The First Battle of Bull Run – P. G. T. Beauregard

24 02 2010

THE FIRST BATTLE OF BULL RUN

BY G. T. BEAUREGARD, GENERAL, C. S. A.

BATTLES AND LEADERS OF THE CIVIL WAR – Volume I: From Sumter to Shiloh, pp. 196-227

Soon after the first conflict between the authorities of the Federal Union and those of the Confederate States had occurred in Charleston Harbor, by the bombardment of Fort Sumter,—which, beginning at 4:30 A. M. on the 12th of April, 1861, forced the surrender of that fortress within thirty hours thereafter into my hands,—I was called to Richmond, which by that time had become the Confederate seat of government, and was directed to “assume command of the Confederate troops on the Alexandria line.” Arriving at Manassas Junction, I took command on the 2d of June, forty-nine days after the evacuation of Fort Sumter.

Although the position at the time was strategically of commanding importance to the Confederates, the mere terrain was not only without natural defensive advantages, but, on the contrary, was absolutely unfavorable. Its strategic value was that, being close to the Federal capital, it held in observation the chief army then being assembled near Arlington by General McDowell, under the immediate eye of the commander-in-chief, General Scott, for an offensive movement against Richmond; and while it had a railway approach in its rear for the easy accumulation of reinforcements and all the necessary munitions of war from the southward, at the same time another (the Manassas Gap) railway, diverging laterally to the left from that point, gave rapid communications with the fertile valley of the Shenandoah, then teeming with live stock and cereal subsistence, as well as with other resources essential to the Confederates. There was this further value in the position to the Confederate army: that during the period of accumulation, seasoning, and training, it might be fed from the fat fields, pastures, and garners of Loudoun, Fauquier, and the Lower Shenandoah Valley counties, which otherwise must have fallen into the hands of the enemy. But, on the other hand, Bull Run, a petty stream, was of little or no defensive strength; for it abounded in fords, and although for the most part its banks were rocky and abrupt, the side from which it would be approached offensively in most places commanded the opposite ground.

At the time of my arrival at Manassas, a Confederate army under General Joseph E. Johnston was in occupation of the Lower Shenandoah Valley, along the line of the Upper Potomac, chiefly at Harper’s Ferry, which was regarded as the gateway of the valley and of one of the possible approaches to Richmond; a position from which he was speedily forced to retire, however, by a flank movement of a Federal army, under the veteran General Patterson, thrown across the Potomac at or about Martinsburg. On my other or right flank, so to speak, a Confederate force of some 2500 men under General Holmes occupied the position of Aquia Creek on the lower Potomac, upon the line of approach to Richmond from that direction through Fredericksburg. The other approach, that by way of the James River, was held by Confederate troops under Generals Huger and Magruder. Establishing small outposts at Leesburg to observe the crossings of the Potomac in that quarter, and at Fairfax Court House in observation of Arlington, with other detachments in advance of Manassas toward Alexandria on the south side of the railroad, from the very outset I was anxiously aware that the sole military advantage at the moment to the Confederates was that of holding the interior lines. On the Federal or hostile side were all material advantages, including superior numbers, largely drawn from the old militia organizations of the great cities of the North, decidedly better armed and equipped than the troops under me, and strengthened by a small but incomparable body of regular infantry as well as a number of batteries of regular field artillery of the highest class, and a very large and thoroughly organized staff corps, besides a numerous body of professionally educated officers in command of volunteer regiments, (1) — all precious military elements at such a juncture.

Happily, through the foresight of Colonel Thomas Jordan,—whom General Lee had placed as the adjutant-general of the forces there assembled before my arrival,—arrangements were made which enabled me to receive regularly, from private persons at the Federal capital, most accurate information, of which politicians high in council, as well as War Department clerks, were the unconscious ducts. On the 4th of July, my pickets happened upon and captured a soldier of the regulars, who proved to be a clerk in the adjutant-general’s office of General McDowell, intrusted with the special duty of compiling returns of his army—a work which he confessed, without reluctance, he had just executed, showing the forces under McDowell about the 1st of July. His statement of the strength and composition of that force tallied so closely with that which had been acquired through my Washington agencies, already mentioned, as well as through the leading Northern newspapers (regular files of which were also transmitted to my headquarters from the Federal capital), that I could not doubt them.

In these several ways, therefore, I was almost as well advised of tho strength of the hostile army in my front as its commander, who, I may mention, had been a classmate of mine at West Point. Under those circumstances I had become satisfied that a well-equipped, well-constituted Federal army at least 50,000 strong, of all arms, confronted me at or about Arlington, ready and on the very eve of an offensive operation against me, and to meet which I could muster barely 18,000 men with 29 field-guns. (2)

Previously,—indeed, as early as the middle of June,—it had become apparent to my mind that through only one course of action could there be a well-grounded hope of ability on the part of the Confederates to encounter successfully the offensive operations for which the Federal authorities were then vigorously preparing in my immediate front, with so consummate a strategist and military administrator as Lieutenant-General Scott in general command at Washington, aided by his accomplished heads of the large General Staff Corps of the United States Army. This course was to make the most enterprising, warlike use of the interior lines which we possessed, for the swift concentration at the critical instant of every available Confederate force upon the menaced position, at the risk, if need were, of sacrificing all minor places to the one clearly of major military value—there to meet our adversary so offensively as to overwhelm him, under circumstances that must assure immediate ability to assume the general offensive even upon his territory,, and thus conquer an early peace by a few well-delivered blows.

My views of such import had been already earnestly communicated to the proper authorities; but about the middle of July, satisfied that McDowell was on the eve of taking the offensive against me, I dispatched Colonel James Chesnut, of South Carolina, a volunteer aide-de-camp on my staff who had served on an intimate footing with Mr. Davis in the Senate of the United States, to urge in substance the necessity for the immediate concentration of the larger part of the forces of Johnston and Holmes at Manassas, so that the moment McDowell should be sufficiently far detached from Washington, I would be enabled to move rapidly round his more convenient flank upon his rear and his communications, and attack him in reverse, or get between his forces, then separated, thus cutting off his retreat upon Arlington in the event of his defeat, and insuring as an immediate consequence the crushing of Patterson, the liberation of Maryland, and the capture of Washington.

This plan was rejected by Mr. Davis and his military advisers (Adjutant-General Cooper and General Lee), who characterized it as “brilliant and comprehensive,” but essentially impracticable. Furthermore, Colonel Chesnut came back impressed with the views entertained at Richmond,— as he communicated at once to my adjutant-general,— that should the Federal army soon move offensively upon my position, my best course would be to retire behind the Rappahannock and accept battle there instead of at Manassas. In effect, it was regarded as best to sever communications between the two chief Confederate armies, that of the Potomac and that of the Shenandoah, with the inevitable immediate result that Johnston would be forced to leave Patterson in possession of the Lower Shenandoah Valley, abandoning to the enemy so large a part of the most resourceful sections of Virginia, and to retreat southward by way of the Luray Valley, pass across the Blue Ridge at Thornton’s Gap and unite with me after all, but at Fredericksburg, much nearer Richmond than Manassas. These views, however, were not made known to me at the time, and happily my mind was left free to the grave problem imposed upon me by the rejection of my plan for the immediate concentration of a materially larger force,— i. e., the problem of placing and using my resources for a successful encounter behind Bull Run with the Federal army, which I was not permitted to doubt was about to take the field against me.

It is almost needless to say that I had caused to be made a thorough reconnoissance of all the ground in my front and flanks, and had made myself personally acquainted with the most material points, including the region of Sudley’s Church on my left, where a small detachment was posted in observation. Left now to my own resources, of course the contingency of defeat had to be considered and provided for. Among the measures of precaution for such a result, I ordered the destruction of the railroad bridge across Bull Run at Union Mills, on my right, in order that the enemy, in the event of my defeat, should not have the immediate use of the railroad in following up their movement against Richmond— a railroad which could have had no corresponding value to us eastward beyond Manassas in any operations on our side with Washington as the objective, inasmuch as any such operations must have been made by the way of the Upper Potomac and upon the rear of that city.

Just before Colonel Chesnut was dispatched on the mission of which I have spoken, a former clerk in one of the departments at Washington, well known to him, had volunteered to return thither and bring back the latest information of the military and political situation from our most trusted friends. His loyalty to our cause, his intelligence, and his desire to be of service being vouched for, he was at once sent across the Potomac below Alexandria, merely accredited by a small scrap of paper bearing in Colonel Jordan’s cipher the two words, “Trust bearer,” with which he was to call at a certain house in Washington within easy rifle-range of the White House, ask for the lady of the house, and present it only to her. This delicate mission was as fortunately as it was deftly executed. In the early morning, as the newsboys were crying in the empty streets of Washington the intelligence that the order was given for the Federal army to move at once upon my position, that scrap of paper reached the hands of the one person in all that city who could extract any meaning from it. With no more delay than was necessary for a hurried breakfast and the writing in cipher by Mrs. G— of the words, “Order issued for McDowell to march upon Manassas to-night,” my agent was placed in communication with another friend, who earned him in a buggy with a relay of horses as swiftly as possible down the eastern shore of the Potomac to our regular ferry across that river. Without untoward incident the momentous dispatch was quickly delivered into the hands of a cavalry courier, and by means of relays it was in my hands between 8 and 9 o’clock that night. Within half an hour my outpost commanders, advised of what was impending, were directed, at the first evidence of the near presence of the enemy in their front, to fall back in the manner and to positions already prescribed in anticipation of such a contingency in an order confidentially communicated to them four weeks before, and the detachment at Leesburg was directed to join me by forced marches. Having thus cleared my decks for action, I next acquainted Mr. Davis with the situation, and ventured once more to suggest that the Army of the Shenandoah, with the brigade at Fredericksburg or Aquia Creek, should be ordered to reenforce me,— suggestions that were at once heeded so far that General Holmes was ordered to carry his command to my aid, and General Johnston was given discretion to do likewise. After some telegraphic discussion with me, General Johnston was induced to exercise this discretion in favor of the swift march of the Army of the Shenandoah to my relief; and to facilitate that vital movement, I hastened to accumulate all possible means of railway transport at a designated point on the Manassas Gap railroad at the eastern foot of the Blue Ridge, to which Johnston’s troops directed their march. However, at the same time, I had submitted the alternative proposition to General Johnston, that, having passed the Blue Ridge, he should assemble his forces, press forward by way of Aldie, north-west of Manassas, and fall upon McDowell’s right rear; while I, prepared for the operation, at the first sound of the conflict, should strenuously assume the offensive in my front. The situation and circumstances specially favored the signal success of such an operation. The march to the point of attack could have been accomplished as soon as the forces were brought ultimately by rail to Manassas Junction; our enemy, thus attacked so nearly simultaneously on his right flank, his rear, and his front, naturally would suppose that I had been able to turn his flank while attacking him in front, and therefore, that I must have an overwhelming superiority of numbers; and his forces, being new troops, most of them under fire for the first time, must have soon fallen into a disastrous panic. Moreover, such an operation must have resulted advantageously to the Confederates, in the event that McDowell should, as might have been anticipated, attempt to strike the Manassas Gap railway to my left, and thus cut off railway communications between Johnston’s forces and my own, instead of the mere effort to strike my left flank which he actually essayed. (3)

It seemed, however, as though the deferred attempt at concentration was to go for naught, for on the morning of the 18th the Federal forces were massed around Centreville, but three miles from Mitchell’s Ford, and soon were seen advancing upon the roads leading to that and Blackburn’s Ford.  My order of battle, issued in the night of the 17th, contemplated an offensive return, particularly from the strong brigades on the light and right center. The Federal artillery opened in front of both fords, and the infantry, while demonstrating in front of Mitchell’s Ford, endeavored to force a passage at Blackburn’s. Their column of attack, Tyler’s division, was opposed by Longstreet’s forces, to the reenforcement of which Early’s brigade, the reserve line at McLean’s Ford, was ordered up. The Federals, after several attempts to force a passage, met a final repulse and retreated. (4) After their infantry attack had ceased, about 1 o’clock, the contest lapsed into an artillery duel, in which the Washington Artillery of New Orleans won credit against the renowned batteries of the United States regular army. A comical effect of this artillery fight was the destruction of the dinner of myself and staff by a Federal shell that fell into the fire-place of my headquarters at the McLean House.

Our success in this first limited collision was of special prestige to my army of new troops, and, moreover, of decisive importance by so increasing General McDowell’s caution as to give time for the arrival of some of General Johnston’s forces. But while on the 19th I was awaiting a renewed and general attack by the Federal army, I received a telegram from the Richmond military authorities, urging me to withdraw my call on General Johnston on account of the supposed impracticability of the concentration — an abiding conviction which had been but momentarily shaken by the alarm caused by McDowell’s march upon Richmond. (5)  As this was not an order in terms, but an urgency which, notwithstanding its superior source, left me technically free and could define me as responsible for any misevent, I preferred to keep both the situation and the responsibility, and continued every effort for the prompt arrival of the Shenandoah forces, being resolved, should they come before General McDowell again attacked, to take myself the offensive. General McDowell, fortunately for my plans, spent the 19th and 20th in reconnoissances; (6) and, meanwhile, General Johnston brought 8340 men from the Shenandoah Valley, with 20 guns, and General Holmes 1265 rank and file, with 6 pieces of artillery, from Aquia Creek. As these forces arrived (most of them in the afternoon of the 20th) I placed them chiefly so as to strengthen my left center and left, the latter being weak from lack of available troops.

The disposition of the entire force was now as follows: At Union Mills Ford, Ewell’s brigade, supported by Holmes’s; at McLean’s Ford, D. R. Jones’s brigade, supported by Early’s; at Blackburn’s Ford, Longstreet’s brigade; at Mitchell’s Ford, Bonham’s brigade. Cocke’s brigade held the line in front and rear of Bull Run from Bonham’s left, covering Lewis’s, Ball’s, and Island fords, to the right of Evans’s demi-brigade, which covered the Stone Bridge and a farm ford about a mile above, and formed part also of Cocke’s command. The Shenandoah forces were placed in reserve — Bee’s and Bartow’s brigades between McLean’s and Blackburn’s fords, and Jackson’s between Blackburn’s and Mitchell’s fords. This force mustered 29,188 rank and file and 55 guns, of which 21,923 infantry, cavalry, and artillery, with 29 guns, belonged to my immediate forces, i. e., the Army of the Potomac.

The preparation, in front of an ever-threatening enemy, of a wholly volunteer army, composed of men very few of whom had ever belonged to any military organization, had been a work of many cares not incident to the command of a regular army. These were increased by the insufficiency of my staff organization, an inefficient management of the quartermaster’s department at Richmond, and the preposterous mismanagement of the commissary-general, who not only failed to furnish rations, but caused the removal of the army commissaries, who, under my orders, procured food from the country in front of us to keep the army from absolute want—supplies that were otherwise exposed to be gathered by the enemy. So specially severe had been the recent duties at headquarters, aggravated not a little by night alarms arising from the enemy’s immediate presence, that, in the evening of the 20th, I found my chief-of-staff sunken upon the papers that covered his table, asleep in sheer exhaustion from the overstraining and almost slumberless labor of the last days and nights. I covered his door with a guard to secure his rest against any interruption, after which the army had the benefit of his usual active and provident services.

There was much in this decisive conflict about to open, not involved in any after battle, which pervaded the two armies and the people behind them and colored the responsibility of the respective commanders. The political hostilities of a generation were now face to face with weapons instead of words. Defeat to either side would be a deep mortification, but defeat to the South must turn its claim of independence into an empty vaunt; and the defeated commander on either side might expect, though not the personal fate awarded by the Carthaginians to an unfortunate commander, at least a moral fate quite similar. Though disappointed that the concentration I had sought had not been permitted at the moment and for the purpose preferred by me, and notwithstanding the non-arrival of some five thousand troops of the Shenandoah forces, my strength was now so increased that I had good hope of successfully meeting my adversary.

General Johnston was the ranking officer, and entitled, therefore, to assume command of the united forces; but as the extensive field of operations was one which I had occupied since the beginning of June, and with which I was thoroughly familiar in all its extent and military bearings, while he was wholly unacquainted with it, and, moreover, as I had made my plans and dispositions for the maintenance of the position, General Johnston, in view of the gravity of the impending issue, preferred not to assume the responsibilities of the chief direction of the forces during the battle, but to assist me upon the field. Thereupon, I explained my plans and purposes, to which he agreed. (7)

Sunday, July 21st, bearing the fate of the new-born Confederacy, broke brightly over the fields and woods that held the hostile forces. My scouts, thrown out in the night toward Centreville along the Warrenton Turnpike, had reported that the enemy was concentrating along the latter. This fact, together with the failure of the Federals in their attack upon my center at Mitchell’s and Blackburn’s fords, had caused me to apprehend that they would attempt my left flank at the Stone Bridge, and orders were accordingly issued by half-past 4 o’clock to the brigade commanders to hold their forces in readiness to move at a moment’s notice, together with the suggestion that the Federal attack might be expected in that quarter. Shortly afterward the enemy was reported to be advancing from Centreville on the Warrenton Turnpike, and at half-past 5 o’clock as deploying a force in front of Evans. As their movement against my left developed the opportunity I desired, I immediately sent orders to the brigade commanders, both front and reserves, on my right and center to advance and vigorously attack the Federal left flank and rear at Centreville, while my left, under Cocke and Evans with their supports, would sustain the Federal attack in the quarter of the Stone Bridge, which they were directed to do to the last extremity. The center was likewise to advance and engage the enemy in front, and directions were given to the reserves, when without orders, to move toward the sound of the heaviest firing. The ground in our front on the other side of Bull Run afforded particular advantage for these tactics. Centreville was the apex of a triangle — its short side running by the Warrenton Turnpike to Stone Bridge, its base Bull Run, its long side a road that ran from Union Mills along the front of my other Bull Run positions and trended off to the rear of Centreville, where McDowell had massed his main forces; branch roads led up to this one from the fords between Union Mills and Mitchell’s. My forces to the right of the latter ford were to advance, pivoting on that position; Bonham was in advance from Mitchell’s Ford, Longstreet from Blackburn’s, D. R. Jones from McLean’s, and Ewell from Union Mills by the Centreville road. Ewell, as having the longest march, was to begin the movement, and each brigade was to be followed by its reserve. In anticipation of this method of attack, and to prevent accidents, the subordinate commanders had been carefully instructed in the movement by me, as they were all new to the responsibilities of command. They were to establish close communication with each other before making the attack. About half-past 8 o’clock I set out with General Johnston for a convenient position,— a hill in rear of Mitchell’s Ford,— where we waited for the opening of the attack on our right, from which I expected a decisive victory by midday, with the result of cutting off the Federal army from retreat upon Washington.

Meanwhile, about half-past 5 o’clock, the peal of a heavy rifled gun was heard in front of the Stone Bridge, its second shot striking through the tent of my signal-officer, Captain E. P. Alexander; and at 6 o’clock a full rifled battery opened against Evans and then against Cocke, to which our artillery remained dumb, as it had not sufficient range to reply. But later, as the Federal skirmish-line advanced, it was engaged by ours, thrown well forward on the other side of the Run. A scattering musketry fire followed, and meanwhile, about 7 o’clock, I ordered Jackson’s brigade, with Imboden’s and five guns of Walton’s battery, to the left, with orders to support Cocke as well as Bonham; and the brigades of Bee and Bartow, under the command of the former, were also sent to the support of the left.

At half-past 8 o’clock Evans, seeing that the Federal attack did not increase in boldness and vigor, and observing a lengthening line of dust above the trees to the left of the Warrenton Turnpike, became satisfied that the attack in his front was but a feint, and that a column of the enemy was moving around through the woods to fall on his flank from the direction of Sudley Ford. Informing his immediate commander, Cocke, of the enemy’s movement, and of his own dispositions to meet it, he left 4 companies under cover at the Stone Bridge, and led the remainder of his force, 6 companies of Sloan’s 4th South Carolina and Wheat’s battalion of Louisiana Tigers, with 2 6-pounder howitzers, across the valley of Young’s Branch to the high ground beyond it. Resting his left on the Sudley road, he distributed his troops on each side of a small copse, with such cover as the ground afforded, and looking over the open fields and a reach of the Sudley road which the Federals must cover in their approach. His two howitzers were placed one at each end of his position, and here he silently awaited the enemy now drawing near.

The Federal turning column, about 18,000 strong, with 24 pieces of artillery, had moved down from Centreville by the Warrenton Turnpike, and after passing Cub Run had struck to the right by a forest road to cross Bull Run at Sudley Ford, about 3 miles above the Stone Bridge, moving by a long circuit for the purpose of attacking my left flank. The head of the column, Burnside’s brigade of Hunter’s division, at about 9:45 A. M. debouched from the woods into the open fields, in front of Evans. Wheat at once engaged their skirmishers, and as the Second Rhode Island regiment advanced, supported by its splendid battery of 6 rifled guns, the fronting thicket held by Evans’s South Carolinians poured forth its sudden volleys, while the 2 howitzers flung their grape-shot upon the attacking line, which was soon shattered and driven back into the woods behind. Major Wheat, after handling his battalion with the utmost determination, had fallen severely wounded in the lungs. Burnside’s entire brigade was now sent forward in a second charge, supported by 8 guns; but they encountered again the unflinching fire of Evans’s line, and were once more driven back to the woods, from the cover of which they continued the attack, reenforced after a time by the arrival of 8 companies of United States regular infantry, under Major Sykes, with 6 pieces of artillery, quickly followed by the remaining regiments of Andrew Porter’s brigade of the same division. The contest here lasted fully an hour; meanwhile Wheat’s battalion, having lost its leader, had gradually lost its organization, and Evans, though still opposing these heavy odds with undiminished firmness, sought reinforcement from the troops in his rear.

General Bee, of South Carolina, a man of marked character, whose command lay in reserve in rear of Cocke, near the Stone Bridge, intelligently applying the general order given to the reserves, had already moved toward the neighboring point of conflict, and taken a position with his own and Bartow’s brigades on the high plateau which stands in rear of Bull Run in the quarter of the Stone Bridge, and overlooking the scene of engagement upon the stretch of high ground from which it was separated by the valley of Young’s Branch. This plateau is inclosed on three sides by two small watercourses, which empty into Bull Run within a few yards of each other, a half mile to the south of the Stone Bridge. Rising to an elevation of quite 100 feet above .the level of Bull Run at the bridge, it falls off on three sides to the level of the inclosing streams in gentle slopes, but furrowed by ravines of irregular directions and length, and studded with clumps and patches of young pine and oaks. The general direction of the crest of the plateau is oblique to the course of Bull Run in that quarter and to the Sudley and turnpike roads, which intersect each other at right angles. On the north-western brow, overlooking Young’s Branch, and near the Sudley road, as the latter climbs over the plateau, stood the house of the widow Henry, while to its right and forward on a projecting spur stood the house and sheds of the free negro Robinson, just behind the turnpike, densely embowered in trees and shrubbery and environed by a double row of fences on two sides. Around the eastern and southern brow of the plateau an almost unbroken fringe of second-growth pines gave excellent shelter for our marksmen, who availed themselves of it with the most satisfactory skill. To the west, adjoining the fields that surrounded the houses mentioned, a broad belt of oaks extends directly across the crest on both sides of the Sudley road, in which, during the battle, the hostile forces contended for the mastery. General Bee, with a soldier’s eye to the situation, skillfully disposed his forces. His two brigades on either side of Imboden’s battery— which he had borrowed from his neighboring reserve, Jackson’s brigade — were placed in a small depression of the plateau in advance of the Henry house, whence he had a full view of the contest on the opposite height across the valley of Young’s Branch. Opening with his artillery upon the Federal batteries, he answered Evans’s request by advising him to withdraw to his own position on the height; but Evans, full of the spirit that would not retreat, renewed his appeal that the forces in rear would come to help him hold his ground. The newly arrived forces had given the Federals such superiority at this point as to dwarf Evans’s means of resistance, and General Bee, generously yielding his own better judgment to Evans’s persistence, led the two brigades across the valley under the fire of the enemy’s artillery, and threw them into action — 1 regiment in the copse held by Colonel Evans, 2 along a fence on the right, and 2 under General Bartow on the prolonged right of this line, but extended forward at a right angle and along the edge of a wood not more than 100 yards from that held by the enemy’s left, where the contest at short range became sharp and deadly, bringing many casualties to both sides. The Federal infantry, though still in superior numbers, failed to make any headway against this sturdy van, notwithstanding Bee’s whole line was hammered also by the enemy’s powerful batteries, until Heintzelman’s division of 2 strong brigades, arriving from Sudley Ford, extended the fire on the Federal right, while its battery of 6 10-pounder rifled guns took an immediately effective part from “a position behind the Sudley road. Against these odds the Confederate force was still endeavoring to hold its ground, when a new enemy came into the field upon its right. Major Wheat, with characteristic daring and restlessness, had crossed Bull Run alone by a small ford above the Stone Bridge, in order to reconnoiter, when he and Evans had first moved to the left, and, falling on some Federal scouts, had shouted a taunting defiance and withdrawn, not, however, without his place of crossing having been observed. This disclosure was now utilized by Sherman’s (W. T.) and Keyes’s brigades of Tyler’s division; crossing at this point, they appeared over the high bank of the stream and moved into position on the Federal left. There was no choice now for Bee but to retire — a movement, however, to be accomplished under different circumstances than when urged by him upon Evans. The three leaders endeavored to preserve the steadiness of the ranks as they withdrew over the open fields, aided by the fire of Imboden’s guns on the plateau and the retiring howitzers; but the troops were thrown into confusion, and the greater part soon fell into rout across Young’s Branch and around the base of the height in the rear of the Stone Bridge.

Meanwhile, in rear of Mitchell’s Ford, I had been waiting with General Johnston for the sound of conflict to open in the quarter of Centreville upon the Federal left flank and rear (making allowance, however, for the delays possible to commands unused to battle), when I was chagrined to hear from General D. E. Jones that, while he had been long ready for the movement upon Centreville, General Ewell had not come up to form on his right, though he had sent him between 7 and 8 o’clock a copy of his own order which recited that Ewell had been already ordered to begin the movement. I dispatched an immediate order to Ewell to advance; but within a quarter of an hour, just as I received a dispatch from him informing me that he had received no order to advance in the morning, the firing on the left began to increase so intensely as to indicate a severe attack, whereupon General Johnston said that he would go personally to that quarter.

After weighing attentively the firing, which seemed rapidly and heavily increasing, it appeared to me that the troops on the right wovdd be unable to get into position before the Federal offensive should have made too much progress on our left, and that it would be better to abandon it altogether, maintaining only a strong demonstration so as to detain the enemy in front of our right and center, and hurry up all available reinforcements — including the reserves that were to have moved upon Centreville — to our left and fight the battle out in that quarter. Communicating this view to General Johnston, who approved it (giving his advice, as he said, for what it was worth, as he was not acquainted with the country), I ordered Ewell, Jones, and Longstreet to make a strong demonstration all along their front on the other side of the Run, and ordered the reserves below our position, Holmes’s brigade with 6 guns, and Early’s brigade, also 2 regiments of Bonham’s brigade, near at hand, to move swiftly to the left. General Johnston and I now set out at full speed for the point of conflict. We arrived there just as Bee’s troops, after giving way, were fleeing in disorder behind the height in rear of the Stone Bridge. They had come around between the base of the hill and the Stone Bridge into a shallow ravine which ran up to a point on the crest where Jackson had already formed his brigade along the edge of the woods. We found the commanders resolutely stemming the further flight of the routed forces, but vainly endeavoring to restore order, and our own efforts were as futile. Every segment of line we succeeded in forming was again dissolved while another was being formed; more than two thousand men were shouting each some suggestion to his neighbor, their voices mingling with the noise of the shells hurtling through the trees overhead, and all word of command drowned in the confusion and uproar. It was at this moment that General Bee used the famous expression, “Look at Jackson’s brigade! It stands there like a stone wall”— a name that passed from the brigade to its immortal commander. The disorder seemed irretrievable, but happily the thought came to me that if their colors were planted out to the front the men might rally on them, and I gave the order to carry the standards forward some forty yards, which was promptly executed by the regimental officers, thus drawing the common eye of the troops. They now received easily the orders to advance and form on the line of their colors, which they obeyed with a general movement; and as General Johnston and myself rode forward shortly after with the colors of the 4th Alabama by our side, the line that had fought all morning, and had fled, routed and disordered, now advanced again into position as steadily as veterans. The 4th Alabama had previously lost all its field-officers; and noticing Colonel S. R. Gist, an aide to General Bee, a young man whom I had known as adjutant-general of South Carolina, and whom I greatly esteemed, I presented him as an able and brave commander to the stricken regiment, who cheered their new leader, and maintained under him, to the end of the day, their previous gallant behavior. We had come none too soon, as the enemy’s forces, flushed with the belief of accomplished victory, were already advancing across the valley of Young’s Branch and up the slope, where they had encountered for a while the fire of the Hampton Legion, which had been led forward toward the Robinson house and the turnpike in front, covering the retreat and helping materially to check the panic of Bee’s routed forces.

As soon as order was restored I requested General Johnston to go back to Portici (the Lewis house), and from that point — which I considered most favorable for the purpose — forward me the reinforcements as they would come from the Bull Run lines below and those that were expected to arrive from Manassas, while I should direct the field. General Johnston was disinclined to leave the battle-field for that position. As I had been compelled to leave my chief-of-staff, Colonel Jordan, at Manassas to forward any troops arriving there, I felt it was a necessity that one of us should go to this duty, and that it was his place to do so, as I felt I was responsible for the battle. He considerately yielded to my urgency, and we had the benefit of his energy and sagacity in so directing the reenforcements toward the field, as to be readily and effectively assistant to my pressing needs and insure the success of the day.

As General Johnston departed for Portici, I hastened to form our line of battle against the on-coming enemy. I ordered up the 49th and 8th Virginia regiments from Cocke’s neighboring brigade in the Bull Bun lines. Gartrell’s 7th Georgia I placed in position on the left of Jackson’s brigade, along the belt of pines occupied by the latter on the eastern rim of the plateau. As the 49th Virginia rapidly came up, its colonel, ex-Governor William Smith, was encouraging them with cheery word and manner, and, as they approached, indicated to them the immediate presence of the commander. As the regiment raised a loud cheer, the name was caught by some of the troops of Jackson’s brigade in the immediate wood, who rushed out, calling for General Beauregard. Hastily acknowledging these happy signs of sympathy and confidence, which reenforce alike the capacity of commander and troops, I placed the 49th Virginia in position on the extreme left next to Gartrell, and as I paused to say a few words to Jackson, while hurrying back to the right, my horse was killed under me by a bursting shell, a fragment of which carried away part of the heel of my boot. The Hampton Legion, which had suffered greatly, was placed on the right of Jackson’s brigade, and Hunton’s 8th Virginia, as it arrived, upon the right of Hampton; the two latter being drawn somewhat to the rear so as to form with Jackson’s right regiment a reserve, and be ready likewise to make defense against any advance from the direction of the Stone Bridge, whence there was imminent peril from the enemy’s heavy forces, as I had just stripped that position almost entirely of troops to meet the active crisis on the plateau, leaving this quarter now covered only by a few men, whose defense was otherwise assisted solely by the obstruction of an abatis.

With 6500 men and 13 pieces of artillery, I now awaited the onset of the enemy, who were pressing forward 20,000 strong, (8) with 24 pieces of superior artillery and 7 companies of regular cavalry. They soon appeared over the farther rim of the plateau, seizing the Robinson house on my right and the Henry house opposite my left center. Near the latter they placed in position the two powerful batteries of Ricketts and Griffin of the regular army, and pushed forward up the Sudley road, the slope of which was cut so deep below the adjacent ground as to afford a covered way up to the plateau. Supported by the formidable lines of Federal musketry, these 2 batteries lost no time in making themselves felt, while 3 more batteries in rear on the high ground beyond the Sudley and Warrenton cross-roads swelled the shower of shell that fell among our ranks.

Our own batteries, Imboden’s, Stanard’s, five of Walton’s guns, reenforced later by Pendleton’s and Alburtis’s (their disadvantage being reduced by the shortness of range), swept the surface of the plateau from their position on the eastern rim. I felt that, after the accidents of the morning, much depended on maintaining the steadiness of the troops against the first heavy onslaught, and rode along the lines encouraging the men to unflinching behavior, meeting, as I passed each command, a cheering response. The steady fire of their musketry told severely on the Federal ranks, and the splendid action of our batteries was a fit preface to the marked skill exhibited by our artillerists during the war. The enemy suffered particularly from the musketry on our left, now further reenforced by the 2d Mississippi — the troops in this quarter confronting each other at very short range. Here two companies of Stuart’s cavalry charged through the Federal ranks that filled the Sudley road, increasing the disorder wrought upon that flank of the enemy. But with superior numbers the Federals were pushing on new regiments in the attempt to flank my position, and several guns, in the effort to enfilade ours, were thrust forward so near the 33d Virginia that some of its men sprang forward and captured them, but were driven back by an overpowering force of Federal musketry. Although the enemy were held well at bay, their pressure became so strong that I resolved to take the offensive, and ordered a charge on my right for the purpose of recovering the plateau. The movement, made with alacrity and force by the commands of Bee, Bartow, Evans, and Hampton, thrilled the entire line, Jackson’s brigade piercing the enemy’s center, and the left of the line under Gartrell and Smith following up the charge, also, in that quarter, so that the whole of the open surface of the plateau was swept clear of the Federals.

Apart from its impressions on the enemy, the effect of this brilliant onset was to give a short breathing-spell to our troops from the immediate strain of conflict, and encourage them in withstanding the still more strenuous offensive that was soon to bear upon them. Reorganizing our line of battle under the unremitting fire of the Federal batteries opposite, I prepared to meet the new attack which the enemy were about to make, largely reenforced by the troops of Howard’s brigade, newly arrived on the field. The Federals again pushed up the slope, the face of which partly afforded good cover by the numerous ravines that scored it and the clumps of young pines and oaks with which it was studded, while the sunken Sudley road formed a good ditch and parapet for their aggressive advance upon my left flank and rear. Gradually they pressed our lines back and regained possession of their lost ground and guns. With the Henry and Robinson houses once more in their possession, they resumed the offensive, urged forward by their commanders with conspicuous gallantry.

The conflict now became very severe for the final possession of this position, which was the key to victory. The Federal numbers enabled them so to extend their lines through the woods beyond the Sudley road as to outreach my left flank, which I was compelled partly to throw back, so as to meet the attack from that quarter; meanwhile their numbers equally enabled them to outflank my right in the direction of the Stone Bridge, imposing anxious watchfulness in that direction. I knew that I was safe if I could hold out till the arrival of reenforcements, which was but a matter of time; and, with the full sense of my own responsibility, I was determined to hold the line of the plateau, even if surrounded on all sides, until assistance should come, unless my forces were sooner overtaken by annihilation.

It was now between half-past 2 and 3 o’clock; a scorching sun increased the oppression of the troops, exhausted from incessant fighting, many of them having been engaged since the morning. Fearing lest the Federal offensive should secure too firm a grip, and knowing the fatal result that might spring from any grave infraction of my line, I determined to make another effort for the recovery of the plateau, and ordered a charge of the entire line of battle, including the reserves, which at this crisis I myself led into action. The movement was made with such keeping and dash that the whole plateau was swept clear of the enemy, who were driven down the slope and across the turnpike on our right and the valley of Young’s Branch on our left, leaving in our final possession the Robinson and Henry houses, with most of Ricketts’s and Griffin’s batteries, the men of which were mostly shot down where they bravely stood by their guns. Fisher’s 6th North Carolina, directed to the Lewis house by Colonel Jordan from Manassas, where it had just arrived, and thence to the field by General Johnston, came up in happy time to join in this charge on the left. Withers’s 18th Virginia, which I had ordered up from Cocke’s brigade, was also on hand in time to follow and give additional effect to the charge, capturing, by aid of the Hampton Legion, several guns, which were immediately turned and served upon the broken ranks of the enemy by some of our officers. This handsome work, which broke the Federal fortunes of the day, was done, however, at severe cost. The soldierly Bee, and the gallant, impetuous Bartow, whose day of strong deeds was about to close with such credit, fell a few rods back of the Henry house, near the very spot whence in the morning they had first looked forth upon Evans’s struggle with the enemy. Colonel Fisher also fell at the very head of his troops. Seeing Captain Ricketts, who was badly wounded in the leg, and having known him in the old army, I paused from my anxious duties to ask him whether I could do anything for him. He answered that he wanted to be sent back to Washington. As some of our prisoners were there held under threats of not being treated as prisoners of war, I replied that that must depend upon how our prisoners were treated, and ordered him to be carried to the rear. I mention this, because the report of the Federal Committee on the Conduct of the War exhibits Captain Ricketts as testif ying that I only approached him to say that he would be treated as our prisoners might be treated. I sent my own surgeons to care for him, and allowed his wife to cross the lines and accompany him to Richmond; and my adjutant-general, Colonel Jordan, escorting her to the car that carried them to that city, personally attended to the comfortable placing of the wounded enemy for the journey.

That part of the enemy who occupied the woods beyond our left and across the Sudley road had not been reached by the headlong charge which had swept their comrades from the plateau; but the now arriving reenforcements (Kershaw’s 2d and Cash’s 8th South Carolina) were led into that quarter. Kemper’s battery also came up, preceded by its commander, who, while alone, fell into the hands of a number of the enemy, who took him prisoner, until a few moments later, when he handed them over to some of our own troops accompanying his battery. A small plateau, within the south-west angle of the Sudley and turnpike cross-roads, was still held by a strong Federal brigade — Howard’s troops, together with Sykes’s battalion of regulars; and while Kershaw and Cash, after passing through the skirts of the oak wood along the Sudley road, engaged this force, Kemper’s battery was sent forward by Kershaw along the same road, into position near where a hostile battery had been captured, and whence it played upon the enemy in the open field.

Quickly following these regiments came Preston’s 28th Virginia, which, passing through the woods, encountered and drove back some Michigan troops, capturing Brigadier-General Willcox. It was now about 3 o’clock, when another important reenforcement came to our aid—Elzey’s brigade, 1700 strong, of the Army of the Shenandoah, which, coming from Piedmont by railroad, had arrived at Manassas station, 6 miles in rear of the battle-field, at noon, and had been without delay directed thence toward the field by Colonel Jordan, aided by Major T. G. Rhett, who that morning had passed from General Bonham’s to General Johnston’s staff. Upon nearing the vicinity of the Lewis house, the brigade was directed by a staff-officer sent by General Johnston toward the left of the field. As it reached the oak wood, just across the Sudley road, led by General Kirby Smith, the latter fell severely wounded; but the command devolved upon Colonel Elzey, an excellent officer, who was now guided by Captain D. B. Harris of the Engineers, a highly accomplished officer of my staff, still farther to the left and through the woods, so as to form in extension of the line of the preceding reinforcements. Beckham’s battery, of the same command, was hurried forward by the Sudley road and around the woods into position near the Chinn house; from a well-selected point of action, in full view of the enemy that filled the open fields west of the Sudley road, it played with deadly and decisive effect upon their ranks, already under the fire of Elzey’s brigade. Keyes’s Federal brigade, which had made its way across the turnpike in rear of the Stone Bridge, was lurking along under cover of the ridges and a wood in order to turn my line on the right, but was easily repulsed by Latham’s battery, already placed in position over that approach by Captain Harris, aided by Alburtis’s battery, opportunely sent to Latham’s left by General Jackson, and supported by fragments of troops collected by staff-officers. Meanwhile, the enemy had formed a line of battle of formidable proportions on the opposite height, and stretching in crescent outline, with flanks advanced, from the Pittsylvania (Carter) mansion on their left across the Sudley road in rear of Dogan’s and reaching toward the Chinn house. They offered a fine spectacle as they threw forward a cloud of skirmishers down the opposite slope, preparatory to a new assault against the line on the plateau. But their right was now severely pressed by the troops that had successively arrived; the force in the south-west angle of the Sudley and Warrenton cross-roads were driven from their position, and, as Early’s brigade, which, by direction of General Johnston, had swept around by the rear of the woods through which Elzey had passed, appeared on the field, his line of march bore upon the flank of the enemy, now retiring in that quarter.

This movement by my extreme left was masked by the trend of the woods from many of our forces on the plateau; and bidding those of my staff and escort around me raise a loud cheer, I dispatched the information to the several commands, with orders to go forward in a common charge. Before the full advance of the Confederate ranks the enemy’s whole line, whose right was already yielding, irretrievably broke, fleeing across Bull Run by every available direction. Major Sykes’s regulars, aided by Sherman’s brigade, made a steady and handsome withdrawal, protecting the rear of the routed forces, and enabling many to escape by the Stone Bridge. Having ordered in pursuit all the troops on the field, I went to the Lewis house, and, the battle being ended, turned over the command to General Johnston. Mounting a fresh horse,— the fourth on that day,— I started to press the pursuit which was being made by our infantry and cavalry, some of the latter having been sent by General Johnston from Lewis’s Ford to intercept the enemy on the turnpike. I was soon overtaken, however, by a courier bearing a message from Major T. G. Rhett, General Johnston’s chief-of-staff on duty at Manassas railroad station, informing me of a report that a large Federal force, having pierced our lower line on Bull Run, was moving upon Camp Pickens, my depot of supplies near Manassas. I returned, and communicated this important news to General Johnston. Upon consultation it was deemed best that I should take Ewell’s and Holmes’s brigades, which were hastening up to the battle-field, but too late for the action, and fall on this force of the enemy, while reinforcements should be sent me from the pursuing forces, who were to be recalled for that purpose. To head off the danger and gain time, I hastily mounted a force of infantry behind the cavalrymen then present, but, on approaching the line of march near McLean’s Ford, which the Federals must have taken, I learned that the news was a false alarm caught from the return of General Jones’s forces to this side of the Run, the similarity of the uniforms and the direction of their march having convinced some nervous person that they were a force of the enemy. It was now almost dark, and too late to resume the broken pursuit; on my return I met the coming forces, and, as they were very tired, I ordered them to halt and bivouac for the night where they were. After giving such attention as I could to the troops, I started for Manassas, where I arrived about 10 o’clock, and found Mr. Davis at my headquarters with General Johnston. Arriving from Richmond late in the afternoon, Mr. Davis had immediately galloped to the field, accompanied by Colonel Jordan. They had met between Manassas and the battle-field the usual number of stragglers to the rear, whose appearance belied the determined array then sweeping the enemy before it, but Mr. Davis had the happiness to arrive in time to witness the last of the Federals disappearing beyond Bull Run. The next morning I received from his hand at our breakfast-table my commission, dated July 21st, as General in the Army of the Confederate States, and after his return to Richmond the kind congratulations of the Secretary of War and of General Lee, then acting as military adviser to the President.

It was a point made at the time at the North that, just as the Confederate troops were about to break and flee, the Federal troops anticipated them by doing so, being struck into this precipitation by the arrival upon their flank of the Shenandoah forces marching from railroad trains halted en route with that aim—errors that have been repeated by a number of writers, and by an ambitious but superficial French author.

There were certain sentiments of a personal character clustering about this first battle, and personal anxiety as to its issue, that gladly accepted this theory. To this may be added the general readiness to accept a sentimental or ultra-dramatic explanation—a sorcery wrought by the delay or arrival of some force, or the death or coming of somebody, or any other single magical event—whereby history is easily caught, rather than to seek an understanding of that which is but the gradual result of the operation of many forces, both of opposing design and actual collision, modified more or less by the falls of chance. The personal sentiment, though natural enough at the time, has no place in any military estimate, or place of any kind at this day. The battle of Manassas was, like any other battle, a progression and development from the deliberate counter-employment of the military resources in hand, affected by accidents, as always, but of a kind very different from those referred to. My line of battle, which twice had not only withstood the enemy’s attack, but had taken the offensive and driven him back in disorder, was becoming momentarily stronger from the arrival, at last, of the reenforcements provided for; and if the enemy had remained on the field till the arrival of Ewell and Holmes, they would have been so strongly outflanked that many who escaped would have been destroyed or captured.

Though my adversary’s plan of battle was a good one as against a passive defensive opponent, such as he may have deemed I must be from the respective numbers and positions of our forces, it would, in my judgment, have been much better if, with more dash, the flank attack had been made by the Stone Bridge itself and the ford immediately above it. The plan adopted, however, favored above all things the easy -execution of the offensive operations I had designed and ordered against his left flank and rear at Centreville. His turning column —18,000 strong, and presumably his best troops—was thrown off by a long ellipse through a narrow forest road to Sudley Ford, from which it moved down upon my left flank, and was thus dislocated from his main body. This severed movement of his forces not only left his exposed left and rear at Centreville weak against the simultaneous offensive of my heaviest forces upon it, which I had ordered, but the movement of his returning column would have been disconcerted and paralyzed by the early sound of this heavy conflict in its rear, and it could not even have made its way back so as to be available for manoeuvre before the Centreville fraction had been thrown back upon it in disorder. A new army is very liable to panic, and, in view of the actual result of the battle, the conclusion can hardly be resisted that the panic which fell on the Federal army would thus have seized it early in the day, and with my forces in such a position as wholly to cut off its retreat upon Washington. But the commander of the front line on my right, who had been ordered to hold himself in readiness to initiate the offensive at a moment’s notice, did not make the move expected of him because through accident he failed to receive his own immediate order to advance. (9) The Federal commander’s flanking movement, being thus uninterrupted by such a counter-movement as I had projected, was further assisted through the rawness and inadequacy of our staff organization through which I was left unacquainted with the actual state of affairs on my left. The Federal attack, already thus greatly favored, and encouraged, moreover, by the rout of General Bee’s advanced line, failed for two reasons : their forces were not handled with concert of masses (a fault often made later on both sides), and the individual action of the Confederate troops was superior, and for a very palpable reason. That one army was fighting for union and the other for disunion is a political expression; the actual fact on the battle-field, in the face of cannon and musket, was that the Federal troops came as invaders, and the Southern troops stood as defenders of their homes, and further than this we need not go. The armies were vastly greater than had ever before fought on this continent, and were the largest volunteer armies ever assembled since the era of regular armies. The personal material on both sides was of exceptionally good character, and collectively superior to that of any subsequent period of the war. (10) The Confederate army was filled with generous youths who had answered the first call to arms. For certain kinds of field duty they were not as yet adapted, many of them having at first come with their baggage and servants; these they had to dispense with, but, not to offend their susceptibilities, I then exacted the least work from them, apart from military drills, even to the prejudice of important fieldworks, when I could not get sufficient negro labor; they “had come to fight, and not to handle the pick and shovel,” and their fighting redeemed well their shortcomings as intrenchers. Before I left that gallant army, however, it had learned how readily the humbler could aid the nobler duty.

As to immediate results and trophies, we captured a great many stands of arms, batteries, equipments, standards, and flags, one of which was sent to me, through General Longstreet, as a personal compliment by the Texan “crack shot,” Colonel B. F. Terry, who lowered it from its mast at Fairfax Court House, by cutting the halyards by means of his unerring rifle, as our troops next morning reoccupied that place. We captured also many prisoners, including a number of surgeons, whom (the first time in war) we treated not as prisoners, but as guests. Calling attention to their brave devotion to their wounded, I recommended to the War Department that they be sent home without exchange, together with some other prisoners, who had shown personal kindness to Colonel Jones, of the 4th Alabama, who had been mortally wounded early in the day.

SUBSEQUENT RELATIONS OF MR. DAVIS AND THE WRITER

The military result of the victory was far short of what it should have been. It established as an accomplished fact, on the indispensable basis of military success, the Government of the Confederate States, which before was but a political assertion; but it should have reached much further. The immediate pursuit, but for the false alarm which checked it, would have continued as far as the Potomac, but must have stopped there with no greater result than the capture of more prisoners and material. The true immediate fruits of the victory should have been the dispersion of all the Federal forces south of Baltimore and east of the Alleghanies, the liberation of the State of Maryland, and the capture of Washington, which could have been made only by the Upper Potomac. And from the high source of this achievement other decisive results would have continued to flow. From my experience in the Mexican war I had great confidence in intelligent volunteer troops, if rightly handled; and with such an active and victorious war-engine as the Confederate Army of the Potomac could have immediately been made,— reenforced, as time went, by numbers and discipline,— the Federal military power in the East could never have reached the head it took when McClellan was allowed to organize and discipline at leisure the powerful army that, in the end, wore out the South. In war one success makes another easier, and its right use is as the step to another, until final achievement. This was the use besought by me in the plan of campaign I have mentioned as presented to Mr. Davis on the 14th of July, a few days before the battle, but rejected by him as impracticable, and as rather offering opportunity to the enemy to crush us. To supply the deficiency of transportation (our vehicles being few in number, and many so poor as to break down in ordinary camp service), I myself had assigned to special duty Colonel (since Governor) James L. Kemper, of Virginia, who quickly obtained for me some two hundred good wagons, to which number I had limited him so as not to arouse again the jealousy of the President’s staff. If my plan of operations for the capture of Washington had been adopted, I should have considered myself thereby authorized and free to obtain, as I readily could have done, the transportation necessary. As it was—though the difficult part of this “impracticable” plan of operations had been proven feasible, that is, the concentration of the Shenandoah forces with mine (wrung later than the eleventh hour through the alarm over the march upon Richmond, and discountenanced again nervously at the twelfth hour by another alarm as to how “the enemy may vary his plans” in consequence), followed by the decisive defeat of the main Federal forces — nevertheless the army remained rooted in the spot, although we had more than fifteen thousand troops who had been not at all or but little in the battle and were perfectly organized, while the remaining commands, in the high spirits of victory, could have been reorganized at the tap of the drum, and many with improved captured arms and equipments. I had already urged my views with unusual persistency, and acted on them against all but an express order to the contrary; and as they had been deliberately rejected in their ultimate scope by Mr. Davis as the commander-in-chief, I did not feel authorized to urge them further than their execution had been allowed, unless the subject were broached anew by himself. But there was no intimation of any such change of purpose, and the army, consistently with this inertia, was left unprovided for manoeuvre with transportation for its ammunition; its fortitude, moreover, as a new and volunteer army, while spending sometimes 24 hours without food, being only less wonderful than the commissary administration at Richmond, from which such a state of affairs could proceed even two weeks after the battle of Manassas. Although certain political superstitions about not consolidating the North may then have weighed against the action I proposed, they would have been light against a true military policy, if such had existed in the head of the Government. Apart from an active material ally, such as the colonies had afield and on sea in the War of Independence with Great Britain, a country in fatal war must depend on the vigor of its warfare; the more inferior the country, the bolder and more enterprising the use of its resources, especially if its frontiers are convenient to the enemy. I was convinced that our success lay in a short, quick war of decisive blows, before the Federals, with their vast resources, could build up a great military power; to which end a concerted use of our forces, immediate and sustained, was necessary, so that, weaker though we were at all separate points, we might nevertheless strike with superior strength at some chosen decisive point, and after victory there reach for victory now made easier elsewhere, and thus sum up success. Instead of this, which in war we call concentration, our actual policy was diffusion, an inferior Confederate force at each separate point defensively confronting a superior Federal force; our power daily shrinking, that of the enemy increasing; the avowed Federal policy being that of “attrition,” their bigger masses grinding our smaller, one by one, to naught. Out of this state we never emerged, when the direction of the Government was, as almost always, necessary, excepting when “Richmond ” was immediately in danger.

Thus, in the fall of 1861, about three months after the battle of Manassas,— after throwing my whole force forward to Fairfax Court House, with outposts flaunting our flags on the hills in sight of Washington, in order to chafe the Federals to another battle, but without success,— I proposed that the army should be raised to an effective of 60,000 men, by drawing 20,000 for the immediate enterprise from several points along the seaboard, not even at that time threatened, and from our advanced position be swiftly thrown across the Potomac at a point which I had had carefully surveyed for that purpose, and moved upon the rear of Washington, thus forcing McClellan to a decisive engagement before his organization (new enlistments) was completed, and while our own army had the advantage of discipline and prestige — seasoned soldiers, whose term, however, would expire in the early part of the coming summer. This plan, approved by General Gustavus W. Smith (then immediately commanding General Johnston’s own forces) as well as by General Johnston, was submitted to Mr. Davis in a conference at my headquarters, but rejected because he would not venture to strip those points of the troops we required. Even if those points had been captured, though none were then even threatened, they must have reverted as a direct consequence to so decisive a success. I was willing, then, should it have come to that, to exchange even Richmond temporarily for Washington. Yet it was precisely from similar combinations and elements that the army was made up, to enable it the next spring, under General Lee, to encounter McClellan at the very door of Richmond. If that which was accepted as a last defensive resort against an overwhelming aggressive army had been used in an enterprising offensive against that same army while yet in the raw, the same venture had been made at less general risk, less cost of valuable lives, and with greater certain results. The Federal army would have had no chance meanwhile to become tempei’ed to that magnificent military machine which, through all its defeats and losses, remained sound, and was stronger, with its readily assimilating new strength, at the end of the war than ever before; the pressure would have been lifted from Kentucky and Missouri, and we should have maintained what is called an active defensive warfare, that is, should have taken and kept the offensive against the enemy, enforcing peace.

No people ever warred for independence with more relative advantages than the Confederates; and if, as a military question, they must have failed, then no country must aim at freedom by means of war. We were one in sentiment as in territory, starting out, not with a struggling administration of doubtful authority, but with our ancient State governments and a fully organized central government. As a military question, it was in no sense a civil war, but a war between two countries—for conquest on one side, for self-preservation on the other. The South, with its great material resources, its defensive means of mountains, rivers, railroads, and telegraph, with the immense advantage of the interior lines of war, would be open to discredit as a people if its failure could not be explained otherwise than by mere material contrast. The great Frederick, at the head of a little people, not only beat back a combination of several great military powers, but conquered and kept territory; and Napoleon held combined Europe at the feet of France till his blind ambition overleaped itself. It may be said that the South had no Fredericks or Napoleons; but it had at least as good commanders as its adversary. Nor was it the fault of our soldiers or people. Our soldiers were as brave and intelligent as ever bore arms; and, if only for reasons already mentioned, they did not lack in determination. Our people bore a devotion to the cause never surpassed, and which no war-making monarch ever had for his support; they gave their all—even the last striplings under the family roofs filling the ranks voided by the fall of their fathers and brothers. But the narrow military view of the head of the Government, which illustrated itself at the outset by ordering from Europe, not 100,000 or 1,000,000, but 10,000 stands of arms, as an increase upon 8000, its first estimate, was equally narrow and timid in its employment of our armies.

The moral and material forces actually engaged in the war made our success amoral certainty, but for the timid policy which—ignoring strategy as a science and boldness of enterprise as its ally — could never be brought to new the whole theater of war as one subject, of which all points were but integral parts, or to hazard for the time points relatively unimportant for the purpose of gathering for an overwhelming and rapid stroke at some decisive point; and which, again, with characteristic mis-elation, would push a victorious force directly forward into unsupported and disastrous operations, instead of using its victory to spare from it strength sufficient to secure an equally important success in another quarter. The great principles of war are truths, and the same to-day as in the time of Caesar or Napoleon, notwithstanding the ideas of some thoughtless persons—their applications being but intensified by the scientific discoveries affecting transportation and communication of intelligence. These principles are few and simple, however various their deductions and application. Skill in strategy consists in seeing through the intricacies of the whole situation, and bringing into proper combination forces and influences, though seemingly unrelated, so as to apply these principles, and with boldness of decision and execution appearing with the utmost force, and, if possible, superior odds, before the enemy at some strategic, that is, decisive point. And although a sound military plan may not be always so readily conceived, yet any plan that offers decisive results, if it agree with the principles of war, is as plain and intelligible as these principles themselves, and no more to be rejected than they. There still remains, of course, the hazard of accident in execution, and the apprehension of the enemy’s movements upsetting your own; but hazard may also favor as well as disfavor, and will not unbefriend the enterprising any more than the timid. It was this fear of possible consequences that kept our forces scattered in inferior relative strength at all points of the compass, each holding its bit of ground till by slow local process our territory was taken and our separate forces destroyed, or, if captured, retained by the enemy without exchange in their process of attrition. To stop the slow consumption of this passive mode of warfare I tried my part, and, at certain critical junctures, proposed to the Government active plans of operation looking to such results as I have described,— sometimes, it is true, in relation to the employment of forces not under my control, as I was the soldier of a cause and people, not of a monarch nor even of a government. Two occasions there were when certain of the most noted Federal operations, from their isolated or opportune character, might, with energy and intelligent venture on the Confederate side, have been turned into fatal disaster; among them Grant’s movement in front of Vicksburg, and his change of base from the north to the south of the James River, where I was in command, in his last campaign against Richmond. I urged particularly that our warfare was sure of final defeat unless we attempted decisive strokes that might be followed up to the end, and that, even if earlier defeat might chance from the risk involved in the execution of the necessary combinations, we ought to take that risk and thereby either win or end an otherwise useless struggle. But, in addition to the radical divergence of military ideas,— the passive defensive of an intellect timid of risk and not at home in war, and the active defensive reaching for success through enterprise and boldness, according to the lessons taught us in the campaigns of the great masters,— there was a personal feeling that now gave cold hearing, or none, to any recommendations of mine. Mr. Davis’s friendship, warm at the early period of the war, was changed, some time after the battle of Manassas, to a corresponding hostility from several personal causes, direct and indirect, of which I need mention but one. My report of Manassas having contained, as part of its history, a statement of the submission of the full plan of campaign for concentrating our forces, crushing successively McDowell and Patterson and capturing Washington, Mr. Davis strangely took offense thereat; and, now that events had demonstrated the practicability of that plan, he sought to get rid of his self-accused responsibility for rejecting it, by denying that any such had been submitted — an issue, for that matter, easily settled by my production of the contemporaneous report of Colonel James Chesnut, the bearer of the mission, who, moreover, at the time of this controversy was on Mr. Davis’s own staff, where he remained. Mr. Davis made an endeavor to suppress the publication of my report of the battle of Manassas. The matter came up in a secret debate in the Confederate Congress, where a host of friends were ready to sustain me; but I sent a telegram disclaiming any desire for its publication, and advising that tli i safety of the country should be our solicitude, and not personal ends.

Thenceforth Mr. Davis’s hostility was watchful and adroit, neglecting no opportunity, great or small; and though, from motives all its opposite, it was not exposed during the war by any murmurs of mine, it bruited sometimes in certain quarters of its own force. Thus, when in January, 1862, the Western representatives expressed a desire that I should separate myself for a time from my Virginia forces and go to the defense of the Mississippi Valley from the impending offensive of Halleck and Grant, it was furthered by the Executive with inducements which I trusted,— in disregard of Senator Toombs’s sagacious warning, that under this furtherance lurked a purpose to effect my downfall, urged in one of his communications through his son-in-law, Mr. Alexander, in words as impressive as they proved prophetic: “Urge General Beauregard to decline all proposals and solicitations. The Blade of Joab. Verbum Sapienti” After going through the campaign of Shiloh and Corinth, not only with those inducements unfulfilled, but with vital drawbacks from the Government, including the refusal of necessary rank to competent subordinates to assist in organizing my hastily collected and mostly raw troops, I was forced, the following June, in deferred obedience to the positive order of my physicians, to withdraw from my immediate camp to another point in my department for recovery from illness, leaving under the care of my lieutenant, General Bragg, my army, then unmenaced and under reorganization with a view to an immediate offensive I had purposed. In anticipation and exclusion of the receipt of full dispatches following my telegram, the latter was tortuously misread, in a manner not creditable to a school-boy and repugnant to Mr. Davis’s exact knowledge of syntax, so as to give pretext to the shocking charge that I had abandoned my army, and a telegram was sent in naked haste directly to General Bragg, telling him to retain the permanent command of the army. The “Blade of Joab” had given its thrust. The representatives in Congress from the West and South-west applied to Mr. Davis in a body for my restoration; and when, disregarding his sheer pretext that I had abandoned my army, they still insisted, Mr. Davis declared that I should not be restored if the whole world should ask it! This machination went to such length that it was given out in Richmond that I had softening of the brain and had gone crazy. So carefully was this report fostered (one of its tales being that I would sit all day stroking a pheasant (11)) that a friend of mine, a member of the Confederate Congress, thought it his duty to write me a special letter respecting the device, advising me to come directly to Richmond to confound it by my presence — a proceeding which I disdained to take. I had not only then, but from later, still more offensive provocation, imperative cause to resign, and would have done so but for a sense of public obligation. Indeed, in my after fields of action the same hostility was more and more active in its various embarrassments, reckless that the strains inflicted upon me bore upon the troops and country depending on me and relatively upon the cause, so that I often dreaded failure more from my own Government behind me than from the enemy in my front; and, when success came in spite of this, it was acknowledged only by some censorious official “inquiry” contrasting with the repeated thanks of the Congress. I was, however, not the only one of the highest military rank with whom Mr. Davis’s relations were habitually unwholesome. It is an extraordinary fact that during the four years of war Mr. Davis did not call together the five generals [see page 241] with a view to determining the best military policy or settling upon a decisive plan of operations involving the whole theater of war, though there was often ample opportunity for it. We needed for President either a military man of a high order, or a politician of the first class without military pretensions, such as Howell Cobb. The South did not fall crushed by the mere weight of the North; but it was nibbled away at all sides and ends because its executive head never gathered and wielded its great strength under the ready advantages that greatly reduced or neutralized its adversary’s naked physical superiority. It is but another of the many proofs that timid direction may readily go with physical courage, and that the passive defensive policy may make a long agony, but can never win a war.

POSTSCRIPT.—Since the publication of the foregoing pages in “The Century” for November, 1884, General J. E. Johnston, in the course of a paper also contributed to “The Century” [see page 240], took occasion, for the first time, to set up with positiveness and circumstantiality the claim to having exercised a controlling connection with the tactics of all the phases of the battle of the 21st of July, 1861. Respecting such a pretension I shall be content for the present to recall that, while entirely at variance with the part I have ascribed to him in relation to that field, it is logically untenable, at this day, when confronted with the records of the period. In my own official report of the battle closely contemporaneous with the events narrated — a report that was placed in his hands for perusal before transmission— it is distinctly related that for certain reasons, chiefly military, General Johnston had left in my hands for the impending conflict the command of the Confederate forces. The precise circumstances of my direct conduct of and responsibility for the battle are stated in such terms that, had I not been in actual direction of the day’s operations on the part of the Confederates, General Johnston must have made the issue squarely then and there in his own official report. And all the more incumbent upon him was the making of such an issue, it seems to me, then or never, in view of the fact that the Confederate Secretary of War on the 24th of July, 1861, wrote me in these words:

“MY DEAR GENERAL: Accept my congratulations for the glorious and most brilliant victory achieved by you. The country will bless and honor you for it. Believe me, dear General,

“Truly your friend, L. P. WALKER.”

Further, General Lee thus addressed me:

“MY DEAR GENERAL : I cannot express the joy I feel at the brilliant victory of the 21st. The skill, courage, and endurance displayed by yourself excite my highest admiration. You and your troops have the gratitude of the whole country, and I offer to all my heartfelt congratulations at their success. . . . Very truly yours, R. E. LEE.”

Of the exact purport of these two letters General Johnston could not have been ignorant when he wrote his report of the battle. Nor could he have been unaware that the leading Southern newspapers had in effect attributed to me the chief direction of that battle on the Confederate side. Therefore, if it were the gross historical error which, twenty odd years after the affair, General Johnston characterizes it to be, and one that imputed to him the shirking of a duty which he could not have left unassumed without personal baseness, certainly that was the time for him by a few explicit words in his official report to dispose of so affronting an error. In that report, however, no such exigent, peremptory statement of his relation to the battle is to be found. On the other hand, upon page 57 of his “Narrative” published in 1874 (D. Appleton & Co.), may be found, I fear, the clew to the motive of his actual waiver of command in this curious paragraph:

“If the tactics of the Federals had been equal to their strategy, we should have been beaten. If, instead of being brought into action in detail, their troops had been formed in two lines, with a proper reserve, and had assailed Bee and Jackson in that order, the two Southern brigades must have been swept from the field in a few minutes, or enveloped. General McDowell would have made such a formation, probably, had he not greatly underestimated the strength of his enemy.”

Coupled with the disquieting, ever-apprehensive tenor of his whole correspondence with the Confederate War Department, from the day he assumed command in the Valley of Virginia in May, 1861, down to the close of the struggle hi 1865, the fair inference from such language as that just cited from his “Narrative” is that General Johnston came to Manassas beset with the idea that our united forces would not be able to cope with the Federal army, and that we should be beaten— a catastrophe in which he was not solicitous to figure on the pages of history as the leading and responsible actor. Originally and until 1875,I had regarded it as a generous though natural act on the part of General Johnston, in such a juncture, to leave me in command and responsible for what might occur. The history of military operations abounds in instances of notable soldiers who have found it proper to waive chief command under similar conditions.

(1) The professionally educated officers on the Confederate side at Bull Run included Generals Johnston, Beauregard, Stonewall Jackson, Longstreet, Kirby Smith, Ewell, Early, Bee, D. E. Jones, Holmes, Evans, Elzey, and Jordan, all in high positions, besides others not so prominent.— EDITORS.

(2) For the forces actually engaged in the campaign and on the field, see pp. 194-5.— EDITORS.

(3) “I am, however, inclined to believe he [the enemy] may attempt to turn my left flank by a movement in the direction of Vienna, Frying-pan Church, and, possibly, Gum Spring, and thus cut off Johnston’s line of retreat and communication with this place [Manassas Junction] via the Manassas Gap railroad, while threatening my own communications with Richmond and depots of supply by the Alexandria and Orange railroad, and opening his communications with the Potomac through Leesburg and Edward’s Ferry.”—(Extract from a letter addressed by General Beauregard to Jefferson Davis, July 11th, 1801.)

(4) It is denied that a serious attempt “to force a passage” was made on the 18th. (See page 178.) This engagement was called by the Confederates the battle of Bull Run, the main fight on the 21st being known in the South as the battle of Manassas (pronounced Ma-nass’-sa).—EDITORS.

(5) [TELEGRAM.] RICHMOND, July 19, 1861.
GENERAL BEAUREGARD, Manassas, Va.
We have no intelligence from General Johnston.  If the enemy in front of you has abandoned an immediate attack, and General Johnston has not moved, you had better withdraw your call upon him, so that he may be left to his full discretion.  All the troops arriving at Lynchburg are ordered to join you. From this place we will send as fast as transportation permits. The enemy is advised at Washington of the projected movement of Generals Johnston and Holmes, and may vary his plans in conformity thereto.
S. COOPER, Adjutant-General.

(6) Lack of rations, as well as the necessity for information, detained McDowell at Centreville during these two days.—EDITORS.

7) See General Beauregard’s postscript (page 226), and General Johnston’s consideration of the same topic in the paper to follow (page 245), and his postscript (page 258).— EDITORS.

(8) According to General Fry (page 188), the Union force in the seizure of the Henry hill consisted of four brigades, a cavalry battalion, and two batteries, or (as we deduce from General Fry’s statements of the strength of McDowell’s forces, page 195) about 11,000 men.— EDITORS.

(9) General R. S. Ewell. See statement of Major Campbell Brown, page 259.— EDITORS.

(10) This battle was noteworthy for the number of participants whose names are now prominently associated with the war. On the Confederate side, besides Generals Johnston and Beauregard, were Generals Stonewall Jackson, Longstreet, Ewell, Early, J. E. B. Stuart, Kirby Smith, Wade Hampton, Fitzhugh Lee, Thomas Jordan, R. E. Rodes, E. P. Alexander, and others. On the Federal side were Generals McDowell, W. T. Sherman, Burnside, Hunter, Heintzelman, Howard, Franklin, Slocum, Keyes, Hunt, Barry, Fry, Sykes, Barnard, Wadsworth, and others. —EDITORS.

(11) This silly tale was borrowed from an incident of Shiloh. Toward the end of the first day’s battle a soldier had found a pheasant cowering, apparently paralyzed under the ceaseless din, and brought it to my headquarters as a present to me. It was a beautiful bird, and I gave directions to place it in a cage, as I intended sending it as a pleasant token of the battle to the family of Judge Milton Brown, of Jackson, Tennessee, from whom I had received as their guest, while occupying that place, the kindest attentions; but in the second day’s conflict the poor waif was lost.— G. T. B. VOL. 1. 15

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McDowell’s Advance to Bull Run – James B. Fry

6 02 2010

McDOWELL’S ADVANCE TO BULL RUN

BY JAMES B. FRY, BREVET MAJOR-GENERAL, U. S. A. (AT BULL RUN, CAPTAIN AND ASSISTANT ADJUTANT-GENERAL ON McDOWELL’S STAFF).

BATTLES AND LEADERS OF THE CIVIL WAR – Volume I: From Sumter to Shiloh, pp. 167-193

As President Buchanan’s administration was drawing to a close, he was forced by the action of the South to decide whether the power of the general Government should be used to coerce into submission States that had attempted to secede from the Union. His opinion was that the contingency was not provided for, that while a State had no right to secede, the Constitution gave no authority to coerce, and that he had no right to do anything except hold the property and enforce the laws of the United States.

Before he went out of office the capital of the nation seemed to be in danger of seizure. For its protection, and in order to consult about holding Southern forts and arsenals, General Scott was in December called to Washington, from which he had been absent since the inauguration of Pierce, who had defeated him for the presidency. Jefferson Davis, Pierce’s Secretary of War, and General Scott had quarreled, and the genius of acrimony controlled the correspondence which took place between them. Notwithstanding the fact that on account of his age and infirmities he was soon overwhelmed by the rush of events, General Scott’s laurels had not withered at the outbreak of the war, and he brought to the emergency ability, experience, and prestige. A high light in the whole military world, he towered above the rest of our army at that time professionally as he did physically. As the effect of his unusual stature was increased by contrast with a short aide-de-camp (purposely chosen, it was suspected), so was his exalted character marked by one or two conspicuous but not very harmful foibles. With much learning, great military ability, a strict sense of justice, and a kind heart, he was vain and somewhat petulant. He loved the Union and hated Jefferson Davis.
 
By authority of President Buchanan, Scott assembled a small force of regulars in the capital, and for the first time in the history of the country the electoral count was made and a President was inaugurated under the protection of soldiery. But before the inauguration of Lincoln, March 4th, the secession movement had spread through the “cotton-belt” and delegates from the secession States had met as a congress at Montgomery, Alabama, February 4th. On the 8th they had organized the “Provisional Government of the Confederate States of America,” and on the 9th had elected Jefferson Davis President and Alexander H. Stephens Vice-President.

When the news of the firing upon Sumter reached Washington, President Lincoln prepared a proclamation, and issued it April 15th, convening Congress and calling forth 75,000 three-months militia to suppress combinations against the Government. The Federal situation was alarming. Sumter fell on the 13th of April, and was evacuated on the 14th. Virginia seceded on the 17th, and seized Harper’s Ferry on the 18th and the Norfolk Navy Yard on the 20th. On the 19th a mob in Baltimore assaulted the 6th Massachusetts volunteers as it passed through to Washington, and at once bridges were burned and railway communication was cut off between Washington and the North.

Lincoln had had no experience as a party leader or executive officer, and was without knowledge of military affairs or acquaintance with military men. Davis at the head of the Confederacy was an experienced and acknowledged Southern leader; he was a graduate of the Military Academy; had commanded a regiment in the Mexican war; had been Secretary of War under President Pierce, and had been chairman of the Military Committee in the United States Senate up to the time he left Congress to take part with the South. He was not only well versed in everything relating to war, but was thoroughly informed concerning the character and capacity of prominent and promising officers of the army. There was nothing experimental in his choice of high military commanders. With but few exceptions, those appointed at the beginning retained command until they lost their lives or the war closed.

The Southern States, all claiming to be independent republics after secession, with all their governmental machinery, including militia and volunteer organizations, in complete working order, transferred themselves as States from the Union to the Confederacy. The organization of a general government from such elements, with war as its immediate purpose, was a simple matter. Davis had only to accept and arrange, according to his ample information and well-matured judgment, the abundant and ambitious material at hand in the way that he thought would best secure his purposes. Lincoln had to adapt the machinery of a conservative old government, some of it unsuitable, some unsound, to sudden demands for which it was not designed. The talents of Simon Cameron, his first Secretary of War, were political, not military. He was a kind, gentle, placid man, gifted with powers to persuade, not to command. Shrewd and skilled in the management of business and personal matters, he had no knowledge of military affairs, and could not give the President much assistance in assembling and organizing for war the earnest and impatient, but unmilitary people of the North.

Officers from all departments of the Federal civil service hurried to the Confederacy and placed themselves at the disposal of Davis, and officers from all the corps of the regular army, most of them full of vigor, with the same education and experience as those who remained, went South and awaited assignment to the duties for which Davis might regard them as best qualified. All Confederate offices were vacant, and the Confederate President had large if not absolute power in filling them. On the other hand, the civil offices under Lincoln were occupied or controlled by party, and in the small regular army of the Union the law required that vacancies should as a rule be filled by seniority. There was no retired list for the disabled, and the army was weighed down by longevity; by venerated traditions; by prerogatives of service rendered in former wars; by the firmly tied red-tape of military bureauism, and by the deep-seated and well-founded fear of the auditors and comptrollers of the treasury. Nothing but time and experience—possibly nothing but disaster—could remove from the path of the Union President difficulties from which the Confederate President was, by the situation, quite free. In the beginning of the war, the military advantage was on the side of the Confederates, notwithstanding the greater resources of the North, which produced their effect only as the contest was prolonged.

After the firing of the first gun upon Sumter, the two sides were equally active in marshaling their forces on a line along the border States from the Atlantic coast of Virginia in the east to Kansas in the west. Many of the earlier collisions along this line were due rather to special causes or local feeling than to general military considerations. The prompt advance of the Union forces under McClellan to West Virginia was to protect that new-born free State. Patterson’s movement to Hagerstown and thence to Harper’s Ferry was to prevent Maryland from joining or aiding the rebellion, to re-open the Baltimore and Ohio railroad, and prevent invasion from the Shenandoah Valley. The Southerners having left the Union and set up the Confederacy upon the principle of State rights, in violation of that principle invaded the State of Kentucky in opposition to her apparent purpose of armed neutrality. That made Kentucky a field of early hostilities and helped to anchor her to the Union. Missouri was rescued from secession through the energy of General F. P. Blair and her other Union men, and by the indomitable will of Captain Lyon of the regular army, whose great work was accomplished under many disadvantages. In illustration of the difficulty with which the new condition of affairs penetrated the case-hardened bureauism of long peace, it may be mentioned that the venerable adjutant-general of the army, when a crisis was at hand in Missouri, came from a consultation with the President and Secretary Cameron, and with a sorry expression of countenance and an ominous shake of the head exclaimed, “It’s bad, very bad; we’re giving that young man Lyon a great deal too much power in Missouri.”

Early in the contest another young Union officer came to the front. Major Irvin McDowell was appointed brigadier-general May 14th. He was forty-three years of age, of unexceptionable habits and great physical powers. His education, begun in France, was continued at the United States Military Academy, from which he was graduated in 1838. Always a close student, he was well informed outside as well as inside his profession. Distinguished in the Mexican war, intensely Union in his sentiments, full of energy and patriotism, outspoken in his opinions, highly esteemed by General Scott, on whose staff he had served, he at once secured the confidence of the President and the Secretary of War, under whose observation he was serving in Washington. Without political antecedents or acquaintances, he was chosen for advancement on account of his record, his ability, and his vigor.

Northern forces had hastened to Washington upon the call of President Lincoln, but prior to May 24th they had been held rigidly on the north side of the Potomac. On the night of May 23d-24th, the Confederate pickets being then in sight of the Capitol, three columns were thrown across the river by General J. K. F. Mansfield, then commanding the Department of Washington, and a line from Alexandria below to chain-bridge above Washington was intrenched under guidance of able engineers. On the 27th Brigadier General Irvin McDowell was placed in command south of the Potomac.(1)

By the 1st of June the Southern Government had been transferred from Montgomery to Richmond, and the capitals of the Union and of the Confederacy stood defiantly confronting each other. General Scott was in chief command of the Union forces, with McDowell south of the Potomac, confronted by his old classmate, Beauregard, hot from the capture of Fort Sumter.

General Patterson, of Pennsylvania, a veteran of the war of 1812 and the war with Mexico, was in command near Harper’s Ferry, opposed by General Joseph E. Johnston. The Confederate President, Davis, then in Richmond, with General R. E. Lee as military adviser, exercised in person general military control of the Southern forces. The enemy to be engaged by McDowell occupied what was called the “Alexandria line,” with headquarters at Manassas, the junction of the Orange and Alexandria with the Manassas Gap railroad. The stream known as Bull Run, some three miles in front of Manassas, was the line of defense. On Beauregard’s right, 30 miles away, at the mouth of Aquia Creek, there was a Confederate brigade of 3000 men and 6 guns under General Holmes. The approach to Richmond from the Lower Chesapeake, threatened by General B. F. Butler, was guarded by Confederates under Generals Huger and Magruder.  On Beauregard’s left, sixty miles distant, in the Lower Shenandoah Valley and separated from him by the Blue Ridge Mountains, was the Confederate army of the Shenandoah under command of General Johnston. Beauregard’s authority did not extend over the forces of Johnston, Huger, Magruder, or Holmes, but Holmes was with him before the battle of Bull Run, and so was Johnston, who, as will appear more fully hereafter, joined at a decisive moment.

Early in June Patterson was pushing his column against Harper’s Ferry, and on the 3d of that month McDowell was called upon by General Scott to submit” an estimate of the number and composition of a column to be pushed toward Manassas Junction and perhaps the Gap, say in 4 or 5 days, to favor Patterson’s attack upon Harper’s Feny.” McDowell had then been in command at Arlington less than a week, his raw regiments south of the Potomac were not yet brigaded, and this was the first intimation he had of offensive operations. He reported, June 4th, that 12,000 infantry, 2 batteries, 6 or 8 companies of cavalry, and a reserve of 5000 ready to move from Alexandria would be required. Johnston, however, gave up Harper’s Ferry to Patterson, and the diversion by McDowell was not ordered. But the public demand for an advance became imperative—stimulated perhaps by the successful dash of fifty men of the 2d United States Cavalry, under Lieutenant C. H. Tompkins, through the enemy’s outposts at Fan-fax Court House on the night of June 1st, and by the unfortunate result of the movement of a regiment under General Schenck toward Vienna, June 9th, as well as by a disaster to some of General Butler’s troops on the 10th at Big Bethel, near Fort Monroe. On the 24th of June, in compliance with verbal instructions from General Scott, McDowell submitted a “plan of operations and the composition of the force required to carry it into effect.” He estimated the Confederate force at Manassas Junction and its dependencies at 25,000 men, assumed that his movements could not be kept secret and that the enemy would call up additional forces from all quarters, and added: ” 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 10,000 men, so we may calculate upon having to do with about 35,000 men.” And as it turned out, that was about the number he “had to do with.” For the advance, McDowell asked “a force of 30,000 of all arms, with a reserve of 10,000.” He knew that Beauregard had batteries in position at several places in front of Bull Run and defensive works behind the Run and at Manassas Junction. The stream being fordable at many places, McDowell proposed in his plan of operations to turn the enemy’s position and force him out of it by seizing or threatening his communications. Nevertheless, he said in his report:

“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, … so that the men may have as fair a chance as the nature of things and the comparative inexperience of most will allow.”

This remarkably sound report was approved, and McDowell was directed to carry his plan into effect July 8th. But the government machinery worked slowly and there was jealousy in the way, so that the troops to bring his army up to the strength agreed upon did not reach him until the 16th.

Beauregard’s Army of the Potomac at Manassas consisted of the brigades of Holmes, Bonham, Ewell, D. R. Jones, Longstreet, Cocke and Early, and of 3 regiments of infantry, 1 regiment and 3 battalions of cavalry, and 6 batteries of artillery, containing in all 27 guns, making an aggregate available force on the field of Bull Run of about 23,000 men. Johnston’s army from the Shenandoah consisted of the brigades of Jackson, Bee, Bartow, and Kirby Smith, 2 regiments of infantry not brigaded, 1 regiment of cavalry (12 companies), and 5 batteries (20 guns), making an aggregate at Bull Run of 8340.(2)

McDowell’s army consisted of 5 divisions, Tyler’s First Division, containing 4 brigades (Keyes’s, Schenck’s, W. T. Sherman’s, and Richardson’s); Hunter’s Second Division, containing 2 brigades (Andrew Porter’s and Burnside’s); Heintzelman’s Third Division, containing 3 brigades (Franklin’s, Willcox’s, and Howard’s); Runyon’s Fourth Division (9 regiments not brigaded); and Miles’s Fifth Division, containing 2 brigades (Blenker’s and Davies’s),—10 batteries of artillery, besides 2 guns attached to infantry regiments, 40 guns in all, and 7 companies of regular cavalry. Of the foregoing forces, 9 of the batteries and 8 companies of infantry were regulars, and 1 small battalion was marines. The aggregate force was about 35,000 men. Runyon’s Fourth Division was 6 or 7 miles in the rear guarding the road to Alexandria, and, though counted in the aggregate, was not embraced in McDowell’s order for battle.(3)

There was an ill-suppressed feeling of sympathy with the Confederacy in the Southern element of Washington society; but the halls of Congress resounded with the eloquence of Union speakers. Martial music filled the air, and war was the topic wherever men met. By day and night the tramp of soldiers was heard, and staff-officers and orderlies galloped through the streets between the headquarters of Generals Scott and McDowell. Northern enthusiasm was unbounded. “On to Richmond” was the war-cry. Public sentiment was irresistible, and in response to it the army advanced. It was a glorious spectacle. The various regiments were brilliantly uniformed according to the aesthetic taste of peace, and the silken banners they flung to the breeze were unsoiled and untorn. The bitter realities of war were nearer than we knew.

McDowell marched on the afternoon of July 16th, the men carrying three days’ rations in their haversacks; provision wagons were to follow from Alexandria the next day. On the morning of the 18th his forces were concentrated at Centreville, a point about 20 miles west of the Potomac and 6 or 7 miles east of Manassas Junction. Beauregard’s outposts fell back without resistance. Bull Run, flowing south-easterly, is about half-way between Centreville and Manassas Junction, and, owing to its abrupt banks, the timber with which it was fringed, and some artificial defenses at the fords, was a formidable obstacle. The stream was fordable, but all the crossings for eight miles, from Union Mills on the south to the Stone Bridge on the north, were defended by Beauregard’s forces.   The Warrenton Turnpike, passing through Centreville, leads nearly due west, crossing Bull Run at the Stone Bridge. The direct road from Centreville to Manassas crosses Bull Run at Mitchell’s Ford, half a mile or so above another crossing known as Blackburn’s Ford. Union Mills was covered by Ewell’.s brigade, supported after the 18th by Holmes’s brigade; McLean’s Ford, next to the north, was covered by D. R. Jones’s brigade; Blackburn’s Ford was defended by Longstreet’s brigade, supported by Early’s brigade; Mitchell’s Ford was held by Bonham’s brigade, with an outpost of two guns and an infantry support east of Bull Run; the stream between Mitchell’s Ford and the Stone Bridge was covered by Cocke’s brigade; the Stone Bridge on the Confederate left was held by Evans with 1 regiment and Wheat’s special battalion of infantry, 1 battery of 4 guns, and 2 companies of cavalry.(4)

McDowell was compelled to wait at Centreville until his provision wagons arrived and he could issue rations. His orders having carried his leading division under Tyler no farther than Centreville, he wrote that officer at 8:15 A. M. on the 18th, “Observe well the roads to Bull Run and to Warrenton. Do not bring on an engagement, but keep up the impression that we arc moving on Manassas.” McDowell then went to the extreme left of his line to examine the country with reference to a sudden movement of the army to turn the enemy’s right flank. The reconnoissance showed him that the country was unfavorable to the movement, and he abandoned it. While he was gone to the left, Tyler, presumably to ” keep up the impression that we were moving on Manassas,” went forward from Centreville with a squadron of cavalry and two companies of infantry for the purpose of making a reconnoissance of Mitchell’s and Blackburn’s fords along the direct road to Manassas. The force of the enemy at these fords has just been given. Reaching the crest of the ridge overlooking the valley of Bull Run and a mile or so from the stream, the enemy was seen on the opposite bank, and Tyler brought up Benjamin’s artillery, 2 20-pounder rifled guns, Ayres’s field battery of 6 guns, and Richardson’s brigade of infantry. The 20-pounders opened from the ridge and a few shots were exchanged with the enemy’s batteries. Desiring more information than the long-range cannonade afforded, Tyler ordered Richardson’s brigade and a section of Ayres’s battery, supported by a squadron of cavalry, to move from the ridge across the open bottom of Bull Run and take position near the stream and have skirmishers ” scour the thick woods ” which skirted it. Two regiments of infantry, 2 pieces of artillery, and a squadron of cavalry moved down the slope into the woods and opened fire, driving Bonham’s outpost to the cover of intrenchments across the stream. The brigades of Bonham and Longstreet, the latter being reenforced for the occasion by Early’s brigade, responded at short range to the fire of the Federal reconnoitering force and drove it back in disorder. Tyler reported that having satisfied himself “that the enemy was in force,” and ascertained ” the position of his batteries,” he withdrew. J This unauthorized reconnoissance, called by the Federals the affair at Blackburn’s Ford, was regarded at the time by the Confederates as a serious attack, and was dignified by the name of the “battle of Bull Run,” the engagement of the 21st being called by them the battle of Manassas. The Confederates, feeling that they had repulsed a heavy and real attack, were encouraged by the result. The Federal troops, on the other hand, were greatly depressed. The regiment which suffered most was completely demoralized, and McDowell thought that the depression of the repulse was felt throughout his army and produced its effect upon the Pennsylvania regiment and the New York battery which insisted (their terms having expired) upon their discharge, and on the 21st, as he expressed it, “marched to the rear to the sound of the enemy’s cannon.” Even Tyler himself felt the depressing effect of his repulse, if we may judge by his cautious and feeble action on the 21st when dash was required. (5)

The operations of the 18th confirmed McDowell in his opinion that with his raw troops the Confederate position should be turned instead of attacked in front. Careful examination had satisfied him that the country did not favor a movement to turn the enemy’s right. On the night of the 18th the haversacks of his men were empty, and had to be replenished from the provision wagons, which were late in getting up. Nor had he yet determined upon his point or plan of attack. While resting and provisioning his men, he devoted the 19th and 20th to a careful examination by his engineers of the enemy’s position and the intervening country. His men, not soldiers, but civilians in uniform, unused to marching, hot, weary, and footsore, dropped down as they had halted and bivouacked on the roads about Centreville. Notwithstanding Beauregard’s elation over the affair at Blackburn’s ford on the 18th, he permitted the 19th and 20th to pass without a movement to follow up the advantage he had gained. During these two days, McDowell carefully examined the Confederate position, and made his plan to manoeuvre the enemy out of it. Beauregard ordered no aggressive movement until the 21st, and then, as appears from his own statement, through miscarriage of orders and lack of apprehension on the part of subordinates, the effort was a complete fiasco, with the comical result of frightening his own troops, who, late in the afternoon, mistook the return of one of their brigades for an attack by McDowell’s left, and the serious result of interfering with the pursuit after he had gained the battle of the 21st.

But Beauregard, though not aggressive on the 19th and 20th, was not idle within his own lines. The Confederate President had authorized Johnston, Beauregard’s senior, to use his discretion in moving to the support of Manassas, and Beauregard, urging Johnston to do so, sent railway transportation for the Shenandoah forces. But, as he states, “he at the same time submitted the alternative proposition to Johnston that, having passed the Blue Ridge, he should assemble his forces, press forward by way of Aldie, north-west of Manassas, and fall upon McDowell’s right rear,” while he, Beauregard, “prepared for the operation at the first sound of the conflict, should strenuously assume the offensive in front.” “The situation and circumstances specially favored the signal success of such an operation,” says Beauregard. An attack by two armies moving from opposite points upon an enemy, with the time of attack for one depending upon the sound of the other’s cannon, is hazardous even with well disciplined and well-seasoned troops, and is next to fatal with raw levies. Johnston chose the wiser course of moving by rail to Manassas, thus preserving the benefit of “interior lines,” which, Beauregard says, was the “sole military advantage at the moment that the Confederates possessed.”

The campaign which General Scott required McDowell to make was undertaken with the understanding that Johnston should be prevented from joining Beauregard. With no lack of confidence in himself, McDowell was dominated by the feeling of subordination and deference to General Scott which at that time pervaded the whole army, and General Scott, who controlled both McDowell and Patterson, assured McDowell that Johnston should not join Beauregard without having “Patterson on his heels.” Yet Johnston’s army, nearly nine thousand strong, joined Beauregard, Bee’s brigade and Johnston in person arriving on the morning of the 20th, the remainder about noon on the 21st. Although the enforced delay at Centreville enabled McDowell to provision his troops and gain information upon which to base an excellent plan of attack, it proved fatal by affording time for a junction of the opposing forces. On the 21st of July General Scott addressed a dispatch to McDowell, saying: “It is known that a strong reenforcement left Winchester on the afternoon of the 18th, which you will also have to beat. Four new regiments will leave to-day to be at Fairfax Station to-night. Others shall follow to-morrow — twice the number if necessary.” When this dispatch was penned, McDowell was fighting the “strong reenforcement” which left Winchester on the 18th. General Scott’s report that Beauregard had been reenforced, the information that four regiments had been sent to McDowell, and the promise that twice the number would be sent if necessary, all came too late — and Patterson came not at all.(6)

During the 19th and 20th the bivouacs of McDowell’s army at Centreville, almost within cannon range of the enemy, were thronged by visitors, official and unofficial, who came in carriages from Washington, bringing their own supplies. They were under no military restraint, and passed to and fro among the troops as they pleased, giving the scene the appearance of a monster military picnic.(7)  Among others, the venerable Secretary of War, Cameron, called upon McDowell. Whether due to a naturally serious expression, to a sense of responsibility, to a premonition of the fate of his brother who fell upon the field on the 21st, or to other cause, his countenance showed apprehension of evil; but men generally were confident and jovial.

McDowell’s plan of battle promulgated on the 20th, was to turn the enemy’s left, force him from his defensive position, and, “if possible, destroy the railroad leading from Manassas to the Valley of Virginia, where the enemy has a large force.” He did not know when he issued this order that Johnston had joined Beauregard, though he suspected it.  Miles’s Fifth Division, with Richardson’s brigade of Tyler’s division, and a strong force of artillery was to remain in reserve at Centreville, prepare defensive works there and threaten Blackburn’s Ford. Tyler’s First Division, which was on the turnpike in advance, was to move at 2:30 A. M., threaten the Stone Bridge and open fire upon it at daybreak. This demonstration was to be vigorous, its first purpose being to divert attention from the movements of the turning column. As soon as Tyler’s troops cleared the way, Hunter’s Second Division, followed by Heintzelman’s Third Division, was to move to a point on the Warren ton Turnpike about 1 or 2 miles east of Stone Bridge and there take a country road to the right, cross the Run at Sudley Springs, come down upon the flank and rear of the enemy at the Stone Bridge, and force him to open the way for Tyler’s division to cross there and attack, fresh and in full force.

Tyler’s start was so late and his advance was so slow as to hold Hunter and Heintzelman 2 or 3 hours on the mile or two of the turnpike between their camps and the point at which they were to turn off for the flank march. This delay, and the fact that the flank march proved difficult and some 12 miles instead of about 6 as was expected, were of serious moment. The flanking column did not cross at Sudley Springs until 9:30 instead of 7, the long march, with its many interruptions, tired out the men, and the delay gave the enemy time to discover the turning movement. Tyler’s operations against the Stone Bridge were feeble and ineffective. By 8 o’clock Evans was satisfied that he was in no danger in front, and perceived the movement to turn his position. He was on the left of the Confederate line, guarding the point where the Warrenton Turnpike, the great highway to the field, crossed Bull Run, the Confederate line of defense. He had no instructions to guide him in the emergency that had arisen. But he did not hesitate. Reporting his information and purpose to the adjoining commander, Cocke, and leaving 4 companies of infantry to deceive and hold Tyler at the bridge, Evans before 9 o’clock turned his back upon the point he was set to guard, marched a mile away, and, seizing the high ground to the north of Young’s Branch of Bull Run, formed line of battle at right angles to his former line, his left resting near the Sudley Springs road, by which Burnside with the head of the turning column was approaching, thus covering the Warrenton Turnpike and opposing a determined front to the Federal advance upon the Confederate left and rear.(8) In his rear to the south lay the valley of Young’s Branch, and rising from that was the higher ridge or plateau on which the Robinson house and the Henry house were situated, and on which the main action took place in the afternoon. Burnside, finding Evans across his path, promptly formed line of battle and attacked about 9:45 A. M. Hunter, the division commander, who was at the head of Burnside’s brigade directing the formation of the first skirmish line, was severely wounded and taken to the rear at the opening of the action. Evans not only repulsed but pursued the troops that made the attack upon him. Andrew Porter’s brigade of Hunter’s division followed Burnside closely and came to his support. In the mean time Bee had formed a Confederate line of battle with his and Bartow’s brigades of Johnston’s army on the Henry house plateau, a stronger position than the one held by Evans, and desired Evans to fall back to that line; but Evans, probably feeling bound to cover the Warrenton Turnpike and hold it against Tyler as well as against the flanking column, insisted that Bee should move across the valley to his support, which was done.

After Bee joined Evans, the preliminary battle continued to rage upon the ground chosen by the latter. The opposing forces were Burnside’s and Porter’s brigades, with one regiment of Heintzelman’s division on the Federal side, and Evans’s, Bee’s, and Bartow’s brigades on the Confederate side. The Confederates were dislodged and driven back to the Henry house plateau, where Bee had previously formed line and where what Beauregard called “the mingled remnants of Bee’s, Bartow’s, and Evans’s commands” were re-formed under cover of Stonewall Jackson’s brigade of Johnston’s army.

The time of this repulse, as proved by so accurate an authority as Stonewall Jackson, was before 11:30 A. M., and this is substantially confirmed by Beauregard’s official report made at the time. Sherman and Keyes had nothing to do with it. They did not begin to cross Bull Run until noon. Thus, after nearly two hours’ stubborn fighting with the forces of Johnston, which General Scott had promised should be kept away, McDowell won the first advantage; but Johnston had cost him dearly.

During all this time Johnston and Beauregard had been waiting near Mitchell’s Ford for the development of the attack they had ordered by their light upon McDowell at Centreville. The gravity of the situation upon their left had not yet dawned upon them. What might the result have been if the Union column had not been detained by Tyler’s delay in moving out in the early morning, or if Johnston’s army, to which Bee, Bartow, and Jackson belonged, had not arrived?

But the heavy firing on the left soon diverted Johnston and Beauregard from all thought of an offensive movement with their right, and decided them, as Beauregard has said, “to hurry up all available reinforcements, including the reserves that were to have moved upon Centreville, to our left, and fight the battle out in that quarter.” Thereupon Beauregard ordered “Ewell, Jones, and Longstreet to make a strong demonstration all along their front on the other side of Bull Run, and ordered the reserves, Holmes’s brigade with six guns, and Early’s brigade, to move swiftly to the left,” and he and Johnston set out at full speed for the point of conflict, which they reached while Bee was attempting to rally his men about Jackson’s brigade on the Henry house plateau. McDowell had waited in the morning at the point on the Warrenton Turnpike where his flanking column turned to the right, until the troops, except Howard’s brigade, which he halted at that point, had passed. He gazed silently and with evident pride upon the gay regiments as they filed briskly but quietly past in the freshness of the early morning, and then, remarking to his staff, “Gentlemen, that is a big force,” he mounted and moved forward to the field by way of Sudley Springs. He reached the scene of actual conflict somewhat earlier than Johnston and Beauregard did, and, seeing the enemy driven across the valley of Young’s Branch and behind the Warrenton Turnpike, at once sent a swift aide-de-camp to Tyler with orders to “press the attack” at the Stone Bridge. Tyler acknowledged that he received this order by 11 o’clock. It was Tyler’s division upon which McDowell relied for the decisive fighting of the day. He knew that the march of the turning column would be fatiguing, and when by a sturdy fight it had cleared the Warrenton Turnpike for the advance of Tyler’s division, it had, in fact, done more than its fair proportion of the work. But Tyler did not attempt to force the passage of the Stone Bridge, which, after about 8 o’clock, was defended by only four companies of infantry, though he admitted that by the plan of battle, when Hunter and Heintzelman had attacked the enemy in the vicinity of the Stone Bridge, “he was to force the passage of Bull Run at that point and attack the enemy in flank.”(9) Soon after McDowell’s arrival at the front, Burnside rode up to him and said that his brigade had borne the brunt of the battle, that it was out of ammunition, and that he wanted permission to withdraw, refit and fill cartridge-boxes. McDowell in the excitement of the occasion gave reluctant consent, and the brigade, which certainly had done nobly, marched to the rear, stacked arms, and took no further part in the fight. Having sent the order to Tyler to press his attack and orders to the rear of the turning column to hurry forward, McDowell, like Beauregard, rushed in person into the conflict, and by the force of circumstances became for the time the commander of the turning column and the force actually engaged, rather than the commander of his whole army. With the exception of sending his adjutant-general to find and hurry Tyler forward, his subsequent orders were mainly or wholly to the troops under his own observation. Unlike Beauregard, he had no Johnston in rear with full authority and knowledge of the situation to throw forward reserves and reinforcements. It was not until 12 o’clock that Sherman received orders from Tyler to cross the stream, which he did at a ford above the Stone Bridge, going to the assistance of Hunter. Sherman reported to McDowell on the field and joined in the pursuit of Bee’s forces across the valley of Young’s Branch. Keyes’s brigade, accompanied by Tyler in person, followed across the stream where Sherman forded, but without uniting with the other forces on the field, made a feeble advance upon the slope of the plateau toward the Robinson house, and then about 2 o’clock filed off by flank to its left and, sheltered by the east front of the bluff that forms the plateau, marched down Young’s Branch out of sight of the enemy and took no further part in the engagement. McDowell did not know where it was, nor did he then know that Schenck’s brigade of Tyler’s division did not cross the Run at all.

The line taken up by Stonewall Jackson upon which Bee, Bartow, and Evans rallied on the southern part of the plateau was a very strong one. The ground was high and afforded the cover of a curvilinear wood with the concave side toward the Federal line of attack. According to Beauregard’s official report made at the time, he had upon this part of the field, at the beginning, 6500 infantry, 13 pieces of artillery, and 2 companies of cavalry, and this line was continuously reenforced from Beauregard’s own reserves and by the arrival of the troops from the Shenandoah Valley.

To carry this formidable position, McDowell had at hand the brigades of Franklin, Willcox, Sherman, and Porter, Palmer’s battalion of regular cavalry, and Ricketts’s and Giiffin’s regular batteries. Porter’s brigade had been reduced and shaken by the morning fight. Howard’s brigade was in reserve and only came into action late in the afternoon. The men, unused to field service, and not yet over the hot and dusty march from the Potomac, had been under arms since midnight. The plateau, however, was promptly assaulted, the northern part of it was earned, the batteries of Ricketts and Griffin were planted near the Henry house, and McDowell clambered to the upper story of that structure to get a glance at the whole field. Upon the Henry house plateau, of which the Confederates held the southern and the Federals the northern part, the tide of battle ebbed and flowed as McDowell pushed in Franklin’s, Willcox’s, Sherman’s, Porter’s, and at last Howard’s brigades, and as Beauregard put into action reserves which Johnston sent from the right and reinforcements which he hurried forward from the Shenandoah Valley as they arrived by cars. On the plateau, Beauregard says, the disadvantage of his “smooth-bore guns was reduced by the shortness of range.” The short range was due to the Federal advance, and the several struggles for the plateau were at close quarters and gallant on both sides. The batteries of Ricketts and Griffin, by their fine discipline, wonderful daring, and matchless skill, were the prime features in the fight. The battle was not lost till they were lost. When in their advanced and perilous position, and just after their infantry supports had been driven over the slopes, a fatal mistake occurred. A regiment of infantry came out of the woods on Griffin’s right, and as he was in the act of opening upon it with canister, he was deterred by the assurance of Major Barry, the chief of artillery, that it “was a regiment sent by Colonel Heintzelman to support the battery.”(10) A moment more and the doubtful regiment proved its identity by a deadly volley, and, as Griffin states in his official report, “every cannoneer was cut down and a large number of horses killed, leaving the battery (which was without support excepting in name) perfectly helpless.” The effect upon Ricketts was equally fatal. He, desperately wounded, and Ramsay, his lieutenant, killed, lay in the wreck of the battery. Beauregard speaks of his last advance on the plateau as “leaving in our final possession the Robinson and Henry houses, with most of Ricketts’s and Griffin’s batteries, the men of which were mostly shot down where they bravely stood by their guns.” Having become separated from McDowell, I fell in with Barnard, his chief engineer, and while together we observed the New York Fire Zouaves, who had been supporting Griffin’s battery, fleeing to the rear in their gaudy uniforms, in utter confusion. Thereupon I rode back to where I knew Burnside’s brigade was at rest, and stated to Burnside the condition of affairs, with the suggestion that he form and move his brigade to the front. Returning, I again met Barnard, and as the battle seemed to him and me to be going against us, and not knowing where McDowell was, with the concurrence of Barnard, as stated in his official report, I immediately sent a note to Miles, telling him to move two brigades of his reserve up to the Stone Bridge and telegraph to Washington to send forward all the troops that could be spared.

After the arrival of Howard’s brigade, McDowell for the last time pressed up the slope to the plateau, forced back the Confederate line, and regained possession of the Henry and Robinson houses and of the lost batteries. But there were no longer cannoneers to man or horses to move these guns that had done so much. By the arrival upon this part of the field of his own reserves and Kirby Smith’s brigade of Johnston’s army about half-past 3, Beauregard extended his left to outflank McDowell’s shattered, shortened, and disconnected line, and the Federals left the field about half-past 4. Until then they had fought wonderfully well for raw troops. There were no fresh forces on the field to support or encourage them, and the men seemed to be seized simultaneously by the conviction that it was no use to do anything more and they might as well start home. Cohesion was lost, the organizations with some exceptions being disintegrated, and the men quietly walked off. There was no special excitement except that arising from the frantic efforts of officers to stop men who paid little or no attention to anything that was said. On the high ground by the Matthews house, about where Evans had taken position in the morning to check Burnside, McDowell and his staff, aided by other officers, made a desperate but futile effort to arrest the masses and form them into line. There, I went to Arnold’s battery as it came by, and advised that he unlimber and make a stand as a rallying-point, which he did, saying he was in fair condition and ready to fight as long as there was any fighting to be done. But all efforts failed. The stragglers moved past the guns, in spite of all that could be done, and, as stated in his report, Arnold at my direction joined Sykes’s battalion of infantry of Porter’s brigade and Palmer’s battalion of cavalry, all of the regular army, to cover the rear, as the men trooped back in great disorder across Bull Run. There were some hours of daylight for the Confederates to gather the fruits of victory, but a few rounds of shell and canister checked all the pursuit that was attempted, and the occasion called for no sacrifices or valorous deeds by the stanch regulars of the rear-guard. There was no panic, in the ordinary meaning of the word, until the retiring soldiers, guns, wagons, congressmen, and carriages were fired upon, on the road east of Bull Run. Then the panic began, and the bridge over Cub Run being rendered impassable for vehicles by a wagon that was upset upon it, utter confusion set in: pleasure-carriages, gun-carriages, and ammunition wagons which could not bo put across the Run were abandoned and blocked the way, and stragglers broke and threw aside their muskets and cut horses from then- harness and rode off upon them. In leaving the field the men took the same routes, in a general way, by which they had reached it. Hence when the men of Hunter’s and Heintzelman’s divisions got back to Centreville, they had walked about 25 miles. That night they walked back to the Potomac, an additional distance of 20 miles; so that these undisciplined and unseasoned men within 36 hours walked fully 45 miles, besides fighting from about 10 A. M. until 4 p. M. on a hot and dusty day in July. McDowell in person reached Centreville before sunset,(11) and found there Miles’s division with Richardson’s brigade and 3 regiments of Runyon’s division, and Hunt’s, Tidball’s, Ayres’s, and Greene’s batteries and 1 or 2 fragments of batteries, making about 20 guns. It was a formidable force, but there was a lack of food and the mass of the army was completely demoralized. Beauregard had about an equal force which had not been in the fight, consisting of Ewell’s, Jones’s, and Longstreet’s brigades and some troops of other brigades. McDowell consulted the division and brigade commanders who were at hand upon the question of making a stand or retreating. The verdict was in favor of the latter, but a decision of officers one way or the other was of no moment; the men had already decided for themselves and were streaming away to the rear, in spite of all that could be done. They had no interest or treasure in Centreville, and their hearts were not there. Their tents, provisions, baggage, and letters from home were upon the banks of the Potomac, and no power could have stopped them short of the camps they had left less than a week before. As before stated, most of them were sovereigns in uniform, not soldiers. McDowell accepted the situation, detailed Richardson’s and Blenker’s brigades to cover the retreat, and the army, a disorganized mass, with some creditable exceptions, drifted as the men pleased away from the scene of action. There was no pursuit, and the march from Centreville was as barren of opportunities for the rear-guard as the withdrawal from the field of battle had been.(12)  When McDowell reached Fairfax Court House in the night, he was in communication with Washington and exchanged telegrams with General Scott, in one of which the old hero said, ” We are not discouraged”; but that dispatch did not lighten the gloom in which it was received. McDowell was so tired that while sitting on the ground writing a dispatch he fell asleep, pencil in hand, in the middle of a sentence. His adjutant-general aroused him ; the dispatch was finished, and the weary ride to the Potomac resumed. When the unfortunate commander dismounted at Arlington next forenoon in a soaking rain, after 32 hours in the saddle, his disastrous campaign of 6 days was closed.

The first martial effervescence of the country was over. The three months men went home, and the three-months chapter of the war ended — with the South triumphant and confident; the North disappointed but determined.

(1) The aspect of affairs was so threatening after President Lincoln’s call of April 15th for 75,000 three-months militia, and General Scott was so averse to undertaking any active operations with such short-term troops, that, as early as May 3d, and without waiting for the meeting of Congress, the President entered upon the creation of an additional volunteer army to be composed of 42,034 three-years men, together with an increase of 22,714 regulars and 18,000 seamen.— J. B. F.

(2)  Beauregard himself has said that on the 18th of July he had along the line of Bull Run about 17,000 men; that on the 19th General Holmes joined him with about 3000 men; and that “received from Richmond between the 18th and 21st about 2000 more”; and that Johnston brought about 8000 more, the advance arriving “on the morning of the 20th and the remainder about noon of the 21st,” making his whole force, as he states it, “nearly 3000 men of all arms.” The figures are probably under the mark, as Hampton’s Legion, McRea’s regiment, a North Carolina “regiment and two battalions of Mississippi and Alabama” joined between the 17th and 21st. Beauregard’s force may fairly be placed at 32,000; and the opposing armies, both in the aggregate and in the parts engaged, were nearer equal in that than in any other battle in Virginia.— J. B. F.

(3)  The average length of service of McDowell’s men prior to the battle was about sixty days.  The longest in service were the three-months men, and of these he had fourteen regiments.— J. B. F.

(4)  The state of General Beauregard’s mind at the time is indicated by the following telegram on the 17th of July from him to Jefferson Davis: “The enemy has assaulted my outposts in heavy force. I have fallen back on the line of Bull Run and will make a stand at Mitchell’s Ford. If his force is overwhelming, I shall retire to Rappahannock railroad bridge, saving my command for defense there and future operations. Please inform Johnston of this via Staunton, and also Holmes. Send forward any reinforcements at the earliest possible instant and by every possible means.” The alarm in this dispatch and the apprehension it shows of McDowell’s “overwhelming” strength are not in harmony with the more recent assurance of the Confederate commander, that through sources in Washington treasonable to the Union, and in other ways, he “was almost as well informed of the strength of the hostile army in my [his] front as its commander.”—J. B. F.

(5)  The casualties in the affair were: Union, 1 officer and 18 enlisted men killed ; 1 officer and 37 enlisted men wounded ; 26 enlisted men missing,— aggregate, 83. Confederate (Beauregard in his official report of 1861), “15 killed and 53 wounded men, several of whom have since died.”— J. B. F.

(6)  On the 17th of July Patterson, with some 16,000 three-months men, whose terms began to expire on the ii4th, was at Charlestown, and Johnston, with about the same number, was at Winchester. On that day General Scott telegraphed Patterson, “McDowell’s first day’s work has driven the enemy behind Fairfax Court House. Do not let the enemy amuse and delay you with a small force in front while he reenforces the Junction with his main body.” To this Patterson replied at half past 1 o’clock in the morning of the 18th, stating his difficulties and asking, “Shall I attack?” General Scott answered on the same day: “I have certainly been expecting you to beat the enemy,” or that you “at least had occupied him by threats and demonstrations. You have been at least his equal and I suppose superior in numbers. Has he not stolen a march and sent reinforcements toward Manassas Junction?”  Patterson replied on the same day (18th), “The enemy has stolen no march upon me. I have caused him to be reenforced”; and at 1 o’clock P.M. on that day he added : “I have succeeded, in accordance with the wishes of the General-in-Chief, in keeping General Johnston’s force at Winchester.” At the very hour that Patterson was writing this dispatch Johnston’s advance was leaving Winchester. On the 18th Johnston telegraphed to Richmond that Patterson was at Charlestown, and said: “Unless he prevents it, we shall move toward General Beauregard to-day.” He moved accordingly, and the Confederate armies were united for battle. It rested, however, with higher authority than Patterson to establish between his army and McDowell’s the relations that the occasion called for. In considering the requirements for McDowell’s movement against Manassas, General Scott gave great weight to the general and irresistible fear then prevailing in Washington that the capital might be seized by a dash. Its direct defense was the first purpose of the three months militia. The Potomac at Washington was itself a strong barrier, and with the field-works on its south bank afforded security in that quarter. The danger was thought to be from the Shenandoah, and that induced the Government to keep Patterson in the valley. Indeed, on the 30th of June Colonel C. P. Stone’s command was ordered from Point of Rocks to Patterson at Martinsburg, where it arrived on the 8th of July; whereas the offensive campaign against Manassas, ordered soon after, required Patterson to go to Stone, as he proposed to do June 21st, instead of Stone to Patterson. The campaign of McDowell was forced upon General Scott by public opinion, but did not relieve the authorities from the fear that Johnston might rush down and seize Washington. General Scott, under the pressure of the offensive in one quarter and the defensive in another, imposed upon Patterson the double task, difficult if not impossible, of preventing Johnston from moving on the capital and from joining Beauregard. If that task was possible, it could have been accomplished only by persistent fighting, and that General Scott was unwilling to order; though in his dispatch of the 18th in reply to Patterson’s question, “Shall I attack?” he said, “I have certainly been expecting you to beat the enemy.” Prior to that, his instructions to Patterson had enjoined caution. As soon as McDowell advanced, Patterson was upon an exterior line and in a false military position. Admitting that he might have done more to detain Johnston, bad strategy was probably more to blame for the result than any action or lack of action on Patterson’s part.— J. B. F.

(7)  The presence of senators, congressmen, and other civilians upon the field on the 21st gave rise to extravagant and absurd stories, in which alleged forethought and valor among them are contrasted with a lack of these qualities in the troops. The plain truth is that the non-combatants and their vehicles merely increased the confusion and demoralization of the retreat.—J. B. F.

(8)  Evans’s action was probably one of the best pieces of soldiership on either side during the campaign, but it seems to have received no special commendation from his superiors.—J. B. F.

(9)  After the affair at Blackburn’s Ford on the 18th and Tyler’s action in the battle of the 21st, a bitterness between Tyler and McDowell grew up which lasted till they died. As late as 1884, McDowell, writing to me of Tyler’s criticism of him after the war, said, “How I have been punished for my leniency to that man! If there is anything clearer to me than anything else with reference to our operations in that campaign, it is that if we had had another commander for our right we should have had a complete and brilliant success.”—J. B. F.

(10)  Griffin himself told rao so as we rode together after leaving Centreville. He and I were classmates and warm friends.— J. B. F.

(11)  I left the field with General Franklin. His brigade had dissolved. We moved first northerly, crossed Bull Run below the Sudley Spring Ford, and then bore south and east. Learning by inquiries of the men I passed that McDowell was ahead of me, I leftFranklin and hurried on to Centreville, where I found McDowell, just after sunset, rearranging the positions of his reserves.—J. B. F.

(12)  The revised losses are as follows: Federal, 16 officers and 444 enlisted men killed; 78 officers and 1046 enlisted men wounded; 50 officers and 1262 enlisted men missing; 25 pieces of artillery and a large quantity of small arms. Confederate, 25 officers and 362 enlisted men killed; 63 officers and 1519 enlisted men wounded; 1 officer and 12 enlisted men missing.—J. B. F.

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Burnham’s Report

23 08 2009

You won’t find Colonel George S. Burnham’s name listed as commander of the 1st Connecticut Volunteers on most First Bull Run orders of battle: not R. M. Johnston’s, not John Hennessy’s, not Ed Bearss’, not Joanna McDonald’s, not even online OOBs like the NPS and Wikipedia.  I suspect the reasons behind these works listing Lt. Col. John Speidel at the head of the regiment that day are the result of two factors: the lack of an official report for the regiment; and the failure of Col. E. M. Keyes to name Burnham in his report, which recognizes the other regimental commanders in Keyes’s brigade and mentions Speidel, though not as commanding the 1st CT.  But Burnham wrote this history of the regiment’s brief existence for the Connecticut Adjutant General, and NPS Ranger Jim Burgess pointed me to a couple of contemporary newspaper articles which state that Burnham was on the field with the regiment during the battle:

It is a fact that our Connecticut troops stormed a battery before which the regulars had previously been repulsed.  The Third Regiment suffered most severely.  The enemy fought chiefly from behind masked batteries, and when one was taken they had another concealed which commanded it.  Three, however, were taken by great bravery in succession.  Col. Burnham, of the Connecticut First, distinguished himself for his coolness and courage. – “Return Home of the First Regiment”, Hartford, The Daily Courant, July 27, 1861

We kept on fighting, Gen. Tyler assuring us we had won the day.  He acted Bravely; so did Col. Keyes and Col. Spiedel; Col. Burnham stood by his regiment.– “Capt. Fitzgibbon’s Statement”, Hartford, The Daily Courant, July 29, 1861

This was enough for me to show Burnham as in command of the regiment on my order of battle for McDowell’s army.  A few weeks ago, I happened upon a website maintained by paleontologist William Parker, which I described in this post.  An exchange of emails with Mr. Parker, a descendant of a member of the 1st CT, informed me of the existence of an after action report written within days of the battle by Col. Burnham.  The report, Mr. Parker informed me, resides at the Connecticut State Library in Hartford.  It just so happens that, at the time I learned this, Facebook friend and Bull Runnings reader Dr. Lesley Gordon was in Hartford at the State Library doing research on her upcoming book on the 16th CT.  While I didn’t get in touch with her in time for her to copy the document, Dr. Gordon did put me in contact with Mel Smith, a librarian with the History and Genealogy Unit at the Library.  About two weeks later, at a cost of $5.22, I received a photocopy of the handwritten Official Report of Colonel George S. Burnham of the Battle of Bull Run, dated July 24, 1861, which I transcribed and posted here.  I inserted a few words or interpreted words of questionable legibility in brackets, and made a few paragraph breaks, but otherwise the report was transcribed as written.

I think in the absence of any positive evidence to the contrary, we have to accept that Col. George S. Burnham was indeed in command of the 1st CT Volunteers on July 21, 1861.  Thanks to Jim Burgess, William Parker, Lesley Gordon and Mel Smith for all your help.

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#18b – Col. George S. Burnham

21 08 2009

Unpublished Report

Report of Colonel George L. Burnham, First Connecticut Volunteers

Photocopy from Connecticut State Library in Site Owner’s Collection (*)

Fort Corcoran near Washington, DC

July 24th, 1861

Sir, I have the honor to report that we started from our Bivouac at Centreville at 2 O’Clock on the morning of the 21st of July, keeping the Warrentown Turnpike for about four miles, my regiment leading the Brigade.  There the Brigade was ordered to file off the road into the fields to allow troops to pass, the Brigade being held in reserve that day. After waiting some three hours, we filed again into the road.  Proceeding some two miles we again halted for a short time.  We then were ordered to advance.  Emerging from the woods through which we passed we were opened upon with a very heavy fire of shells from some two or three of the enemies batteries.  The troops dropping at the flash of the guns, most of the shells went over us, but few doing any serious damage.  Advancing at the double quick obliquely to [the] right of the road, we passed the building afterwards used as a hospital.  I met Gen. McDowell [and] was ordered by him to march by the left flank (we then were marching by the right.)  Passing through a narrow strip of woods we came in full view of the enemy, upon whom we immediately opened fire, and as well as I could judge, with considerable effect.  We then were ordered to march by the Left Flank, following the Connecticut 2d.  Being very hotly attacked by the enemies fire we kept well under the hill which protected our men to a great degree.  We were ordered to charge on one of the batteries but it was countermanded by yourself as [it] was evident that it would be a perfect annihilation of our men.  We then made attacks on the enemy whenever a favorable opportunity presented itself. 

About 4 O’Clock we had orders to change our position marching by the right flank, the Conn. 2d filing past.  Proceeding to the Hospital we learnt of the rout of our Army.  My regiment kept in most excellent good order, although hotly pressed by the enemies fire.  Reaching the woods we soon after met the enemies Cavalry in full charge, but my regiment standing its ground and one of our guns opening fire on them, they soon left us.  Coming up soon after with the N. Y. 2d under command of the Lieut. Colonel (the Colonel being absent) who placed his regiment with my own under my command, but had gone but a short distance when seeing Gen. Schenck the commander of their Brigade I placed myself and regiment under his command for a short time.

Reaching Cub Run I vainly tried to rescue the Parrot gun which was mired [by the] side of the road.  Fording the stream the staff of our color State Color was shot in two, but our colors on that day were not dishonored, but were brought off the field.

We then came up to Col. Miles Brigade which were held as reserve, and most nobly did he do his duty.  His presence with his Brigade held in most admirable order revived the [drooping?] spirits of the tired and retreating soldiers who immediately took fresh courage.  And the enemies Cavalry which up to this time and had pressed most earnestly and severely on our troops concluded it was time for them to retire, which they did much to our satisfaction.  We then marched into our old Bivouac Grounds in Centreville in as good order as when we first reached them the day Thursday before. 

Consoling ourselves that we were the first Regiment in the field, of the Brigade, and the last (as far as I could see) of all out of it our loss being eight wounded and nine missing.  And allow me to say that the Troops could not have behaved better, faithfully obeying every order and were [easily?] handled, my adjutant being my assistant. 

Resting awhile at Centreville we were ordered back to camp at Falls Church which place we reached after daybreak the 22d.  Striking our tents according to orders we remained all day in a most drenching rain, which occasioned very much suffering among the men on account of the very fatiguing duties of the day before and the wanting of rest.  At dark marching down with the two other Conn. Regiments we took possession of the two Ohio camps (1st & 2d) where with the Conn. 3d we rested for the night.  Next morning we struck the tents and with all the Camp Equipage &c we sent to Alexandria, the Conn. 2d doing the same thing for the N.Y. 2d.  The Three Regiments then marched to Fort Corcoran arriving at about sundown, well worn out.

My men, through this severe trial, seemed to vie with each other to find the least complaint of their sufferings, excepting, of course, those who basely deserted their colors or refused to go into the field on that eventful day, those complaining the most that suffered the least.

I hope I may be excused if there is any discrepancy in the report as I have been suffering with a most painful attack of neuraligy and with which I now suffer with redoubled force owing to my recent exposure.

I have the honor to be your most obdt servant

Geo. S. Burnham

Col. 1st Regt Conn. Vol.

To Col. E. D. Keyes

Commanding First Brigade

(*) All but last two paragraph breaks not in original.  [ ] are edited into text.





JCCW – Gen. Daniel Tyler Part I

25 07 2009

Testimony of Gen. Daniel Tyler

Report on the Conduct of the War, Vol. 2, pp. 198-206

WASHINGTON, January 20, 1862.

General DANIEL TYLER sworn and examined.

By the chairman:

Question. Will you please state what is your rank and position in the army, or what it was?

Answer. I was a brigadier general, second in command under General McDowell.

Question. You were present at the battle of Bull Run?

Answer. I was there.

Question. Please give a brief and concise statement of what you saw there, and how the battle was conducted, &c.; do this without questioning at first; I want to get particularly what, in your judgment, caused the disaster of that day.

Answer. The first great trouble was the want of discipline and instruction in the troops. The troops needed that regimental and brigade instruction which would have enabled them to act together in masses with advantage.

Question. Were there any other more proximate causes than that?

Answer. There was a great want of instruction and professional knowledge among the officers—the company and regimental officers.

Question. Well, sir, give a concise history of that battle.

Answer. I will begin back to the occupation of Falls’ Church. The first advance made by our troops, after the occupation of Alexandria, Arlington Heights, Fort Corcoran, and Roach’s Mill, was to Falls’ Church. That was made by me with the Connecticut brigade, about the 5th of June. I remained in that division, commanding the advance of the army, until the advance upon Manassas. When we advanced upon Manassas I was assigned to the command of a division of four brigades. My line of march was by Vienna to Flint Hill, and from there I had authority from General McDowell to take either the route by Fairfax Court-House, or the route by Gormantown, as my judgment should indicate. I took the advance through Gormantown, and arrived there in advance of any other division of the army, on the turnpike to Centreville. We continued our march until about 4 o’clock in the evening, and then bivouacked for the night. I think that was the first misfortune of our .movement. I think, if we had gone on to Centreville that night we should have been in much better condition the next day. I was ordered by General McDowell to take my division forward at 7 o’clock on Thursday morning and attack Centreville, he assigning me two twenty-pounders to assist in that attack. On arriving at Centreville, I found that the enemy had evacuated their fortifications, and that Cox’s division, as I was told by the people there, had passed over Stone Bridge, and Bonham, with the South Carolina and Georgia troops, had passed down by Blackburn’s Ford.

I waited there an hour and a half, getting such information as I could collect, and then, not finding General McDowell, or hearing from him, I took a squadron of cavalry and four companies of light infantry and went forward with General Richardson towards Blackburn’s Ford. After passing through the woods there we came out immediately upon Bull Run. From that point we had a very good view of Manassas. We found they had not occupied the left bank of Bull Run at all. There is a distance, along the stream there, of about a thousand yards of perfectly open country. There is not a tree until you get to Bull Run, and then it is covered with trees. I got there in the morning, with merely my staff and this squadron of cavalry and the light infantry. I was perfectly astonished to find they had not occupied that position on the left bank. It had complete control of it, so complete control that, after we got our artillery in position, we had the whole control of that valley. Beauregard, in his official report, complains that we threw shot in his hospital. We did, but we did not know it was his hospital; we thought it was his headquarters. The whole ground there, clear over almost into Manassas, was commanded by that position. This was a chain of heights, extending along the whole of this ford, and completely controlling the bottom of Bull Run.

As soon as I found out the condition of things I sent back for Ayres’s battery—Sherman’s old battery—and had it brought and put into position. After firing two or three shots they replied to us; but having only smoothbore guns they could not reach us. After the two twenty-pounders came up we had eight pieces in position, commanding the whale of that run. They could not make a move in front of the woods there without our controlling them. They made no movement at all; we could see no show of force. All we could see was some few around their battery. I then took Richardson’s brigade and filed it down there to see what there was in the bottom. This was evidently on the direct road to Manassas. They marched down through in front of the whole of that wood, without bringing any fire upon them. I sent some skirmishers into the woods, and there were some thirty or fifty shots fired from a few men.

I saw an opening where we could have a chance to get in a couple of pieces of artillery, and I ordered Captain Ayres to take a couple of his howitzers and go into that opening and throw some canister shot into the woods. The very moment he came into battery it appeared to me that there were 5,000 muskets fired at once. It appears by Beauregard’s report that he had seventeen regiments in front there. They were evidently waiting for our infantry to get into the woods there. Ayres threw some ten or fifteen canister shot in among them, but was forced to come out, which he did very gallantly, with the loss of one man and two horses. We then came on the hill, and the whole eight pieces were placed in position, and we exchanged with them 415 shots in three-quarters of an hour, our shots plunging right in among them. They fired at an angle of elevation, and the consequence was that we lost but one man; whereas our artillery was plunging right into them, and every shot had its effect.

The Rev. Mr. Hinds, who was taken prisoner on Monday after the fight, was taken down to Bonham’s camp there. He has lately been exchanged and returned, and represents their loss there at some 300 or 400 men that day. My idea was that that position was stronger than the one above. But that is a mere matter of opinion. But after this affair of Thursday that point was never abandoned. We held that point until after the battle of Sunday. Richardson’s brigade was left there, and Davies’s brigade supported him. And when General Ewell tried to cut us off at Centreville on Sunday afternoon they repulsed him. We could have made a first-rate artillery fight there on Friday morning before Johnston’s force came up. We knew of the arrival of Johnston’s forces on Friday afternoon, because we could hear the arrival of the cars up the Winchester road.

My division was stationed on Cub Run from Thursday evening, except Keyes’s brigade, which was left back at Centreville. My orders were for my division to move forward on Sunday morning to Stone Bridge, and threaten that bridge. We left our camp at half-past two o’clock in the morning, and arrived there a little past six o’clock. The fire was opened immediately after getting the division posted, say at a quarter past six o’clock. Our first fire was the signal for Richardson to open fire at Blackburn’s Ford at the same time. Under the instruction to threaten Stone Bridge, it was contemplated that Hunter and Heintzelman, after passing over by Sedley’s Church, would drive the enemy away from the front of the bridge, and enable us to repair the Stone Bridge, which General McDowell assumed to be ruined, and would be destroyed. We had a bridge framed and prepared for that purpose.

Now, at that time, when that should have been done, my division was to pass over the bridge and take part in the action in front of the bridge. About 11 o’clock, seeing that Hunter’s column was arrested on the opposite side of Bull Run, and that they were requiring assistance, I ordered over Sherman’s brigade, containing the 69th and 79th New York, a Wisconsin, and another regiment, with orders to come into line on the right of the troops that we saw attacked, which we supposed, from the appearance of them, to be Hunter’s division. They did so, and Sherman’s brigade made a very gallant attack there, and relieved Burnside’s brigade from the embarrassment they were in. General Burnside, in his official report, acknowledged that he was taken out of a very tight place.

At that time we supposed the battle to have been won. I had had no opportunity of seeing what had been done on the other side until the moment that I came into line with Keyes’s brigade on the left of Sherman’s brigade, and at that moment I saw Captain Fry, of General McDowell’s staff, standing by the fence, crying out “Victory! victory! We have done it! we have done it!” He supposed, and I supposed, and General McDowell at that time supposed, that the victory was substantially won. That was about half- past 12 o’clock. To show that he had some reason to believe that, we passed from that point with my division clear down to the Canady House on the Warrenton turnpike, driving the enemy without any show of resistance. There was hardly a gun fired. There appeared to be a general flight before us.

It was not until we got to that house that we met the enemy in any force at all. They had occupied a plateau of ground immediately above it with their batteries. Ricketts had his fight further over on the other side, while we attacked them by way of the road. At that point my brigade, after carrying the house twice, were repulsed and fell back under the hill. And at that moment, through General Keyes’s aid, who was with me, I sent verbal information to General McDowell that we were going to try to turn the batteries on the plateau by a movement below the Stone Bridge. That movement was subsequently made. We continued under the hill, advancing with the Connecticut brigade, with General Keyes’s brigade, until we reached a point considerably below the position of the enemy’s batteries on the plateau. And as Keyes faced his brigade to the right, to advance up the hill to attack the batteries, we had the first intimation of the retreat of the army by seeing them pouring over towards Sedley’s Church.

By Mr. Gooch:

Question. At what time was that?

Answer. That was, perhaps, nearly three o’clock. Keyes’s brigade then faced to the left and took the same route back under the hill by which they had made the advance, recrossed Bull Run at the original point of crossing, went on up the Warrenton turnpike, at or near the hospital, and on the Centreville side of Bull Run, and continued their retreat towards Centreville. I did not see General McDowell on the field, and I did not receive any orders from him during that day.

Question. Have you anything further to state?

Answer. Nothing. I suppose you ask opinions about the panic. It has been very much discussed before military circles.

Question. We have heard various speculations as to the reason why the battle was not commenced earlier on Sunday; will you state the reason why the battle was delayed to so late an hour on that day?

Answer. The impossibility of moving an army of 22,000 men, with their ammunition, ambulances, &c., over a single turnpike.

By Mr. Odell:

Question. Did not the most of the column wait in the road until Keyes’s brigade, which was back at Centreville, came up and joined you?

Answer. No, sir. The reason why the battle was delayed was this: The advancing so large an army as I have stated over one common road; and for the further reason that the country between Cub Run and Bull Run was supposed to be occupied by the enemy, and it became indispensable for the leading division, being without cavalry, and with no knowledge of the country, to move slowly, in order to protect themselves against any surprise on the part of the enemy, and force a position we had not the least conception of.

By Mr. Gooch:

Question. Was yours the leading division?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. Were the rest of the divisions delayed by your movement?

Answer. They were not more than was absolutely necessary under the circumstances.

Question. What time did your movement commence?

Answer. At half-past two o’clock, as will appear by the official reports of Generals Schenck, Sherman, and Keyes.

Question. You were to advance how far?

Answer. To the Stone Bridge, about two and a half miles.

Question. And the other divisions turned off from the road on which you advanced before they reached Stone Bridge?

Answer. Yes, sir; some two miles from the bridge.

Question. At what time did the rear of your division reach Stone Bridge?

Answer. Keyes’s brigade, being delayed to guard the road going down to Manassas, did not reach Stone Bridge until about 11 o’clock. But that brigade was acting under the orders of General McDowell.

Question. At what time did the portion of the division under your command reach Stone Bridge?

Answer. It reached there by six o’clock, perhaps a quarter before six. We opened fire, as General Beauregard states, at six o’clock. Our time said half-past six, but I presume their time was nearer right than ours. I was there more than half an hour, posting my division, before we opened fire.

Question. Then do I understand you to say that none of the other divisions were held back by any portion of your division?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. The last part of your division had reached the point where Hunter’s and Heintzelman’s divisions were to turn off in time so as not to hold them back at all?

Answer. The two leading brigades of my division, Schenck’s and Sherman’s, arrived at the Stone Bridge in the neighborhood of and before six o’clock. Keyes’s brigade, having been detained by General McDowell’s order, arrived about eleven o’clock. Keyes’s brigade, therefore, is the only brigade that could have interfered with the movement of Hunter’s and Heintzelman’s divisions. That brigade of Keyes’s had no artillery. And so soon as General Schenck got his brigade on the line of the road, I saw the difficulty that there might be in consequence of Keyes’s brigade being left back at Centreville, having two miles of road to pass over, that they might interfere with Hunter’s column I then sent an aid back to tell General Keyes that as he had no artillery he should file immediately off the Warrenton turnpike into the fields, and immediately clear the turnpike for the use of the other columns. And I deemed it of so much importance, that after sending my aid, I rode back myself and saw the leading regiment of his brigade file into the fields, and gave him a positive order to put his brigade into the fields entirely out of the way of the other divisions. General Keyes reported to me that he did so, and I have no doubt of the fact, for I saw the leading regiment file off.

Question. Did any of the other divisions, or any portions of the other divisions, pass through a part of your division in order to get forward of them?

Answer. When Keyes’s brigade reached the road they occupied it, and Keyes’s brigade passed along parallel to the road and entirely out of their way. He was enabled to do that because he had no artillery. The others having artillery, there was no other place for them to pass, except up the road and over the bridge at Cub Run.

Question. At what time did the rear of your division—I do not mean to include Keyes’s brigade, but the rear of that which was with you that morning—pass the point where Hunter and Heintzelman turned off to the right?

Answer. We passed there before four o’clock.

Question. Or in two hours after you started?

Answer. Yes, air.

Question. Then do I understand you to say that the road was clear, so far as your division was concerned, up to the turning-off point after four o’clock, with the exception that Keyes’s portion of your division was then on that road?

Answer. Alongside the road, but off it.

Question. Why did you move first, as you were to move the shortest distance over the road?

Answer. That was the order of march by General McDowell. I did not see General McDowell or hear from him after the fight began, until we got back to Centreville.

By Mr. Odell :

Question. Did the fact of Keyes’s brigade not joining yours impede the progress of the other columns?

Answer. I do not think it did in the least.

Question. You did not receive an order from General McDowell to hasten your march?

Answer. No, sir ; I received no orders from General McDowell after I left him on Saturday night It was my suggestion to put Keyes’s brigade in the field. After seeing the head of his first regiment file into the fields, I did not wait there, but immediately pushed forward to post the other brigades at the Stone Bridge.

Question. Was there any portion of the march, with reference to Centreville Cross Roads or anything, retarded, so far as you know by your column?

Answer. No, sir; not that I know of.

By Mr. Gooch:

Question. Was it understood that Keyes, with his brigade, should march up and join your division in advance of the movement forward of all the other troops?

Answer. I presume so. That was the understanding—to keep the division together.

Question. I understand you to say that it was expected that Keyes should move up in advance of any other portion of the army, and join your division?

Answer. Certainly; for General McDowell said, “The first division, (Tyler’s,) with the exception of Richardson’s brigade, will move first.”

Question. That was not done, was it?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. Why did he not move forward so as to keep out of the way of the remainder of the army?

Answer. He states that he did not interfere with them.

Question. You say he turned off into the field. Why could he not, with the road clear before him, if he was in advance, move forward so as to keep clear of the others?

Answer. He might, if the movements were made with perfect regularity.

Question. He had no artillery, and was first on the road. Why did he not pass over the road so as to offer no obstruction?

Answer. Because, by passing into the field he would have given the rear columns the advantage of two miles and a half of clear track, which there was a possibility might be interfered with, but which was not interfered with.

Question. Were Hunter’s and Heintzelman’s columns in advance of the position where Keyes turned off the main road?

Answer. .No, sir; they moved from behind Centreville on the morning of the 21st.

Question. If he was first on the road, and they were behind him, and he had nothing but infantry, why could he not have moved forward with sufficient celerity to leave the road open to the rest as fast as they advanced?

Answer. He could if the column in advance of him had moved with perfect regularity.

Question. What column was in advance?

Answer. Sherman’s brigade and Schenck’s brigade.

Question. Then it was your division which obstructed his movement forward :

Answer. We did not obstruct him at all. When I ordered Keyes into the field he had not reached the rear of my division. But seeing the possibility of an interference, I ordered him into the field.

Question. If he had marched up and joined your division, as your division then was, would the rear of his brigade have extended back to the junction of the road where the others turned off?

Answer. At the time he joined us?

Question. Yes, sir.

Answer. I think it would at that moment; but still we were all advancing.

Question. Then did you make the movement into the field with Keyes’s brigade in order to prevent that difficulty?

Answer. It was to prevent a circumstance that might occur. It was to prevent difficulty, when I knew there were two brigades in advance of him, and to carry out the instruction to march through the field. It was not that any difficulty had occurred, but to take every precaution against any such occurrence. I had not seen the head of Hunter’s and Heintzelman’s columns, and I did not know where they were. But foreseeing the difficulty of moving 20,000 men over* one turnpike, after getting the artillery and wagons and ammunition into line, I saw that there must be difficulty, and to obviate that as far as possible I rode back and ordered Keyes, who was without artillery, to file out into the field. At that time I did not know where Hunter’s and Heintzelman’s columns were, and I did not know that they had moved a foot.

Question. Did you see the rear of General Keyes’s column?

Answer. I did not. I only saw the leading regiment filed into the field.

Question. You do not know whether Hunter’s and Heintzelman’s columns was directly in the rear of Keyes’s brigade or not?

Answer. No, sir; but I wanted to provide against a contingency.

Question. At that moment you did not know the condition of things in the rear of Keyes’s command?

Answer. I did not. I had no idea where Hunter’s and Heintzelman’s columns were. I supposed they were on the road, however, but I did not know where; but I wanted to do all in my power to remedy any possible difficulty that might occur.

By Mr. Chandler:

Question. The first attack on Thursday, I understood you to say, was made by a single brigade?

Answer. It was made by four companies of a brigade. There were never more than 300 men, except artillery, engaged with the enemy at any time.

Question. Supported by a brigade?

Answer. Yes, sir; by Richardson’s brigade.

Question. Should that attack on Thursday have been made at all, unless it was followed up and made successful?

Answer. It was not an attack. It was merely a reconnoissance to ascertain what force they had there on Bull Run. It was not the intention to make an attack. And the very moment the force of the enemy was discovered, which it was important to know, ‘that moment the troops were withdrawn, and merely a cannonade kept up in order to see what effect it would have upon the men in the bottom of Bull Run. The whole affair was over before six o’clock. It was one of those advance engagements that spring np sometimes without any expectation of anything very important coming froin it.

Question. It was intended as a mere reconnoissance?

Answer. Yes, sir. After we had ascertained the force of the enemy there, I ordered Richardson to withdraw his brigade. He was very anxious to make an attack at the time, and was very confident that he could repulse them and force them out of the woods. I told him our object was not to bring on an engagement. But there was one thing very significant in that affair. Richardson’s brigade moved along the whole front of that wood, and skirted it along without being attacked, though Beauregard says he had seventeen regiments in the woods there. The reason was that Richardson was supported by the artillery on the hill, and the enemy would have suffered very severely if he had made any attack.

Question. Was it your understanding that Patterson was to hold Johnston in the valley of Winchester?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. You did not expect Johnston down there?

Answer. No, sir.

Question. Had Patterson held Johnston, what, in your judgment, would have been the result of that battle?

Answer. We should have whipped Beauregard beyond a question.

Question. Then you deem that the real cause of that defeat was the failure of Patterson to hold Johnston back?

Answer. Undoubtedly. From Blackburn’s Ford we could have a fair view of Manassas, and could see what they had there; and I have never had the least doubt that if Patterson had kept Johnston’s army out of the way we would have whipped Manassas itself.

By Mr. Gooch:

Question. You think if you had driven Beauregard into and upon Manassas, you could have driven him out of it?

Answer. Yes, sir; if Johnston had been kept out of the way. There has been a great deal said about their fortifications there. It was the understanding that, from Flint Hill to Gormantown, we should find a succession of very severe abattis and batteries, which would render it a very difficult passage for our troops. We first fell in with, on advancing from Flint Hill, an abattis, which was so miserably constructed that the axe-men of one of our Maine regiments cut it out in the course of fifteen minutes, so that our brigade passed right on. We found a second one of the same character; and then we found an abandoned battery, which two rifled guns could have knocked to pieces in fifteen minutes. At Centreville all the fortifications were of exactly the same character. They were the meanest, most miserable works ever got up by military men. And I have no reason to believe that, even back as far as Manassas, they were much better constructed than they were on this side the run.

Question. Then you attribute the advantages of the enemy in that fight, and the advantages which they probably would have had at Manassas, so far as they would have had any, to the natural location of the country, rather than to any earthworks or artificial works that had been erected?

Answer. Yes, sir; at Manassas particularly. There they had an elevation in their favor, and we would have been obliged to attack them there to some disadvantage.

Question. I suppose you knew, when you moved forward to make the attack, you were moving forward with undisciplined troops; but you also knew you were to attack undisciplined troops?

Answer. We supposed our men were equal to theirs, and we found them to be so.

Question. You did not expect perfection in our movements any more than you did in theirs?

Answer. There was nothing in their troops that I saw that induced me to believe that their discipline and instruction was in any way superior to ours.

Question.  Do you know the particulars of the loss of Griffin’s and Ricketts’s batteries that day?

Answer. They were on the opposite side of the hill from me, and I did not see them. But I think the loss of those two batteries created the panic.

Question. Do you think it very probable the issue of that battle would have been different if those batteries had not been lost?

Answer. I think if we could have had two good batteries there we could have done a great deal better than we did. I think the loss of those two batteries had a great effect upon us.

By Mr. Odell:

Question. Did you receive from General McDowell, through his aid, Mr. Kingsbury, orders to make a more rapid advance?

Answer. No, sir; I did not.





JCCW – Gen. Fitz-John Porter

13 07 2009

Testimony of Gen. Fitz-John Porter

Report on the Conduct of the War, Vol. 2, pp. 152-159

WASHINGTON, January 11, 1862.

General FITZ-JOHN PORTER recalled and examined.

By Mr. Gooch:

Question. Were you on General Patterson’s staff?

Answer. Yes, sir; I was his assistant adjutant general, and with him from almost the commencement of his expedition. At all events, I was with him from about the 1st of May.

Question. Then you were with him when he moved from Martinsburg?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. Will you state concisely the movement from Martinsburg?

Answer. I do not recollect the dates.

Question. We understand that he moved from Martinsburg on the 15th of July.

Answer. We moved from Martinsburg direct upon Bunker Hill.

Question. What distance?

Answer. I think it was about twelve miles. We there remained one day. There was a heavy force towards Winchester, and the following morning we moved from Bunker Hill to Charlestown.

Question. Johnston was at that time intrenched at Winchester?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. When you were at Bunker Hill how far were you from Winchester?

Answer. I think about twelve miles.

Question. How far is it from Charlestown?

Answer. About the same distance.

Question. You sent forward a heavy force towards Winchester on Tuesday, the 16th?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. Did they meet any enemy?

Answer. The cavalry of the enemy came in contact with them, some 500 or 600 of them; that is the report we received; I do not know it myself. They met that force, and I think a few cannon shot and a few infantry shot passed.

Question. Did they find any obstruction?

Answer. The road, as I understood, had trees felled across; had a fence put across it; was barricaded.

Question. Did they go near enough to ascertain whether Johnston was intrenched at Winchester?

Answer. They did not.

Question. Did you know at that time whether he was or not intrenched at Winchester?

Answer. Yes, sir; we knew it six weeks before.

Question. And these barricades were thrown up to prevent your progress towards Winchester?

Answer. Yes, sir; I always presumed these barricades were put there with the design, if he retired, (as I supposed he was prepared to do,) that we should not be able to pursue him.

Question. To prevent your pursuit if he retired towards Manassas?

Answer. Yes, sir; to give us all the obstructions he could while he was at his ease.

Question. While at Bunker Hill you were threatening Johnston?

Answer. Yes, sir; and I always considered that to be the design unless our force was superior to Johnston.

Question. You considered that during that campaign you were to take care of Johnston’s force, and particularly at this period of the campaign?

Answer. Yes, sir; it was to try and hold him at Winchester.

Question. It was deemed of the first importance that Johnston should be held in the valley of Winchester at that time, in order that he might not be present and participate with Beauregard at Manassas when General McDowell made his attack?

Answer. Yes, sir; and there was also a fear which was expressed by General Scott in one of his despatches in a direction to be careful not to drive Johnston on Manassas.

Question. But to threaten him.

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. You being on the staff of course saw the despatches of the commander-in-chief to General Patterson?

Answer. Yes, sir; they were all filed away under my direction.

Question. Did you not understand, from the general character of these despatches, that General Scott especially desired that Johnston should be held by Patterson’s force?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. That was the great point that General Scott required there.

Answer. Yes, sir; that was the desire. And he also expressed the desire that if Johnston retired from Winchester in force not to pursue him, but take into consideration the route via Leesburg, through Keyes’s Ferry, or better still, cross the Potomac twice and go, via Leesburg, down this way.

Question. That is, in case Johnston went down by way of Strasburg, it was deemed hazardous to follow him in that direction.

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. And in order that you might be up with him, you were to take the other road right down as rapidly as possible.

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. So that, in case Johnston should get down and form a junction with Beauregard, you should be on hand to join McDowell?

Answer. That was the design.

Question. When you made the march from Bunker Hill towards Charlestown, you were then retreating from Johnston, going further from him?

Answer. That was regarded at that time as a necessity.

Question. The fact was, you were going from Johnston?

Answer. Yes, sir; we were retiring, or rather it was going further from Winchester.

Question. Of course you were threatening Johnston less at Charlestown than you were at Bunker Hill?

Answer. Yes, sir. But the design in going to Charlestown was to get near our depot where provisions could be provided. From that point the design was, and the directions were given, to move again upon Winchester.

Question. When did you first learn of the battle of Bull Run, of the engagement of McDowell with the rebels there?

Answer. The first information was a telegraph from General Scott stating that the first move of McDowell had caused the enemy to abandon Fairfax Court-House. But there was no intimation after that, I think, until the Thursday night afterwards.

Question. Thursday, the 18th of July.

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. You got the news then that he had moved and driven the enemy from Fairfax?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. Then you say you do not know when you first got the news of the battle at Bull Run.

Answer. No, sir; I do not recollect?

Question. You were about to explain why the movement was made from Bunker Hill to Charlestown.

Answer. It was in part the carrying out a plan which had been submitted to General Scott to take Charlestown and make Harper’s Ferry a depot. The communication, via Williamsport, up to Martinsburg was a long one, and continually threatened. From Charlestown down to Harper’s Ferry was a short distance, and there was a railroad there available for use; and another thing, it was much easier to go down in this direction by immediately crossing to Leesburg and striking from there, if necessary, over to Manassas. The proposition had been submitted several days before this movement was made, but there was no reply made to it by General Scott until, I think, three or four days after its probable receipt by him. It was then too late for us to make the move which had been indicated, and go to Charlestown and there establish a depot and threaten Johnston on the Tuesday when it was designed to make the threat. We had a great many supplies, and transportation was not very abundant, and the movement of the supplies from Martinsburg to Charlestown had to be covered by an advance upon Bunker Hill; and in order to carry out General Scott’s wish to threaten Johnston strongly on Tuesday, as that was the day he said he was going to make the attack on Manassas, the movement to Bunker Hill was made, and we there remained threatening him. We could not carry at any time more than three days’ provisions. In the mean time the provisions were being changed, and all the supply train that could possibly be gathered from Hagerstown and Williamsport was brought up there, and the movement to Bunker Hill covered the movement of the train to Charlestown.

Question. The question submitted to General Scott whether our forces should be at Charlestown or Martinsburg for threatening Johnston?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. And as between Charlestown and Martinsburg General Scott approved of Charlestown?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. That brought you into a better position with reference to Johnston at Winchester than you were in at Martinsburg?

Answer. Just about the same relative position, but better for us if we had required a forward movement.

Question. You were not threatening Johnston at Charlestown so much as at Bunker Hill?

Answer. While we were at Bunker Hill all the train we could get together at Martinsburg was carrying all our supplies over to Charlestown, and it was covered by the movement of the army over to Charlestown by Bunker Hill. If we had been compelled to come down to the assistance of McDowell, we would have been compelled to abandon everything at Martinsburg if we had remained there, or even at Bunker Hill.

Question. That was not true at Charlestown?

Answer. No, sir; everything there could have been pushed at once to Harper’s Ferry and secured.

Question. Johnston was at Winchester when you were at Bunker Hill?

Answer. Yes, sir; before and afterwards.

Question. And he remained there until the next day, when you moved to Charlestown?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. And on Thursday, the day following, he moved to Mauassas?

Answer. He broke up, I think, at 2 o’clock on Thursday.

Question. Do you know how long it took him to make the passage from Winchester to Manassas?

Answer. I think he got to Manassas on the day of the battle, Sunday.

Question. So that if you had detained him one day longer at Winchester, he would have been too late for the battle?

Answer. Yes, sir; but I do not believe he could have been detained; that was my own impression.

Question. Was it your impression at the time you were at Bunker Hill that Johnston would move down to Manassas?

Answer. Yes, sir; when it was necessary for him to go to Manassas.

Question. You believed, then, that he would go?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. That that was his intention?

Answer. Yes, sir; and that it was an utter impossibility for us to hold him.

Question. You came to that conclusion when you were at Bunker Hill?

Answer. Yes, sir; and not only then, but long before. We came to that conclusion when we were at Hagerstown.

Question. Did General Patterson come to that conclusion?

Answer. I do not know.

Question. Was that question discussed in your councils at all?

Answer. In speaking of it—General Patterson, Captain Newton—we all were under the impression that if we went to Winchester the enemy, as we advanced, would quietly retire; that as we went along, they would also go along a little further back, and gradually draw us forward until the time came when they would suddenly strike us, and make a dash at Manassas.

Question. The prevailing opinion among General Patterson’s staff was, that the enemy would, at an opportune moment, dash forward so as to be at Manassas?

Answer. Yes, sir; that is my impression of the existing opinion.

Question. Do you know whether any such impression as that was ever communicated to the general-in-chief?

Answer. I do not.

Question. You do not know whether any such communication was ever made to the general-in-chief?

Answer. No, sir; I have no recollection of anything of the kind.

Question. You say General Scott had indicated Tuesday as the day he would fight?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. Therefore you deemed it of prime importance to hold Johnston over Tuesday?

Answer. Yes, sir; of great importance to hold him over Tuesday. Even if the fight was delayed, or not decided for one or two days, Johnston could not reach there.

Question. Did you not also deem it of prime importance that you should, if possible, detain Johnston until you knew the result of the attack by General McDowell upon Manassas?

Answer. Yes, sir; and when we got to Charlestown preparations were made at once to advance upon Winchester and continue the same movement.

Question. Was there any demonstration ever made from Charlestown towards Winchester?

Answer. Yes, sir. Quite a heavy reconnoissance was sent from there under Colonel, now General, Thomas.

Question. The enemy must have inferred from your movement from Bunker Hill to Charlestown—must have come to the conclusion that you did not intend to commence an attack upon them?

Answer. They may have come to that conclusion. I presume their thought was that we were then making a move to get down to Leesburg, and so on down.

Question. They probably inferred that you intended to go down by way of Leesburg?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. And therefore they must hasten their forces forward and go down, so as to be equal with you?

Answer. Probably so.

Question. That would have been natural?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. If they had drawn that inference they would have done what they did do?

Answer. Yes, sir; and to prevent their drawing that conclusion this force was sent out the following morning.

Question. You felt it was necessary to do something to do away with that impression?

Answer. Yes, sir; and a force was thrown out for that purpose. I will say here that when we were at Bunker Hill there was a commencement—in fact, it commenced at Martinsburg—of demoralization among the troops, which tended to prevent an attack.  Some of them positively refused. There was a petition from one of the regiments, signed by a number of the captains, which I think is, or ought to be, in General Patterson’s possession. He always kept it. It never went on the files of the records of the office.

Question. Have you any doubt that your men would have gone forward from Bunker Hill if you had desired them to do so?

Answer. I think they would have gone, but with very great reluctance—with no confidence. I think the great confidence of that command was destroyed immediately after the withdrawal of the regular troops from the command, when it first crossed the Potomac.

Question. Did you communicate to General Scott, immediately upon your withdrawal to Charlestown, the fact that you were not in position then to hold Johnston?

Answer. I have no recollection of it.

Question Why did you not follow down by way of Leesburg, via Keyes’s Ferry, as indicated by General Scott in his despatch to which you have referred?

Answer. My impression about that is that General Patterson was ordered to remain there.

Question. And that was the reason he did not move immediately down?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. Otherwise he would have moved immediately forward?

Answer. That I do not know.

Question. You would suppose so?

Answer. I do not know. I cannot say with reference to General Patterson’s opinion at all.

Question. I do not ask you what General Patterson’s opinion was.

Answer. I think the reason we did not move forward was the effort being made to retain Johnston at Winchester. That is my own impression; that was my own view at the time we were there; and, in order to retain Johnston, orders were given for the men to carry two days’ provisions, and those provisions were being prepared for the purpose. The circular was sent around, and immediately after a number of officers came in. Some of them spoke to me, and begged, if I had any influence at all, I would prevent that movement. One came in and said his men were very much demoralized, and said they would not go.

Question. On what day was this?

Answer. I think that was Thursday.

Question. Do you remember what officer that was who said his men would not go?

Answer. I think it was Colonel Johnson, Colonel Meredith, or Colonel Minier; one of those three I think it was.

Question. When you were at Bunker Hill an order was given, was it not, to move forward on Wednesday towards Winchester?

Answer. Not that I am certain of; I think not.

Question. Was not General Sanford’s division ordered to move forward on Wednesday?

Answer. Not towards Winchester that I know of.

Question. Do you know what time on Tuesday the order was issued to move on Charlestown on the next day, Wednesday?

Answer. I do not think it got out until one o’clock that night.

Question. Then you were in doubt during the day of Tuesday about the movement on Charlestown?

Answer. There was a design of remaining at Bunker Hill that day, but provisions would not permit them to remain there over Wednesday. We were obliged to meet the provisions at Charlestown, which were then in the train moving from Martinsburg. The regiments were ordered to leave Martinsburg with three days’ provisions; but many of them did not take one day’s provisions; some of them were very improvident. There were two regiments, and one was Colonel Johnson’s, that had no provisions at all.

Question. Could you not have brought your provisions from Charlestown to Bunker Hill as well as have gone from Bunker Hill to the provisions at Charles-town? ,

Answer. We could have got them up, but not in time to move forward and make an attack.

Question. They could have reached you at Bunker Hill?

Answer. Yes, sir. I would like to say this much: that at the time this order was given for the movement from Charlestown the officers came in and requested that it should be delayed, and that an appeal should be made to the men. It was suspended until General Patterson went out and made his appeal. The intention then was to move upon Winchester.

Question. That was on Thursday?

Answer. Yes, sir; the day after we got to Charlestown. He went out and made this appeal, and a very earnest one; and from some of the regiments that he asked at first the cry immediately was for shoes and pants.

Question. Was the appeal that they should go on and attack Winchester?

Answer. I was not present at this appeal, but I was informed that they were told that this movement was to be made, or that they were wanted for a few days longer. Some of them said they would not march—they were unprepared.

By Mr. Covode:

Question. Did not some of the regiments say they would remain if they were led to battle?

Answer. Not a word said upon that.

By Mr. Gooch:

Question. Your men had got very tired of marching?

Answer. I think that was the case; I think they had not much confidence in each other. There were a great many of the men without shoes. There was one regiment which afterwards came forward, expressing its willingness to remain—Colonel Wallace’s regiment from Indiana; and when General Patterson thanked them for it a number of the Pennsylvania regiments did the same thing—offered to remain; others refused. Colonel Wallace turned to me and said: “Those boys have come up to offer their services to remain or move forward ; but if they were called upon to march, there would not be three hundred of them that could march for want of shoes.” I think General Patterson’s great desire was to hold Johnston at Winchester. I think he felt he could not do so; I am certain of it. I think the main portion of that command felt that if they made an attack upon Winchester there would be nothing left of them.

Question. You think it was the general feeling in General Patterson’s staff that it was absolutely beyond your power to hold Johnston?

Answer. I think so.

Question. And you think that General Patterson shared that feeling with his staff officers?

Answer. Yes, sir.

By the chairman:

Question. At what time was that feeling?

Answer. I do not think it was in the mind of any of General Patterson’s staff, or any of the brigade commanders, that Johnston would stay in Winchester to meet an attack unless he was very powerful; and if he was wanted down in this direction, he could more whenever he pleased, and we could not touch him. I think that was the prevailing opinion.

Question. Can you tell why General Patterson did not communicate to General Scott the fact that he could not hold Johnston, as soon as he was satisfied of that fact?

Answer. I cannot tell you why he did not. I am of the opinion that General Scott was of that opinion himself. I think he says so in his despatch, where he says if Johnston retires in force do not follow him.

By Mr. Gooch:

Question. That is, if he retire by Strasburg?

Answer. I do not think he said if he retire by Strasburg—but if he retire in force. I never expected that he would retire by Strasburg.

By the chairman:

Question. It was the design, in that case, for Patterson to follow down to Manassas.

Answer. He said, take into consideration the going by way of Leesburg.

Question. General Scott did at one time think that Patterson could detain Johnston in the valley of Winchester, did he not?

Answer. I do not think there is anything in his despatches to that effect. I think that General Scott, by sending more troops there, showed that he thought we had not enough.

Question. Your idea is that General Scott did not suppose that General Patterson would detain Johnston in the valley there?

Answer. I do not think he thought so.

Question. Of course, then, in your estimation, any such expectation could not have entered into his calculations in regard to the attack upon Manassas?

Answer. I think not. General Scott may have had the hope that we would detain Johnston. .

Question. Why did General Patterson advance towards Winchester at all if he did not think he could detain Johnston?

Answer. The object in advancing towards Winchester was partly to cover the movement of his supplies from Martinsburg to Charlestown, and partly also to carry out what General Scott directed him to do on Tuesday, to make a demonstration with the hope of holding Johnston at Winchester. I believe General Patterson, if he had thought there was any chance at all of whipping Johnston at Winchester, would have gone there. I heard him often express the wish, and say, “we will move at such or such a time.” And in some cases he gave orders to that effect. But I think General Patterson began to feel that his troops would not carry him out if he went to Winchester.

Question. He had no confidence in his troops?

Answer I think not. Many of the officers had not, and came forward and so expressed themselves. I think he was influenced by that. I do not say he did not have confidence in his troops, but I think he was influenced in his movements by the opinions that the officers expressed.

By Mr. Covode:

Question. Did you ever know of Colonel Johnson refusing to go with General Patterson previous to the time that you came back to Charlestown; that is, was it before or after the time that you went from Bunker Hill to Charlestown that Colonel Johnson signified his unwillingness to remain?

Answer. I do not think that Colonel Johnson himself signified that, but a large portion of his regiment. ,

Question. Was it before or after you went to Charlestown?

Answer. It was while we were at Charlestown. I never heard it before. And I never heard Colonel Johnson refuse to remain; on the contrary, he wanted to remain there.

Question. Do you know of any other regiments that refused to remain in the service previous to the time you turned back to Charlestown?

Answer. Yes, sir; one regiment presented its petition at Martinsburg. And that written petition, I think, is in General Patterson’s possession now.

Question. Do you recollect what regiment that was?

Answer. I think it was the 6th Pennsylvania regiment. I think it was a written statement that their regiment would not remain, but demanded to be sent home by the time their service expired. There was another thing occurred while we were at Martinsburg. Information came to the men—how it got there no one ever knew—that an order had been published by the Secretary of War directing all volunteers then in service to be returned to their homes in time to be mustered out at the expiration of their term of service. That information was brought up there at Martinsburg. I supposed at the time that it was brought up there by some person probably friendly to the enemy.





JCCW – Gen. Robert Patterson Part III

6 07 2009

Testimony of Gen. Robert Patterson

Report on the Conduct of the War, Vol. 2, pp. 98-114

WASHINGTON, January 8, 1862.

General R. PATTERSON resumed as follows:

In my testimony before the committee as regards the expiration of the terms of service of the volunteers, I omitted to state that an order or circular from the War Department, dated somewhere about the 12th or 13th of July, directed that the regiments should be sent to the places of muster in their respective States in time to reach there on the day their terms of service expired. A strict obedience to this order would have reduced my command to a very small number on the 18th of July. I also omitted to state that, although the general-in-chief had on the 17th of July informed me that “the Junction will probably be carried to-morrow,” he had neglected to inform me that it was not carried on the 18th, or on the 19th, or on the 20th. It was certainly due to me, and to the great interests at stake, that if the general did not do what he said he would do I should have been informed of it. If on the evening or night of the 17th, or on the morning of the 18th, he found he could not make an assault on the Junction, why did he not telegraph me of the fact, and direct me to make an attack or a demonstration? I was all ready; my men had three days’ rations in their haversacks, and I had that morning, at half-past one, put the question to him direct—”Shall I attack?” I could have made a demonstration on Winchester just as easy from Charlestown as from Bunker Hill, and I could have made an attack much easier from Charlestown than from Bunker Hill, as the road from Bunker Hill was blocked and barricaded, and the road from Charles- town was not, and with the great additional advantage of being so much nearer my base and depots. I do not charge the neglect or inattention to which I have referred as intentional, but to physical inability to perform the immense labor of his official station in the present state of the country. I desire to speak of the general-in-chief as I feel, with all kindness, courtesy, and respect, and with all honor for his loyalty and great services.

By Mr. Gooch:

Question. Can you designate each of the regiments of your command, and the time when their terms of service expired?

Answer. I hand in a report from Brevet Major General Cadwalader, giving in detail the names and numbers of the regiments belonging to his division, and the time at which their terms of service expired.—(App. No. 39.) I have made out, with the aid of General Cadwalader’s report, and from memory, a memorandum of all the regiments composing my column, and the time fixed or supposed as near as I could approximate to the expiration of their terms of service:

1st regiment Pennsylvania volunteers, Colonel Yohl, July 18 ; 2d regiment Pennsylvania volunteers, Colonel Menier, July 19 or 20; 3d regiment Pennsylvania volunteers,- Colonel Stambaugh, July 19 or 20; 6th regiment Pennsylvania volunteers, Colonel Negley, July 22; 7th regiment Pennsylvania volunteers, Colonel Irwin, July 22; 8th regiment Pennsylvania volunteers, Colonel Emlee, July 22; 9th regiment Pennsylvania volunteers, Colonel Longnecker, July 22, 23 and 24; 10th regiment Pennsylvania volunteers, Colonel Meridith, July 25; 13th regiment Pennsylvania volunteers, Colonel Rowley, July 23; 14th regiment Pennsylvania volunteers, Colonel Johnston, supposed July 23; 15th regiment Pennsylvania volunteers, Colonel Oakford, supposed July 23; 16th regiment Pennsylvania volunteers, July 20, 21, 25, 26, 27 and 30; 17th regiment Pennsylvania volunteers, Colonel Patterson, supposed July 21; 20th regiment Pennsylvania volunteers, Colonel Grey, July 30; 21st regiment Pennsylvania volunteers, Colonel Ballier, July 29; 23d regiment Pennsylvania volunteers, Colonel Dare, July 21; 24th regiment Pennsylvania volunteers, Colonel Owen, supposed July 30; one-half (five companies,) 25th regiment Pennsylvania volunteers, July 18; Wisconsin regiment, Colonel Starkweath, early in August; Indiana regiment, Colonel Wallace, about July 20; Massachusetts regiment, Colonel Gordon, three year’s men; 1 New Hampshire; 1 New York, under Colonel Stone, last of July; 4 New York, under General Sanford, last of July and early in August; 2d and 3d regiments left at Martinsburg.

Pennsylvania regiments, seventeen and one-half; New York and other regiments, nine; making a total of twenty-six and one-half regiments, averaging, present and fit for service, six hundred and fifty men, equal to seventeen thousand two hundred and twenty-five; to which add cavalry, artillery, and one company of rangers, in all one thousand, making a total of eighteen thousand two hundred and twenty-five. .

Question. When you fix the time at which their term of service expires, do you reckon from the time when they were mustered into the service of the United States?

Answer. Yes, sir; not from the time when they were enrolled, but from the day they were mustered into service, that being the decision of the War Department, and so communicated to me by the general-in-chief.

Question. And the term of service, as you have stated it, is fixed on that basis?

Answer. Yes, sir. Most of those regiments, however, were enrolled and on duty a week or ten days before. My son’s was the first that turned out, on the 16th, by my own order.

Question. I suppose you found out, from the movements of your army, that it is impossible to say, a week or ten days beforehand, that you will be at a given point on a certain day.

Answer. Yes, sir; I could not tell a week beforehand where I would be.

Question. Is not that a difficulty which is incident to the moving of all large bodies of men?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. It is impossible for a commander to tell, even a week beforehand, what he will be doing, or where he will be a week hence?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. You moved from Martinsburg to Bunker Hill on the 15th July?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. And remained at Bunker Hill over the 16th?

Answer. A part of my army did. A large force was sent forward to reconnoitre and drive in the pickets of Johnston’s army.

Question. On the morning of the 17th you moved to Charlestown?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. When you were at Bunker Hill how near were you to Winchester?

Answer. About 12 miles.

Question. How near at Charlestown were you to Winchester?

Answer. From 15 to 17 miles, I think.

Question. Is it not further than that?

Answer. I think not.

Question. We have had it stated at 22 miles.

Answer. I cannot answer certainly, because I do not know. That is a matter that General Newton could answer better than I can.

Question. We have had the distance given as 22 miles. You say you are uncertain as to the distance?

Answer. I am uncertain as to the distance.

Question. Did you know the force of General Johnston when you moved from Martinsburg?

Answer. Our estimate then was that it was over 30,000 men.

Question. When you moved from Martinsburg?

Answer. Yes, sir; we took several prisoners, and got additional information at Bunker Hill, making his force from 35,000 to 40,000. In my statement to General Scott on the 6th of July I reported that he had 25,000 men.

Question. As you moved from Martinsburg to Bunker Hill I think you stated that General Sanford was in command of one division, and moved down on the road to the left, and the other divisions of your army moved to the right of him?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. Did you propose, on Tuesday the 16th, to advance towards Winchester from Bunker Hill?

Answer. No, sir.

Question. You made a reconnoissance that day?

Answer. Yes, sir; I made a reconnoissance in force to see the condition of the country, &c. The object was to learn the enemy’s strength and his preparations, so as to know whether we ought or ought not to go forward.

Question. What did you learn from that reconnoissance?

Answer. The report was decided against a forward movement.

Question. I did not ask what the report was, but what the facts were.

Answer. We learned that the roads were barricaded, fences were built across it, trees cut down; and all manner of impediments thrown in the way; that in front of the town of Winchester everything was levelled, fences and everything, trees cut down, and in some cases houses pulled down, so that their guns should have a clear and complete sweep; and that there were fortifications extending two miles and a half, with heavy guns.

Question. Then you issued no orders for an advance from Bunker Hill towards Winchester?

Answer. I.did, but countermanded it.

Question. At what time was that order countermanded?

Answer. On the return of the reconnoissance, or some time afterwards— some time in the afternoon or evening. My own desire was to go ahead, but I was opposed by all around me.

Question. General Sanford was in command of a division?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. You say that you yielded to the opinions of others. Was General Sanford’s opinion taken in relation to that?

Answer. No, sir; General Sanford’s opinion was not taken at any time. General Sanford joined—I forget now the exact time—perhaps the 10th, or may be the 11th of July, at Martinsburg. There was no council held at Bunker Hill. General Sanford was not in time to join the council of the 9th, and there was no council held after that. The opinions taken by me at Bunker Hill were the opinions of the gentlemen of my own staff, and the old officers of the regular army, who had great experience—those with whom I had been in the habit of counselling from the time I had taken command. There was no council; but any person of the class referred to who came into headquarters was consulted. But no council was held there on that day.

Question. Why did you move from Bunker Hill to Charlestown, instead of remaining at Bunker Hill?

Answer. Because there I was in a most dangerous position. I should have considered it an act of utter insanity to have remained there with so long a line behind me, my force not nearly half the number, not more than one third the number of the enemy. I was under constant expectation of an attack, and being cut off from my base; and I had the warning of the general-in-chief, dated the 11th of July, that that would be done. And also because all my officers told me that Johnston was luring me on, and that I would be caught. The desire of my officers was that I should move direct from Martinsburg to Charlestown. My objection to that movement was this: that I was passing a long distance directly across the enemy’s front, and he could have sent out parties to kill all my teamsters, cut up my wagon guards, shoot the animals and make a regular stampede, and I could not by any possibility get into a position to fight him. Going to Bunker Hill, I was to a certain extent going towards Winchester, and as soon as I got to Smithfield I then diverged to the left. We there expected to be attacked, and I had arranged my command with the left in front, to be ready for an attack, should it be made while on our march. Everybody expected that we should be assailed there. All my wagons were in the front, out of the way. I could not have left Martinsburg and marched half the way without the enemy knowing it. But I could leave Bunker Hill and march to Charlestown, because they would not know where we were going.

Question. If it had been the intention of Johnston to attack you were you not more exposed to his attack in your movement from Bunker Hill to Charlestown than to remain at Bunker Hill?

Answer. If I remained at Bunker Hill I was just as liable to be attacked as on the road to Charlestown, and just as liable to be attacked on the road as there. But I could not remain at Bunker Hill forever. My remaining there was very perilous. To return to Martinsburg was not very soldier-like; and I was ordered to go to Charlestown, and I obeyed my orders.

Question. Then, do you say you went to Charlestown because you were ordered to go there?

Answer. Yes, sir; and because I considered it judicious to go there, and was advised to do so by my council. And I went there because I was ordered there, whether right or wrong.

Question. During all this time you considered it your especial business to take care of Johnston, did you not?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. That was the object and purpose of your army?

Answer. My especial object—yes, sir.

Question. And you were to take care of him until after the attack bad been made by McDowell upon Manassas, and keep him so occupied as to prevent his being present to take part there in the battle, if you could possibly do so?

Answer. Yes, sir; if I could.

Question. On the 9th of July you made a communication to General Scott, in which you stated to him your plans of operations for the future?

Answer. Yes; sir.

Question. And under that head you wrote as follows:

“Under these circumstances, I respectfully present to the general-in-chief the following plan, which, with my present views, I desire to carry into operation so soon as I can do so with safety, and the necessity for following Johnston ceases. I propose to move this force to Charlestown, from which point I can more easily strike Winchester; march to Leesburg; when necessary, open communication to a depot to be established at Harper’s Ferry, and occupy the main avenue of supply to the enemy. My base will then be some seven miles nearer, more easily reached by road, and my line of communication rendered more secure than at present. I can establish communication with the Maryland shore by a bridge of boats. In this way I can more easily approach you; and the movement I think will tend to releive Leesburg and vicinity of some of its oppressors. My present location is a very bad one in a military point of view, and from it I cannot move a portion of the force without exposing that of what remains to be cut off.”

Then, in the last part of that communication, you say:

“When you make your attack I expect to advance and offer battle. If the enemy retires, shall not pursue. I am very desirous to know when the general-in-chief wishes me to approach Winchester. If the notice does not come in any other way, I wish you would indicate the day by telegraph, thus: ‘Let me hear from you on——-‘”

In reply to that you received the following telegraph:

“Go where you propose in your letter of the 9th instant. Should that movement cause the enemy to retreat upon Manassas via Strasburg, to follow him at this distance would seem hazardous; whereas the route from Charlestown via Keyes’s Ferry, Hillsboro’, and Leesburg, towards Alexandria, with the use of the canal on the other side of the river for heavy transportation, may be practicable. Consider this suggestion well; and except in an extreme case do not recross the Potomac with more than a sufficient detachment for your supplies on the canal. Let me hear of you on Tuesday. Write often when en route.”

That was a telegraphic despatch which you received in reply to your communication of the 9th?

Answer. Yes, sir; and your reading of that has reminded me of the strongest reason for not remaining at Bunker Hill. We had but supplies for two days, and could not remain there.

Question. Then you received on the next day this telegraphic despatch? “I telegraphed you yesterday if not strong enough to meet the enemy early next week, make demonstrations so as to detain him in the valley of Winchester. But if he retreats in force towards Manassas, and it be hazardous to follow him, then consider the route via Keyes’s Ferry, Leesburg,” &c. Now, did you not understand from these communications from General Scott that you were either to detain Johnston in the valley of Winchester until after you had heard of the result of the attack on Manassas, or, in case of his retreating, to follow him directly, or come down by the other route which General Scott had indicated, via Keyes’s Ferry, Leesburg, &c., so as to be present and participate in the action at Manassas?

Answer. Unquestionably, if I could detain him. I was undoubtedly to detain him if I could, but I was not to follow him down there, or to move on the other route, unless circumstances required it. In my letter of the 20th or 21st I stated ——-

Question. I would rather you would confine your answer to this question.

Answer. Unquestionably I was to detain him and to remain there as long as he remained there. Will you repeat the question?

Question. [The question was repeated.]

Answer. Yes, sir. The reason I did not follow him is stated in my letter of July 21st to the general-in-chief. On the 20th I telegraphed thus : “With a portion of his force, Johnston left Winchester by the road to Millwood on the afternoon of the 18th, his whole force about 35,200.” I believed then, and so did the officers of my command, that it was very likely that Johnston had information, and we had not, of the battle of Manassas, and that he had gone down on the right bank of the Shenandoh to cut me off; and on the night of the 20th, at midnight, I had ordered General Cadwalader to send a strong brigade down to Keyes’s Ferry, and hold it, as I expected Johnston to attempt to come in my rear. On the 21st I reported to General Scott thus: “I came here (Harper’s Ferry) to-day. Yesterday Winchester and this country was abandoned by all armed parties. Johnston left for Millwood to operate on McDowell’s right, and to turn through Loudon upon me. I could not follow.” I had no men to follow on the 20th or the 21st. I had made every effort on the 18th, but the men would not stay.

Question. You were still apprehending an attack from Johnston on the 20th.

Answer. I was expecting an attack from Johnston any hour from the 18th until I went into Harper’s Ferry.

Question. When did you first know that Johnston had left?

Answer. On the 20th, and the instant I received that information I sent a telegram announcing the fact to the general-in-chief, with orders to go with all speed, and that despatch was received in this city that night.

Question. Did you not know that your position at Charlestown offered no obstacle to General Johnston joining the forces of Beauregard at Manassas?

Answer. It offered no more obstacles than at any other point, except that I was nearer to him than at Martinsburg. I could not stay at Bunker Hill, for I had no supplies.

Question. You were not threatening Johnston at Charlestown so as to prevent him joining Beauregard at Manassas?

Answer. No, sir; I remained there because I was ordered to remain in front of him until he left.

Question. You knew at that time that you were not offering any obstacle to his going down to Manassas?

Answer. Perfectly. I knew I had not the means to do it.

Question. Why did you not communicate that fact to General Scott immediately ?

Answer. I did communicate my condition and where I was.

Question. When?

Answer. On the 16th. I wrote him in detail from Bunker Hill; on the 17th I wrote again; and on the 18th I gave him all the information necessary. And it was his business to order me, not my business to make any further suggestions to him.

Question. Did you communicate to him by telegraph?

Answer. Certainly. I sent three telegrams to him on the same day.

Question. On what day?

Answer. On the 18th. At half-past one in the morning I telegraphed him my condition, and asked him if I should attack. To have sent further information to him would have been rather impertinent, and he would have so considered it.

Question. On the 17th he telegraphs you thus: “I have nothing official from you since Sunday, but am glad to learn through Philadelphia papers that you have advanced. Do not let the enemy amuse and delay you with a small force in front, whilst he re-enforce the Junction with his main body.”

Answer. Yes, sir, I received that.

Question. And on the 18th you telegraphed to General Scott: “Telegram of date received. Mine of to-night gives the condition of my command. Some regiments have given warning not to serve an hour over time. To attack under such circumstances against the generally superior force at Winchester is most hazardous. My letter of the 16th gives you further information. Shall I attack?” Did you send him any other telegram on the 18th?

Answer. Certainly; two others.

Question. I find this one on the 18th: “Telegram of to-day received. The enemy has stolen no march upon me. I have kept him actively employed, and by threats and reconnoissance in force caused him to be re-enforced. I have accomplished in this respect more than the general-in-chief asked, or could well be expected in face of an enemy far superior in numbers, with no line of communication to protect.”

Answer. I beg to state that in that telegram of the 17th is one of those things that I take exception to as bad treatment. I had written to the general-in-chief, as I stated in my examination in chief, every day; and yet I am told that he has nothing official from me since Sunday—no information except through the papers. Now, I telegraphed him on the 12th, on the 13th, and on the 14th. I did not telegraph him on the 15th, because I was marching that day. But I telegraphed him three times afterwards, and wrote him on the 18th.

Question. In your telegraph of the 18th you told him distinctly that the enemy had stolen no march upon you, that you had kept him actively employed, and by threats and reconnoissance in force caused him to be re-enforced.

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. And you intended that General Scott should understand at that time that Johnston had not made any movement towards Manassas?

Answer. Yes, sir; and he had not at that time.

Question. On what day did he leave?

Answer. He left on that day, but had not left then. But I did not know it for two days afterwards.

Question. My question is, why did you not inform General Scott that yon were then not in a condition to offer any obstacle to Johnston’s joining Beauregard?

Answer. I should have considered it rather a reflection on him to have told him so. He knew my condition.

Question. You told him in your telegraph that you had kept Johnston actively employed. .

Answer. And I had.

Question. But you did not give the general any information that you were not then doing it, or that you were not still able to do it?

Answer. I had all along been remaining there according to his orders, but in no condition to do it. I was perilling my army, but was willing to do it, because it was my orders. If he had ordered me to go anywhere, I should have gone. He knew my force, my condition, and my aide-de-camp was also sent down to inform him. He knew my condition perfectly well. He could order me.

Question. On the 18th he telegraphs you thus:

“I have certainly been expecting you to beat the enemy; if not, to hear that you had felt him strongly, or, at least, occupied him by threats and demonstrations. You have been at least, his equal, and, I suppose, superior in number. Has he not stolen a march and sent re-enforcements towards Manassas Junction? A week is enough to win a victory. The time of volunteers counts from the day mustered into the service of the United States. You must not retreat across the Potomac. If necessary, when abandoned by the short term volunteers, intrench somewhere and wait for re-enforcements.”

That was on the 18th of July?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. During all this time you knew that General Scott expected of you that you should either engage and beat Johnston, or detain him in the valley of Winchester; or, in the event that he should come down by a route where you could not follow him, that you should follow down via Keyes’s Ferry and Leesburg ?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. And yet when you were at Charlestown you found yourself not in a condition to do either ; now my question is, why did you not communicate that fact to General Scott?

Answer. There was no occasion for it, in my judgment. He knew my condition, and to have added to the information he already had would have been a waste of time and paper. I had informed him of my condition, and it was his business to order me what to do. I had asked him, “Shall I attack ?” It was not my business to say anything beyond that Johnston was there.

Question. But you say yourself that you were not in a condition to attack at that time?

Answer. In saying that, I did not mean that the men I had were not in a condition to fight, but that I had not force enough to fight. My men, I believe, were in about as good a condition, if not better, than any other column in the field. They had been drilled from eight to ten hours a day, and I have no doubt a good portion of them would have cheerfully gone up with me. I was in as good a condition then to fight as I would be at any time after that; and if I had got the order, I would have gone up with all who would have gone with me. I do not mean to say that my men would not fight, or that they would not have obeyed an order to attack, but that I was not numerically strong enough to hold him anywhere, or to justify an attack, unless it was indispensable to save some other army, or to carry out a part of some great scheme. If General Scott had wanted me to sacrifice 1,000, or 5,000, or 10,000, or the whole, for the purpose of settling the question as to Johnston going down to Manassas, and had he given me the order I had asked, I should have done it.

Question. General Scott wanted you to do one of three things: either to attack Johnston and beat him, or to detain him, or, if he left, to follow him?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. You have just said that if it were necessary, in order to save or protect any other division of the army, or to secure any great object, you would have felt it your duty to have run some hazard or make an attack. Now did you not know that such was the fact, that General McDowell was just about to make an attack upon Manassas, and that it was of the first importance that Johnston should not be allowed to join Beauregard?

Answer. On what day?

Question. About this time.

Answer. I did suppose that on the 18th he had done it.

Question. Did you suppose it was an absolute certainty that the attack was made on the 18th?

Answer. With the preparations that were going on, I had no more doubt of it than I had of my own existence.

Question. Did you not, as a military man, know that it was impossible to fix beforehand, even for a week, when a battle should come off; that it depends as much upon one side as upon the other, especially where large bodies of men are to be moved?

Answer. I know that it is very uncertain. But I know that if you are moved up within fighting distance, you certainly ought to fight within a day of the time you say; and if you do not it is the duty of the man who does not fight to inform the other. I know it is uncertain; but I never saw anything yet to keep men from Tuesday until Sunday.

Question. On the 17th you had a telegraph showing that the fight had not taken place that day?

Answer. The despatch of the 17th showed that he had begun the day he fixed. He said the first day’s work was done.

Question. That day was Wednesday?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. Then in case the attack bad been begun there was no certainty that it would be finally concluded on the day of the attack?

Answer. No, sir.

Question. The battle might last one day, or two days, or three days, and Johnston was in a position to join Beauregard in a very short time?

Answer. No, sir, he could not do it in a very short time; not under three days, and I knew the general could reach me by telegraph in an hour or an hour and a half. There was no answer to any of my three despatches, or to my letter of the 18th.

Question. Do you deem that you, as a military man, had the right to assume, with the knowledge you had that it was merely proposed to fight the battle of Manassas on a certain day—do you deem that you had the right to assume that the battle had been fought and concluded on that day, and therefore leave Johnston at liberty to move forward on Manassas?

Answer. I assumed as a military man that if the general-in-chief told me that he would fight on Tuesday, the 16th, and on the 17th had told me that he had driven the enemy beyond a certain point and would probably complete the operation on the next day—I assumed it was his duty to inform me if he had not done it; otherwise I had a right to infer that he had done it.

Question. On the 18th you got still another despatch, saying, “I have certainly expected you to beat the enemy,” still showing you that General Scott deemed it of the first importance that you should detain Johnston there; and certainly you might presume from that telegraph that the battle of Manassas had not been fought.

Answer. I at that time supposed so, certainly. And yet it would have been perfectly convenient for the general to have said so. I looked upon that telegraph, and so did every gentleman on my staff, as nothing more nor less than an exhibition of bad temper.

Question. Why did you suppose the general-in-chief was in bad temper?

Answer. I could not tell. He states that he supposes I am Johnston’s superior, after having repeatedly been informed by me that I was not equal in number to him.

Question. Did you feel justified in regarding that telegraph as an exhibition of bad temper, and paying no attention to it?

Answer. Certainly not—most assuredly not—because I would pay regard to anything, to the slightest wish that General Scott ever put out—to anything.

Question. And yet you did not do anything to prevent Johnston going to Manassas, notwithstanding that you on the 18th were notified by General Scott—or you inferred from his telegraph—that the battle of Manassas had not been fought ?

Answer. It strikes me as very singular, indeed, after my statements of my efforts to keep my troops—the whole of the 18th was occupied in making speeches—I appealed to nearly every regiment in my command—it strikes me as very singular that I could by any possibility have thought of doing anything without an order from General Scott. An order from him would have helped me.

Question. And you have stated this morning that you could have attacked on the 18th if you had been ordered to do so?

Answer. I would have done it, because I would not have gone to making speeches. Up to the 20th, late in the day, I believed Johnston still to be there; and I would at once, if the order had come, have gone and attacked, if I had taken with me but 5,000 men. I suppose I could have carried 8,000 of them; they could have detained him if the whole of them had been killed; but I would have done it.

Question. You say you could have attacked on the 18th if ordered to do so. You knew the necessity of detaining Johnston, and you must have inferred from the telegraph of
General Scott that he expected or required of you that you should do something in that direction. Why did you not do all that you could to detain him without an order?

Answer. Because I could not go up then without fighting, as I could not fall back again. I had no reason to believe that that telegraph was not written in the morning in reply to mine of that morning. There was no reason why General Scott did not fight that day; and there was no more occasion for my going up and perilling my men without an order than of doing anything entirely uncalled for—not the slightest occasion for it. I had every reason to believe Johnston was at Winchester. I knew he could not get down to Manassas under three days, for I knew that the day before I had driven him in. If General Scott did not fight, and saw the necessity for my acting, I repeat, it was his business to give the order.

Question. Did not Johnston come down in less than three days?

Answer. No, sir; he left Winchester on Thursday, and got in on Sunday afternoon.

Question. Did not a portion get in on Sunday, and another portion get there before Sunday?

Answer. No, sir. And I will state here that a gentleman showed me the Philadelphia Press of this morning, which contained a speech of General Beauregard at some dinner party, in which he stated that the first appearance of any part of Johnston’s force on the battle-field was from three to four o’clock in the afternoon of Sunday, and he at first thought it was my column, and gave up the day.

Question. Could you not on the 18th, without making an actual attack on Johnston, have made such demonstrations towards him as would probably have prevented, or tended to have prevented, his moving his force down to Mauassas?

Answer. I could have gone up; but if I had I must have gone up to fight. I could undoubtedly have made a demonstration. But while he was there, and I under the belief that the general-in-chief was fighting that day, it was uncalled for and unnecessary, and no soldier in my army would have thought of such a thing. General Scott knew where I was, and whether he was fighting or not. We waited for him to indicate what was to be done. It was not for us to do so. Having made a demonstration the day before, it would have been unpardonable for me to have thrust all my men into action without cause. I had made a demonstration on the day he had indicated that the battle would be fought. I knew that Johnston was there, and could not get down under three days, and I knew that the general ought to inform me if he did not fight. He fixed the day, and it was his business to fight on that day, or inform all the commanders of corps depending on his movements that he had not fought. If he did not fight on the 18th, or the 19th, or the 20th, it was his business to inform me every day until he did fight.

By the chairman:

Question. The all important fact was to detain Johnston until that battle was fought, let that be when it might?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. Now when you ascertained that you could not detain Johnston, the very moment you came to that conclusion was it not of the utmost importance that that should be known to General Scott and to General McDowell?

Answer. I was ordered not to go beyond Harper’s Ferry, but to keep that place. If I had marched down without General Scott’s orders, I left the whole Pennsylvania border unprotected.

Question. That is not the question I put.

Answer. What is the question?

Question. Why did you not, the moment you found you could not detain Johnston, inform General Scott of that fact ?

Answer. I had informed him time and time again that I was not strong enough to hold him. I was in that condition a month before. I never was able to hold him.

Question. Why, in reply to his telegram, ordering you to detain him in the valley of Winchester—why did you not tell him that you had not the force, and could not detain him?

Answer. The impression upon the minds of all of us was that by remaining in the neighborhood of Johnston he would not leave Winchester; that although we were not strong enough to attack him, he would not abandon the valley of Winchester to us. My order was to detain him in the valley of Winchester. Consequently, as long as I staid there I carried out that order to the best of my ability.

Question. But if I have understood you, there was a time when you found that from various reasons you had not the force to detain him. The knowledge of that important fact would undoubtedly have governed the action of the army at Manassas, our army under General McDowell, and they would have made their calculations and arrangements for the battle in accordance with that important fact. Had they been informed that you were unable to keep Johnston off, they might have delayed the attack until you could follow Johnston down with what force you could?

Answer. As long as we were in the neighborhood, at one place or the other, it was impossible for Johnston to know what force was in my army. Just so long as we remained there, there was a corps that would have been exceedingly troublesome to him. We inferred—I did and so did all the gentlemen around me—that because my request to go down, time and time again, was not complied with, General Scott wanted us to stay there without reference to our strength. I had informed the general-in-chief, over and over again, that I was not able to hold Johnston there. I had sent Mr. Sherman, and my staff, one after the other, to get leave to go below.

Question. There was a time when you supposed Johnston was re-enforced?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. What time was that; just before you turned off to Charlestown?

Answer. No, sir; I think I reported on the 6th of July; I reported that Johnston had unquestionably received large re-enforcements and had then 25,000 men.

By Mr. Gooch:

Question. In your telegram of the 18th you say to General Scott:

“Telegram of to-day received. The enemy has stolen no march upon me. I have kept him actively employed, and by threats and reconnoissance iii force caused him to be re-enforced. I have accomplished in this respect more than the general-in-chief asked, or could well be expected in face of an enemy far superior in numbers, with no line of communication to protect.”

Would the general-in-chief understand from that that General Johnston was then in a position where there was no obstacle in the way of his going to Manassas?

Answer. I expected him to understand that Johnston was in Winchester, as he was.

By the chairman:

Question. This is exceedingly important, in a military point of view. Was it not a most important fact for General Scott and General McDowell to know when Johnston started to go down to Manassas?

Answer. Undoubtedly it was; and the instant I got the information it was communicated to him.

Question. As soon as he started you communicated the information?

Answer. Not as soon as he started, but as soon as I knew it, without a moment’s delay.

Question. What day was that?

Answer. That was on the 20th, on Saturday.

Question. That was the first you discovered he was gone?

Answer. Yes, sir; the first intimation I had of it.

Question. How was that information communicated?

Answer. By telegram, immediately, not by post; horses from Charlestown to Harper’s Ferry, and telegraphed from thence here; and the despatch was known all over this town on Saturday evening.

Question. Did that telegram reach General Scott?

Answer. I do not know; I cannot say as to that.

Question. I understood you to say that you found yourself, in view of his re-enforcements and of your own condition, too weak to detain Johnston?

Answer. What I meant to say was this: it would have accomplished nothing if I had taken Winchester; I could not have kept him up there; and I supposed that General Scott was perfectly safe then, because on the 18th Johnston was still there, and could not under three days get to Manassas.

Question. I know you say you supposed the battle at Manassas had been fought; yet you might have been mistaken about that.

Answer. I was mistaken, no doubt, about that; I was mistaken.

Question. But this is what I am trying to get at: The moment you found you had not a force, sufficient to resist the purpose of Johnston to go down to Manassas, it was a fact all important for General Scott and General McDowell to know.

Answer. As far as General McDowell was concerned, I could have no communication with him.

Question. I know that.

Answer. And I had the order of General Scott to remain in front of Johnston as long as he remained in the valley of Winchester; and I had no right to move. If I had had the order on the 18th to come down here, I could have got down in time; on the 20th I could not.

Question. What I mean is this: you found yourself, in your own estimation, too weak to resist Johnston’s moving down to Manassas. Now, when that fact was known to you, ought you not to have communicated it to General Scott at once, and said to him: “I am not able to detain Johnston here?”

Answer. I communicated to General Scott every circumstance connected with my command. On the 9th I communicated the fact that I was in a false position, and asked to go to Charlestown. On the 12th he acknowledged the receipt of that, ordered me to go Charlestown, and told me he would attack on Tuesday. On the 13th he directed me to make a demonstration to hold Johnston. On Tuesday I made the demonstration and occupied his time. On the next day I moved to Charlestown, where General Scott had ordered me to go, and where I had asked leave to go; and then I was in a condition to come down here, and was in no condition to restrain Johnston.

Question. When you found you was in no condition to detain Johnston, was it not all important that that fact should have been communicated to General Scott—not the fact that you could not fight Johnston, but that you could not detain him, that your strength was insufficient to do that, and he could not rely upon his being kept back?

Answer. I never supposed for a moment that General Scott believed for the fifty-fifth part of a second that I could hold him.

Question. It is evident that his orders all along presuppose that you could detain him.

Answer. Could occupy him. If you will look back to the testimony in relation to the 13th and 16th of June, you will find that he then reproved me for trying to disturb him. What was the use of trying to drive him down to Strasburg? The impression upon my mind, and upon the minds of all around me, was that General Scott did not wish him to be disturbed at Winchester.

Question. General Scott wanted him to be prevented from forming a junction with Beauregard?

Answer. Yes, sir; not to drive him out of Winchester upon Manassas.

Question. And he made his arrangements for the battle in view of that all- important fact?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. Now if it occurred to you that it could not be done, was it not all-important that he should have been advised of it?

Answer. Yes, sir; but my belief all the time was that so long as I remained there he would have stayed; and it is clear he would have stayed if he had not been ordered down.

Question. He would obey orders. But you knew he had an all-prevailing motive to make such a junction, and of course you had just as strong a one to prevent it?

Answer. Precisely.

Question. And it was just as important that General Scott should know the first moment it could be ascertained that you could not prevent Johnston forming that junction; because he could then make his arrangements, in view of that most decisive fact.

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. So that I say it occurs to me that the moment you found you could not detain Johnston, for any reason, you should have informed General Scott that you could not do it.

Answer. I had not found I could not do it, for I believed that by remaining there I could do it.

By Mr. Gooch :

Question. You say you would have fought General Johnston in an open field?

Answer. I certainly should not have avoided it.

Question. Did he make any demonstration towards coming out into the open field to fight you?

Answer. No, sir.

Question. He kept behind his batteries at Winchester?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. Then as you were in your position at Bunker Hill, and he was behind his batteries at Winchester, and had placed obstructions in your way to prevent your reaching him—did you not infer from that that he did not desire to meet you in the open field?

Answer. My impression was that he meant to induce us to believe he was weak ; that by putting up these obstacles it was adding to the lure, that it was a decoy, and that he desired us to come up ; that these things were not put there really to prevent us from coming up, but actually to coax us up.

Question. Was not Johnston obliged to cross the Shenandoah river when he left his position at Winchester to go towards Manassas?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. Might you not have taken some position on that river, or in the vicinity of that river, where you could have rendered his crossing it exceedingly difficult and hazardous?

Answer. I could not have got there without the liability of being entirely cut off. That would have placed me between him and Beauregard, have put him in my rear. I went to Charlestown, near the river; but I could not have got to any point above that without getting between him and Beauregard.  I would have put myself in what soldiers call a false position. I could have put myself where I could have harassed him exceedingly; but I would have put myself where the chances were ninety-nine to one I would have been captured. At Bunker Hill I had no supplies; and if I had gone to the other place indicated I could not have got a mouthful without fighting for it.

Question. Would it not have been possible, if you had put yourself below Johnston, and he had pressed you, for you to have come down and formed a junction with General McDowell, leaving Johnston in your rear by tearing up the railroad bridges as you came down?

Answer. I could not have got down by railroad. The road goes from Winchester to Strasburg, and if I had attempted to go to the railroad, I would have had further to march than he had.

Question. Some eight or ten miles further?

Answer. Yes, sir. Besides that, I was in the enemy’s country without any supplies, and with a railroad at his and Beauregard’s command, by which he could have sent up 12,000 men a day.

Question. That was one of the matters discussed in your councils, was it?

Answer. Not in the council at Martinsburg, but among my staff at Bunker Hill, and afterwards at Charlestown.

Question. That was a thing proposed?

Answer. Yes, sir; and discussed fully. That was a matter we talked of at Bunker Hill, going to a place called Smithfield or Middleway, and then striking off in that direction. But the opinion was universal that we should get ourselves in a false position, and unquestionably be all captured.

Question. You were just stating that the general-in-chief, having fixed a day on which he would fight, should have notified you that he had not fought on that day, and so on, from day to day, until the battle actually took place.

Answer. Yes, sir. The ground I placed that upon was this: I was the subordinate of the general-in-chief; bound to obey his orders. As I had nothing to do with the day he was to fight on, he ought not to have informed me until he was ready to fight. But having informed me that he would fight on a certain day, if he did not fight on that day, it was his province to have informed me that he did not fight on that day, and to have informed me, from day to day, until he did fight.

Question. And yet you knew, as a military man, that it was exceedingly difficult, or that it was altogether impossible, to fix some days beforehand a day certain on which a battle would be fought; and did you not consider it your duty to continue to act in reference to Johnston precisely the same as though the battle at Manassas had not been fought, until you had been told that it was fought?

Answer. Not if I had been told it would be fought on a certain day. If I had not been told that, then it would have been my duty to have gone on with my demonstrations. When he informed me that it would be fought on a certain day, then that consideration ceased to have weight.

Question. Did you suppose that you were justified in not doing anything to detain Johnston? Did you suppose that under the circumstances you were justified in failing to do anything that you would have done had you not been told when it was intended the battle of Manassas should be fought?

Answer. I did not fail to do anything I would have done. I did exactly all that could have been done, unless I had been ordered down.

Question. During all the time that General Sanford was with yon, in command of a division, going up, as he did, from the city of Washington, having knowledge, as he might be presumed to have, in relation to the contemplated movements here, especially those of General McDowell, did you have any consultation with him in relation to the movements of your army and the best course to pursue?

Answer. None whatever.

By Mr. Odell:

Question. Did you receive any information from General Sanford in reference to the intended movements of the army here?

Answer. None whatever.

By Mr. Gooch:

Question. He made no communication to you in regard to that?

Answer. None whatever. General Sanford brought me a note from General Scott, but made no communication of any kind. Our intercourse was very pleasant as gentlemen. He did me the favor to call upon me, and I returned his call; but he brought me no information from the general-in- chief, and I had no consultation with him whatever.

By Mr. Odell:

Question. You stated, I think, in answer to a question here, that you had given orders for a forward movement on the 16th or the 17th?

Answer. On the 16th, while at Bunker Hill. The orders had not been put out. I had given them to the staff officers, but they had not been published.

Question. You had issued such an order to the proper staff officers?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. At what time did you recall that order?

Answer. I suppose it was somewhere between 3 and 4 o’clock in the afternoon; I cannot exactly fix the time now. It was in the afternoon; late in the afternoon.

Question. What time on the 17th did you move from Bunker Hill?

Answer. Very early in the morning.

Question. What do you mean by “very early?”

Answer. The order was to move at three or four o’clock in the morning, but we did not get off at that time. I started about sunrise; a part of my command was, of course, before me.

Question. While you were at Bunker Hill you held Johnston?

Answer. No, sir; I was just in a straight line from him the other way. In other words, he was directly between me and Manassas Junction. He could leave when he pleased.

Question. The effect of your being at Bunker Hill was to hold Johnston in his position?

Answer. Yes, sir; as well as at any other place.

Question. Do you know now at what time Johnston left his position in front of you?

Answer. He left in the afternoon of the following day.

Question. Of the 17th?

Answer. No, sir; of the 18th.

Question. The effect of your going to Charlestown was to untie Johnston and his forces?

Answer. Yes, sir; I could not hold him at Martinsburg.

Question. I am not speaking of any other position than Charlestown. When you went to Charlestown you untied Johnston and enabled him to go forward?

Answer. Yes, sir; but I could not remain at Bunker Hill, because I had no supplies there, and was crippled in my movements.

Question. Now, in reference to the dissatisfaction of the troops, did not that manifest itself more after you had gone to Charlestown from the enemy than it did while you were at Bunker Hill?

Answer. I do not think there was any more dissatisfaction at the one place than at the other. The men had talked about going home until they had determined on it. I speak now of the Pennsylvania troops. I saw very little of the others. I speak of the Pennsylvania troops, including those that joined me late. And the others, I think, were the same. I do not think the going to Charlestown made any difference with them at all. They had talked about it, made up their minds about it, and they were determined to go. With the majority of them their time was up, and their hearts were bent upon going.

By Mr. Julian:

Question. Were not all willing to stay, without regard to the expiration of their time, if you would lead them against the enemy?

Answer. No such expression was manifested to me; no such communication was made to me. There has been a statement that Colonel Butterfield begged, time and again, to do that. But no such application was made to me. No regiment, or colonel, or general, or officer, under my command, ever asked to be led to the front—not one. I am satisfied there was a great desire, on the part of all, to have a fight. There is no doubt about that. But we were not allowed to go towards the enemy at Winchester until a certain day. I have here my general order of July 20, of which I read paragraph 3, as follows: “The detachment of about 250 of the 1st Pennsylvania regiment, claiming their immediate discharge at expiration of term of service, will be sent via Baltimore to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, to be mustered out of service. A muster-roll of the detachment will be sent with the party.” These 250 men were so discharged on that day. They refused to serve longer, although appealed to by me, appealed to by their gallant colonel, and, I believe, by other officers. But they went off without their officers, with their muster-rolls, to be discharged. The remainder of the regiment agreed to stay six days longer. I have a document here which I desire to put upon record. It is a letter dated the 13th of July, and signed by nine captains of one regiment refusing to stay beyond the time when their term of service expired. I think it had better go upon the record.— (Appendix No. 50.)

The witness stated that he would like to have some officers who served there under him, and who are entirely familiar with the whole campaign, appear before the committee and testify.

The chairman stated that the witness could furnish a list of names of such persons as he might desire to be called, and the committee would take the matter into consideration.

Subsequently, having read over his testimony as written out by the reporter, the witness returned it with the following statement:

In reference to the question by Mr. Odell:

“Question. The effect of your going to Charlestown was to untie Johnston and his force?”

I could not have understood that question, or I should not have made such an answer. Johnston was never tied, and I could not hold him at Martinsburg, Bunker Hill, or anywhere else. He was before me at Falling Waters, at Martinsburg, at Big Spring, at Darkesville, at Bunker Hill, and at Winchester. I could hold him at neither place; he retired as I approached.





JCCW – Gen. Robert Patterson Part I

30 06 2009

Testimony of Gen. Robert Patterson

Report on the Conduct of the War, Vol. 2, pp. 78-89

WASHINGTON, January 6, 1862

General ROBERT PATTERSON sworn and examined.

By the chairman:

Question. Please state in as brief a manner as you can conveniently the connexion that you have had with the present war. State it in your own way without questioning at first. Give us a narrative as brief as you can properly and conveniently make it.

Answer. If any testimony has been given that affects the management of my column, I would like to have it read before I begin. I believe it is customary to have that done.

Question. We are not impeaching the conduct of any man. We are merely endeavoring to get all the light we can upon the conduct of the war. We take every man’s narrative of it, which we endeavor to keep secret, and which we request the witness to keep secret, for the present at least.

Answer. My only object is to answer anything that has been said.

Question. That would be best answered by a plain statement of the facts of the case. I will state that our purpose is not to impeach any man in any connexion he may have had with the war. What Congress expects of us, their committee, is to obtain such facts as we suppose will be useful in throwing light upon the military operations of the army, in order to apply any remedy that may be necessary. I perceive, by the documents that you have before you, that you are about entering upon what is probably a very minute narration; that might be necessary if you were accused—it might then be very proper. But we have no such object in view.

Answer. It is scarcely possible for me to give you in fewer words than I have got here the operations of the army under my command.

After some conversation in relation to the order of proceeding, on motion of Mr. Johnson the witness was allowed to pursue his own way of replying to the interrogatory of the chairman.

The witness accordingly proceeded as follows:

By general orders No. 3, from the headquarters of the army, dated 19th April, 1861, [App. No. 1,] I was appointed to the command of the department of Washington, consisting of the States of Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, and the District of Columbia. Until the early part of June I was actively engaged in organizing, equipping, and forwarding regiments to Washington, Annapolis, and Baltimore, and in opening, occupying, and defending the lines of communication with the capital. I was then permitted to turn my attention to the organization of the column destined to retake Harper’s Ferry. The impression has been permitted to go forth from this city, and has been most extensively circulated elsewhere, that I had not obeyed orders. I have with me, and will place in your possession, documents to prove that I did all that I was ordered to do, and more than any one had a right to expect, under the circumstances in which I and my command were placed. And I defy any man, high or low, to put his finger on an order disobeyed, or even a practicable suggestion that was not carried out. My column was well conducted; there was not a false step made, nor a blunder committed. The skirmishers were always in front, and our flanks were well protected; we were caught in no trap, and fell in no ambush.  My command repeatedly offered the enemy battle, and when they accepted it in the open field we beat them; there was no defeat and no retreat with my column.

The facts in the case would have been made known immediately after I was relieved at Harper’s Ferry in July, but the publication of the documents at that time would have been most detrimental to the public interest. Some two months ago I supposed an investigation could be made without injury; and on the 1st of November I complained to the War Department of the injustice done me, and asked for a court of inquiry, or permission to publish the correspondence between the general-in-chief and myself, and of his orders to me. On the 3d of November the Assistant Secretary of War, Hon. T. A. Scott, acknowledged the receipt of my application. On the 26th of November I respectfully asked the attention of the Hon. Secretary of War to my letter; and on the 30th the Secretary replied, declining, for reasons assigned in his letter, to appoint a court of inquiry.—(Appendix No. 2.) I then requested Hon. John Sherman, senator of the United States from Ohio, who had done me the honor to serve on my staff as aide-de-camp, to offer a resolution, calling for all the correspondence and the orders. The distinguished senator did so; it passed unanimously. The Secretary of War has declined to publish the papers, as it would be incompatible with the public interests. I furnish herewith a copy of the resolution offered at my request by Senator Sherman, and the reply of the Hon. Secretary.—(Appendix No. 3.) On the 3d of June I took command at Chambersburg. On the 4th of June I was informed by the general-in- chief that he considered the addition to my force of a battery of artillery and some regular infantry indispensable. In this opinion I cordially concurred.—(Appendix No. 4.) On the 8th of June the general-in-chief sent my letter of general instructions.—(Appendix No. 5.) In this I am told, “there must be no reverse. But this is not enough. A check or a drawn battle would be a victory to the enemy, filling his heart with joy, his ranks with men, and his magazines with voluntary contributions. Take your measures, therefore, circumspectly; make a good use of your engineers and other experienced staff officers and generals, and attempt nothing without a clear prospect of success.” This was good instruction and most sensible advice; good or bad I was to obey, and I did so.

On the 13th of June the general-in-chief sent me two communications.— (Appendix Nos. 6 and 7.) In one I was informed “that Ben McCullough had two regiments of sharpshooters coming from Texas, and that he was now on the spot preparing to meet my column, and then to fall back to Harper’s Ferry.” In the other I was told ” that, on the supposition I would cross the river Monday or Tuesday next, Brigadier General McDowell would be instructed to make a demonstration from Alexandria in the direction of Manassas Junction one or two days before.”

I know not what induced this supposition. On the seventh I had written to General Scott, (Appendix No. 8,) ” that I desired in a few days to occupy the roads beyond Hagerstown and to establish my headquarters in that town, and to intrench my left flank on the Boonsboro’ road, placing there the force with which I can threaten the Maryland Heights, and, should a favorable occasion offer, storm them.”

I was therefore surprised at the suggestion, as I had said nothing about crossing the river, and had neither men nor guns sufficient for the purpose. But knowing and appreciating the great experience, skill, and sagacity of my commander, I promptly adopted measures to carry it out.

On the fifteenth I reached Hagerstown, and on the 16th two-thirds of my forces had crossed the Potomac. The promised demonstration by General McDowell in the direction of Manassas Junction was not made. On the same day, only three days after I had been told I was expected to cross, and when a large portion of my command had crossed, I received three telegrams from the general-in-chief.—(Appendix Nos. 9, 10, and 11.) The first says: “Send to me at once, all the regular troops, horse and foot with you, and the Rhode Island regiment.” The second says: “You are strong enough without the regulars with you—are most needed here; send them and the Rhode Island regiment as fast as disengaged. Keep within the above limits until you can satisfy me you ought to go beyond them.” The third is as follows: “You tell me you arrived last night at Hagerstown, and McClellan writes you are checked at Harper’s Ferry. Where are you?” On the twelfth I had informed the general (Appendix No 12) that “I regretted my command was not in condition and sufficiently strong in facing a powerful foe to detach at present a force towards Cumberland,” and “respectfully suggested that two regiments at least, if they could be devoted to that purpose, be designated to protect the road in the rear and permit Colonel Wallace to approach.”

In a letter dated 16th June (Appendix, No. 13) I informed the general that “to-day and to-morrow about 9,000 men cross to Virginia,” and submitted my desire, “first, to transfer to Harper’s Ferry my base of operations, depots, headquarters, &c.; second, to open and maintain free communication, east and west, along the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad; third, to hold at Harper’s Ferry, Martinsburg, and Charlestown a strong force, gradually and securely advancing as they are prepared, portions towards Winchester, &c.; fourth, to re-enforce Cumberland and move north to Romney, Morehead, &c., and operate with the column in the third proposition towards Woodstock, and cut off all communications with the west. We will thus force the enemy to retire, and recover, without a struggle, a conquered country,” &c. I also added that, “if I am permitted to carry out this plan, the Baltimore and Ohio railroad and the canal will be in operation in a week, and a free line of communication to St. Louis be established.”

On the 17th the general-in-chief telegraphed me, (Appendix No. 14:) “We are pressed here; send the troops that I have twice called for without delay.” This was imperative, and the troops were sent, leaving me without a single piece of artillery, the enemy having over twenty guns, and for the time but a single troop of cavalry, not in service over a month—the enemy with a full regiment of cavalry—and with not 10,000 infantry, all raw, the enemy having 15,000 trained infantry. It was a gloomy day and night. But I succeeded in getting my forces over the river again with the loss of only one man.

I refrain from making any comments on these extraordinary orders, except to say that I was mortified and humiliated at having to recross the river without striking a blow.  I knew that my reputation would be seriously damaged by it; the country could not understand or comprehend the meaning of the crossing and recrossing, the marching and countermarching, and that I would be censured without stint for such apparent vacillation and want of purpose. But I loved and honored my commander; I had served under him before, and had never suffered a personal feeling or interest to interfere with my loyalty and duty to him and my country. I knew that he trusted me, and I trusted him, confident that in his own time and in his own way he would put me right before the army and country.  Meanwhile I would bear the odium unjustly cast upon me, and not throw it on others.

On the 20th of June the general-in-chief asked me, (Appendix No. 15,) “without delay to propose to him a plan of operations.” On the 21st I gave him one, (Appendix No. 16,) proposing, “first, to occupy the Maryland Heights with a brigade, (2,100 men,) fortify and arm with Doubleday’s artillery, provision for twenty days, to secure against investment; second, to move all supplies to Frederick, and immediately thereafter abandon this line of operations, threatening with a force to open a route through Harper’s Ferry, this force to be the sustaining one for the command on Maryland Heights; third, to send everything else available, horse, foot, and artillery, to cross the Potomac near the Point of Rocks, and unite with Colonel Stone at Leesburg; from that point I can operate as circumstances demand and your orders require.”

Had this plan been adopted, the army of General McDowell and my own would have been precisely where they ought to have been. I would have been in a position to have aided General McDowell; to have taken and torn up, if I could not have held, a portion of “the railroad leading from Manassas to the valley of Virginia.” This would not only have destroyed “the communications between the forces under Beauregard and those under Johnston,” but it would have prevented either from throwing large re-enforcements to the other when assailed. And if I could not prevent Johnston from joining Beauregard, which I certainly could not do while stationed anywhere between Williamsport and Winchester, I could have joined McDowell in the attack on Manassas, and assailed and turned the enemy’s left. Had my suggestions been adopted, the battle of Bull Run might have been a victory instead of a defeat.

On the 23d of June I informed the general-in-chief (App. No. 17) that deserters ” were coming in daily, and all agreed in saying that the whole of the force originally at Harper’s Ferry, said to be 25,000 men, is still between Williamsport and Winchester;” that the advance of the enemy was approaching Falling Waters, the remainder in a semicircle, all within four hours of the advance. I added, “that this force might soon annoy me; if so, I would not avoid the contest they may invite.”

On the 25th I was directed (App. No. 18) to “remain in front of the enemy while he continued in force between Winchester and the Potomac; if his superior or equal in force, I might cross and offer him battle.” On the 27th General Scott informed me (App. No. 19) that “he had expected I was crossing the river that day in pursuit of the enemy.” What could have induced this expectation it would have been difficult to imagine. On the 4th of June the general-in-chief had told me that “a battery of artillery and some regular infantry to be added to my force was indispensable,” and both had been taken away. On the 8th of June he had told me I must “attempt nothing without a clear prospect of success.” And on the 16th he had told me to “keep within the above limits until I could satisfy the general-in-chief that I ought to go beyond them.” It is true Major Doubleday had three siege guns, movable only in favorable ground, and that Captain Perkins had six field guns, not rifled; but they could not be moved, as he had no harness, and did not get any until the 29th. Both had asked for rifled guns, and had been informed in letter of the 27th of June (App. No. 20) that “the ordinary guns which have been furnished the battery are considered as sufficiently effective by the general-in-chief.” On the 28th of June I informed the general-in-chief (App. No. 21) that “Captain Newton, of the engineers, a most intelligent and reliable officer, had returned, after two days’ absence, and reported General Johnston to have 15,000 men and twenty to twenty four guns and a large cavalry force, and thinks General Negley, whose brigade is on my left near Sharpsburg, will be attacked, the river being fordable at almost every point.” And I might have added that on the 20th General Cadwalader had reported the enemy as having twenty guns; “they were counted as they passed.” To meet this force of 16,000 men and twenty- two guns, I had but 10,000 volunteer infantry, 650 cavalry and artillery, and six guns; the artillery being nearly all recruits, the horses untrained, and still without harness for the battery. In the same letter I informed General Scott that I had “repeatedly asked for batteries, and ought to have had one for each brigade; that I had neither cavalry nor artillery enough to defend the fords of the river, and that I would not, on my own responsibility, cross the river and attack without artillery a force so much superior in every respect to my own, but would do so cheerfully and promptly if the general-in-chief would give me explicit orders to that effect.” In the same letter I asked for the troops that had “been taken from me, and a number of field guns equal to those of the insurgents,” that I might be enabled ” to choose my point of attack and offer battle to the enemy;” adding that if “the general-in-chief would give me a regiment of regulars and an adequate force of artillery I would cross the river and attack the enemy, unless his force was ascertained to be more than two to one.” No regulars were sent me, and but one field battery of artillery, leaving me greatly inferior in that important arm. The number of my troops has always been overestimated. There were twelve regiments ordered to join me—say, one Delaware and three New Jersey on the 24th of May, two New York regiments on the 30th of May, two Ohio and two northern regiments on the 4th of June, and two Pennsylvania regiments on the 10th of June—but they did not do so. I crossed the Potomac on the 2d of July with less than 11,000 men and six guns, the enemy having 16,000 men, mostly confederate troops, (not State troops,) and twenty to twenty-four guns. My largest force was accumulated at Martinsburg, and they did not exceed 19,000 men. My own estimate of their number was 18,200. When I marched from there I had to leave two regiments, taking about 16,800 men with me; and, deducting from them the sick, the rear and wagon guards, I could not have gone into action at Martinsburg with more than 15,000 men, or at any time after that with more than 13,000; and at the time Johnston marched from Winchester I could not have gone into action with 8,000 men.

On the 26th of June, anxious for the safety of Maryland and the frontiers of Pennsylvania, I had written to Major General McCall as follows:

“HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF PENNSYLVANIA,

“Hagerstown, June 26, 1861.

“MY DEAR GENERAL : If I can get permission to go over into Virginia I intend to cross the river and offer battle to the insurgents. As the regulars and Rhode Island regiment and the battery have been taken from me, I will require all the force now here, and must leave the Pennsylvania line unguarded. Please inform me how many men you could throw forward, and how soon.

“Very repectfully and truly yours.”

I will read Major General McCall’s reply:

“HARRISBURG, Sunday, June 30, 1861.

“MY DEAR GENERAL: On my return from Pittsburg, this morning, I find your note of the 26th instant, informing me of your purpose to cross the river and offer battle to the insurgents, and asking what force I can throw forward upon s the Pennsylvania line.

“In reply, I have to say that the only force (one regiment rifles, and one infantry, with a section of artillery) of my command as yet armed and equipped has been pushed forward to the support of Colonel Wallace at Cumberland, and for the protection of our border settlers in that direction; the other regiments are without clothing, arms, or equipments still, notwithstanding my efforts to fit them for the field. You will, therefore perceive how impossible it will be for me, although I much regret it, to comply with your request.

 “With great regard, very truly yours,

“GEORGE A. McCALL.”

It will be seen from the letter of General McCall that with all his efforts he had but two regiments fit for the field, and those two regiments, under Colonels Biddle and Simmons, were then beyond Bedford, “for the support of Colonel Wallace at Cumberland, and for the protection of our border settlers in that direction.” I was thus made responsible for our entire frontier from Cumberland to Edwards’s Ferry, while I had not cavalry or artillery enough to guard the fords between Hancock and Harper’s Ferry.

On the 28th of June I had used, in writing to General Scott, (App. No. 21,) the following emphatic, if not prophetic, language: ” I beg to remind the general-in-chief that the period of service of nearly all the troops here will expire within a month, and that if we do not meet the enemy with them we will be in no condition to do so for three months to come. The new regiments will not be fit for service before September, if then; meanwhile the whole frontier will be exposed.” Why did General Scott delay the; attack on Manassas until the 21st of July?

On the 29th of June the harness for Perkins’s battery arrived, and on the 30th orders were issued (App. No. 22) for a reconnoissance in force to be made early next morning.  The whole army, except camp guards, were to march with two days’ provisions, leaving tents and baggage, and to cross in two columns at Dam No. 4 and Williamsport, hoping thus to get the column crossing at Dam No. 4 in rear of the enemy encamped at Falling Waters, and to capture them; failing in that, to attack and defeat them. The troops were to commence crossing at midnight, but the ford was found impracticable, and after hours of labor and exposure to a severe rain the attempt was abandoned. The troops were then all concentrated at Williamsport, and on the next day, the 2d of July, crossed into Virginia and advanced in two columns. Just beyond Falling Waters the advance brigade of the enemy, 3,500 infantry, with artillery and a large cavalry force, all under General Jackson, were encountered, and after a sharp contest, principally with Colonel Abercrombie’s brigade, was forced back and driven before our troops for several miles, the relative loss of the enemy being very heavy.

On the 3d of July the army under my command entered and took possession of Martinsburg. There I was compelled to halt and send back for supplies, and to wait for Colonel Stone’s command, ordered on the 30th of June to join me—which he did do on the 8th of July—and for more means of transportation, without which it was impossible to advance, having wagons and teams for baggage only, and none for a supply train. The re-enforcements being without wagons only added to my difficulties.

In General McDowell’s report of the battle of Bull Run, he states that “the sending of re-enforcements to General Patterson, by drawing off the wagons, was a further and unavoidable delay.” There is no doubt that the gallant general believed that what he said was true. But it may be as well to inform the committee that the re-enforcements sent from Washington to me amounted to three regiments, under General Sanford; that they came without wagons, and that General Scott informed me I would have “to furnish transportation for them.” Not one wagon, horse, mule, or set of harness was sent from Washington to me. All the transportation I had was furnished under my own orders by the energetic efforts of my efficient deputy quartermaster general, Colonel Crosman.

On the 4th of July I informed the general-in-chief (App. No. 23) that I had halted to bring up supplies; that my transportation was entirely inadequate; that “the terms of the three months volunteers was about to expire, and that they would not, in any number, renew their service, though I thought the offer should be made” to them. I also informed the general-in-chief that General Johnston, with from 15,000 to 18,000 foot, 22 guns, and 650 artillery, were within seven miles of me, my own force consisting of 10,000 foot, 6 guns, and 650 cavalry, in a hostile country, a river in the rear, and not over two days’ supplies.

On the 5th, the general-in-chief informed me (App. No. 24) that he had ordered certain regiments to join me, adding “you will have to provide transportation for them.” These troops were greatly needed, but they increased the difficulty as regarded transportation, which, as the general-in- chief had been informed, was not over half sufficient for the troops then at Martinsburg. On the same day I informed General Scott that large re-enforcements had come in to General Johnston from Manassas, and being much inferior to the enemy in men and guns, I ordered Colonel Stone (App. No. 25) to join my column at the earliest moment.

On the 7th, General Scott informed me (App. No. 26) that he could “not yet say on what day he would attack the enemy in the direction of Manassas Junction; he hoped, however, to be ready before the end of the week.”

On the 8th of July Colonel Stone’s command arrived, and the following orders to advance were immediately issued. The object being to attack the enemy at Winchester:

“HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT of PENNSYLVANIA,

“Martinsburg, Fa., July 8,1861.

“General Order—Circular.]

“The troops will move to-morrow morning in the following order:

“The 1st (Thomas’s) brigade, with the Rhode Island battery temporarily attached thereto, will advance by the Winchester turnpike, accompanied by one squadron of cavalry.

“The 7th (Stone’s) brigade, with Perkins’s battery attached thereto, will take the main street of the town, by the court-house, and will continue on the road parallel and east of the Winchester turnpike. One company of cavalry will be attached to this command.

“The 1st (Cadwalader’s) division will follow the march of Thomas’s brigade; Doubleday’s battery will advance with this division; one regiment of which will be detailed for its guard, to accompany wherever it may be ordered.

“The 2d (Keim’s) division will pursue both routes, General Negley’s brigade following the march of Colonel Stone, and Colonel Abercrombie’s and Colonel Wynkoop’s that of General Cadwalader..

“The 28th and 19th New York regiments will be temporarily attached to General Keim’s division.

“General Keim will detail a strong rear guard of his division for the wagon train. The rear guard will march on the flanks and rear of the train, and will be re-enforced by a squadron of cavalry. General Keim will detail a competent field officer to command the rear guard.

“The wagons will advance in one train in the rear of the troops, and will be required to keep closed.

“The troops of the several divisions and brigades will keep closed.

“By order, &c.”

About midnight the order was countermanded, as some of the troops that had arrived under Colonel Stone that day were reported so weary and footsore as to be quite unable to endure the fatigue of a further march and be in a condition to fight.

On the next morning, the 9th of July, finding from conversation with some of my officers that the opposition to my plan of advancing upon Winchester, made known by the circular, appeared to be very strong and decided, I was induced, before renewing the order, to call a council of all the division and brigade commanders, the engineer officers, and chiefs of the departments of supply. I submitted to the council my instructions, orders, and the following statement:

“This force was collected originally to retake Harper’s Ferry. That evacuated, it was directed to remain as long as Johnston remained in force in this vicinity. Threatening, as he was, either to move to the aid of the force attacking Washington, or annoying the frontier of Maryland, this army was permitted to cross the Potomac and offer battle. If accepted, so soon as Johnston was defeated, to return and approach Washington.

“The enemy retires, for what? Is it weakness, or a trap? Can we continue to advance and pursue if he retires? If so, how far?  When shall we retire? Our volunteer force will soon dwindle before us, and we may be left without aid. If our men go home without a regular battle, a good field-fight, they will go home discontented, will not re-enlist, and will sour the minds of others. We have a long line to defend, liable at any moment to be cut off from our base and depot, and to a blow on our flank. Our forces must not be defeated, not checked in battle, or meet with reverses. It would be fatal to our cause.

“A force threatens Washington. If we abandon our present position Johnston will be available to aid. The command has been largely re-enforced to enable us to sustain our position, to clear the valley to Winchester, to defeat the enemy if he accepts battle, and to be in position to aid General McDowell, or to move upon Washington, Richmond or elsewhere, as the general-in-chief may direct. General Sanford, with two rifled guns and three regiments, will be up to-morrow. Our force will then be as large as it ever will be, under the prospect of losing a large portion of our force in a few days by expiration of service. What shall be done?”

The result of the deliberation is given in the following minutes, taken at the time by Major Craig Biddle, of the staff:

“Minutes of council of war, held July 9, 1861, at Martinsburg, Va.

“Colonel Crosman, quartermaster, thought 900 wagons would be sufficient to furnish subsistence, and to transport ammunition to our present force. The calculation for the original column was 700 wagons, of which 500 were on hand, and 200 expected. The great difficulty will be to obtain forage for the animals, the present consumption being twenty-six tons daily.

“Captain Beckwith, commissary. The question of subsistence is here a question of transportation. Thus far no reliance has been placed on the adjacent country. A day’s march ahead would compel a resort to it. As far as known those supplies would be quite inadequate.

”Captain Simpson, topographical engineers. The difficulty of our present position arises from the great facility the enemy has to concentrate troops at Winchester from Manassas Junction. By the railroad 12, 000 men could be sent there in a day, and again sent back to Manassas. Our forces should combine with the forces at Washington.

“Captain Newton, engineers. Our present position is a very exposed one. General Johnston can keep us where we are as long as he pleases, and at any time make a ‘demonstration on our rear. Our whole line is a false one. We have no business here, except for the purpose of making a demonstration. He threatens us now. We should be in a position to threaten him. We should go to Charlestown, Harper’s Ferry, Shepherdstown, and flank him.

“Colonel Stone. It is mainly a question for the staff. Our enemy has great facility of movement, and to extend our line would be accompanied with great danger. Johnston should be threatened from some other point. We might leave two regiments here, two guns at Shepherdstown, and proceed to Charlestown, and threaten from that point.

“General Negley, ditto to Captain Newton.

“Colonel Thomas approves of a flank movement to Charlestown.

“Colonel Abercrombie the same.

“General Keim the same.

“General Cadwalader opposed to a forward movement.”

On the day the council was held I wrote to the general-in-chief (App. No. 27) that I was deficient in supply trains; that my difficulties would increase as I advanced. This was the great want of my army; and on the 7th, 12th, 16th, and 21st of June, and the 4th and 5th of July, I had written to General Scott very fully on this subject. I refer to it here to show why I could not move when and where I wished. Colonel Crosman, the efficient quartermaster of my army, had done all that could be done, and more than 1 had supposed could be accomplished; but the troops sent from Washington and elsewhere, with the exception of the Rhode Island regiment, had brought no transportation with them. The enemy, though far superior in number of men and guns, had retired in succession from one position to another. I wrote that “his design evidently was to draw our force on as far as possible from the base, and then to cut our line or to attack with large re-enforcements from Manassas.” In view of all these difficulties, I presented to the general-in-chief a plan by which I “proposed to move my force to Charlestown, establish my depot at Harper’s Ferry, and connect with the Maryland shore by a bridge of boats,” which I had caused to be gathered in a safe place. I also desired to know when the general-in-chief “wished me to approach Winchester, and on what day the attack would be made on Manassas;” and I requested that the general-in-chief would indicate the day, by telegraph thus: “Let me hear from you on ——.”

On the 11th of July I received from the general-in-chief the following telegram:

“WAR DEPARTMENT,

“Washington, July 11, 1861.

“Major General PATTERSON,

“Martinsburg, Virginia.

“The author of the following ia known, and he believes it authentic :

“WASHINGTON, July 9, 1861.

“The plan of operations of the secession army in Virginia contemplate the reverse of the proceedings and movements announced in the express of yesterday and Saturday. A schedule that has come to light meditates a stand and an engagement by Johnston, when he shall have drawn Patterson sufficiently far back from the river to render impossible his retreat across it on being vanquished, and an advance then by Johnston and Wise conjointly upon McClellan, and after the conquest of him, a march in this direction to unite, in one attack upon the federal forces across the Potomac, with the army under Beauregard at Manassas Junction, and the wing of that army, the South Carolina regiments chiefly, now nine (9) miles from Alexandria. Success in each of these three several movements is anticipated, and thereby not only the possession of the capital is thought to be assured, but an advance of the federal troops upon Richmond prevented.

The plan supposes that this success will give the confederate cause such prestige, and inspire in it such faith, as will insure the recognition of its government abroad, and at the same time so impair confidence in the federal government as to render it impossible for it to procure loans abroad, and very difficult for it to raise means at home. Real retreats, which have been anticipated, it will be seen, are by this plan altogether ignored. According to it, fighting and conquest are the orders”

This paper speaks for itself—comment is needless. Yet one cannot avoid raising the question, how the general-in-chief could ask or expect me to attack General Johnston’s large force of men and guns in their intrenched camp at Winchester in less than a week after he had officially informed me that “a schedule that had come to light meditates a stand and an engagement by Johnston, when he shall have drawn Patterson sufficiently far back from the river to render impossible his retreat across it, after being vanquished.” That this was the plan agreed upon by the confederate generals there is no doubt; and it was a judicious one. Information of a similar kind had come in from various quarters. My most experienced officers of the regular service, with whom I fully and freely consulted—Colonels George H. Thomas, Abercrombie, and Crosman, Major Fitz-John Porter, Captains Newton, Beckwith, and many others, men of long service, merit, and great experience—all concurred in the opinion that I was too far advanced at Martinsburg; that Johnston had fallen back for no other purpose than to lure me on; that Johnston had a trap set somewhere, and that, if not very cautious, I would fall into it. Each of the above-named distinguished officers not only approved warmly of the management of my command, but opposed, both in and out of council, a further advance from Martinsburg. With their opposition to an advance well known, five of the number have since been made brigadier generals.

On the 12th of July, not hearing from the general-in-chief, the substance of my letter of the 9th was repeated by telegraph. The general-in-chief was also informed that I considered “a regiment of regulars, and more if possible, essential to give steadiness to my column, and to carry on active operations against a determined opposition.” The necessity of this will be manifest when it is known that nearly all of Johnston’s army were confederate troops, well disciplined and well commanded. I also stated that “many of my men were barefooted, and could not be employed on active service.” Colonel Menier had reported the 3d Pennsylvania as unable to march for want of shoes.

On the same day, the 12th of July, General Scott telegraphed me, (App. No. 28 :) “Go where you propose in your letter of the 9th instant. Let me hear from you on Tuesday.” That is, “go to Charlestown ; we shall attack Manassas on Tuesday ; I wish you to approach Winchester on that day.” That was our translation of the whole matter.

On Saturday, the 13th of July, General Scott telegraphed me, (App. No. 29 :) “I telegraphed you on yesterday. If not strong enough to beat the enemy early next week, make demonstrations to detain him in the valley of Winchester ; but if he retreats in force towards Manassas, and it would be hazardous to follow him, then consider the route via Keyes’s Ferry, Hillsboro’, and Leesburg.” On the same day I informed General Scott that “Johnston is in position beyond Winchester to be re-enforced, and his strength doubled just as I could reach him ;” and that I “would rather lose the chance of accomplishing something brilliant than by hazarding my column to destroy the fruits of the whole campaign to the country by defeat. If wrong, let me be instructed.”— (App. No. 30.)

This correspondence is very plain. It can hardly be misunderstood by the most obtuse intellect. Any one who can read plain English can comprehend it.  I proposed to my superior to go to Charlestown. I am ordered to do so. In my letter of instructions I am told “there must be no reverse, no check, no drawn battle.” I am told “take your measures circumspectly, and attempt nothing without a clear prospect of success.” These instructions had not been rescinded or modified, and I was bound to obey them. Had I disobeyed and been defeated, as I most certainly would have been— and in this opinion I am sustained by every officer of the regular army serving with me, and, so far as I am informed, by all or nearly all the officers of volunteers—I would have deserved the severe censure which has so unjustly been cast upon me. I preferred the performance of my plain duty to a distinction which could have been gained only by the sacrifice of my men, and with great detriment to the cause in which I was engaged. I informed my commander of the difficulties and dangers of my position, the strength and great advantages of my antagonist, and that I would not, on my own responsibility, hazard my column and the interests of the country by a defeat—asking “if wrong, let me be instructed.” If my superior thought differently, and that an attack should be made, why did he not assume the responsibility of his station and give the order? There was not one person in that column, from myself down to the youngest drum-boy, who would not most cheerfully have gone into battle, knowing that every individual would be killed, if they believed the interest and honor of the country required the sacrifice, or if General Scott had ordered it. Although I asked to be instructed, no instructions were given. I therefore inferred, as my opinions were not overruled, that I was right, especially as I was actually ordered to go to Charlestown.

On the 14th I informed General Scott (App. No. 31) that on the morrow I would advance to Bunker Hill preparatory to the other movement—that is, preparatory to going to Charlestown. “If an opportunity offers, I will attack, but unless I can rout I will be careful.” General Scott was therefore thoroughly informed of what I was doing and intended to do one week before the battle of Manassas.

On Monday, the 15th, leaving two regiments—one being unable to march for want of shoes—to guard Martinsburg, I marched with the remainder of my army to Bunker Hill, forcing the enemy’s cavalry before me, killing one and taking some prisoners.

On Tuesday, the 16th, the day General Scott said he was going to attack Manassas, and desired a demonstration, a reconnoissance in force was made, driving the enemy’s pickets into Winchester. This, with a loss on the part of the enemy of several killed and wounded, was reported the same day to the general-in-chief, who was informed (App. No. 32) that the reconnoissance found the road from Bunker Hill to Winchester  “blocked by fallen trees and fences placed across it.” And “a sketch of the works of defence, prepared by Captain Simpson,”a very reliable officer, was sent him. This sketch showed that the works erected and the guns mounted were of the most formidable character. The general-in-chief was also informed on the same day that on “to-morrow we would move to Charlestown;” that preparations had already “been commenced to occupy and hold Harper’s Ferry; that the time of a large number of the men would expire s that week, and they would not remain;” and “that after securing Harper’s Ferry I would, if the general-in-chief desired, advance with the remainder of my troops via Leesburg, and desired to be informed if this proposition met with the approval of the general-in-chief.” From this it will be seen that I did all that I was ordered to do, and at least as much, if not a great deal more, than any one had a right to expect.

On Tuesday, the 16th, according to General Scott’s promise, Manassas was to be attacked. I expected, and had a right to expect, that as I had performed my part in delaying Johnston in Winchester, General Scott would have performed his, and assail Manassas. If anything had occurred to render the attack on Manassas inexpedient on that day, then General Scott should have informed me and directed me to continue my demonstrations, which could have been done just as easily from Charlestown as from Martinsburg; or he should have given me the order to march at once with all my force to Leesburg, as suggested by me, and delayed the attack on Manassas until I had arrived and been joined in the battle. The neglect or omission to do either is inexplicable. I kept General Scott well informed of all my movements. It was due to me, and necessary for the success of our armies, that I should have been equally well informed of the movements of corps with which it was expected I should co-operate.

On the 17th of July I again informed General Scott (App. No. 33) that the “term of 18 of my 26 regiments would expire within seven days, commencing to-morrow;” that “I could rely on none of them renewing their service;” and “that I must be at once provided with efficient three years men, or withdraw entirely to Harper’s Ferry.” Here was direct information that I could not hold Johnston, and that unless troops were sent me to take the place of those whose time was up, I could not even remain at Charlestown, but would have to fall back to Harper’s Ferry. If troops could not be spared to re-enforce me, why was I not then ordered with my entire command to march to Leesburg and unite with McDowell in the assault on Manassas?

[At the request of the witness, the further examination was postponed until to-morrow.]





Manassas National Battlefield Park Photos May 2009

19 06 2009

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

 01---Brownell01a---Ricketts

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

 03---Bartow02---Bartow04---Bartow05-Bartow

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

07---Henry-House06---Henry-Grave08---Matthews-Hill-From-Hen

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

10---Ricketts11---Ramsey-Marker12---7th-GA13---7th-GA14---Ricketts

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

15---Signal-Hill16---Signal-Hill

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

19---Path-to-Mayfield-Fort20---Mayfield-Fort

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

21---Blackburn's-Ford22---Blackburn's-Ford23---Blackburn's-Ford24---Blackburn's-Ford

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

25---Cub-Run26---Cub-Run28---Cub-Run27---Cub-Run

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

29---Reynolds30---Reynolds

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

31--Stovall32---Stovall33---Stovall

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

34---Carter-Cemetery35---Carter-Cemetery

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

36---Farm-Ford

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

37---Imboden38---Imboden-to-Dogan

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

40---Entry-to-Sudley-Rd-Tra39---Sudley-Rd-Trace41---Sudley-Rd-Trace

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

42---Stone-House46---Stone-House44---Stone-House45---Stone-House

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

47---Buck-Hill48---Buck-Hill49---Buck-Hill

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

52---Chinn-Ridge

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

50---Thornberry51---Thornberry

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





Time Line

30 05 2009

CHRONOLOGY*

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

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

27 May 1861

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

9 July 1861

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

16 July 1861

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

17 July 1861

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

1130:

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

18 July 1861

0100:

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

1100:

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

1200:

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

19 July 1861

0900:

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

1500:

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

20 July 1861

0700:

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

1200:

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

21 July 1861

0230:

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

0530:

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

0600:

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

0700:

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

0800:

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

0830:

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

0930:

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

1030:

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

1100:

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

1130:

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

1200:

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

1300:

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

1400:

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

1430:

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

1500:

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

1530:

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

1600:

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

1700:

  • Retreat of the Union Army begins.