Responsibilities of the First Bull Run – Joseph Johnston

12 02 2010

RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE FIRST BULL RUN

BY JOSEPH E. JOHNSTON, GENERAL, C. S. A.

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

When the State of Virginia seceded, being a citizen of that State, I resigned my office in the United States Army; and as I had seen a good deal of military service, in the Seminole and Mexican wars and in the “West, the President of the Confederacy offered me a commission in the highest grade in his army. I accepted the offer because the invasion of the South was inevitable. But I soon incurred Mr. Davis’s displeasure by protesting against an illegal act of his by which I was greatly wronged. (1) Still he retained me in important positions, although his official letters were harsh. In 1864, however, he degraded me to the utmost of his power by summarily removing me from a high command. Believing that he was prompted to this act by animosity, and not by dispassionate opinion, I undertake to prove this animosity by many extracts from his “Rise and Fall of the Confederacy” (D. Appleton & Co.: 1881), and my comments thereon.

Mr. Davis recites (“R. and F.,” I, p. 307) the law securing to officers who might leave the United States Army to enter that of the Confederacy the same relative rank in the latter which they had in the former, provided their resignations had been offered in the six months next following the 14th of March, and then adds:

“The provisions hereof are in the view entertained that the army was of the States, not of the Government, and was to secure to officers adhering to the Confederate States the same relative rank which they had before those States had withdrawn from the Union. . . .

“How well the Government of the Confederacy observed both the letter and spirit of the law will be seen by reference to its action in the matter of appointments.”

Those of the five generals were the most prominent, of course. All had resigned within the time prescribed. Their relative rank in the United States Army just before secession had been: 1st, J. E. Johnston, Brigadier-General; 2d, Samuel Cooper, Colonel; 3d, A. S. Johnston, Colonel; 4th, R. E. Lee, Lieutenant-Colonel; and 5th, G. T. Beauregard, Major. All of them but the third had had previous appointments, when, on the 31st of August, the Confederate Government announced new ones: Cooper’s being dated May 16th, A. S. Johnston’s May 28th, Lee’s June 14th, J. E. Johnston’s July 4th, and Beauregard’s July 21st. So the law was violated, 1st, by disregarding existing commissions; 2d, by giving different instead of the same dates to commissions; and 3d, by not recognizing previous rank in the United States Army. The only effect of this triple violation of law was to reduce J. E. Johnston from the first to the fourth place, which, of course, must have been its object. Mr. Davis continues:

“It is a noteworthy fact that the three highest officers in rank . . . were all so indifferent to any question of personal interest that they had received their appointment before they were aware it was to be conferred” (p. 307).

This implies that the conduct described was unusual. On the contrary, it was that of the body of officers who left the United States Army to enter that of the Confederacy. It is strange that the author should disparage so many honorable men. He states (“R. and F.,” L, 309) that General Lee, when ordered from Richmond to the South for the first time, asked what rank he held in the army: “So wholly had his heart and his mind been consecrated to the public service that he had not remembered, if he ever knew, of his advancement.”

As each grade has its duties, an officer cannot know his duty if ignorant of his rank. Therefore General Lee always knew his rank, for he never failed in his duty. Besides, his official correspondence at the time referred to shows that he knew that he was major-general of the Virginia forces until May 25th, 1861, and a Confederate general after that date.

Describing the events which immediately preceded the battle of Manassas, Mr. Davis says (“Rise and Fall,” I., 340):

“The forces there assembled [in Virginia] were divided into three armies, at positions the most important and threatened : one, under General J. E. Johnston, at Harper’s Ferry, covering the valley of the Shenandoah. . . . Harper’s Ferry was an important position both for military and political considerations. . . . The demonstrations of General Patterson, commanding the Federal army in that region, caused General Johnston earnestly to insist on being allowed to retire to a position nearer to Winchester.”

Harper’s Ferry is 22 miles east of the route into the Shenandoah Valley, and could be held only by an army strong enough to drive an enemy from the heights north and east of it. So it is anything but an important position. These objections were expressed to the Government two days after my arrival, and I suggested the being permitted to move the troops as might be necessary. All this before Patterson had advanced from Chambersburg.

On page 341,” R. and F.,” Mr. Davis quotes from an official letter to me from General Cooper, dated June 13th, 1861, which began thus:

“The opinions expressed by Major Whiting in his letter to you, and on which you have indorsed your concurrence, have been duly considered. You hail been heretofore instructed to exercise your discretion as to retiring from your position at Harper’s Ferry.”(2)

This latter statement is incorrect. No such instructions had been given. The last instructions on the subject received by me were in General Lee’s letter of June 7th.(3)  On page 341 Mr. Davis says:

“The temporary occupation [of Harper’s Ferry] was especially needful for the removal of the valuable machinery and material in the armory located there.”

The removal of the machinery was not an object referred to in General Cooper’s letter. But the presence of our army anywhere in the Valley within a day’s march of the position, would have protected that removal. That letter (page 341) was received two days after the army left Harper’s Ferry to meet General McClellan’s troops, believed by intelligent people of Winchester to be approaching from the west.

On page 345 Mr. Davis says it was a difficult problem to know which army, whether Beauregard’s at Manassas or Johnston’s in the Valley, should be reenforced by the other, because these generals were “each asking reinforcements from the other.” All that was written by me on the subject is in the letter (page 345) dated July 9th:

“I have not asked for reinforcements because I supposed that the War Department, informed of the state of affairs everywhere, could best judge where the troops at its disposal are most required. . . . If it is proposed to strengthen us against the attack I suggest as soon to be made, it seems to me that General Beauregard might with great expedition furnish 5000 or 6000 men for a few days.”

Mr. Davis says, after quoting from this letter:

“As soon as I became satisfied that Manassas was the objective point of the enemy’s movement, I wrote to General Johnston urging him to make preparations for a junction with General Beauregard.”

There is abundant evidence that the Southern President never thought of transferring the troops in the “Valley” to Manassas until the proper time to do it came — that is, when McDowell was known to be advancing. This fact is shown by the anxiety he expressed to increase the number of those troops.(4) And General Lee, writing [from South Carolina] to Mr. Davis, November 24th, 1861 (“Official Records,” II, 515), says in regard to General Beauregard’s suggestion that he be reenforeed from my army:

“You decided that the movements of the enemy in and about Alexandria were not sufficiently demonstrative to warrant the withdrawing of any of the forces from the Shenandoah Valley. A few days afterward, however,— I think three or four,— the reports from General Beauregard showed so clearly the enemy’s purpose, that you ordered General Johnston, with his effective force, to march at once to the support of General Beauregard.”

This letter is in reply to one from Mr. Davis, to the effect that statements had been widely published to show that General Beauregard’s forces had been held inactive by his (Mr. Davis’s) rejection of plans for vigorous offensive operations proposed to him by the general, and desiring to know of General Lee what those plans were, and why they were rejected.

“On the 17th of July, 1861,” says Mr. Davis (“R. and F.” I, 346), “the following telegram was sent by the adjutant-general” to General Johnston, Winchester, Va.:

“General Beauregard is attacked. To strike the enemy a decisive blow, a junction of all your effective force will be needed. If practicable, make the movement, sending your sick and baggage to Culpeper Court House, either by railroad or by Warrenton. In all the arrangements exercise your discretion. S. COOPER , Adjutant and Inspector-General.”

Mr. Davis asserts that I claim that discretion was given me by the words “all the arrangements.” I claimed it from what he terms the only positive part of the order, viz., “If practicable, make the movement, sending your sick to Culpeper Court House.” Mr. Davis adds:

“The sending the sick to Culpeper Court House might have been after or before the effective force had moved to the execution of the main and only positive part of the order.”

“Make the movement” would have been a positive order, but “if practicable” deprived it of that character, and gave the officer receiving it a certain discretion. But, as the movement desired was made promptly, it was surely idle to discuss, twenty years after, whether the officer could lawfully have done what he did not do. At the time the decision of such a question might have been necessary; but, as Mr. Davis will give no more orders to generals, and as the officer concerned will execute no more, such a discussion is idle now. The use of the wagons required in the march of the army would have been necessary to remove the sick to the railroad station at Strasburg, eighteen miles distant; so this removal could not have been made after the march. There being seventeen hundred sick, this part of their transportation would have required more time than the transfer of the troops to Manassas, which was the important thing. The sick were, therefore, properly and quickly provided for in Winchester. I was the only judge of the “practicable”; and “if practicable” refers to the whole sentence—as much to sending the sick to Culpeper as to “make the movement.” Still he says (“R. and F.,” I., 347):

“His [my] letters of the 12th and 15th expressed his doubts about his power to retire from before the superior force of General Patterson. Therefore, the word ‘practicable’ was in that connection the equivalent of ‘possible.'”

It is immaterial whether “if practicable” or “if possible” was written. I was the only judge of the possibility or practicability; and, if General Patterson had not changed his position after the telegram was received, I might have thought it necessary to attack him, to “make the movement practicable.” But as to my power to retire. On the 15th General Patterson’s forces were half a day’s march from us, and on the 12th more than a day’s march; and, as Stuart’s cavalry did not permit the enemy to observe us, retreat would have been easy, and I could not possibly have written to the contrary.(5)

As to Mr. Davis’s telegram (“R. and F.,” I., 348) (6), and the anxiety in Mr. Davis’s mind lest there should be some unfortunate misunderstanding between General Beauregard and me,—my inquiry was intended and calculated to establish beyond dispute our relative positions. As a Confederate brigadier-general I had been junior to General Beauregard, but had been created general by act of Congress. But, as this had not been published to the army, it was not certain that it was known at Manassas. If it was not, the President’s telegram gave the information, and prevented what he seems to have apprehended.

THE BATTLE OF BULL RUN.

On page 349, to the end of the chapter, the President describes his visit to the field of battle near Manassas. “As we advanced,” he says, “the storm of battle was rolling westward.” But, in fact, the fighting had ceased before he left Manassas. He then mentions meeting me on a hill which commanded a general view of the field, and proceeding farther west, where he saw a Federal “column,” which a Confederate squadron charged and put to flight. But the captain in command of this squadron (7) says in his report that the column seen was a party of our troops. Mr. Davis also dilates on the suffering of our troops for want of supplies and camp equipage, and on his efforts to have them provided for. After the battle ended, officers were duly directed by me to have food brought to the ground where the troops were to pass the night.

I was not in the conference described by Mr. Davis (“R. and F.,” I., 353, 354, 355). Having left the field after 10 o’clock, and ridden in the dark slowly, it was about half-past 11 when I found the President and General Beauregard together, in the latter’s quarters at Manassas. We three conversed an hour or more without referring to pursuit or an advance upon Washington. The “conference” described by him must have occurred before my arrival, and Mr. Davis may very well have forgotten that I was not present then.

But, when the President wrote, he had forgotten the subject of the conference he described; for the result, as he states it, was an order, not for pursuit by the army, but for the detail of two parties to collect wounded men and abandoned property near the field of battle. This order (pages 355, 356) is “to the same effect,” Mr. Davis says, as the one he wrote, and which he terms a direction to pursue the Federal army at early dawn.

It is asserted (“R. and F.,” I, 354) (8) that I left the command over both Confederate armies in General Beauregard’s hands during the engagement. Such conduct would have been as base as flight from the field in the heat of battle, and would have brought upon me the contempt of every honorable soldier. It is disproved by the fact that General Beauregard was willing to serve under me there, and again in North Carolina, near the close of the war; and that he associated with me. As this accusation is published by the Southern President, and indorsed by General Beauregard, it requires my contradiction.

Instead of leaving the command in General Beauregard’s hands, I assumed it over both armies immediately after my arrival on the 20th, showing General Beauregard as my warrant the President’s telegram defining my position. The usual order (9) assuming command was written and sent to General Beauregard’s office for distribution. He was then told that as General Patterson would no doubt hasten to join General McDowell as soon as he discovered my movement, we must attack the Federal army next morning. General Beauregard then pointed out on a map of the neighborhood the roads leading to the enemy’s camp at Centreville from the different parts of our line south of the stream, and the positions of the brigades near each road; and a simple order of march, by which our troops would unite near the Federal position, was sketched. Having had neither sleep nor recumbent rest since the morning of the 17th, I begged General Beauregard to put this order of march on paper, and have the necessary copies made and sent to me for inspection in a grove, near, where I expected to be resting—this in time for distribution before night. This distribution was to be by him, the immediate commander of most of the troops. Seeing that 8 brigades were on the right of the line to Centreville, and but 1 to the left of it at a distance of 4 miles, I desired General Beauregard to have Bee’s and Jackson’s brigades placed in this interval near the detached brigade.

The papers were brought to me a little before sunrise next morning. They differed greatly from the order sketched the day before; but as they would have put the troops in motion if distributed, it would have been easy then to direct the course of each division. By the order sketched the day before, all our forces would have been concentrated near Centreville, to attack the Federal army. By that prepared by General Beauregard but 4 brigades were directed ” to the attack of Centreville,” of which one and a half had not yet arrived from the Valley, while 6 brigades were to move forward to the Union Mills and Centreville road, there to hold themselves in readiness to support the attack on Centreville, or to move, 2 to Sangster’s cross-roads, 2 to Fairfax Station, and 2 to Fairfax Court House. The two and a half brigades on the ground, even supported by the half brigade of the reserve also on the ground, in all probability would have been defeated by the whole Federal army before the three bodies of 2 brigades each could have come to their aid, over distances of from 3 to 5 miles. Then, if the enemy had providentially been defeated by one-sixth or one-eighth of their number, Sangster’s cross-roads and Fairfax Station would have been out of their line of retreat.

Soon after sunrise on the 21st, it was reported that a large body of Federal troops was approaching on the Warrenton Turnpike. This offensive movement of the enemy would have frustrated our plan of the day before, if the orders for it had been delivered to the troops. It appears from the reports of the commanders of the six brigades on the right that but one of them, General Longstreet, received it. Learning that Bee’s and Jackson’s brigades were still on the right, I again desired General Beauregard to transfer them to the left, which he did, giving the same orders to Hampton’s Legion, just arrived. These, with Cocke’s brigade then near the turnpike, would necessarily receive the threatened attack.

General Beauregard then suggested that all our troops on the right should move rapidly to the left and assail the attacking Federal troops in flank. This suggestion was accepted; and together we joined those troops. Three of the four brigades of the first line, at Mitchell’s, Blackburn’s, and McLean’s fords, reported strong bodies of United States troops on the wooded heights before them. This frustrated the second plan. Two Federal batteries — one in front of Bonham’s brigade at Mitchell’s Ford, the other before Longstreet’s at Blackburn’s Ford — were annoying us, although their firing was slow.

About 8 o’clock, after receiving such information as scouts could give, I left General Beauregard near Longstreet’s position, and placed myself on Lookout Hill, in rear of Mitchell’s Ford, to await the development of the enemy’s designs. About 9 o’clock the signal officer, Captain Alexander, reported that a column of Federal troops could be seen crossing the valley of Bull Run, two miles beyond our left.

General McDowell had been instructed by his general-in-chief to pass the Confederate right and seize the railroad in our rear. But, learning that the district to be passed through was rugged and covered with woods, and therefore unfavorable to a large army, he determined, after devoting three days to reconnoissance, to operate on the open and favorable ground to his right, and turn our left. He had another object in this second plan, and an important one—that this course would place his between the two Confederate armies, and prevent their junction; and if it had been made a day or two sooner, this manoeuvre would have accomplished that object.

General McDowell marched from Centreville by the Warrenton Turnpike with three divisions, sending a fourth division to deceive us by demonstrations in front of our main body. Leaving the turnpike a half mile from the Stone Bridge, he made a long detour to Sudley Ford, where he crossed Bull Run and turned toward Manassas. Colonel Evans, who commanded fourteen companies near the Stone Bridge, discovered this manoeuvre, and moved with his little force along the base of the hill north of the turnpike, to place it before the enemy near the Sudley and Manassas road. Here he was assailed by greatly superior numbers, which he resisted obstinately.

General Beauregard had joined me on Lookout Hill, and we could distinctly hear the sounds and see the smoke of the fight. But they indicated no hostile force that Evans’s troops and those of Bee, Hampton, and Jackson, which we could see hurrying toward the conflict in that order, were not adequate to resist.

On reaching the broad, level top of the hill south of the turnpike, Bee, appreciating the strength of the position, formed his troops (half of his own and half of Bartow’s brigade) on that ground. But seeing Evans struggling against great odds, he crossed the valley and formed on the right and a little in advance of him. Here the 5 or 6 regiments, with 6 field-pieces, held their ground for an hour against 10,000 or 12,000 United States troops,(10) when, finding they were overlapped on each flank by the continually arriving enemy, General Bee fell back to the position from which he had moved to rescue Evans — crossing the valley, closely pressed by the Federal army.

Hampton with his Legion reached the valley as the retrograde movement began. Forming it promptly, he joined in the action, and contributed greatly to the orderly character of the retreat by his courage and admirable soldiership, seconded by the excellent conduct of the gentlemen composing his command. Imboden and his battery did excellent service on this trying occasion. Bee met Jackson at the head of his brigade, on the position he had first taken, and he began to re-form and Jackson to deploy at the same time.

In the mean time I had been waiting with General Beauregard on Lookout Hill for evidence of General McDowell’s design. The violence of the firing on the left indicated a battle, but the large bodies of troops reported by chosen scouts to be facing our right kept me in doubt. But near 11 o’clock reports that those troops were felling trees showed that they were standing on the defensive; and new clouds of dust on the left proved that a large body of Federal troops was arriving on the field. It thus appeared that the enemy’s great effort was to be against our left. I expressed this to General Beauregard, and the necessity of reenforcing the brigades engaged, and desired him to send immediate orders to Early and Holmes, of the second line, to hasten to the conflict with their brigades. General Bonham, who was near me, was desired to send up two regiments and a battery. I then set off at a rapid gallop to the scene of action. General Beauregard joined me without a word. Passing on the way Colonel Pendleton with two batteries, I directed him to follow with them as fast as possible.

It now seemed that a battle was to be fought entirely different in place and circumstance from the two plans previously adopted and abandoned as impracticable. Instead of taking the initiative and operating in front of our line, we were compelled to fight on the defensive more than a mile in rear of that line, and at right angles to it, on a field selected by Bee,— with no other plans than those suggested by the changing events of battle.

While we were riding forward General Beauregard suggested to me to assign him to the immediate command of the troops engaged, so that my supervision of the whole field might not be interrupted, to which I assented. So he commanded those troops under me; as elsewhere, lieutenant-generals commanded corps, and major-generals divisions, under me.

When we were near the ground where Bee was re-forming and Jackson deploying his brigade, I saw a regiment in line with ordered arms and facing to the front, but 200 or 300 yards in rear of its proper place. On inquiry I learned that it had lost all its field-officers; so, riding on its left flank, I easily marched it to its place. It was the 4th Alabama, an excellent regiment; and I mention this because the circumstance has been greatly exaggerated.

After the troops were in good battle order I turned to the supervision of the whole field. The enemy’s great numerical superiority was discouraging. Yet, from strong faith in Beauregard’s capacity and courage, and the high soldierly qualities of Bee and Jackson, I hoped that the fight would be maintained until I could bring adequate reinforcements to their aid. For this Holmes and Early were urged to hasten their march, and Ewell was ordered to follow them with his brigade with all speed. Broken troops were reorganized and led back into the fight with the help of my own and part of General Beauregard’s staff. Cocke’s brigade was held in rear of the right to observe a large body of Federal troops in a position from which Bee’s right flank could have been struck in a few minutes.

After these additions had been made to our troops then engaged, we had 9 regiments of infantry, 5 batteries, and 300 cavalry of the Army of the Shenandoah, and about 2 regiments and a half of infantry, 6 companies of cavalry, and 6 field-pieces of the Army of the Potomac, holding at bay 3 divisions of the enemy. The Southern soldiers had, however, two great advantages in the contest: greater skill in the use of fire-arms, and the standing on the defensive, by which they escaped such disorder as advancing under fire produced in the ranks of their adversaries, undisciplined like themselves.

A report received about 2 o’clock from General Beauregard’s office that another United States army was approaching from the north-west, and but a few miles from us, caused me to send orders to Bonham, Longstreet, and Jones to hold their brigades south of Bull Run, and ready to move.

When Bonham’s two regiments appeared soon after, Cocke’s brigade was ordered into action on our right. Fisher’s North Carolina regiment coming up, Bonham’s two regiments were directed against the Federal right, and Fisher’s was afterward sent in the same direction; for the enemy’s strongest efforts seemed to be directed against our left, as if to separate us from Manassas Junction.

About 3:30 o’clock, General E. K. Smith arrived with three regiments of Elzey’s brigade, coming from Manassas Junction. He was instructed, through a staff-officer sent forward to meet him, to form on the left of our line, his left thrown forward, and to attack the enemy in flank. At his request I joined him, directed his course, and gave him these instructions. Before the formation was completed, he fell severely wounded, and while falling from his horse directed Colonel Elzey to take command. That officer appreciated the manoeuvre and executed it gallantly and well. General Beauregard promptly seized the opportunity it afforded, and threw forward the whole line. The enemy was driven from the long-contested hill, and the tide of battle at length turned. But the first Federal line driven into the valley was there rallied on a second, the two united presenting a formidable aspect. In the mean time, however, Colonel Early had come upon the field with his brigade. He was instructed by me to make a detour to the left and assail the Federal right in flank. He reached the ground in time, accompanied by Stuart’s cavalry and Beckham’s battery, and made his attack with a skill and courage which routed the Federal right in a moment. General Beauregard, charging in front, made the rout complete. The Federal right fled in confusion toward the Sudley Ford, and the center and left marched off rapidly by the turnpike.

Stuart pursued the fugitives on the Sudley road, and Colonel Radford, with two squadrons which I had held in reserve near me during the day, was directed to cross Bull Run at Ball’s Ford, and strike the column on the turnpike in flank. The number of prisoners taken by these parties of cavalry greatly exceeded their own numbers. But they were too weak to make a serious impression on an army, although a defeated one.

At twenty minutes before 5, when the retreat of the enemy toward Centreville began, I sent orders to Brigadier-General Bonham by Lieutenant-Colonel Lay, of his staff, who happened to be with me, to march with his own and Longstreet’s brigade (which were nearest Bull Run and the Stone Bridge), by the quickest route to the turnpike, and form them across it to intercept the retreat of the Federal troops. But he found so little appearance of rout in those troops as to make the execution of his instructions seem impracticable; so the two brigades returned to their camps. When the retreat began, the body of United States troops that had passed the day on the Centreville side of Bull Run made a demonstration on the rear of our right; which was repelled by Holmes’s brigade just arrived.

Soon after the firing ceased, General Ewell reported to me, saying that his brigade was about midway from its camp near Union Mills. He had ridden forward to see the part of the field on which he might be required to serve, to prepare himself to act intelligently.

The victory was as complete as one gained in an open country by infantry and artillery can be. Our cavalry pursued as far as they could effectively; but when they encountered the main column, after dispersing or capturing little parties and stragglers, they could make no impression.

General Beauregard’s first plan of attack was delivered to me by his aide-de-camp, Colonel Chisolm, when I was thirty-four miles from Manassas. It was, that I should leave the railroad at Piedmont station, thirty-six miles from the enemy at Centreville, and attack him in rear, and when our artillery announced that we had begun the fight, General Beauregard would move up from Bull Run and assail the enemy on that side. I rejected the plan, because such a one would enable an officer of ordinary sense and vigor to defeat our two armies one after the other. For McDowell, by his numerical superiority, could have disposed of my forces in less than two hours; that is to say, before Beauregard could have come up, when he also could have been defeated and the campaign ended.

An opinion seems to prevail with some persons who have written about the battle, that important plans of General Beauregard were executed by him. It is a mistake; the first intention, announced to General Beauregard by me when we met, was to attack the enemy at Centreville as early as possible on the 21st. This was anticipated by McDowell’s early advance. The second, to attack the Federals in flank near the turnpike with our main force, suggested by General Beauregard, was prevented by the enemy’s occupation of the high ground in front of our right.

As fought, the battle was made by me; Bee’s and Jackson’s brigades were transferred to the left by me. I decided that the battle was to be there, and directed the measures necessary to maintain it; a most important one being the assignment of General Beauregard to the immediate command of this left, which he held. In like manner the senior officer on the right would have commanded there, if the Federal left had attacked.

These facts in relation to the battle are my defense against the accusation indorsed by General Beauregard and published by Mr. Davis.

In an account of the battle published in “The Century” for November, 1884, General Beauregard mentions offensive operations which he “had designed and ordered against his [adversary’s] left flank and rear at Centreville,” and censures my friend General R. S. Ewell for their failure. At the time referred to, three of the four Federal divisions were near Bull Run, above the turnpike, and the fourth facing our right, so that troops of ours, going to Centreville then, if not prevented by the Federal division facing them, would have found no enemy. And General Ewell was not, as he reports, “instructed in the plan of attack”; for he says in his official report: “… I first received orders to hold myself in readiness to advance at a moment’s notice. I next received a copy of an order sent to General Jones and furnished me by him, in which it was stated I had been ordered at once to proceed to his support.” Three other orders, he says, followed, each contradictory of its predecessor. General Ewell knew that a battle was raging; but knew, too, that between him and it were other unengaged brigades, and that his commander was near enough to give him orders. But he had no reason to suppose that his commander desired him to move to Centreville, where there was then no enemy. There could have been no greater mistake on General Ewell’s part than making the movement to Centreville.

A brief passage in my official report of this battle displeased President Davis. In referring to his telegraphic order I gave its meaning very briefly, but accurately—”directing me, if practicable, to go to [General Beauregard’s] assistance, after sending my sick to Culpeper Court House.” Mr. Davis objected to the word after. Being informed of this by a friend, I cheerfully consented to his expunging the word, because that would not affect the meaning of the sentence. But the word is still in his harsh indorsement. He also had this passage stricken out: “The delay of sending the sick, nearly seventeen hundred in number, to Culpeper, would have made it impossible to arrive at Manassas in time. They were therefore provided for in Winchester “; and substituted this: “Our sick, nearly seventeen hundred in number, were provided for in Winchester.” Being ordered to send the sick to Culpeper as well as to move to Manassas, it was necessary to account for disobedience, which my words did, and which his substitute for them did not.

Mr. Davis (“R. and F.,” L, 359) expresses indignation that, as he says, “among the articles abandoned by the enemy . . . were handcuffs, the fit appendage of a policeman, but not of a soldier.” I saw none, nor did I see any one who had seen them.

Mr. Davis says (page 359): “On the night of the 22d, I held a second conference with Generals Johnston and Beauregard.” I was in no conference like that of which account is given on page 360. And one that he had with me on that day proved conclusively that he had no thought of sending our army against Washington; for in it he offered me the command in West Virginia, promising to increase the forces there adequately from those around us. He says (page 361):

“What discoveries would have been made, and what results would have ensued from the establishment of our guns upon the south bank of the river to open Are upon the capital, are speculative questions upon which it would be useless to enter.”

Mr. Davis seems to have forgotten what was as well known then as now— that our army was more disorganized by victory than that of the United States by defeat; that there were strong fortifications, well manned, to cover the approaches to Washington and prevent the establishment of our guns on the south bank of the river. He knew, too, that we had no means of cannonading the capital, nor a disposition to make barbarous war. He says (“R. and F.,” I., 362):

“When the smoke of battle had lifted from the field . . . some . . . censoriously asked why the fruits of the victory had not been gathered by the capture of Washington City. Then some indiscreet friends of the generals commanding in that battle . . . induced the allegation that the President had prevented the generals from making an immediate and vigorous pursuit of the routed enemy.”

Mr. Davis has no ground for this assertion; the generals were attacked first and most severely. It was not until the newspapers had exhausted themselves upon us that some of them turned upon him. On November 3d he wrote to me that reports were circulated to the effect that he

“prevented General Beauregard from pursuing the enemy after the battle of Manassas, and had subsequently restrained him from advancing upon Washington City. … I call upon vou, as the commanding general, and as a party to all the conferences held by me on the 21st and 22d of July, to say whether I obstructed the pursuit of the enemy after the victory at Manassas, or have ever objected to an advance or other active operation which it was feasible for the army to undertake.” (“R. and P.,” I., 363.)

I replied on the 10th, answering the first question in the negative, and added an explanation which put the responsibility on myself. I replied to the second question, that it had never been feasible for the army to advance farther toward Washington than it had done, and referred to a conference at Fairfax Court House [October 1st, 1861] in reference to leading the army into Maryland, in which he informed the three senior officers that he had not the means of giving the army the strength which they considered necessary for offensive operations.

Mr. Davis was displeased by my second reply, because in his mind there was but one question in his letter. I maintain that there are two; namely, (1) Did he obstruct the pursuit of the enemy after the victory at Manassas? (2) Had he ever objected to an advance or other active operation which it was feasible for the army to undertake?

The second matter is utterly unconnected with the battle of Manassas, and as the question of advance or other active operation had been discussed nowhere by him, to my knowledge, but at the conference at Fairfax Court House, I supposed that he referred to it. He was dissatisfied with my silence in regard to the conferences which he avers took place on July 21st and 22d, the first knowledge of which I have derived from his book.

THE WITHDRAWAL FROM CENTREVILLE TO THE PENINSULA.

Mr. Davis refers (“Rise and Fall,” I., 444-5) to the instructions for the reorganization of the army given by him to the three general officers whom he met in conference at Fairfax Court House on October 1st, 1861. But the correspondence urging the carrying out of the orders was carried on with Generals Beauregard and G. W. Smith (my subordinates) in that same October. He neither conversed nor corresponded with me on the subject then, the letter to me being dated May 10th, 1862. The original order was dated October 22d, 1861, to be executed “as soon as, in the judgment of the commanding general, it can be safely done under present exigencies.” As the enemy was then nearer to our center than that center to either flank of our army, and another advance upon us by the Federal army was not improbable on any day, it seemed to me unsafe to make the reorganization then. From May 10th to 26th, when the President renewed the subject, we were in the immediate presence of the enemy, when reorganization would have been infinitely dangerous, as was duly represented by me. But, alluding to this conference at Fairfax Court House, he says (p. 449): “When, at that time and place, I met General Johnston for conference, he called in the two generals next in rank to himself, Beauregard and G. W. Smith.” These officers were with Mr. Davis in the quarters of General Beauregard, whose guest he was, when I was summoned to him. I had not power to bring any officer into the conference. If such authority had belonged to my office, the personal relations lately established between us by the President would not have permitted me to use it.

He says (pp. 448-9): “I will now proceed to notice the allegation that I was responsible for inaction of the Army of the Potomac in the latter part of 1861 and in the early part of 1862.” I think Mr. Davis is here fighting a shadow. I have never seen or heard of the “allegation” referred to; I believe that that conference attracted no public attention, and brought criticism upon no one. I have seen no notice of it in print, except the merely historical one in a publication made by me in 1874, (11) without criticism or comment.

In the same paragraph Mr. Davis expresses surprise at the weakness of the army. He has forgotten that in Richmond he was well informed of the strength of the army by periodical reports, which showed him the prevalence of epidemics which, in August and part of September, kept almost thirty per cent. of our number sick. He must have forgotten, too, his anxiety on this subject, which induced him to send a very able physician, Dr. Cartwright, to find some remedy or preventive.

He asserts also that “the generals” had made previous suggestions of a “purpose to advance into Maryland.” There had been no such purpose. On the contrary, in my letter to the Secretary of War, suggesting the conference, I wrote:

“Thus far the numbers and condition of this army have at no time justified our assuming the offensive. . . . The difficulty of obtaining the means of establishing a battery near Evansport (12). . . has given me the impression that you cannot at present put this army in condition to assume the offensive. If I am mistaken in this, and you can furnish those means, I think it important that either his Excellency the President, yourself, or some one representing you, should here, upon the ground, confer with me on this all-important question.”

In a letter dated September 29th, 1861, the Secretary wrote that the President would reach my camp in a day or two for conference. He came for that object September 30th, and the next evening, by his appointment, he was waited on by Generals Beauregard, Gustavus W. Smith, and myself. In discussing the question of giving our army strength enough to assume the offensive in Maryland, it was proposed to bring to it from the South troops enough to raise it to the required strength. The President asked what was that strength. General Smith thought 50,000 men, General Beauregard 60,000, and I 60,000, all of us specifying soldiers like those around us. The President replied that such reenforcements could not be furnished; he could give only as many recruits as we could arm. This decided the question. Mr. Davis then proposed an expedition against Hooker’s division, consisting, we believed, of 10,000 men. It was posted on the Maryland shore of the Potomac, opposite Dumfries.  But I objected that we had no means of ferrying an equal number of men across the river in a day, even if undisturbed by ships of war, which controlled the river; so that, even if we should succeed in landing, those vessels of war would inevitably destroy or capture our party returning. This terminated the conference. Mr. Davis says, in regard to the reenforcements asked for (“R. and F.,” I., 449): “I had no power to make such an addition to that army without a total disregard of the safety of other threatened positions.” We had no threatened positions; and we could always discover promptly the fitting out of naval expeditions against us. And he adds (p. 451), with reference to my request for a conference in regard to reenforcements:

“Very little experience, or a fair amount of modesty without any experience, would serve to prevent one from announcing his conclusion that troops could be withdrawn from a place or places without knowing how many were there, and what was the necessity for their presence.”

The refutation of this is in General G. W. Smith’s memorandum of the discussion: “General Johnston said that he did not feel at liberty to express an opinion of the practicability of reducing the strength of our forces at points not within the limits of his command.” On page 452 [referring to possible minor offensive operations. — EDITORS ] Mr. Davis says he

“particularly indicated the lower part of Maryland, where a small force was said to be ravaging the country.”

He suggested nothing so impossible. Troops of ours could not have been ferried across the broad Potomac then. We had no steamer on that river, nor could we have used one. Mr. Davis says (“R. and F.,” I., 452):

“… Previously, General Johnston’s attention had been called to possibilities in the Valley of the Shenandoah, and that these and other like things were not done, was surely due to other causes than ‘the policy of the Administration’”. . . .

Then he quotes from a letter to me, dated August 1st, 1861, as follows:

“… The movement of Banks (13) will require your attention. It may be a ruse, but if a real movement, when your army has the requisite strength and mobility, you will probably find an opportunity, by a rapid movement through the passes, to strike him in rear or flank.”

It is matter of public notoriety that no incursion into the ” Valley ” worth the notice of a Confederate company was made until March, 1862. That the Confederate President should be ignorant of this is inconceivable. Mr. Davis says (p. 462):

“… I received from General Johnston notice that his position [at Centreville] was considered unsafe. Many of his letters to me have been lost, and I have thus far not been able to find the one giving the notice referred to, but the reply which is annexed clearly indicates the substance of the letter which was answered: ‘ General J. E. Johnston: . . . Your opinion that your position may be turned whenever the enemy chooses to advance,’ etc.”

The sentence omitted by him after my name in his letter from which he quotes as above contains the dates of three letters of mine, in neither of which is there allusion to the safety (or reverse) of the position. They are dated 22d, 23d, and 25th of February, and contain complaints on my part of the dreadful condition of the country, and of the vast accumulation by the Government of superfluous stores at Manassas. There is another omission in the President’s letter quoted, and the omission is this:

“… with your present force, you cannot secure your communications from the enemy, and may at any time, when he can pass to your rear, be compelled to retreat at the sacrifice of your siege train and army stores. . . . Threatened as we are by a large force on the south-east, you must see the hazard of your position, by its liability to isolation and attack in rear.”

By a singular freak of the President’s memory, it transferred the substance of these passages from his letter to my three.

Referring again to the conference at Fairfax Court House [October 1st], Mr. Davis says (p. 464):

“Soon thereafter, the army withdrew to Centreville, a better position for defense, but not for attack, and thereby suggestive of the abandonment of an intention to advance.”

The President forgets that in that conference the intention to advance was abandoned by him first. He says on the same page:

“On the 10th of March I telegraphed to General Johnston: ‘Further assurance given to me this day that you shall be promptly and adequately reenforced, so as to enable you to maintain your position, and resume first policy when the roads will permit.’ The first policy was to carry the war beyond our own border.”

The roads then permitted the marching of armies, so we had just left Manassas. (14)

On the 20th of February, after a discussion in Richmond, his Cabinet being present, the President had directed me to prepare to fall back from Manassas, and do so as soon as the condition of the country should make the marching of troops practicable. I returned to Manassas February 21st, and on the 22d ordered the proper officers to remove the public property, which was begun on the 23d, the superintendent of the railroad devoting himself to the work under the direction of its president, the Hon. John S. Barbour. The Government had collected three million and a quarter pounds of provisions there, I insisting on a supply of but a million and a half. It also had two million pounds in a meat-curing establishment near at hand, and herds of live stock besides. On the 9th of March, when the ground had become firm enough for military operations, I ordered the army to march that night, thinking then, as I do now, that the space of fifteen days was time enough in which to subordinate an army to the Commissary Department. About one million pounds of this provision was abandoned, and half as much more was spoiled for want of shelter. This loss is represented (“R. and F.,” I., 468) (15) as so great as to embarrass us to the end of the war, although it was only a six days’ supply for the troops then in Virginia. Ten times as much was in North Carolina railroad stations at the end of the war. Mr. Davis says (p. 467):

“It was regretted that earlier and more effective means wore not employed for the mobilization of the army, . . . or at least that the withdrawal was not so deliberate as to secure the removal of our ordnance, subsistence, nnd quartermaster’s stores.”

The quartermaster’s and ordnance stores were brought off; and as to subsistence, the Government, which collected immediately on the frontier five times the quantity of provisions wanted, is responsible for the losses. The President suggested the time of the withdrawal himself, in the interview in his office that has been mentioned. The means taken was the only one available,— the Virginia Midland Railroad. Mr. Davis says (“R. and F.,” I., 465):

“To further inquiry from General Johnston as to where he should take position, I replied that I would go to his headquarters in the field, and found him on the south bank of the river, to which he had retired, in a position possessing great natural advantages.”

There was no correspondence in relation to selecting a defensive position. I was not seeking one; but, instead, convenient camping-grounds, from which my troops could certainly unite with other Confederate forces to meet McClellan’s invasion. I had found and was occupying such grounds, one division being north of Orange Court House, another a mile or two south of it, and two others some six miles east of that place; a division on the south bank of the Rappahannock, and the cavalry beyond the river, and about 13,000 troops in the vicinity of Fredericksburg. Mr. Davis’s narrative [of a visit to Fredericksburg at this time, the middle of March.— EDITORS] that follows is disposed of by the proof that, after the army left Manassas, the President did not visit it until about the 14th of May.ft But such a visit, if made, could not have brought him to the conclusion that the weakness of Fredericksburg as a military position made it unnecessary to find a strong one for the army.

Mr. Davis (“R. and F.,” II., 81) credits me with expecting an attack which he shows General McClellan never had in his mind:

“In a previous chapter, the retreat of our army from Centreville has been described, and reference has been made to the anticipation of the commanding general, J. E. Johnston, that the enemy would soon advance to attack that position.”

This refers, I suppose, to a previous assertion (” R. and F.,” L, 462), my comments upon which prove that this ” anticipation ” was expressed in the President’s letter to me, dated February 28th, 1862. He says (” R. and F.,” II., 83):

“The withdrawal of our forces across the Rappahannock was fatal to the [Federal] programme of landing on that river and marching to Richmond before our forces could be in position to resist an attack on the capital.”

This withdrawal was expressly to enable the army to unite with other Confederate troops to oppose the expected invasion. I supposed that General MeClellan would march down the Potomac on the Maryland side, cross it near the mouth of Aquia Creek, and take the Fredericksburg route to Richmond. The position of Hooker, about midway between Washington and this crossing-place, might well have suggested that he had this intention.

POSTCRIPT.— In the first paragraph of General Beauregard’s postcript, it is asserted that I did not claim to have commanded in the first battle of Manassas until May, 1885, and that my official report of that action contains no such claim. It is, nevertheless, distinctly expressed in that report — thus:

“In a brief and rapid conference, General Beauregard was assigned to the command of the left, which, as the younger officer, he claimed, while I returned to that of the whole field.”

And in “Johnston’s Narrative,” published in 1874, it is expressed in these words, on page 49:

“After assigning General Beauregard to the command of the troops immediately engaged, which he properly suggested belonged to the second in rank, not to the commander of the army. I returned to the supervision of the whole field.”

So much for my not having claimed to have commanded at the” first Manassas ” until May, 1885.

General Beauregard in his official report states the circumstance thus:

“. . .I urged General Johnston to leave the immediate conduct of the field to me, while ho, repairing to Portici, the Lewis house, should urge reinforcements forward.”

This language would certainly limit his command as mine does. He did not attempt to command the army, while I did command it, and disposed of all the troops not engaged at the time of his assignment.

In his official report of the battle, General Beauregard further states:

“Made acquainted with my plan of operations and dispositions to meet the enemy, he gave them his entire approval, and generously directed their execution under my command.”

The only “plan” that he offered me [to move via Aldie] was rejected — on the 14th, before my arrival. The battle fought was on McDowell’s plan, not General Beauregard’s. The proof of this is, that at its commencement little more than a regiment of Beauregard’s command was on the ground where the battle was fought, and, of his 7 brigades, 1 was a mile and 6* were from 4 to 7 or 8 miles from it. The place of the battle was fixed by Bee’s aud Jackson’s brigades, sent forward by my direction. At my request General Beauregard did write an order of march against the Federal army, finished a little before sunrise of the 21st. In it I am invariably termed commander-in-chief, and he (to command one of the wings) “second in command,” or General Beauregard—conclusive proof that the troops were not “under his command.”

Two letters, from General Lee and Mr. Walker, Secretary of War, are cited as evidence that General Beauregard commanded. Those gentlemen were not in a position to know if I relinquished the command. But I had this letter from General Lee:

“RICHMOND, July 24th, 1861. MY DEAR GENERAL : I almost wept for joy at the glorious victory achieved by our brave troops. The feelings of my heart could hardly be repressed on learning the brilliant share you had in its achievement. I expected nothing else, and am truly grateful for your safety. . . .”

In conclusion, I cannot discover that my unfavorable opinion of the Federal general’s tactics, quoted by General Beauregard, indicates a fear to command against him.

(1) The letter of protest covered nine sheets of letter-paper, and the ninth sheet (to quote from the original) sums up the matter in these words:

“My commission is made to bear such a date that my once Inferiors in the service of the United States and of the Confederate States shall be above me. But it must not be dated as of the 21st of July nor be suggestive of the victory of Manassas. I return to my first position. I repeat that my right to my rank as General is established by the Acts of Congress of the 14th of March, 1861, and the 16th of May, 1861, and not by the nomination and confirmation of the 31st of August. 1861. To deprive me of that rank it was necessary for Congress to repeal those laws. That could be done by express legislative act alone. It was not done, it could not be done, by a mere vote in secret session upon a list of nominations. If the action against which I have protested be legal, it is not for me to question the expediency of degrading one who has served laboriously from the commencement of the war on this frontier, and borne a prominent part in the only great event of that war for the benefit of persons neither of whom has yet struck a blow for this Confederacy. These views and the freedom with whieh they are presented may be unusual. So likewise is the occasion which calls them forth. I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

“J. E. JOHNSTON, General.

“To His Excellency, Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States, Richmond.”

This ninth sheet is all of the original letter that can be found by the present owner, Mrs. Bledsoe, widow of Dr. Albert T. Bledsoe, who, at the time the letter was written, was Assistant-Secretary of War. Dr. Bledsoe told his wife that President Davis handed the letter to him, with the remark that it would not go upon the official files, and that ho might keep it if he liked.— EDITORS.

(2) This letter of Major Whiting to General Johnston and General Johnston’s letter (probably referred to as the indorsement), are both dated May 28th 1861. The phrase of General Cooper, “You had been heretofore instructed,” should have read either “You had been theretofore [before May 28th] instructed,” or, “You have been heretofore [before June 13th] instructed.” The latter is probably what was meant, as the only letter of instructions to General Johnston received at Harper’s Ferry giving him permission to use his discretion which is to be found in the Official Records, is the one of June 7th from General Lee, in which he says: “It is hoped that you will be able to be timely informed of the approach of troops against you, and retire, provided they cannot be successfully opposed. You must exercise your discretion and judgment in this respect.”—EDITORS.

(3) “Official Records,” II, 910.

(4) See “Official Records,” II, 924, 935, 940, 973, 976-977.

(5) Mr. Davis has a few words of praise for General Johnston, which, in this connection, will be of interest to the reader: “It gives me pleasure to state that, from all the accounts received at the time, the plans of General Johnston for masking his withdrawal to form a junction with General Beauregard were conducted with marked skill” (“R. and P.,” I, 347).— EDITORS

(6) This telegram, sent in response to an inquiry from General Johnston, read as follows: “Richmond, July 20, 1861. General J. E. Johnston, Manassas Junction, Virginia: You are a general in the Confederate Army, possessed of the power attaching to that rank. You will know how to make the exact knowledge of Brigadier-General Beauregard, as well of the ground as of the troops and preparation, avail for the success of. the object in which you cooperate. The zeal of both assures me of harmonious action. JEFFERSON DAVIS”

(7) Captain John F. Lay. See “Official Records,” II., 573.— EDITORS.

(8) Not by Mr. Davis, but in a letter from General Thomas Jordan, quoted by Mr. Davis for another purpose.— EDITORS.

(9) General J. A. Early, in his narrative of these events, says: “During the 20th, General Johnston arrived at Manassas Junction by the railroad, and that day we received the order from him assuming command of the combined armies of General Beauregard and himself.”—J. E. J.

(10) General Fry (page 185) states that these troops were Andrew Porter’s and Burnside’s brigades, and one regiment of Heintzelman’s division. Reckoning by the estimate of strength given by General Fry on page 194 these would have made a total of about 0500 men.—EDITORS.

(11) See “Johnston’s Narrative” (New York: D. Appleton & Co.), pp. 78, 79.

(12) Evansport is on the Potomac below Alexandria, at the mouth of Quantico Creek.

(13) By orders dated July 19th, 1861, General N. P. Banks had been assigned to the command of the Department of the Shenandoah, relieving General Patterson in command of the army at Harper’s Ferry, General Patterson being by the same orders “honorably discharged from the service of the United States,” on the expiration of his term of duty.—EDITORS.

(14) Between the 7th and 11th of March, 1862, the Confederate forces in north-eastern Virginia, under the General Johnston, were withdrawn to the line of Rappahannock. On the 11-12th Stonewall Jackson evacuated Winchester and fell back to Strasburg.—EDITORS.

(15) Not by Mr. Davis, but in a statement quoted at the above page from General J. A. Early, who said, “The loss . . . was a very serious one to us, and embarrassed us for the remainder of the war, as it put us at once on a running stock.”— EDITORS

(16) In “The Century” magazine for May, 1885, General Johnston, to support his assertion, quoted statements by Major J. B. Washington, Dr. A. M. Fauntleroy, and Colonel E. J. Harvie, which are, now omitted for want of space.— EDITORS. VOL. I. 17





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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Incidents of the First Bull Run – John Imboden

4 02 2010

INCIDENTS OF THE FIRST BULL RUN

BY JOHN D. IMBODEN, BRIGADIER GENERAL, C.S.A.

BATTLES AND LEADERS OF THE CIVIL WAR – Volume I: From Sumter to Shiloh, pp . 229-239

From the day of his arrival at Winchester [see page 124], General Johnston was ceaseless in his labors to improve the efficiency of his little army, in which he was greatly assisted by several staff-officers who afterward rose to high distinction. The two most active of these subordinates were Majors W. H. C. Whiting and E. Kirby Smith, the former of whom as a major-general fell mortally wounded at the capture of Fort Fisher in North Carolina, and the latter as a lieutenant-general commanded the Trans-Mississippi army when the final collapse came. During our withdrawal from Harper’s Ferry, on June 16th, we were deflected from our direct line of march, and held in line of battle a day at Bunker Hill, a few miles north of Winchester, to receive an expected assault from General Patterson, who had crossed the Potomac, but went back without attacking us. Again on July 2d we were marched to Darksville, about midway to Martinsburg, to meet Patterson, where we lay in fine of battle till the 5th, when General Patterson, after a slight “brush” with Jackson, again recrossed the Potomac. We returned to Winchester, and to our arduous drilling.

After midnight of July 17th, General Bee, my brigade commander, sent for me to go with him to headquarters, whither he had been summoned. Several brigade commanders were assembled in a room with General Johnston, and a conference of one or two hours was held. When General Bee joined me on the porch to return to our quarters, I saw he was excited, and I asked him, “What is up?” He took my arm, and, as we walked away, told me we would march next day to the support of General Beauregard. He repeated a telegram General Johnston had received from Adjutant-General Cooper about midnight. This was the famous dispatch that has led to so much controversy between Mr. Davis and General Johnston, as to whether it was a peremptory order, or simply permission to Johnston to go to Beauregard’s support. I quote it, and leave the reader to his own construction:

“General Beauregard is attacked; to strike the enemy a decisive blow, a junction of all your effective force will be needed. If practicable, make the movement, sending your sick and baggage to Culpeper Court House, either by railroad or by Warrenton. In all the arrangements exercise your discretion.”

On the next day, the 18th of July, we left Winchester for Manassas. It was late in the afternoon before my battery took up the line of march—as I now recollect, with the rear-guard, as had been the case when we left Harper’s Ferry a month before. It was thought probable that Patterson, who was south of the Potomac, and only a few miles distant, would follow us. But J. E. B. Stuart and Ashby with the cavalry so completely masked our movement that it was not suspected by Patterson until July 20th, the day before the Bull Run fight, and then it was too late for him to interfere.

On the second day of the march an order reached me at Rectortown, Virginia, through Brigadier-General Barnard E. Bee, to collect the four field-batteries of Johnston’s army into one column, and, as senior artillery captain, to march them by country roads that were unobstructed by infantry or trains as rapidly as possible to Manassas Junction, and to report my arrival, at any hour, day or night, to General Bee, who was going forward by rail with his brigade. Having assembled the batteries in the night, I began the march at dawn of Saturday, July 20th, the day before the battle. About 8 in the morning we reached a village in Fauquier county — Salem, I think it was. The whole population turned out to greet us. Men, women, and children brought us baskets, trays, and plates loaded with their own family breakfasts. With the improvidence of raw campaigners, we had finished the night before our three days’ cooked rations; so I ordered a halt for thirty minutes to enjoy the feast. The Staunton Artillery (1) (my own battery) was at the head of the column, and, being largely composed of young men of high social standing, was especially honored by the ladies of the village, conspicuous among whom were the young daughters of Colonel John A. Washington, late of Mount Vernon. I noticed that some of the young fellows of the battery, lingering round the baskets borne by these young ladies, who bade them die or conquer in the fight, seemed very miserable during the remainder of the march. No doubt many of them, during the battle, felt that it would be better to die on the field than retreat and live to meet those enthusiastic girls again. I make special note of that breakfast because it was the last food any of us tasted till the first Bull Run had been fought and won, 36 hours later.

It was 1 o’clock that night when the head of my little column reached General Bee’s headquarters, about one mile north-east of Manassas Junction. He was established in the log-cabin to which afterward he was brought when he was mortally wounded, and to which I shall again allude. General Bee ordered us to unharness the horses and bivouac in the fence comers, adding, “You will need all the rest you can get, for a great battle will begin in the morning.”

A little after daybreak we were aroused by the sharp, ringing report of a great Parrott gun across Bull Run, two miles away, and the whizzing of a 30-pounder elongated shell over the tree-tops, 400 or 500 yards to our left. Instantly every man was on his feet, and in five minutes the horses were harnessed and hitched to the guns and caissons. General Bee beckoned to me to come up to the porch, where he was standing in his shirt-sleeves, having also been aroused by the shot. He rapidly informed me of the disposition of our troops of Johnston’s army so far as they had arrived at Manassas. His own brigade had been brought forward by rail the evening before. Above all, he was dissatisfied at the prospect of not participating prominently in the battle, saying that he had been ordered to the Stone Bridge, three or four miles away on our extreme left, to cover the left flank of the army from any movement that might be made against it. And as he had been directed to take a battery with him, he had selected mine, and wished me to move at once. He gave me a guide, and said he would follow immediately with his infantry. When I told him we had been 24 hours without food for men or horses, he said he would order supplies to follow, remarking, “You will have plenty of time to cook and eat, to the music of a battle in which we shall probably take little or no part.”

Away we went, retracing our steps to the Junction, and by a westerly detour striking into the Sudley road, at a point half-way between the Junction and the scene of the battle. After an hour or so we ascended the hill to the Lewis house, or “Portici.” Here a courier at full speed met us with news that the whole Federal army seemed to be marching north-westerly on the other side of Bull Run. Halting my men, I rode to the top of the hill, and had a full view of a long column of glittering bayonets moving up on the north side of the creek. Glancing down the valley, I saw Bee’s brigade advancing, and galloped to meet him and report what I had seen. He divined the plans of McDowell, and, asking me to accompany him, rode rapidly past the Lewis house, across the hollow beyond it, and up the next hill through the pines, emerging on the summit immediately east of the Henry house. As the beautiful open landscape in front burst upon his vision, he exclaimed with enthusiasm : “Here is the battle-field, and we are in for it! Bring up your guns as quickly as possible, and I’ll look round for a good position.”

In less than twenty minutes I and my battery had passed the Lewis house, when I discovered Bee coming out of the pines. He stopped, and, placing his cap on his sword-point, waved it almost frantically as a signal to hurry forward. We went at a gallop, and were guided to a depression in the ground about one hundred yards to the north-east of the Henry house, where we unlimbered. With his keen military eye, General Bee had chosen the best possible position for a battery on all that field. We were almost under cover by reason of a slight swell in the ground immediately in our front, and not fifty feet away. Our shot passed not six inches above the surface of the ground on this “swell,” and the recoil ran the guns back to still lower ground, where as we loaded only the heads of my men were visible to the enemy.

We went into position none too soon; for, by the time we had unlimbered, Captain Ricketts, appearing on the crest of the opposite hill, came beautifully and gallantly into battery at a gallop, a short distance from the Matthews house on our side of the Sudley road, and about fifteen hundred yards to our front. I wanted to open on him while he was unlimbering, but General Bee objected till we had received a fire, and had thus ascertained the character and caliber of the enemy’s guns. Mine, four in number, were all brass smoothbore 6-pounders.  The first round or two from the enemy went high over us.  Seeing this, General Bee directed us to fire low and ricochet our shot and shrapnel on the hard, smooth, open field that sloped toward the Warrenton turnpike in the valley between us. We did this, and the effect was very destructive to the enemy.

The rapid massing of Federal troops in our front soon led to very heavy fighting. My little battery was under a pitiless fire for a long time. Two guns from an Alexandria battery— Latham’s, I think — took part in the conflict on the north side of Young’s Branch to our right and across the turnpike, so long as Bee, Bartow, Evans, and Wheat were on that side, we firing over their heads; and about 11 o’clock two brass 12-pounder Napoleons from the New Orleans Washington Artillery unlimbered on our right, retiring, however, after a few rounds.

We were hardly more than fairly engaged with Ricketts when Griffin’s splendid battery came to his aid, and took position full five hundred yards nearer to us, in a field on the left of the Sudley road. Ricketts had 6 Parrott guns, and Griffin had as many more, and, I think, 2 12-pounder howitzers besides. These last hurt us more than all the rifles of both batteries, since the shot and shell of the rifles, striking the ground at any angle over 15 or 20 degrees, almost without exception bored their way in several feet and did no harm. It is no exaggeration to say that hundreds of shells from these fine rifle-guns exploded in front of and around my battery on that day, but so deep in the ground that the fragments never came out. After the action the ground looked as though it had been rooted up by hogs. (2)

For at least a half-hour after our forces were driven across Young’s Branch no Confederate soldier was visible from our position near the Henry house. The Staunton Artillery, so far as we could see, was alone in its glory.” General Bee’s order had been, “Stay here till you are ordered away.” To my surprise, no orders had come, though, as I afterward learned, orders to withdraw had been sent three-quarters of an hour before through Major Howard, of Bee’s staff, who had fallen, desperately wounded, on the way.

Infantry was now massing near the Stone house on the turnpike, not five hundred yards away, to charge and capture us. On making this discovery and learning from the sergeants of pieces that our ammunition was almost entirely exhausted, there remained but one way to save our guns, and that was to run them off the field. More than half of our horses had been killed, only one or two being left in several of my six-horse teams. Those that we had were quickly divided among the guns and caissons, and we limbered up and fled. Then it was that the Henry house was riddled, and the old lady, Mrs. Henry, was mortally wounded (3); for our line of retreat was so chosen that for 200 or 300 yards the house would conceal us from Griffin’s battery, and, in a measure, shelter us from the dreaded fire of the infantry when they should reach the crest we had just abandoned. Several of Griffin’s shot passed through the house, scattering shingles, boards, and splinters all around us. A rifle-shot from Ricketts broke the axle of one of our guns and dropped the gun in the field, but we saved the limber. The charging infantry gained the crest in front of the Henry house in time to give us one volley, but with no serious damage.

We crossed the summit at the edge of the pines, midway behind the Henry and Robinson houses, and there met “Stonewall” Jackson at the head of his brigade, marching by the flank at a double-quick. Johnston and Beauregard had arrived upon the field, and were hurrying troops into position, but we had not yet seen them.

When I met Jackson I felt very angry at what I then regarded as bad treatment from General Bee, in leaving us so long exposed to capture, and I expressed myself with some profanity, which I could see was displeasing to Jackson. He remarked, “I’ll support your battery. Unlimber right here.” We did so, when a perfect lull in the conflict ensued for 20 or 30 minutes— at least in that part of the field.

It was at this time that McDowell committed, as I think, the fatal blunder of the day, by ordering both Ricketts’s and Griffin’s batteries to cease firing and move across the turnpike to the top of the Henry Hill, and take position on the west side of the house. The short time required to effect the change enabled Beauregard to arrange his new line of battle on the highest crest of the hill, south-east of the Henry and Robinson houses, in the edge of the pines. If one of the Federal batteries had been left north of Young’s Branch, it could have so swept the hill-top where we re-formed, that it would have greatly delayed, if not wholly have prevented, us from occupying the position. And if we had been forced back to the next hill, on which stands the Lewis house, Sherman, who had crossed Bull Run not far above the Stone Bridge at a farm ford, would have had a fair swing at our right flank, to say nothing of the effect of the artillery playing upon us from beyond Bull Run.

When my retiring battery met Jackson, and he assumed command of us, I reported that I had remaining only three rounds of ammunition for a single gun, and suggested that the caissons be sent to the rear for a supply.  He said, “No, not now—wait till other guns get here, and then you can withdraw your battery, as it has been so torn to pieces, and let your men rest.”

During the lull in front, my men lay about, exhausted from want of water and food, and black with powder, smoke, and dust. Lieutenant Harman and I had amused ourselves training one of the guns on a heavy column of the enemy, who were advancing toward us, in the direction of the Chinn house, but were still 1200 to 1500 yards away. While we were thus engaged, General Jackson rode up and said that three or four batteries were approaching rapidly, and that we might soon retire. I asked permission to fire the three rounds of shrapnel left to us, and he said, “Go ahead.” I picked up a charge (the fuse was cut and ready) and rammed it home myself, remarking to Harman, “Tom, put in the primer and pull her off.” I forgot to step back far enough from the muzzle, and, as I wanted to see the shell strike, I squatted to be under the smoke, and gave the word “Fire.” Heavens! what a report. Finding myself full twenty feet away, I thought the gun had burst. But it was only the pent-up gas, that, escaping sideways as the shot cleared the muzzle, had struck my side and head with great violence. I recovered in time to see the shell explode in the enemy’s ranks. The blood gushed out of my left ear, and from that day to this it has been totally deaf. The men fired the other two rounds, and limbered up and moved away, just as the Rockbridge Artillery, under Lieutenant Brockenbrough, came into position, followed a moment later by the Leesburg Artillery, under Lieutenant Henry Heaton. Pendleton, supposed by me still to be captain of the first, as Rogers was of the second, were not with their batteries when they unlimbered.(4)  But Heaton and Brockenbrough were equal to the occasion. Heaton had been under my command with his battery at the Point of Rocks, below Harper’s Ferry, the previous May, and was a brave and skillful young officer. Several other batteries soon came into line, so that by the time Griffin and Ricketts were in position near the Henry house, we had, as I now remember, 26 fresh guns ready for them.

The contest that ensued was terrific. Jackson ordered me to go from battery to battery and see that the guns were properly aimed and the fuses cut the right length. This was the work of but a few minutes. On returning to the left of the line of guns, I stopped to ask General Jackson’s permission to rejoin my battery. The fight was just then hot enough to make him feel well. His eyes fairly blazed. He had a way of throwing up his left hand with the open palm toward the person he was addressing. And as he told me to go, he made this gesture. The air was full of flying missiles, and as he spoke he jerked down his hand, and I saw that blood was streaming from it. I exclaimed, ” General, you are wounded.” He replied, as he drew a handkerchief from his breast-pocket, and began to bind it up, “Only a scratch — a mere scratch,” and galloped away along his line.

To save my horse, I had hitched him in a little gully some fifty yards or more in the rear. And to reach him, I had to pass the six hundred infantry of Hampton’s Legion, who were lying down in supporting distance of our artillery, then all in full play. While I was untying my horse, a shell exploded in the midst of Hampton’s infantry, killing several and stampeding 15 or 20 nearest the spot. I tried to rally them; but one huge fellow, musket in hand, and with bayonet fixed, had started on a run. I threw myself in his front with drawn sword, and threatened to cut him down, whereupon he made a lunge at me. I threw up my left arm to ward off the blow, and the bayonet-point ran under the wristband of my red flannel shirt, and raked the skin of my arm from wrist to shoulder. The blow knocked me sprawling on the ground, and the fellow got away. I tore off the dangling shirt-sleeve, and was bare-armed as to my left, the remainder of the fight.

I overtook my battery on the hill near the Lewis house, which was used as a hospital. In a field in front I saw General Johnston and his staff grouped on their horses, and under fire from numerous shells that reached that hill. I rode up to him, reported our ammunition all gone, and requested to know where I could find the ordnance wagons and get a fresh supply. Observing the sorry plight of the battery and the condition of the surviving men and horses, he directed me to remove them farther to the rear to a place of perfect safety, and return myself to the field, where I might be of some service.

I took the battery back perhaps a mile, where we found a welcome little stream of water. Being greatly exhausted, I rested for perhaps an hour, and returned to the front with Sergeant Joseph Shumate.

When we regained the crest of the Henry plateau, the enemy had been swept from it, and the retreat had begun all along the line. We gazed upon the scene for a time, and, hearing firing between the Lewis house and the Stone Bridge, we rode back to see what it meant. Captain Lindsay Walker had arrived from Fredericksburg with his six-Parrott-gun battery, and from a high hill was shelling the fugitives beyond Bull Run as they were fleeing in wild disorder to the shelter of the nearest woods. Colonel J. E. B. Stuart, at the head of a body of yelling cavalry with drawn sabers, was sweeping round the base of the hill we were on, to cross the Run and fall upon the enemy.

When Stuart disappeared in the distance, Shumate and I rode slowly back toward the battery. Nearing the Lewis house, we saw General Johnston and his staff coming toward us slowly, preceded a little by a gentleman on horseback, who was lifting his hat to every one he met. From the likeness I had seen of President Jefferson Davis, I instantly recognized him and told Shumate who it was. With the impulsiveness of his nature, Shumate dashed up to the President, seized his hand, and huzzaed at the top of his voice. I could see that Mr. Davis was greatly amused, and I was convulsed with laughter. When they came within twenty steps of me, where I had halted to let the group pass, Shumate exclaimed, to the great amusement of all who heard him: “Mr. President, there’s my captain, and I want to introduce you to him.” The President eyed me for a moment, as if he thought I was an odd-looking captain. I had on a battered slouch hat, a red flannel shirt with only one sleeve, corduroy trousers, and heavy cavalry boots, and was begrimed with burnt powder, dust, and the blood from my ear and arm, and must have been about as hard-looking a specimen of a captain as was ever seen. Nevertheless, the President grasped my hand with a cordial salutation, and after a few words passed on.

We found our battery refreshing themselves on fat bacon and bread. After a hasty meal, I threw myself on a bag of oats, and slept till broad daylight next morning, notwithstanding a drenching rain which beat upon me during the night.

In fact, I was aroused in the morning by a messenger from ex-Governor Alston, of South Carolina, summoning me to the side of my gallant commander, Brigadier-General Bee, who had been mortally wounded near the Henry house, where Bartow had been instantly killed almost at the same moment. When I reached General Bee, who had been carried back to the cabin where I had joined him the night before, he was unconscious; in a few minutes, while I was holding his hand, he died. Some one during the night had told him that I had reflected on him for leaving our battery so long exposed to capture; and, at his request, messengers had been for hours hunting me in the darkness, to bring me to him, that I might learn from his own lips that he had sent Major Howard to order me to withdraw, when he was driven back across Young’s Branch and the turnpike. I was grieved deeply not to have seen him sooner. Possibly the failure of his order to reach me was providential. For full three-quarters of an hour we had kept up a fire that delayed the enemy’s movement across Young’s Branch. But for that, they might have gained the Henry plateau, before Jackson and Hampton came up, and before Bee and Bartow had rallied their disorganized troops. Minutes count as hours under such circumstances, and trifles often turn the scale in great battles.

General Jackson’s wound became very serious when inflammation set in. On hearing, three days after the fight, that he was suffering with it, I rode to his quarters, a little farm-house near Centreville. Although it was barely sunrise, he was out under the trees, bathing the hand with spring water. It was much swollen and very painful, but he bore himself stoically. His wife had arrived the night before. Of course, the battle was the only topic discussed at breakfast. I remarked, in Mrs. Jackson’s hearing, “General, how is it that you can keep so cool, and appear so utterly insensible to danger in such a storm of shell and bullets as rained about you when your hand was hit?” He instantly became grave and reverential in his manner, and answered, in a low tone of great earnestness: “Captain, my religious belief teaches me to feel as safe in battle as in bed. God has fixed the time for my death. I do not concern myself about that, but to be always ready, no matter when it may overtake me.” He added, after a pause, looking me full in the face: “Captain, that is the way all men should live, and then all would be equally brave.”

I felt that this last remark was intended as a rebuke for my profanity, when I had complained to him on the field of the apparent abandonment of my battery to capture, and I apologized. He heard me, and simply said, “Nothing can justify profanity.” (5)

The battle was mainly fought by Johnston’s troops from the Shenandoah. Two-thirds of the killed and wounded were his men and officers. Beauregard’s troops were strung out for several miles down the valley of Bull Run, and did not get up to our aid till near the end of the day. General Beauregard himself, who was in the thickest of the fight, came upon the field long before any of his troops arrived, except those he had posted under Evans to guard the Stone Bridge, and which, with Bee’s troops, bore the brunt of the first attack.

The uninformed, North and South, have wondered why Johnston and Beauregard did not follow on to Washington. General Johnston, in his “Narrative,” has clearly and conclusively answered that question. It was simply impossible. We had neither the food nor transportation at Manassas necessary to a forward movement. This subject was the cause of sharp irritation between our commanding generals at Manassas on the one hand, and Mr. Davis and his Secretary of War, Mr. Benjamin, on the other. There was a disposition in the quartermaster’s and commissary departments at Richmond to deny the extent of the destitution of our army immediately after the battle. To ascertain the exact facts of the case, General Johnston organized a board of officers to investigate and report the condition of the transportation and commissariat of the army at Manassas on the 21st of July, and their daily condition for two weeks thereafter. That Board was composed of Lieutenant-Colonel Richard B. Lee (a cousin of General R. E. Lee), representing the commissary department, Major (afterward Major-General) W. L. Cabell, representing the quartermaster’s department, and myself from the line. My associates on this Board were old United States army officers of acknowledged ability and large experience. We organized early in August, and made an exhaustive investigation and detailed report. I have a distinct recollection that we found that on the morning of the battle there was not at Manassas one full day’s rations for the combined armies of Johnston and Beauregard, and that on no single day for the succeeding two weeks was there as much as a three days’ supply there. We found that there were not wagons and teams enough at any time to have transported three days’ supplies for the troops if they had been put in motion away from the railroad. We found that for weeks preceding the 21st of July General Beauregard had been urgent and almost importunate in his demands on the quartermaster and commissary generals at Richmond for adequate supplies. We found that Colonel Northrop, the commissary general, had not only failed to send forward adequate supplies for such an emergency as arose when General Johnston brought his army from the valley, but that he had interfered with and interdicted the efforts of officers of the department who were with General Beauregard to collect supplies from the rich and abundant region lying between the hostile armies. After reporting the facts, we unanimously concurred in the opinion that they proved the impossibility of a successful and rapid pursuit of the defeated enemy to Washington. This report, elaborately written out and signed, was forwarded to Richmond, and in a few days was returned by Mr. Judah P. Benjamin, Secretary of War, with an indorsement to the effect that the Board had transcended its powers by expressing an opinion as to what the facts did or did not prove, and sharply ordering us to strike out all that part of the report, and send only the facts ascertained by us. We met and complied with this order, though indignant at the reprimand, and returned our amended report. This was the last I ever heard of it. It never saw daylight. Who suppressed it I do not know.(6)

(1) It numbered 140 officers and men. Six were college graduates, and several had left college to enter the army. The majority were young men of leisure or mercantile clerks. About forty were young mechanics, whose mechanical skill was of much service. I had provided them with red flannel shirts at Harper’s Ferry, because our uniforms were too fine for camp life and for service in the field.—J. D. I.

(2) I venture the opinion, after a good deal of observation during the war, that in open ground at 1000 yards, a 6-pounder battery of smooth guns, or, at 1500 to 1S00 yards, a similar battery of 12 pounder Napoleons, well handled, will in one hour discomfit double the number of the best rifles ever put in the field. A smooth-bore gun never buries its projectiles in the ground, as the rifle does invariably when fired against sloping ground. Of course, this advantage of the smooth-bore gun is limited to its shorter range, and to an open field fight, defensive works not being considered.— J.D.I. 

(3) Mrs. Judith Henry, bedridden from old age, was living in the house with her children. When  the battle opened near the Matthews house, Mrs. Henry was carried into a ravine below the Sudley road. A little later the house seemed to be the safest place, and she was carried back to her bed.  For a time the house was in the line of the artillery fire from both sides. Mrs. Henry received five wounds from fragments of shells,” and died two hours after the battle.— Editors.

(4) Captain, afterward General, Pendleton had recently been made a colonel and chief of artillery to General Johnston, which separated him from the Rockbridge Artillery. Captain Rogers, I also learn, had a section somewhere lower down on Bull Run with the troops at the fords.— J. D. I.

(5) I never knew Jackson to let profanity pass with out a rebuke but once. The incident was reported to me by the chief actor in it, Major John A. Harman, who was Jackson’s chief quartermaster. It happened at Edward’s Ferry, on the Potomac, when our army was crossing into Maryland in the Antietam campaign. On the march to the river, for some in faction of orders about the manner of marching his division, Major-General A. P. Hill had been ordered in arrest by Jackson. This probably had put Jackson in a ruffled frame of mind. The day was very hot, and the ford was completely blocked with a wagon train, either of Hill’s or some other division. On seeing the state of affairs, Jackson turned to Major Harman, and ordered him to clear the ford. Harman dashed in among the wagoners, kicking mules, and apparently inextricable mass of wagons, and, in the voice of a stentor, poured out a volume of oaths that would have excited the admiration of the most scientific mule-driver. The effect was electrical. The drivers were frightened and swore as best they could, but far below the major’s standard. The mules caught the inspiration from a chorus of familiar words, and all at once made a break for the Maryland shore, and in five minutes the ford was cleared, Jackson witnessed and heard it all. Harman rode back to join him, expecting a lecture, and, touching his hat, said: “The ford is clear, general! There’s only one language that will make mules under stand on a hot day that they must get out of the water.” The general smiled, and said: “Thank you, major,” and dashed into the water at the head of his staff, and rode across.— J. D. I.

(6) See statement from Colonel Northrop, page 261.—Editors.

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SCWH Newsletter

9 10 2009

I received the Fall 2009 Society of Civil War Historians newsletter today.  Mostly it lists the Civil War related sessions at the upcoming Southern Historical Association‘s conference in Louisville, KY in November.

By far the best thing in this issue of the newsletter is Mark Grimsley’s review of Battle: the Nature and Consequences of Civil War Combat, a collection of essays edited by Kent Gramm.  I reviewed the collection in brief for America’s Civil War last year, and there’s only so much one can do with the “in brief” format.  Prof. Grimsley gave the essays by GNMP historian Scott Hartwig and Dr. Bruce Evans high marks, but skewered the remaining four with considerable flair.  Check it out – it should be in your mailbox today, unless you’re not a member.  You can fix that by going here.





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.




SHSP – General Eppa Hunton at The Battle of Bull Run

26 04 2009

Southern Historical Society Papers

Vol. XXXII. Richmond, Va., January-December. 1904, pp 143-145

General Eppa Hunton at The Battle of Bull Run, July 21, 1861

Statement That he Saved the Confederate Army from Defeat

A writer signing himself “C” contributed to the Prince William Times of July, 1904, the following interesting story of the first battle of Manassas:

The writer of this has read and heard so many conflicting accounts of the first battle of Manassas, and commented publicly on some of these as to make it impossible to conceal his name if he tried to do so. Recently he has been persuaded to write a plain account of what he saw and knows to be true in relation to this battle.

The Confederate forces had for a week been fortifying at the stone bridge against a front attack. I was engaged in cutting a heavy body of timber out of the way on the bottom land leading to the bridge, so as to enable our artillery to sweep the turnpike and adjacent low land, for over a mile in the direction of Centreville, and had just finished this work when the enemy attacked at Blackburn’s and Mitchell’s fords. There was so little blood shed, and the Federal forces were so easily repulsed, that I began to look upon the whole movement as a feint, and believe it is now generally so regarded.

On Saturday, July 20th, I had occasion to ride over into Prince William, and met the 8th Virginia, commanded by Colonel Eppa Hunton, who had been ordered to the next day’s battlefield. We were then old friends, and are such still. He had the Loudon Cavalry with him. In a brief interview I told him I believed the attack would not be made at the stone bridge, but by way of the Braddock Road, and the “Big Woods” (all upper Fairfaxians will know what I mean by Big Woods), and also that our people were not picketing north of the stone house, and suggested that a squad of the cavalry be left at my house on the Sudley Road to prevent a surprise. Colonel Hunton replied: “Your suggestion is a good one, and I will adopt it at once, trusting you to act for me as commissary and quartermaster for the time being.”

He sent Sergeant Amos Slaymaker, Private Hansbrough and four others whose names have escaped my memory, to my house with orders to keep a strict watch night and day, and to report to him at once so soon as any Federal advance was seen. This order was well obeyed, as the sequel will show. One thing not exactly germaine to the point, I cannot refrain from mentioning. It showed Colonel Hunton’s regard for his men. He said:

“Have you got anything in the way of cooked rations you can send my men about nightfall? They have been marching all day long without anything but an early breakfast.” I replied “that I had not, but said I would go home, have four or five lambs killed and cooked, arid all the bread we could cook, and send it to his camp by dark.”

The servant I sent the provisions by delivered all safely, and in doing so had to run the gauntlet of the Tiger rifles. These fellows claimed to be Colonel Hunton’s men, but some of the 8th being on the lookout, came to his rescue, and saved the lambs in short order.

Now, to the point. Who saved the Confederates from a disastrous surprise on July 21, 1861? I will endeavor to prove that General Hunton was the man.

The people in the vicinity of the battlefield were in possession of information that a battle was imminent, and were on the lookout. On Saturday evening, July 20th, Captain J. D. Debell, of Centreville, who had been in our vicinity for several days, came to Sudley and remained that night. He believed with me that the advance would be made through the route referred to, and Bull Run passed at Sudley Ford. He had a field-glass, small, but a fairly good one. Exactly at sunset he, Sergeant Slaymaker and myself discovered by the use of the glass eighteen or twenty blue-coat infantry inside of an open field, and not over thirty yards from the woods road we expected the enemy to follow. We were on this road, in a direct line, a mile and a half distant from them. Slaymaker sent information to the Colonel at once, and he (Colonel Hunton) sent word to General Beauregard by the same messenger. Slaymaker held his post until the advance of Tyler’s division drove him from it. I remained at home until the infantry advanced to within three hundred yards of me, and retreated to the battlefield. I saw the firing of infantry, and the mad rush of the Federals down the Henry Hill to get out of harm’s way. Taking into consideration the fact that Colonel Hunton got Sergeant Slaymaker’s report at 7:30 A. M., and that the battle was on before 10 A. M., I cannot reconcile the report of some of General Evans’s friends that he discovered the advance of the army through a signal station that he had established a day or two before on Hooe’s Hill, below Manassas, with what I saw and know. I am very sure I am correct in my opinion that General Eppa Hunton is entitled to the honor of being the officer who prevented the defeat of the Confederate forces on July 21, 1861.





Biographical Sketches – CSA

22 04 2009

Conrad, Daniel B.

Evans, Nathan G.

Tunstall, W. C.





SHSP – The Soubriquet “Stonewall”

8 04 2009

Southern Historical Society Papers

Vol. XIX. Richmond, Va. 1891, pp. 164-167

The Soubriquet “Stonewall”

[From the Richmond Dispatch, July 29, 1891]

HOW IT WAS ACQUIRED

A few more years will forever seal the lips of all who can speak from personal knowledge of the incidents of the “War Between the States.” Any of them, therefore, who can now contribute to the perfect accuracy of history may be pardoned for doing so, even at the risk of incurring the charge of egotism. This is my only motive for troubling you with this brief article. I am one of those who heard General Barnard E. Bee utter the words which gave Jackson the name of “Stonewall.”

THE EXACT FACTS

The speech of General Early (as I have seen it reported) at Lexington on the 21st instant is slightly inaccurate in its account of this matter in two particulars. As this inaccuracy does injustice to other Confederate soldiers no less gallant than the “Stonewall” brigade, I am sure the chivalric old General and all others like him, with hearts in the right place, will be glad to have it corrected and the exact facts stated.

THE FOURTH ALABAMA

It was to the FourthAlabama regiment that the words were spoken by General Bee, about 2 or 3 o’clock in the afternoon of July 21, 1861. This regiment, with the Sixth North Carolina and Second and Eleventh Mississippi, constituted Bee’s brigade; and as the brigade arrived at Manassas from the Valley in detachments, so it went into and fought through the battle, not as a whole, but by separate regiments. The Fourth Alabama having arrived at Manassas on Saturday, the 20th, was in movement very early on Sunday morning, the 21st, from near the junction towards the upper fords of Bull Run. The dust raised by the march of the Federal army to Sudley’s ford having attracted attention, the Fourth Alabama was hurried by General Bee in that direction, and we reached before 11 A. M. the plateau of the Henry House, whereon the main conflict occurred afterwards.

A GREAT SACRIFICE

Bee seeing that this was a good position for defence, but that the Federals would capture it unless delayed before the Confederate forces could reach there in sufficient numbers, ordered the Fourth Alabama to hasten a half mile further north beyond Young’s branch and the wood over there to aid Evans, Wheat, and others in detaining the Federal army.

This duty we performed at great sacrifice, standing fast for an hour or more against overwhelming numbers, losing our Colonel, Egbert Jones, mortally wounded; Lieutenant-Colonel Law and Major Scott, disabled, and a great number of other officers and men killed and wounded.

Then in obedience to orders we withdrew from our advanced position and took position on the Confederate battle-line and in rear of the Robinson House.

GENERAL JOHNSTON SEIZES THE FLAG

Here, without field-officers and under command of a captain, the Fourth Alabama maintained its ground and did its part in resisting the enemy. General Johnston at one time came to us there and led us forward on a charge against the enemy, bearing our flag in his own hand. That glorious old warrior never appeared more magnificent than he did at that moment on his prancing horse and flaunting our colors in the face of the foe, who fell back before us.

SMITTEN WITH FIRE

Soon after this, the leading design of the Federals all day being to turn the Confederate left, the heaviest fighting veered in that direction, and in consequence the enemy disappeared from the immediate front of our regiment, leaving us unengaged; but the fearful crash after crash of the Federal musketry, as fresh troops poured in against the Confederate centre and left, can never be forgotten by those who heard it. Farther and farther round its awful thunders rolled as if nothing could stay it. Our brigade comrades of the Sixth North Carolina separated, from us in the manœuvres of the day, had rushed in single handed and been smitten as with fire, and their gallant Colonel Fisher and many of his men were no more. Jackson and his glorious brigade were struggling like giants to withstand the fierce onslaught.

THE WORDS OF BEE

It was just at this moment our Brigadier-General Bee came galloping to the Fourth Alabama and said: “My brigade is scattered over the field, and you are all of it now at hand. Men, can you make a charge of bayonets?” Those poor, battered, and bloody-nosed Alabamians, inspired by the lion like bearing of that heroic officer, responded promptly, “Yes, General, we will go wherever you lead, and do whatever you say.” Bee then said, pointing towards where Jackson and his men were so valiantly battling about a quarter of a mile to the west and left of us,” Yonder stands Jackson like a stone wall. Let us go to his assistance.” Saying this, he dismounted, placed himself at the left of the Fourth Alabama, and led the regiment (what remained of them) to Jackson’s position and joined them on to his right.

A CHARGE

Some other reinforcements coming up, a vigorous charge was made, pressing the Federals back. In this charge Bee fell mortally wounded, leading the Fourth Alabama. Barrow fell, not far from the same time and within a stone’s throw of the same spot, leading his Georgians. All the world knows how the Federals shortly thereafter were seized with a panic and fled incontinently from the field.

THE ERROR COMPLAINED OF

It is not true that General Bee said “rally behind the Virginians,” or behind anybody else. It is not true that he was rallying his men at all, for they were not retiring. The glory of the Stonewall Brigade does not need to be enhanced by any depreciation of the equal firmness and heroism of other men on that historic field. Let it never be forgotten that the Fourth Alabama lost more men on that day than any other regiment but one in the Confederate army, and every field from there to Appomattox was moistened with the blood of her heroes. But several of them still survive to corroborate, to the letter, the statement I have given you above.

Very respectfully,

WILLIAM M. ROBINS,

Former Major Fourth Alabama

Statesville, N. C., July 14, 1891





#64 – Gen. G. T. Beauregard

22 02 2009

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

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

MANASSAS, July 17, 1861

JEFFERSON DAVIS,

President of the Confederate States:

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

G. T. BEAUREGARD

—–

HDQRS. FIRST CORPS, ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,

Manassas, August –, 1861

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

G. T. BEAUREGARD,

General, Commanding

General S. COOPER,

Adjutant and Inspector General, C. S. Army

[Inclosure A.]

Special ORDERS, No. 100

HDQRS. ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,

Manassas Junction, July 8, 1861

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By order of Brigadier General Beauregard:

THOMAS JORDAN,

Acting Assistant Adjutant General

[Indorsement]

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

G. T. BEAUREGARD,

General, Commanding

(*) Map not found.





Capt. T. J. Goree’s Account of the Battle

27 01 2009

To Pleasant Williams Kittrell

Headquarters 4th Brigade, Centreville

August 2nd 1861

Dear Uncle Pleas,

I wrote hurriedly to Mother soon after the battle, knowing that she would be very solicitous and anxious to hear of my safety.

Having intended for some time to write to you, I take this opportunity to do so. You all at home no doubt think that I do not write often enough and I confess that I do not; but if you only knew how very difficult it has been here to procure writing material, you would very readily excuse me. Since, however, I have become a member of Genl Longstreet’s Staff I can no longer have such an excuse, and will consequently try to do better in the future.  You can have no idea how very anxious I am to hear from home, never having received one line from any of you since I have been here.  I console myself, however, with the thought that you have written but the letters have miscarried.

You have long since heard of the great “Battle of Manassas,” and the great victory achieved by our brave soldiers.  To you at a distance who do not know the full particulars, it does seem like a great victory, and so it was.  But to others (myself among the rest) it really does not seem so – we can not enjoy it so much for the simple reason that we know it was not complete.  There is no good reason why our army should not now be encamped on Arlington Heights or in Washington City as here around the battleground.  My descriptive powers are not very good, but still I will try to give you an account of the occurrences from the time we evacuated Fairfax Court House until the rout of the enemy.

Genl Bonham of SC – (a man whom I think is totally unfit for a military leader) had command at Farifax Court House.  It had always been the intention of Genl Beauregard to evacuate Fairfax on the approach of the enemy.  Early on the morning of the 17th ult. we heard the firing of our pickets, and very soon afterwards they came in.  Soon the enemy came in sight about 2 miles distant.  Their approach was from two sides, and when I saw them it almost seemed as if there were 500,000 of them.  It was then we commenced striking our tents and loading our wagons, which ought to have been done long before, as it was well known on the 16th that they had commenced their forward movement.  The consequence was that everything was done very hurriedly, and a considerable amount of property was left behind – consisting of provisions, forage, tents, some guns and ammunition.  By the time our wagons had left, the enemy was in about a mile of the town, moving down on it very slowly.  Gen.  Bonham all the time appeared very much flurried.  After moving his troops around and making some demonstrations as if for a fight, he ordered a retreat, which ought to have been done before the enemy was so close.  From the number of canteens, knapsacks, blankets, &c. which our men threw away on the road, our retreat no doubt appeared more like a rout than a retreat in good order.  By the time we had reached this place, a distance of eight miles, our men were almost broken down.  After resting here a few hours, the most of our troops were sent on back across Bull Run, Genl Bonham remaining with one regiment to make a demonstration here.  He did not do so, however, for about midnight on the 17th  we again commenced our retreat and took position on the other side of the Run.

The enemy came in early next morning and occupied this place.  By this time they were in fine spirits: they had come to the conclusion that they would have no fighting to do, and would march direct to Richmond.  They did not tarry long here, but Gen. Tyler with his division of 15,000 moved direct on towards Manassas, or rather Blackburn’s and Mitchell’s Ford on Bull Run.  Gen. Longstreet guarding the former and Bonham the latter.  Capt. Kemper with his battery had been sent in advance of our forces, and when the enemy made his appearance, the Captain turned loose his guns upon them with considerable effect.  After firing several times, he withdrew to his position across the Run.

In the meantime the enemy had opened his batteries upon Capt. Kemper and Genl Bonham, and everything seemed to indicate that he would attempt a crossing at Mitchells Ford on the direct road to Manassas.  But whilst his batteries were playing upon Bonham, Tyler moved seven regiments of infantry down against Longstreet at Blackburn’s Ford.  Genl Longstreet had in his brigade which extended up and down the river, the 1st, 11th, and 17th Va. Regiments.  The 7th Va. was held in reserve.  The attack was made against the points where the 17th was stationed, and 2 companies of the 1st – the whole not amounting to more than 1200 men.  While that of the enemy to at least 6000. Our troops had no embankments to fight behind, as has been represented, but fought from the bank of the creek or run.  The enemy were just above on a high bluff on the other side of the run.  Until it was necessary to use the bayonet,  the enemy had by far the advantage in position.  They made the attack with great vigor and confidence, and it was with great difficulty that our men were persuaded to stand.  Some of them started to fall back two or three times, but Genl Longstreet, in a perfect shower of balls, rode amongst them, with his cigar in his mouth, rallying them, encouraging, and inspiring confidence among them.  For several minutes there was one continuous roar of musketry.  Three times were the enemy repulsed, and three times did they come back to the attack; finally, Genl Longstreet gave the order for our boys to charge.  Only two companies, however, succeeded in crossing the run but these were sufficient to cause the Hessians to flee precipitately.  These two companies with their bayonets ran them out of the woods they were in, and made them go in every direction.  Then it was that the 7 pieces of our artillery in our rear opened upon them and did terrible execution.  Prisoners taken say that our artillery swept their ranks from one end to the other, besides disabling some  pieces of their artillery.  It was about 2 o’clock when our artillery opened upon their retreating forces.  Theirs at the same time opened upon us, and there was a constant fire from both sides until 4 P.M. when the enemy retreated to Centreville – 3 miles.  Our battery threw amongst them more than 300 shot and shell.  Our loss was 15 killed and about 50 wounded.  Theirs is estimated at from 500 to 2000 killed and wounded.  Some of the prisoners have told me that it was about 2000.  I know that they left many of their dead on the field, although they had 2 hours under cover of their guns to carry off the dead and wounded.

This fight of the 18th went a great way towards winning the victory of the 21st.  For it gave our troops confidence in themselves, and convinced the enemy that we would fight.  The disparity in numbers on the 18th was greater than on the 21st.  I have given a fuller account of this fight than I would otherwise have done, had I not seen in the papers the credit for it given to Genl Bonham, when his command did not fire a gun.  Genl Longstreet alone deserves all the credit.  Had he not rode amongst his troops and himself rallied them when they started to fall back, had he not exhibited the coolness and courage that he did, the result of the whole affair might have been very different.

At one time Genl L. was himself exposed to fire from both the enemy and our own troops.  He had ordered up his reserve, the 7th Va. Regt. (and fearing that they in their excitement might fire before he was ready for them) he placed himself immediately in front of them.  No sooner than they were in position and while the Genl was before them, they commenced firing and the Genl only saved himself  by throwing himself off his horse and lying flat on the ground.

The battle of the 21st I cannot describe so particularly as I was farther from it.  Before day on Sunday morning we were aroused by the rattling of the enemy’s artillery wagons.  By sunup they had placed three batteries in about 1 mile of Blackburn’s Ford – so as to play on that point – on Genl. Bonham who was just above at Mitchell’s Ford – and Genl Jones just below at McLane’s Ford.

Genls. Beauregard & Johnston were so certain from all the indications that the attack would again be made at Blackburn’s Ford (it also being the weakest point) that they had stationed nearly all the reserve force near that point.  The enemy opened their three batteries upon Genls. Bonham, Longstreet and Jones about sunrise and from that time until 4 o’clock they poured the shell and grape in upon us.

This demonstration against us turned out to be only a feint [two words illegible] real point of attack was to be made at another point.  About 6 O’clock A.M., Col. Frank Terry, who was also acting as Aide to Genl Longstreet, solicited and obtained permission from him to make a reconnaissance. Crossing the run, he ascended a high hill and climbing a tree had a full view.  He was the first to discover and gave the information that the enemy was making the attempt to turn our left flank.

When he made his report, Genl Beauregard immediately ordered the reserve up near the Stone Bridge across Bull Run, a distance of 4 or 5 miles.  It was never suspected that the enemy would cross the rear above Stone Bridge, and we were not prepared for it.  They, however, crossed more than a mile above without being seen, and attacked our left flank.

Then the battle commenced in earnest, from 9 o’clock A.M. until about 4 P.M. it continued.  The roar of the artillery for a few moments would be terrific – then it would be hushed and for several minutes we could hear one continuous volley of musketry.  During all of that time we below were in an agony of suspense.  But whilst all this was going on, and early in the day, Genl Longstreet solicited and obtained orders from Genl Beauregard to assume the offensive against the force which was keeping us in check.

The plan was, and the orders were, for Genl Ewell, who occupied the extreme right, to move forward to Centreville and attack their rear.  Genl Jones at the same time was to commence an attack on their right flank.  And when they opened the fight Genl Longstreet was to come forward and attack them in front.

In compliance with these orders, Genl Longstreet’s Brigade was moved across the run, placed in position and awaited for 2 hours for Genl Ewell to commence the attack.  All the time we were exposed to a heavy firing from the batteries on the hill (and I am sorry to say that a portion of the 5th North Carolina Regiment in our Brigade made a pretty fast retrograde movement, but the most of them soon rallied and returned.  2 captains, however, declared that they couldn’t stand it and left the field.)

The messenger who was to convey the order to Genl Ewell became frightened and did not carry it.  So the movement proposed was abandoned for the time.  In the evening, however, the order was again given us to make the movement, and this time all received it.  But while we were waiting for Ewell and Jones to attack, another order came, countermanding the former order.  Genl Longstreet refused to resume his former position without another positive order.  Soon it came from Johnston & Beauregard and stated, too, that a large column was moving down from the railroad, which they supposed was Patterson, and that we must not move, but hold ourselves in readiness to cover the retreat of our army.

The same order was given to Genl Jones; but before he received it, he had moved forward and commenced the attack with the 1st S. C. Regiment and 2 Mississippi Regiment.

The enemy poured a heavy fire into him of shell & grape, his troops became confused and the Mississippians retreated in considerable disorder.

The next  order received was that the enemy were completely routed and for Genl Bonham & Longstreet to start in pursuit, it having fortunately turned out that the column which Johnston feared feared was Patterson was the brigade of Genl Smith, who had stopped the cars above on the R. R. and marched over direct to the scene of action and who coming up attacked the enemy’s flank and commenced the rout.

Our boys, when they received the order to start in pusuit, made the welkin ring with their shouts.  I never saw a more jubilant set of troops.

The order was for Genl Bonham (who ranks Genl Longstreet) to take a road leading to the left across the country so as to attack the enemy on the road leading from Stone Bridge to Centreville and about half way between the two points, while Genl Longstreet was to march directly here and attack them.  But Genl Bonham instead of taking the crossroad, comes over into our road and orders us to go through the wood to the right which it was impossible for us to do.  So we had to fall in just behind his brigade.  To have seen Genl Bonham, with his sword drawn and colors, you would have thought he would hardly stop short of New York.

But he had not proceeded far before some scouts (Messrs. Terry & Lubbock whom Genl L. had sent ahead) came in sight of a battery which the enemy had turned to cover the retreat.  When they came in sight, it fired 2 rounds of grape at them without effect.

When Genl Bonham hear this firing he turned his Brigade and came back in quick time until he met Genl Longstreet.  About this time Messrs. Terry and Lubbock came back and reported to them what they saw.

Genl Bonham said “we must go back, that a glory victory might (not) be turned into a terrible disaster.”

Genl Longstreet and others insisted that we be permitted to proceed.  He told him that he would capture that battery without the loss of a man and that we would at Centreville cut off the rear of their army and follow straight into Washington City.  But it was of no avail.  He ordered us back, and we sullenly retraced our steps to our old position.

Genl Bonham could not realize that the enemy was so completely routed and disorganized, as they were, and he was fearful that they might rally in force and cut us to pieces.  But if you can possibly conceive of how great the rout was, how utterly demoralized the enemy were, you can readily perceive how easy it would have been for 5000 fresh men to [several words illegible] (with a full clear moon) and follow them to Arlington Heights or even into Washington.

I have seen intelligent gentlemen from Washington who said that at any time on Monday, the 22nd, one regiment could have taken Washington without difficulty.  Genl Longstreet, knowing from experience how utterly impossible it was to rally a demoralized army, was the more anxious to pursue.  Genl Bonham (being a civilian andpolitician) could not understand it.  For these reasons I think I am justified in saying the victory was not completed.  I heard the next day Genl Beauregard express his regrets to Genl Longstreet that he (Genl Longstreet) was so situated as not to have his own way about the pursuit.  I thought on our return that Genl Bonham could well be compared to the great French general who marched up the hill, and then marched down again.  It is against military law to complain of the conduct of our superior officers – but this is only to you at home, who I feel anxious should fully understand everything.

I wish Uncle Pleas that you could have ridden along the road (the morning after the battle) between Stone Bridge and Centreville.  The first thing that captured my attention when I came into the road was the quantity of muskets scattered on the roadsides.  Many were in the road and the wagons had run over and broken and bent them in nearly every shape.  The next thing were two dead yankees on the roadside.  Then at a creek where there was a bad crossing, were wagons in almost a perfect jam, some broken to pieces, some overset, and some fastened against others.  The most of them loaded, some with bridge timbers, others with ammunition, one with handcuffs, andothers still with a variety of things.  Then came cannon abandoned, some because a horse had been killed, some because wheels were broken, and other because they were too heavy to proceed fast with.  Every few hundred yards along the road a cannon was left.  And all along were dead men – dead horses – muskets, canteens, knapsacks, blankets &c &c.  There were also a fine lot of hospital stores – surgical instruments – also ambulances of the best description.

The Yankees say the Southerners do not fight like men – but devils.  We were several times very nearly whipped, and nothing but the bulldog pertinacity of our men saved us.  Several times some of our regiments, and even companies, were disorganized and scattered; but they would fall in with other regiments and companies and fight on.

Some of the enemy’s batteries were taken and retaken several times during the day.  You could easily tell where a fight had occurred over a battery from the great number of dead men and horses.  There is one place on the field where in an area of 8 or 10 acres there are more than 100 dead horses and I suppose at least double the number of men.  The enemy must have fought well.  Ellsworth’s Zouaves were nearly all killed and wounded.  On our side the Hampton Legion suffered severely, also Gen. Bartow’s Brigade [and] also a Louisiana Regiment.  But none suffered worse than the 4th Alabama.  It and a Louisiana Regiment for nearly one hour bore the whole brunt of the battle with the enemy firing on them from three sides.  The loss of the 4th Alabama was about 200 in killed & wounded.  The proportion, though, of killed was small.  They went onto battle with 600 men.

Judge Porter King’s Company lost 15 killed & wounded.  I am happy to state that Cousin David Scott behaved very gallantly and passed through without a scratch.  No one from Perry [County] that I knew was killed.  I saw Dave for a few moments yesterday, the first time I knew certainly he was here.  I never could until yesterday find the 4th Alabama, although I had diligently hunted for it.

Dave does not look very well.  He has just gotten well of the measles.  I did not see Capt. King as he had gone off.  Sel Evans is a lieutenant in the company.  He is a good looking young man.  I shall go over and spend a day with them soon.  They belong to Johnston’s army and I to Beauregard’s.  Our field officers all acted very gallantly.  Genl Beauregard was in the very thickest of the fight, and at one time led the Hampton Legion for 15 minutes.  Genl Johnston also seized a flag and marched at the head of a brigade.

Several amusing incidents are related of the fight and rout.  An Episcopal  minister had charge of one of our batteries.  Whenever he got ready to fire, he would exclaim, “Oh, Lord, have mercy on their Souls, for I will have none on their bodies.”  It is told of another preacher that he came in close quarters with a Yankee and that drawing his sword he nearly severed the Yankee’s head from his body.  Then, flourishing his sword in the air, he exclaimed, “The sword of the Lord and of Gideon!  On, boys, on!”  On the 21st the Chaplain of the 5th N. C. Regt. – who is a Scotch Presbyterian – acted as Major of the Reg. (the Maj. being sick.)  He rallied that portion of the Regiment which ran – In speaking of it afterwards he very penitently remarked to me that “‘he hoped the Lord would forgive him, but he had to swear once or twice at the boys to make them come back.”  There was a boy about 16 in the battle, who received 3 slight wounds and had besides 2 other bullet holes through his clothes.

Many senators, congressmen & ladies were at this place to see the fight.  Senator Foster of Connecticut is said to have gone from here to Fairfax C. H. on foot and bareheaded.  Congressmen outran the soldiers.  Lovejoy had hired a man with a 3-minute horse to drive him here.  On the return, the man said he went back at full speed but every once and awhile Lovejoy would ask him why in the name of God didn’t he drive faster.

We had actually engaged int the fight about 20,000 men – The enemy had about 50,000.  They selected their own ground, and had every advantage in position.  We had no embankments or fortifications and not one masked battery.  It was a fair field fight.

We had all told at that time 40 or 45,000 men.  The enemy first made their advance with 55,000 men, but after the repulse of the 18th, they reinforced themselves with 15,000 men.   Their total number was 70,000.  Our loss in killed and wounded is not 2000.   Theirs in killed, wounded, & missing according to the N.Y. Herald is 20,000, but I suppose 10,000 will probably cover it.  We have a great many prisoners, many of their wounded.  They did not pretend to send back to bury their dead.  We had two of their surgeons here who we released on parole to attend their wounded – but they not only broke their parole, but left their wounded who are all anxious that they be caught & hung.

We have a very large force here now, say 50,000.  What the next movement will be I cannot tell, but my opinion is that as soon as we can get transportation an advance will be made on Washington – Everything tends that way now.  But I must close for you are no doubt tired, and so am I.

This letter is long enough for you all, and is so intended.  All must answer it – My love to Grandma, Mother & all.

Your Nephew Affly.,

Thoms. J. Goree

I saw Hnl. Jacob Thompson yesterday and he sends his kindest regard to Grandma, Mother & Yourself.

Direct your letters to Capt. Thos. J. Goree

On Genl Longstreet’s Staff 4th Brigade

Manassas Junction Va.

[Cutrer, Whomas W., editor, Longstreet’s Aide: The Civil War Letters of Major Thomas J. Goree, pp. 24-32]