Warrenton road, and to the left of the road down which our troops had marched from Sudley Springs, is a hill with a farm house on it. Behind this hill the enemy had early in the day some of his most annoying batteries planted. Across the road from this hill was another hill, or rather elevated ridge or table land. The hottest part of the contest was for the possession of this hill with a house on it.

The force engaged here was Heintzelman’s division, Willcox’s and Howard’s brigades on the right, supported by part of Porter’s brigade and the cavalry under Palmer, and Franklin’s brigade of Heintzelman’s division, Sherman’s brigade of Tyler’s division in the center and up the road, whilst Keyes’ brigade of Tyler’s division was on the left, attacking the batteries near the stone bridge. The Rhode Island Battery of Burnside’s brigade also participated in this attack by its fire from the north of the turnpike. The enemy was understood to have been commanded by J. E. Johnston.

Ricketts’ battery, which did such effective service and played so brilliant a part in this contest, was, together with Griffin’s battery, on the side of the hill, and became the object of the special attention of the enemy, who succeeded (our officers mistaking one of his regiments for one of our own, and allowing it to approach without firing upon it) in disabling the battery, and then attempted to take it. Three times was he repulsed by different corps in succession and driven back, and the guns taken by hand (the horses being killed) and pulled away. The third time it was supposed by us all that the repulse was final, for he was driven entirely from the hill, so far beyond it as not to be in sight, and all were certain the day was ours. He had before this been driven nearly a mile and a half, and was beyond the Warrenton road, which was entirely in our possession from the stone bridge westward, and our engineers were just completing the removal of the abatis across the road to allow our re-enforcements (Schenck’s brigade and Ayres’ battery) to join us.

The enemy was evidently disheartened and broken. But we had then been fighting since 10.30 o’clock in the morning, and it was after 3 o’clock in the afternoon. The men had been up since 2 o’clock in the morning, and had made what to those unused to such things seemed a long march before coming into action, though the longest distance gone over was not more than 9½ miles; and though they had three days’ provisions served out to them the day before, many, no doubt, either did not get them, or threw them away on the march or during the battle, and were therefore without food. They had done much severe fighting. Some of the regiments which had been driven from the hill in the first two attempts of the enemy to keep possession of it had become shaken, were unsteady, and had many men out of the ranks.

It was at this time that the enemy’s re-enforcements came to his aid from the railroad train (understood to have just arrived from the valley with the residue of Johnston’s army). They threw themselves in the woods on our right, and opened a fire of musketry on our men, which caused them to break and retire down the hill-side. This soon degenerated into disorder, for which there was no remedy. Every effort was made to rally them, even beyond the reach of the enemy’s fire, but in vain. The battalion of regular infantry alone moved up the hill opposite to the one with the house, and there maintained itself until our men could get down to and across the Warrenton turnpike on the way back to the position we occupied in the morning. The plain was covered with the retreating groups, and they seemed to infect those with whom they came in contact. The retreat soon became a rout, and this soon degenerated still further into a panic.

Finding this state of affairs was beyond the efforts of all those who had assisted so faithfully during the long and hard day’s work in gaining almost the object of our wishes, and that nothing remained on that field but to recognize what we could no longer prevent, I gave the necessary orders to protect their withdrawal, begging the men to form a line, and offer the appearance, at least, of organization and force.

They returned by the fords to the Warrenton road, protected, by my order, by Colonel Porter’s force of regulars. Once on the road, and the different corps coming together in small parties, many without officers, they became intermingled, and all organization was lost.

Orders had been sent back to Miles’ division for a brigade to move forward and protect this retreat, and Colonel Blenker’s brigade was detached for this purpose, and was ordered to go as far forward as the point where the road to the right left the main road.

By referring to the general order it will be seen that while the operations were to go on in front, an attack was to be made at Blackburn’s Ford by the brigade (Richardson’s) stationed there. A reference to his report, and to that of Major Hunt, commanding the artillery, will show that this part of the plan was well and effectively carried out (+). It succeeded in deceiving the enemy for considerable time and in keeping in check a part of his force. The fire of the artillery at this point is represented as particularly destructive.

At the time of our retreat, seeing great activity in this direction, much firing, and columns of dust, I became anxious for this place, fearing if it were turned or forced the whole stream of our retreating mass would be captured or destroyed.

After providing for the protection of the retreat by Porter’s and Blenker’s brigades, I repaired to Richardson’s, and found the whole force ordered to be stationed for the holding of the road from Manassas, by Blackburn’s Ford, to Centreville, on the march, under orders from the division commander, for Centreville. I immediately halted it, and ordered it to take up the best line of defense across the ridge that their then position admitted of; and subsequently, taking in person the command of this part of the Army, I caused such disposition of the forces, which had been added to by the First and Second New Jersey and the De Kalb Regiments, ordered up from Runyon’s reserve before going forward, as would best serve to check the enemy.

The ridge being held in this way, the retreating current passed slowly through Centreville to the rear. The enemy followed us from the ford as far as Cub Run, and, owing to the road becoming blocked up at the crossing, caused us much damage there, for the artillery could not pass, and several pieces and caissons had to be abandoned. In the panic the horses hauling the caissons and ammunition were cut from their places by persons to escape with, and in this way much confusion was caused, the panic aggravated, and the road encumbered. Not only were pieces of artillery lost, but also many of the ambulances carrying the wounded.

By sundown most of our men had gotten behind Centreville ridge, and it became a question whether we should or not endeavor to make a stand there. The condition of our artillery and its ammunition, and the want of food for the men, who had generally abandoned or thrown away all that had been issued the day before, and the utter disorganization and consequent demoralization of the mass of the Army, seemed to all who were near enough to be consulted–division and brigade commanders and staff–to admit of no alternative but to fall back; the more so as the position at Blackburn’s Ford was then in the possession of the enemy, and he was already turning our left.

On sending the officers of the staff to the different camps, they found, as they reported to me, that our decision had been anticipated by the troops, most of those who had come in from the front being already on the road to the rear, the panic with which they came in still continuing and hurrying them along.

At — o’clock the rear guard (Blenker’s brigade) moved, covering the retreat, which was effected during the night and next morning.(^) The troops at Fairfax Station, leaving by the cars, took with them the bulk of the supplies which had been sent there. My aide-de-camp, Major Wadsworth, staid at Fairfax Court-House till late in the morning, to see that the stragglers and weary and worn-out soldiers were not left behind.

I transmit herewith the reports of the several division and brigade commanders, to which I refer for the conduct of particular regiments and corps, and a consolidated return of the killed, wounded, and missing, marked D. From the latter it will be seen that our killed amounted to 19 officers and 462 non-commissioned officers and privates, and our wounded to 64 officers and 947 non-commissioned officers and privates. Many of the wounded will soon be able to join the ranks, and will leave our total of killed and disabled from further service under 1,000.

The return of the missing is very inaccurate, the men supposed to be missing having fallen into other regiments and gone to Washington; many of the zouaves to New York. In one brigade the number originally reported at 616 was yesterday reduced to 174. These reductions are being made daily. In a few days a more correct return can be made.

Of course nothing accurate is known of the loss of the enemy. An officer of their forces, coming from them with a flag, admitted 1,800 killed and wounded, and other information shows this to be much under the true number.

The officer commanding the Eleventh New York (Zouaves) and Colonel Heintzelman say that the returns of that regiment cannot be relied on, as many there reported among the casualties have absented themselves since their return, and have gone to New York.

Among the missing are reported many of our surgeons, who remained in attendance on our wounded, and were, against the rules of modern warfare, made prisoners.

The issue of this hard-fought battle, in which certainly our troops lost no credit in their conflict on the field with an enemy ably commanded, superior in numbers, who had but a short distance to march, and who acted on his own ground on the defensive, and always under cover, whilst our men were of necessity out on the open fields, should not prevent full credit being given to those officers and corps whose services merited success if they did not attain it.

To avoid repetition I will only mention here the names of those not embraced in the reports of division and brigade commanders. I beg to refer to their reports for the names of those serving under their immediate orders, desiring that on this subject of persons, &c., they be considered as part of my own.

I claim credit for the officers of my staff and for those acting as such during the day. They did everything in their power, exposing themselves freely when required, and doing all that men could do, communicating orders, guiding the columns, exhorting the troops, rallying them when broken, and providing for them the best the circumstances admitted.

They are as follows:

First Lieut. H. W. Kingsbury, Fifth Artillery, A, D.C.

Maj. Clarence S. Brown, New York Militia, volunteer A.D.C.

Maj. James S. Wadsworth, New York Militia, volunteer A.D.C.

The latter (who does me the honor to be on my personal staff) had a horse shot under him in the hottest of the fight.

Capt. James B. Fry, assistant adjutant-general.

Capt. O. H. Tillinghast, assistant quartermaster, who discharged alone the important and burdensome duties of his department with the Army, and who was mortally wounded whilst acting with the artillery, to which he formerly belonged, and in which he was deeply interested.

Capt. H. F. Clarke, Subsistence Department, chief of subsistence department.

Major Myer, Signal Officer, and Maj. Malcolm McDowell, who acted as aides.

Surg. W. S. King and Assistant Surgeon Magruder, Medical Department.

Maj. J. G. Barnard, Engineer, and senior of his department with the Army, who gave me most important aid.

First Lieut. Fred. E. Prime, Engineer.

Capt. A. W. Whipple, First Lieut. H. L. Abbot, and Second Lieut. H. S. Putnam, Topographical Engineers.

Maj. W. F. Barry, Fifth Artillery, chief of artillery.

Lieut. Geo. C. Strong, ordnance officer.

Maj. W. H. Wood, Seventeenth Infantry, acting inspector-general.

Second Lieut. Guy V. Henry, who joined me on the field, and was of service as an aide-de-camp.

The following officers commanded divisions and brigades, and in the several places their duty called them did most effective service and behaved in the most gallant manner:

Brigadier-General Tyler, Connecticut Volunteers.

Col. David Hunter, Third Cavalry, severely wounded at the head of his division.

Col. S. P. Heintzelman, Seventeenth Infantry, wounded in the arm while leading his division into action on the hill.

Brigadier-General Schenck, Ohio Volunteers, commanding Second Brigade, First Division.

Col. E. D. Keyes, Eleventh Infantry, commanding First Brigade, First Division.

Col. W. B. Franklin, Twelfth Infantry, First Brigade, Third Division.

Col. W. T. Sherman, Thirteenth Infantry, commanding Third Brigade, First Division.

Col. Andrew Porter, Sixteenth Infantry, commanding First Brigade, Second Division.

Col. A. E. Burnside, Rhode Island Volunteers, commanding Second Brigade, Second Division.

Col. O. B. Willcox, Michigan Volunteers, commanding Second Brigade, Third Division, who was wounded and taken prisoner whilst on the hill in the hottest of the fight.

Col. O. O. Howard, Maine Volunteers, commanding Third Brigade, Third Division.

Col. I. B. Richardson, Michigan Volunteers, commanding Fourth Brigade, First Division.

Colonel Blenker, New York Volunteers, commanding First Brigade, Fifth Division.

Colonel Davies, New York Volunteers, commanding Second Brigade, Fifth Division.

As my position may warrant, even if it does not call for, some explanation of the causes, as far as they can be seen, which led to the results herein stated, I trust it may not be considered out of place if I refer, in a few words, to the immediate antecedents of the battle.

When I submitted to the General-in-Chief, in compliance with his verbal instructions, the plan of operations and estimate of force required, the time I was to proceed to carry it into effect was fixed for the 8th of July (Monday). (#)

Every facility possible was given me by the General-in-Chief and heads of the administrative departments in making the necessary preparations. But the regiments, owing, I was told, to want of transportation, came over slowly. Many of them did not come across until eight or nine days after the time fixed upon, and went forward without my ever seeing them and without having been together before in a brigade.

The sending re-enforcements to General Patterson by drawing off the wagons was a further and unavoidable cause of delay. Notwithstanding the herculean efforts of the Quartermaster-General, and his favoring me in every possible way, the wagons for ammunition, subsistence, &c., and the horses for the trains and for the artillery, did not all arrive for more than a week after the time appointed to move.

I was not even prepared as late as the 15th ultimo, and the desire I should move became great, and it was wished I should not, if possible, delay longer than Tuesday, the 16th ultimo. When I did set out on the 16th I was still deficient in wagons for subsistence, but I went forward, trusting to their being procured in time to follow me.

The trains thus hurriedly gotten together, with horses, wagons, drivers, and wagon-masters all new and unused to each other, moved with difficulty and disorder, and was the cause of a day’s delay in getting the provisions forward, making it necessary to make on Sunday the attack we should have made on Saturday.

I could not, with every exertion, get forward with the troops earlier than we did. I wished them to go to Centreville the second day, which would have taken us there on the 17th, and enabled us, so far as they were concerned, to go into action on the 19th instead of the 21st; but when I went forward from Fairfax Court-House beyond Germantown to urge them forward, I was told it was impossible for the men to march farther. They had only come from Vienna, about six miles, and it was not more than six and one-half miles farther to Centreville, in all a march of twelve and one-half miles; but the men were foot-weary, not so much, I was told, by the distance marched, as by the time they had been on foot, caused by the obstructions in the road and the slow pace we had to move to avoid ambuscades. The men were, moreover, unaccustomed to marching, their bodies not in condition for that kind of work, and not used to carrying even the lead of “light marching order.”

We crossed Bull Run with about 18,000 men of all arms, the Fifth Division (Miles’) and Richardson’s brigade on the left at Blackburn’s Ford and Centreville, and Schenck’s brigade of Tyler’s division on the left of the road near the stone bridge, not participating in the main action. The numbers opposed to us have been variously estimated. I may safely say, and avoid even the appearance of exaggeration, that the enemy brought up all he could which were not kept engaged elsewhere. He had notice of our coming on the 17th, and had from that time until the 21st to bring up whatever he had.

It is known that in estimating the force to go against Manassas I engaged not to have to do with the enemy’s forces under Johnston, then kept in check in the valley by Major General Patterson, or those kept engaged by Major-General Butler, and I knew every effort was made by the General-in-Chief that this should be done, and that even if Johnston joined Beauregard, it should be because he would be driven in and followed by General Patterson. But, from causes not necessary for me to refer to, even if I knew them all, this was not done, and the enemy was free to assemble from every direction in numbers only limited by the amount of his railroad rolling-stock and his supply of provisions. To the forces, therefore, we drove in from Fairfax Court-House, Fairfax Station, Germantown, and Centreville, and those under Beauregard at Manassas, must be added those under Johnston from Winchester, and those brought up by Davis from Richmond and other places at the South, to which is to be added the levy en masse ordered by the Richmond authorities, which was ordered to assemble at Manassas. What all this amounted to I cannot say; certainly much more than we attacked them with.

I could not, as I have said, move earlier or push on faster, nor could I delay. A large and the best part, so considered, of my forces were three-months volunteers, whose terms of service were about expiring, but who were sent forward as having long enough to serve for the purpose of the expedition.

On the eve of the battle the Fourth Pennsylvania Regiment of Volunteers and the battery of Volunteer Artillery of the Eighth New York Militia, whose term of service expired, insisted on their discharge. I wrote to the regiment as pressing a request as I could pen, and the honorable Secretary of War, who was at the time on the ground, tried to induce the battery to remain at least five days, but in vain. They insisted on their discharge that night. It was granted; and the next morning, when the Army moved forward into battle, these troops moved to the rear to the sound of the enemy’s cannon.

In the next few days, day by day I should have lost ten thousand of the best armed, drilled, officered, and disciplined troops in the Army. In other words, every day which added to the strength of the enemy made us weaker. In conclusion, I desire to say in reference to the events of the 21st ultimo, that the general order for the battle to which I have referred was, with slight modifications, literally conformed to; that the corps were brought over Bull Run in the manner proposed, and put into action as before arranged, and that, up to late in the afternoon, every movement ordered was carrying us successfully to the object we had proposed before starting–that of getting to the railroad leading from Manassas to the valley of Virginia, and going on it far enough to break up and destroy the communication, and interpose between the forces under Beauregard and those under Johnston; and could we have fought a day–yes, a few hours–sooner, there is everything to show that we should have continued successful, even against the odds with which we contended.

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

IRVIN McDOWELL,

Brigadier-General, Commanding

*To appear in Atlas

+See McDowell’s report of August 12, 1861, p. 328

^ See McDowell’s report of August 12, 1861, p. 328

#See McDowell to Townsend, June 24, 1861, “Correspndence, etc.,” post.

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B.

CIRCULAR.]

HDQRS. DEP’T NORTHEASTERN VIRGINIA,

Centreville, July 20, 1861.

The commanders of divisions will give the necessary orders, that an equal distribution of the subsistence stores on hand may be made immediately to the different companies in their respective commands, so that they shall be provided for the same number of days, and that the same be cooked and put in the haversacks of the men. The subsistence stores now in the possession of each division, with the fresh beef that can be drawn from the chief commissary, must last to include the 23d instant.

By command of Brigadier-General McDowell:

 JAMES B. FRY,

Assistant Adjutant-General

TO COMMANDERS OF DIVISIONS AND BRIGADES

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C.

GENERAL ORDERS, No. 22 I HDQRS. DEP’T NORTHEASTERN VIRGINIA,

Centreville, July 20, 1861

The enemy has planted a battery on the Warrenton turnpike to defend the passage of Bull Run, has mined the stone bridge, and made a heavy abatis on the right bank to oppose our advance in that direction. The ford above the bridge is also guarded, whether with artillery or not is not positively known, but every indication favors the belief that he purposes defending the passage of the stream.

It is intended to turn the position, force the enemy from the road, that it may be reopened, and, if possible, destroy the railroad leading from Manassas to the valley of Virginia, where the enemy has a large force. As this may be resisted by all the force of the enemy, the troops will be disposed of as follows:

The First Division (General Tyler’s), with the exception of Richardson’s brigade, will move at 2.30 a.m. precisely, on the Warrenton turnpike, to threaten the passage of the bridge, but will not open fire until full daybreak.

The Second Division Hunter’s will move from its camp at 2 a.m. precisely, and, led by Captain Woodbury, of the Engineers, will, after passing Cub Run, turn to the right and pass the Bull Run stream above the lower ford at Sudley Springs, and then, turning down to the left descend the stream and clear away the enemy who may be guarding the lower ford and bridge. It will then bear off to the right, to make room for the succeeding division.

The Third Division (Heintzelman’s) will march at 2.30 a.m. and follow the road taken by the Second Division (Hunter’s), but will cross at the lower ford after it has been turned as above, and then, going to the left, take place between the stream and Second Division.

The Fifth Division (Miles’) will take position on the Centreville heights. (Richardson’s brigade will for the time form part of his division, and will continue in its present position.) One brigade will be in the village and one near the present station of Richardson’s brigade. This division will threaten Blackburn’s Ford and remain in reserve at Centreville.

The commander will open fire with artillery only, and will bear in mind that it is a demonstration only he is to make. He will cause such defensive works, abatis, earthworks, &c., to be thrown up as will strengthen his position. Lieutenant Prime, of the Engineers, will be charged with this duty.

These movements may lead to the gravest results, and commanders of divisions and brigades should bear in mind the immense consequences involved. There must be no failure, and every effort must be made to prevent straggling. No one must be allowed to leave the ranks without special authority. After completing the movements ordered the troops must be held in order of battle, as they may be attacked at any moment.

By command of Brigadier-General McDowell:

 JAMES B. FRY,

Assistant Adjutant-General

—–

HDQRS. DEPARTMENT NORTHEASTERN VIRGINIA,

Arlington, August 12, 1861

COLONEL: My attention has been called by those interested to two omissions in my report of the battle of the 21st ultimo near Manassas, and I ask leave to make the following corrections, wishing that they be made part of my original report:

1. In speaking of the retreat, I mentioned that it was covered by Colonel Blenker’s brigade. I should have said Colonel Richardson’s and Colonel Blenker’s brigades. The former was on the left of the Centreville ridge, and the latter in front of it, on the Warrenton road. Each covered the retreat of those on the respective roads to the common point–Centreville; from there to the rear Colonel Richardson was behind, and covered the main body.

2. In speaking of the action on the left at Blackburn’s Ford, I mentioned Colonel Richardson’s and Major Hunt’s reports as giving the account of what transpired in that direction. In this connection I omitted to mention Col. T. A. Davies’ report, and now beg to refer to it as necessary to a full account of this part of the battle. He was engaged to the left of Richardson, and repulsed an attempt of the enemy to turn our left.

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

IRVIN McDOWELL,

Brigadier-General, Commanding

Lieut. Col. E. D. TOWNSEND,

Assistant Adjutant-General, Headquarters of the Army

Table – [USA] Casualties at the Battle of Bull Run, July 21, 1861

Table – Statement of [USA] artillery lost at the Battle of Bull Run, July 21, 1861





The McDowell Monument

1 08 2007

  

mcdowellshiloh.jpg 

The McDowell headquarters monument is situated just west of the Stone House at the intersection of the Sudley Springs Road and the Warrenton Turnpike.  That is, just about 800 miles west of that point, on the battlefield of Shiloh, at the intersection of the Hamburg-Purdy Road and route 142/22.  I took this photo during my June trip to Tennessee and Mississippi. 

Colonel John A. McDowell was a brigade commander in Brigadier General William T. Sherman’s division of Major General U. S. Grant’s Army of the Tennessee during the Battle of Shiloh.  He was also a brother of the commander of the Union forces at the Battle of First Bull Run, Irvin McDowell. 

John McDowell’s command at Shiloh was comprised of the 40th IL, 46th OH, his own 6th IA, and the 6th IN Battery.  (McDowell had relieved the 6th IA’s Lieutenant Colonel and placed a captain in command of the regiment.)  Positioned on the far right (western) flank of Sherman’s line, McDowell’s brigade missed much of the heavier fighting experienced by Sherman’s other three brigades.  Consequently, McDowell does not get a lot of ink in the various Shiloh campaign studies. 

This list of officers of the regiment notes that John Adair McDowell was a resident of Keokuk, IA (he was born in Ohio), and was 39 when he became colonel of the regiment on June 20, 1861.  He resigned his commission on March 12, 1863.  Here’s a history of the regiment. 

John is a shadowy figure, due in part to the fact that, despite serving in brigade command, he was never made a general officer.  I found some mention of him in Sherman’s Civil War, a collection of W. T. Sherman correspondence edited by Brooks Simpson at Civil Warriors. 

On page 267, Sherman mentions that McDowell delivered a speech prior to the presentation of a saddle to the general.  On page 323 he writes to Grant in Nov. 1862 that he feels McDowell among others is fit for brigade command.  On pages 341-342 he establishes the familial relationship between John and Irvin in a December 14, 1862 letter to the latter (in which he expressed his support for the embattled Irvin, who was suffering under a cloud of suspicion following Second Bull Run): 

Your brother John A. McDowell has been with me nearly a year commanding one of my Brigades and I left him a few days since at College Hill near Oxford in command of as good a Brigade as is in our whole army.  He is a good kind hearted Gentleman, full of zeal for our cause and I parted with him with feelings of great kindness.  I have urged his name for promotion and I hope successfully.  We have often talked of you, and through him I have sent you many expressions of my personal regard for your high character as a Patriot and Soldier. 

 Other than noting the event in a March 13, 1863 letter to his wife, Sherman does not detail the circumstances of McDowell’s resignation.  Lieutenant Colonel and future general John M. Corse took command of the 6th IA. 

Sherman also mentions on two occasions Major Malcolm McDowell of Ohio, a paymaster in his command.  There was a Malcolm McDowell who was a signal officer on Irvin’s staff at First Bull Run, and Malcolm was involved in preferring charges against Colonel Thomas Worthington as described in Sherman’s letter to Thomas Ewing Sr. on January 16, 1863.  As John McDowell is mentioned in this same letter as having complained about Worthington, I don’t think it a stretch that this Malcolm is the same Malcolm who was with Irvin on July 21.  On page 76 of Historic Families of Kentucky you’ll see that Abram Irvine McDowell of Columbus, OH had three sons – Irvin, John and Malcolm – so I’m pretty confident the fellows I’ve mentioned above are the three brothers.  I’m positive Major Malcolm is not the fellow pictured here:     

clockwork.jpg 

This guy makes looking for info on Major Malcolm on the web a real pain, tempting one to acts of ultraviolence.  Not to worry, he’s just here to check the meter. 

If you have any more info on John or Malcolm, please let me know. 

I’ve been remiss in posting photos and tales of my visit to Shiloh, and I’ll try to make up for that in the months ahead, assuming I can find some sort of Bull Run connection.  Speaking of that, here’s a random headstone I ran across at the national cemetery in Corinth, MS:   

manninggrave.jpg 

 

 

 





Irvin McDowell

11 01 2007

 

Irvin McDowell born Columbus, OH 10/15/18; son of Abram (one-time mayor of Columbus) and Eliza Seldon Lord McDowell; and brother of John A. McDowell, colonel of 6th Iowa Infantry and brigade commander under W. T. Sherman at Shiloh, and Malcolm McDowell, who served on Irvin’s staff; married Helen Burden of Troy, NY 11/13/44; four children: Irvin, Helen, Elsie, and Henry Burden; early education in France (College de Troyes); West Point class of 1838 (23 of 45); Bvt 2nd Lt 1st Arty 7/1/38; 2nd Lt 7/7/38; instructor of tactics at USMA 1841-1845; 1st Lt 10/7/42;  ADC to Gen. J. E. Wool in Mexican War; received a brevet to captain Ass’t Adj. Gen, for gallantry at Buena Vista 5/13/47; Bvt Maj Ass’t Adj. Gen. 5/31/56; appointed BGUSA  5/14/61 (n 7/16/61, c 8/3/61); Dept. of NE VA, 5/27/61 to 8/17/61; commanded forces now known as Army of NE VA, 7/8/61 to 8/15/61; McDowell’s Div. Army of the Potomac (AotP) 10/3/61 to 3/13/62; First Corps AotP 3/13/62 to 4/4/62; MGUSV eff. 3/14/62 (n 3/3/62, c 3/14/62); Dept. of Rappahannock, 4/4/62 to  6/26/62; wounded 6/18/62 when his horse fell on him; Third Corps, Army of VA, 6/26/62 to 9/5/62; Dept. of the Pacific, 5/21/64 to 6/27/65; Bvt MGUSA 3/13/65 (n 4/10/66, c 5/4/66) for the Battle of Cedar Mountain; Dept. of CA, 6/27/65 to 3/31/68; mustered out of volunteers (MOV) 9/1/66; Fourth Military District, 6/4/68 to 7/4/68; Dept. of the West, 7/16/68 to 12/16/72; MGUSA 11/25/72; Depts of East and South 12/16/72 to 76; Division of the Pacific 1876 to retirement 10/15/82; became San Francisco Park Commissioner; died 5/4/85, San Francisco, CA; buried San Francisco National Cemetery (Presidio), San Franciso, CA; marker reads “Irwin McDowell, Maj Gen US Army May 4, 1885”.

Sources: Boyd, The Irvines and their Kin, pp. 152, 171; Eicher & Eicher, Civil War High Commands, pp 377-378, 704, 708, 716; Heitman, Historical Register and Dictionary of the U. S. Army, Vol. I p 664; Simpson, ed, Sherman’s Civil War, p341; Sifakis, Who was Who in the American Civil War, pp 414-415; Warner, Generals in Blue, pp 297-299; http://genforum.genealogy.com/cgi-bin/pageload.cgi?irvin::mcdowell::2682.html

mcd1.jpgmcd3.jpgmcd2.jpgmcd4.jpgmcd5.jpg

 Photos a, b, c, d – www.generalsandbrevets.com; e – www.findagrave.com

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Lil’ Help – Lincoln

25 03 2015

lincoln-sailorsI’ve determined to start a Resources category on soldier references to Abraham Lincoln. That is, references in the letters and diaries of officers and men of McDowell’s army written before and after First Bull Run, in an effort to examine how their views of POTUS evolved during this time. So, if you have or are aware of any soldier letters or diaries that reference the President from, say, June of 1861 through to the end of August 1861, please send me a note. The best way to do that is through the comments feature of this post. Thanks in advance for your help!





Major Charles Herbert Joyce, 2nd Vermont Infantry, On the Advance and Battle

2 02 2015

Letter From The 2nd Regiment

——

Camp Life—The March to the Battle of Bull’s Run—Conduct of the Regiment in the Battle—The Bravery of Officers and Men.

——

Camp of Sec. Vt. Reg., Clermont, 6 miles
from Alexandria, Va., 1861.

Editors of the Times: I am aware that when I left Burlington I promised to write you often in regard to all matters pertaining to the Vermont Second, and I am equally aware that I have not kept my promise; but when you reflect a moment upon my duties in camp and position in our Regiment, you will, I know, forgive me. The history of our triumphant route from Burlington to Washington has, by this time, become exhausted; and I shall pass over that and take you to the hill east of the Capitol in the most terrible shower of rain that was ever known, and there you may see our boys, wet to their skins, pitching their tents and preparing their supper, on the afternoon of the 26th of June. Of our stay in the city it is enough to say that we had a grand time, and enjoyed ourselves hugely. But at last the order came to “strike tents,” and we packed up “duds” and started for some point, the exact location of which we were not informed; but time, which always brings us out somewhere, brought us, about sun down, and in an awful thunder shower, out at Commodore DeForrest’s estate, about six miles west of Alexandria. – Here, wet through as rats, we pitched into the mud and went to sleep. I was so perfectly worn out by the labors of the day that I had not strength to raise my tent, and by invitation from Capt. Dillingham, whose tent was up, I turned into his mud-hole, wrapped my overcoat around me a laid down to pleasant dreams!

The next morning we arose under a scorching Virginia sun, which soon dried us off, and we found ourselves in a very pleasant location; and here let me say, that during all the rain, toil and fatigue of the day, not a murmur or word of complaint was heard from one of our men. They bore themselves, as they always have. We now learned that our Regiment was the advance guard towards Manassas Junction, and that we were occupying a post of danger as well as honor. Here we commenced our first lessons in active field operations. We were immediately in the enemy’s country, and our time was pretty well occupied in guard and picket duty. Of all our adventures I have not time or space to write. Others have given you the history of them, and I will only say that our boys were always on hand and ready to do their duty, however difficult or dangerous.

About this time we were advised that we were joined in Col. Howard’s Brigade, which was composed of three Maine Regiments and our own. We found Col. Howard to be one of the finest of men, and a perfect gentleman in every sense of the word, and we have since found out that he is as brave and noble as he is good. I cannot pass without also bearing testimony to the kind acts and gentlemanly deportment of the Colonel’s Aids. One is his brother, and a splendid fellow; the others are Lieutenants Buel and Mordecai, from West Point. We have all received many kindnesses at their hands. But we must pass along and come down to the time when we received orders from headquarters to put ourselves in light marching order, to move with all the grand army upon the enemy, entrenched at Manassas. The morning we were to march was Monday, and we all arose with light hearts at an early hour, and had our “traps” all on and ready for the encounter. We did not receive orders to march until about noon when we left our camp with three days rations in our haversacks and started on that fatal journey.

We marched all the afternoon and most of the night and finally brought up on a side hill where we had the extreme pleasure of laying down on the damp ground with our clothes all on for sleep and repose. In the course of the after noon I bought me a horse, as we had no horses, which aided me very much in the march, and that together with now and then a cheering word from Col. Howard spurred us on in good spirits. The next morning, Tuesday, we started early and marched all day and encamped in a fine piece of woods that night where we stopped until Thursday morning. Tuesday we routed about 700 rebels from their camp and they left in such a hurry that they had not time to gather up their provisions which were eagerly seized by our boys and appropriated with a relish. Thursday morning we weighed anchor for Centerville and arrived there after dark and went into camp. When we started Thursday I was ordered by Col. Howard to take two companies of our regiment to act as rear guard of the brigade, which means to march behind all the baggage wagons and see that they were brought into camp safe. Just at dark we came to a very steep hill about one half mile long and attempted to ascend it, but lo and behold, of all the horses and mules which were hitched to that long train of wagons, not one would go up that hill. Here was a question for a lawyer. The main body of the army was far in advance and we left behind with the pleasing reflection that we were liable at any moment to be pitched into by the enemy and all our baggage taken and ammunition appropriated to blowing out our brains. We raved like mad bulls and you may not be at all surprised if before we left that delightful spot there was considerable tall extemporaneous swearing. The result was we unloaded the wagons, carried the baggage all up the hill on our backs, pushed the teams up, loaded and went on our way rejoicing. When we arrived in camp we found the boys all anxious about us and fearing some evil had befallen us. I am deeply indepted to Capts. Drew and Hope and their gallant boys for their assistance on that occasion. We remained at Centerville until Sunday morning at 2 o’clock A. M. July 21st, when we started for Bull’s Run.

Saturday evening at Dress Parade the chaplain of one of the Maine regiments made a most affecting prayer after which Col. Howard addressed us upon the events of the morrow and told us that in all human probability that was the last time we should all meet on parade and expressed the hope that we should all behave like men and never turn our back to the foe in the hour of conflict. He was answered with a cheer and a “never,” which echoed through the woods of old Virginia for miles. At two o’clock A. M. Sunday morning we started and after marching about one mile we were halted and remained there until nearly seven. We were now advised of our destination which we were told was to march around Bull’s Run between that and Manassas and cut off the retreat of the rebels if they should attempt to retreat on the latter place. About seven we marched on some three miles and halted near the cross road. Here we found Gen. McDowell and staff and all the other notables of the general army. They all put on airs and looked as wise as sheep and so did we. Here we stayed until about ten o’clock when a dispatch came for Colonel Howard to move his brigade out to Bull’s Run, at “double quick” as our services were likely to be needed there very much before sun down. The order came “fall in” and so we went on a dead run for about ten miles, through woods, over fences, ditches, rivers and everything else – soon our men began to give out – it was hat as the thermometer would allow and no water but stagnant pools, which a frog would not live in, to drink – during this time we could hear the loud roar of the batteries as they answered each other in rapid succession, and we knew our boys were at them. Soon we could hear the musketry and as we approached nearer we could hear the clash of arms and we came to the conclusion that it would not be necessary for us to cut off any body’s retreat until somebody began to retreat.

On, we went upon the run and our poor boys were dropping out by dozens, yet no halt or slack. Now we have arrived, at a road which leads up along the skirt of a piece of woods, we enter it and go on upon the run. Now, Oh God! what sights meet our eyes! Here are the hospitals for friends and foes, all thrown in together; here are the surgeons in the woods sawing off legs and arms from the poor fellows who have been wounded – some they have on the ground and some on a board; they shriek, they groan, they swear, in their delirium of agony; here comes the carts bringing in the wounded; the blood running from the cart like water from your street sprinkler. It is awful; it is terrible, but yet our brave boys press on. Now comes a messenger saying to us, go on boys; they need your help. Then another saying go ahead boys, the rebels are flying. We heed them not but with steady step move on. Now we have arrived at the corner of the woods where we must break off to the right through a corn-field which had been occupied by the enemy’s lines in the forenoon – here is our first lesson – we march along the ridge of a hill exposed to the raking fire of three batteries, all in plain sight of use. When I stepped over the fence into the field the first thing which greeted my entrance was a shell which went screaming past my head in a manner neither pleasant nor tranquilizing. I involuntarily dodged down my head and let the unwelcome visitor pass by. On we went while the shot and shell from those rifled cannon tore up the ground around us with perfect impunity – soon we came to to a stone house, and here we bore to the left and passed into another field, still in point blank range of those accursed batteries. As yet I had seen none of our boys fall, but just as I entered this field, I saw my friend, Lieut. Sharpley, of the Burlington company, fall flat on his face. The air was full of the deadly missiles and my fears were that he had been struck by a rifle cannon shot – I ran to him and picked him up and was happy to find that it was only the effects of a shot having passed so near his mouth as to take his breath from his body. I called a private to take care of him and went on glad in my heart that he was not hurt, for a braver man and kinder friend does not live than he.

About this time Col. Howard rode up and ordered our regiment to form line of battle in a deep ravine and march up a steep bank covered with brush wood, on to an inclined plain in full sight of the enemy. The order was given to Col. Whiting, who was near me at the time, completely exhausted and worn out – he immediately ordered me to give the order and see that it was executed, which I did to the sound of music which could be heard but not seen. We found in the ravine our boys, as cool as when on parade, and the order was given to “Forward the Second,” and you may depend it was done nobly. Oh, who would not have given a world at that moment to have been a Vermonter. Not a man but what felt that they carried the honor of Vermont upon their bayonets. On they went – the orders come, “Captains in rear of your companies,” “Boys keep cool,” “Take good aim and mark your man,” – not a pale face appeared in the line; lips were compressed and hearts were as firm as the granite in their native hills. The air was full, even to darkness, with iron and lead, yet I felt a pride in being with the noble Second on that day; and, although I was not born upon Vermont’s soil, yet I was proud of her and her gallant sons, and gloried in the State of my adoption. When we arrived on the brow of the hill we were in plain sight of the enemy’s lines. We marched down the hill about half way, and halted in line of battle. – Between us and the enemy was a deep ravine, and on the other side, on the hill pitching towards us were the rebels, behind a Virginia rail fence. The order now came to open fire on the whole line. Our boys drew up their guns, took deliberate aim at the fence, and then it would have done your soul good to see the devils jump. At the second volley they all cut and run into the woods on their left flank. Soon they made their appearance at the edge of the woods, and at them we went again like bulldogs. We were now in a very uncomfortable situation at least. They were shooting at us with three batteries, and all the rifles and muskets in the Southern States – I thought.

Our regiment loaded and fired with the rapidity of lightning for about two hours, when the word came to retreat. The remainder is unpleasant to reflect upon. I will not describe it our attempt to. I have only to say that, although our entire lines were routed and fled in confusion, yet no stain of dishonor or disgrace rests upon Vermont or any of her brave and noble sons on that day. We marched from the field and formed in the ravine from which we started, and made the best of our way to Centerville. I cannot close this letter, although it is too long already, without bearing testimony to our brave men on that day. In the first place no men in any battle or in any age of the world ever evinced more true courage and down-right bravery.

It would, perhaps, be invidious to call names, but I must be permitted to mention Captains Dillingham, Eaton, Hope and Randall, and Lieutenants Henry, Gregg, Campbell, Johnson, Howe, Tracy, Hugh and Tyler, as men who were under my eye during the whole battle. – With Captain Dillingham I have always been acquainted, and have felt a sort of pride in his success. I have watched him, and I saw him in the midst of the carnage on that bloody day. He was as cool and self-possessed as when on Company parade. I could hear him give his orders to his men; I noticed his face as he passed back and forth, speaking words of encouragement to his brave boys, and by his example inspiring them with courage and fortitude. In a moment I saw him fall! O, God! I sprang towards him and caught him in my arms, lifted him up, and, to my great joy, discovered that a Minnie ball had only just grazed his temple and stunned him for a moment. – I set him on his feet and left him in charge of his men, and started for my post on the left of the line, and scarcely had I gone ten paces then, with a voice that could be heard beyond the enemy’s lines, I hear him say: “They have not killed me yet; give it to them, boys!”

Capt. Drew, of the Burlington Company, fell out sick by the way before we reached the field of battle, and the company was led on to the field and fought under the brave and gallant Lieut. Weed, who conducted himself throughout that bloody day in a manner which did honor to himself and glory to his State. He was the only commissioned officer in company G on the field.

Capts. Smith, Fullam, Walbridge, Todd, and others, behaved in a manner worthy of Vermont, while Capt. Randall greatly distinguished himself by his cool courage and self-possession; he was determined not to leave the field, and did not until compelled to do so by the commander. Of the field officers, it is not for me to speak. One word about our Color-bearer: he is a man from Company G, I do not recollect his name. – He is 6 feet 5 1-2 inches high – he carried his banner upon the field and stood by it during the whole battle, like Goliath of old. Not a limb trembled or a muscle moved, while six of the enemy’s bullets pierced the sacred flag, not one touched the noble bearer. He is truly a brave man, and deserves to be remembered.

Of our surgeons, Drs. Ballou and Carpenter, too much praise of them cannot be said. – We all like Dr. Ballou, because he is always a perfect gentleman, and uses us so kindly, and that fatal Sunday he laid aside all fear of danger to himself, and thought only of our poor boys who were sick and wounded. We shall remember his bravery and repay him with our prayers and good wishes as long as we live. – Dr. Carpenter, of course, every body likes; he is always kind and attentive to our men, and does all in his power to cheer them up, and alleviate their sufferings. His extensive knowledge of his profession, qualifies him in an eminent degree to fill the post which he holds; and his conduct at Bull’s Run, when with revolver in hand, he stopped the crazy tide of the retreat, and made them take in our wounded, who were lying on the battle field, shows that he is a brave soldier, as well as a good surgeon. In connection with the doctors, we must mention our friend, E. Z. Stearns, our Hospital steward, who has greatly endeared himself to us all, by his kind offices and sharp repartees. He is well versed in his duties and performs them to the entire satisfaction of every body.

Our Quartermaster’s Department is managed on a scale not to be surpassed by any regiment in the service. Mr. Pitkin is untiring in his efforts to make us all comfortable, and he is nobly sustained by the Quarter-master’s Sergeant Cain, and the Messrs. Stone. Cain is a young man who thoroughly understands whatever he takes hold of, and his even temper and natural goodness of heart make him a general favorite of us all. We cannot but speak in the highest terms of praise of Mr. Hatch, the agent of the governor in New York. From the moment we arrived in New York, down to the present time, he has been with us like a guardian angel – only last night he was out here to our camp to see if there was not something he could do for us. We shall all remember him, for we appreciate his labors. He seems to possess the right business talent for this place, and devotes his whole time and attention to our wants and necessities. We are greatly indebted also, to Col. T. B. Bowdish of Burlington, and to Mr. Canfield for their kindness and the interest they have taken in our welfare. Our Chaplain, Rev. Mr. Smith, is laboring industriously for our welfare, and does us many acts of kindness, which will always be remembered.

Vermont Phoenix, 8/15/1861

Clipping Image

Contributed by John Hennessy

Charles Herbert Joyce (future member of Congress) at WikiTree 





Pvt. George W. Doty, Co. F, 2nd Vermont Infantry, On the Battle

28 01 2015

Letters From The Seat Of War

——–

Second Vt. Regiment, Co. F.,

Alexandria, July 23, 1861.

Mr. Editor: – I take this opportunity to inform you and my friends in Lamoille County the facts, as I understand them, in regard to the late battle of Bull’s Run and Manassas Junction. I know that exaggerated accounts of the fight are rife in the Northern papers. I propose to give a correct statement, as I saw and participated in the battle. The Third Brigade, composed of the Third, Fourth and Fifth Maine regiments, the Second Vermont, and Ellsworth’s Zouaves as scouts, who were encamped 5 miles from this place, on the road to Fairfax Court House, received marching orders on the 16th, with what they called 3 days rations. It consisted of about 1-2 lb. of hard crackers and 1-2 lb. of salt beef. Gen Howard commanded the Brigade. We advanced and made a circuit of 20 miles to the left, and completely around Fairfax Court House, to Fairfax Station, where we arrived on the 17th at 4 o’clock P. M. Meanwhile another Brigade under Gen. Wilcox, came directly down on the Court House and routed 1100 rebels and took a great deal of provisions and munitions of war, consisting in part of 100 bbs flour and 4 tons bacon, &c., without firing a gun. Our 3 days rations were gone, and we received a portion of the spoils, and having no cooking utensils we took such old dirty kettles and platters as the rebels left, and cooked our flour as best we could. We captured all the nice fat beef we wished for from the rebel farms around us. We stayed at this place until 12 o’clock M. of the 18th, when we commenced our march towards Centreville. We arrived within 2 1-2 miles of the place at 12 o’clock at night, where we formed a line of battle and camped on the fare ground, in our places with our single blanket over us. Our company was detailed as a picket Guard, in the rear. We were fired into twice during the night, and returned the fire in good spirit. they did not hit any of us, and whether we hit any of them I do not know, as it was dark and we were stationed in the woods.

At day light we joined the Brigade and before night other Brigades came in and formed with us, a Division of about 30,000 men and 3 batteries of artillery, the whole commanded by Gen. McDowell. On the 19th the Massachusetts Brigade fired on a drove the rebels from Centreville with a loss of 8 killed and 24 wounded, they captured a small battery from the rebels at this place, and planted their own cannon on the heights around.

A small battery was also taken at Bull’s Run the same day, with a small loss on our side. At 2 o’clock, A. M., of the 21st the long roll of each regiment was beaten and the whole Division commenced the advance, the Third Brigade bringing up the rear. The advance commenced the fight about 7 o’clock, A. M., on the pickets 1 1-2 miles in front of the fort at Manassas Junction. The main body of enemy were entrenched and strongly fortified with plenty of cannon and ammunition with 60,000 men, armed with Sharp’s and Minie rifles, on the highest point of land in the whole country, and surrounded by heavy timber. The land we had to pass over to get them, excepting in front was open ground for miles, exposed to their batteries. The Third Brigade was detached from the main body about 10 o’clock and put through on double quick time, and made a circuit of about 8 miles, and came up on the left of the enemy about 1 o’clock, P. M. At this time our men had driven the rebels one mile. Our Brigade passed over this ground, covered with the dead and dying, every rod of which presented some awful spectacle, and showed the ground had been given up only by inches. Wagon after wagon load of poor wounded prisoners were carried off to be cared for by the different surgeons of the regiments. They appropriated the secession houses for hospitals. The cry of the wounded was “Oh for God’s sake a drop of water;” “don’t step on me, boys;” and like expressions. Our Brigade marched in line of battle with charged bayonets, the smoke and dust was so thick that we could not see a rod ahead of us, the cannon balls and shells from the enemy’s battery fell thick around us; I speak no more particularly of the Vermont Second. We kept a good line, not a word, only from our officers, was heard the whole length of the line; we met parts of regiments coming away, they would say “God bless you boys, you are in time, we have fared hard; give it to them another 1-2 hour and the day is ours.” As we left the bushes and advanced over the hill on double quick time, within 1-2 mile of the battery, they poured in to us a storm of iron hail such as is seldom faced. The Vermont boys yelled, “Hurrah for the victory and glory of the Old Green Mountain State.” We got within about 40 rods of the battery, on the side hill, where we halted and formed a perfect line, during which time the rebels, about 4000 advanced within about 30 rods of us and commenced firing on us; the word was given us to fire; we fire under, then we were ordered to fire 2 feet above their heads, we did so, and noticed the effect. They commenced retreating. About this time our batteries ceased, as afterwards proved, for want of ammunition, and commenced retreating; this encouraged the rebels who fired on us with renewed vigor, but the Vermont boys stood their ground and drove them 1-2 mile; but their batteries then opened on us anew, and the order was given us to retreat. We were mad, however, and fired three volleys after the order was given, when Major Joyce run his horse down the line and said “Vermont boys, you have done well, but for God’s sake retreat, the artillery have run out of ammunition.” We slowly turned and picked up our wounded boys, but had to leave our dead on the bloody field. We had a good many wounded but only a few killed, considering the good chance they had of us. The main body were by this time under headway on the retreat. We retreated in good order until we got to Bull’s Run, where a narrow pass, a bridge and a deep creek, obstructed by our artillery, caused the line to halt. The bridge constantly covered with heavy cannon and horses gave way, making a perfect loss of 2 batteries. Most of them were disabled so as not to do the enemy any good. At this time the enemy came up in rear and fired a good many shells and grape shot, which cut us up dreadfully; and here among the rest, a carriage was taken, containing several wounded ones, among the rest was Orderly Sergeant U. A. Woodbury, of Fletcher Co., who had his hand blown off in the first charge, by a cannon ball. It was amputated by our surgeon, and he was doing well, but was too weak to walk. He is now, if alive, a prisoner among the rebels. Also Capt. Drew, of Co. G., from Burlington, and I presume many others. At this point the regiment broke up and companies followed their respective captains. Capt. Randall, of Co. F., showed great bravery and coolness, during the whole. He encouraged his men during the fight, and in one instance came in front of them, and told us to fire higher, we were doing well. At the bridge he said, “boys follow me, we won’t be taken prisoner,” and jumped into the creek above his middle, followed by his boys who stuck to him through the whole march. We kept up our march back to this place, a distance of 35 miles. We arrived here yesterday about 10 o’clock A. M., a hard looking set of fellows, covered with dust, powder, and blood. We are now quartered in the market house of Alexandria. We shall probably stay until we are sufficiently recruited to march again. Do not think that the rebels have retaken the ground we passed over; not by any means. There are bodies of men stationed all along the road to keep places we have captured. It is reported that Gen. McDowell made a premature attack, that he had ought to have waited the advance of Gen. Patterson; but wishing all the glory for himself, made the attack on his own hook. The result is not counted either a victory, or a defeat. I will say nothing of myself, but this: I was not shot in the back, nor front, that I know of, though hot lead flew a little nearer my head than was agreeable. Four of us, pretty good friends, stood in the front rank, and shouted, “give them a specimen of old Ethan Allen’s bravery.” I can form no estimate of the killed, but the loss must be heavy as the action lasted nearly all day. Only one of our company was killed; 10 are missing. As I am very tired I will close by saying: I am good for a good many more fights for Liberty and the Union.

Truly Yours,

George W. Doty.

Lamoille (Vermont) Newsdealer, 8/2/1861

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Contributed by John Hennessy

George W. Doty on Ancestry.com








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