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





Brig. Gen. Joseph K. F. Mansfield to Captain Thaddeus Phelps Mott, 2nd New York State Militia, and Runyon to Stop the Rout

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, pp. 753-754

July 22, 1861.

Captain Mott, Chain Bridge:

Send out a man to Richardson and require him to march in in order.

We may want rations.

Order the Sixth Maine to keep these demoralized troops out of his camp.

Order Richardson not to let his men leave camp.

MANSFIELD,
Brigadier- General.

[Thaddeus Phelps Mott commanded the howitzer company of the 2nd N.Y.S.M., later the 3rd Independent New York Battery. Thaddeus P. Mott at Wikipedia. Thaddeus P. Mott at Wikipedia.]


July 22, 1861.

General Runyon, Alexandria:

Why do the regiments I sent to you yesterday return so precipitately to Alexandria without a shot?

Stop this stampede.

MANSFIELD,
Brigadier- General.


July 22, 1861.

General Runyon, Alexandria : Put an officer in charge and sentinels at the wharf, and forbid the volunteers leaving the city.

There are two hundred pounds of boiled pork in the commissary there.

MANSFIELD,
Brigadier- General.





Col. Dixon Miles, 5th Division, Defends His Actions

14 09 2020

RICHARDSON VS. MILES.

Col. Richardson, of the Federal Army, in his report of the late battles, reiterates the charge of drunkenness against Col. Dixson S. Miles, of the same army. The latter replies as follows, through the Washington Star:

Will you please give place in your columns to a short replay from an old soldier in correction of Col. Richardson’s report as published in this morning’s Sun. Perhaps no one has ever before been hunted with more assiduous, malicious vituperation and falsehood, since the battle of Bull Run, than myself. My name, I have been told, has been a bye-word in the streets of Washington and its bar-rooms for everything derogatory to my character. It was stated I had deserted to the enemy; I was a traitor, being from Maryland; a sympathizer; gave the order to retreat; was in arrest; and now, by Col Richardson’s report, drunk.

I will not copy Richardson’s report, but correct the errors he has committed, leaving to his future days a remorse he may feel t the irreparable injury he has inflicted on an old brother officer.

The order for retreat from Blackburn’s Ford, as communicated by my staff officer, emanated from Gen. McDowell, who directed two of my brigades to march on the Warrenton road as far as the bridge on Cub creek. I sent my Adjutant General, Captain Vincent, to bring up Davies’ and Richardson’s brigades, while I gave the order for Blenker’s brigade at Centreville to proceed down the Warrenton road. I accompanied these troops a part of the way, endeavoring to collect and halt the routed soldiers. I returned to Centreville heights as Col. Richardson, with his brigade, was coming into line of battle facing Blackburn’s Ford. His position was well chosen, and I turned my attention to the pacing of Davies’ brigade and the batteries. A part of Davies’ command was placed in echellon of regiments behind fences, in support of Richardson; another portion in reserve, in support of Hunt’s and Titball’s batteries.

After completing these arrangements, I returned to Blenker’s brigade, now near a mile from Centreville heights, took a regiment to cover Green’s battery, and returned to the heights. When I arrived there, just before dusk, I found all my previous arrangements of defence had been changed, not could I ascertain who had ordered it, for General McDowell was not on the field. Col. Richardson was the first person I spoke to after passing Captain Fry; he was leading his regiment into line of battle on the crest of the hill, and directly in the way of the batteries in rear. = It was here the conversation between the Colonel and myself took place which he alludes to in his report. Gen. McDowell just afterwards came on the field, and I appealed earnestly to him to permit me to command my division, and protested against the faulty disposition of the troops to resist an attack. – He replied by taking command himself and relieving me.

Col. Richardson states a conversation with Lt. Col. Stevens, of his command. I never say Col. Stevens, to my knowledge. I never gave him, or any one, the order to deploy his column; the order must have emanated from some one else, and hence my misfortune; for on his impression that I was drunk, those not immediately connected with me rung it over the field, without inquiry or investigation. – This is all that is proper for me to say at this time, as I have called for a court to investigate the whole transaction. Those who have read Richardson’s report will confer a favor to compare this statement with it; the discrepancies are glaring – the errors by deductions apparent.

D. S. Miles,
Colonel Second Infantry.

Richmond (VA) Dispatch, 8/6/1861

Clipping image





Capt. Henry Alanson Barnum, Co. I, 12th New York Infantry, On the Battle and Retreat (3)

17 09 2018

WAR CORRESPONDENCE.
———-

Camp of the Onondagas,
Arlington Heights, July 28, 1861

Editors Standard: I have but just found time to send you the details of the battle of Sunday, the retreat and the incidents connected therewith.

Friday morning, after our engagement of the previous day, an account of which I sent you, our brigade marched back and occupied the position which we held on the day previous. It was generally understood that the battle would not be resumed on that day, and we laid in the woods skirting the field, ready for any attack that might be made on us. We were not disturbed, however, and the day passed as quietly as tho’ we were holding a pic-nic at home.

Evidently the previous day operations were simply to feel the position of the enemy, and time was now being taken to prepare for an attack that would be victorious beyond a question. We felt that though the rebels covered the wooded hills, valleys, plains and ravines several miles square with their terrible masked batteries, supported by an immense force of infantry and cavalry, yet victory must rest with us, and we talked of visiting the various points when we should have driven the foe from them.

At night our regiment was drawn up in line in the raid reaching to the edge of the woods, where we staid till morning, ready for any emergency.

After daylight Saturday we withdrew a few rods into the woods and prepared our plain breakfast of coffee, crackers and ham, and after partaking thereof, laid around in the shade during the day, endeavoring to become refreshed from the weariness consequent upon our previous labors and the wakeful night.

After nightfall we were again drawn up in line, and again rested all night on our arms, rather expecting a night skirmish attack.

Sunday, the 21st, dawned brightly on the two powerful armies, with their deadly engines of war, resting but half a mile apart, and ready at the word to rush to the eager destruction of each other. All expected a bloody day. I drew the wills of several of our officers, and most of us left our watches and money with the sick, who had to retire to Centreville. It was an impressive morning. The timid paled at the prospective carnage, and the brave set their teeth and features in a stern resolve.

We had learned enough of the enemy to know that the victory which none of us doubted wo’d be ours, would be won at the fearful cost of the lives of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of the gallant men who then walked in the full, buoyant ardor of health, and the impatient courage and bravery of true and loyal freemen.

At an early hour our brigade, the most advanced of the centre of our army, moved forward out of the woods, and was drawn up in line of battle at the edge of the field and in the rear of our battery, ready to attack or resist the enemy, as circumstances might require. From the brow of the hill before us, occupied by our battery, we could at one view see the whole wooded section of the country, occupied by the army of the enemy, as it gradually arose from the low ground skirting Bull’s Creek, or Run, the dividing line of the opposing forces. Only here and there could be seen naked ground, and at these places the baggage wagons of the enemy could occasionally be seen traveling along, and now and then a body of cavalry galloped past.

Clouds of dust rising above the trees in a hundred different places, showed us that, however quiet those woods appeared, they concealed the active movements of a mighty army, whose artillery, cavalry and infantry were hurrying to their several strongholds and preparing the shock of war that was soon to come.

Whenever the dust arose within range of our guns, shells and shot were thrown to the spot, and must have hastened their already hurried movements. Once a body of cavalry filed across the road in front of us and within a half mile of our position. Down the black yawning mouth of one of our “dogs of war” rolled a heavy shot, and in instant the range was taken, a heavy report, and away it sped on its death dealing message. Range too high. Another. Range still too high. “Bring a five second shell.” Away speeds the terrible instrument, bursting directly over their heads, and they scatter out of sight into the woods like sheep.

Their batteries were within range of us and might have done considerable damage, but they deigned not to reply.

Soon, at the right of us and some mile and a half or two miles away, the heavy voice of cannon is heard, slowly at first – then faster, showing that the guns of the enemy send back defiance to our own. Occasional discharges of musketry mingle their sharp tones with the cannon’s heavy roar. Now a volley of musketry chimes in. Another and another. – Thicker and faster sounds the continuous clatter of musketry, louder and deeper rolls the cannon’s heavy bass, the shouts of thousands of maddened men eager for their brothers’ blood, fill the air; clouds of smoke shut out the view, on the curling waves of which I co’d almost imagine devils were riding in hellish glee at the sickening carnage below.

The point of contact, indicated by sound, advances toward the enemy, and gradually the clangor of battle subsides. A line of the enemy’s deadly masked batteries is taken by our brave troops and their forces driven back. A brief interval of comparative quiet passes, and again and again the dreadful scene is enacted.

Our spunky little adjutant, “spoiling for a fight,” gallops over the gory field, and returns with the welcome news that the enemy are being slowly driven back, though they contest every inch of ground with the fury of fiends. In the distance their baggage wagons are seen hurrying away toward the Gap. The day is ours! Officers exchange congratulations, and the men send up a loud hurra for the old flag, which grandly waves as if in conscious pride at its vindicated honor and power.

A heavy cloud of dust a mile in extent rises in the distance, doubtless from the enemy’s retreating columns. But it approaches our lines! it reaches the ground where rests our wearied forces, where lay our gallant dead. – Clangor, crash and rattle again fill the air with their terrific music. The enemy are reinforced. The fight waxes faster than before. – Heavier roars the deep mouthed cannon, thicker sounds the muskets’ rattle, fiercer comes the battle yells, and darker smoke shuts in the scene.

Attention! Left face, forward, file right – march, and away we file back toward Centreville. Firmly erect in each musket borne, and tighter we grasp our trusty swords. “We are to reinforce our side,” runs along the line.

Bet we reach Centreville and file into a large field, and in common with a dozen regiments, form in line of battle.

Sixteen heavy guns are planted on the rise of ground, aids gallop from point to point, generals and colonels apply their glasses to their eyes. “They are trying to flank us on our left.” The dust rises in that direction. Further along and nearly in our rear a body of troops is discovered. Our line is changed to meet them and in breathless silence we await their approach. Nearer they come and the stars and stripes greet our anxious gaze! – They are our troops and a long breath of relief is enjoyed by all.

Another body emerges from the woods on our front carrying a small white flag. Is it a decoy? We send a shot over there and they unfurl the stars and stripes. They are our friends.

The distant firing ceases and the sable wings of night closes down on friend and foe, on the torn and bleeding flesh of the wounded and the cold brows and glassy eyes of the dead.

A night attack is more than probable, and at our request we are posted in the advance. Let the Black Horse Cavalry or the Alabama Wild Cats come, now, on the open field and we will show thoughtless reporters and pompous Generals that we are not cowards, and “do or die” passes from officer to officer and from man to man.

But we are not favored with a trial. At 11 P.M. we are ordered to retreat to Washington! The command fell like a knell on our troops Retreat? The grand army of the Potomac retreat? Never. But it is the command and we must, though besides the many expressions of indignation and chagrin which I heard tears also flowed at the humiliating duty.

We were near the rear of the retreating column and did not see much of the confusion which was said to have occurred in the advance, but the fruits of that confusion were abundant. The road was literally strewed with barrels of meat and sugar, boxes of crackers, coffee and rice; shovels, spades, picks, guns, belts, knapsacks, blankets, many (27 in all) wagons filled with provisions or ammunition and an indiscriminate variety of articles not here mentioned, which the civilians and soldiers had thrown away to enable them to flee more rapidly.

Our boys took the matter coolly and instead of throwing away their things, kept a sharp eye out for “plunder,” exchanging their old guns for better ones as they found them along the route.

Near Fairfax we turned into a sideroad and encamped until morning, when we resumed our journey and arrived at Arlington about noon of Monday. It rained during Monday and from the fatigue of our campaign and retreat we have hardly yet recovered.

Hundreds of incidents occurred which would be interesting to your readers, but which time nor space will not allow to be written now.

I must not close however without particularly mentioning our detachment of skirmishers under command of C. B. Randall. They were acknowledged to have been the best in the battallion and were complimented by Captain Breslhetneider, commanding battallion, by Col. Richardson commanding brigade, by Gen. Tyler commanding division, and by all who witnessed their daring advances within conversational distances of the enemy’s line of battle and their skilful deploying, rallying and firing.

Ensign Randall particularly distinguished himself for dairing, courage and imperturbable coolness. Much of the time he was far in advance of his line instead of in his proper place, twenty paces to the rear. The boys say that when within plain sight of the line of the enemy’s infantry and in speaking distance, he coolly filled his meerschaum, lighted a match and took a quiet smoke.

Drum Major Daily also deserves particular mention for his valuable services in encouraging the men, supplying them with water, &c. He moved about when the bullets rained the thickest and did all he could to rally the regiment. Orri Storrs, Quartermaster’s Sergeant, followed the regiment into action and when the centre and left retired he came to the right and asked for t place in our ranks and did thorough service to the end. When I mention the coolness and bravery of Capt. Root who remained on the field among the whizzing bullets taking care of his wounded after his company had fallen back I have written of all whom I observed during the fire, beyond which I will not speak.

Spectators agree however, in their testimony of the courage and efficiency of Surgeon Pease and his faithful assistant Dr. Phillips. They followed us immediately in our rear with the ambulances till they reached the woods, so as to be near to care for the wounded. When the firing commenced the shot flew around and over them in a frightful manner, still they held their position faithfully to the close, bringing off their wounded and caring to their every want.

Of the whole affair I will only say that the dullest corporal in the army knows that if not as a whole, in most of the details, it was a stupendous blunder, the inglorious retreat being its culminating point. De Utassy of the Garibaldi Guards says of our attack on Thursday, that we were under a fire that no troops in the world have stood under longer than did we. Our skirmishers whom all commend are a fair sample of our regiment; and reports that persist in calling our regiment cowardly are founded on ignorance or malice.

Yours,

H. A. B.

P. S. We learn that some of those who first fell back from our attack in the woods on Thursday are endeavoring to soften any question of the propriety of their participate retirement on that occasion by claiming that those who stood their ground did not receive so galling a fire as they did. We shall not enter into a discussion of the matter, preferring to grant the claim with the remark that when they retired the entire fire of the enemy, battery and musketry, was centered on the right, yet it was withstood and there was not a square foot of space for several feet above where we were lying that was not perforated by bullet, grape or canister.

Syracuse Daily Standard, 7/31/1861

Clipping image

Contributed by John Hennessy

Henry A. Barnum at Ancestry.com

Henry A. Barnum at Fold3 

Henry A. Barnum at FindAGrave.com 

Henry A. Barnum was later awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions with the 149th New York Infantry at Missionary Ridge





2nd Lt. Gustav Kast, Co. A, 2nd Michigan Infantry, On Blackburn’s Ford

16 11 2016

The Scott Guards (Company A, Second Regiment) In The First Battle At Bull Run.

Extract from a Private Letter.

Bull Run, July 20.

You see now that I am on the battle field. We left Camp Winfield Scott last Tuesday at 3 o’clock P.M., and arrived at Vienna at 9 P.M. We remained there over night, and in the morning I saw the place where the rebels had their masked battery and fired upon the Ohio troops. We left Wednesday morning at 7 o’clock, and marched towards Fairfax Court House. When we came within sight of the place and saw the rebels leave there. We then took the road towards Germantown, where we arrived at 2 0’clock P.M. The rebels had left there, thought their camp fires were burning, and we found a good many articles which they had left behind. They were only a mile ahead of us. We took up our march again and drove the rebels right before us until we arrived at Centreville. We staid there a short time, and marched again towards the place where we are now, two miles from Centreville.

Here the rebels made a stand in a hollow by a road and small river which they call Bull Run. We were drawn up in line of battle, the Massachusetts First, then the New York, then our regiment, and the Third Michigan last. Our artillery commenced a fire at them from the hill where they were situated, and firing commencing at 2 o’clock. After we had fired for about half an hour our skirmishers, of which we furnished twenty privates, two Corporals, and one Sargeant, under command of Lieutenant J. V. Ruehle, went in the woods to see where the rebels were stationed. Our force went down hill till all at once they stood before the enemy within twenty rods, they commenced firing and the enemy fired by plattoons, but this did not stop our man from going ahead; they kept up their firing and came within four rods of the enemy, where they all at once discovered a masked battery with at least ten guns. The rebels then commenced to fire with the cannon at us. We were in the fire from 2 1/2 o’clock till 5, when the balls whistled around us in every direction. Musket balls whistled around us in every direction. Musket balls we could not dodge, but the cannon balls we could.

Wallen Weber of our Company is severely, and Marx is but slightly wounded. They are both privates – these two men are the only ones injured in our company. Wallen Weber will not be fit for duty after he gets well, for he received a shot in the side; but Marx will be able to do duty again in a few days.

We could not take the battery. We have got some 12, 16 and 32 pounders, which did good service. Two slaves that escaped, say that we killed from 200 to 300 rebels. Our brigade lost fifteen killed and twenty-five wounded. Colonel Richardson said the he never saw such heavy firing before. We have to sleep on the ground without tents; all we have is our blankets. There is now a large number of troops here, and we expect to attack the enemy to-day or to-morrow.

Gustav Kast

Lieutenant Company A, Second Regiment Michigan.

Detroit Free Press, 7/25/1861

Clipping image not available due to copyright.

Gustav Kast at Ancestry.com

Gustav Kast at Geocities.ws

2nd Michigan Infantry roster

Contributed by John J. Hennessy





Not So Exciting After All

9 11 2009

RichardsonI was excited.  Author Jack C. Mason had discovered a hundred or so letters written by Israel B. Richardson – mortally wounded as a major-general at Antietam and a colonel and brigade commander in Daniel Tyler’s division at First Bull Run – and used them to produce Until Antietam: The Life and Letters of Major General Israel B. Richardson, U. S. Army.  Great – fair usage would allow me to add to the resources section Richardson’s letters pertaining to Blackburn’s Ford and Bull Run.  After a long wait for the publication, I ordered the book from Amazon and received it last week.  The book is 202 pages of text, and in addition to other sources used Richardson’s unpublished letters as a basis for a full biography.  But silly me, I assumed by something in the title (oh, I don’t know, maybe the Life AND LETTERS part?) that the letters were included.  Sadly they are not.  This may be a kick-ass biography (I don’t know, I haven’t read it yet), but it is not a Life and Letters book.  Oh well, you live and learn

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