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.
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.
WILLIAM M. ROBINS,
Former Major Fourth Alabama
Statesville, N. C., July 14, 1891
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Tags: Memoirs, Resources, Southern Historical Society, Stonewall Jackson
Categories : Reminiscences, Resources, Soldiers, Southern Historical Society, The Battle
Reports of General G. T. Beauregard, Commanding Confederate Army of the Potomac, of Operations from July 17 to 20
O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 2 [S# 2] — CHAPTER IX, pp. 439-448
MANASSAS, July 17, 1861
President of the Confederate States:
The enemy has assailed my outposts in heavy force. I have fallen back on the line of Bull Run, and will make a stand at Mitchell’s Ford.If his force is overwhelming I shall retire to the Rappahannock Railroad Bridge, saving my command for defense there and future operations. Please inform Johnston of this, via Staunton, and also Holmes. Send forward any re-enforcements at the earliest possible instant and by every possible means.
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 S. COOPER,
Adjutant and Inspector General, C. S. Army
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:
Acting Assistant Adjutant General
The plan of attack prescribed within would have been executed with modifications affecting First and Fifth Brigades to meet the attack upon Blackburn’s Ford but for the expected coming of General Johnston’s command, which was known to be en route to join me on the 18th of July.
G. T. BEAUREGARD,
(*) Map not found.
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Tags: After Action Reports, Beauregard, Blackburn's Ford, Resources, Sherman's Battery
Categories : Official Reports, Resources
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]
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Categories : Private Correspondence, Resources
Report of States Rights Gist, R. A. Howard, and A. Vander Horst
SUPPLEMENT TO THE O.R. – VOL.1: REPORTS ADDENDUM TO SERIES I, VOL. 2, pp 191-193
General [Barnard Elliott] Bee was ordered to Camp Walker on Saturday, July 20, where he remained with his command until Sunday morning. About 5 o’clock a.m. Sunday, General Bee received orders from General [Pierre Gustave T.] Beauregard to advance his command to the left of General [Thomas Jonathan] Jackson’s Brigade and to support either General Jackson’s or [Philip St. George] Cocke’s commands near Stone Bridge.
Immediately he put his Brigade, consisting of the Second Mississippi, Colonel [William C.] Falkner; the Fourth Alabama, Colonel [Egbert J.] Jones; two companies of the Eleventh Mississippi under command of Lieutenant-Colonel [Philip F.] Liddell; and a battery of four 6-pounders under Captain [John D.] Imboden, in motion and advance in pursuance of his orders until he came up with General Jackson’s Brigade, when he formed his command in close column by Division on the left of Jackson and to the right of Cocke’s command.
General Bee, in a few minutes after taking his position, was informed that the enemy had [illegible] their turning our left flank; he instantly sent his Brigade in motion and advanced by the left flank in the direction of the enemy passing by General Cocke’scommand, after a conference with him.
After advancing about one mile, General Bee formed his line of battle by placing the battery of Captain Imboden in the right and near to a house on a small eminence; Colonel [William M.] Gardner’s Regiment to the left of the battery; Colonel Falkner’s Regiment to the right of the battery; and Colonel [Egbert J.] Jones’ Regiment to the right of Colonel Falkner. [He sent] forward the two companies of Lieutenant [Philip Frank] Liddell to support a battery attached to the command of General [Nathan George] Evans at the request of General Evans, who approached and conferred with General Bee at the moment of his formation of line of battle.
At this time, Evans’ Brigade was to the front and right of General Bee’s Brigade and about engaging the enemy. Evans requested General Bee to advance to his assistance as his force was small. General Bee instantly advanced the regiments of Colonel Falkner and Jones to his assistance.
A portion of Evans’ Brigade about this time engaged the advance guard of the enemy. General Bee advanced his regiments to the front and right about 400 yards, formed the Second Mississippi in line in rear of a piece of woods and the Fourth Alabama on a line of fence to the right about 150 yards in advance of the Second Mississippi Regiment and on the right of Evans’ line.
General Bee was just before this informed by Evans that a column of the enemy was advancing on his right and rear. General Bee ordered the Second Mississippi Regiment to advance through the woods and engage the enemy, the regiment of Evans, supposed to be the Fourth South Carolina Volunteers, having at this time retired from their position in front. He also ordered the Fourth Alabama regiment which was there under fire to advance and led them in person, under a most disastrous fire to the top of the hill in front of the former position of the regiment.
At this time the Second Mississippi, the Fourth Alabama, the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Liddell and Imboden’s Battery were engaging the enemy with great vigor. General Bee retired his line after a close and severe engagement with an overpowering force of the enemy for on-half to three-quarters of an hour.
From this period to his fall from a mortal wound, General Bee led each regiment and seven companies of his command into the hottest fire. He displayed almost superhuman energy in rallying his forces and charging again and again. His staff are of the opinion that General Bee first retired his line in consequence of the information given him by Evans, that a column of the enemy were cutting him off by the rear and right, which information was an entire mistake, as the column proved to be friends. For the last action of the regiment, in the after part of the day, we would refer to the reports of the commanding officers.
General Bee fell whilst leading two companies of the Second Mississippi under Captain [Merritt B.] Miller and a portion of the Fourth Alabama regiment into the midst of the enemy’s fire. He was borne from the field by his staff and died the next day. He testified again and again to the bravery and gallantry of officers and privates of his command after he received his death wound.
His reputation is a rare one; his memory will live forever and we confidently entrust both to his successor in command of his Brigade and friend, General [William Henry Chase] Whiting.
S. R. Gist,
R. A. Howard,
A. Vander Horst
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Report (incomplete) of Major William Henry Chase Whiting
SUPPLEMENT TO THE O.R. – VOL.1: REPORTS ADDENDUM TO SERIES I, VOL. 2, pp 185-189
Headquarters, Third Brigade,
Camp Bee, August 1, 1861
Major: Having been assigned to the command of the Third Brigade, in consequence of the death of the lamented Brigadier-General [Barnard Elliot] Bee, the duty devolves upon me of presenting a report of the operations of the Brigade on July 21, compiled from the reports of the commanding officers engaged and from the notes of the distinguished aides of General Bee, Brigadier-General [States Rights] Gist, Adjutant-General of South Carolina; Major R. A. Howard of Texas; Colonel [William Pinkney] Shingler; Major [Walter H.] Stevens; Captain [A.] Vander Horst of South Carolina; and Lieutenant [James Hoffman] Hill, C. S. A., Assistant Adjutant-General.
The Brigade bivouacked at Camp Walker the night of July 20. The First Tennessee and a portion of the Eleventh Mississippi together with the Sixth North Carolina had not joined in consequence of detention on the railroad.
At 5 a. m. on July 21, General Bee received orders from General [Pierre Gustave T.] Beauregard to advance to the support of the position occupied by Generals [H. Grey] Latham and [Philip St. George] Cocke near Stone Bridge and to its right, immediately putting his command, consisting of the Second Mississippi, Colonel [William Clark] Falkner, two companies of the Eleventh Mississippi under Lieutenant-Colonel [Philip Frank] Liddell, the Fourth Alabama, Colonel [Eggbert J.] Jones and Imboden’s Battery of four 6-pounders in motion. He shortly took post in Latham’s left and Cocke’s right in close column of Division. Here he was joined by the Eighth Georgia, Lieutenant-Colonel [William Montgomery] Gardner and the Seventh Georgia, Colonel [Lucius J.] Gartrell.
Arriving upon the ridge occupied by the Lewis House, General Bee advanced across the adjacent ravine upon the ‘ridge of pines,’ dispatching Major Howard to the front to make a reconnaissance of the ground.
On leaving the thickets, which cover the ridge of pines, nearly the whole field of the day’s operations was in view. The ground is chiefly covered and occupied by several small farms; through the middle, from left to right runs a small creek, a branch of Bull Run. On the left are dense thickets of oak and pine extending across the Manassas Road. On the right of the Centreville Turnpike, as one looks from the ridge of pines southwest, is an isolated wood surrounded by fields of grass and corn beyond the creek. This grove or “wood of pines” to the right and front proved important positions in the early part of the day. In advance of the ridge of pines and on either side of a levee, connecting the Lewis ridge with the Centreville Turnpike across the ridge of pines, are two small houses, that of the Widow Henry on the left and of Robinson on the right. These houses became conspicuous marks during the action and are important in locating the movements. Beyond the cleared ground of the farms and distant about 1500 yards from the ridge of pines is a thick skirt of timber, where upon in a fron of pines a mile to a mile and a half the enemy were collected in heavy numbers. Although other troops of the enemy were plainly visible in large force to the right in the distance, this space in front of the ridge of pines formed their principal field of attack. General Bee proceeded at once to assault the position.
He had scarcely posted his battery near the Widow Henry’s house and a little to the right of it, when the enemy’s artillery opened a heavy fire from six rifled guns. Line of battle was advanced at once, the General directing Captain [John D.] Imboden to maintain his position until further orders and placing Colonel Gartrell and Colonel Gardner with the Seventh, Eighth, and Ninth Georgia in the left of the battery; Colonel Falkner, Second Mississippi on the right; Colonel Jones, Fourth Alabama on the right of Falkner and detaching Lieutenant-Colonel Liddell to the “isolated wood” at the request of General [Nathan George] Evans, to support a gun of his posted near the left of the wood and well advanced toward the enemy. General Evans’ force being small, he requested the General’s aid and with that view the Second Mississippi and Fourth Alabama were thrown rapidly on the creek and the whole line advanced. General Evans was now hotly engaged with the enemy’s advance. The Second Mississippi took a position in the grove above mentioned and the enemy made a demonstration on Stone Bridge against General Evans, while making his movement on our left in force, which General Evans, leaving part of his command near the bridge, promptly marched with the remainder to resist it near the branch and the isolated wood. His command was engaged with the enemy’s advance when General Bee arrived upon the field.
The Fourth Alabama formed along a line of fence connecting it with the pine grove to the right. This movement was led straight at the enemy by General Bee in person, conducting the Fourth Alabama through the fields and attacking the enemy strongly posted about a small farm house a little in advance of the position. Here for three-quarters of an hour a fierce battle ensued in which the men, and their General were alike, distinguished. In the meantime, the enemy had posted two more batteries and Imboden was contending manfully against fourteen pieces of artillery arranged in three batteries. The horses of the caissons attached to General Evans’ guns on the left of the isolated wood took fright and ran to the rear, thus depriving that gun which had been effectively severed of its ammunition. Against one of those batteries, the General directed the advance of a part of the Mississippians who delivered an effective fire upon them, naturally aiding Imboden.
He (General Bee) received information from General Evans that a column of the enemy was moving upon his right and rear. General Bee instantly dispatched Major Howard and Captain Vander Horst to ascertain the fact; but before they could return the information was repeated and the General reluctantly ordered his line of battle [illegible]. As this proved to be a mistake the column refused to move while bravely bringing the Fourth Alabama into the fire. The movement of General Bee was organized expressly to capture the enemy’s left battery then fiecely playing upon […illegible…] turning out to be either Jackson’s or a portion of some other brigade who had now arrived on the field. It is regarded as a misfortune, since it deprived our troops of selected positions, exposed them to severe and disastrous fire in moving to a new one in the rear, and naturally disheartened them by the backward movement. It is probable enough that the overwhelming numbers of the enemy could have forced the Brigade sooner or later from its position, but up to that time, they not only had not done so, but the Fourth Alabama led by the General in person was holding the most advanced position attained by any of our troops during the battle.
It was during this backward movement that our heaviest loss was sustained in both officers and men. The Eighth Georgia had been joined by its gallant chief, Colonel [Francis S.] Bartow and had moved from the left of Imboden toward the grove of pines in the right and front, its then commander and distinguished Lieutenant-Colonel [William] Montgomery Gardner severely wounded. The Colonel of the Fourth Alabama, [Eggbert J.] Jones, was mortally struck down. The whole line fell back behind the creek and reformed upon the ridge near the first position later in the morning, the enemy steadily following and advancing his batteries. Here the Brigade was joined by the troops of the Hampton Legion under Colonel Wade Hampton. Deprived of their leader with most of their field officers shot, the Brigade still enticed the fight directed by their General in person. The Second Mississippi in particular, seven companies strong, charged with other troops and captured Rickett’s Battery, all the horses of which they killed with their musketry. The honor of this brilliant feat of arms they share with a portion of the Eleventh under Lieutenant-Colonel Liddell, the Sixth North Carolina which lost its Colonel, [Charles F.] Fisher, and a portion of Colonel Hampton’s Legion.
Three batteries of the enemy were taken in all, near the line occupied by the Third Brigade; […illegible…] Preston and his men of Jackson’s Brigade. This Brigade and a portion of those of Colonel [Jubal Anderson] Early were, I learn, greatly distinguished in battle on the left of the Third [Brigade] where the enemy persistently concentrated heavy columns of attack.
For six hours the battle had raged with doubtful future, the ridge to which the Widow Henry’s and the Robinson House are situated being alternately in the hands of the contending forces (Colonel Early’s Brigade, Army of the Potomac) when Brigadier-General [Edmund Kirby] Smith, second in command of the Army of the Shenandoah, advanced on either side of the Manassas Road and across the ridge and threw their command fiercely at the enemy’s right…
[W. H. C. Whiting]
Major T. G. Rhett
Headquarters, Duncan’s House
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Richmond Enquirer, August 6, 1861, p 1
The Late Battle Near Manassas.
To the Editors of the Enquirer:
Camp near Centreville, July 29, 1861
Gentlemen: – In your issue of the 29th inst., there appeared a letter, purporting to be an official account of the action of the “Staunton Battery” in the great fight of last Sunday week, over the signature of its head officer, Capt. Imboden. Though no one can doubt the courage and gallantry of the officers and men under the galling fire poured into them by the enemy’s forces; still there are some inaccuracies in the report, which I wish to correct. – Capt. Imboden, says he was the first (of the left wing) on the ground, and fired the first shot. This is not the case. The left half of Latham’s Battery – three pieces, belonging to Gen. Evans’s brigade, – were on the ground from twenty minutes to half an hour before, and had already opened the fire to the extent of twelve or fourteen rounds. One of the pieces was to the right of the Staunton Battery, and commanded an open space to the right of a small belt of woods; while the other piece was to the left of the same belt, and within a hundred yards or so of the Stone House. This piece was across the ravine, on the hill, 500 yards directly in front of the Staunton Battery – which Battery played over this piece during most of this engagement. I was with this piece myself, and, from the last mentioned point, saw the Staunton Battery, and a regiment of infantry come over the hill, in our rear. – But before they came we had repeatedly fired into the enemy, who were formed in battle array immediately at the edge of the woods.
Furthermore, it was not the limber chest that “ran away,” as the gallant captain says, but the caisson. It was stationed at the Stone House in our rear, in the ravine. The horses took fright, ran off, and dashed the caisson to pieces. Some time after this, we had to retire in consequence of the enemy having driven in our support, who retired past our piece; while the enemy’s skirmishers tried to pick off the cannoneers from their guns. This piece (ours) was then taken across the ravine to the hill, and planted a hundred yards to the right of the Staunton Battery, and remained there, together with our other piece, until the Staunton Battery retired from the field. – Both pieces also continued firing for a short time afterwards. And it was not until the Staunton Battery had retired that our piece had run out of ammunition. I saw all this with my own eyes, and can, with the rest of the men, and the officer commanding the piece, vouch for its correctness.
As to the Alabama Regiment crossing to the north side of the Warrenton road, (as affirmed in Captain Imboden’s official report,) with our gun, that, too, is incorrect. Our two six-pounders were brought from the Stone Bridge directly to the scene of action, (which commenced immediately after we took position,) unattended by the Alabama Regiment or a single individual except those commanding and manning the guns. Nor did General Bee give an order to any one connected with Latham’s Battery, nor authorize anyone else to do it for him, during the time we were exposed to the enemy’s fire. No gun or piece of artillery took position between the Staunton battery and the enemy, or with the Alabama regiment at any portion of the fight, except our two six-pounders. Nor was any piece north of the Warrenton road except ours, during the engagement. Probably, as ours was within three hundred yards of the enemy, and the Staunton battery five hundred yards in our rear, the Captain may have mistaken our gun for that of the enemy, as many of his balls fell within a few yards in advance of our gun. But, if so, Col. Sloan’s regiment, and Major Wheat’s battalion, who first engaged 35,000 of the enemy, and fought and retreated under cover of our two six-pounders, have not forgotten it, nor did they mistake it at the time.
What our right and left half-batteries did, is known to Generals Evans and Cocke, and we seek no more notoriety.
We beg, most repectfully, as members of the piece referred to, to sign our names,
- James W. Dickinson, Sergeant,
- Charles Perry, Gunner,
- R. B. Ross,
- George Kendall,
- W. S. Kinsey,
- W. H. Bell,
- Wm. S. Moore,
- Wm. Reid
I affirm the statement, made in the above remarks, to be true in every respect, as I commanded the piece.
L. Clarke Leftwich,
Lieut. Commanding Gun
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Tags: C. S. Artillery, Resources, Soldier's Letters
Categories : Private Correspondence, Resources
Well, I finally found a copy or Major C. R. Wheat’s report of the actions of the 1st Special Louisiana Battalion at Bull Run. It was hiding in plain sight in the Supplement to the ORs, and was sent to me by friend of Bull Runnings Jonathan Soffe.
As discussed in this post, the report of Wheat’s commander N. G. Evans claims that the Battalion captured a regimental color during the fight. Wheat’s report unfortunately does not mention any captured banner, however he does make mention of the capture of some artillery pieces. Is it possible that the captured colors in question were actually those of a battery?
Also, I have more on the Wheat ambrotype recently “discovered” by Mike Musick and discussed here and here. Mike sent me a big packet of info, which I mentioned here. I haven’t forgotten – I just haven’t had time to get to it yet.
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Tags: After Action Reports, Articles, Rob Wheat
Categories : Articles, Official Reports
Report of Major Chatham Roberdeau Wheat, First Special Battalion Louisiana Volunteers
SUPPLEMENT TO THE O.R. – VOL.1: REPORTS ADDENDUM TO SERIES I, VOL. 2, pp 194-195
August 1, 1861
Sir: I beg leave herewith, respectfully, to report the part taken by the First Special Battalion of Louisiana Volunteers, which I had the honor to command in the battle of July 21.
According to your instructions, I formed my command to the left of the Stone Bridge, being thus at the extreme left of our lines. Your order to deploy skirmishers was immediately obeyed by sending forward Company B under Captain [Alexander] White. The enemy threatening to flank us, I caused Captain [Jonathan W.] Buhoup to deploy his Company D as skirmishers in that direction.
At this conjuncture, I sent back, as you ordered, the two pieces of artillery which you had attached to my command, still having Captain [John D.] Alexander’s troop of cavalry with me. Shartly after, under your orders, I deployed my whole command to the left, which movement, of course, placed me on the right of the line of battle.
Having reached this position, I moved by the left flank to an open field, a wood being on my left. From this covert, to my utter surprise, I received a volley of musketry which unfortunately came from our own troops, mistaking us for the enemy. Apprehending instantly the real cause of the accident, I called out to my men not to return the fire. Those near enough to hear, obeyed; the more distant, did not.
Almost at the same moment, the enemy in front opened upon us with musketry, grape, canister, round shot and shells. I immediately charged upon the enemy and drove him from his position. As he rallied again in a few minutes, I charged him a second and a third time successfully.
Finding myself now in the face of a very large force – some 10,000 or 12,000 in number – I dispatched Major [Robert G.] Atkins to you for reinforcements and gave the order to move by the left flank to the cover of the hill; a part of my command, [by] mistake, crossed the open field and suffered severely from the fire of the enemy.
Advancing from the wood with a portion of my command, I reached some haystacks under cover of which I was enabled to damage the enemy very much. While in the act of bringing up the rest of my command to this position, I was put hors de combat by a minie ball passing through my body and inflicting what was at first thought to be a mortal wound and from which I am only now sufficiently recovered to dictate this report. By the judicious management of Captain Bouhup I was borne from the field under the persistent fire of the foe, who seemed very unwilling to spare the wounded.
Being left without a field officer, the companies rallied under their respective captains and, as you are aware, bore themselves gallantly throughout the day in the face of an enemy far outnumbering us.
Where all behaved so well, I forbear to make invidious distinctions, and contenting myself with commending my entire command to your favorable consideration. I beg leave to name particularly Major Atkins, a distinguished Irish soldier, who as a volunteer Adjutant, not only rendered me valuable assistance but with a small detachment captured three pieces of artillery and took three officers prisoner. Mr. early, now Captain Early, also, as a volunteer Adjutant, bore himself bravely and did good service.
My Adjutant, Lieutenant [William] Dickinson was wounded while gallantly carrying my orders through a heavy fire of musketry.
Captain [Obed P.] Miller of Company E, and Lieutenants [Thomas W.] Adrian and [Frank S.] Carey were wounded while leading their men into the thickest of the fight.
All of which is respectfully submitted,
C. R. Wheat.
Major, First Special Battalion,
N. G. Evans,
Brigadier-General of Confederate States of America
[Wheat Papers, in possession of Mr. Charles L. Dufour, New Orleans, Louisiana]
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Tags: After Action Reports, Resources, Rob Wheat
Categories : Official Reports, Resources
If you read my post on Imboden’s Report prior to about 2:30 PM on Jan. 1, you will notice that it looks a little different now. Prompted by a question from Craig, I took a look at another source for the report. The original post was taken from the Supplement to the Official Records, a copy of which was provided me by Jonathan Soffe. Correspondence with Jim Burgess at Manassas NBP revealed that Imboden’s report is also published in the second volume of The Rebellion Record, which I have here in my office. That publication showed that there are some differences between it and the version of the report published in the Charleston Daily Courier which served as the basis for the report in the Supplement. Those differences included punctuation and paragraphs, as well as variation in text and the inclusion of a large portion of text missing from the Supplement. So I have replaced my earlier post with the report as it appears in the Rebellion Record. Read it again as I think it is significantly different.
The report prompted me to send a note to Jim with regards to the single gun which Imboden identified as belonging to the 4th Alabama. Since I’d never seen reference to the Alabamians having their own cannon before, I turned to Jim for clarification. His response confirmed my suspicions:
Imboden’s report is also published in The Rebellion Record (Vol. 2, p.43). We have always interpreted Imboden’sreference to the gun with the 4th Alabama as actually being Lt. Clarke Leftwich’s piece from the Lynchburg Artillery (Latham’s Battery). This was one of the two guns assigned to Evans’ brigade, Lt. George Davidson commanding the other 6-pounder of the section near the entrance to Robinson’s Lane. Imboden’s reference to the horses running off with the limber for the gun in question appears remarkably similar to what Leftwich experienced. In a letter published in the Richmond Enquirer, Aug. 6, 1861, Leftwich takes issue with Imboden’s published report and states that it was the horses for his caisson that took flight from the yard of the Stone House. He further states, “As to the Alabama Regiment crossing to the north side of the Warrenton road…with our gun, that, too, is incorrect. Our two six-pounders were brought from the Stone Bridge directly to the scene of action… unattended by the Alabama regiment or a single individual except those commanding and manning the guns…. No gun or piece of artillery took position between the Staunton battery and the enemy, or with the Alabama regiment at any portion of the fight, except our two six-pounders. Nor was any piece north of the Warrenton road except ours, during the engagement.”
Happy New Year’s Eve!
Next up – get a copy of Leftwich’s letter!
Imboden photo from www.generalsandbrevets.com
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Tags: After Action Reports, Articles, C. S. Artillery
Categories : Articles, Official Reports