Preview: Schmiel & Simione with Schneider, “Searching for Irvin McDowell”

4 09 2021

Just in for preview is Searching for Irvin McDowell: Forgotten Civil War General, by Frank P. Simione,Jr. and Gene Schmiel, with E. L. “Dutch” Schneider. It’s billed as “The first biography of this important Union General in the early days of the Civil War,” and I’ll soon have an interview with the authors. But for now –

You get:

  • 244 pages of text in 10 chapters.
  • 2 appendices, discussing McDowell’s stay at Liberia in Manassas, and his unique taste in headwear.
  • Bottom of the page footnotes.
  • 10 page bibliography (published works, National Tribune and magazine articles, two websites – and no, I’m not in it)
  • Index
  • 14 Hal Jesperson maps
  • 7 images





Capt. John C. Tidball, Co. A, 2nd U. S. Artillery, On Battle and Retreat

6 02 2021

As previously stated I was with Blenker’s brigade of Miles’s division, the duty of which was to guard Blackburn’s and other fords. Early on the forenoon of the 21st (July) I took post on a prominent knoll overlooking the valley of Bull Run. Here I remained in readiness to move my battery quickly to any point where its service might be required. Stretched out before me was a beautiful prospect. To the south, directly in front of me, distance about five miles, was Manassas Junction, where we could perceive trains arriving and departing. Those coming from the direction of Manassas were carrying Johnston’s troops from the Shenandoah. Around towards our right was the Sudley Springs country, nearing which the turning column now was. All the country in that direction appeared from our point of view, to be a dense forest, and a good of it was in woods, the foliage and buildings only were discernible. Among these were the Robinson and Henry houses, and the fields upon the plateau soon to become famous in history as the scene of deadly strife. Still further around to our right and rear, distant about a mile was Centreville, a mere village of the “Old Virginny” type. Through it ran the old dilapidated turnpike from Alexandria to Warrenton. By this road soon commenced to arrive a throng of sightseers from Washington. They came in all manner of ways, some in stylish carriages, others in city hacks, and still others in buggies, on horseback and even on foot. Apparently everything in the shape of vehicles in and around Washington had been pressed into service for the occasion. It was Sunday and everybody seemed to have taken a general holiday; that is all the male population, for I saw none of the other sex there, except a few huxter women who had driven out in carts loaded wit pies and other edibles. All manner of people were represented in this crowd, from most grave and noble senators to hotel waiters. As they approached the projecting knoll on which I was posted seemed to them an eligible point of view, and to it they came in throngs, leaving their carriages along side of the road with the horses hitched to the worm fence at either side, When all available space along the road was occupied they drove into the vacant fields behind me and hitched their horses to the bushes with which it was in a measure overgrown. As a rule, they made directly for my battery, eagerly scanning the country before them from which now came the roar of artillery and from which could occasionally be heard the faint rattle of musketry. White smoke rising here and there showing distinctly against the dark green foliage, indicated the spot where the battle was in progress. I was plied with questions innumerably. To those with whom I thought it worth while I explained, so far as I could, the plan of the operation then in progress. But invariably I was asked why I was posted where I was, and why I was not around where the fighting was going on. To all of which I could only reply that the plan of the battle required that we should guard the left until the proper time came for us to engage. To make my explanation more lucid I said if the enemy were allowed freedom to break through here where would you all be. Most of the sightseers were evidently disappointed at that they saw, or rather did not see. They no doubt expected to see a battle as represented in pictures; the opposing lines drawn up as on parade with horsemen galloping hither and thither, and probably expecting to see something of the sort by a nearer view of the field they hurried on in the direction of the sound of battle, leaving their carriages by the roadside or in the fields. These were the people that made such a panic at the Cub Run bridge.

Among those who thus halted a little while with me were several that I knew. One party in particular attracted my attention. This was Dr. Nichols, then in charge of the government Insane Asylum; Senator Wilson from Massachusetts, Chairman of the Senate Military Committee; “Old Ben” Wade, Senator from Ohio, and a wheel horse of the Republican part; and “Old Jim” Lane, senator from Kansas, and another political war horse. All of these were full of the “On to Richmond” fever, and were impatient to see more of the battle. I endeavored to dissuade them from proceeding further, that if they would only remain awhile they would probably see as much of it as they would care to see. But Old Jim was firey, he said he must have a hand in it himself. His friends not wishing to go so far as that tried to convince him that he could do no good in the fight without a gun. “O never mind that,” he said, “I can easily find a musket on the field. I have been there before and know that guns are easily found where fighting is going on. I have been there before and know what it is.” He had been colonel of an Indiana regimt during the Mexican ware, and this was the old war fire sparkling out again. Nothing could hold him back and off the parted started down the slope and over the fields in the direction of the firing. I saw nothing more of them until late in the afternoon.

About 4. P. M. an aid (Major Wadsworth) came hurredly to me with instructions from General McDowell, to hasten with my battery down the turnpike towards the Stone Bridge. I supposed this was simply in accordance with the developments of the battle, and that the turning movemt had now progressed so far that we could now cross over and take part in it. To get on the turnpike I had to go through Centreville, where I saw Colonel Miles, our division commander, airing himself on the porch of the village inn. By this time the road was pretty well crowded with ambulances carrying the wounded, and other vehicles, all hurredly pressing to the rear. Miles, evidently in ignorance of what was transpiring at the front, asked me what was up. I could only answer that I had been ordered to proceed down towards the Stone Bridge; and then I proceeded, but the farther I proceeded the thicker the throng because of wagons, ambulances and other vehicles. The road being cut on the side of a hill had a steep bank up on its left and a steep bank down on the left, so that I could not take to the fields on either side. My horses were scraped and jammed by the vehicles struggling to pass me in the opposite direction. As far as I could see ahead the road was crowded in like manner. Finally it became impossible for me to gain another inch, and while standing waiting for a thinning out of the struggling mass, a man came riding up towards me, inquiring excitedly, “whose battery is this.” I told him that I commanded it. “Reverse it immediately and get out of here, I have orders from General McDowell to clear this road” and added that the army had been ignominiously and was now retreating. He was curious, wild looking individual. Although the day was oppressively hot he had on an overcoat – evidently a soldier’s overcoat dyed a brownish black. On his head he wore a soft felt hat the broad brim of which flopped up and down at each of his energetic motions. But notwithstanding the broadness of the brim it did not protect his face from sunburn, and his nose was red and peeling from the effects of it. He had no signs of an officer about him and I would have taken him for an orderly had he not had with him a handsome young officer whom I subsequently came well acquainted with, as Lieutenant afterwards Colonel Audenried. Seeing this young officer was acquainted with my lieutenant, afterwards General Webb, of Gettysburg game, I sidled up to them and inquired of him who the stranger was giving me such peremptory orders. He told me that he was Colonel Sherman, to whom I now turned and begged him pardon for not recognizing him before. I told him what my orders were, but he said it made no difference, the road must be cleared, and added that I could do no good if I were up at the Stone Bridge. I then reversed my battery by unlimbering the carriages, and after proceeding a short distance to the rear, where the bank was less steep, turned out into the field, where I put my guns in position on a knoll overlooking the valley towards Cun Run. In the distance I could see a line of skirmishers from which proceeded occasional puffs of smoke. This was Sykes’ battalion of regulars covering the rear.

I had not been in this position long before I saw three of my friends of the forenoon, Wilson, Wade and Lane, hurrying through the field up the slope toward me. Dr. Nichols was not now part of the party. Being younger and more active than the others he had probably outstripped them in the race. Lane was the first to pass me; he was mounted horsebacked on an old flea-bitten gray horse with rusty harness on, taken probably from some of the huxter wagons that had crowded to the front. Across the harness lay his coat, and on it was a musket which, sure enough, he had found, and for ought I know may have done valorous deeds with it before starting back in the panic. He was long, slender and hay-seed looking. His long legs kept kicking far back to the rear to urge his old beast to greater speed. And so he sped on.

Next came Wilson, hot and red in the face from exertion. When young he had been of athletic shape but was now rather stout for up-hill running. He too was in his shirt sleeves, carrying his coat on his arm. When he reached my battery he halted for a moment, looked back and mopping the perspiration from his face exclaimed, “Cowards! Why don’t they turn and beat back the scoundrels?” I tried to get from him some points of what had taken place across the Run, but he was too short of breath to say much, Seeing Wade was toiling wearily up the hill he halloed to him, “Hurry up, Ben, hurry up”, and then without waiting for “Old Ben” he hurried on with a pace renewed by the few moments of breathing spell he had enjoyed.

Then came Wade who, considerably the senior of his comrades, had fallen some distance behind. The heat and fatigue he was undergoing brought palor to his countenance instead of color as in the case of Wilson. He was trailing his coat on the ground as though too much exhausted to carry it. As he approached me I thought I had never beheld so sorrowful a countenance. His face, naturally long, was still more lengthened by the weight of his heavy under-jaws, so heavy that it seemed to overtax his exhausted strength to keep his mouth shut, I advised him to rest himself for a few minutes, and gave him a drink of whiskey from a remnant I was saving for an emergency. Refreshed by this he pushed on. Of these three Senators two, Wade and Wilson, became Vice Presidents of the United States, while the third, Lane, committed suicide, ad did also, before him, his brother, an officer in the army, who in Florida, threw himself on the point of his sword in the Roman fashion. One of the statesmen who had come out to see the sights, a Mr [Ely], a Representative in Congress from [New York], was captured and held in [duress?] vile as a hostage to force the liberation of certain Confederates then held by the United States governmt.

Among the notables who passed through my battery was W. H. Russell, L.L.D. the war correspondent of the London Times. He was considered an expert on war matters through his reports to the Times during the Crimean war and subsequently from India during the Sepoy mutiny. Of average stature he was in build the exact image of the caricatures which we see of John Bull – short of legs and stout of body, with a round chubby face flanked on either side with the muttin chop whiskers. His, like all others, was dusty and sweaty but, notwithstanding, was making good time, yet no so fast that his quick eye failed to note my battery, which he described in his report as looking cool and unexcited. He bounded on like a young steer – as John Bull he was, but while clambering over an old worm fence in his path the top rail broke, pitching him among the brambles and bushes on the farther side. His report of the battle was graphic and full, but so uncomplimentary to the volunteers that they dubbed him Bull Run Russell.

Each of the picknickers as they got back to where the carriages had been left took the first one at hand, or the last if he had his wits about him enough to make a choice. This jumping into the carriages, off they drove so fast as lash and oaths could make their horses go. Carriages collided tearing away wheels or stuck fast upon saplings by the road-side. Then the horses were cut loose and used for saddle purposes, but without the saddles. A rumor was rife that the enemy had a body of savage horsemen, known as the Black Horse Cavalry, which every man now thought was at their heels; and with this terrible vision before them of these men in buckram behind them they made the best possible speed to put the broad Potomac between themselves and their supposed pursuers.

Learning that McDowell had arrived from the field and was endeavoring to form a line of troops left at Centreville (and which were in good condition) upon which the disorganized troops could be rallied, I moved my battery over to the left where I found Richardson had formed his brigade into a large hollow square. A few months later on I don’t think he would have done so silly a thing. McDowell was present and so was Miles, who was giving some orders to Richardson. For some reason these orders were displeasing to Richardson, and hot words ensued between him and Miles, ending, finally, in Richardson saying “I will not obey your orders sir. You are drunk sir.” The scene, to say the least of it, was an unpleasant one, occurring as it when we expected to be attacked at any moment by the exultant enemy. Miles turned pitifully to McDowell as though he expected him to rebuke Richardson, but as McDOwell said nothing he rode away crestfallen and silent.

Miles did look a little curious and probably did have a we dropie in the eye, but his chief queerness arose from the fact that he wore two hats – straw hats, on over the other. This custom, not an uncommon one in very hot climates he had probably acquired when serving in Arizona, and certainly the weather of this campaign was hot enough to justify the adoption of any custom. The moral of all this is that people going to the war should not indulge in the luxury of two hats.

What Richardson expected to accomplish with his hollow square was beyond my military knowledge. He affected to be something of a tactician and this was probably only and effervescence of this affectation. Looking alternately at the hollow square and the two hats it would have been difficult for any unprejudiced person to decide which was the strongest evidence of tipsiness. A court of inquiry subsequently held upon the matter was unable to decide the question.

Richardson, formerly an officer of the 3d. infantry of the “Old” army, was a gallant fighter. He was mortally wounded at Antietam. Miles was killed at Harper’s Ferry the day before Antietam, and his name had gone into history loaded with opprobrium because of few minutes before his death he caused the white flag of surrender to be hung out. He was neither a coward nor a traitor, but too strict a constructionist of one of General Halleck’s silly orders.

Miles’s division together with Richardson’s brigade, and Sykes battalion of regulars, and four regular batteries and sever fragments of batteries made a strong nucleus for a new line on the heights of Centreville, but the demoralized troops drifted by as though they had no more interest in the campaign. And as there were again no rations it became necessary for even the troops not yet demoralized to withdraw.

A rear guard was formed of Richardson’s and Blenker’s brigade with Hunt’s and my batteries, which, after seeing the field clear of stragglers, took up the line of march at about two o’clock of the morning of July 22d, (1861) The march back was without incident so far as being pursued was concerned. For some distance the road was blocked with wrecked carriages, and wagons from which the horses had been taken. These obstructions had to be cleared away, and it was not until sometime after daylight that we reached Fairfax Court House. This village the hungry soldiers had ransacked for provisions, and as we came up some cavalrymen were making merry over the contents of a store. Seizing the loose end of a bolt of calico or other stuff they rode off at full speed allowing it to unroll and flow behind as a long stream.

The Fire Zouaves were into all the deviltry going on; they had been educated to it in New York. The showiness of their uniforms made them conspicuous as they swarmed over the county, and although less than a thousand strong they seemed three times that number, so ubiquitous were they. Although they had not been very terrifying to the enemy on the battlefield they proved themselves a terror to th citizens of Washington when they arrived there.

The first of the fugitives reached Long Bridge about daybreak on the 22d. Including the turning march around by Sudley Spring and back again this made a march of 45 miles in 36 hours, besides heavy fighting from about 10 A.M. until 4 P.M. on that hot July day – certainly a very good showing for unseasoned men, proving that they had endurance and only lacked the magic of discipline to make of them excellent soldiers. Many of them upon starting out on the campaign had left their camps standing, and thither they repaired as to a temporary home where they could refresh themselves with rations, rest and a change of clothing. This was a temptation that even more seasoned soldiers could scarcely have withstood. It was a misfortune that the battle had to take place so near Washington. More than anything else this was the reason why the demoralized troops could not be rallied at Centreville.

John C. Tidball Papers, U. S. Military Academy

Memoir images

Contributed by John J. Hennessy

John C. Tidball at Wikipedia

John C. Tidball at Fold3

John C. Tidball at FindAGrave





Lt. Col. Thomas Ford Morris, 17th New York Infantry, On the Battle and Camp

7 01 2021

THE BATTLE OF BULL RUN, FROM AN EYE-WITNESS

Camp Lorrilard, July 22.

I was an eye-witness of the battle at Bull Run yesterday. The 17th were not in the action, but thinking there would be a brush, I with one of our Captains, Bartram, left our camp early Sunday morning. We met with no adventure, and on arriving on the heights near Centreville, heard heavy guns and saw the smoke. We pushed on rapidly for two or three miles, and found ourselves at the head of the centre division under General Schenck. The men in this command appeared demoralized and under great excitement. On inquiring the cause, I learned that their General had led them on a concealed battery, and that they had been considerably cut up; we had evidence of this in the numbers brought into hospital. I obtained a good position on rising ground, and for three or four hours watched the progress of the battle made by the division on our right, Hunter’s. It was a magnificent sight, and cannot be forgotten. Our men were perfect heroes, and I would have had the world see their bayonet charges, forcing the enemy back, and still rallying in to drive them farther back. Our men were perfect heroes, and I would have had the world see their bayonet charge, forcing the enemy back, and still rallying to drive then farther back. I was within 200 yards of one of our 32 pounder rifled canon, and when the enemy came out in any considerable force on the hill opposite, this gun would drop a shell among them, that would scatter them like sheep. The captain and myself were obliged to go back near Centerville to get waster, as the wells were guarded to keep the water for the wounded. We had just obtained water, and about giving some to our horses, when a stampede took place, soldiers, ambulances, horsemen, and representing two regiments. I determined to rally them, and no circus rider ever mounted quicker. The captain and I rushed in front of the frenzied multitude, and called out to them to rally, which had no effect. I drew a pistol, and shouted I would shoot every man who attempted to pass me, that there they must stand. I succeeded beyond my hopes, and forming them in line, marched them back to their command, Gen. Schenck. Both of these regiments had lost their Colonels, one killed and one carried off wounded. We returned to the battle field, and just as one of the divisions made an advance, throwing out artillery on the open field, where it was soon at work splendidly. At this time a message came from Gen. McDowell saying the enemy were in full retreat. This was enough glory, and I determined to go back to our camp with news of victory. We had gone but a mile when we stopped by the roadside to eat lunch, and unbridled our horses that they might graze, when lo’! the whole of our force were in retreat. I supposed the enemy were closing, and as my horse is hart to bridle at all times, I thought I should be taken, and ordered the captain to return to our camp. It was a perfect pout, and I hope I many never witness anything like it again. Wagons, ambulances, guns, men mounted and dismounted. It was utterly impossible to stop the current. Officers were powerless, and until they reached Centreville, where the reserve under General Miles were drawn up, there was no order. The most of the regiments made a stand, but the two I rallied in the morning (if by any means they could reach the Potomac) never wou’d stop running till they got home. I remained at Centreville until there was comparative quiet, owing to the knowledge that there was no enemy chasing, when I started for camp, and arrived at 1 a.m., on the 22d.

July 26th.

Our regiment is now inside Fort Ellsworth, our pleasant camp (Lorrilard) in the grove on the hillside, had to be given up with its cool breezes and delightful shade, and we are now sweltering in the sun. Our men are continually employed shifting and mounting guns, and cutting down trees that obstruct the range of those already mounted. On a hill near us a body of sailors from the navy yard at Washington, are throwing up a battery, and altogether we have busy times. If the enemy had pursued our retreating columns, they would have taken thousands of prisoners, and all the fortifications on this side of the river, would have been in their hands now. To be sure, we determined to hold this place to the last, but with the force they could bring, we could not have kept them out 12 hours. The 17th would have been annihilated, there was no retreat for us and we knew it. Now it is utterly impossible for them to hurt us. They will approach no nearer than Fairfax. We can whip them in open field, I think, three to one. Their strength lies in batteries, and they are terrible. We have tried them now, and hereafter will fight cannon with cannon; there will be no more sending men to be cut down without being able to effect anything.

July 29th.

A week has passed and no attack had been made upon us, and probably none anticipated. What an error the rebels had made in not following up their advantage. Our men have worked very hard the past week; wheeling dirt for gun platforms, building the same, and mounting guns. We feel secure against any force the enemy can bring against us.

President Lincoln, Mr. Seward and General McDowell paid us a visit a few days since. I was in command, and had the pleasure of receiving them. I had a long chat with Mr. Lincoln who inquired into many details of the battle, &c. He is very affable. Yesterday we had a visit from Gens. McClellan and McDowell with their staff officers, some twenty or thirty in all. I was delighted with Gen. McClellan; he is very unassuming in his manners, but there is a same about him I like. He is the General for me, and I think, the man of the day.

T. F. Morris,
Lt.-Col. 17th Regt., N. Y. V.

Yonkers (New York) Examiner, 8/8/1861

Clipping image

Contributed by John J. Hennessy

17th New York Infantry Roster

Thomas Ford Morris at Fold3

Thomas Ford Morris at FindAGrave





Unknown Officer, Co. F, 2nd New Hampshire Infantry, On the Battle

5 01 2021

LETTER FROM WASHINGTON.

We are permitted to make the following extracts from a letter received in this city yesterday, written by an officer in the 2d New Hampshire regiment:

Camp Sullivan, 2d N H. regiment,
Washington, D. C., Jul 28.

Dear —-; — “Everything for the cause; nothing for men,” thought we as the bullets and bombs whisted Hail Columbia around out devoted heads at Bull Run on Sunday, but still we fought regardless of the danger for nine long and bloody hours; and if the order had not come for us to retreat, we should have remained on the battle field until no one was left to tell the tale. Yes, all hail 2d New Hampshire. You fought well, and if you were not successful in this, your first action, we thank God that there is a day of reckoning coming, and God pity the poor rebels when next we get at them – they that refused mercy to our wounded and dying will receive an awful retribution, and the day of retribution is not far distant.

Our poor company, F, was sadly shattered, and it seems as if ours was the unfortunate company in the regiment. We had fifteen brave boys killed and wounded, and quite a number missing. One of our lost, Sergeant Brackett, was my particular friend, and it seems hard to have him cut down thus early in his glorious career. His was a noble death! Peace to his ashes.

It seems as if our best men were picked out to be slaughtered. I wish it were otherwise, but I suppose it was so ordered, and all too for the best.

Our regiment was the first on the field and the last one to retire, and we did not want to go then, but the order was peremptory and we must obey, so with heavy hears and not very christian expressions we left the field to the traitors and rebels.

I would rather ten thousand times have been shot down like a dog than been obliged to retreat in such confusion – ‘twas a fight without a leader – and thank Heaven we have now a true General in McClellan. McDowell did not know his business.

Our Colonel, Marston, was severely wounded, and I don’t think he will resume command again. He was very brave on the field. After he was wounded he was brought on to the field and held upon his horse till the last shot was fired.

A Member of our company died yesterday at the hospital here. He has never seen a well day since he left New Hampshire. He was from Laconia, and leaves a widowed mother to mourn his untimely fate. His disease was consumption that fell destroyer of the North. He was not in the fight of course, not being able to set up.

A member of our company[*] is to be hung tomorrow for murdering a woman at Alexandria, yesterday. He was drunk; when sober he was a good soldier; he never has been in camp since the battle, having stayed out and kept drunk all the while. Poor fellow, what a pity he could not have died on the battle field.

New Bedford (Massachusetts) Evening Standard, 8/1/1861

Clipping Image

Contributed by John J. Hennessy

*Per regimental history, William F. Murray of Co. F was hanged 8/2/1862 for the murder of Mary Banks A history of the Second regiment, New Hampshire volunteer infantry, in the war of the rebellion : Haynes, Martin A. (Martin Alonzo), 1845-1919 : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive





#2 – Brig. Gen. Robert C. Schenck

11 12 2020

Report of Brig. Gen. Robert C. Schenck, U. S. Army. [On the Action at Vienna, June 17, 1861]

O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 2 [S# 2] — CHAPTER IX, pp 126-128

Left camp with 668 rank and file, 29 field and company officers, in pursuance of General McDowell’s orders, to go upon this expedition with the available force of one of my regiments, the regiment selected being the First Ohio Volunteers. Left two companies—Company I and Company K, aggregate 135 men—at the crossing of the roads. Sent Lieutenant-Colonel Parrott, with two companies, 117 men, to Falls Church, and to patrol roads in that direction. Stationed two companies—D and F, 135 men—to guard railroad and bridge between the crossing and Vienna. Proceeded slowly to Vienna with four companies—Company E, Captain Paddock; Company C, Lieutenant Woodward, afterwards joined by Captain Pease ; Company G, Captain Bailey ; Company H, Hazlett ; total, 271 men.

On turning the curve slowly, within one-quarter of a mile of Vienna, were fired upon by raking masked batteries of, I think, three guns, with shells, round-shot, and grape, killing and wounding the men on the platform and in the cars before the train could be stopped. When the train stopped, the engineer could not, on account of damage to some part of the running machinery, draw the train out of the fire, the engine being in the rear. We left the cars, and retired to right and left of train through the woods. Finding that the enemy’s batteries were sustained by what appeared about a regiment of infantry and by cavalry, which force we have since understood to have been some fifteen hundred South Carolinians, we fell back along the railroad, throwing out skirmishers on both flanks; and this was about 7 p. m. Thus we retired slowly, bearing off our wounded, five miles, to this point, which we reached at 10 o’clock.

Casualties.—Captain Hazlett’s company, H, 2 known to be killed, 3 wounded, 5 missing; Captain Bailey’s company, G, 3 killed, 2 wounded, 2 missing; Captain Paddock’s company, E, 1 officer slightly wounded; Captain Pease’s, 2 missing.

The engineer, when the men left the cars, instead of retiring slowly, as I ordered, detached his engine with one passenger car from the rest of the disabled train and abandoned us, running to Alexandria, and we have heard nothing from him since. Thus we were deprived of a rallying point, and of all means of conveying the wounded, who had to be carried on litters and in blankets. We wait here, holding the roads for reenforcements. The enemy did not pursue.

I have ascertained that the enemy’s force at Fairfax Court-House, four miles from Vienna, is now about four thousand.

When the batteries opened upon us, Major Hughes was at his station on the foremost platform car. Colonel McCook was with me in one of the passenger cars. Both these officers, with others of the commissioned officers and many of the men, behaved most coolly under this galling fire, which we could not return, and from batteries which we could not flank or turn from the nature of the ground, if my force had been sufficient. The approach to Vienna is through a deep, long cut in the railway. In leaving the cars, and before they could rally, many of my men lost haversacks or blankets, but brought off all their muskets, except, it may be, a few that were destroyed by the enemy’s first fire or lost with the killed.

ROBT. C. SCHENCK,
Brigadier- General.

[Received at the War Department June 18,1861.]

I am enabled now to give you additional and exact details of the affair near Vienna last evening. A perfectly reliable Union man, residing in Vienna, [and who] was there during the attack, has arrived, bringing with him, in patriotic and Christian kindness, the six bodies of our killed who were left behind. I have sent them to Camp Lincoln by the train which has just left for burial. He reports also one wounded man remaining at Vienna, John Volmer, of Company G, for whom I have just sent an assistant surgeon and two men with the same gentleman who brought the killed in his wagon, carrying a flag of truce, to be displayed if necessary. When the wounded man arrives I will send him forward by a train to my camp, to be conveyed from there to Georgetown Hospital by ambulance.

The casualties, as I now am able accurately to state them, are as follows:

Dead, 8.—Captain Hazlett’s: 1st, George Morrison, of Company H, brought in to-day. 2d, David Mercer, of same company, brought off the field to this place, and died here. 3d, Daniel Sullivan, of Captain Bailey’s company, G. 4th, Joseph Smith, Company G, brought in to-day. 5th, Philip Strade, Company G. 6th, Thomas Finton, Company G. 7th, Eugene Burke, Company G. 8th, J. R. T. Barnes, Company G, shot in the passenger car that was carried away from us by the engineer, and died on his way to this camp.

Wounded and yet living, 4.—1st, David Gates, Company G, dangerously. 2d, B. F. Lanman, Company G, severely, but not dangerously. 3d, Henry Pigman, Company H, dangerously. (Those three were sent to the hospital this morning.) 4th, John Volmer, Company G, supposed dangerously; yet at Vienna and sent for.

Total killed and wounded, 12. None, I believe, are now missing.

From the same reliable source I ascertain that the whole force attacking us was at least 2,000, as follows: South Carolina troops, 800; these had left Fairfax Court-House on Sunday and gone over to the railway; two [hundred] came down yesterday through Hunter’s Grove. They sent, anticipating our coming to Fairfax Court-House, for 2,000 additional infantry, of whom only from 600 to 1,000 arrived before the attack. The enemy had cavalry, numbering, it is believed, not less than 200, and, in addition to these, was a body of 150 armed picked negroes, who were posted nearest us in a grain field on our left flank, but not observed by us, as they lay flat in the grain and did not fire a gun. The enemy had three pieces of artillery, concealed by the curve of the railway as we passed out of the cut, and more pieces of ordnance—six, our informant believes—arrived on the field, but not in time for action. The three pieces thus placed were fired very rapidly; must have been managed by skillful artillerists; but I cannot learn who was in command of the enemy. Our men picked up and brought away several round and grape shot, besides two or three shells, which did not explode because the Borman fuse had not been cut. This raking fire was kept up against the cars and upon us as we retired through the woods and along each side of the railway. Its deadliest effect was on Company G, on the third platform car from the front, and on Company H, on the second platform car. Company E, on the foremost car, was not touched. The first firing raked the train diagonally with round shot; the other, before the train came to a full stop, was cross-firing with canister and shells through the hind cars. The pieces were at a distance of about 150 yards, and no muskets or rifles were brought into action.

The rebels must have believed that our number far exceeded the little force of 271, or else I cannot understand why they made no pursuit nor came out, as we could discover, from the rise of ground behind which they were posted with their overwhelming numbers.

The enemy’s whole force left Vienna last night between 10 and 12 o’clock; supposed to have gone to Fairfax Court-House. It is understood that there is a considerable force assembled at that point, but cannot ascertain how many. None of the bridges have been burned, nor the railway interfered with, between this point and Vienna since we came down the road.

I send this, as we remain at this point without other facilities for correspondence or writing except to communicate by the Army telegraph, and I trust you will accept it in place of a formal written report.

I am, just now ordered by Brigadier-General Tyler to move forward with my brigade in the direction of Falls Church, for which I am now getting in readiness. I have already spoken of the skill and coolness with which Colonel McCook and Major Hughes, with other officers, helped to conduct our retirement to this place. It was a very slow and painful march, carrying in the arms of the men and in blankets and on rude litters made by the way their wounded comrades. But I must not omit to mention others.

Adjt. J. S. Parrott, my aide, Lieutenant Raynor, and Surgeon McMallen gave effective assistance. The company officers who were under fire generally behaved with coolness and gallantry. Captain Pease, of Company C, especially distinguished himself in protecting our rear and flanks, and I warmly recommend him to favorable consideration. The non-commissioned officers and men generally also behaved extremely well on the march, as we retired along the road. Captain Crowe, with Company D, which was among those I had left as patrol guards on the railway as we passed up, came up handsomely at double-quick step to our support, and Lieut. Col. E. A. Parrott, with his detachment of two companies, which had been thrown out to Falls Church and on the roads in that neighborhood, hearing of the attack on our advance, hastened by a cross-road to the line of the railroad to join and give us any support required.

I have, in my former dispatch, mentioned the disregard of my instructions and cowardly desertion of us by the engineer of the train. His name, I understand, is Gregg. One of the brakemen, Dormin, joined us, and carried a musket and gave good help. The enemy, I learn, burned that part of the train which was abandoned by the engineer.

ROBT. C. SCHENCK,
Brigadier- General.





#1 – Brig. Gen. Irvin McDowell

11 12 2020

Report of Brig. Gen. Irvin McDowell, U. S. Army. [On the Action at Vienna, June 17, 1861]

O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 2 [S# 2] — CHAPTER IX, pp 124-125

Headquarters Department Northeastern Virginia,
Arlington, June 18, 1861.

I have the honor to inclose a copy of my written instructions to General Schenck, under which his movement was made yesterday afternoon. The point to which it was intended the regiment should go by train, and establish itself for the twenty-four hours, had been occupied, for the day before, by the Sixty-ninth New York Regiment, under Colonel Hunter, commanding the brigade. The latter regiment had been sent there, on the return of General Tyler from his reconnaissance up the road, as an advance guard and a protection to the road, which had been repaired in anticipation of the demonstration I was to make on the notification of the General-in-Chief in favor of the attack on Harper’s Ferry. It is said the attack on the Ohio regiment was made by the South Carolinians. If so, they must have been moved forward from Centreville, where they have been stationed for some time past. This would seem to indicate that the reports of an advance of troops to their posts in front of this position are well founded. I have asked if it would accord with the plans of the General-in-Chief that a movement be made in force in the direction of Vienna, near which the attack was made. I learn from a reliable source that the force at Fairfax Court-House has been increased. Had the attack not been made, I would not suggest this advance at this time; but now that it has, I think it would not be well for us to seem even to withdraw. General Schenck applies for permission to send a flag of truce to Vienna to bury his dead and care for his wounded. I do not think this necessary for either purpose, but think the morale of the troops would be increased if they went over the ground again with arms in their hands. The distance by turnpike from Falls Church to Vienna is about six miles.

General Tyler, who is in advance, sends me word that he sees the country as far as Falls Church. No signs of any movement. He wants no more troops than he has, unless it is intended to hold permanently the position he occupies.

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

Irvin McDowell,
Brigadier General, Commanding.

Lieut. Col. E. D. Townsend,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Headquarters Army, Washington.

[Inclosure.]

Headquarters Department Northeastern Virginia,
Arlington, June 17, 1861.

Brigadier-General Schenck, Commanding Ohio Brigade:

Sir: The general commanding directs that you send one of the regiments of your command, on a train of cars, up the Loudoun and Hampshire Railroad to the point where it crosses the wagon-road running from Fort Corcoran, opposite Georgetown, southerly into Virginia.

The regiment, being established at that point, will, by suitable patrols, feel the way along the road towards Falls Church and Vienna, moving, however, with caution, and making it a special duty to guard effectually the railroad bridges and to look to the track. The regiment will go supplied for a tour of duty of twenty-four hours, and will move on the arrival at your camp of a train of cars ordered for that purpose, and will relieve all the troops of Colonel Hunter’s brigade now guarding the line.

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

JAMES B. FRY,
Assistant Adjutant-General.





Lt. Col. Edward D. Townsend, Army AAG, to McDowell on Diminishing His Command

15 11 2020

CORRESPONDENCE, ORDERS, AND RETURNS RELATING TO OPERATIONS IN MARYLAND, PENNSYLVANIA, VIRGINIA, AND WEST VIRGINIA FROM APRIL 16 TO JULY 31, 1861

CORRESPONDENCE, ETC. – UNION

O. R. – Series I – VOLUME 2 [S #2] CHAPTER IX, pp. 755-756

Headquarters Army, July 22,1861.

Brigadier-General McDowell, U. S. A, Arlington, Va.:

Captain Wright, Engineers, is detached from your department. Send another engineer in his place.

For the garrison of the forts and their support, fifteen regiments and such field batteries as you deem necessary will be retained in your department. The General-in-Chief desires you to send over to this side all the remaining troops and all the wagons and teams not absolutely needed for your purposes.

Send in the wagons all the camp equipage not required by your fifteen regiments.

E. D. TOWNSEND,
Assistant Adjutant-General.


Headquarters Army, July 22,1861.

General McDowell, U. S. A., Arlington:

General Scott says it is not intended you should reduce your command to the minimum number of regiments mentioned by him (fifteen) to-day, but if the enemy will permit, you can take to-morrow or even the next day for the purpose.

E. D. TOWNSEND.





Col. Thomas A. Scott, Army Railroads and Telegraph, to Brig. Gen. Joseph K. F. Mansfield, on Manning Defenses of Washington

14 11 2020

CORRESPONDENCE, ORDERS, AND RETURNS RELATING TO OPERATIONS IN MARYLAND, PENNSYLVANIA, VIRGINIA, AND WEST VIRGINIA FROM APRIL 16 TO JULY 31, 1861

CORRESPONDENCE, ETC. – UNION

O. R. – Series I – VOLUME 2 [S #2] CHAPTER IX, pp. 754-755

July 22—2.30 a. m.

General Mansfield, Arlington, Chain Bridge, or Alexandria:

McDowell is sending his retreating army to the Potomac. Allow me to suggest that you man all the forts and prevent soldiers from passing over to the city; their arrival here would produce a panic on this side and cause more trouble.

The enemy is still pressing McDowell, and you need every man in the forts to save the city.

Now is your time for effectual service.

THOMAS A. SCOTT.





Scott to Runyon on Manning the Defenses of Washington

13 11 2020

CORRESPONDENCE, ORDERS, AND RETURNS RELATING TO OPERATIONS IN MARYLAND, PENNSYLVANIA, VIRGINIA, AND WEST VIRGINIA FROM APRIL 16 TO JULY 31, 1861

CORRESPONDENCE, ETC. – UNION

O. R. – Series I – VOLUME 2 [S #2] CHAPTER IX, p. 753

Monday, July 22, 1861—a. m.

General Runyon, Alexandria, Va.:

Consult engineers, and strengthen the garrisons of Forts Ellsworth, Runyon, and Albany. Similar instructions are given* in respect to Fort Corcoran. Some regiments besides the garrisons will be halted on that side of the river; the number to be determined by General Mansfield or General McDowell, when the troops arrive from the interior.

WINFIELD SCOTT.

* To Col. Andrew Porter.





Col. John H. McCunn, 37th New York Infantry, to Scott from Fairfax Station

13 11 2020

CORRESPONDENCE, ORDERS, AND RETURNS RELATING TO OPERATIONS IN MARYLAND, PENNSYLVANIA, VIRGINIA, AND WEST VIRGINIA FROM APRIL 16 TO JULY 31, 1861

CORRESPONDENCE, ETC. – UNION

O. R. – Series I – VOLUME 2 [S #2] CHAPTER IX, p. 753

Fairfax Station, July 22,1861—12.15 a. m.

General Scott:

I have my own regiment, 700; Colonel Taylor’s New Jersey, 825; Colonel Johnson’s New Jersey, 550.

I have heard no firing so far as I can hear. Panic is unabated.

I have sent an aide to General McDowell two hours and a half since; he has not returned.

I will dispatch another, and inform you at once.

One has returned.

McCUNN.