To Ellen Ewing Sherman
July 24, 1861
On my arrival back here carried by the Shameless flight of the armed mob we led into Virginia I tried to stay the crowd, and held them in check to show at least some front to the pursuing force. Yesterday the President & Mr. Seward visited me, and I slipped over for a few minutes last night to see your father. John S. and Tom have seen me and promise to write you – The battle was nothing to the absolute rout that followed and yet exists, with shameless conduct the volunteers continue to flee – a Regiment the N. York 79th Scots were forming to march over to Washington, and I have commanded them to remain. If they go in spite of all I can do there will remain here but one company of artillery 90 Strong and a Wisconsin Regiment. And Beauregard is close at hand – so it seems to be true that the north is after all pure bluster – Washington is in greater danger now than ever.
I will stand by my Post, an illustration of what we all know that when real danger came the Politicians would clear out – The Proud army characterized as the most extraordinary on earth has turned out the most ordinary.
Well as I am sufficiently disgraced now, I suppose soon I can sneak into some quiet corner. I was under heavy fire for hours – brushed on the Knee, & Shoulder – my horse shot through the leg, and was every way exposedand can not imagine how I escaped except to experience the mortification of a Retreat route, Confusion, and now abandonment by Whole Regiments. I am much pressed with business regulating the flight of all save the few to remain on this side [of] the River.
Last night I received several letters from you, and took time to read them, and now trust to Tom & others to tell you of the famous & infamous deeds of Bulls Run.
Courage our people have, but no government.
W. T. Sherman
To Ellen Ewing Sherman
Fort Corcoran July 28, 
I have already written to you since my return from the Unfortunate defeat at Bulls Run – I had previously conveyed to you the doubts that oppressed my mind on the Score of discipline. Four large columns of poorly disciplined militia left this place – the Long Bridge and Alexandria – all concentrating at a place called Centreville 27 miles from Washington. We were the first column to reach Centreville the Enemy abandoning all defenses en route. The first day of our arrival our Commander Genl. Tyler advanced on Bulls Run, about 2 1/2 miles distant, and against orders engaged their Batteries. He sent back to Centreville and I advanced with our Brigade, where we lay for half an hour, amidst descending shots killing a few of our men – The Batteries were full a mile distant and I confess I, nor any person in my Brigade saw an enemy.
Towards evening we returned to Centreville.
That occurred on Thursday. We lay in camp till Saturday night by which the whole army was assembled in and about Centreville. We got orders for march at 2 1/2 Sunday morning. Our column of 3 Brigades – Schenck, Sherman & Keyes – to move straight along a Road to Bulls Run – another of about 10,000 men to make a circuit by the Right (Hunters) and come upon the enemy in front of us – Heintzelmans column of about similar strength also to make a wide circuit to sustain Hunter – We took the road first and about 6 A.M. came in sight of Bull Run – we saw in the grey light of morning men moving about – but no signs of batteries: I rode well down to the Stone Bridge which crosses the Stream, saw plenty of trees cut down – some brush huts such as soldiers use on picket Guard, but none of the Evidence of Strong fortifications we had been led to believe. Our business was simply to threaten, and give time for Hunter & Heintzelman to make their circuit. We arranged our troops to this end. Schenck to the left of the Road, & I to the right -Keyes behind in reserve. We had with us two six gun batteries, and a 30 pd. Gun – This was fired several times, but no answer – we shifted positions several times, firing wherever we had reason to suppose there were any troops. About 10 or 11 o.c. we saw the clouds of dust in the direction of Hunters approach. Saw one or more Regiments of the Enemy leave their cover, and move in that direction – soon the firing of musketry, and guns showing the engagement had commenced – early in the morning I saw a flag flying behind some trees. Some of the Soldiers seeing it Called out – Colonel, there’s a flag – a flag of truce – a man in the Field with his dog & gun – called out – No it is no flag of truce, but a flag of defiance – I was at the time studying the Ground and paid no attention to him – about 9 oclock I was well down to the River – with some skirmishers and observed two men on horseback ride along a hill, descend, cross the stream and ride out towards us – he had a gun in his hand which he waved over his head, and called out to us, You D–d black abolitionists, come on &c. – I permitted some of the men to fire on him – but no damage was done he remained some time thus waiting the action which had begun on the other side of Bulls Run – we could See nothing, but heard the firing and could judge that Hunters column steadily advanced: about 2 P.M. they came to a stand, the firing was severe and stationary – Gen. Tyler rode up to me and remarked that he might have to Send the N.Y. 69th to the relief of Hunter – a short while after he came up and ordered me with my whole Brigade, some 3400 men to cross over to Hunter. I ordered the movement, led off – found a place where the men could cross, but the Battery could not follow. We crossed the stream, and ascended the Bluff Bank, moving slowly to permit the ranks to close up – When about half a mile back from the Stream I saw the parties in the fight, and the first danger was that we might be mistaken for Secessionists & fired on – One of my Regiments had on the grey uniform of the Virginia troops – We first fired on some retreating Secessionists, our Lt. Col. Haggerty was killed, and my bugler by my side had his horse shot dead – I moved on and Joined Hunters column. They had had a pretty severe fight – Hunter was wounded, and the unexpected arrival of my brigade seemed a great relief to all. I joined them on a high field with a house – and as we effected the junction the secessionists took to the woods and were seemingly retreating and Gen. McDowell who had accompanied Hunter’s column ordered me to join in the pursuit – I will not attempt to describe you the scene – their Batteries were on all the high hills overlooking the ground which we had to cross, and they fired with great vigor – our horse batteries pursued from point to point returning the fire, whilst we moved on, with shot shells, and cannister over and all round us. I kept to my horse and head of the Brigade, and moving slowly, came upon their heavy masses of men, behind all kinds of obstacles. They knew the ground perfectly, and at every turn we found new ground, over which they poured their fire. At last we came to a stand, and with my Regiments in succession we crossed a Ridge and were exposed to a very heavy fire, first one Regiment & then another and another were forced back – not by the bayonet but by by a musketry & rifle fire, which it seemed impossible to push our men through. After an hour of close contest our men began to fall into confusion. 111 had been killed and some 250 wounded and the Soldiers began to fall back in disorder – My horse was shot through the foreleg – my knee was cut round by a ball, and another had hit my Coat collar and did not penetrate an aid Lt. Bagley was missing, and spite of all exertions the confusion increased, and the men would not reform – Similar confusion had already occurred among other Regiments & I saw we were gone. Had they kept their ranks we were the Gainers up to that point – only our field Batteries exposed had been severely cut up, by theirs partially covered. Then for the first time I saw the Carnage of battle – men lying in every conceivable shape, and mangled in a horrible way – but this did not make a particle of impression on me – but horses running about riderless with blood streaming from their nostrils – lying on the ground hitched to guns, gnawing their sides in death – I sat on my horse on the ground where Ricketts Battery had been shattered to fragments, and saw the havoc done. I kept my Regiments under cover as much as possible, till the last moment, when it became necessary to cross boldly a Ridge and attack the enemy by that time gathered in great strength behind all sorts of cover – The Volunteers up to that time had done well, but they were repulsed regiment by Regiment, and I do think it was impossible to stand long in that fire. I did not find fault with them but they fell into disorder – an incessant clamor of tongues, one saying that they were not properly supported, another that they could not tell friend from foe – but I observed the gradual retreat going on and did all I could to stop it. At last it became manifest we were falling back, and as soon as I perceived it, I gave it direction by the way we came, and thus we fell back to Centreville some four miles – we had with our Brigade no wagons, they had not crossed the River. At Centreville came pouring in the confused masses of men, without order or system. Here I supposed we should assemble in some order the confused masses and try to Stem the tide – Indeed I saw but little evidence of being pursued, though once or twice their cavalry interposed themselves between us and our Rear. I had read of retreats before – have seen the noise and confusion of crowds of men at fires and Shipwrecks but nothing like this. It was as disgraceful as words can portray, but I doubt if volunteers from any quarter could do better. Each private thinks for himself – If he wants to go for water, he asks leave of no one. If he thinks right he takes the oats & corn, and even burns the house of his enemy. As we could not prevent these disorders on the way out – I always feared the result – for everywhere we found the People against us – no curse could be greater than invasion by a Volunteer army. No goths or vandals ever had less respect for the lives & property of friends and foes, and henceforth we ought never to hope for any friends in Virginia – McDowell & all the Generals tried their best to stop these disorders, but for us to say we commanded that army is no such thing – they did as they pleased. Democracy has worked out one result, and the next step is to be seen – Beauregard & Johnston were enabled to effect a Junction, by the failure of Patterson to press the latter, and they had such accurate accounts of our numbers & movements that they had all the men they wanted – We had never more than 18,000 engaged, though Some 10 or 12,000 were within a few miles. After our Retreat here, I did my best to stop the flying masses, and partially succeeded, so that we once more present a front: but Beauregard has committed a sad mistake in not pursuing us promptly. Had he done so, he could have stampeded us again, and gone into Washington. As it is I suppose their plan is to produce Riot in Baltimore, cross over above Leesburg, and come upon Washington through Maryland. Our Rulers think more of who shall get office, than who can save the Country. No body – no one man can save the country. The difficulty is with the masses – our men are not good Soldiers – They brag, but dont perform – complain sadly if they dont get everything they want – and a march of a few miles uses them up. It will take a long time to overcome these things, and what is in store for us in the future I know not. I propose trying to defend this place if Beauregard approaches Washington by this Route, but he has now deferred it Some days and I rather think he will give it up.
The newspapers will tell ten thousand things none of which are true. I have had not time to read them, but I know no one now has the moral courage to tell the truth. Public opinion is a more terrible tyrant than Napoleon – My own hope is now in the Regulars, and if I can escape this Volunteer command I will do so, and stick by my Regular Regiment. Gen. McClellan arrived today with Van Vliet -Stoneman, Benham – Biddle – and many others of my acquaintance. Affecy. &c.
W. T. Sherman
[Simpson, Brooks D.& Berlin, Jean V. Sherman’s Civil War: Selected Correspondence of William T. Sherman, 1860-1865, pp. 121-125]
Comments : 7 Comments »
Tags: Resources, Soldier's Letters, William Sherman
Categories : Private Correspondence, Resources
Brooklyn Daily Eagle, March 17, 1901, Page 6 (see here)
Old Bull Run Report of Fourteenth Found.
Turned Over to War Veterans’ Association After Nearly Forty Years.
Written By Colonel Fowler
Describes Part the Regiment Took in the First Great Battle of the Civil War.
Colonel Fowler’s report to Colonel Porter of the part taken by the Fourteenth Regiment in the first battle of Bull Run, which has been lost for nearly forty years, has been found and turned over to the Wasr Veterans’ Association. Several weeks ago it was learned that this report and a number of other papers were in a packet which had been picked up near Arlington, Va., in 1861, and could be had for the asking. The finder, it was said, had put them away with other souvenirs of the war and only lately had learned that the survivors of the Red Legged Devils would like to have them.
The writing is as clear and distinct as though done yesterday. Colonel Wood was wounded and captured in the battle and Lieutenant Colonel Fowler took command. Colonel Porter was the regular Army officer in command of the brigade to which the Fourteenth was assigned. The report reads as follows:
The other papers were a consolidated report of the morning of July 19, ahile the regiment was on its way to the battlefield, and showing that its strength was 843 officers and men; an order from General McClellan, dated August 4, and assigning the Fourteenth, with the Twenty-second and Thirtieth New York Volunteers, to Colonel Keyes’ brigade; an order from McClellan constituting Keyes’ and Wadsworth’s brigades a division to be commanded by Brigadier General Irwin McDowell, United States Army; an order from McDowell assigning the four regiments Keyes’, which was known as the Iron Brigade, to positions. The Fourteenth and Twenty-second were left where they were.
The other two were ordered to take position on the line with the Twenty-second. The morning report referred to above is signed by Colonel Wood and L. L. Laidlaw, a lieutenant in G. who was acting adjutant. In the battle of Bull Run Wadsworth was an aid on McDowell’s staff, ranking as a major. After Woods’ injury he stuck by the Fourteenth and was breveted a colonel on the field. He was soon made a general and he always, so the vets say, took great interest in the Fourteenth.
Comments : Leave a Comment »
Tags: 14th Brooklyn, After Action Reports, Newspaper Accounts, Resources
Categories : Newspaper Accounts, Official Reports, Resources
- Gen. Israel B. Richardson
- Gen. Samuel P. Heintzelman
- Gen. William B. Franklin
- Gen. Irvin McDowell Part I
- Gen. Irvin McDowell Part II
- Gen. James S. Wadsworth
- Col. Stephen G. Champlin
- Gen. Henry W. Slocum
- Gen. Louis Blenker
- Maj. William F. Barry
- Gen. Erasmus D. Keyes
- Gen. Fitz-John Porter
- Gen. John G. Barnard
- Capt. Charles Griffin
- Col. Thomas A. Davies
- Gen. Daniel Tyler Part I
- Gen. Daniel Tyler Part II
- Gen. Andrew Porter
- Col. William W. Averell
- Lt. Charles E. Hazlitt (Hazlett)
- Lt. Horatio B. Reed
- Gen. James B. Ricketts
- Gen. Montgomery C. Meigs
- Gen. George W. Morell
- Gen. Charles W. Sanford (Sandford)
- Maj. Abner Doubleday
- Gen. Charles P. Stone
- Gen. Robert Patterson Part I
- Gen. Robert Patterson Part II
- Gen. Robert Patterson Part III
- Col. David B. Birney
- Col. R. Butler Price
- Col. Craig Biddle
- Gen. Daniel Butterfield
- Wagon-Master Nathaniel F. Palmer
- C & O Canal President Alfred Spates
- C & O Canal Superintendent A. K. Stake
- Dr. Ira Tripp
- Maj. William W. Russell
- Gen. George Cadwallader
Comments : 2 Comments »
Report of Capt. W. R. Terry, Commanding Troop of Cavalry
O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 2 [S# 2] — CHAPTER IX, p. 562
JULY 23, 1861
I have the honor to report the movements of the cavalry company under my command in the engagement of the 21st, as follows:
Early in the morning, soon after the firing of cannon was heard beyond the stone bridge on the turnpike in the direction of Centreville, I drew up the company near Bull Run below the bridge, and posted skirmishers, according to orders received from you. We had not remained in that position long before I received orders from you to bring up my company to the point where the action had commenced, (woods beyond stone house). I then posted them near the skirt of woods behind which the firing was going on. Soon afterwards, according to orders, we took position on the hill-side to protect a piece of artillery, and remained until it fired thirty rounds, and we received orders to retire. Afterwards during the day we protected artillery at two other points on the field. Falling in with Colonel Radford’s Rangers late in the day, when the order was given to charge the enemy, I proceeded with them, and took part in the general pursuit. The men under my command killed several of the enemy in the charge, captured about eighty prisoners and seven horses and took two stand of colors, one regimental. Among the prisoners taken were Colonel Corcoran, of New York; Lieutenant Gordon, of Colonel Keyes’ staff; a captain and a lieutenant belonging to a Michigan company.
We had the good fortune to come out of the engagement with only one killed and one slightly wounded.
W. R. TERRY,
Comments : Leave a Comment »
Tags: After Action Reports, Resources
Categories : Official Reports, Resources
Private Correspondence – Lieut. P. H. O’Rorke (ADC to Brig. Gen. Daniel Tyler) to his Brother, Thomas*
Washington City, July 28th, 1861
I saw P. J. Dowling and Mr. Buckley this morning over at fort Corcoran, and my heart was gladdened by the sight of some letters from home. These are the first letters from my own family that I have received since I left West Point, a month ago. I have been changing about from one place to another so much that my letters get lost in following me. For instance I was told by one of Gen. McDowell’s Staff that there was a letter for me at their HeadQrs. on the other side of the river. I went over there the next day and found that some of my friends had sent it to Alexandria thinking that I was there. It will probably reach me in the course of a month. You ask me for details of the Battle of last Sunday. To give you a general plan of the Battle and its progress throughout the day would take more time than I have to spare, as I am now busily engaged in assisting Gen. Tyler to collect the reports of the several commanders in his Division, and engrossing them in one. I shall limit myself to an account of my own experience since I left the Point. On arriving in this city from the Academy, as you already know I was set to drilling a Reg’t of volunteers from N. Hampshire. This continued about a week when I was ordered to //VERSO// report in person to Gen. McDowell at his Hd.Qrs. at Arlington. He immediately sent me to Gen. Tyler at Falls Church a few miles this side of Fairfax to be one of his Aids. Here we staid until the 16th, being all this time busily engaged in perfecting the organization of the different Brigades composing his division, inspecting Regiments etc. The day after my arrival at Falls Church I went out with another member of my class Mr. Audenried on a scouting party towards Fairfax then strongly held by the enemy. We approached to within two miles and a half of Fairfax when we came upon the pickets of the enemy and captured two of them. I mention this to show that myself and Mr. Audenried were the first of our class within the enemy’s line of pickets, and that we had the first sight of the enemy. On the 16th the forward movement of the army commenced. Our Division moved on Vienna. When we arrived there we found no enemy. The next day, learning that the enemy had evacuated Fairfax we moved through Germantown and encamped beyond, towards Centreville. Here we found a camp of the enemy which had just been deserted by them, and in which their fires were yet burning. Our men picked up here quite a number of carbines and other arms left behind by the rebels in their haste to get out of our way. The next morning at daylight we were again on the road on the track of the flying enemy, and on arriving at Centreville found that they were yet before us, having abandoned at this point a strongly entrenched position which fully commanded the road by which our Division //Page 2// arrived. From this point roads diverged in various directions. We learned here that the enemy had divided his forces, part of them taking a road which led to Blackburn’s Ford over Bull Run, in the direction of Manassas. Now as we were approaching the strong position of the enemy, it was necessary to move with great caution. Gen. Tyler now took a squadron of Cavalry and two companies of Infantry to make an armed reconnoisance in the direction of Blackburn’s Ford.
If you will take a good map of that vicinity you will easily follow me. Well we proceeded without seeing anything of the enemy until we arrived on the crest of a hill overlooking the Ford and about half a mile from it. From this point we could see the enemy pickets in the valley before us, and bodies of his troops on the high ground on the opposite side, but not in very large numbers. Our object being to discover if possible something of the enemy’s numbers and the position of the Batteries we knew he had here, the General sent back one of his Aids to order up a couple of 20 pdr. rifled guns, and Richardson’s Brigade to support them. These were soon on the ground and then we thought we would try to draw their fire, and thus make them discover to us their position. A large body of Cavalry was standing in an open field about two miles and a half from us, who evidently thought they were beyond our range, from the confidence with which they showed themselves. We aimed one of our 20 pdrs. carefully, and sent a shell whizzing towards them. //VERSO// In about ten seconds the shell fell and burst among them, and it certainly was amusing to see them scamper. They got themselves out of sight in double quick time I can assure you. We then aimed and fired at several prominent points, where the enemy could be seen, but for several minutes they maintained an obstinate silence. At last when we had about concluded that they were determined not to show themselves, a battery of two pieces opened very unexpectedly, almost at the foot of the hill on the crest of which we were standing, sending their balls right amongst us as we were standing grouped around our pieces. We immediately turned our pieces on this Battery whose position we could not see, but which we could determine approximately from the smoke rising through the trees. In about four minutes they ceased firing and we heard nothing more from that point.
Our object being so far but very partially attained, Col. Richardson was directed to throw forward skirmishers into a small wood, between us and Bull Run, who were directed to feel their way cautiously forward, and see what they could discover, a couple of Regiments being marched forward and placed under cover in a ravine, within supporting distance. In the meantime I had been sent back to Centreville to bring up Ayres’ Battery and Sherman’s Brigade so as to be prepared for any emergency, and I arrived on the ground with the Battery just as our skirmishers //Page 3// were entering the wood. In a few moments we heard a scattered firing commence in this wood, as our skirmishers met those of the enemy. The affair now began to get interesting. Now men were thrown forward to support our skirmishers, and as the General had discovered an opening in the wood in which a couple of pieces of Art’y could be unlimbered, he now sent Capt. Ayres with two Howitzers to that point to open a fire upon the enemy within a short range. Ayres took his pieces to the indicated point and sent a couple of charges of Canister among the enemy who appeard to be in great numbers a short distance in his front. This was more than human nature could stand quietly, and the enemy answered by a thundering volley of musketry and artillery, thus showing us that they were in very great force, and also the positions of their Batteries. This was all we wanted to know and the affair would have ended there, but before the General could interfere Col Richardson sent the 12th N. Y. Reg’t in line into the wood to clear it. They went forward in excellent order, until they reached the edge of a ravine, in the bottom, and on the opposite side of which the enemy were posted. Here they were exposed to the combined fire of three or four thousand troops, and two Batteries. They returned the fire warmly for a few minutes, but the odds were too great, and they finally broke, and retreated in confusion.
Lt. Upton and myself had just ridden down into the woods to see how it felt to be under such a fire //VERSO// and we arrived behind our lines just before they broke and ran. We rode about among the men and used every exertion to rally them and lead them again against the enemy. We appealed to their pride and to their manhood. We begged them for the honor of our state and of our flag to reform, and make another stand – but without effect. Their officers I must say were worse than the men, and set them and example of tall running. Only two companies stood their ground and were withdrawn in good order. The object of our reconnoisance having now been attained the men were withdrawn to a safe position, while our two Batteries were directed upon the enemy whose position we now knew, and with terrible effect as we have since learned. The enemy acknowledge a loss of 150 killed and more than twice that number wounded, at the same time claiming to have killed 1500 of our men. The truth is we had but 19 killed and 38 wounded. Col. Richardson remained in possession of the ground we occupied in the beginning of the engagement until the Battle on Sunday last.
I was now satisfied. I had been under fire, and a pretty warm one too, and had felt no inclination to run. The general and his staff returned to Centreville and I lay down that night and slept contented. The next two days we lay encamped at that place. On the night succeeding our action at Blackburn’s ford //Page 4// cars were heard constantly arriving at and departing from Manassas during the whole night. Most of us felt confident that Johnston had effected a junction with Beauregard, and that we should have to fight their combined armies. On Sunday morning we were ordered to march at half past two in the morning in the direction of Gainsville and take up a position just this side of Bull Run. Hunter’s and Heintzelman’s columns took a road which crossed Bull Run about a mile and a half to our right, while Richardson’s Brigade remained to watch Blackburn’s Ford and prevent the enemy from flanking us. Col. Miles was posted with the reserve at Centreville. We arrived at the position assigned us about half past five – when I say “us”, I mean Tyler’s Division, about 12,000 men less Richardson’s Brigade – and fired the gun agreed upon to let the other column’s know that we were in position, and ready to sustain them. In front of the centre of the line which we formed here was a Stone Bridge, obstructed by Abbattis and supposed to be mined, though it was not. To the right and left were fords at short distances above and below the Bridge. All these crossings were defended by Batteries placed so as to sweep them, and all the approaches to them, these Batteries being supported by large bodies of Infantry. Our Division was composed of Sherman’s Brigade – in which were the 13th our Rochester Reg’t, the 69th, the 79th, and a Wisconsin Reg’t //VERSO// Gen. Schenck’s Brigade, and Col. Keyes’ Brigade. We remained in position at this point until nearly 11 o’clock, amusing ourselves in the meantime by firing upon bodies of the enemy which we could see passing down the other side of the Run in the direction of Hunter’s column, of whose movement they seemed to be apprised.
The General sent me up into a large tree with a glass to see and report what was going on in that direction. Using this tree as an observatory, I had a fine view of the beginning of the Battle and its continuance for half an hour before being engaged in it myself. I saw Hunter’s column after it had crossed the Run, coming up towards us, or rather towards the enemy in our front. The latter were at the same time moving large bodies of troops to meet him.
Finally they stopped in a open field, through which the road by which Hunter was advancing ran, and prepared to dispute his passage. Here they placed a Battery to enfilade this road at the point at which it emerged from a wood, and posted their man in line of Battle on either side of their Battery, at the same time throwing out skirmishers into this wood to annoy him as he advanced. Hunter advanced steadily driving the enemy’s skirmishers before him and deployed a portion of his column in the edge of a wood. He then threw a section of one of his light Batteries up along this road into the open space in front, this Section being all this time under heavy fire from the enemy’s Battery. As soon as it came out into the open space in front of the wood it unlimbered and opened its fire, the other sections coming up successively and opening as soo as they were in position. At the //Page 5// same time Hunter opened a heavy musketry fire from the whole edge of the wood which he had occupied, and the engagement became general throughout the whole line. The enemy stood it only for a few minutes when they broke and ran in the greatest confusion. Hunter followed up his success and drove the enemy from one position to another, the enemy contesting every foot of the ground, until he arrived nearly opposite our position, when his column seemed to be arrested and I saw the enemy bringing down heavy reinforcements from the direction of Manassas. I immediately reported these facts to Gen. Tyler when he at once ordered Sherman’s Brigade to cross the Run and support Hunter. I then got down from my perch and joined the General. In climbing the tree my cap had got knocked off, and when I came down I found some one had walked off with it. I looked round and finally picked up an old straw hat, which some poor fellow had probably been killed in, as the inside and under side of the leaf was covered with blood & I wore that all day. Pleasant, wasn’t it, wearing a dead man’s hat and expecting to follow suit every moment. Sherman’s Brigade now crossed the run and on reaching the crest of the hill on the opposite side they encountered a portion of the enemy and routed them. Here the Lt. Col. Of the 69th was killed. This Brigade now joined Hunter’s column //VERSO// and I saw no more of them until the Retreat. Consequently I can say nothing from personal observation as to the conduct of our Rochester Regiment in the action, though from all I can learn they behaved very handsomely.
Gen. Tyler, and of course myself, now crossed the Run under a heavy artillery fire at the head of Keyes’ Brigade. We arrived on the high ground on the opposite side in good order and became immediately involved in the action. We drove the enemy from point to point, until we finally arrived in front of a large house and its enclosure which the enemy had occupied with a large force and prepared for defence. This position Keyes’ Brigade was ordered to carry, and in this operation Gen. Tyler and his staff assisted in person. The Brigade was advanced in line, or rather in two lines nearly at right angles to each other against two sides of the position under a galling fire of musketry until within a short distance, when we opened a hot and continued fire upon the enemy. Our men stood to their work bravely being entirely exposed while the enemy were sheltered. Only once did they show any disposition to retire, and they were easily rallied. We now made them lie down and continue their fire, which they did with a will for about five minutes. During this time Lt. Abbott, Lt. Upton, and myself were the only mounted officers exposed to this fire and as we were necessarily very prominent, and only about fifty yards from the //Page 6// enemy were excellent marks for their riflemen. Judging by the bullets which whistled by my ears, they must have taken particular care to fire at us, though we all escaped safely at that time. I have got a hole in the skirt of my coat which I suppose was mae by one of their balls at this time. The fire of the enemy now appearing to slacken a little, the order was given to charge with the bayonet which was done in splendid style, clearing the enclosure of the enemy and getting possession of the house in which we found a few of them, who could not get out in time and who were taken prisoners. As soon as we found ourselves in possession of the house, a Battery which we had not seen before as it had been silent & was concealed, opened upon us and tore the old house all to pieces. We found the place too hot to hold and retired into the road running in front of the house which happened to be cut down at this point thus giving us a shelter. From this position we made a flank movement to turn this Battery intending to charge and take it if possible. This movement was made under cover of a hill on which this Battery was placed. We had just completed the movement and were about to charge up the hill on the Battery when we discovered that the other columns were retreating and a half mile distant, so that unless we took the back track instanter there was every probability of our being cut off. The Retreat was consequently ordered //VERSO// and our Brigade joined the retreating column in good order. I could scarcely believe the evidence of my senses when I saw that our army was retreating. That portion of it with which I had been had been uniformely successful through the day, and I thought we were winning a glorious victory. I was highly elated with success, and you can judge of the reversion of feeling which took place when I found we were retiring.
The Retreat was well enough and if it had been conducted with order there would be nothing to be ashamed of, for the number of fresh troops that the enemy had bought up to oppose us was overpowering, but after a short time when their cavalry charged upon our flank the Retreat degenerated into a rout. It was at this time that my horse was killed under me. We saw their cavalry coming down on us and tried to form enough men to repel the charge. IN this, with considerably (sic) difficulty we were successful. Some of the Ohio troops and Ayres’ Battery gave them a volley as they came down on us which emptied a good many of their saddles and sent them back again. But they gave us one volley from their rifled carbines, one of the balls taking effect on my horse and killing him instantly. He staggered forward a few steps and fell, throwing me on a pile of stones and bruising my right arm. I got a Secession horse from a man in Ayres’ Battery, which he had just caught, and rode him to Centreville. Of the Retreat from this point I do not care to speak.
I arrived a Falls Church at 5 o’clock the next morning having been in the saddle for twenty seven hours without anything to eat in the meantime, and without having eaten anything before going out, as I was sicj when we started. I can assure you I //Page 7// was pretty well worn out. After sleeping about three hours and getting a little breakfast I mounted my horse again and was out almost all day, in the midst of a heavy storm of rain bringing things down to Fort Corcoran and finally arrived here in Washington about 9 o’clock at night, having been thoroughly soaked to the skin for several hours. I never slept so much in one night in my life as I did that night. Since then I have been here in the City most of the time. For the last two days I have been assisting Gen. Tyler to make out his official report. He has been kind enough to mention me very honorably in it. You will probably see it published in the N. Y. paper in a day or two.
Now, my dear Brother I have written here until I am tired and if you have read thus far I am sure you are too. But I thought an account of the Battle by an eye-witness and an actor, would perhaps be more interesting to you than the newspaper accounts, particularly when the writer was your Brother.
I cannot find time to write any extended account of the Battle to all my friends, so if any of them want to know my experiences, you may show them this. I saw Tom Bishop to-day he is all right. I have not been able to see Charley Buckley but I hear that he is getting along very well. Give my love to Mary, also to Mother and all our family.
*For reference and citational info, see here
Comments : 11 Comments »
Tags: Resources, Soldier's Letters
Categories : Private Correspondence, Resources
Report of Col. Charles D. Jameson, Second Maine Infantry
O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 2 [S# 2] — CHAPTER IX, pp 356-357
[NOTE.–The first page of Colonel Jameson’s report was never received in the Adjutant-General’s Office.]
* * * * * * * * * *
Lieut. John Skinner, Company C, was taken prisoner while assisting Captain Jones to the hospital. Surgeon Allen remained in care of the wounded, and was also taken, together with his son. Chaplain J. F. Mines is probably a prisoner. There are still 115 privates missing, a number of whom I feel confident will yet come in, so that our loss in killed, wounded, and missing will be less than 150.
Permit me before closing this report to express my entire satisfaction with the officers and men under my command during the engagement, for with few exceptions they obeyed every order promptly, and maintained their position under a most severe fire of artillery and small-arms until ordered to fall back.
Great credit is due Lieut. Col. C. W. Roberts, Maj. George Varney, and Adjutant Reynolds for their coolness and courage on the field under the heavy fire that was thinning our ranks.
Capt. E. N. Jones fell mortally wounded while exhibiting great courage in rallying his men to the charge. Sergeant William J. Dean fell severely wounded while nobly bearing the beautiful California stand of colors presented to the regiment the day before by the ladies of San Francisco formerly residents of Maine. The colors were lost, but regained. My thanks are due Capt. F. C. Foss, Sergeant Samuel Hinckley, of Company A, and Corporal Benjamin Smart, Company H, for important extra services rendered during the day; also to Sergeant G. W. Brown, Company F; A. J. Knowles and L. Carver, Company D; A. P. Jones and H. W. Wheeler, Company A; Peter Welch, Company I, for nobly volunteering to accompany me to remove the dead and wounded from the field under a very heavy fire of artillery and musketry.
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Colonel Second Regiment Maine Volunteers
Col. E. D. KEYES,
Commanding First Brigade, First Division
Comments : Leave a Comment »
Tags: After Action Reports, Resources
Categories : Official Reports, Resources
Reports of Gen. G. T. Beauregard, C. S. Army, and Resulting Correspondence (Part 1)
O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 2 [S# 2] — CHAPTER IX, pp 484 – 504
HDQRS. FIRST CORPS, ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
Fairfax Court-House, October 14, 1861
SIR: I have the honor to transmit by my aide, Lieut. S. W. Ferguson, the report of the battle of Manassas, with the accompanying papers and drawings(*), as well as the flags and colors captured from the enemy on that occasion. Occupations of the gravest character have prevented their earlier transmission. I send as a guard of said colors two of the soldiers who participated in their capture.
I remain, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
G. T. BEAUREGARD,
Gen. SAMUEL COOPER,
Adjutant General C. S. Army, Richmond, Va.
*Drawings not found
HDQRS. FIRST CORPS, ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
Manassas, August 26 [October 14], 1861
GENERAL: Before entering upon a narration of the general military operations in the presence of the enemy on the 21st of July, I propose, I hope not unseasonably, first to recite certain events which belong to the strategy of the campaign, and consequently form an essential part of the history of the battle.
Having become satisfied that the advance of the enemy, with a decidedly superior force, both as to numbers and war equipage, to attack or turn my position in this quarter, was immediately impending, I dispatched on the 13th of July one of my staff, Col. James Chesnut, of South Carolina, to submit for the consideration of the President a plan of operations substantially as follows:
I proposed that General Johnston should unite as soon as possible the bulk of the Army of the Shenandoah with that of the Potomac, then under my command, leaving only sufficient forces to garrison his strong works at Winchester, and to guard the fine defensive passes of the Blue Ridge, and thus hold General Patterson in check. At the same time Brigadier-General Holmes was to march hither with all of his command not essential for the defense of the position of Aquia Creek. These junctions having been effected at Manassas, an immediate impetuous attack of our combined armies upon General McDowell was to follow as soon as he approached my advanced positions at and around Fairfax Court-House, with the inevitable result, as I submitted, of his complete defeat and the destruction or capture of his army. This accomplished, the Army of the Shenandoah, under General Johnston, increased with a part of my forces, and rejoined as he returned by the detachments left to hold the mountain passes, was to march back rapidly into the valley, fall upon and crush Patterson with a superior force wheresoever he might be found. This I confidently estimated could be achieved within fifteen days after General Johnston should march from Winchester for Manassas. Meanwhile I was to occupy the enemy’s works on this side of the Potomac if, as I anticipated, he had been so routed as to enable me to enter them with him; or if not, to retire again for a time within the lines of Bull Run with my main force. Patterson having been virtually destroyed, then General Johnston would re-enforce General Garnett sufficiently to make him superior to his opponent, General McClellan, and able to defeat that officer. This done, General Garnett was to form an immediate junction with General Johnston, who was forthwith to cross the Potomac into Maryland with his whole force, arouse the people as he advanced to the recovery of their political rights and the defense of their homes and families from an offensive invader, and then march to the investment of Washington in the rear, whilst I resumed the offensive in front. This plan of operations, you are aware, was not accepted at the time, from considerations which appeared so weighty as to more than counterbalance its proposed advantages.
Informed of these views, and of the decision of the War Department, I then made my preparations for the stoutest practicable defense of the line of Bull Run, the enemy having now developed his purposes by the advance on and occupation of Fairfax Court-House, from which my advanced brigade had been withdrawn.
The War Department having been informed by me by telegraph on the 17th July of the movement of General McDowell, General Johnston was immediately ordered to form a junction of his army corps with mine, should the movement in his judgment be deemed advisable. General Holmes was also directed to push forward with two regiments, a battery, and one company of cavalry.
In view of these propositions, approaching re-enforcements modifying my plan of operations so far as to determine on attacking the enemy at Centreville as soon as I should hear of the near approach of the two re-enforcing columns, I sent one of my aides, Colonel Chisolm, of South Carolina, to meet and communicate my plans to General Johnston, and my wish that one portion of his forces should march by the way of Aldie, and take the enemy on his right flank and in reverse at Centreville. Difficulties, however, of an insuperable character, in connection with means of transportation and the marching condition of his troops, made this impracticable, and it was determined our forces should be united within the lines of Bull Run, and thence advance to the attack of the enemy.
General Johnston arrived here about noon on the 20th July, and being my senior in rank he necessarily assumed command of all the forces of the Confederate States then concentrating at this point. 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.
In consequence of the untoward detention, however, of some five thousand of General Johnston’s army corps, resulting from the inadequate and imperfect means of transportation for so many troops at the disposition of the Manassas Gap Railroad, it became necessary, on the morning of the 21st, before daylight, to modify the plan accepted to suit the contingency of an immediate attack on our lines by the main force of the enemy, then plainly at hand.
The enemy’s forces, reported by their best-informed journals to be fifty-five thousand strong, I had learned from reliable sources on the night of the 20th were being concentrated in and around Centreville and along the Warrenton turnpike road to Bull Run, near which our respective pickets were in immediate proximity. This fact, with the conviction that after his signal discomfiture on the 18th of July before Blackburn’s Fords–the center of my lines–he would not renew the attack in that quarter, induced me at once to look for an attempt on my left flank, resting on the stone bridge, which was but weakly guarded by men, as well as but slightly provided with artificial defensive appliances and artillery.
In view of these palpable military conditions, by 4.30 a.m. on the 21st of July I had prepared and dispatched orders directing the whole of the Confederate forces within the lines of Bull Run, including the brigades and regiments of General Johnston, which had arrived at that time, to be held in readiness to march at a moment’s notice. At that hour the following was the disposition of our forces: Ewell’s brigade, constituted as on the 18th of July, remained in position at Union Mills Ford, its left extending along Bull Run in the direction of McLean’s Ford, and supported by Holmes’ brigade, Second Tennessee and First Arkansas Regiments, a short distance to the rear–that is, at and near Camp Wigfall. D. R. Jones’ brigade, from Ewell’s left, in front of McLean’s Ford and along the stream to Longstreet’s position. It was unchanged in organization, and was supported by Early’s brigade, also unchanged, placed behind a thicket of young pines a short distance in the rear of McLean’s Ford. Longstreet’s brigade held its former ground at Blackburn’s Ford, from Jones’ left to Bonham’s right, at Mitchell’s Ford, and was supported by Jackson’s brigade, consisting of Cols. James F. Preston’s Fourth, Harper’s Fifth, Allen’s Second, the Twenty-seventh, Lieutenant-Colonel Echols, and the Thirty-third, Cummings’ Virginia Regiments, two thousand six hundred and eleven strong, which were posted behind the skirting of pines to the rear of Blackburn’s and Mitchell’s Fords, and in rear of this support was also Barksdale’s Thirteenth Regiment Mississippi Volunteers, which had lately arrived from Lynchburg. Along the edge of a pine thicket, in rear of and equidistant from McLean’s and Blackburn’s Fords, ready to support either position, I had also placed all of Bee’s and Bartow’s brigades that had arrived, namely: Two companies of the Eleventh Mississippi, Lieutenant-Colonel Liddell; the Second Mississippi, Colonel Falkner, and Fourth Alabama, with Seventh and Eighth Georgia Regiments, Colonel Gartrell and Lieutenant-Colonel Gardner–in all two thousand seven hundred and thirty-two bayonets. Bonham’s brigade, as before, held Mitchell’s Ford, its right near Longstreet’s left, its left extending in the direction of Cocke’s right. It was organized as at the end of the 18th of July, with Jackson’s brigade, as before said, as a support.
Cocke’s brigade, increased by seven companies of the Eighth, Hunton’s, three companies of the Forty-ninth, Smith’s, Virginia Regiments, two companies of cavalry, and a battery, under Rogers, of four 6-pounders, occupied the line in front and rear of Bull Run, extending from the direction of Bonham’s left, and guarding Island, Ball’s, and Lewis’ Fords, to the right of Evans’ demi-brigade, near the stone bridge, also under General Cooke’s command. The latter held the stone bridge, and its left covered a farm ford about one mile above the bridge.
Stuart’s Cavalry, some three hundred men of the Army of the Shenandoah, guarded the level ground extending in rear from Bonham’s left to Cocke’s right.
Two companies of Radford’s cavalry were held in reserve a short distance in rear of Mitchell’s Ford, his left extending in the direction of Stuart’s right.
Colonel Pendleton’s reserve battery of eight pieces was temporarily placed in rear of Bonham’s extreme left.
Major Walton’s reserve battery of five guns was in position on McLean’s farm in a piece of woods in rear of Bee’s right.
Hampton’s Legion, of six companies of infantry, 600 strong, having arrived that morning by the cars from Richmond, was subsequently, as soon as it arrived, ordered forward to a position in the immediate vicinity of the Lewis house as a support for any troops engaged in that quarter.
The effective force of all arms of the Army of the Potomac on that eventful morning, including the garrison at Camp Pickens, did not exceed 21,833 and 29 guns. The Army of the Shenandoah, ready for action on the field, may be set at 6,000 men and 20 guns. (That is, when the battle began. Smith’s brigade and Fisher’s North Carolina came up later, and made total of Army of the Shenandoah engaged, of all arms, 8,334. Hill’s Virginia Regiment, 550, also arrived, but was posted as reserve to right flank.) The brigade of General Holmes mustered about 1,265 bayonets, 6 guns, and a company of cavalry about 90 strong.
Informed at 5.30 a.m. by Colonel Evans that the enemy had deployed some twelve hundred men (these were what Colonel Evans saw of General Schenck’s brigade of General Tyler’s division and two other heavy brigades—in all over nine thousand men and thirteen pieces of artillery, Carlisle’s and Ayres’ batteries; that is, nine hundred men and two 6-pounders, confronted by nine thousand men and thirteen pieces of artillery, mostly rifled) with several pieces of artillery in his immediate front, I at once ordered him, as also General Cooke, if attacked, to maintain their position to the last extremity.
In my opinion the most effective method of relieving that flank was by a rapid, determined attack with my right wing and center on the enemy’s flank and rear at Centreville, with due precautions against the advance of his reserves from the direction of Washington. By such a movement I confidently expected to achieve a complete victory for my country by 12 m.
These new dispositions were submitted to General Johnston, who fully approved them, and the orders for their immediate execution were at once issued.
Brigadier-General Ewell was directed to begin the movement, to be followed and supported successively by Generals D. R. Jones, Longstreet, and Bonham, respectively, supported by their several appointed reserves. The cavalry, under Stuart and Radford, were to be held in hand, subject to future orders and ready for employment, as might be required by the exigencies of the battle.
About 8.30 a.m. General Johnston and myself transferred our headquarters to a central position, about half a mile in rear of Mitchell’s Ford, whence we might watch the course of events. Previously, as early as 5.30, the Federalists in front of Evans’ position (stone bridge) had opened with a large 30-pounder Parrott rifled gun, and thirty minutes later with a moderate, apparently tentative, fire from a battery of rifled pieces, directed first in front of Evans’, and then in the direction of Cocke’s position, but without drawing a return fire and discovery of our positions, chiefly because in that quarter we had nothing but eight 6 pounder pieces, which could not reach the distant enemy.
As the Federalists had advanced with an extended line of skirmishers in front of Evans, that officer promptly threw forward the two flank companies of the Fourth South Carolina Regiment and one company of Wheat’s Louisiana Battalion, deployed as skirmishers to cover his small front. An occasional scattering fire resulted, and thus the two armies in that quarter remained for more than an hour, while the main body of the enemy was marching his devious way through the Big Forest to take our forces in flank and rear.
By 8.30 a.m. Colonel Evans, having become satisfied of the counterfeit character of the movement on his front, and persuaded of an attempt to turn his left flank, decided to change his position to meet the enemy, and for this purpose immediately put in motion to his left and rear six companies of Sloan’s Fourth South Carolina Regiment, Wheat’s Louisiana Battalion’s five companies, and two 6-pounders of Latham’s battery, leaving four companies of Sloan’s regiment under cover as the sole immediate defense of the stone bridge, but giving information to General Cocke of his change of position and the red, sons that impelled it.
Following a road leading by the old Pittsylvania (Carter) mansion, Colonel Evans formed in line of battle some four hundred yards in rear, as he advanced, of that house, his guns to the front and in position, properly supported, to its immediate right. Finding, however, that the enemy did not appear on that road, which was a branch of one leading by Sudley Springs Ford to Brentsville and Dumfries, he turned abruptly to the left, and marching across the fields for three-quarters of a mile, about 9.30 a.m. took a position in line of battle, his left, Sloan’s companies, resting on the main Brentsville road in a shallow ravine, the Louisiana Battalion to the right, in advance some two hundred yards, a rectangular copse of wood separating them, one piece of his artillery planted on an eminence some seven hundred yards to the rear of Wheat’s battalion, and the other on a ridge near and in rear of Sloan’s position, commanding a reach of the road just in front of the line of battle. In this order he awaited the coming of the masses of the enemy, now drawing near.
In the mean time, about 7 o’clock a.m., Jackson’s brigade, with Imboden’s and five pieces of Walton’s battery, had been sent to take up a position along Bull Run, to guard the interval between Cooke’s right and Bonham’s left, with orders to support either in case of need, the character and topographical features of the ground having been shown to General Jackson by Capt. D. B. Harris, of the engineers, of this army corps. So much of Bee’s and Bartow’s brigades, now united, as had arrived, some 2,800 muskets, had also been sent forward to the support of the position of the stone bridge.
The enemy, beginning his detour from the turnpike at a point nearly half-way between stone bridge and Centreville, had pursued a tortuous, narrow trace of a rarely-used road through a dense wood the greater part of his way until near the Sudley road. A division under Colonel Hunter, of the Federal Regular Army, of two strong brigades, was in the advance, followed immediately by another division, under Colonel Heintzelman, of three brigades and seven companies of Regular Cavalry, and twenty-four pieces of artillery, eighteen of which were rifled guns. This column, as it crossed Bull Run, numbered over sixteen thousand men of all arms by their own accounts.
Burnside’s brigade–which here, as at Fairfax Court-House, led the advance–at about 9.45 a.m. debouched from a wood in sight of Evans’ position, some five hundred yards distant from Wheat’s battalion. He immediately threw forward his skirmishers in force, and they became engaged with Wheat’s command, and the 6-pounder gun under Lieutenant Leftwitch. The Federalists at once advanced–as they report officially–the Second Rhode Island Regiment Volunteers, with its vaunted battery of six 13-pounder rifled guns. Sloan’s companies were then brought into action, having been pushed forward through the woods. The enemy, soon galled and staggered by the fire and pressed by the determined valor with which Wheat handled his battalion until he was desperately wounded, hastened up three other regiments of the brigade and two Dahlgren howitzers, making in all quite three thousand five hundred bayonets and eight pieces of artillery, opposed to less than eight hundred men and two 6-pounder guns. Despite this odds, this intrepid command, of but eleven weak companies, maintained its front to the enemy for quite an hour, and until General Bee came to their aid with his command. The heroic Bee, with a soldier’s eye and recognition of the situation, had previously disposed his command with skill, Imboden’s battery having been admirably placed between the two brigades, under shelter, behind the undulations of a hill about one hundred and fifty yards north of the now famous Henry house, and very near where he subsequently fell mortally wounded, to the great misfortune of his country, but after deeds of deliberate and ever-memorable courage. Meanwhile the enemy had pushed forward a battalion of eight companies of regular infantry, and one of their best batteries of six pieces (four rifled), supported by four companies of marines, to increase the desperate odds against which Evans and his men had maintained their stand with an almost matchless tenacity. General Bee, now finding Evans sorely pressed under the crushing weight of the masses of the enemy, at the call of Colonel Evans threw forward his whole force to his aid across a small stream (Young’s Branch and Valley), and engaged the Federalists with impetuosity, Imboden’s battery at the time playing from his well-chosen position with brilliant effect with spherical case, the enemy having first opened on him from a rifle battery (probably Griffin’s) with elongated cylindrical shells, which flew a few feet over the heads of our men and exploded in the crest of the hill immediately in rear.
As Bee advanced under a severe fire he placed the Seventh and Eighth Georgia Regiments under the chivalrous Bartow, at about 11 a.m. in a wood of second-growth pines, to the right and front of and nearly perpendicular to Evans line of battle; the Fourth Alabama to the left of them, along a fence, connecting the position of the Georgia regiments with the rectangular copse in which Sloan’s South Carolina companies were engaged? and into which he also threw the Second Mississippi. A fierce and destructive conflict now ensued. The fire was withering on both sides, while the enemy swept our short thin lines with their numerous artillery, which, according to their official reports, at this time consisted of at least ten rifled guns and four howitzers. For an hour did these stout-hearted men of the blended commands of Bee, Evans, and Barrow breast an unintermitting battle-storm, animated surely by something more than the ordinary courage of even the bravest men under fire. It must have been indeed the inspiration of the cause and consciousness of the great stake at issue which thus nerved and animated one and all to stand unawed and unshrinking in such extremity.
Two Federal brigades of Heintzelman’s division were now brought into action, led by Ricketts” superb light battery of six 10-pounder rifled guns, which, posted on an eminence to the right of the Sudley road, opened fire on Imboden’s battery–about this time increased by two rifled pieces of the Washington Artillery under Lieutenant Richardson, and already the mark of two batteries, which divided their fire with Imboden and two guns under Lieutenants Davidson and Leftwitch, of Latham’s battery, posted as before mentioned. At this time confronting the enemy we had still but Evans’ eleven companies and two guns, Bee’s and Bartow’s four regiments, the two companies Eleventh Mississippi under Lieutenant-Colonel Liddell, and the six pieces under Imboden and Richardson. The enemy had two divisions of four strong brigades, including seventeen companies of regular infantry, cavalry, and artillery, four companies of marines, and twenty pieces of artillery. (See official reports of Colonels Heintzelman, Porter, &c.) Against this odds, scarcely credible, our advance position was still for a while maintained, and the enemy’s ranks constantly broken and shattered under the scorching fire of our men; but fresh regiments of the Federalists came upon the field. Sherman’s and Keyes’ brigades of Tyler’s division, as is stated in their reports, numbering over six thousand bayonets, which had found a passage across the run about eight hundred yards above the stone bridge, threatened our right.
Heavy losses bad now been sustained on our side both in numbers and in the personal worth of the slain. The Eighth Georgia Regiment had suffered heavily, being exposed, as it took and maintained its position, to a fire from the enemy, already posted within a hundred yards of their front and right, sheltered by fences and other cover. It was at this time that Lieutenant-Colonel Gardner was severely wounded, as also several other valuable officers. The adjutant of the regiment, Lieutenant Branch, was killed, and the horse of the regretted Barrow was shot under him. The Fourth Alabama also suffered severely from the deadly fire of the thousands of muskets which they so dauntlessly confronted under the immediate leadership of Bee himself. Its brave colonel (E. J. Jones) was dangerously wounded, and many gallant officers fell, slain or hors de combat.
Now, however, with the surging mass of over fourteen thousand Federal infantry pressing on their front and under the incessant fire of at least twenty pieces of artillery, with the fresh brigades of Sherman and Keyes approaching, the latter already in musket range, our lines gave back, but under orders from General Bee. The enemy, maintaining their fire, pressed their swelling masses onward as our shattered battalions retired. The slaughter for the moment was deplorable, and has filled many a Southern home with life-long sorrow. Under this inexorable stress the retreat continued, until arrested by the energy and resolution of General Bee, supported by Barrow and Evans, just in rear of the Robinson house, and Hampton’s Legion, which had been already advanced and was in position near it. Imboden’s battery, which had been handled with marked skill, but whose men were almost exhausted, and the two pieces of Walton’s battery, under Lieutenant Richardson, being threatened by the enemy’s infantry on the left and front, were also obliged to fall back. Imboden, leaving a disabled piece on the ground, retired until he met Jackson’s brigade, while Richardson joined the main body of his battery near the Lewis house.
As our infantry retired from the extreme front the two 6-pounders of Latham’s battery before mentioned fell back with excellent judgment to suitable positions in the rear, where an effective fire was maintained upon the still advancing lines of the Federalists with damaging effect until their ammunition was nearly exhausted, when they too were withdrawn in the near presence of the enemy and rejoined their captain.
From the point, previously indicated, where General Johnston and myself had established our headquarters, we heard the continuous roll of musketry and the sustained din of the artillery, which announced the serious outburst of the battle on our left flank, and we anxiously but confidently awaited similar sounds of conflict from our front at Centreville, resulting from the prescribed attack in that quarter by our right wing.
At 10:30 a.m., however, this expectation was dissipated, from Brigadier-General Ewell informing me, to my profound disappointment, that my orders for his advance had miscarried, but that in consequence of a communication from Gen. D. R. Jones he had just thrown his brigade across the stream at Union Mills. But in my judgment it was now too late for the effective execution of the contemplated movement, which must have required quite three hours for the troops to get into position for the attack. Therefore it became immediately necessary to depend on new combinations and other dispositions suited to the now pressing exigency. The movement of the right and center, already begun by Jones and Longstreet, was at once countermanded with the sanction of General Johnston, and we arranged to meet the enemy on the field upon which he had chosen to give us battle.
Under these circumstances our reserves not already in movement were immediately ordered up to support our left flank, namely, Holmes’ two regiments and battery of artillery, under Capt. Lindsey Walker, of six guns, and Early’s brigade. Two regiments from Bonham’s brigade, with Kemper’s four 6-pounders, were also called for and, with the sanction of General Johnston, Generals Ewell, Jones (D. R.), Longstreet, and Bonham were directed to make a demonstration to their several fronts, to retain and engross the enemy’s reserves and any forces on their flank and at and around Centreville. Previously our respective chiefs of staff, Major Rhett and Colonel Jordan, had been left at my headquarters to hasten up and give directions to any troops that might arrive at Manassas.
These orders having been duly dispatched by staff officers, at 11.30 a.m. General Johnston and myself set out for the immediate field of action, which we reached in the rear of the Robinson and Widow Henry’s houses at about 12 m., and just as the commands of Bee, Bar-tow, and Evans had taken shelter in a wooded ravine behind the former, stoutly held at the time by Hampton with his Legion, which had made stand there after having previously been as far forward as the turnpike, where Lieutenant-Colonel Johnson, an officer of brilliant promise, was killed, and other severe losses were sustained.
Before our arrival upon the scene General Jackson had moved forward with his brigade of five Virginia regiments from his position in reserve, and had judiciously taken post below the brim of the plateau, nearly east of the Henry house, and to the left of the ravine and woods occupied by the mingled remnants of Bee’s, Bartow’s, and Evans’ commands, with Imboden’s battery and two of Stanard’s pieces placed so as to play upon the on-coming enemy, supported in the immediate rear by Col. J. F. Preston’s and Lieutenant-Colonel Echols’ regiments, on the right by Harper’s, and on the left by Allen’s and Cummings’ regiments.
As soon as General Johnston and myself reached the field we were occupied with the reorganization of the heroic troops, whose previous stand, with scarce a parallel, has nothing more valiant in all the pages of history, and whose losses fitly tell why at length their ranks had lost their cohesion.
It was now that General Johnston impressively and gallantly charged to the front, with the colors of the Fourth Alabama Regiment by his side, all the field officers of the regiment having been previously disabled. Shortly afterwards I placed S. R. Gist, adjutant and inspector general of South Carolina, a volunteer aide of General Bee, in command of this regiment, and who led it again to the front as became its previous behavior, and remained with it for the rest of the day.
As soon as we had thus rallied and disposed our forces, I urged General Johnston to leave the immediate conduct of the field to me, while he, repairing to Portici, the Lewis house, should urge re-enforcement–forward. At first he was unwilling, but reminded that one of us must do so, and that properly it was his place, he reluctantly, but fortunately, complied; fortunately, because from that position, by his energy and sagacity, his keen perception and anticipation of my needs, he so directed the reserves as to insure the success of the day.
As General Johnston departed for Portici, Colonel Bartow reported to me with the remains of the Seventh Georgia Volunteers, Gartrell’s, which I ordered him to post on the left of Jackson’s line in the edge of the belt of pines bordering the southeastern rim of the plateau, on which the battle was now to rage so long and so fiercely.
Col. William Smith’s battalion of the Forty-ninth Virginia Volunteers, having also come up by my orders, I placed it on the left of Gartrell’s, as my extreme left at the time. Repairing then to the right, I placed Hampton’s Legion, which have suffered greatly, on that flank somewhat to the rear of Harper’s regiment, and also the seven companies of the Eighth (Hunton’s) Virginia Regiment, which, detached from Cocke’s brigade by my orders and those of General Johnston, had opportunely reached the ground. These, with Harper’s regiment, constituted a reserve to protect our right flank from an advance of the enemy from the quarter of the stone bridge, and served as a support for the line of battle, which was formed on the right by Bee’s and Evans’ commands, in the center by four regiments of Jackson’s brigade, with Imboden’s four 6-pounders, Walton’s five guns (two rifled), two guns (one piece rifled) of Stanard’s, and two 6-pounders of Rogers’ batteries, the latter under Lieutenant Heaton, and on the left by Gartrell’s reduced ranks and Colonel Smith’s battalion, subsequently re-enforced, Falkner’s Second Mississippi Regiment, and by another regiment of the Army of the Shenandoah, just arrived upon the field–the Sixth (Fisher’s) North Carolina. Confronting the enemy at this time my forces numbered at most not more than sixty-five hundred infantry and artillerists, with but thirteen pieces of artillery and two companies (Carter’s and Hoge’s) of Stuart’s Cavalry.
The enemy’s force now bearing hotly and confidently down on our position, regiment after regiment of the best-equipped men that ever took the field according to their own official history of the day, was formed of Colonels Hunter’s and Heintzelman’s divisions, Colonels Sherman’s and Keyes’ brigades of Tyler’s division, and of the formidable batteries of Ricketts, Griffin, and Arnold (regulars), and Second Rhode Island and two Dahlgren howitzers–a force of over twenty thousand infantry, seven companies of regular cavalry, and twenty-four pieces of improved artillery. At the same time perilous heavy reserves of infantry and artillery hung in the distance around the stone bridge, Mitchell’s, Blackburn’s, and Union Mills Fords, visibly ready to fall upon us at any moment, and I was also assured of the existence of other heavy corps at and around Centreville and elsewhere within convenient supporting distances.
Fully conscious of this portentous disparity of force, as I posted the lines for the encounter I sought to infuse into the hearts of my officers and men the confidence and determined spirit of resistance to this wicked invasion of the homes of a free people which I felt. I informed them that re-enforcements would rapidly come to their support, and that we must at all hazards hold our posts until re-enforced. I reminded them that we fought for our homes, our firesides, and for the independence of our country. I urged them to the resolution of victory or death on that field. These sentiments were loudly, eagerly cheered wheresoever proclaimed, and I then felt reassured of the unconquerable spirit of that army, which would enable us to wrench victory from the host then threatening us with destruction.
Oh, my country! I would readily have sacrificed my life and those of all the brave men around me to save your honor and to maintain your independence from the degrading yoke which those ruthless invaders had come to impose and render perpetual, and the day’s issue has assured me that such emotions must also have animated all under my command.
In the mean time the enemy had seized upon the plateau on which Robinson’s and the Henry houses are situated–the position first occupied in the morning by General Bee before advancing to the support of Evans. Ricketts’ battery of six rifled guns, the pride of the Federalists, the object of their unstinted expenditure in outfit, and the equally powerful regular light battery of Griffin, were brought forward and placed in immediate action, after having, conjointly with the batteries already mentioned, played from former positions with destructive effect upon our forward battalions.
The topographical features of the plateau, now become the stage of the contending armies, must be described in outline. A glance at the map will show that it is inclosed on three sides by small water-courses, which empty into Bull Run within a few yards of each other a half a mile to the south of the stone bridge. Rising to an elevation of quite one hundred feet above the level of Bull Run at the bridge, it falls off on three sides to the level of the inclosing streams in gentle slopes, but which are furrowed by ravines of irregular direction and length, and studded with clumps and patches of young pines and oaks. The general direction of the crest of the plateau is oblique to the course of Bull Run in that quarter and to the Brentsville and turnpike roads, which intersect each other at right angles. Immediately surrounding the two houses before mentioned are small open fields of irregular outline, not exceeding one hundred and fifty acres in extent. The houses, occupied at the time, the one by the Widow Henry and the other by the free negro Robinson, are small wooden buildings, the latter densely embowered in trees and environed by a double row of fences on two sides. Around the eastern and southern brow of the plateau an almost unbroken fringe of second-growth pines gave excellent shelter for our marksmen, who availed themselves of it with the most satisfactory skill. To the west, adjoining the fields, a broad belt of oaks extends directly across the crest on both sides of the Sudley road, in which during the battle regiments of both armies met and contended for the mastery. From the open ground of this plateau the view embraces a wide expanse of woods and gently undulating open country of broad grass and grain fields in all directions, including the scene of Evans’ and Bee’s recent encounter with the enemy, some twelve hundred yards to the northward.
In reply to the play of the enemy’s batteries our own artillery had not been either idle or unskillful. The ground occupied by our guns, on a level with that held by the batteries of the enemy, was an open space of limited extent, behind a low undulation just at the eastern verge of the plateau, some live or six hundred yards from the Henry house. Here, as before said, thirteen pieces, mostly 6-pounders, were, maintained in action; the several batteries of Imboden, Stanard, Pendleton (Rockbridge Artillery), and Alburtis, of the Army of the Shenandoah, and five guns of Walton’s and Heaton’s section of Rogers’ battery of the Army of the Potomac, alternating to some extent with each other, and taking part as needed, all from the outset displaying that marvelous capacity of our people as artillerists which has made them, it would appear, at once the terror and the admiration of the enemy. As was soon apparent, the Federalists had suffered severely from our artillery and from the fire of our musketry on the right, and especially from the left flank, placed under cover, within whose galling range they had been advanced; and we are told in their official reports how regiment after regiment thrown forward to dislodge us was broken, never to recover its entire organization on that field.
In the mean time, also, two companies of Stuart’s Cavalry ((Carter’s and Hoge’s) made a dashing charge down the Brentsville and Sudley road upon the Fire Zouaves, then the enemy’s right; on the plateau, which added to their disorder wrought by our musketry on that flank. But still the press of the enemy was heavy in that quarter of the field as fresh troops were thrown forward there to outflank us, and some three guns of a battery in an attempt to obtain a position, apparently to enfilade our batteries, were thrown so close to the Thirty-third Regiment, Jackson’s brigade, that that regiment, springing forward, seized them, but with severe loss, and was subsequently driven back by an overpowering force of Federal musketry.
Now, full 2 o’clock p.m., I gave the order for the right of my line, except my reserves, to advance to recover the plateau. It was done with uncommon resolution and vigor, and at the same time Jackson’s brigade pierced the enemy’s center with the determination of veterans and the spirit of men who fight for a sacred cause, but it suffered seriously. With equal spirit the other parts of the line made the onset, and the Federal lines were broken and swept back at all points from the open ground of the plateau. Rallying soon, however, as they were strongly re-enforced by fresh regiments, the Federalists returned, and by weight of numbers pressed our lines back, recovered their ground and guns, and renewed the offensive.
By this time, between half past two and 3 o’clock p.m., our re-enforcements pushed forward, and, directed by General Johnston to the required quarter, were at hand just as I had ordered forward to a second effort for the recovery of the disputed plateau the whole line, including my reserve, which at this crisis of the battle I felt called upon to lead in person. This attack was general, and was shared in by every regiment then in the field, including the Sixth (Fisher’s) Worth Carolina Regiment, which had just come up and taken position on the immediate left of the Forty-ninth Virginia Regiment. The whole open ground was again swept clear of the enemy, and the plateau around the Henry and Robinson houses remained finally in our possession with the greater part of the Ricketts and Griffin batteries, and a flag of the First Michigan Regiment, captured by the Twenty-seventh Virginia Regiment, Lieutenant-Colonel Echols, of Jackson’s brigade.
This part of the day was rich with deeds of individual coolness and dauntless conduct, as well as well-directed embodied resolution and bravery, but fraught with the loss to the service of the country of lives of inestimable preciousness at this juncture. The brave Bee was mortally wounded at the head of the Fourth Alabama and some Mississippians. In the open field near the Henry house, and a few yards distant, the promising life of Bartow, while leading the Seventh Georgia Regiment, was quenched in blood. Col. F. J. Thomas, acting chief of ordnance, of General Johnston’s staff, after gallant conduct and most efficient service, was also slain. Colonel Fisher, Sixth North Carolina, likewise fell, after soldierly behavior at the head of his regiment with ranks greatly thinned.
Withers’ Eighteenth Regiment, of Cocke’s brigade, had come up in time to follow this charge, and, in conjunction with Hampton’s Legion, captured several rifled pieces, which may have fallen previously in possession of some of our troops, but if so, had been recovered by the enemy. These pieces were immediately turned and effectively served on distant masses of the enemy by the hands of some of our officers.
While the enemy had thus been driven back on our right entirely across the turnpike and beyond Young’s Branch on our left, the woods yet swarmed with them when our re-enforcements opportunely arrived in quick succession and took position in that portion of the field. Kershaw’s Second and Cash’s Eighth South Carolina Regiments, which had arrived soon after Withers, were led through the oaks just east of the Sudley-Brentsville road, brushing some of the enemy before them, and taking an advantageous position along and west of that road, opened with much skill and effect on bodies of the enemy that had been rallied under cover of a strong Federal brigade posted on a plateau in the southwest angle formed by intersection of the turnpike with the Sudley-Brentsville road. Among the troops thus engaged were the Federal regular infantry.
At the same time Kemper’s battery, passing northward by the Sudley-Brentsville road, took position on the open space, under orders of Colonel Kershaw, near where an enemy’s battery had been captured, and was opened with effective results upon the Federal right, then the mark also of Kershaw’s and Cash’s regiments. Preston’s Twenty-eighth Regiment, of Cocke’s brigade, had by that time entered the same body of oaks, and encountered some Michigan troops, capturing their brigade commander, Colonel Willcox.
Another important accession to our forces had also occurred about the same time, 3 o’clock p.m. Brig. Gen. E. K. Smith, with some seventeen hundred infantry, of Elzey’s brigade, of the Army of the Shenandoah, and Beckham’s battery came upon the field from Camp Pickens, Manassas, where they had arrived by railroad at noon. Directed in person by General Johnston to the left, then so much endangered, on reaching a position in rear of the oak woods, south of the Henry house, and immediately east of the Sudley road, General Smith was disabled by a severe wound, and his valuable services were lost at that critical juncture; but the command devolved upon a meritorious officer of experience, Colonel Elzey, who led his infantry at once somewhat farther to the left, in the direction of the Chinn house, across the road, through the oaks skirting the west side of the road, and around which he sent the battery, under Lieutenant Beckham. This officer took up a most favorable position near that house, whence, with a clear view of the Federal right and center, filling the open fields to the west of the Brentsville-Sudley road and gently sloping southward, he opened fire with his battery upon them with deadly and damaging effect.
Colonel Early, who by some mischance did not receive orders until 2 o’clock which had been sent him at noon, came on the ground immediately after Elzey, with Kemper’s Seventh Virginia, Hays’ Seventh Louisiana, and Barksdale’s Thirteenth Mississippi Regiments. This brigade, by the personal direction of General Johnston, was marched by the Holkham house across the fields to the left, entirely around the woods through which Elzey had passed, and under a severe fire, into a position in line of battle near Chinn’s house, outflanking the enemy’s right.
At this time, about 3.30 p, m., the enemy, driven back on their left and center and brushed from the woods bordering the Sudley road, south and west of the Henry house, had formed a line of battle of truly formidable proportions, of crescent outline, reaching on their left from vicinity of Pittsylvania (the old Carter mansion), by Mathews’ and in rear of Dogan’s, across the turnpike near to Chinn’s house. The woods and fields were filled with their masses of infantry a and their carefully-preserved cavalry. It was a truly magnificent, though redoubtable, spectacle as they threw forward in flue style on the broad, gentle slopes of the ridge occupied by their main lines a cloud of skirmishers, preparatory for another attack.
But as Early formed his line, and Beckham’s pieces played upon the right of the enemy, Elzey’s brigade, Gibbons’ Tenth Virginia, Lieutenant-Colonel Steuart’s First Maryland, and Vaughn’s Third Tennessee Regiments, Cash’s Eighth and Kershaw’s Second South Carolina, Withers, Eighteenth and Preston’s Twenty-eighth Virginia advanced in an irregular line, almost simultaneously, with great spirit from their several positions upon the front and flanks of the enemy in their quarter of the field. At the same time, too, Early resolutely assailed their right flank and rear. Under this combined attack the enemy was soon forced first over the narrow plateau in the southern angle made by the two roads so often mentioned into a patch of woods on its western slope, thence back over Young’s Branch and the turnpike into the fields of the Dogan farm and rearward, in extreme disorder in all available directions towards Bull Run. The rout had now become general and complete.
About the time that Elzey and Early were entering into action a column of the enemy (Keyes’ brigade, of Tyler’s division) made its way across the turnpike between Bull Run and the Robinson house, under cover of a wood and brow of the ridges, apparently to turn my right, but was easily repulsed by a few shots from Latham’s battery, now united and placed in position by Capt. D. B. Harris, of the Virginia engineers, whose services during the day became his character as an able, cool, an(. skillful officer, and from Alburtis’ battery, opportunely ordered by General Jackson to a position to the right of Latham, on a hill commanding the line of approach of the enemy, and supported by portions of regiments collected together by the staff officers of General Johnston and myself.
Early’s brigade, meanwhile, joined by the Nineteenth Virginia Regiment, Lieutenant-Colonel Strange, of Cockers brigade, pursued the now panic-stricken fugitive enemy. Stuart, with his cavalry and Beckham had also taken up the pursuit along the road by which the enemy had come upon the field that morning, but soon, cumbered by prisoners who thronged his way, the former was unable to attack the mass of the fast-fleeing, frantic Federalists. Withers’, R. T. Preston’s, Cash’s, and Kershaw’s regiments, Hampton’s Legion, and Kemper’s battery also pursued along the Warrenton road by the stone bridge, the enemy having opportunely opened a way for them through the heavy abatis which my troops had made on the west side of the bridge several days before; but this pursuit was soon recalled in consequence of a false report which unfortunately reached us that the enemy’s reserves, known to be fresh and of considerable strength, were threatening the position of Union Mills Ford.
Colonel Radford, with six companies Virginia Cavalry, was also ordered by General Johnston to cross Bull Run and attack the enemy from the direction of Lewis’ house. Conducted by one of my aides, Colonel Chisolm, by the Lewis Ford to the immediate vicinity of the suspension bridge, he charged a battery with great gallantry, took Colonel Corcoran, of the Sixty-ninth Regiment New York Volunteers, a prisoner, and captured the Federal colors of that regiment, as well as a number of the enemy. He lost, however, a promising officer of his regiment, Capt. Winston Radford.
Lieutenant-Colonel Mumford also led some companies of cavalry in hot pursuit, and rendered material service in the capture of prisoners and of cannon, horses, ammunition, &c., abandoned by the enemy in their flight. Captain Lay’s company of the Powhatan Troops and Utterback’s Rangers, Virginia Volunteers, attached to my person, did material service under Captain Lay in rallying troops broken for the time by the onset of the enemy’s masses.
During the period of the momentous events, fraught with the weal of our country, which were passing on the blood-stained plateau along the Sudley and Warrenton roads, other portions of the line of Bull Run had not been void of action of moment and of influence on the general result.
While Colonel Evans and his sturdy band were holding at bay the Federal advance beyond the turnpike the enemy made repeated demonstrations with artillery and infantry upon the line of Cooke’s brigade, with the serious intention of forcing the position, as General Schenck admits in his report. They were driven back with severe loss by Latham’s (a section) and Rogers’ four 6-pounders, and were so impressed with the strength of that line as to be held in check and inactive even after it had been stripped of all its troops but one company of the Nineteenth Virginia Regiment, under Captain Duke, a meritorious officer; and it is worthy of notice that in this encounter of our 6-pounder guns, handled by our volunteer artillerists, they had worsted such a notorious adversary as the Ayres (formerly Sherman’s) battery, which quit the contest under the illusion that it had weightier metal than its own to contend with.
The center brigades, Bonham’s and Longstreet’s, of the line of Bull Run, if not closely engaged, were, nevertheless, exposed for much of the day to an annoying, almost incessant fire of artillery of long range; but, by a steady, veteran-like maintenance of their positions, they held virtually paralyzed all day two strong brigades of the enemy with their batteries (four) of rifled guns.
As before said, two regiments of Bonham’s brigade–Second and Eighth South Carolina Volunteers-and Kemper’s battery took a distinguished part in the battle. The remainder–Third (Williams’), Seventh (Bacon’s) South Carolina Volunteers, Eleventh (Kirkland’s) North Carolina Regiment, six companies of the Eighth Louisiana Volunteers, Shields’ battery, and one Section of Walton’s battery, under Lieutenant Garnett–whether in holding their post or taking up the pursuit, officers and men discharged their duty with credit and promise.
Longstreet’s brigade, pursuant to orders prescribing his part of the operations of the center and right wing, was thrown across Bull Run early in the morning, and under a severe fire of artillery was skillfully disposed for the assault of the enemy’s batteries in that quarter, but was withdrawn subsequently, in consequence of the change of plan already mentioned and explained. The troops of this brigade were–First (Major Skinner), Eleventh (Garland’s), Twenty-fourth (Lieutenant-Colonel Hairston), Seventeenth (Corse’s) Virginia Regiments; Fifth North Carolina (Lieutenant-Colonel Jones), and Whitehead’s company Virginia Cavalry. Throughout the day these troops evinced the most soldierly spirit.
After the rout, having been ordered by General Johnston in the direction of Centreville in pursuit, these brigades advanced nearly to that place, when, night and darkness intervening, General Bonham thought it proper to direct his own brigade and that of General Longstreet back to Bull Run.
General D. R. Jones early in the day crossing Bull Run with his brigade, pursuant to orders indicating his part in the projected attack by our right wing and center on the enemy at Centreville, took up a position on the Union Hills and Centreville road more than a mile in advance of the run. Ordered back, in consequence of the miscarriage of the orders to General Ewell, the retrograde movement was necessarily made under a sharp fire of artillery.
At noon this brigade, in obedience to new instructions, was again thrown across Bull Run to make demonstration. Unsupported by other troops, the advance was gallantly made until within musket range of the enemy’s force–Colonel Davies’ brigade, in position near Rocky Run–and under the concentrated fire of their artillery. In this affair the Fifth, (Jenkins’) South Carolina and Captain Fontaine’s company of the Eighteenth Mississippi Regiment are mentioned by General Jones as having shown conspicuous gallantry, coolness, and discipline under a combined fire of infantry and artillery. Not only did the return fire of the brigade drive to cover the enemy’s infantry, but the movement unquestionably spread through the enemy’s ranks a sense of insecurity and danger from an attack by that route on their rear at Centreville, which served to augment the extraordinary panic which we know disbanded the entire Federal Army for the time. This is evident from the fact that Colonel Davies, the immediate adversary’s commander, in his official report, was induced to magnify one small company of our cavalry which accompanied the brigade into a force of 2,000 men, and Colonel Miles, the commander of the Federal reserves at Centreville, says the movement caused painful apprehensions for the left flank of their army.
General Ewell, occupying for the time the right of the lines of Bull Run, at Union Mills Ford, after the miscarriage of my orders for his advance upon Centreville, in the afternoon was ordered by General Johnston to bring up his brigade into battle, then raging on the left flank. Promptly executed as this movement was, the brigade, after a severe march, reached the field too late to share the glories as they had the labors of the day. As the important position at the Union Mills had been left with but a slender guard, General Ewell was at once ordered to retrace his steps and resume his position,. to prevent the possibility of its seizure by any force of the enemy in that quarter. Brigadier-General Holmes, left with his brigade as a support to the same position in the original plan of battle, had also been called to the left, whither he marched with the utmost speed, but not in time to join actively in the battle. Walker’s rifled guns of the brigade, however, came up in time to be fired with precision and decided execution at the retreating enemy, and Scott’s cavalry, joining in the pursuit, assisted in the capture of prisoners and war munitions.
This victory, the details of which I have thus sought to chronicle as fully as were fitting an official report, it remains to record was dearly won by the death of many officers and men of inestimable value, belonging to all grades of our society. In the death of General Barnard E. Bee the Confederacy has sustained an irreparable loss, for, with great personal bravery and coolness, he possessed the qualities of an accomplished soldier and an able, reliable commander. Colonels Bartow and Fisher and Lieutenant-Colonel Johnson, of Hampton’s Legion, in the fearless command of their men, gave earnest of great usefulness to the service had they been spared to complete a career so brilliantly begun. Besides the field officers already mentioned as having been wounded while in the gallant discharge of their duties, many others also received severe wounds, after equally honorable and distinguished conduct, whether in leading their men forward or in rallying them when overpowered or temporarily shattered by the largely superior force to which we were generally opposed.
The subordinate grades were likewise abundantly conspicuous for zeal and capacity for the leadership of men in arms. To mention all who, fighting well, paid the lavish forfeit of their lives, or at least crippled, mutilated bodies, on the field of Manassas, cannot well be done within the compass of this paper; but a grateful country and mourning friends will not suffer their names and services to be forgotten and pass away unhonored.
Nor are those officers and men who were so fortunate as to escape the thick-flying deadly missiles of the enemy less worthy of praise for their endurance, firmness, and valor, than their brothers in arms whose lives were closed or bodies maimed on that memorable day. To mention all who exhibited ability and brilliant courage were impossible in this report; nor do the reports of brigade and other subordinate commanders supply full lists of all actually deserving of distinction. I can only mention those whose conduct came immediately under my notice or the consequence of whose actions happened to be signally important. It is fit that I should in this way commend to notice the dauntless conduct and imperturbable coolness of Colonel Evans, and well indeed was he supported by Colonel Sloan and the officers of the Fourth South Carolina Regiment, as also Major Wheat, than whom no one displayed more brilliant courage until carried from the field shot through the lungs, though happily not mortally stricken. But in the desperate, unequal conflict to which these brave gentlemen were for a time necessarily exposed, the behavior of officers and men generally was worthy of the highest admiration, and assuredly hereafter all there present may proudly say, We were of that band who fought the first hour of the battle of Manassas. Equal honors and credit must also be awarded in the pages of history to the gallant officers and men who, under Bee and Bartow, subsequently marching to their side, saved them from destruction, and relieved them from the brunt of the enemy’s attack.
The conduct of General Jackson also requires mention as eminently that of an able, fearless soldier and sagacious commander, one fit to lead his efficient brigade. His prompt, timely arrival before the plateau of the Henry house, and his judicious disposition of his troops, contributed much to the success of the day. Although painfully wounded in the hand, he remained on the field to the end of the battle, rendering invaluable assistance.
Col. William Smith was as efficient as self-possessed and brave. The influence of his example and his words of encouragement were not confined to his immediate command, the good conduct of which is especially noticeable, inasmuch as it had been embodied but a day or two before the battle.
Colonels Harper, Hunton, and Hampton, commanding regiments of the reserve, attracted my notice by their soldierly ability, as with their gallant commands they restored the fortunes of the day at a time when the enemy by a last desperate onset with heavy odds had driven our forces from the fiercely-contested ground around the Henry and Robinson houses. Veterans could not have behaved better than these well-led regiments.
High praise must also be given to Colonels Cocke, Early, and Elzey, brigade commanders; also to Colonel Kershaw, commanding for the time the Second and Eighth South Carolina Regiments. Under the instructions of General Johnston these officers reached the field at an opportune, critical moment, and disposed, handled, and fought their respective commands with sagacity, decision, and successful results, which have been described in detail.
Col. J. E. B. Stuart likewise deserves mention for his enterprise and ability as a cavalry commander. Through his judicious reconnaissance of the country on our left flank he acquired information, both of topographical features and the positions of the enemy, of the utmost importance in the subsequent and closing movements of the day on that flank, and his services in the pursuit were highly effective.
Capt. E. P. Alexander, C. S. Engineers, gave me seasonable and material assistance early in the day with his system of signals. Almost the first shot fired by the enemy passed through the tent of his party at the stone bridge, where they subsequently firmly maintained their position in the discharge of their duty–the transmission of messages of the enemy’s movements–for several hours under fire. Later, Captain Alexander acted as my aide-de-camp in the transmission of orders and in observation of the enemy.
I was most efficiently served throughout the day by my volunteer aides, Colonels Preston, Manning, Chesnut, Miles, Rice, Hayward, and Chisolm, to whom I tender my thanks for their unflagging, intelligent, and fearless discharge of the laborious, responsible duties Intrusted to them. To Lieut. S. W. Ferguson, aide-de-camp, and Colonel Hayward, who were habitually at my side from 12 noon until the close of the battle, my special acknowledgments are due. The horse of the former was killed under him by the same shell that wounded that of the latter. Both were eminently useful to me, and were distinguished for coolness and courage until the enemy gave way and fled in wild disorder in every direction–a scene the President of the Confederacy had the high satisfaction of witnessing, as he arrived upon the field at that exultant moment.
I also received from the time I reached the front such signal service from H. E. Peyton, at the time a private in the Loudoun Cavalry, that I have called him to my personal staff. Similar services were also rendered me repeatedly during the battle by T. J. Randolph, a volunteer acting aide-de-camp to Colonel Cocke. Capt. Clifton H. Smith, of the general staff, was also present on the field, and rendered efficient service in the transmission of orders.
It must be permitted me here to record my profound sense of my obligations to General Johnston for his generous permission to carry out my plans with such modifications as circumstances had required. From his services on the field as we entered it together, already mentioned, and his subsequent watchful management of the re-enforcements as they reached the vicinity of the field, our countrymen may draw the most auspicious auguries.
To Col. Thomas Jordan, my efficient and zealous assistant adjutant-general, much credit is due for his able assistance in the organization of the forces under my command and for the intelligence and promptness with which he has discharged all the laborious and important duties of his office.
Valuable assistance was given to me by Major Cabell, chief officer of the quartermaster’s department, in the sphere of his duties-duties environed by far more than the ordinary difficulties and embarrassments attending the operations of a long organized regular establishment.
Col. R. B. Lee, chief of subsistence department, had but just entered upon his duties, but his experience and long and varied services in his department made him as efficient as possible.
Capt. W. H. Fowle, whom Colonel Lee had relieved, had previously exerted himself to the utmost to carry out orders from these headquarters to render his department equal to the demands of the service. That it was not entirely so it is due to justice to say was certainly not his fault.
Deprived by the sudden severe illness of the medical director, Surg. Thomas H. Williams, his duties were discharged by Surg. R. L. Brodie to my entire satisfaction; and it is proper to say that the entire medical corps of the Army at present, embracing gentlemen of distinction in the profession, who had quit lucrative private practice, by their services in the field and subsequently did high honor to their profession.
The vital duties of the ordnance department were effectively discharged under the administration of my chief of artillery and ordnance, Col. S. Jones.
At one time, when reports of evil omen and disaster reached Camp Pickens with such circumstantiality as to give reasonable grounds of anxiety, its commander, Colonel Terrett, the commander of the intrenched batteries, Captain Sterrett, of the C. S. Navy, and their officers, made the most efficient possible preparations for the desperate defense of that position in extremity; and in this connection I regret my inability to mention the names of those patriotic gentlemen of Virginia by the gratuitous labor of whose slaves the intrenched camp at Manassas had been mainly constructed, relieving the troops from that laborious service, and giving opportunity for their military instruction.
Lieut. Col. Thomas H. Williamson, the engineer of these works, assisted by Capt. D. B. Harris, discharged his duties with untiring energy and devotion as well as satisfactory skill.
Capt. W. H. Stevens, engineer C. S. Army, served with the advanced forces at Fairfax Court-House for some time before the battle. He laid out the works there in admirable accordance with the purposes for which they were designed, and yet so as to admit of ultimate extension and adaptation to more serious uses as means and part of a system of real defense when determined upon. He has shown himself to be an officer of energy and ability.
Maj. Thomas G. Rhett, after having discharged for several months the laborious duties of adjutant-general to the commanding officer of Camp Pickens, was detached to join the Army of the Shenandoah just on the eve of the advance of the enemy, but volunteering his services, was ordered to assist on the staff of General Bonham, joining that officer at Centreville on the night of the 17th, before the battle of Bull Run, where he rendered valuable services, until the arrival of General Johnston, on the 20th of July, when he was called to the place of chief of staff of that officer. It is also proper to acknowledge the signal services rendered by Cols. B. F. Terry and T. Lubbock, of Texas, who had attached themselves to the staff of General Longstreet. These gentlemen made daring and valuable reconnaissances of the enemy’s positions, assisted by Captains Goree and Chichester; they also carried orders to the field, and on the following day accompanied Captain White-, head’s troop to take possession of Fairfax Court-House. Colonel Terry, with his unerring rifle, severed the halliard, and thus lowered the Federal flag found still floating from the cupola of the court-house there. He also secured a large Federal garrison flag, designed, it is said, to be unfurled over our intrenchments at Manassas.
In connection with the unfortunate casualty of the day, that is the miscarriage of the orders sent by courier to Generals Holmes and Ewell to attack the enemy in flank and reverse at Centreville, through which the triumph of our arms was prevented from being still more decisive, I regard it in place to say a divisional organization, with officers in command of divisions, with appropriate rank, as in European services, would greatly reduce the risk of such mishaps, and would advantageously simplify the communications of a general in command of a field with his troops.
While glorious for our people, and of crushing effect upon the morale of our hitherto confident and overweening adversary, as were the events of the battle of Manassas, the field was only won by stout fighting, and, as before reported, with much loss, as is precisely exhibited in the papers herewith, marked F, G, and H,(@) and being lists of the killed and wounded. The killed outright numbered 369, the wounded 1,483, making an aggregate of 1,852.
The actual loss of the enemy will never be known; it may now only be conjectured. Their abandoned dead, as they were buried by our people where they fell, unfortunately were not enumerated, but many parts of the field were thick with their corpses as but few battle-fields have ever been. The official reports of the enemy are studiously silent on this point, but still afford us data for an approximate estimate. Left almost in the dark in respect to the losses of Hunter’s and Heintzelman’s divisions, first, longest, and most hotly engaged, we are informed that Sherman’s brigade, Tyler’s division, suffered in killed, wounded, and missing 609; that is, about eighteen per cent. of the brigade. A regiment of Franklin’s brigade (Gorman’s) lost twenty-one per cent., Griffin’s (battery) loss was thirty per cent., and that of Keyes’ brigade, which was so handled by its commander as to be exposed to only occasional volleys from our troops, was at least ten per cent. To these facts add the repeated references in the reports of the more reticent commanders to the “murderous” fire to which they were habitually exposed, the “pistol-range” volleys, and galling musketry of which they speak as scourging their ranks, and we are warranted in placing the entire loss of the Federalists at over forty-five hundred in killed, wounded, and prisoners. To this may be legitimately added as a casualty of the battle the thousands of fugitives from the field, who have never rejoined their regiments, and who are as much lost the enemy’s service as if slain or disabled by wounds. These may not be included under the head of missing, because in every instance of such report we took as many prisoners of those brigades or regiments as are reported missing.
A list appended exhibits some 1,460 of their wounded and others who fell into our hands and were sent to Richmond.(*) Some were sent to other points, so that the number of prisoners, including wounded who did not die, may be set down as not less than 1,600. Besides these a considerable number who could not be removed from the field died at several farm-houses and field hospitals within ten days following the battle.
To serve the future historian of this war I will note the fact that among the captured Federalists are officers and men of forty-seven regiments of volunteers, besides from some nine different regiments of regular troops, detachments of which were engaged. From their official reports we learn of a regiment of volunteers engaged, six regiments of Miles’ division, and the five regiments of Runyon’s brigade, from which we have neither sound nor wounded prisoners. Making all allowances for mistakes, we are warranted in saying that the Federal army consisted of at least fifty-five regiments of volunteers, eight companies of regular infantry, four of marines, nine of regular cavalry, and twelve batteries of forty-nine guns. These regiments at one time, as will appear from a published list appended, marked K, numbered in the aggregate 54,140, and average 964 each. From an order of the enemy’s commander, however, date, July 13, we learn that one hundred men front each regiment were directed to remain in charge of their respective camps. Some allowance must further be made for the sick and details, which would reduce the average to eight hundred men. Adding the regular cavalry, infantry, and artillery present, an estimate of their force may be made.(+)
A paper appended, marked L, exhibits in part the ordnance and supplies captured, including some twenty-eight field pieces of the best character of arm, with over one hundred rounds of ammunition for each gun, thirty-seven caissons, six forges, four battery wagons, sixty-four artillery horses completely equipped, 500,000 rounds of small-arms ammunition, 4,500 sets of accouterments, over 500 muskets, some nine regimental and garrison flags, with a large number of pistols, knapsacks, swords, canteens, blankets, a large store of axes and intrenching tools, wagons, ambulances, horses, camp and garrison equipage, hospital stores, and some subsistence.
Added to these results may rightly be noticed here that by this battle an invading army, superbly equipped, within twenty miles of their base of operations, has been converted into one virtually besieged and exclusively occupied for months in the construction of a stupendous series of fortifications for the protection of its own capital.
I beg to call attention to the reports of the several subordinate commanders for reference to the signal parts played by individuals of their respective commands. Contradictory statements found in these reports should not excite surprise, when we remember how difficult if not impossible it is to reconcile the narrations of bystanders or participants in even the most inconsiderable affair, much less the shifting, thrilling scenes of a battlefield.
Accompanying are maps showing the positions of the armies on the morning of the 21st July and of three several stages of the battle; also of the line of Bull Run north of Blackburn’s Ford. These maps, from actual surveys made by Capt. D. B. Harris, assisted by Mr. John Grant, were drawn by the latter with a rare accuracy worthy of high commendation.(#)
In conclusion, it is proper and doubtless expected that through this report my countrymen should be made acquainted with some of the sufficient causes that prevented the advance of our forces and prolonged vigorous pursuit of the enemy to and beyond the Potomac. The War Department has been fully advised long since of all of those causes, some of which only are proper to be here communicated. An army which had fought as ours on that day, against uncommon odds, under a July sun, most of the time without water and without food except a hastily-snatched scanty meal at dawn, was not in condition for the toil of an eager, effective pursuit of an enemy immediately after the battle.
On the following day an unusually heavy and unintermitting fall of rain intervened to obstruct our advance with reasonable prospect of fruitful results. Added to this, the want of a cavalry force of sufficient numbers made an efficient pursuit a military impossibility.
Respectfully, your obedient servant,
G. T. BEAUREGARD,
General S. COOPER,
*Summarized in No.121, post.
@Namely: 3 colonels, 1 major, 13 captains, 36 lieutenants, 2 quartermasters, 5 surgeons, 7 assistant surgeons, 2 chaplains, 15 citizens, and 1,376 enlisted men.
+Report No. 120, post.
Comments : 1 Comment »
Tags: After Action Reports, Resources
Categories : Official Reports, Resources
Reports of Brig. Gen. Daniel Tyler, Connecticut Militia, Commanding First Division
O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 2 [S# 2] — CHAPTER IX, pp 348 – 352
HDQRS. 1ST DIV. DEP’T NORTHEASTERN VIRGINIA:
Washington City, July 27, 1861
GENERAL: In obedience to Orders, No. 22, dated Centreville, July 20, Sherman’s, Schenck’s, and Keyes’ brigades of this division–Richardson’s brigade having been left in front of Blackburn’s Ford–moved at 2.30 a.m. on the 21st instant to threaten the passage of the Warrenton turnpike bridge on Bull Run. I arrived in front of the bridge with Schenck’s and Sherman’s brigades and Ayres’ and Carlisle’s batteries about 6 a.m., Keyes’ brigade having been halted by your order to watch the road coming up from Manassas, and about two miles from the run. After examining the position, and posting Sherman’s and Schenck’s brigades and the artillery, I fired the first gun at 6.30 a.m., as agreed upon, to show that we were in position.
As my orders were to threaten the passage of the bridge, I caused Schenck’s brigade to be formed into line, its left resting in the direction of the bridge and the battery which the enemy had established to sweep the bridge and its approach, so as to threaten both. Sherman’s brigade was posted to the right of the Warrenton turnpike, so as to be in position to sustain Schenck or to move across Bull Run in the direction of Hunter’s column. The 30-pounder gun attached to Carlisle’s battery was posted on the Warrenton turnpike: with Ayres’ battery considerably in its rear. Carlisle’s battery was posted on the left of Sherman’s brigade. In this position we awaited the appearance of Hunter’s and Heintzelman’s columns, as ordered, until such time as the approach to the bridge should be carried: and the bridge rebuilt by Captain Alexander, of the Engineers, who had on the spot the necessary structure for that purpose.
Soon after getting into position we discovered that the enemy had a heavy battery, with infantry in support, commanding both the road and bridge approaches, on which both Ayres and Carlisle at different times tried the effect of their guns without success, and a careful examination of the banks of Bull Run satisfying me that they were impracticable for the purpose of artillery, these batteries had to remain comparatively useless until such time as Hunter’s column might clear the approach by a movement on the opposite bank. During this period of waiting the 30-pounder was occasionally used with considerable effect against bodies of infantry and cavalry, which could be seen from time to time moving in the direction of Hunter’s column and out of the range of ordinary guns. Using a high tree as an observatory, we could constantly see the operations of Hunter’s and Heintzelman’s column from the time they crossed Bull Run, and through one of my staff, Lieutenant O’Rorke, of the Engineers, I was promptly notified as to any change in the progress of their columns up to the time when it appeared that the heads of both were arrested, and the enemy seemed to be moving heavy re-enforcements to support their troops.
At this time I ordered Colonel Sherman, with his brigade, to cross Bull Run and to support the two columns already in action. Colonel Sherman, as appears by his report, crossed the run without opposition, and after encountering a party of the enemy flying before Hunter’s forces, found General McDowell, and received his orders to join in the pursuit. The subsequent operations of this brigade and its able commander having been under your own eye and direction, I shall not follow its movements any further, but refer you to Colonel Sherman’s report, which you will find herewith.
So soon as it was discovered that Hunter’s division had been arrested, I ordered up Keyes’ brigade, which arrived just as the left of Sherman’s was crossing the run, and having satisfied myself that the enemy had not the force nor the purpose to cross Bull Run, I ordered Keyes’ brigade to follow Sherman, accompanying the movement in person, as I saw it must necessarily place me on the left of our line and in the best possible position, when we should have driven the enemy off, to join Schenck’s brigade and the two batteries left on the opposite side.
I ordered Colonel Keyes to incline the head of his column a little to the right of the line of march taken by Sherman’s brigade, to avoid the fire of a battery which the enemy had opened. This movement sheltered the men to a considerable degree, and resulted in closing on the rear of Sherman’s brigade, and on reaching the high ground I ordered Colonel Keyes to form into line on the left of Sherman’s brigade, which was done with great steadiness and regularity. After waiting a few moments the line was ordered to advance, and came into conflict on its right with the enemy’s cavalry and infantry, which, after some severe struggles, it drove back until the further march of the brigade was arrested by a severe fire of artillery and infantry, sheltered by some buildings standing on the heights above the road leading to Bull Run. The charge was here ordered, and the Second Maine and Third Connecticut Regiments, which were opposed to this part of the enemy’s line, pressed forward to the top of the hill until they reached the buildings which were held by the enemy, drove them out, and for a moment had them in possession. At this point, finding the brigade under the fire of a strong force behind breastworks, the order was given to march by the left flank across an open field until the whole line was sheltered by the right bank of Bull Run, along which the march was conducted, with a view to turn the battery which the enemy had placed on the hill below the point at which the Warrenton turnpike crosses Bull Run. The march was conducted for a considerable distance below the stone bridge, causing the enemy to retire, and gave Captain Alexander an opportunity to pass the bridge, cut out the abatis which had been placed there, and prepared the way for Schenck’s brigade and the two batteries of artillery to pass over.
Before the contemplated movement could be made on the enemy’s battery it was removed, and placed in a position to threaten our line; but before the correct range could be obtained, Colonel Keyes carried his brigade by a flank movement around the base of the hill, and was on the point of ascending it in line to get at the battery, when I discovered that our troops were on the retreat, and that unless a rapid movement to the rear was made we should be cut off, and through my aide, Lieutenant Upton, Colonel Keyes was ordered to file to the right, and join the retreating column. The order was executed without the least confusion, and the brigade joined the retreating column in good order. When this junction was made I left Keyes’ brigade, and rode forward to ascertain the condition of Schenck’s brigade and the artillery left this side of Bull Run, and, on arriving there, found Ayres’ battery and Lieutenant Hains’ 30-pounder waiting orders. I immediately ordered Lieutenant Hains to limber up and move forward as soon as possible. This was promptly done, and the piece moved on towards Centreville. I then went into the wood where the ammunition wagon of this piece had been placed, out of reach of fire, and found that the driver had deserted and taken away part of the horses, which made it impossible to move it. I then returned to Ayres’ battery, which I found limbered up, and ordered it to move forward and cover the retreat, which was promptly done by its gallant officers, and when the cavalry charge was made, shortly afterward, they repulsed it promptly and effectively. I then collected a guard, mainly from the Second Maine Regiment, and put it under the command of Colonel Jameson, with orders to sustain Captain Ayres during the retreat, which was done gallantly and successfully until the battery reached Centreville.
Before ordering Colonel Jameson to cover Ayres’ battery, I passed to the rear to find General Schenck’s brigade, intending, as it was fresh, to have it cover the retreat. I did not find it in the position in which I had left it, and supposed it had moved forward and joined the retreating column. I did not see General Schenck again until near Cub Run, where he appeared active in rallying his own or some other regiments. General Schenck reports that the two Ohio regiments left Bull Run after the cavalry charge, and arrived at Centreville in good order.
In closing this report, it gives me great pleasure to express my admiration of the manner in which Colonel Keyes handled his brigade, completely covering it by every possible accident of the ground while changing his positions, and leading it bravely and skillfully to the attack at the right moment; to which the brigade responded in every instance in a manner highly creditable to itself and satisfactory to its commanding officers. At no time during the conflict was this brigade disorganized, and it was the last off the field, and in good order.
Colonel Keyes says: “The gallantry with which the Second Maine and Third Connecticut Regiments charged up the hill upon the enemy’s artillery and infantry was never, in my opinion, surpassed, and the conduct of Colonels Jameson and Chatfield, in this instance and throughout the day, merits the highest commendation. Colonel Terry rendered great assistance by his gallantry and excellent conduct. Lieutenant Hascall, acting assistant adjutant-general, Lieutenants Walter and Ely, rendered gallant and effective assistance.” It gives me pleasure to be able to confirm the above from personal observation, and to express my personal satisfaction with the conduct of this brigade. For further particulars as to gallant conduct of individuals, I beg leave to refer you to the reports of commanders of brigades, hereunto attached. Colonel Sherman speaks highly of Colonel Coon, of Wisconsin, and Lieutenants Piper and McQuesten, all on his personal staff.
From my own personal staff I received in every instance prompt and gallant assistance, and my thanks are due to Captains Baird and Merrill, Lieutenants Houston, Abbot, Upton, O’Rorke, and Audenried for gallant conduct and the prompt and valuable assistance they rendered me. Lieutenants Abbot and Upton were both wounded and each had a horse killed under him, as also had Lieutenant O’Rorke.
I inclose herewith a table of casualties, showing our losses at Bull Run.
I have the honor to be, with great respect, your most obedient servant,
Brigadier-General, Commanding Division
Commanding Department of Northeastern Virginia
HDQRS. 1ST DIV. DEP’T NORTHEASTERN VIRGINIA,
Washington City, July 27, 1861
GENERAL: I closed my division report of the battle at Bull Run at the time we left for Centreville. It is due to me and to my division that its subsequent movements be noticed up to the time the different brigades reached a stopping place. On reaching Centreville, we found Richardson’s brigade in line, ready to support us or cover the retreat. This brigade returned in good order to Arlington. After the order was given to retreat, and each brigade was ordered “to proceed to the position from which it started and by the route by which it arrived,” I communicated this order to the commander of each brigade, and with Keyes’ brigade proceeded at once to Falls Church, intending to secure the camp equipage of the four regiments left standing there, which I knew, if we fell back on the fortifications in front of Washington, the enemy would at once seize.
Colonel Keyes, with the three Connecticut regiments, arrived at Falls Church about 5 a.m. on the 22d instant, and proceeded at once to strike their tents and those of the Maine regiment, and sent them to Fort Corcoran. This work, without rations, was continued throughout the entire day, the men being exposed to a severe storm of rain. By night the entire camp equipage was safely removed. Colonel Keyes then fell back to the camp of Schenck’s brigade, which had been entirely deserted, and after using those tents for the night struck them the next morning, and sent the entire Government property to Fort Corcoran and Alexandria, and at 7 p.m. on Tuesday I saw the three Connecticut regiments, with 2,000 bayonets, march under the guns of Fort Corcoran in good order, after having saved us not only a large amount of public property, but the mortification of having our standing camps fall into the hands of the enemy. I know, general, that you will appreciate this service on the part of a portion of my division and give credit to whom credit is due. All the brigades, except Schenck’s, obeyed the order to retire to their original positions. By some misunderstanding, which has not been satisfactorily explained, this brigade proceeded directly to Washington, one regiment, as I understand, passing through the camp they left on the 16th instant.
With very great respect, your very obedient servant,
Brigadier-General, Commanding Division
Commanding Department of Northeastern Virginia
HEADQUARTERS FIRST DIVISION,
Washington, August 3, 1861
GENERAL: I inclose herewith the originals of Carlisle’s and Ayres’ reports of the operations of their respective batteries on the 21st instant [Nos. 20 and 27]. As these reports are full, you will see whether they do not require more consideration than they have received in my report. All the officers attached to these batteries, so far as their conduct fell under my personal observation until 12 o’clock, behaved like gallant gentlemen, and it was, in my opinion, the effect of their fire that held the enemy in front of the bridge in check and interfered seriously with the movements of his column in the direction of Colonel Hunter’s attack. The loss of Captain Carlisle’s battery is to be attributed to the want of that infantry support which he had a right to expect, or to his halting too long before he moved forward towards Centreville.
With great respect, your obedient servant,
Commanding Department Northeastern Virginia
Comments : 1 Comment »
Tags: After Action Reports, Resources
Categories : Official Reports, Resources
Reports of Brig. Gen. Irvin McDowell, Commanding Federal Forces
O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 2 [S# 2] — CHAPTER IX, pp 316-328
CENTREVILLE, July 21, 1861–5.45 p.m.
We passed Bull Run. Engaged the enemy, who, it seems, had just been re-enforced by General Johnston. We drove them for several hours, and finally routed them.
They rallied and repulsed us, but only to give us again the victory, which seemed complete. But our men, exhausted with fatigue and thirst and confused by firing into each other, were attacked by the enemy’s reserves, and driven from the position we had gained, overlooking Manassas. After this the men could not be rallied, but slowly left the field. In the mean time the enemy outflanked Richardson at Blackburn’s Ford, and we have now to hold Centreville till our men can get behind it. Miles’ division is holding the town. It is reported Colonel Cameron is killed, Hunter and Heintzelman wounded, neither dangerously.
Brigadier General, Commanding
FAIRFAX COURT-HOUSE, July 21, 1861:
The men having thrown away their haversacks in the battle and left them behind, they are without food; have eaten nothing since breakfast. We are without artillery ammunition. The larger part of the men are a confused mob, entirely demoralized. It was the opinion of all the commanders that no stand could be made this side of the Potomac. We will, however, make the attempt at Fairfax Court-House. From a prisoner we learn that 20,000 from Johnston joined last night, and they march on us to-night.
FAIRFAX COURT-HOUSE, [July] 22, 1861
Many of the volunteers did not wait for authority to proceed to the Potomac, but left on their own decision. They are now pouring through this place in a state of utter disorganization. They could not be prepared for action by to-morrow morning even were they willing. I learn from prisoners that we are to be pressed here to-night and to-morrow morning, as the enemy’s force is very large and they are elated. I think we heard cannon on our rear guard. I think now, as all of my commanders thought at Centreville, there is no alternative but to fall back to the Potomac, and I shall proceed to do so with as much regularity as possible.
ARLINGTON, July 22, 1861
I avail myself of the re-establishing of telegraph to report my arrival. When I left the forks of the Little River turnpike and Columbia turnpike, where I had been for a couple of hours turning stragglers and parties of regiments upon this place and Alexandria, I received intelligence that the rear guard, under Colonel Richardson, had left Fairfax Court-House and was getting along well. Had not been attacked. I am now trying to get matters a little organized over here.
E. D. TOWNSEND
HDQRS. DEPARTMENT NORTHEASTERN VIRGINIA,
Arlington, Va., August 4, 1861
Lieut. Col. E. D. TOWNSEND,
Asst. Adjt. Gen., Hdqrs. of the Army, Washington, D. C.
COLONEL: I have the honor to submit the following report of the battle of the 21st of July, near Manassas, Va. It has been delayed till this time from the inability of the subordinate commanders to get earlier a true account of the state of their commands.
In my communication to you of the 20th ultimo, I stated it as my intention to move that afternoon and drive the enemy from the east side of Bull Run, so as to enable the engineers to make a sufficiently accurate reconnaissance to justify our future movements. Later in the day they had obtained enough information of the passages across the stream to dispense with this reconnaissance, and it was decided to move without further delay.
It had been my intention to move the several columns out on the road a few miles on the evening of the 20th, so that they would have a shorter march in the morning; but I deferred to those who had the greatest distance to go, and who preferred starting early in the morning and making but one move.
On the evening of the 20th ultimo my command was mostly at or near Centreville. The enemy was at or near Manassas, distant from Centreville about seven miles to the southwest. Centreville is a village of a few houses, mostly on the west side of a ridge running nearly north and south. The road from Centreville to Manassas Junction runs along this ridge, and crosses Bull Run about three miles from the former place. The Warrenton turnpike, which runs nearly east and west, goes over this ridge through the village, and crosses Bull Run about four miles from it, Bull Run having a course between the crossings from northwest to southeast.
The First Division (Tyler’s) was stationed as follows: One brigade on the north side of the Warrenton turnpike and on the eastern slope of the Centreville ridge; two brigades on the same road and a mile and a half in advance to the west of the ridge; and one brigade on the road from Centreville to Manassas where it crosses Bull Run at Blackburn’s Ford, where General Tyler had the engagement of the 18th ultimo.
The Second Division (Hunter’s) was on the Warrenton turnpike, one mile east of Centreville.
The Third Division (Heintzelman’s) was on a road known as the old Braddock road, which comes into Centreville from the southeast about a mile and a half from the village.
The Fifth Division (Miles’) was on the same road with the Third Division, and between it and Centreville.
A map, which is herewith, marked A,(*) will show these positions better than I describe them.Friday night a train of subsistence arrived, and on Saturday its contents were ordered to be issued to the command, and the men required to have three days’ rations in their haversacks. (See appendix herewith, marked B.)
Saturday orders (copy herewith, marked c) were issued for the available force to march.
As reported to you in my letter of the 19th ultimo, my personal reconnaissance of the roads to the south had shown that it was not practicable to carry out the original plan of turning the enemy’s position on their right. The affair of the 18th at Blackburn’s Ford showed he was too strong at that point for us to force a passage there without great loss, and if we did, that it would bring us in front of his strong position at Manassas, which was not desired.
Our information was that the stone bridge over which the Warrenton road crossed Bull Run to the west of Centreville was mined, defended by a battery in position, and the road on his side of the stream impeded by a heavy abatis. The alternative was, therefore, to turn the extreme left of his position.
Reliable information was obtained of an undefended ford about three miles above the bridge, there being another ford between it and the bridge, which was defended. It was therefore determined to take the road to the upper ford, and, after crossing, to get behind the forces guarding the lower ford and the bridge, and after occupying the Warrenton road east of the bridge to send out a force to destroy the railroad at or near Gainesville, and thus break up the communication between the enemy’s forces at Manassas and those in the Valley of Virginia before Winchester, which had been held in check by Major-General Patterson.
Brigadier-General Tyler was directed to move with three of his brigades on the Warrenton road, and commence cannonading the enemy’s batteries, while Hunter’s division, moving after him, should, after passing a little stream called Cub Run, turn to the right and north, and move by a wood road around to the upper ford, and then turn south and get behind the enemy; Colonel Heintzelman’s division to follow Hunter’s as far as the turning-off place to the lower ford, where he was to cross after the enemy should have been driven out by Hunter’s division; the Fifth Division (Miles’) to be in reserve on the Centreville ridge.
I had felt anxious about the road from Manassas by Blackburn’s Ford to Centreville along this ridge, fearing that, whilst we should be in force to the front and endeavoring to turn the enemy’s position, we ourselves should be turned by him by this road. For if he should once obtain possession of this ridge, which overlooks all the country to the west to the foot of the spurs of the Blue Ridge, we should have been irretrievably cut off and destroyed. I had, therefore, directed this point to be held in force, and sent an engineer to extemporize some field works to strengthen the position.
The Fourth Division (Runyon’s) had not been brought to the front farther than to guard our communications by way of Vienna and the Orange and Alexandria Railroad. His advanced regiment was about seven miles in rear of Centreville.
The divisions were ordered to march at 2.30 o’clock a.m., so as to arrive on the ground early in the day, and thus avoid the heat which is to be expected at this season. There was delay in the First Division getting out of its camp on the road, and the other divisions were, in consequence, between two and three hours behind the time appointed–a great misfortune, as events turned out. The wood road leading from the Warrenton turnpike to the upper ford was much longer than we counted upon, the general direction of the stream being oblique to the road and we having the obtuse angle on our side.
General Tyler commenced with his artillery at 6.30 a.m., but the enemy did not reply, and after some time it became a question whether he was in any force in our front, and if he did not intend himself to make an attack, and make it by Blackburn’s Ford. After firing several times, and obtaining no response, I held one of Heintzelman’s brigades in reserve, in case we should have to send any troops back to re-enforce Miles’ division. The other brigades moved forward as directed in the general order.
On reaching the ford at Sudley Springs, I found part of the leading brigade of Hunter’s division (Burnside’s) had crossed, but the men were slow in getting over, stopping to drink. As at this time the clouds of dust from the direction of Manassas indicated the immediate approach of a large force, and fearing it might come down on the head of the column before the division could all get over and sustain it, orders were sent back to the heads of regiments to break from the column, and come for-ward separately as fast as possible.
Orders were sent by an officer to the reserve brigade of Heintzelman’s division to come by a nearer road across the fields, and an aide-de-camp sent to Brigadier-General Tyler to direct him to press forward his attack, as large bodies of the enemy were passing in front of him to attack the division which had crossed over.
The ground between the stream and the road leading from Sudley Springs south, and over which Burnside’s brigade marched, was, for about a mile from the ford, thickly wooded, whilst on the right of the road for about the same distance the country was divided between fields and woods. About a mile from the ford the country on both sides of the road is open, and for nearly a mile farther large rolling fields extend down to the Warrenton turnpike, which crosses what became the field of battle, through the valley of a small water-course, a tributary of Bull Run.
Shortly after the leading regiment of the First Brigade reached this open space, and whilst the others and the Second Brigade were crossing to the front and right, the enemy opened his fire, beginning with artillery and following it up with infantry.
The leading brigade (Burnside’s) had to sustain this shock for a short time without support, and did it well. The battalion of regular infantry was sent to sustain it, and shortly afterwards the other corps of Porter’s brigade and a regiment detached from Heintzelman’s division to the left forced the enemy back far enough to allow Sherman’s and Keyes’ brigades of Tyler’s division to cross from their position on the Warrenton road.
These drove the right of the enemy (understood to have been commanded by Beauregard) from the front of the field, and out of the detached woods, and down to the road, and across it, up the slopes on the other side. Whilst this was going on, Heintzelman’s division was moving down the field to the stream and up the road beyond. Beyond the Warrenton road, and to the left of the road down which our troops had marched from Sudley Springs, is a hill with a farm house on it. Behind this hill the enemy had early in the day some of his most annoying batteries planted. Across the road from this hill was another hill, or rather elevated ridge or table land. The hottest part of the contest was for the possession of this hill with a house on it.
The force engaged here was Heintzelman’s division, Willcox’s and Howard’s brigades on the right, supported by part of Porter’s brigade and the cavalry under Palmer, and Franklin’s brigade of Heintzelman’s division, Sherman’s brigade of Tyler’s division in the center and up the road, whilst Keyes’ brigade of Tyler’s division was on the left, attacking the batteries near the stone bridge. The Rhode Island Battery of Burnside’s brigade also participated in this attack by its fire from the north of the turnpike. The enemy was understood to have been commanded by J. E. Johnston.
Ricketts’ battery, which did such effective service and played so brilliant a part in this contest, was, together with Griffin’s battery, on the side of the hill, and became the object of the special attention of the enemy, who succeeded (our officers mistaking one of his regiments for one of our own, and allowing it to approach without firing upon it) in disabling the battery, and then attempted to take it. Three times was he repulsed by different corps in succession and driven back, and the guns taken by hand (the horses being killed) and pulled away. The third time it was supposed by us all that the repulse was final, for he was driven entirely from the hill, so far beyond it as not to be in sight, and all were certain the day was ours. He had before this been driven nearly a mile and a half, and was beyond the Warrenton road, which was entirely in our possession from the stone bridge westward, and our engineers were just completing the removal of the abatis across the road to allow our re-enforcements (Schenck’s brigade and Ayres’ battery) to join us.
The enemy was evidently disheartened and broken. But we had then been fighting since 10.30 o’clock in the morning, and it was after 3 o’clock in the afternoon. The men had been up since 2 o’clock in the morning, and had made what to those unused to such things seemed a long march before coming into action, though the longest distance gone over was not more than 9½ miles; and though they had three days’ provisions served out to them the day before, many, no doubt, either did not get them, or threw them away on the march or during the battle, and were therefore without food. They had done much severe fighting. Some of the regiments which had been driven from the hill in the first two attempts of the enemy to keep possession of it had become shaken, were unsteady, and had many men out of the ranks.
It was at this time that the enemy’s re-enforcements came to his aid from the railroad train (understood to have just arrived from the valley with the residue of Johnston’s army). They threw themselves in the woods on our right, and opened a fire of musketry on our men, which caused them to break and retire down the hill-side. This soon degenerated into disorder, for which there was no remedy. Every effort was made to rally them, even beyond the reach of the enemy’s fire, but in vain. The battalion of regular infantry alone moved up the hill opposite to the one with the house, and there maintained itself until our men could get down to and across the Warrenton turnpike on the way back to the position we occupied in the morning. The plain was covered with the retreating groups, and they seemed to infect those with whom they came in contact. The retreat soon became a rout, and this soon degenerated still further into a panic.
Finding this state of affairs was beyond the efforts of all those who had assisted so faithfully during the long and hard day’s work in gaining almost the object of our wishes, and that nothing remained on that field but to recognize what we could no longer prevent, I gave the necessary orders to protect their withdrawal, begging the men to form a line, and offer the appearance, at least, of organization and force.
They returned by the fords to the Warrenton road, protected, by my order, by Colonel Porter’s force of regulars. Once on the road, and the different corps coming together in small parties, many without officers, they became intermingled, and all organization was lost.
Orders had been sent back to Miles’ division for a brigade to move forward and protect this retreat, and Colonel Blenker’s brigade was detached for this purpose, and was ordered to go as far forward as the point where the road to the right left the main road.
By referring to the general order it will be seen that while the operations were to go on in front, an attack was to be made at Blackburn’s Ford by the brigade (Richardson’s) stationed there. A reference to his report, and to that of Major Hunt, commanding the artillery, will show that this part of the plan was well and effectively carried out (+). It succeeded in deceiving the enemy for considerable time and in keeping in check a part of his force. The fire of the artillery at this point is represented as particularly destructive.
At the time of our retreat, seeing great activity in this direction, much firing, and columns of dust, I became anxious for this place, fearing if it were turned or forced the whole stream of our retreating mass would be captured or destroyed.
After providing for the protection of the retreat by Porter’s and Blenker’s brigades, I repaired to Richardson’s, and found the whole force ordered to be stationed for the holding of the road from Manassas, by Blackburn’s Ford, to Centreville, on the march, under orders from the division commander, for Centreville. I immediately halted it, and ordered it to take up the best line of defense across the ridge that their then position admitted of; and subsequently, taking in person the command of this part of the Army, I caused such disposition of the forces, which had been added to by the First and Second New Jersey and the De Kalb Regiments, ordered up from Runyon’s reserve before going forward, as would best serve to check the enemy.
The ridge being held in this way, the retreating current passed slowly through Centreville to the rear. The enemy followed us from the ford as far as Cub Run, and, owing to the road becoming blocked up at the crossing, caused us much damage there, for the artillery could not pass, and several pieces and caissons had to be abandoned. In the panic the horses hauling the caissons and ammunition were cut from their places by persons to escape with, and in this way much confusion was caused, the panic aggravated, and the road encumbered. Not only were pieces of artillery lost, but also many of the ambulances carrying the wounded.
By sundown most of our men had gotten behind Centreville ridge, and it became a question whether we should or not endeavor to make a stand there. The condition of our artillery and its ammunition, and the want of food for the men, who had generally abandoned or thrown away all that had been issued the day before, and the utter disorganization and consequent demoralization of the mass of the Army, seemed to all who were near enough to be consulted–division and brigade commanders and staff–to admit of no alternative but to fall back; the more so as the position at Blackburn’s Ford was then in the possession of the enemy, and he was already turning our left.
On sending the officers of the staff to the different camps, they found, as they reported to me, that our decision had been anticipated by the troops, most of those who had come in from the front being already on the road to the rear, the panic with which they came in still continuing and hurrying them along.
At — o’clock the rear guard (Blenker’s brigade) moved, covering the retreat, which was effected during the night and next morning.(^) The troops at Fairfax Station, leaving by the cars, took with them the bulk of the supplies which had been sent there. My aide-de-camp, Major Wadsworth, staid at Fairfax Court-House till late in the morning, to see that the stragglers and weary and worn-out soldiers were not left behind.
I transmit herewith the reports of the several division and brigade commanders, to which I refer for the conduct of particular regiments and corps, and a consolidated return of the killed, wounded, and missing, marked D. From the latter it will be seen that our killed amounted to 19 officers and 462 non-commissioned officers and privates, and our wounded to 64 officers and 947 non-commissioned officers and privates. Many of the wounded will soon be able to join the ranks, and will leave our total of killed and disabled from further service under 1,000.
The return of the missing is very inaccurate, the men supposed to be missing having fallen into other regiments and gone to Washington; many of the zouaves to New York. In one brigade the number originally reported at 616 was yesterday reduced to 174. These reductions are being made daily. In a few days a more correct return can be made.
Of course nothing accurate is known of the loss of the enemy. An officer of their forces, coming from them with a flag, admitted 1,800 killed and wounded, and other information shows this to be much under the true number.
The officer commanding the Eleventh New York (Zouaves) and Colonel Heintzelman say that the returns of that regiment cannot be relied on, as many there reported among the casualties have absented themselves since their return, and have gone to New York.
Among the missing are reported many of our surgeons, who remained in attendance on our wounded, and were, against the rules of modern warfare, made prisoners.
The issue of this hard-fought battle, in which certainly our troops lost no credit in their conflict on the field with an enemy ably commanded, superior in numbers, who had but a short distance to march, and who acted on his own ground on the defensive, and always under cover, whilst our men were of necessity out on the open fields, should not prevent full credit being given to those officers and corps whose services merited success if they did not attain it.
To avoid repetition I will only mention here the names of those not embraced in the reports of division and brigade commanders. I beg to refer to their reports for the names of those serving under their immediate orders, desiring that on this subject of persons, &c., they be considered as part of my own.
I claim credit for the officers of my staff and for those acting as such during the day. They did everything in their power, exposing themselves freely when required, and doing all that men could do, communicating orders, guiding the columns, exhorting the troops, rallying them when broken, and providing for them the best the circumstances admitted.
They are as follows:
First Lieut. H. W. Kingsbury, Fifth Artillery, A, D.C.
Maj. Clarence S. Brown, New York Militia, volunteer A.D.C.
Maj. James S. Wadsworth, New York Militia, volunteer A.D.C.
The latter (who does me the honor to be on my personal staff) had a horse shot under him in the hottest of the fight.
Capt. James B. Fry, assistant adjutant-general.
Capt. O. H. Tillinghast, assistant quartermaster, who discharged alone the important and burdensome duties of his department with the Army, and who was mortally wounded whilst acting with the artillery, to which he formerly belonged, and in which he was deeply interested.
Capt. H. F. Clarke, Subsistence Department, chief of subsistence department.
Major Myer, Signal Officer, and Maj. Malcolm McDowell, who acted as aides.
Surg. W. S. King and Assistant Surgeon Magruder, Medical Department.
Maj. J. G. Barnard, Engineer, and senior of his department with the Army, who gave me most important aid.
First Lieut. Fred. E. Prime, Engineer.
Capt. A. W. Whipple, First Lieut. H. L. Abbot, and Second Lieut. H. S. Putnam, Topographical Engineers.
Maj. W. F. Barry, Fifth Artillery, chief of artillery.
Lieut. Geo. C. Strong, ordnance officer.
Maj. W. H. Wood, Seventeenth Infantry, acting inspector-general.
Second Lieut. Guy V. Henry, who joined me on the field, and was of service as an aide-de-camp.
The following officers commanded divisions and brigades, and in the several places their duty called them did most effective service and behaved in the most gallant manner:
Brigadier-General Tyler, Connecticut Volunteers.
Col. David Hunter, Third Cavalry, severely wounded at the head of his division.
Col. S. P. Heintzelman, Seventeenth Infantry, wounded in the arm while leading his division into action on the hill.
Brigadier-General Schenck, Ohio Volunteers, commanding Second Brigade, First Division.
Col. E. D. Keyes, Eleventh Infantry, commanding First Brigade, First Division.
Col. W. B. Franklin, Twelfth Infantry, First Brigade, Third Division.
Col. W. T. Sherman, Thirteenth Infantry, commanding Third Brigade, First Division.
Col. Andrew Porter, Sixteenth Infantry, commanding First Brigade, Second Division.
Col. A. E. Burnside, Rhode Island Volunteers, commanding Second Brigade, Second Division.
Col. O. B. Willcox, Michigan Volunteers, commanding Second Brigade, Third Division, who was wounded and taken prisoner whilst on the hill in the hottest of the fight.
Col. O. O. Howard, Maine Volunteers, commanding Third Brigade, Third Division.
Col. I. B. Richardson, Michigan Volunteers, commanding Fourth Brigade, First Division.
Colonel Blenker, New York Volunteers, commanding First Brigade, Fifth Division.
Colonel Davies, New York Volunteers, commanding Second Brigade, Fifth Division.
As my position may warrant, even if it does not call for, some explanation of the causes, as far as they can be seen, which led to the results herein stated, I trust it may not be considered out of place if I refer, in a few words, to the immediate antecedents of the battle.
When I submitted to the General-in-Chief, in compliance with his verbal instructions, the plan of operations and estimate of force required, the time I was to proceed to carry it into effect was fixed for the 8th of July (Monday). (#)
Every facility possible was given me by the General-in-Chief and heads of the administrative departments in making the necessary preparations. But the regiments, owing, I was told, to want of transportation, came over slowly. Many of them did not come across until eight or nine days after the time fixed upon, and went forward without my ever seeing them and without having been together before in a brigade.
The sending re-enforcements to General Patterson by drawing off the wagons was a further and unavoidable cause of delay. Notwithstanding the herculean efforts of the Quartermaster-General, and his favoring me in every possible way, the wagons for ammunition, subsistence, &c., and the horses for the trains and for the artillery, did not all arrive for more than a week after the time appointed to move.
I was not even prepared as late as the 15th ultimo, and the desire I should move became great, and it was wished I should not, if possible, delay longer than Tuesday, the 16th ultimo. When I did set out on the 16th I was still deficient in wagons for subsistence, but I went forward, trusting to their being procured in time to follow me.
The trains thus hurriedly gotten together, with horses, wagons, drivers, and wagon-masters all new and unused to each other, moved with difficulty and disorder, and was the cause of a day’s delay in getting the provisions forward, making it necessary to make on Sunday the attack we should have made on Saturday.
I could not, with every exertion, get forward with the troops earlier than we did. I wished them to go to Centreville the second day, which would have taken us there on the 17th, and enabled us, so far as they were concerned, to go into action on the 19th instead of the 21st; but when I went forward from Fairfax Court-House beyond Germantown to urge them forward, I was told it was impossible for the men to march farther. They had only come from Vienna, about six miles, and it was not more than six and one-half miles farther to Centreville, in all a march of twelve and one-half miles; but the men were foot-weary, not so much, I was told, by the distance marched, as by the time they had been on foot, caused by the obstructions in the road and the slow pace we had to move to avoid ambuscades. The men were, moreover, unaccustomed to marching, their bodies not in condition for that kind of work, and not used to carrying even the lead of “light marching order.”
We crossed Bull Run with about 18,000 men of all arms, the Fifth Division (Miles’) and Richardson’s brigade on the left at Blackburn’s Ford and Centreville, and Schenck’s brigade of Tyler’s division on the left of the road near the stone bridge, not participating in the main action. The numbers opposed to us have been variously estimated. I may safely say, and avoid even the appearance of exaggeration, that the enemy brought up all he could which were not kept engaged elsewhere. He had notice of our coming on the 17th, and had from that time until the 21st to bring up whatever he had.
It is known that in estimating the force to go against Manassas I engaged not to have to do with the enemy’s forces under Johnston, then kept in check in the valley by Major General Patterson, or those kept engaged by Major-General Butler, and I knew every effort was made by the General-in-Chief that this should be done, and that even if Johnston joined Beauregard, it should be because he would be driven in and followed by General Patterson. But, from causes not necessary for me to refer to, even if I knew them all, this was not done, and the enemy was free to assemble from every direction in numbers only limited by the amount of his railroad rolling-stock and his supply of provisions. To the forces, therefore, we drove in from Fairfax Court-House, Fairfax Station, Germantown, and Centreville, and those under Beauregard at Manassas, must be added those under Johnston from Winchester, and those brought up by Davis from Richmond and other places at the South, to which is to be added the levy en masse ordered by the Richmond authorities, which was ordered to assemble at Manassas. What all this amounted to I cannot say; certainly much more than we attacked them with.
I could not, as I have said, move earlier or push on faster, nor could I delay. A large and the best part, so considered, of my forces were three-months volunteers, whose terms of service were about expiring, but who were sent forward as having long enough to serve for the purpose of the expedition.
On the eve of the battle the Fourth Pennsylvania Regiment of Volunteers and the battery of Volunteer Artillery of the Eighth New York Militia, whose term of service expired, insisted on their discharge. I wrote to the regiment as pressing a request as I could pen, and the honorable Secretary of War, who was at the time on the ground, tried to induce the battery to remain at least five days, but in vain. They insisted on their discharge that night. It was granted; and the next morning, when the Army moved forward into battle, these troops moved to the rear to the sound of the enemy’s cannon.
In the next few days, day by day I should have lost ten thousand of the best armed, drilled, officered, and disciplined troops in the Army. In other words, every day which added to the strength of the enemy made us weaker. In conclusion, I desire to say in reference to the events of the 21st ultimo, that the general order for the battle to which I have referred was, with slight modifications, literally conformed to; that the corps were brought over Bull Run in the manner proposed, and put into action as before arranged, and that, up to late in the afternoon, every movement ordered was carrying us successfully to the object we had proposed before starting–that of getting to the railroad leading from Manassas to the valley of Virginia, and going on it far enough to break up and destroy the communication, and interpose between the forces under Beauregard and those under Johnston; and could we have fought a day–yes, a few hours–sooner, there is everything to show that we should have continued successful, even against the odds with which we contended.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your most obedient servant,
*To appear in Atlas
+See McDowell’s report of August 12, 1861, p. 328
^ See McDowell’s report of August 12, 1861, p. 328
#See McDowell to Townsend, June 24, 1861, “Correspndence, etc.,” post.
HDQRS. DEP’T NORTHEASTERN VIRGINIA,
Centreville, July 20, 1861.
The commanders of divisions will give the necessary orders, that an equal distribution of the subsistence stores on hand may be made immediately to the different companies in their respective commands, so that they shall be provided for the same number of days, and that the same be cooked and put in the haversacks of the men. The subsistence stores now in the possession of each division, with the fresh beef that can be drawn from the chief commissary, must last to include the 23d instant.
By command of Brigadier-General McDowell:
JAMES B. FRY,
TO COMMANDERS OF DIVISIONS AND BRIGADES
GENERAL ORDERS, No. 22 I HDQRS. DEP’T NORTHEASTERN VIRGINIA,
Centreville, July 20, 1861
The enemy has planted a battery on the Warrenton turnpike to defend the passage of Bull Run, has mined the stone bridge, and made a heavy abatis on the right bank to oppose our advance in that direction. The ford above the bridge is also guarded, whether with artillery or not is not positively known, but every indication favors the belief that he purposes defending the passage of the stream.
It is intended to turn the position, force the enemy from the road, that it may be reopened, and, if possible, destroy the railroad leading from Manassas to the valley of Virginia, where the enemy has a large force. As this may be resisted by all the force of the enemy, the troops will be disposed of as follows:
The First Division (General Tyler’s), with the exception of Richardson’s brigade, will move at 2.30 a.m. precisely, on the Warrenton turnpike, to threaten the passage of the bridge, but will not open fire until full daybreak.
The Second Division Hunter’s will move from its camp at 2 a.m. precisely, and, led by Captain Woodbury, of the Engineers, will, after passing Cub Run, turn to the right and pass the Bull Run stream above the lower ford at Sudley Springs, and then, turning down to the left descend the stream and clear away the enemy who may be guarding the lower ford and bridge. It will then bear off to the right, to make room for the succeeding division.
The Third Division (Heintzelman’s) will march at 2.30 a.m. and follow the road taken by the Second Division (Hunter’s), but will cross at the lower ford after it has been turned as above, and then, going to the left, take place between the stream and Second Division.
The Fifth Division (Miles’) will take position on the Centreville heights. (Richardson’s brigade will for the time form part of his division, and will continue in its present position.) One brigade will be in the village and one near the present station of Richardson’s brigade. This division will threaten Blackburn’s Ford and remain in reserve at Centreville.
The commander will open fire with artillery only, and will bear in mind that it is a demonstration only he is to make. He will cause such defensive works, abatis, earthworks, &c., to be thrown up as will strengthen his position. Lieutenant Prime, of the Engineers, will be charged with this duty.
These movements may lead to the gravest results, and commanders of divisions and brigades should bear in mind the immense consequences involved. There must be no failure, and every effort must be made to prevent straggling. No one must be allowed to leave the ranks without special authority. After completing the movements ordered the troops must be held in order of battle, as they may be attacked at any moment.
By command of Brigadier-General McDowell:
JAMES B. FRY,
HDQRS. DEPARTMENT NORTHEASTERN VIRGINIA,
Arlington, August 12, 1861
COLONEL: My attention has been called by those interested to two omissions in my report of the battle of the 21st ultimo near Manassas, and I ask leave to make the following corrections, wishing that they be made part of my original report:
1. In speaking of the retreat, I mentioned that it was covered by Colonel Blenker’s brigade. I should have said Colonel Richardson’s and Colonel Blenker’s brigades. The former was on the left of the Centreville ridge, and the latter in front of it, on the Warrenton road. Each covered the retreat of those on the respective roads to the common point–Centreville; from there to the rear Colonel Richardson was behind, and covered the main body.
2. In speaking of the action on the left at Blackburn’s Ford, I mentioned Colonel Richardson’s and Major Hunt’s reports as giving the account of what transpired in that direction. In this connection I omitted to mention Col. T. A. Davies’ report, and now beg to refer to it as necessary to a full account of this part of the battle. He was engaged to the left of Richardson, and repulsed an attempt of the enemy to turn our left.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your most obedient servant,
Lieut. Col. E. D. TOWNSEND,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Headquarters of the Army
Comments : 1 Comment »
Tags: After Action Reports, Resources
Categories : Official Reports, Resources