Nathan G. Evans

1 08 2009

Colonel Nathan “Shanks” Evans commanded the Seventh Brigade in Beauregard’s Army of the Potomac at Bull Run.  His command is often referred to as a demi-brigade due to its size: it consisted of one full regiment, the 4th SC, Wheat’s 1st Special Louisiana Battalion, Alexander’s and Terry’s troops of the 30th VA Cavalry, and one section of Latham’s battery.  All told, he had about 1,100 infantrymen with him on the far left of the Confederate line on the morning of July 21, 1861.  But what he managed to do with those men made him, for a time, a hero. 

Using the advantages of terrain, Evans managed to hold back Burnside’s men until reinforced by Bee and Bartow, which in turn gave Johnston and Beauregard time to send much of their widespread and late arriving manpower to Henry Hill.  He would follow up this success later in the year with a victory as the commander of the Confederate forces engaged at Ball’s Bluff, also known as the Battle of Leesburg.  That action would earn him the thanks of the Confederate Congress.

 But today Evans is probably best known not for his military achievments early in the war, but rather for his “barellita”, a one gallon jug of whiskey carried by an aide that accompanied him in camp and field.  His reputation as a hard drinker dogged him throughout his Confederate career, and perhaps played a role in his slow promotion and a series of transfers that earned his men the sobriquet of “The Tramp Brigade”.  He would end the war without a command and in relative obscurity.

Evans’s penchant for drink was a widely held impression from early on.  In a letter to his mother written 10/18/1861, Longstreet staffer T. J. Goree wrote:

[Evans] is very much censured for not attacking [an isolated Federal force a few days after Ball’s Bluff], but the truth of the matter is he was so elated by his victory at Leesburg that he got a little drunker than usual, and was consequently not in a condition to do anything.  Some of the officers under him speak of preferring charges against him.  Genl Evans is one of the bravest men I ever saw, and is no doubt a good officer when sober, but he is unfortunately almost always under the influence of liquor.  Cutrer, ed., Longstreet’s Aide: The Civil War Letters of Major Thomas Goree, p 51

 As for the photo below, I have no idea what’s going on there, but the two men are holding hands.  As I said here, things were different back then.  I think.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

evans2

This article was originally published on 9/13/2007, as part of the Nathan George Evans biographical sketch.





#76a – Col. Montgomery D. Corse

28 03 2009

Report of Col. Montgomery D. Corse, Seventeenth Virginia Infantry, of action at Blackburn’s Ford, July 18

O.R.–SERIES I–VOLUME LI/1 [S# 107], pp. 33-34

BULL RUN, July 19, 1861

GENERAL: I beg leave respectfully to report the operations of the Seventeenth Regiment of Virginia Volunteers on the 18th of July:

In pursuance of your orders the rifle companies (B and H), commanded by Captains Simpson and Herbert, were deployed as skirmishers along the right bank of Bull Run above Blackburn’s Ford, whilst Companies A and G, commanded by Captains Marye and Towson, were posted at the ford. Companies E and K, under Captains Devaughn and Shackelford, were detached and posted low down the run on the right of the First Regiment of Virginia Volunteers. About I p.m. the enemy appeared in considerable force on the opposite bank and opened a severe and continuous fire upon the First and Seventeenth Regiments. At this moment the remaining companies of the regiment were marched to the run, and responded lively and gallantly to the enemy’s fire. Company A, Captain Marye, was then ordered to cross the run and deploy as skirmishers on the opposite bank. Company C, Captain Head, and Company F, Captain Hamilton, were subsequently ordered to cross also and sustain this movement. The three companies promptly executed these orders, and after bravely driving the enemy through the woods back to their main body retired, bringing their own wounded and seven prisoners. Some fifteen or more of the enemy were killed, and many wounded. It affords me much gratification to remark upon the coolness and bravery manifested by both officers and men under my command. Particularly I must speak of the gallant conduct of Lieutenant-Colonel Munford, Major Brent, Adjutant Humphreys, Captain Marye, and Captain Head, who were actively and fearlessly employed during the engagement at the points where the fire was hottest. I must also mention Surgeon Lewis and Assistant Surgeon Snowden, who were untiring in their efforts to relieve the wounded, regardless of their personal safety. I regret to add that Captains Dulany and Presstman were severely wounded whilst at the head of their companies. Captain Shackelford, commanding Company K, and Lieutenant Javins, of Company E, were slightly wounded. Private Thomas R. Sangster, Company A, was killed, and four privates severely and six slightly wounded. I herewith return a full list of casualties.(*)

Your obedient servant,

M. D. CORSE,

Colonel, Comdg. Seventeenth Regiment Virginia Volunteers

Brigadier-General LONGSTREET,

Commanding Fourth Brigade, C. S. Army

(*) Shows 1 man killed, 4 officers and 10 men wounded





Lizinka Ewell – Southern Unionist?

26 03 2009

In this post I discussed an entry in the Oxford Guide to American Military History in which the contributor indicated that Confederate Lt. Gen. Richard Ewell was removed from command of the Army of Northern Virginia’s 2nd Corps in 1864 in part because of his wife Lizinka Brown Ewell’s “increasing Unionist sentiments”.  Not recalling ever coming across this in my readings before, I fired off a note to Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania NMP Chief Historian John Hennessy, and asked if he could forward a link to my post to his colleague Donald Pfanz, who wrote The Book on Ewell.  Mr. Pfanz was good enough to respond and give his permission to post his note here.

Dear Mr. Smeltzer,

John Hennessy passed along your inquiry about Lizinka Ewell and her supposed Unionist sentiments.  Lizinka was definitely not a Unionist.  In fact, she outfitted an entire Confederate company at the outset of the Civil War.  She was, however, a practical woman, and early in 1865 when she saw that the South was “up the spout” and that it was only a matter of time before the Confederacy collapsed, she and her daughter fled to the North in an apparent effort to save what she could of her property.  Instead, she ended up under house arrest in St. Louis, where she stayed with a cousin, Thomas T. Gantt, who had been on McClellan’s staff earlier in the war.  (There must have been some interesting conversations in the household during that period!)

Lee transferred Ewell out of the army because he lacked faith in him and preferred to have Jubal Early lead the Second Corps.   (Lee also realized that with Longstreet’s wounding Ewell would take command of the army if anything happened to him.)   I am not completely satisfied in my own mind why Lee harbored doubts as to Ewell’s ability to command the corps.  It may have had something to do with Ewell’s adolescent behavior in the winter of 1863-4, his loss of temper at the Bloody Angle, or Lizinka’s overbearing conduct at headquarters.   It didn’t have anything to do with disloyalty on Lizinka’s part, however.

Don Pfanz

That’s good enough for me.  Thanks, Mr. Pfanz, for taking the time to respond. 





#79 – Lieut. C. W. Squires

24 03 2009

Report of Lieut. C. W. Squires, Washington Artillery, of Action at Blackburn’s Ford

O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 2 [S# 2] — CHAPTER IX, pp. 467-469

CAMP LOUISIANA, August 1, 1861

SIR: I have the honor to make the following report:

Early on the morning of the 18th ultimo the three pieces of artillery under my command were ordered to march in the direction of Blackburn’s Ford with Col. Jubal A. Early’s brigade. On reaching McLean’s farm house we were joined by two more pieces of our battalion, under command of Lieut. J. B. Whittington and L. A. Adam. We were directed by the commanding officer (Colonel Early) to form one battery and act together. We were ordered to take position behind a piece of woods within a short distance of Bull Run, and place the command in such a position as would enable us to move in any direction. We had not been in this position ten minutes before the enemy began firing rifled shell and round shot at the hospital which was on our right, but did little or no execution. Soon after we heard the firing of our infantry, which was apparently returned by the enemy with musketry and cannon. We now received orders to take our battery to an open ground within a half mile of Blackburn’s Ford, where we were again halted, with instructions to follow behind the Seventh Louisiana Regiment with two rifled cannon, holding one rifled and two 6-pounders in reserve with Colonel Kemper’s volunteer regiment. The guns were detached under Lieutenant Richardson, assisted by Capt. B. F. Eshleman, of the Fourth Company, who had been with us during the morning. We were now joined by Lieut. J. J. Garnett with a section which was attached to General Longstreet’s brigade.

Hearing firing, and supposing it to be our rifled cannon under Lieutenant Richardson, I left the five pieces under command of Lieutenant Garnett, and rode in that direction to see if my battery of five pieces in the rear could be used, and get orders to bring them on the field. I found the guns in battery firing through a thick piece of woods, and appeared to have done good execution, as the enemy were now driven back and nothing could be seen of them. Lieutenant Garnett in the mean time received orders to join us, which he did. The guns were ordered to form in battery on the left, which order was promptly obeyed. Orders came to cease firing, as the enemy had retreated. We rested about fifteen minutes, when a courier came, stating that the enemy had rallied and the infantry were marching in column of companies to attack our battery on the right flank. We then received orders to find out their position and commence firing, which order was obeyed.

We at first directed our fire against the infantry, whose bayonets we could see over the tree tops, but had not fired five rounds before the enemy brought a battery in position on a high hill directly in front of us and opened their fire. I immediately gave orders to the gunners to fire a little below the point from whence the smoke of the enemy’s guns came. The firing now became general on both sides, the enemy firing at first over our heads, but gradually getting our range. We returned their fire, and were informed by General Longstreet that we were doing great execution. The enemy’s guns ceased firing for a few minutes, and it appeared that something had happened. Our battery in the mean time kept up rapid firing. The enemy soon opened again, their shells bursting in the very midst of our battery, wounding Capt. Eshleman, Privates H. L. Zebel, J. A. Tarleton, and G. W. Muse, of First Company, and Privates H. Tully and A. Baker, of Third Company; also Lieutenant Richardson’s horse, the lieutenant himself barely escaping with his life. G. W. Muse died of his wound during the night.

At this point Lieutenant Garnett brought orders from the general commanding to advance by hand to the front, which was no sooner executed than a shower of shell, spherical case, and round shot flew over our heads. One of our guns was disabled, the vent having been enlarged, which rendered it useless. Seeing that our men could not stand the work much longer I sent Lieutenant Garnett to General Longstreet, commanding him to state our condition. He brought an order to withdraw piece by piece from the left, leaving one piece to return the fire of the enemy, gun for gun. It was evident that the enemy was retiring, as his shots were few and long intervals between each discharge. At this juncture we were ordered to fire the last gun at the retreating foe.

To Lieutenants Richardson, Garnett, and Whittington I would call your especial attention, all having behaved well. To Sergeants E. Owen, J. M. Galbraith, and J. M. Brewer, and Corporals Ruggles, Payne, Fellows, and Ellis, and to all the cannoneers and drivers I am much indebted for coolness and obedience to all my orders. I would recommend most highly to your kind attention Sergeants Edward Owen and John M. Galbraith. They behaved gallantly through the whole engagements, reporting at every moment the different positions of their guns and every little item of interest connected therewith.

We fired three hundred and ten rounds during the engagement, had one horse killed and five wounded.

Very respectfully, major, your obedient servant,

C. W. SQUIRES,

First Lieutenant, Battalion Washington Artillery

Maj. J. B. WALTON,

Commanding Battalion Washington Artillery





#78 – Maj. John B. Walton

23 03 2009

Report of Maj. John B. Walton, Washington Artillery, of Operations July 18

O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 2 [S# 2] — CHAPTER IX, pp. 465-467

HDQRS. BATTALION WASHINGTON ARTILLERY,

Camp Louisiana, August 2, 1861

GENERAL: Referring to circular order under date of August 1, requiring a detailed report of the operations of all the troops under my command, including a list of the killed and wounded during the action on Thursday, July 18, I have the honor to report that during the night of the 16th of July I was informed by letters that my batteries might be required on the following day, to be distributed according to the following order:

Distribution of Major Walton’s Battalion, July 15, 1861

Second Brigade, General Ewell, in advance of Union Mills Ford, two 12-pounder howitzers, two rifled guns; Third Brigade, General Jones, at McLean’s Ford, one 6-pounder, one 12-pounder howitzer; Fourth Brigade, General Longstreet, at Blackburn’s Ford, two 6-pounders; Fifth Brigade, Colonel Early, at or near Union Mills Ford, one 12-pounder howitzer, one rifled gun; position of Union Mills Ford, one 6-pounder; total number of pieces, 11.

By command of General Beauregard:

THOS. JORDAN,

Assistant Adjutant-General

Subsequently, on the morning of the 17th of July, I was instructed, through Captain Ferguson, your aide-de-camp, to send immediately, via Camp Walker, to the farm house on the hill just this side of the encampment of the company then holding Union Mills Ford, the pieces of my battalion designated for the brigades of Ewell and Early and the one for the defense of said ford, and enter into communication with General Ewell and Colonel Early and await their orders. The other parts of my battalion and my command it was ordered should take post at or near McLean’s farm, and await orders. In obedience to these instructions I at once, upon receipt of the last orders, moved my whole command to the positions indicated, and reported to the officers of the brigades respectively. A battery of four guns, two 12-pounder howitzers and two rifled guns, under command of Lieutenants Rosser, Lewis, and Slocomb, were sent to Union Mills Ford, and reported to General Ewell. A section of a battery–one rifled 6-pounder and one 12-pounder howitzer–under Lieutenant Squires, commanding, and Lieutenant Richardson reported to Colonel Early near Union Mills Ford. The other parts of my battalion, 6-pounder guns and one 12-pounder howitzer, under my immediate command, took position on McLean’s farm, commanding McLean’s Ford, there awaiting your further orders. About 6 o’clock p.m. 17th ultimo I received from yourself in person orders to go at an early hour in the morning to Union Mills Ford with one 12-pounder howitzer in addition to the battery I had previously ordered to that position upon the road.

Whilst crossing Camp Walker I encountered Colonel Early, in command of his brigade, who communicated to me an order to exchange two rifled guns of Rosser’s battery for two howitzers, one of Squires’ section and one I was conducting to Union Mills Ford, which was promptly accomplished. The distribution of the batteries and command then was as follows:

Four 12-pounder howitzers, Lieutenant Rosser, Union Mills Ford; three 6-pounder rifled guns, Lieutenant Squires, with Colonel Early’s brigade; two 6-pounders, under Lieutenant Whittington and Lieutenant Adam, at McLean’s farm house; two 6-pounders, under Lieutenant Garnett, at Blackburn’s Ford; two 6-pounders, under Captain Miller, at McLean’s Ford.

Subsequently the two 6-pounders of Lieutenant Garnett and the two of Lieutenant Whittington were joined with the three rifled guns of Lieutenant Squires, making his command seven guns, which were all of the battalion of the Washington Artillery actually engaged in the action of the 18th ultimo. The two guns under Captain Miller, with Jones’ brigade, though frequently in position and under fire, did not become engaged. The battery under Lieutenant Rosser, with which I remained, under the orders received on the evening of the 17th ultimo, was constantly in position during the day, in momentary expectation of an attack on that point from the enemy, who had been seen the evening before and during the entire day reconnoitering our position, small squads frequently emerging from the woods on the other side of the ford near the railroad. This battery, however, had no opportunity of firing a gun, thus disappointing as brave and efficient a command as any in the engagement on that memorable day.

In consequence of my absence from that part of the field where the engagement took place I am obliged to refer you to the annexed copy of the report of Lieutenant Squires, who commanded the seven guns engaged in the action, from which, general, you will be enabled to estimate the gallant services which that small portion of my command rendered in that artillery duel against the odds of more than two to one. My loss in this engagement was six wounded–Captain Eshleman, Fourth Company; Privates Zebel, Tarleton, and G. W. Muse, of First Company, and Privates Baker and Tully, of Third Company. Private Muse died during the night from the effect of his wounds.

I would ask your attention to the report of Lieutenant Squires in relation to the brave conduct of the officers and non-commissioned officers especially named by him, and avail myself of the opportunity afforded me to confirm his report of the gallant conduct of all the officers and the rank and file who were so fortunate as to be engaged on that day.

To Lieutenant Squires is due great credit for his coolness, skill, and daring under the peculiar circumstances by which he was surrounded. Never before having been under fire, and having under his command guns and men other than those of his own company, he on all hands is acknowledged, assisted by the devotion and courage of the brave officers and men who acted with him, to have done much towards the accomplishment of a wonderful victory, as honorable to his State and his corps as gratifying to his companions and  to his country.

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

J. B. WALTON,

Major, Commanding

General P. G. T. BEAUREGARD, C. S. A.,

Commanding First Corps, Army of the Potomac





#77 – Col. Jubal A. Early

21 03 2009

Report of Col. Jubal A. Early, Twenty-fourth Virginia Infantry, of Action at Blackburn’s Ford

O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 2 [S# 2] — CHAPTER IX, pp. 463-465

HDQRS. SIXTH BRIGADE, ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,

July 31, 1861

COLONEL: I submit the following report of the operations of my brigade on the 18th instant in the engagement at Blackburn’s Ford on Ball Run, in which our troops were commanded by Brigadier-General Longstreet:

In the morning of that day I marched with my brigade, composed of the Seventh Virginia Volunteers, Colonel Kemper’s regiment, commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Williams; the Seventh Louisiana Volunteers, commanded by Col. Harry T. Hays; six companies of the Twenty-fourth Virginia Volunteers, my own, commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Hairston, and three pieces of artillery from the Washington Battalion of New Orleans, under the command of Lieutenant Squires, to Camp Walker, from whence it was moved by direction of General Beauregard into the road leading from Camp Walker to the gate in front of McLean’s farm, where it remained until about 12 o’clock, at which time a large cloud of dust was observed on the high ridge north of Blackburn’s Ford, at which General Longstreet’s brigade was stationed. This cloud of dust proved to be produced by the enemy’s columns moving in that direction, and in a few minutes the cannonading was commenced by the enemy, directed first upon General Bonham’s position at Mitchell’s Ford and subsequently upon the farm-house of McLean and the hospital in his barn, over which was floating the hospital flag.

As soon as the cannonading commenced my brigade was moved by order of the general to the cover of the pines to the left of the road leading from McLean’s house to Blackburn’s Ford, where it was joined by two more pieces of artillery from the Washington Battery, under Captain Eshleman. At this position it remained for the purpose of supporting either General Bonham at Mitchell’s Ford, General Longstreet at Blackburn’s Ford, or General Jones at McLean’s Ford, as occasion might require. After the first cannonading had ceased, and General Beauregard with his staff had passed towards Mitchell’s Ford, a fire of musketry began at Blackburn’s Ford, which became very animated, and was continued for some time, when one of General Longstreet’s aides came to inform me that he had repulsed the enemy’s charge, but desired re-enforcements. I immediately put my whole brigade in motion, including the five pieces of artillery, to which, by his own request, was joined Lieutenant Garnett, of the same battery, with two pieces that had been sent to the rear by General Longstreet before the action commenced.

After my column was put in motion I received an order from General Beauregard to support General Longstreet with two regiments and two pieces of artillery. I therefore proceeded with the Seventh Louisiana Regiment and Seventh Virginia Regiment and two pieces of artillery under charge of Captain Eshleman, to the support of General Longstreet. Upon arriving at Blackburn’s Ford I found the greater part of General Longstreet’s command under cover on the banks of the stream engaged with the enemy, who were under cover on the hill-sides on the opposite banks. Colonel Hays’ regiment, which was in advance, was then placed on the banks of the stream under cover to the right and left of the ford, relieving the Seventeenth Virginia Regiment, under Colonel Corse. This regiment proceeded to its position under quite a brisk fire of musketry.

The Seventh Virginia Regiment, under Lieutenant-Colonel Williams, as it arrived, was formed to the right of the ford under a heavy fire of musketry from the enemy, evidently directed at the regiment. It was momentarily thrown into confusion by this fire, and discharged many of its own guns over a portion of our own troops in front; fortunately, however, doing them no damage, as I believe. The regiment was soon rallied, and proceeded to the banks of the stream, relieving the First Virginia Regiment. The two pieces of artillery under Captain Eshleman, which followed the Seventh Virginia Regiment, were moved down in the open field on the right of the road, so as to be concealed from view of the enemy’s artillery by the timber on the banks of the stream, where they opened a fire upon the enemy on the opposite side, directed only by the sound of their musketry. As soon as the Seventh Virginia Regiment advanced to the banks of the stream, as above stated, I sent back for the companies of the Twenty-fourth Regiment and the remainder of the pieces of artillery, and they were brought up; the companies of the Twenty-fourth were placed in position in good order to the left of the ford in a space not occupied by Colonel Hays’ regiment, and the remaining guns of the Washington Artillery (five in number) were unlimbered on a line with the first two pieces and to the right of the road. A scattering fire of musketry was kept up for some time, but the enemy finally ceased firing, and evidently retired to the hills, where their artillery guns were placed, having no doubt observed the position of our pieces of artillery, for a fire was soon commenced on them by the enemy’s artillery, which was responded to by ours, and the cannonading was continued for a considerable time with great briskness on both sides, the balls and shells from the enemy’s battery being directed with considerable accuracy upon ours, but the enemy finally ceased firing, and did not renew the attack with musketry. During all this firing, when the balls and shells were passing over the heads of the men on the banks of the stream, they remained at their posts, coolly awaiting the renewal of the attack with musketry.

The affair closed late in the afternoon, and about dusk General Longstreet, by direction of General Beauregard, retired with the two regiments of his brigade that had been engaged in the early part of the action to the pines from which I had gone to re-enforce him, leaving my brigade on the ground for the night.

When I first arrived on the ground I joined General Longstreet, being actively engaged in the thickest of the fire in directing and encouraging the men under his command, and I am satisfied he contributed very largely to the repulse of the enemy by his own personal exertions.

The officers and men belonging to the Washington Battery behaved very handsomely indeed under a well-directed and galling fire of the enemy, displaying great coolness and skill in the management of their pieces. The regiments of my brigade came for the first time under fire, and while one regiment was thrown for a few minutes into confusion, without retiring it rallied under fire on the same ground, and took the position assigned it and retained it. Some parties sent across the stream after the close of the fight reported about forty of the enemy found dead on the ground occupied by their infantry during the fight. We were not able to examine the ground occupied by their battery and the regiments of infantry supporting it, because it was evident that a large force was in the neighborhood, and the whole of next day the men were engaged in throwing up embankments to strengthen our position, which was on ground lower than that occupied by the enemy. About one hundred muskets were picked up on the hill-sides, with a large number of hats and other articles. From all indications the enemy’s loss must have been much larger than our own. The ranks of the Seventh and Twenty-fourth Virginia Regiments were much thinned by sickness, and the whole number of my brigade did not exceed fifteen hundred men. I have already furnished Brigadier-General Longstreet with a list of the killed and wounded. Capt. Fleming Gardner, my aide and acting assistant adjutant-general, and Capt. George E. Dennis, assistant commissary to the Twenty-fourth Virginia Regiment, who acted as aide during the engagement, discharged their duties to my entire satisfaction.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

J. A. EARLY,

Colonel, Comdg. Sixth Brigade, First Corps, Army of Potomac

Col. THOMAS JORDAN,

A. A. Gen., First Corps, Army of Potomac





#69 – Col. T. G. Bacon

10 03 2009

Report of Col. T. G. Bacon, Seventh South Carolina Infantry, of Skirmish at Mitchell’s Ford

O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 2 [S# 2] — CHAPTER IX, pp. 454-455

HDQRS. SEVENTH REG’T SOUTH CAROLINA VOLS.,

August 2, 1861

GENERAL: In obedience to an order received from headquarters First Brigade, Army of the Potomac, of this date, issued pursuant to an order of August 1, received from Manassas as, I have the honor to submit the following report:

Early on the morning of the 18th July the enemy appeared on a high hill about twelve hundred yards from the intrenchments in which the Seventh South Carolina Regiment was placed, on the northwest side of the road leading from Mitchell’s Ford over Bull Run to Centreville. By 9 a.m. of that day they had located their batteries, and forthwith commenced firing upon the embankments behind which we were situated, throwing both shot and shell. Random firing was kept up during the day against this and adjacent points until the close of the battle fought by General Longstreet’s brigade, situated below and to the right of the Seventh Regiment. The batteries were rifled and 6-pounder cannon, throwing 6-pound round shot and 12-pound conical shell. No injury was received by the Seventh Regiment from any of the shots, nor did anything occur further worthy of mentioning.(*)

Respectfully submitted.

THOS. G. BACON,

Colonel, Commanding Seventh Regiment S.C. Volunteers

Brig. Gen. M. L. Bonham,

Commanding First Brigade, &c.

(*) See report No. 90, post





#66 – Brig. Gen. M. L. Bonham

5 03 2009

Report of Brig. Gen. M. L. Bonham, C. S. Army, Commanding First Brigade, of Retreat from Fairfax Court-House and Skirmish at Mitchell’s Ford

O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 2 [S# 2] — CHAPTER IX, pp. 449-450

HDQRS. FIRST BRIG., FIRST CORPS, ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,

Camp Gregg, July 31, 1861

GENERAL: In making, in obedience to your orders, a report of the operations of my brigade on the 18th instant, I beg leave to make a brief statement of the events immediately preceding that day, and which are closely connected with it.

On the morning of the 17th instant, at Fairfax Court-House, the advance forces of the Army of the Potomac under my command consisted of the Second Regiment South Carolina Volunteers, Colonel Kershaw; Third, Colonel Williams; Seventh, Colonel Bacon; Eighth, Colonel Cash; the Eighteenth Virginia Volunteers, Colonel Withers, temporarily attached; part of Colonel Radford’s cavalry.; Captains Wickham’s, Ball’s, Powell’s, and Payne’s troops of cavalry, and the batteries of Captain’s Kemper and Shields. Early that morning I received from my scouts confirmation of what I had been hearing many hours previous, viz, that the enemy would probably advance upon me that morning by the Alexandria, Flint Hill, and, it was said, the Falls Church roads.

In obedience to your orders, which I had previously received, to fall back on the approach of an enemy to attack my position in “superior force,” I ordered my baggage and supply wagons to be put in immediate motion, and to be parked in rear of Bull Run, Mitchell’s Ford. This was promptly and successfully accomplished by Colonel Kemper, assisted by Lieutenant Washington, quartermaster, and Major Kennedy, commissary for the command, with but little loss.

Between 8 and 9 o’clock I heard the report and saw the smoke of the enemy’s artillery at Flint Hill, about two miles off, and learned at the same time that my pickets were being driven in. I immediately ordered the troops to their trenches, their places having been previously designated, which order was obeyed with the greatest alacrity and enthusiasm, the body of the troops not knowing that they were to fall back at all. My plan of falling back on Bull Run, based upon your instructions, I had previously explained to the commanding officers of corps, assigning each his position on the march at Centreville and at Bull Run in a confidential order, which I did not deliver till on the march.

Finding the enemy did not seem to be approaching by the Falls Church road, I ordered the pickets to be withdrawn from that road. About 9 o’clock the enemy made his appearance in large force on the Flint Hill slope, and, deploying his columns, moved down toward the Court-House, his lines extending a great distance across the open fields, stretching out from Flint Hill to the Court-House. I awaited his approach till a part of his force had arrived within a half mile of my works, to be satisfied that his force was such “superior force” as I had heard it would be and as came within the intent of your order.

Having satisfied myself that he was concentrating around me a force many times my number–in three columns, from Alexandria upon my right, upon my left at Germantown, from the same place, and having sent word to General Ewell that I was about to begin my movement–I ordered my regiments to take up the line of march according to my prearranged plan, and directed Kershaw’s regiment (which with Kemper’s battery and Wickham’s and Floyd’s troops of cavalry, constituted my rear guard) to file, as they retired, through the trenches as the preceding regiments filed out. The column thus fell back in perfect order to Centreville, the enemy not venturing to attack my rear guard. At dark our pickets were within a few hundred paces of each other.

At midnight, Major Rhett having returned from a personal interview with yourself, I resumed the march, in obedience to your orders, and at daylight put my command in position at Mitchell’s Ford, on Bull Run, the place previously assigned me, placing two pieces of Kemper’s battery six hundred yards in front of my center, on Kemper’s Hill, supported by two companies of light troops, in order to give the enemy’s advancing column a few shots before retiring to the position assigned those pieces behind the run. The Eleventh North Carolina Volunteers, Colonel Kirkland, and the Eighth Louisiana Battalion, Colonel Kelly, reported to me during the morning. The former, having been kept for a while in reserve, was placed on the extreme left; the latter was held in reserve in rear of the center of my position.

At about 12 m. the enemy, following up his movements of the day previous, opened a heavy cannonade on my position, which was kept up most of the day, throwing shell and shot into every portion of my command, but fortunately without injury to the troops. As the range of his guns and the weight of his metal were greater than my own, Captain Kemper’s two pieces, with the two supporting companies, were withdrawn to their position in the rear of the run, but not till some effective shots had been made at the enemy. In the course of a few hours he attacked the position of General Longstreet at Blackburn’s Ford, a short distance to my right, from which he was most gallantly repulsed. He then began to show his troops in some force in my front. By your leave I ordered Colonel Kershaw, with four companies of his regiment and one piece of Kemper’s battery, to move forward to Kemper’s Hill, and open fire upon that force. It was promptly and gallantly executed, three or four effective shots being thrown into the grove near Butler’s house, doing some execution and scattering the enemy in every direction.

I cannot too highly commend the conduct and bearing of all the officers and men under my command. Everything that characterizes gallant people prepared to perish before a superior force, if necessary, for the defense of their homes, was exhibited by them throughout the trying and fatiguing operations of the 17th and 18th of July. Inclosed I send reports of officers of my command as far as received.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

M. L. BONHAM,

Brigadier-General, Commanding

Brig. Gen. G. T. BEAUREGARD,

Commanding Army of the Potomac





#65 – Col. Thomas Jordan

3 03 2009

Reports of Col. Thomas Jordan, Assistant Adjutant General C. S. Forces, of Operations July 18 and 19

O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 2 [S# 2] — CHAPTER IX, pp. 448-449

MANASSAS, JULY 18, 1861

General S. COOPER,  Adjutant General:

The enemy began the action at 12 o’clock noon to-day at Mitchell’s Ford–subsequently at McLean’s Ford. Bonham’s and Longstreet’s brigades engaged. Firing very heavy and obstinate. Thus far we have maintained our positions, despite the great odds opposed. There is now a lull. Johnston is marching to our support by Ashby’s Gap and forced marches.

Respectfully,

THOMAS JORDAN,

Colonel and Assistant Adjutant General

—–

MANASSAS, July 19, 1861

General S. COOPER,  Adjutant General:

Enemy did not renew fight to-day. The ground they were driven from was strewn with guns, hats, swords, coats, &c. Late this afternoon their columns had been seen gathering as if for an attack to-morrow in great force, and we hear of a heavy force about Sangster’s. Johnston’s brigades are arriving. Jackson already here. Holmes is pushing up. McRae is here. The general is out on the line of Bull Run, watching reported movements.

THOMAS JORDAN





#64 – Gen. G. T. Beauregard

22 02 2009

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

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

MANASSAS, July 17, 1861

JEFFERSON DAVIS,

President of the Confederate States:

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

G. T. BEAUREGARD

—–

HDQRS. FIRST CORPS, ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,

Manassas, August –, 1861

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

G. T. BEAUREGARD,

General, Commanding

General S. COOPER,

Adjutant and Inspector General, C. S. Army

[Inclosure A.]

Special ORDERS, No. 100

HDQRS. ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,

Manassas Junction, July 8, 1861

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By order of Brigadier General Beauregard:

THOMAS JORDAN,

Acting Assistant Adjutant General

[Indorsement]

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

G. T. BEAUREGARD,

General, Commanding

(*) Map not found.