#101a – Col. Philip St. George Cocke

23 09 2008

Report of Col. Philip St. George Cocke, C. S. Army, Commanding Brigade

O.R.–SERIES I–VOLUME 51 Part 1 [S# 107] pp. 24-32

HEADQUARTERS FIFTH BRIGADE,

Camp near Suspension Bridge, [August 1, 1861]

GENERAL: The battle of 21st of July having been fought wholly within the position which had been assigned to and occupied by and which on the day of the battle was held by my brigade and the troops temporarily attached thereto, it becomes important that I should succinctly describe that position, the disposition made of the troops under my command for defending and holding that position, and the subsequent part which my command took in the great battle in which so large a part of your army participated, coming up as it did during the day from other positions. The position of this command, that of Stone Bridge (Avon) and Lewis’ farm (Portici), was the extreme left position of the Army of the Potomac along the line of Bull Run. The position of the army on Bull Run was the result of strategic movements which commenced with the recall of our more advanced forces, and which finally ended in the great battle of the 21st of July. By your general order of the 8th of July it was directed that “if attacked by a superior force of the enemy the three brigades of the Army of the Potomac serving in Fairfax will retire in the following manner and order: The whole of the Fifth Brigade on the Bull Run Stone Bridge, and the adjacent fords, making a stand if practicable at the Suspension Bridge across Cub Run.” Accordingly I issued brigade orders on the 12th instant, and on the 17th I recalled, united, and withdrew my entire command to the position assigned to it in perfect order and without any loss or accident whatsoever, the enemy moving the same day to occupy Fairfax CourtHouse in great strength.

Topographical description of the position of my command and of the battle-field.

Beginning near our left at Stone Bridge, over which passes the turnpike road from Alexandria to Warrenton, a flat of some 400 or 500 yards wide extends west of the bridge on either side of the turnpike back to the hills, which rise with some abruptness from the flat to the height of thirty to sixty feet. A dense forest of oaks at one time masked the bridge from view looking from these hills, but the trees had been felled to open the view for firing upon the enemy as he should approach the bridge, and the felled timber served to obstruct his passage over the flat except by the defile of the bridge and road, which last had been only partially obstructed near the foot of the hill. Westward of the crest overlooking the bridge, and in the direction of our left, rear, and right about the Stone Bridge, the country is broken into hill and valley, and this uneven surface covered by bodies of original forest, copses of pine, interspersed with hedges and fences, offering a field of uneven and diversified surface, all of which was availed of to the utmost by the skill and bravery of our officers and men who met and fought the enemy on that field. From a short distance below the Stone Bridge toward the right of my position, and throughout the entire extent of Lewis’ farm (Portici), the hills of Bull Run recede from the stream, of which the banks are generally low, and a long, open plain slopes from the run up to Lewis’ house, and to the right and left throughout my entire position in that direction. At Lewis’ Ford a road crosses Bull Run leading from the turnpike about half a mile in advance of Stone Bridge, diagonally toward and immediately in front of Lewis’ house, through a dense thicket of old-field pines extending nearly to the ford, and from that ford to the house half a mile distant over a gentle, open, or unwooded slope from the creek, rising almost uniformly to the house, which stands upon an eminence commanding a view of the surrounding country, the open inclined plane of the farm itself, the course of Bull Run, of the fords crossing the same, of the position of Stone Bridge, as also many of the enemy’s approaches through the woods on the opposite side of the creek. On our extreme right of Lewis’ farm, three-quarters of a mile below Lewis’ Ford, is Ball’s Ford, where the old public road passing from Alexandria to Warrenton crosses Bull Run, a trace of which road is still distinct and the road quite passable, although disused for public purposes since the construction of the turnpike passing over the Stone Bridge. To our right of this old road on the western side of Bull Run a heavy forest of oak extends from the creek backward nearly to the crest of the hill southward of Lewis’ house. The bank of the creek along Lewis’ farm is generally low and easy to be passed, and bordering as it does the extensive open inclined plane above described rendered this part of the position one without military strength and everywhere open to the attack of an enterprising enemy except at or near Lewis’ Ford, where for a few hundred yards on either side a precipitous bank of some twenty feet rises from the water of the creek and commands the flat or level on the opposite side of the creek. At Ball’s Ford the creek bank on our side is flat and wholly untenable for about 500 yards above in the direction of Lewis’ Ford, whilst a wooded eminence rising to an elevation of from sixty to seventy feet on the eastern or enemy’s side of the creek and stretching from opposite that ford the whole length of Lewis’ farm in the direction of Stone Bridge, thus giving the enemy, if in possession of those heights with his artillery the absolute command of the entire plain of Lewis’ farm in every direction as far back as the crest of the hill upon which the house is situated and rendering untenable by our troops under such circumstances of any position upon that plain in front of the enemy’s batteries so commandingly established. On the eastern or enemy’s side of Bull Run a narrow belt of low ground of irregular width, ranging from 50 to 100, and in some places 150 to 200 yards, stretched along the banks of the creek throughout the extent of the Portici (Lewis’) farm, from Ball’s Ford on our right to Stone Bridge on our left, and from the edge of the meadow at the foot of the hill a dense skirting of second-growth or old-field pine covers the slope of the hill toward its summit, succeeded by a large growth of oak or original forest, clothing a part of the slope and the entire top of the ridge, and continuing on that side of the creek from opposite Ball’s Ford to the turnpike road on our left.

Perceiving the impracticability of holding Ball’s Ford by troops placed on its flat and uncovered bank in front of a forest and eminence such as those just described, if once allowed to fall into the hands of the enemy, it became necessary to place the troops intended for the defense of that pass upon the eminence and in the forest on the eastern side of Bull Run and on either side of the old road crossing at that ford. Accordingly Withers’ regiment, Eighteenth Virginia, was ordered to occupy the wood to our left of the road, and Preston’s regiment, Twenty-eighth Virginia, the forest on our right of the road, and to oppose the enemy in whatever force he might advance by guerrilla fight from every position, from every corner, from every tree, and if still overpowered by numbers and forced to yield ground, to continue the fight through the forest flanking our right of Lewis’ farm toward the crest of the hill south of Lewis’ house, or until they could be supported by other troops coming to their relief Preston’s regiment (Twenty-eighth) also covered the approaches to the Island Ford, and one other ford below the Island Ford on my extreme right, and this was practicable in consequence of a bend of the creek to the rear of the right of that regiment (see map).

Position of the troops of the command.

In placing the troops, dispersed, as they necessarily were, and at positions most of them so disadvantageous for defense and but partially aided by intrenchments, it was deemed highly expedient to conceal as much as possible from the enemy a knowledge both of our numbers and strength, and even of the positions of the troops and batteries, until they were actually brought into action; and to effect these highly important objects it was decided that the troops should give up their tents, send back their wagon trains and baggage a few miles in rear toward Manassas, and bivouac in their positions. To the exposure and hardships of the bivouac the men and officers yielded without a murmur and they remained uncovered from the time of taking position on the 17th of July until after the battle, which took place on Sunday, July 21. Having indicated the position of the Eighteenth and Twenty-eighth Regiments, covering the approaches to Ball’s Ford, on my right, the Nineteenth Regiment, Lieutenant-Colonel Strange, was placed on the high bank on either side of Lewis’ Ford to oppose the passage of the enemy at that point. This regiment intrenched itself throughout its entire front, which intrenchment, by direction of Captain Harris, of the Engineers, was rendered quite effective. Between the two left companies of Lieutenant-Colonel Strange’s regiment one piece of Latham’s battery, placed in position by Captain Harris, of the Engineers, commanded the road leading to the ford through the meadow and pines in front of the ford. Next beyond the flank of the Nineteenth Regiment, along the high bank of Bull Run, was placed in position selected by Captain Harris, concealed from the enemy by a copse or undergrowth, one other gun of Latham’s battery. To the left of this second gun of Latham’s battery was placed Captain Schaeffer’s command, two companies on this side of the creek and part of one company on the opposite side of Bull Run, availing themselves of the natural formation of the bank as a breast-work from behind which to fire upon the enemy. To the left of a gorge penetrating Captain Schaeffer’s position, a section of Rogers’ battery was stationed on an eminence to command the approaches to this gorge and the gorge formed by Young’s Branch running in from our side. These guns were also placed in position by Captain Harris, of the Engineers, the bluff bank of the creek terminating at Young’s Branch near the position or gorge just above Rogers’ guns, and giving place to low banks above that point, with a growth of large trees along the bank. Just here a portion of Col. William Smith’s three companies was posted, commanded by him in person, to dispute the passage of the enemy at the gorge on Young’s Branch, which intersected our line as above described. The other part of Colonel Smith’s three companies was held in reserve (in a sheltered position), to be used as occasion might require, and ordered to charge the enemy if he succeeded in crossing Bull Run. This pass of Young’s Branch being deemed one of the most inviting for the enemy, it was thought necessary to hold in still further reserve to dispute his passage the entire regiment of Col. Eppa Hunton, which was therefore placed near by in a covered position, with orders to support Colonel Smith’s battalion in case of need. One section of Rogers’ battery, commanded by himself, and three troops of cavalry were held in reserve and placed under cover in the hollow or depression beyond the crest and to the north of Lewis’ house. From Young’s Branch toward Stone Bridge and beyond the position was covered by the troops attached to my brigade, under the immediate command of Major Evans. Two pieces of Latham’s battery, under Lieutenant Davidson, commanded from the hill the approach to Stone Bridge and the road through the felled timber described in the first part of this report. To the left of the Stone Bridge were the troops under the command of Major Evans, whilst his sharpshooters skirted the two edges of the forest bordering upon the felled timber on our side of the bridge. The cavalry of Evans’ command were engaged–some in scouting in the direction of Sudley’s Mill to give notice of the enemy’s approaches in that direction and others held in reserve.

Sudley’s Mill is on the branch of Bull Run called Catharpin, near its mouth, three miles northwest of Stone Bridge. At Sudley’s Mill a branch road crosses from the direction of Leesburg, passing directly toward Manassas, intersecting the turnpike at right angles at a stone house one mile and a quarter west, or in our rear of the Stone Bridge. It was this road of which the enemy availed himself to turn our left and to get on our flank and rear at Stone Bridge in his boasted march for Manassas. His plans were well arranged and skillfully conducted, for whilst he threatened our entire front from Stone Bridge to below Lewis’ Ford by a force estimated at from 12,000 to 15,000 men, and kept a large portion of my brigade engaged by this force in their front of treble their number, backed by batteries of artillery at several points opposite our front, and by skirmishers advanced in front of our lines, he meanwhile marched his main column of 25,000 or 30,000 men by Sudley’s Mill to take the whole position in flank and rear. I shall endeavor briefly to show in what manner he was met by my command both in our first position and subsequent movements.

The battle.

The enemy having taken up his position in our front early in the morning, fired his first gun about 5.30 a.m. This seemed to be a signal gun, as it was answered from Mitchell’s Ford, four miles below, and where also on that day he made an attack, and this gun might also have been a signal to the column marching by Sudley’s Mill on our left. The batteries in our front along Bull Run continued firing on Stone Bridge, on Lewis’ house, and on our position at Lewis’ Ford until a late hour in the day. The battery in front of Lewis’ Ford was responded to with marked effect by Captain Latham’s first section, aided by the section of Rogers’ battery, commanded by Lieutenant Heaton, skirmishers occasionally making their appearance, emerging from the dense growth of pines covering the main body of the enemy. Whilst this was going on in our front the enemy, having arrived to threaten Major Evans’ left flank, with overwhelming numbers of his main column marched by Sudley’s Mill. The major promptly and heroically turned to meet him with his entire force, having necessarily to abandon the former front of his position at Stone Bridge. Never perhaps in the history of modern warfare was there so unequal a contest as now ensued. With his small but heroic numbers Major Evans advanced to fight the head of a column of 25,000 men, amongst which were some of the best regiments of the Federal army, strengthened by numerous batteries of well-appointed artillery of the most modern improved kind. For more than an hour this contest was maintained without assistance, the other troops of my command being held to their positions by the strong demonstrations in their front, which positions, if they had been abandoned at this stage of the battle, would have opened the way to an advance of the enemy also on this side, and thus inevitably have caused us the loss of the day. As soon, however, as I perceived the first movement of Major Evans I dispatched the reserved section of Rogers’ battery at full speed to cover the approaches to the Stone Bridge. This section got into position in good time to fire into a column of the enemy attempting to pass the Stone Bridge and drove it back.

In the meanwhile General Bee and Colonel Bartow, the first to come up to our support, the general reporting to the on Lewis’ hill, were informed by me of the progress of the battle on Major Evans’ left, and those gallant commanders, without halting their commands, marched directly to the scene of action and soon commenced their glorious part in the battle. Colonel Hampton with his legion came next. To him, too, I indicated the progress of events, and he promptly marched with his command to the battle. General Jackson followed next with his brigade, and from time to time other brigades pushed on as they arrived to the deadly conflict. About this time, the contest having become very close and warm and the enemy appearing to gain ground forward and also on our flank, and a stream of wounded men pouring through the gorge of Young’s Branch near the command of Col. William Smith (as subsequently reported by Captain Harris, of the Engineers, then and there present), upon suggestion of Captain Harris, the section of Rogers’ battery under command of Lieutenant Heaton, stationed at that point, and Colonel Smith’s command, were ordered to change front in order to meet an advance of the enemy, which it was thought might be made in that direction. General Beauregard, perceiving this movement, sent an order to these troops to advance, which they promptly did, Captain Harris proceeding with them, and subsequently placing the section of Rogers’ battery in effective position near Captain Imboden’s battery, from whence the section fired with effect upon the enemy until the ammunition was exhausted. Colonel Smith from this position soon took part in the battle, having many of his officers and men killed or wounded and his own horse wounded. (For further particulars see his report.(1))

The removal of these troops from their position on Young’s Branch uncovered a portion of my front line, and thus left that line exposed, to be penetrated by the enemy; but I am satisfied that the movement of our troops was unperceived by him, as the position was covered by a thicket of willows and other trees skirting the edge of Bull Run at this point. Closely observing from my own central and elevated position on the hill north of Lewis’ house (a position, nevertheless, over which a cross fire of most of the enemy’s batteries continued to throw shot and shell for hours, in the midst of which I necessarily stood observing)–I say from this position the various movements of our own troops I anxiously watched for the moment when I might withdraw the greater portion of the brigade not then actually engaged from the front line, without inviting disaster in that quarter, in order to throw it forward to the support of our men so hotly pressed on our left. General J. E. Johnston appearing near my position about this time, I called his attention to the state of my command on the front and right of Lewis’ farm, and referred for his decision the expediency of risking the abandonment of that front, and of immediately ordering forward the whole of the balance of my command to take part in the battle now raging and becoming critical as to its issue on our left. It was decided to make the movement., and I immediately dispatched my aides to order up at double-quick the regiments of Withers, Preston, and Strange, and the battery of Latham, and proceeding myself to meet those regiments, I advanced with them rapidly to the most active scene of the conflict. Hunton’s regiment, being in advanced position, was first in the battle, but as I led on the other regiments to other positions it was separated from me, and for the part which it took in the battle I must refer to Colonel Hunton’s report, hereafter to be made. Colonel Hunton since the battle having been ordered to Leesburg with his regiment, I have neither seen him nor been able to obtain any report.(2)

Withers’ Eighteenth Regiment Virginia Volunteers was the next in order taking part in the battle. Colonel Withers’ report is full, and clearly shows the gallant and distinguished part which it enacted in achieving the great victory of the day.(3) Latham’s battery followed Withers’ regiment. This battery being now full, the four pieces having come together and replenished their ammunition chest, was, under the guidance of Captain Harris, of the Engineers, advanced to a position to the left of the road leading from Lewis’ house toward Stone Bridge, from which position it fired with effect upon the head of a column advancing from toward the turnpike, and together with the fire of another battery succeeded in driving back the column. (For further particulars see Captain Latham’s report.(4)) Whilst Latham’s battery was taking position I was advancing with Preston’s regiment toward our then left flank, which the enemy was pressing and threatening to turn. About 500 yards beyond the left of Latham’s battery, as placed in position and near the fence extending toward our left in a thicket of pines, and whilst I was immediately upon the flank of the regiment, it was fired upon by the enemy advancing in the thick forest. The fire was returned, and the enemy giving way, this regiment advanced still farther toward the left. Whilst thus advancing Colonel Preston came upon and captured with his own hands Colonel Willcox, of the Federal army, whilst a captain and other prisoners were taken at the same place. The report of Colonel Preston, to which I beg leave to refer, will show the further important part he took in the battle.(5)

In the meantime, continuing to advance with Strange’s regiments Nineteenth Virginia Volunteers, and guided by the firing, I endeavored to turn the extreme right of the enemy. Coming athwart an intense fire, and not being able to see friend or foe through the pines, the regiment was caused to lie down whilst Colonel Strange and myself sought a view of the enemy. Entering the Sudley road on the left, I ordered the regiment to be marched by flank in that direction, and proceeded diagonally forward and ]left through the wood skirting our left of the road following a firing heard in that direction. Emerging from the wood into the open field, the regiment was led by a path toward Chinn’s house, near to which a battery was firing upon the enemy. By the time it got up the enemy was retreating, and on the hill beyond Chinn’s house (overlooking the turnpike), falling in with some of the regiments of Colonel Early, the Nineteenth Regiment continued the pursuit of the enemy. Crossing the meadow toward the turnpike and proceeding by Dogan’s house, followed the track of the retreating column toward Bull Run below Sudley’s Mill and crossed the run below and in sight of the mill. The enemy now being out of sight and pursued by the cavalry in advance of us, and night coming on I determined to recross Bull Run at Sudley’s Mill, and ordered the regiment to march back to Lewis’ farm. Finding numbers of prisoners and wounded at the church near the mill, one company was left in charge of the prisoners and wounded, the balance of the regiment continuing its march to Lewis’ farm. It would thus appear, general, that in consequence of the disposition made of the troops, the firm and gallant manner in which they acted along my whole front line of three miles in extent (which front, although threatened throughout the day, was nevertheless held in the face of greatly superior numbers, several assaults repelled, and the enemy effectually prevented from passing that line at any point, which if he had done would have been disastrous to our cause), this command forced the enemy to rely for victory solely upon his great column which turned the left of our entire position by the way of Sudley’s Mill; that the skillful and heroic struggle of Evans on my left, after he had been turned and taken in flank by overwhelming numbers, with his Spartan band led by himself, and by that true and tried soldier Major Wheat, and the brave Colonel Sloan, and backed by men who showed themselves not only insensible to fear, but actually inspired with superhuman daring and power, carried death and dismay into the ranks of the enemy, the fight thus continuing for more than an hour unsupported, and until the re-enforcements of Generals Bee and Bartow and others came to the relief; and finally, when the critical moment had arrived and the imminent result seemed trembling in the balance, it was promptly determined to abandon my entire front line along Bull Run and to throw forward the troops which had so gallantly defended it, to add their entire numbers and their valorous deeds to those of other corps struggling in the hottest fight, all of which contributed to turning the scale of victory in our favor, and in not only defeating the enemy, but in ultimately routing, disorganizing, and demoralizing him to a degree unprecedented in the history of modern warfare.

Of the greater part of these events and scenes you yourself, general, were an eyewitness. Many of the troops of my command fought by your side and in several instances received orders directly from you whilst acting as they necessarily did in detached bodies and in various parts of the wide field of conflict. Highly appreciating, general, the marked confidence reposed in me ever since I joined your army, as manifested by the extensive command and the responsible strategic positions assigned to me, I feel conscious of having acted with a mind and purpose single and a devotion absolute and unreserved in the righteous and patriotic cause in which we are all engaged; and in this spirit I trust my command have so far shown that they, too, have acted. Where so many have acted well their parts it would appear almost invidious to mention the names of any. Nevertheless, I deem it proper to state that the conduct of Majors Evans and Wheat is above all praise. That Capt. David B. Harris, of the Corps of Engineers, has rendered the most valuable services during the whole time he has served with my command. His science and skill, his cool and calm presence of mind in the midst of danger, his untiring efforts under the most trying circumstances, all prove him to be an officer worthy of filling a higher rank in that highest corps of the army to which he belongs.

Colonel Withers has the honor of having captured with his regiment (the Eighteenth Virginia Volunteers) a battery of eight guns, and of holding the same, a battery which had been twice previously during the day captured and recovered by the enemy. Col. Robert T. Preston and his Twenty-eighth Regiment of Virginia Volunteers rendered distinguished services. Col. William Smith with his command was in the hottest of the fight and had several officers and men wounded and killed and his own horse wounded. The Nineteenth Regiment, Lieutenant-Colonel Strange, having been longest held to its intrenched position at Lewis’ Ford, which it bravely defended in presence of the enemy’s batteries and infantry in great strength, was thus brought last into the more active field of battle. But it came up in time to produce by its presence an effect upon the then wavering enemy and to take part in the pursuit of his retreating columns which soon ensued. Captains Latham and Rogers, of the artillery, and Lieutenants Davidson and Heaton acted with distinguished bravery and skill. Surgeon Chancellor and Assistant Surgeons Braxton and Powell, of the Nineteenth Regiment, rendered very prompt and valuable relief to the wounded men, both to our own men and those of the enemy. To Lieut. John B. Cocke, acting assistant adjutant-general of the Fifth Brigade, and to T. J. Randolph, both acting as my aides-decamp during the battle, and who were both with me or bearing orders, often through the hottest fire, I owe my acknowledgments for the prompt and efficient manner in which they both discharged their duties. I would take this occasion to express my thanks to the whole command, to the brave and patriotic men and officers composing it, for the soldier-like manner in which they have submitted to necessary discipline, undergone hardships, and otherwise to operated in fulfilling the responsibility of the command.

And finally, trusting that this command has fulfilled its duties and that impartial history will do justice to the important part taken by it in achieving the late glorious victory,

I remain, general, very respectfully, your most obedient servant,

PHILIP ST. GEO. COCKE,

Colonel, Commanding Fifth Brigade, Army of Potomac

General BEAUREGARD,

Commanding Army of the Potomac

NOTE.–The Fifth Brigade proper consisted of the Nineteenth, Eighteenth, and Twenty-eighth Regiments of Virginia Volunteers, Lieutenant-Colonel Strange, Colonels Withers and R. T. Preston commanding; Latham’s battery of artillery, four brass 6-pounder guns, and Captains Terry’s and Langhorne’s troops of cavalry. Whilst at Centerville, prior to the battle of the 21st of July, Major Wheat’s Louisiana First Special Battalion was added to my command and stationed at or near Frying Pan Church, and Captain Alexander’s troop of cavalry also added to Terry’s at the same place. Subsequently Major Evans was ordered from Leesburg with Sloan’s Fourth Regiment of South Carolina Volunteers to Frying Pan Church, with orders to report to me and act as a part of my command stationed at that place. With this force I marched under general orders on the 17th of July to take position at or near the Stone Bridge. Between the 17th and 19th Col. Eppa Hunton with his command arrived at Lewis’ farm (Portici), with orders to report for duty with my command, bringing with him his regiment of Virginia volunteers, Captain Rogers’ battery of 4-pounder brass cannon, and three troops of cavalry. To this command was also added three companies under Captain Schaeffer, which had previously been stationed at the Stone Bridge, and three companies of Fauquier volunteers, part of Col. William Smith’s Forty-ninth Regiment Virginia Volunteers.

PHILIP ST. GEO. COCKE,

Colonel, Commanding Fifth Brigade

(1) See Vol. II, p. 551

(2) But see Vol. II, p. 545

(3) See Vol. II, p. 546

(4) See Vol. II, p. 553

(5) See Vol. II, p. 549





Handcuffs at Bull Run

26 08 2008

This report of Captain Edward Porter Alexander on men and equipage captured by the Confederates at Bull Run is pretty straightforward and not too exciting.  Alexander grossly overestimates the strength of McDowell’s army, though other Confederate reports were even further off.  And this tidbit is enticing:

Incomplete returns of many miscellaneous articles, such as bed-ticks, buckets, coffee-mills, halters, picket-pins, saddles and bridles, ten barrels commissary stores, and a few handcuffs left from a large lot captured, but carried off by individuals as trophies.

That McDowell’s army brought thousands of handcuffs in which to haul the defeated rebels back to Washington is one of the oldest myths of First Bull Run, but myths are not necessarily false.  Indignant southern commentators reported 30-40,000 handcuffs captured.  You can read some of the accounts in Vol. II of The Rebellion Record (1862) – the Northern publishers ridiculed them, claiming they were written by Baron MunchausenThe New York Times had a similar attitude.   Southern papers and authorities certainly used the story of the handcuffs to their advantage, adding it to the rhetoric extolling the righteousness of the Confederate cause.

Mary Chesnut wrote shortly after the battle (at least, she would have us believe it was shortly after the battle):

They brought us handcuffs found in the debacle of the Yankee army.  For whom were they?  Jeff Davis, no doubt.  And the ringleaders.  Tell that to the Marines.  We have outgrown the handcuff business on this side of the water.  C. Vann Woodward, ed., Mary Chesnut’s Civil War, New York, 1981, p.113

Chesnut’s passage here is interesting, because the phrase Tell that to the Marines implies that she did not believe the handcuff story (in England sailors looked down on marines, and the phrase meant try that line of bull on somebody who doesn’t know any better).  So it would appear that at the time the story was contested not only by northern wags, but by some prominent southerners.

Folks were still fighting over the truth of the story years after the war.  I have copies of a few articles from Confederate Veteran magazine, which was published from 1893 through 1912.  Unfortunately, I don’t have the dates of publication for these articles (maybe someone out there can help me out with this):

HANDCUFFS ON THE MANASSAS BATTLEFIELD

By George G. Bryson, Gallatin, Tenn.

I cannot tell you much about the handcuffs seen on the First Manassas Battlefield.  I saw them in barrels on the slope of the hill between the Henry House and the spring.  There were also several barrels of crackers , which had been opened and out of which I replenished my haversack.  There may be some survivor’s of Lindsay Walker’s Battery who were present in this battle.  It was Walker’s guns which so effectually demolished the last effort to form line made by the Federals on this part of the field.  If there are any of them living, I believe they can also testify, for the handcuffs were within a few yards of the spot occupied by this battery while in action.  There were also several boxes, still unopened, on which was written: “To be opened on streets of Richmond.”

I have had a talk with my old friend M. E. Head, who was with me and saw the cuffs and boxes.  His recollection and mine are the same, except as to locality.  He thinks they were on the opposite side of the hill from where our command (Holmes’s Brigade) halted; but as to the fact of seeing them there is no doubt in his mind than in my own.

In the same issue, and on the same page (304):

ANOTHER ACCOUNT OF HANDCUFFS

By Mrs. E. A. Meriwether, St. Louis, MO.

I notice in the Veteran for April an article about the handcuffs found on the field of the First Manassasbattle.  The writer says: “I confidently defy any one to find in print a reference to this fact.”  About two years ago a book entitled “Facts and Falsehoods Concerning the War on the South in 1861-65” was published.  Among other known “facts” contained in the book may be found an interesting account of the handcuffs and shackles captured at Bull Run [read it here].

Some years ago my husband’s cousin, Capt. Robert Walker Lewis, of Albemarle, Va., wrote to him (Col. Minor Meriweather) of being in that First Manassas battle, and that he and his men captured a wagon loaded with handcuffs and shackles.  Some of the Union prisoners captured at the same time stated that these instruments were intended to be used on the Rebels they expected to make prisoners, and intended to march them into Washington in that shackled condition.  I now have hanging on my wall one of those shackles.  It is made of two strong iron rings, with lock and key, to be fastened on the ankles.  These rings are fastened together by a strong iron chain seventeen inches long.

Was there a cache of Union handcuffs and/or shackles captured by the Rebels at Bull Run?  I’m not sure one way or the other.  However, one would think that of so many thousands carried off for display on southern walls, at least some would survive today.  So if you’re aware of the whereabouts of any of these mementos, drop me a note!

Photo of Delestasius style 1860s handcuffs at top from this site.

UPDATE 8/27/2008: Friend, reader, and researcher extraordinaire Teej Smith turned up a couple more contemporary references to the captured handcuffs.  First is this report in the New York Times on August 26, 1861, which examines the mathematics of 32,000 one-pound handcuffs loaded onto three 800 pound capacity wagons (I’m not sure upon what the correspondent based his estimate of the load limit). 

Second comes this announcement in the Raleigh North Carolina Standard for July 31, 1861.  In it, the writer not only perpetuates the handcuff story, but recognizes the need to perpetuate it in order to garner support for the war, avoid the necessity of a draft (the author misapprehended the eventuality: the Confederacy instituted conscription before the Union), and ultimately to raise a company of infantry:

AN APPEAL TO THE PATRIOTIC!

It is evident that the tyrannical despotism which has been inaugurated at Washington City by Lincoln and his supporters — smarting under the signal defeat it sustained in the great battle at Manassas — is still resolved to prosecute this unjust and iniquitous war upon the South with all its power, and with fresh rancor. If it succeeds in the appeal it has made to the worst passions of the Northern people, the question for the men of the Southwill be, not, who can with convenience volunteer for the defence of their rights and firesides, but, who can, in honor and duty, remain longer inactive, or refuse to lake the field for the protection of all that is valuable and dear to them? The subjugation of the South, is the dedicated purpose of that despotic government. The destruction of our homes, the confiscation our property, the massacre of our people, is its wish — its proclaimed intention. But the other day, on the floor of the Senate, one of its mercenaries declared that, if successful, ” Yankee Governors should be placed over the States of the South to be rule them as conquered provinces.” Another proclaimed in the same place, that “hemp was the only argument they intended to use to the South.” It is said that amongst the “booty ” they left, on their retreat from Manassas, were thousands of handcuffs, which had been forged for “Southern traitors” All admit that the South must arouse herself to an energy and boldness, fully equal to the conflict that may be forced upon her by the rapacity and tyranny of the Northern government. If volunteers cannot be obtained, the system of drafting will be necessarily adopted. No one can believe, for a moment, that the patriotic young men of our State, will, by inactivity, and or disregard for the importance of the struggle, and the odds with which their gallant brethren, who have been already subjected to the hardships and dangers of the battle field, must encounter, submit to be drafted! All they ask is, to be convinced that their services are needed, and they will rush, with alacrity, to the post of duty and danger.

This appeal is made to the patriotic who may wish to aid in procuring volunteers for a company of Infantry, to be organized for immediate service. Those wishing to volunteer, will apply to the undersigned, from whom all necessary information may be obtained.

JOHN DEVEREUX,

Raleigh, S. C.

July 30, 1861

My impression is that this John Devereux served as Quartermaster for North Carolina during the war, and was part of the delegation that surrendered the city to Sherman’s army in 1865 (see here.)

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#123 – Capt. John F. Lay

23 08 2008

Report of Capt. John F. Lay, Commanding Squadron of Cavalry, of Operations July 18 and 21

O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 2 [S# 2] — CHAPTER IX, pp. 572-573

CAMP PICKENS, VA., August 15, 1861

COLONEL: I am ordered to make a report of the operations of my command upon July 18 and 21 upon the field. I have omitted to do so hitherto simply from the fact that I did not know it was expected of me.

Acting immediately under the orders of the general commanding, on the morning of the 18th, with my command–consisting of my own company (the Powhatan Troop) and the Little Fork Rangers, commanded by Capt. K. E. Utterback–I acted as an escort to the general commanding to the field, and took position some 400 yards west of McLaws’ house, and there remained until some hour or two after the firing commenced, during which time I had to change my position, then directly in range of the long Parrott gun, the shell of which were falling about us and in full view, I thought, of the enemy’s position. When the firing at Mitchell’s Ford commenced I moved by order with the general to a position near that ford, and during the day acted immediately under his orders, transmitting orders to the various commands.

By order I dispatched Captain Utterback with his company to report to General Longstreet, to aid in the pursuit when the enemy were retiring, which order was promptly obeyed, but not fully carried out, as immediately afterwards the order for the pursuit was countermanded.

That night I returned with the general to camp, and  during the intervening days was actively occupied in the transmission of orders to various points, among others dispatching three couriers under a forced and rapid ride to Piedmont at night to communicate with General Johnston’s command. In this ride a very valuable horse was seriously injured.

On the morning of the 21st I early received orders, and marched as an escort to the general commanding with the same command as before to a position upon the road near to Mitchell’s Ford. From this position I was ordered to fall back, owing to a fire from the same long-range gun, attracted, doubtless, by the dust from the cavalry and wagons upon the road. From this point I dispatched various orders to commanders at different points, and then with my command moved with the general to a position near Lewis’ house, when it was ascertained the enemy were making their flank movement in that direction, when I was stopped by order of the general, through his aides, and remained in position during the day, furnishing, under orders, couriers to different commands, guides into position for batteries and regiments, and mounting aides and other officers when ordered to do so.

During the morning, the cavalry being ordered to fall back from this position, in the absence of any immediate commander I reported to Colonel Munford, in command of the cavalry forces near me, and acted under his orders until I could dispatch a messenger to receive orders from the general or one of his aides. By order of Colonel Munford, Captain Payne, of the Black Horse [Cavalry]; Ball, of the Chesterfield Troop, and myself, selected a position for the cavalry, and there remained in formation ready for instant movement, when I received orders to resume my former position under the hill southwest of Lewis’ house. From this position I sent off couriers as desired. By request of an aide I sent my surgeon with two men and a horse to aid in the recovery of the body of General Bartow. In this effort they were unable to succeed, owing to a heavy advancing fire, this aide properly refusing to permit them to go in. Here I lost a horse, but have since recovered him, slightly wounded in the foot. Here, by order of General Johnston, I was successfully engaged for two hours in rallying stragglers from infantry commands and sending them to him, who reformed them under the hill below Lewis’ house.

When the order for the pursuit was given I was in advance of the main body of the cavalry, and started off with Colonel Chesnut, with orders, however, to report to General Beauregard. Before reaching the Warrenton turnpike, below Fairfax House, not finding the general, and learning that he was on [the] other side of the run road, I asked permission to go on, which was granted by Colonel Chesnut, he stating his purpose to accompany me. We were starting upon the main road to Centreville, when a messenger from the adjutant-general ordered me to the left, to disperse a body then apparently forming, but which proved to be of our own men. From this point I advanced beyond the ford at Sudley, taking and paroling prisoners and aiding Colonel Jordan in caring for the wounded at or near that point, and with him returned to camp with men and horses much wearied and exhausted.

I lost no men from my command. One horse, while his rider, acting as guide to a battery, was taking down a fence, was struck by a shell and instantly killed. Two others, while on active courier duty, died from heat and exhaustion; others are permanently injured, I fear.

In conclusion, my officers and men were cool and composed, ready promptly to obey all orders; most of them under fire repeatedly during the day; some of them constantly with the general in his exposure, and with his aide, Colonel Chisolm. I had no opportunity other than to discharge those duties assigned me, which I hope were as efficient as they were cheerfully rendered.

Respectfully,

JOHN F. LAY,

Captain, Commanding Squadron of Cavalry

Col. THOMAS JORDAN

Assistant Adjutant-General





#116 – Col. Wade Hampton

14 08 2008

Report of Col. Wade Hampton, Commanding Hampton Legion

O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 2 [S# 2] — CHAPTER IX, pp.566-567

HEADQUARTERS HAMPTON LEGION,

Camp Johnson, Broad Run, July 29, 1861

GENERAL: I have the honor to report that with six hundred infantry of my command I reached Manassas on the morning of the 21st, after thirty hours’ detention on the cars from Richmond. In obedience to orders to take position in the direction of stone bridge, ready to support any of the troops engaged in that quarter, I advanced with six infantry companies to Lewis’ house, the headquarters of General Cocke. On my way to this point a scout informed me that the enemy in great force had turned our left flank and were rapidly advancing. I immediately turned to my left at a right angle to the course I had been pursuing, and guided by the sound of a heavy fire which had just opened, marched towards their advancing lines.

Finding one of our batteries engaging the enemy, I took position to support it and remained for some time near it, but seeing that the enemy were closing in on my right flank, I moved forward to a farm house belonging to a free negro named Robinson, and took possession of the ground immediately around it. After being exposed to a heavy fire from Ricketts’ battery and musketry, I formed my men on the turnpike road leading to stone bridge in front of the farm-yard. A large body of the enemy, who were in advance of the main column, and who were within two hundred yards of the turnpike, opened fire on me as the line was formed. Under this fire Lieut. Col. B. J. Johnson fell, and in his fall the service sustained a great loss, while the Legion has met with an irreparable misfortune. He fell as, with the utmost coolness and gallantry, he was placing our men in position. In his death Carolina is called to mourn over one of her most devoted sons. As soon as my men came into position they returned the fire of the enemy and drove them back with loss into the woods on the top of the hill in front of us.

Their right wing then opened upon us, but after a brisk exchange of fire they retreated and planted a battery in the position they had just left. After this had played upon us for some time a strong force was thrown out, apparently with the view of charging upon us, but a single volley dispersed them in great confusion. They then formed beyond the crest of the hill and moved down to the turnpike on my left flank out of the range of my rifles. As soon as they reached the road they planted a battery in it, enfilading my position. As I was entirely exposed, I made my men fall back and form over the brow of the hill, where they were protected from the fire of the guns but not from that of the rifles. Here we were attacked by a column which came from the direction of the headquarters of General Evans, almost on our right, and we were nearly surrounded, the enemy being on three sides of us, and Generals Bee and Evans having both advised me to fall back, I gave orders to this effect, having held this position unsupported for at least two hours in the face of the enemy, greatly superior in numbers and well provided with artillery.

A short time before we retired, General Evans and Bartow, with the remnants of their commands, came upon the ground, joined with us in our fire on the enemy, and fell back with us. My men retired in good order to the hill just in our rear, bearing off our wounded, and formed near a battery (Imboden’s and Walton’s), which was just then put in position. Here, after indicating the place you wished me to occupy, you directed me to remain until you sent for me. The order to charge soon came from you, and we advanced to the Spring Hill farm house, (Mrs. Henry’s) under a heavy fire of cannon and musketry. In the face if this my men advanced as rapidly as their worn-out condition would allow, and after delivering a well-directed fire, I ordered them to charge upon the battery under the hill.

In leading this charge I received a wound which, though slight, deprived me of the honor of participating in the capture of the guns which had done us so much injury during the day. After being wounded I gave command of the Legion to Capt. James Conner, the senior officer present. He formed the Legion on the right of the regiment of Colonel Withers (Eighteenth Virginia), advanced directly upon the battery, passing by the right of the farm house down upon the two guns, which were taken. Captain Ricketts, who had command of this battery, was here wounded and taken prisoner. The enemy being driven back at all points, began to retreat before the forces which were rapidly brought up, and in the pursuit which followed the Legion joined, advancing two miles beyond the stone bridge.

The death of Colonel Johnson in the early part of the day having deprived me of the only field officer who was on the ground, I was greatly embarrassed in extending the necessary orders, and but for the constant and efficient assistance given to me by my staff officers in the extension of these orders, my position would have been rendered as critical as it was embarrassing.

The unflinching courage of the brave men who sustained their exposed and isolated position under the trying circumstances of that eventful day inspires in me a pride which it is due to them I should express in the most emphatic terms, under the terrible uncertainty of the first half hour as to the positions of both friend and foe. Compelled frequently during the day from the same cause to receive an increasing fire from different quarters while they withheld their own, the self-devotion of these faithful soldiers was only equaled by the gallantry of the officers whom they so trustingly obeyed. To the officers and men who followed and upheld our flag steadfastly during the bloody fight which resulted so gloriously to our army I beg to express my warmest thanks. Their conduct has my unqualified approbation, and I trust it has met the approval of their general commanding.

I regret to report a loss of fifteen killed upon the battlefield, four since dead, one hundred wounded, and two missing.

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

WADE HAMPTON,

Colonel, Commanding Legion

Brigadier-General BEAUREGARD,

Commanding Army of the Potomac





#115 – Brig. Gen. T. H. Holmes

14 08 2008

Report of Brig. Gen. T. H. Holmes, C. S. Army, Commanding Reserve Brigade

O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 2 [S# 2] — CHAPTER IX, pp. 565-566

HEADQUARTERS BROOKE’S STATION, July 26, 1861

GENERAL: On Wednesday, the 18th of July, I received orders from the headquarters of the Army to hold my brigade in readiness to support your army if called on by you. I proceeded with two regiments (the Second Tennessee and First Arkansas Volunteers) and Walker’s battery that afternoon towards Manassas, and on my arrival at Camp Chopawamsic sent an officer to communicate with you. Soon after the officer left I received your telegram to Lieutenant-Colonel Green urging me forward. The march was resumed, and I encamped near Brentsville.

On reporting to you in person on Friday morning I was ordered to Camp Wigfall as a support to Ewell’s brigade, charged with the defense of Union Mills and its neighborhood. My brigade rested on Saturday.

About 9 o’clock on Sunday, the 21st, I received a copy of your note to General Ewell, directing him to hold himself in readiness to take the offensive at a moment’s notice, to be supported by my brigade. This order caused me to move nearer to Ewell’s position, where, after waiting about two hours, another order was received through Ewell to resume our former places. Up to this time the firing was comparatively slow. About 12 o’clock m., or a few minutes sooner, the firing on our left became very heavy. About 2 o’clock p.m. I received a copy of a note from you to General Jones, dated at a point one mile south of Union Mills, directing me, among other movements, to repair to you.

I immediately marched in the direction of the firing, and on my arrival at Camp Walker received the first order directed to myself. This was a verbal one, requiring me to hasten forward as soon as possible. The march from thence to Lewis’ house was made in good time. The brigade was halted there by order of General Johnston, and did not participate in the fight, as the enemy commenced to retreat within a few moments after my arrival. I ordered Walker’s rifled guns to fire at the retreating enemy, and Scott’s cavalry to join in the pursuit. The fire of the former was exceedingly accurate, and did much execution, and the pursuit of the latter was very effective, taking many prisoners and capturing much property.

I cannot speak too highly of the spirit and enthusiasm of my brigade.

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

T. H. HOLMES

Brigadier-General, Commanding Brigade

General G. T. BEAUREGARD, Camp Manassas





Society of (Mostly) Civil War Historians Part III

3 07 2008

Continued from here.

Tuesday, the third and final day of the conference, began with Conscription and Consequences.  The panel was chaired by Robert Kenzer of the University of Richmond, who also commented on the papers.  This could have been a subset of the Beleaguered Cincinnatus panel from the day before.  First up was Christine Dee with “Now is a Time when Strange Men and Strange Things are in Vogue”:  The Provost Marshal’s Agents and the Meaning of Local Resistance in Northern Communities.  In this Dee detailed the processes by which communities resisted conscription and the provost marshals’ attempts to enforce it.  Attempts by provost marshals to “embed” themselves in communities were resented by residents, and sometimes violence resulted, prompted by both citizens and the PMs.  Also complicating enforcement were ethnic differences and contested citizenship.  PMs during the war deputized locals and formed paramilitary bands to gather up deserters and evaders, and bounties were awarded.  Even after the war, the PMs continued their activities in communities, not only in collecting deserters and evaders but also others who committed crimes against the military. 

John Sacher’s paper, titled Confederate Substitutes and Principals: A Preliminary Analysis, covered a topic that is rarely discussed, that of the policy of the hiring of substitutes by men (principals) drafted into the Confederate army.  While the policy was outlawed and all principals were subsequently ordered into the army, Sacher argues that the use of compliance of principals with the order as a sign of Confederate loyalty is a slim reed.  Rockingham County, VA is the focus of Sacher’s study.  (An interesting tidbit – at one point newspapers encouraged women to mail petticoats to principals.)

The 10:30 session was to be chaired by Ethan Rafuse, whose misadventures resulting in his inability to attend can be found here.  Susannah Bruce, who was to comment, took on the additional duty of chairing The Influence of Military Operations on Politics and Policy in the Trans-Mississippi.  I took more notes during this session than in any other, perhaps because it dealt with the Trans-Miss theatre, with which I am least familiar.  Fellow blogger Drew Wagenhoffer would have been in heaven, I think.  Terry Beckenbaugh started things off with The Economics of Race: Major General Samuel Ryan Curtis’ Policies toward African-Americans and Native Americans in the Trans-Mississippi, 1862-1864.  Perhaps best known for his victory at Pea Ridge, Curtis was a Whig turned Republican who repudiated racial equality while at the same time believing that a person could not be property.  As his Army of the Southwest marched through Arkansas (cutting his supply line and living off the land well before the idea occurred to the likes of Grant and Sherman), Curtis freed slaves and gave them confiscated cotton, thus vesting their interest in Union victory.  Curtis believed that the possibility of being accused of inciting servile insurrection was worth the risk if his actions damaged the enemy.  Later, Curtis’ treatment of the Indians when he moved further west was very severe, giving John Chivington justification for the Sand Creek Massacre when he said there could be “no peace until the Indians suffer more”.  While contrabands were working toward the same end as Curtis – Union victory – the Indians were not; they were in the way.

Jeff Prushankin’s paper, Politics as War by Other Means: The Gray-Lewis Louisiana Congressional Campaign of 1864, examined yet another little discussed topic – the effect of the conduct of the war on political elections in the Confederacy.  The war didn’t last long enough for the effect to be realized on a national level, but the Gray-Lewis campaigns illustrate how it manifested on a smaller scale.  There was a good deal of conflict between Richard Taylor’s command in Louisiana and that of Edmund Kirby Smith’s in Arkansas – it would seem that Smith was behaving somewhat selfishly (I don’t know much about it, but imagine you can find out more in Jeff’s fine book which I have yet to read).  Orders were given and disobeyed, reenforcements withheld, arrests made.  Taking advantage of this Crisis in Confederate Command was Union general Nathaniel Banks.  It was no surprise that the Confederate public took sides with Taylor or Smith.  Two candidates for a vacant congressional seat emerged, with one being perceived to support Taylor (Henry Gray) and one Smith (John Langdon, though his camp denied any ties to Smith).  The election turned into a referendum on Smith and Taylor, with the Taylor candidate (Gray) winning.  Gray went to Richmond and presented evidence tying Smith to the illegal cotton trade, and the tide of public opinion turned decidedly against Smith across the Confederacy.

In Pressured on Every Side: Conflicts between Military and Civilian Priorities planning the Camden Expedition of 1864, Alfred Wallace (yet another Penn Stater) looked at the conciliatory policy practiced in Arkansas by Frederick Steele.  Steele encouraged his troops to fraternize with the residents of Little Rock, where in 1863 there seemed to be a significant Union sentiment.  While the ranks seemed to support Steele, his cavalry commander, Davidson, angry that Steele was breaking down his horses in frivolous races, claimed his conciliatory policy was folly and that only long-hidden Unionists were taking the loyalty oath.  The rumor soon spread that Daniel Sickles was headed to Arkansas to displace Steele.  While that didn’t come about, General James Blunt arrived in Fort Smith, found conditions unfavorable and began lobbying for Steele’s job.  All of these factors affected planning for the upcoming Camden Expedition.  Wallace seemed to feel much of the criticism of Steele was warranted.

 I went once again to McGillan’s for lunch, alone this time as Dana had left that morning and Tom and Angela were visiting Independence Hall.  After lunch I hit the book vendors once again, making four purchases at a hefty discount – it seems the booksellers were very anxious to move product as the conference came to a close.

For the final, 2:30 session of the conference I chose Gearing Up for the Civil War Centennial in the High School Classroom, chaired by Andrew Slap with coments by Ronald Maggiano of West Springfield High School in Virginia.  This panel was organized by fellow blogger Kevin Levin, which makes this summary easy: his presentation is posted by him here, and he briefly recapped the conference here.  I’ll let Kevin speak for himself, and just add that his paper, Using Ken Burns’s The Civil War in the Classroom, was superbly delivered and well received.  James Percoco, whose book Summers with Lincoln I had just purchased upstairs, was next with Monumental Memories of the Sixteenth President.  His PowerPoint slide presentation was an encapsulation of his book: Percoco uses the stories of seven important sculptures to tell the larger tale of Lincoln, the Civil War, and emancipation.  After the session was over Mr. Percoco was kind enough to sign my copy of his book.

Afterwards I went out into the hallway and said my goodbyes.  I made sure to again thank Carol Reardon to hepping me to the shindig – I was really glad I went.  I took a quick circuit around the first and second floors one more time to get a last look at the fine artwork (I’ll talk about that and more in Part IV).  Just before leaving, I was checking out a plaque memorializing the nine regiments raised by the Union League during the war.  Kevin Levin crept up behind and whispered “Take a long look Harry; it’s probably the last time they’ll let us in this place.”  For the most part, he’s probably right, but the League is absorbing the old Civil War and Underground Railroad Museum collection into its own impressive holdings and will house the whole thing in their building, which will be accessible by the public.

I walked to meet my ride to the airport at The Locust Bar at 9th & Locust, had a couple of cold ones, and was off to catch my 8:00 PM flight for Pittsburgh.  It was a nice surprise to see Lesley Gordon sitting in the seat behind me, though that arrangement wasn’t conducive to much conversation.

All in all the Society of Civil War Historians first conference appeared to me a success, and I think I’ll keep my membership active with the intent to attend the 2010 conference in Richmond.  I hope to see many of you there.

Part I

Part II 

Part IV





#114 – Capt. John D. Alexander

29 06 2008

 

Report of Capt. John D. Alexander, Commanding Campbell Rangers

O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 2 [S# 2] — CHAPTER IX, pp. 564-565

CAMP NEAR STONE BRIDGE, July, 1861

SIR: In obedience to your orders, on the morning of the 21st instant I reported with my company of cavalry to Major Wheat, who had been thrown forward with his battalion, and occupied a position upon our extreme left in the immediate vicinity of the enemy. By command of Major Wheat, I forthwith proceeded with my whole company to the front for the purpose of reconnoitering, and advanced in close proximity to the enemy’s lines. Having ascertained as precisely as possible his progress and position, I returned and reported the same to Major Wheat. I then by his direction took position a short distance in rear of his left wing, and held my command in reserve, ready to take advantage of any confusion in the enemy’s ranks or to perform any service that might be required. This post I occupied until Major Wheat’s command, with the Fourth South Carolina Regiment, under Colonel Sloan, having gallantly maintained the action for a considerable time, was forced at length to retire before the overwhelming numbers of the enemy and tremendous fire of his batteries. I fell back slowly and without the slightest confusion before the advancing line of the enemy, halting at short intervals and every available point, and holding my company ready for instant service. In this manner I retired, along with Captain Terry’s company, until we fell in with Colonel Radford’s command near Lewis’ house. Major Wheat having fallen from a severe wound received by him early in the action, I joined Colonel Radford’s battalion of cavalry and remained with him the rest of the day.

After the enemy was repulsed and forced back upon our left we received orders with Colonel Radford’s battalion to make a circuit of several miles to our right for the purpose of charging and intercepting the enemy on the turnpike in the direction of Centreville upon their retreat. This order was received by our men with enthusiasm, they having remained the whole day patiently under the enemy’s fire. We came out into the turnpike near the White House, about two miles from the stone bridge. Near this house, and about three hundred yards in rear of the point where we came into the turnpike, the enemy had planted a battery so as to command the road, and in the woods adjacent to the road on either side of the battery they were posted in considerable force. On the opposite side of the road the enemy was retreating rapidly and in great numbers. A portion of the battalion, and among them my company, charged up the turnpike towards the battery, when a tremendous fire was opened upon us from the battery, and also from the whole force stationed in its vicinity. By this fire I lost several horses, but no men. This was the last stand made by the enemy. After they were broken here the rout became general and irresistible. Some of my men joined in the pursuit and became somewhat scattered, but were all collected that night and reported to you the next morning at these headquarters.

I should perhaps mention in appropriate terms the conduct of the officers and men under my command. From the commencement of the action in the morning until late in the evening they were under the enemy’s fire and within point-blank range of their batteries, and at times almost enveloped in their musketry. They remained firm and unshaken, exhibiting an anxiety only to meet the enemy, and awaiting patiently an opportunity to strike an effective blow. I am gratified to inform you that my officers and men all escaped without personal injury. I received a slight wound in my leg, which did not disable me, and in the charge upon the enemy in the evening at the turnpike, which I have mentioned, Lieutenant Page’s horse was shot, and fell dead while in his proper place at the head of the company. During the day we lost four other horses either killed or permanently disabled. I commend the conduct of all my officers and men to your favorable consideration. It gives me pleasure to inform you that my company is now ready to take the field again and to perform effective service.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

JOHN D. ALEXANDER,

Captain of Campbell Rangers

Brig. Gen. N. G. EVANS





#111 – Col. J. B. E. Sloan

29 06 2008

 

Report of Col. J. B. E. Sloan, Fourth South Carolina Infantry

O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 2 [S# 2] — CHAPTER IX, pp. 560-562

HDQRS. FOURTH REGIMENT SOUTH CAROLINA VOLS.,

Stone Bridge, Bull Run, Prince William Co., Va., July 23, 1861

GENERAL: I have the honor to report that about 3 o’clock a.m. Sunday, July 21, the officer of the guard awoke me and stated that my picket towards the stone house reported that he heard commands in the woods beyond, as if some one was commanding forces. I ordered him to report the same to you. Towards 4 o’clock I heard the firing of pickets on the opposite side of Bull Run from my camp, and at once ordered the men to be waked up. In a few moments afterwards your orders came, ordering me to get ready and move up on the hill at once. I ordered the men to fall in, and before 5 o’clock formed in line of battle on the left side of the road, covered by an undulation near the bluff of the hill, about six hundred yards distant from stone bridge.

I sent out, as ordered by you, Captain Kilpatrick’s company, Calhoun Mountaineers, to deploy as skirmishers on the left of the bridge, and Captain Anderson’s company, Confederate Guards, to the right of the bridge, both of them sending their advance skirmishers to the bank of Bull Run. Captain Dean’s company and the Palmetto Riflemen, the latter commanded by Lieutenant Earle, was left at the camp, some three hundred yards distant, as a reserve. The enemy could be seen in the woods opposite. About six o’clock the enemy sent a man out with a flag, which he attempted to plant in the road about two hundred yards from the bridge. Captain Kilpatrick fired at him five or six shots. The man with the color fled precipitately to the woods. The enemy’s battery, which was planted on the left side of the road in the edge of the woods, then commenced firing at intervals in different directions, as if to make us show our position, which was still concealed from them. Sometimes they would burst a shell about the bridge; again, fire a ball from a rifled cannon just over us. I could also hear firing of cannon below. Up to 8.20 they had fired six times towards us.

About 8.30 o’clock you ordered me to get ready and move up on the ridge, leaving the reserve and the companies sent out as skirmishers. After advancing one-fourth mile I formed in line of battle on the left of Major Wheat’s battalion, he having already formed on the right of the field. Your cannon formed in our front. I had not occupied this position but a few moments when, by your orders, I moved a little to the front and about three-fourths of a mile to the left, and formed in line of battle in a ravine, my left resting on the pike road leading from stone bridge by Sudley’s Mill, and about two hundred yards in advance of the stone house, and sent out Captain Hawthorn’s company as skirmishers in the woods, resting on our right.

Major Wheat’s battalion, which had been left with the cannon, advanced in front of the woods and was fired into by my skirmishers, which was returned by Major Wheat’s. My skirmishers sustained no loss, but wounded two of Major Wheat’s men. My skirmishers then returned, both Major Wheat and Captain Hawthorn having discovered the mistake. Major Wheat at once opened fire on the enemy and kept it up vigorously for about five rounds. I sent Captain Hawthorn to assist him as soon as he returned. I ordered the cannon to open on the enemy, who had commenced filing out in large force to our left. I then ordered the battalion to open fire by company, and then moved up to the left and advanced through the woods to the field in front. Major Wheat having rallied part of his forces and formed on my left, at that time General Bee came up on my right and advanced part of his force on my right and commenced a vigorous fire. At the same time I sent forward part of Captain Hollingsworth’s company as skirmishers. I had the fence pulled down to charge to the front when the skirmishers and General Bee’s forces advanced to the right. Major Wheat at the same time advancing on the left, the enemy’s battery and musketry opened on us in large force, which was returned, principally directed about the center of the regiment. The regiment retired to the rear of the woods. Captain Shanklin rallied his company around the colors until the entire force had left the ground. I discovered the enemy attempting to flank us in large force, to which I called the attention of General Bee, who, seeing the force, said that we had better retreat and form on the opposite side of the hill, after which re-enforcements came up and the engagement became general.

Lieutenant Earle, commanding Company B (Palmetto Riflemen), and Captain Dean’s company (C), both reserves, occupied the position first held by the regiment (on the left of the road near the bridge) until after the battery retired, when they also retreated toward Lewis’ house and were then formed into a battalion, with portions of Captain Shanklin’s company, under Lieutenant Cherry, and Captain Long’s company and the New Orleans Zouaves, Captain ——-, and some Alabamians, under Major Whither and Colonel Thomas, of Maryland, and by them led to the field of battle on our extreme left. They charged a battery of the enemy, and, after a severe conflict, repulsed him. Sergeant Maxwell planted the colors of the Fourth Regiment South Carolina Volunteers on the cannon of the enemy and maintained his position until after his comrades had been repulsed by a superior force, who had deceived our men and prevented their firing upon them by using our colors and sign of recognition. During this contest Major Whitner had his horse shot under him while endeavoring to rally the men led to the charge. Captain Kilpatrick held the position on the left of the bridge until the enemy advanced in large force to the left and near the bridge, when he left and attached his company to Colonel Hampton’s Legion. Captain Anderson remained on the right side of the bridge till near 1 o’clock, when he retreated toward Lewis’ house and then formed on some forces said to be under command of Ex-Governor Smith, and advanced with them into the field, engaged the enemy’s battery, when the forces under command of Colonel Thomas and Major Whitner came up, when he united with them in a charge on the battery which is above mentioned, in which our colors were planted on the cannon, but afterwards repulsed. I rallied the other remnants of companies on Captain Kilpatrick’s company on the right of Hampton’s Legion and led them up to three different advances. Afterward the men under my command worked the battery under the direction of Captain Ferguson, aide to General Beauregard, who made several telling fires on the enemy, assisted by Lieutenant Sloan, commanding fragments of companies.

Captain Kilpatrick behaved most gallantly, and was shot through the sword hand while bravely cheering his men onward. His first lieutenant, Horton, was shot in the head in a charge. Lieutenant Hunt, of Company H, deserves particular credit for his bravery in reorganizing the company. Sergeants Hawthorne and Fuller both acted their part well; the former was exceeded in gallant daring by no one. Captain Anderson sustained his character as an officer. Many of the officers and soldiers behaved well, among whom were Captain Hollingsworth, Corporal Williams, Privates Ferguson, Smith, and Wilkinson, of Company I. The Palmetto Riflemen were very efficient and behaved well. Lieutenant-Colonel Mattison was active in my assistance during the day in encouraging the men to do their duty. Captain Pool and his second and third lieutenants were all seriously, if not mortally, wounded.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

J. B. E. SLOAN,

Colonel Fourth Regiment S.C. Volunteers

General N. G. EVANS





#109 – Col. Jubal A. Early

1 06 2008

Report of Col. Jubal A. Early, Commanding Sixth Brigade, First Corps, Army of the Potomac

O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 2 [S# 2] — CHAPTER IX, pp. 555-558

HDQRS. SIXTH BRIG., FIRST CORPS, ARMY POTOMAC,

August 1, 1861

COLONEL: I submit the following report of the operations of my brigade on the 21st ultimo:

My position on the morning of the 21st was in the pines on the road from Camp Walker to the gate in front of McLean’s farm house, to which place my brigade had been removed on the day before from Blackburn’s Ford, on Bull Run, where it had been since the action on Thursday, the 18th. The portion of the brigade with me consisted of Colonel Kemper’s regiment, Seventh Virginia; Col. Harry T. Hays’ regiment, Seventh Louisiana, and six companies of my own regiment, the Twenty-fourth Virginia.

At an early hour in the morning the enemy’s batteries near Blackburn’s Ford opened fire, and I received an order from General Beauregard through one of his aides to move my brigade to the cover of the pines between McLean’s Ford and the road leading to Blackburn’s Ford, so as to be ready to support either General Longstreet or General Jones, as might be necessary. A short time after taking this position I received a request from General Longstreet to send him a regiment, which request I complied with by sending him the six companies of my own regiment, under Lieutenant-Colonel Hairston, and two companies of Colonel Hays’ regiment, under Major Penn. I proceeded also to General Longstreet’s position at Blackburn’s Ford, and after the companies I had sent him were posted as he desired, I returned to the place where the rest of the brigade was, and in a short time received a further request from General Longstreet to furnish him another regiment, which I complied with by carrying him the residue of Hays’ regiment.

Upon arriving at the ford I found the companies I had before sent had crossed over Bull Run and were in position with General Longstreet’s command, awaiting the signal for an assault on the enemy’s batteries, which were constantly firing in every direction. Hays’ companies were drawn up in double column in rear of the ford, where they remained for some time, when I received an order from General Longstreet to march Hays’ regiment back, and with that and Kemper’s cross McLean’s Ford and attack the enemy’s batteries in the rear. Hays’ regiment was immediately marched back to where Kemper’s regiment was, sustaining during its march a fire of the enemy’s batteries, which was directed by the cloud of dust it raised in marching, and a shell exploded in the ranks, wounding three or four men.

I proceeded with Hays’ and Kemper’s regiments to cross at McLean’s Ford for the purpose of attacking the batteries in the rear, but before the whole of the regiments had crossed, the general’s aide, Colonel Chisolm, arrived with orders requiring me to resume my position. I then sent Kemper’s regiment back to its place in the pines, and marched Hays’ regiment up the run to Blackburn’s Ford. General Longstreet then directed me to carry the regiment back to where Kemper’s was, and after the men were rested a few minutes they were marched down the run by way of the intrenchments which had been occupied by General Jones’ brigade at McLean’s Ford. Upon arriving there I found General Jones had returned with his brigade to the intrenchments, and I was informed by him that General Beauregard had directed that I should join him (General Beauregard) with my brigade.

I immediately proceeded to comply with this order, and sent to General Longstreet for the six companies of my own regiment, and received a reply stating that I could take in lieu thereof the Thirteenth Mississippi Regiment, under Colonel Barksdale, which had been ordered to report to him, and thus save both regiments from the fire of the enemy’s batteries, which they would have to sustain in marching to and from Blackburn’s Ford.

I accepted this proposition, and immediately put the two regiments of my brigade, with Colonel Barksdale’s Thirteenth Mississippi Regiment, which I found in the pines on the road leading from McLean’s farm house toward Mitchell’s Ford, in motion to comply with General Beauregard’s directions, having previously sent Captain Gardner ahead to ascertain where the general was. I marched in rear of Mitchell’s Ford in the direction of the ground on which the battle was being fought, near the stone bridge, and after proceeding some distance was met by Captain Gardner, who informed me he had been unable to find the general, but had ascertained that his headquarters were at Lewis’ house, in the direction of the fighting. I continued to advance through the fields as fast as my men could move, guided by the roar of the cannon and the volleys of musketry, until we reached the neighborhood of the battle-ground, when I sent Captain Gardner again ahead to ascertain, if he could, where the general desired me to go, my brigade being still kept on the march.

Captain Gardner met with Col. John S. Preston, one of the general’s aides, who informed him that the general had gone to the front, and that the order was that all re-enforcements should go to the front. The captain soon returned with this information, and I still continued to advance until I was met by Colonel Preston, who informed me that General Beauregard had gone to where the fighting was on the right, but that General Johnston was just in front, and his directions were that we should proceed to the left, where there was a heavy fire of musketry. I immediately inclined to the left in a direction pointed out by Colonel Preston, and soon met with General Johnston, who directed me to proceed to the extreme left of our line and attack the enemy on their right flank. This direction I complied with, marching in rear of the woods in which General Elzey’s brigade had just taken position, as I afterward ascertained, until we had cleared entirely the woods and got into some fields on the left of our line, where we found Colonel Stuart, with a body of cavalry and some pieces of artillery, belonging, as I understood, to Captain Beckham’s battery.

Here I turned to the front, and a body of the enemy soon appeared in front of my column on the crest of a hill deployed as skirmishers. Colonel Kemper’s regiment, which was in advance, was formed in the open field in front of the enemy under a heavy shower of minie balls, and advanced towards the enemy. Colonel Barksdale’s and Colonel Hays’ regiments were successively formed towards the left, and also advanced, thus outflanking the enemy. At the same time that my brigade advanced the pieces of artillery above mentioned and Stuart’s cavalry moved to our left, so as to command a view of a very large portion of the ground occupied by the enemy. With the advance of my brigade and the cavalry and artillery above mentioned the enemy retired rapidly behind the hill, though the advance of my brigade was delayed a short time by information from one of General Elzey’s aides, who had gone to the top of the hill, that the body of men in front of us and who had fired upon my brigade, was the Thirteenth Virginia Regiment. This turned out to be an entire misapprehension; and in the mean time a considerable body of the enemy appeared to the right of my position, on an extension of the same hill, bearing what I felt confident was the Confederate flag. It was soon, however, discovered to be a regiment of the enemy’s forces, and was dispersed by one or two well-directed fires from our artillery on the left.

As soon as the misapprehension in regard to the character of the troops was corrected, my brigade advanced to the top of the hill that had been occupied by the enemy, and we ascertained that they had retired precipitately, and a large body of them was discovered in the fields in the rear of Dogan’s house, and west of the turnpike. Here Colonel Cocke, with one of his regiments, joined us, and our pieces of artillery were advanced, and fired upon the enemy’s column with considerable effect, causing them to disperse, and we soon discovered that they were in full retreat. My brigade and Colonel Cocke’s command were advanced in a direction so as to pass over the ground that had been occupied by the enemy’s main body, crossing a ravine and the turnpike, and passing to the west of Dogan’s house by Matthews’ house and to the west of Carter’s house. My own brigade advanced as far as Bull Run, to the north of Carter’s house, and one mile above stone bridge, where it bivouacked for the night. Colonel Cocke crossed the river at a ford to the left, and I saw no more of him for that night.

We saw the evidences of the fight all along our march, and unmistakable indications of the overwhelming character of the enemy’s defeat, in the shape of abandoned guns and equipments. It was impossible for me to pursue the enemy farther, as well because I was utterly unacquainted with the crossings of the run and the roads in front, as because most of the men belonging to my brigade had been marching the greater part of the day, and were very much exhausted; but pursuit with infantry would have been unavailing, as the enemy retreated with such rapidity that they could not have been overtaken by any other than mounted troops. On the next day we found a great many articles that the enemy had abandoned in their flight, showing that no expense or trouble had been spared in equipping their army.

The number of men composing my brigade as it went into the action was less than fifteen hundred, but I am unable to give exact returns, as we bivouacked eight or ten miles from our baggage, with which were all the rolls and returns, and the brigade has since been separated and reorganized.

Colonel Kemper’s regiment, embracing less than 400 men at the time, lost in killed 9, wounded 38; Colonel Hays’ regiment lost in killed 3, wounded 20; Colonel Barksdale’s regiment lost in wounded 6; making in killed 12, wounded 64; in all. 76.

Without intending to be invidious, I must say that Colonels Kemper and Hays displayed great coolness and gallantry in front of their regiments while they were being formed under a galling fire from the enemy’s sharpshooters, who, from their appearance, I took to be regular troops. My aide and acting assistant adjutant-general, Capt. Fleming Gardner, rendered me very efficient service during the whole day, and a Lieutenant Willis, who volunteered to act as aide, and did so, was also of great service to me. I have not seen him for several days, and did not learn the particular corps to which he belongs, but I believe he belongs to a company of Rappahannock cavalry.

A company from Rappahannock joined Colonel Kemper’s regiment in the early part of the day, and a South Carolina company joined Colonel Hays’ regiment just after it arrived in front of the enemy.

The companies of my own regiment remained all day, until the retreat of the enemy at Blackburn’s Ford, with General Longstreet, under an annoying fire from the enemy’s batteries, but without sustaining any loss, and afterwards joined in the pursuit, under General Longstreet, towards Centreville.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

J. A. EARLY,

Colonel, Comdg. Sixth Brig., First Corps, Army of the Potomac

Col. THOMAS JORDAN,

Assistant Adjutant-General, First Corps, Army of the Potomac





#108 – Capt. Arthur L. Rogers

1 06 2008

Report of Capt. Arthur L. Rogers, Loudoun Artillery

O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 2 [S# 2] — CHAPTER IX, pp. 554-555

SIR: I have the honor to report that the first section of Loudoun Artillery, under my immediate command, was on the day of the battle of Manassas held in reserve until about 11 o’clock a.m., when by your order I proceeded to the crest of the hill on the west side of Bull Run, commanding stone bridge, from which Latham’s half battery had been withdrawn by Major Evans, to resist the enemy’s attack in front of our forces. Here I posted my section of artillery, and opened a brisk fire upon a column of the enemy’s infantry, supposed to be two regiments, advancing towards me, and supported by his battery of rifled cannon on the hills opposite. These poured into my section a steady fire of shot and shell. After giving them some fifty rounds I succeeded in heading his column, and turned it up Bull Run to a ford about one mile above stone bridge, where, with the regiments which followed, they crossed, and proceeded to join the rest of the enemy’s forces in front of the main body of our army. After having exhausted my ammunition I retired, with a section of the Louisiana Washington Artillery posted in my rear, to Lewis’ house, to replenish my limber-boxes, having no caisson with my section and being supported by but a small force of infantry. By the time I had procured more ammunition the enemy’s fire ceased upon the right wing of the Army, upon which we were engaged.

The other section of my battery, under command of Lieutenant Heaton, was posted by Captain Harris, of the Engineers, on the west bank of Bull Run, on a bluff, where it assisted in silencing the enemy’s batteries in the pines opposite, and being ordered forward, was conducted by Captain Harris to a position in front of the enemy, upon the eastern verge of the plateau upon which Mrs. Henry’s house is placed, and about six hundred yards distant therefrom, where it was posted, under a heavy fire, supported by Colonel Smith’s battalion of infantry. It kept up an effectual fire upon the enemy until its ammunition was also exhausted, when it retired to Lewis’, for the purpose of replenishing.

My whole battery then being united, we received your order that we should leave it to the rifled cannon to fire at long range, as the enemy were retreating, and that we must cease firing; after which we were ordered by General Beauregard to Camp Walker, eight miles from the battle field, below Manassas Junction, with General Elzey’s brigade, where we marched that night.

I refer to annexed statements of the casualties of the day.

Casualties.–3 privates wounded, 1 supposed mortally; 2 horses wounded.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

ARTH. L. ROGERS

Commanding Loudon Artillery

Col. PHILIP ST. GEORGE COCKE,

Commanding Fifth Brigade