#50 – Capt. Richard Arnold

1 10 2008

Report of Capt. Richard Arnold, Fifth U. S. Artillery

O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 2 [S# 2] — CHAPTER IX, pp. 416-417

WASHINGTON, D.C., July 25, 1861

SIR: In compliance with your order, I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations of Light Company D, Second Artillery, in the battle of the 21st instant, at Bull Run:

The brigade to which my battery was attached halted, on arriving to the right and rear of the enemy to rest the men and prepare for action, and the battery was placed under cover in a ravine to await further orders. As soon as the brigades in advance became engaged, I was ordered to place my battery to the left and rear, to guard well that flank, and prevent its being turned and the enemy gaining our rear. Scarcely was this position reached when orders came to move forward as quickly as possible to the support of Captain Ricketts, then warmly engaged in front and in great peril. The pieces were immediately limbered, and the battery run up under whip and spur, and placed in position about eight hundred yards from the enemy’s lines, to support and give confidence to the volunteers. A rapid and incessant fire was kept up for one hour and a half, throwing at least four hundred rounds of shot, shell, spherical case, and some canister, and I was informed did good execution. Their loss from artillery must have been very heavy. During all this time the battery was exposed to a severe and most accurate artillery fire.

Owing to the great loss of horses, the exhaustion of the men, and the fear that I should not be able to bring my pieces off the field, the volunteers supporting me having left the position assigned them very soon after I commenced firing, I was induced, after consultation with my officers, to withdraw to the left and rear, when Lieutenant Barriger was dispatched to Colonel Heintzelman. He returned without finding him. I then, in the absence of any superior officers, moved to the right, where I thought I could be of great service, and at once received orders from Captain Fry to cover the retreat, as I was informed the order to retreat had been given.

During the rest of the day I commanded the left section and brought up the rear, the right section, under Lieutenant Barriger, being in advance of the regular cavalry. At one time a body of the enemy’s cavalry threatened our rear, but two rounds of canister dispersed them, and we were not again threatened until we arrived near Cub Run, when the battery was exposed to a severe flank and enfilading fire from artillery and infantry to a bridge across that stream, which had been destroyed or broken in by the advanced trains and artillery. Seeing at once that it was impossible to push forward or extricate the guns, I gave orders to spike them and clear as many horses as possible. Had my battery not been detailed in the rear, it might have been saved; but it was sacrificed to prevent a total rout and great loss, which would certainly have ensued had not the display of cavalry and artillery given the impression that the Army was retiring in good order.

Too much praise cannot be bestowed upon the officers of my company, Lieutenants Barriger and Throckmorton, for their gallantry and efficiency during the action. The non-commissioned officers and privates all to a man stood to their posts and performed their duties most gallantly.

From fifteen to twenty horses were killed and wounded on the battlefield and at Cub Run.

The following is a list of the killed, wounded, and missing.(*)

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


Captain, Fifth Artillery, Comdg. Light Co. D, Second Artillery


Second Brigade

(*) Embodied in division return, p. 405

#45 – Lieut. Edmund Kirby

28 09 2008

Report of Lieut. Edmund Kirby, First U.S. Artillery

O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 2 [S# 2] — CHAPTER IX, p. 407

WASHINGTON, D.C., July 23, 1861

SIR: I submit the following report:

On Sunday, July 21, Capt. J. B. Ricketts was ordered to place his battery in position at about one thousand five hundred yards from the enemy. An order was afterwards received to advance about one thousand yards, which was executed at a trot, and where we remained in battery, firing as fast as possible, until obliged to retreat, leaving six rifled guns on the field.

Capt. J. B. Ricketts was severely wounded at this critical moment, and First Lieut. Douglas Ramsay was killed.

Lieut. W. A. Elderkin conducted the limbers and caissons to the rear, as I was separated from the battery at the moment the retreat became general. I joined the battery soon after and continued the retreat, but was obliged to abandon everything at Bull Run except three limbers and fifty-six horses.

The non-commissioned officers and privates acted with great bravery, and remained on the field as long as possible. Our casualties are: Left on the field, 6 rifled guns and 49 horses; abandoned on the read, 6 caissons, 3 limbers, 1 battery-wagon, and 1 forge.

Killed: 1 officer and 11 men; wounded, 1 officer and 14 men. Total 27.(*)

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

My present station is the Park House, foot of Seventh street, Washington, D. C.

Respectfully submitted.


Second Lieutenant, First U.S. Artillery, Comdg. Light Company I

(*) Nominal lis of casualties omitted.

JCCW – Capt. Charles Griffin

25 07 2008

Testimony of Capt. Charles Griffin

Report of the Conduct of the War, Volume 2, pp. 168-177

WASHINGTON, January 14, 1862

Captain CHARLES GRIFFIN sworn and examined.

By the chairman:

Question: What is your rank and position in the army?

Answer: I am a captain in the 5th regiment of artillery, in the regular service.

Question: Under what colonel?

Answer: Colonel Brown is the colonel of the regiment.

Question: Were you at Bull Run at the time of the battle there in July last?

Answer: Yes, sir.

Question: Under whose command?

Answer: I was attached to General Andrew Porter’s brigade, which belonged to General Hunter’s division.

Question: Will you please inform us what, according to your best judgment, led to the disasters of that day?

Answer: I can tell you what occurred on the right, where I was. I was brought into battery about half past 11, and opened on the enemy’s artillery. I should suppose it maintained its position for about a half an hour, when it retired. I changed position two or three times, and opened upon their infantry. It also retired, and as far as my observation went, we were successful in all parts of the field. There was a lull; we had nothing to fire at. Then Major Barry (now General Barry) approached me and said that it was General McDowell’s order for us to move on a hill about a thousand yards distant, where the enemy’s battery was that I had fired at. I hesitated about going there, because I had no support. I was told the Fire Zouaves would support us. We started for the hill, and halted once or twice. Once I went to Major Barry and told him I had no support; that it was impossible to go there without a support. He told me that the Fire Zouaves would support us; that they were just ready to take the doublequick and follow us. I told him if such was the case, I wished he would permit them to go and get into position on the hill let the batteries (Captain Ricketts’s and mine) come into position behind them, and then let them fall back. And I told him the better place for our battery was on a hill about 500 yards in the rear of the one to which we were then ordered. He said that General McDowell’s order was to go to the other hill; and he also refused to let the Fire Zouaves go on the hill first and form into line. I told him they would not support us. He said they would. He said, “Yes, they will: at any rate, it is General McDowell’s order to go there.”  I said, “I will go; but mark my words, they will not support us.”  In going to the hill my first lieutenant went towards another place, and I had to give the order to countermarch, and go on the hill indicated. The turning off thereby my first lieutenant threw Ricketts’s battery to the front. We got on the hill and fired about half an hour, when I moved two of my pieces to the right of Ricketts’s battery. We were then firing upon the enemy’s battery, which was not certainly over 300, if it was 250, yards from us. I had only five pieces there. One of my pieces had had a ball lodged in the bore so that it could not be got in or out. I had five pieces there, and Ricketts had six, making eleven pieces side by side. As I said, I moved these two pieces to the right of Ricketts’s battery, and commenced firing. After I had been there about five minutes, a regiment of confederates got over a fence on my front, and some officer (I took it to be the colonel) stepped out in front of the regiment, between it and my battery, and commenced making a speech to them. I gave the command to one of my officers to fire upon them. He loaded the cannon with canister, and was just ready to fire upon them, when Major Barry rode up to me and said, “Captain, don t fire there; those are your battery support.” I said, “They are confederates; as certain as the world, they are confederates.”  He replied, “I know they are your battery support.” I sprang to my pieces and told my officer not to fire there. He threw down the canister, and commenced firing again in the former direction. After the officer who had been talking to the regiment had got through, he faced them to the left, and marched them about fifty yards to the woods, then faced them to the right again, and marched them about forty yards towards us, and then opened fire upon us, and that was the last of us. I had about fifty horses killed that day. I had had several horses and some men killed before. Before this occurred I started to limber up my pieces, so thoroughly convinced was I that they were the confederates. But as the chief of artillery told me they were my battery support, I was afraid to fire upon them.  Major Barry said, “I know it is the battery support; it is the regiment taken there by Colonel ——.”  “Very well,” said I, and gave the command to fire in another direction with the battery. But I never delivered the fire, for we were all cut down. The Zouaves were about twenty yards to the rear of us; they were sitting down. I begged them to come up and give them a volley, and then try the bayonet. They did not run at first, but stood as if panic-stricken. I do not believe they fired fifty shots, certainly not over one hundred. And after they had received three, perhaps four, volleys from this regiment of confederates, they broke and ran. I went down the hill and found Major Barry at the stream watering his horse. I stopped to water my horse also. Said I, “Major, do you think the Zouaves will support us?” Said he, “I was mistaken.”  Said I, “Do you think that was our support?”  “I was mistaken,” he said.  “Yes,” said I, “you were mistaken all around.”

I can substantiate all this if anything is said to the contrary. There are living witnesses to support it. Lieutenant Read stood by my side and heard the conversation about the battery support.

By Mr. Chandler:

Question: Could you have cut up that regiment with a charge of canister so that they would not have charged upon you?

Answer: I could have staggered them terribly. While the colonel was making his speech to them we had plenty of time to have passed word along the whole line, and if the whole eleven guns had been turned upon them, they could not have touched us.

Question: Was that the commencement of the repulse?

Answer: Yes, sir; the first I saw of it. We had been advancing gradually before that. The report of General Andrew Porter is the best testimony of that.

By the chairman:

Question: What time was that?

Answer: About 3 o’clock, earlier or later – later if anything. I should suppose it was not far from that time.

Question: What happened after that?

Answer: Well, sir, I got off the field with one piece, there being one wheel horse and one lead horse to the piece. That piece I only got off about a thousand yards. I got off the field two pieces – two Parrott guns – the one that the ball was lodged in, and one with the horses attached to it. I went to the rear to get some horses to get my third piece off. There were several of our regiments that attempted to retake our batteries, and the enemy was driven back twice, if not three times, to my certain knowledge, by the brigade of General Franklin. I do not know what regiments he had. I know very few of the regiments. I knew the Fire Zouaves and the New York 14th, and I knew the battalion of regular infantry; that is about all, I believe. I met the 71st regiment, but they were not in our brigade. I also knew the Rhode Island troops when I saw them, but they were not in our brigade.

Question: You attribute the disaster in that part of the field where you were principally to a mistake in the place where you were to be posted, to having no support of infantry, and to a mistake as to the character of the regiment that appeared there?

Answer: I thought we ought to have gone on a different hill, and I thought Ricketts ought to stand still. But then I was but a subaltern there, and complied with the orders. I think we would not have lost our batteries if we had done so.

Question: Suppose you had been supported, what would then have been the consequence?

Answer: If we had been properly supported, we would not have lost our batteries.

Question: Supported by the Zouaves?

Answer: The Zouaves could not have supported us. They were not support enough. Five hundred men are not enough to support eleven pieces of artillery.

Question: What number do you think attacked you there?

Answer: There must have been 5,000 or 6,000, because there was regiment after regiment came on the field during the fight. The fight must have lasted half or three-quarters of an hour between our infantry and theirs – different troops coming up. A great many of our regiments turned right off the field as they delivered their fire, turning even as they delivered their volleys. They did not go off in any system at all, but went right off as a crowd would walking the street – every man for himself, with no organization whatever. The officers lost control of them. It is to be remarked that the men were very tired. I can readily see that if our men had been fresh when this thing occurred, with the success we had before, it might have been different.

Question: Do you understand this to be the first repulse of that day, or the first repulse where you were ?

Answer: I understand it to be the first repulse of that day. I understand that is the only repulse we received that day.

Question: Suppose that reserve brigade at Centreville had been brought forward to support you, what, in your judgment, would have been the effect?

Answer: That would have had great influence. It might have been different; it might have been the same. I think the mistake was in sending our batteries so far ahead without support; and then I think the disaster was probably the result of numbers.

By Mr. Gooch :

Question: You say that you thought you should have gone to a hill five hundred yards in the rear. Do you mean in the rear of the position you occupied when the order was given to move forward to the other hill, or five hundred yards in the rear of the hill to which you were ordered to move?

Answer: I mean five hundred yards in the rear of the hill where we lost our batteries – the hill to which we were ordered.

Question: How far were you ordered to advance from the position you had been occupying?

Answer: About one thousand yards.

Question: You say that the Zouaves did not exceed five hundred at that time?

Answer: I do not think they did; I think that is a large number.

Question: What was their condition at that time?

Answer. I thought them in a disorganized state when they were ordered to support us.

Question: What support did Ricketts’s battery have?

Answer: Just the same as I did.

Question: Do you mean that they were supported also by the Zouaves?

Answer: The Zouaves were in the rear to support the two batteries.

Question: Do you mean to be understood that these five hundred men were all the support both batteries had?

Answer: All the support I saw when I went on the hill, and all that I believe any of the officers saw.

Question: I suppose there is some rule in relation to the proper number of infantry to support batteries?

Answer: Yes, sir; there ought to have been at least 1,000 men to every gun, or at least there ought to have been not less than 4,000 men to support those batteries. It seems, from the reports of other officers, that there were other regiments brought up afterwards to support us. I find in General Barry’s report that he met Colonel Heintzelman taking up the New York 14th. But if he meant that the New York 14th was in front of us supporting us, it certainly is not to be explained, because the New York 14th had red pants on, while the regiment in front of us had blue pants on, blue shirts, and straw hats. It can be established beyond a doubt, I think, that the New York 14th never came on the ground until after the batteries were lost. There were officers present who saw this, and can probably tell more about it than I can. Captain Averill, now in General Fitz-John Porter’s division, certainly can tell more than I can. He was assistant adjutant general to General Porter, and can tell you exactly how these batteries were lost.

Question: I will ask you, as an artillery officer, in relation to the efficiency of artillery. Must it not always be accompanied by an infantry support?

Answer: Certainly; it is helpless by itself – perfectly helpless. Artillery must be supported, or you better not have it on the field.

Question: And you say that four thousand men at least were required to support our batteries at that time?

Answer: Yes, sir. If either one of those batteries had been by itself, there should have been at least a brigade to support it. But they were side by side, and I have therefore reduced the number required to four thousand good troops as the least we should have had.

Question: And your judgment is that if the batteries had been supported by four thousand men, they could not have been driven from their position?

Answer: Yes, sir; I have no idea they could.

Question: And if your batteries had retained their position there, would there have been any repulse at that time in that part of the field?

Answer: I do not believe there would. I believe if I had been allowed to take the position I wanted to go, and to which Captain Kensel wanted to go, we would not have lost our batteries. Captain Ricketts is living, and I understand that he refused to move forward. When Lieutenant Snyder, of the engineers, who died a few weeks ago, came up to him, Captain Ricketts said to him, “Snyder, I have such an order to move forward.”  Lieutenant Snyder said, “You have the best position in the world ; stand fast, and I will go and see General McDowell.”  He went, and came back and said that General McDowell would comply with Major Barry s orders. That was very proper and polite in General McDowell, for Major Barry was the chief of his staff; but it shows that the officers of my battery were not the only ones who thought we should not have been moved forward. General Andrew Porter came to me after the battle, and spoke very severely. Said he, “Sir, I want to know how you got into such a situation.” I said, “I went in accordance with the order of General Barry, from General McDowell.”  General Porter had told me that he relied upon me, as I was his only battery. He said, “When I found you had gone a thousand yards in advance, I cannot tell you my feelings. I was afraid I had allowed you to go there upon my order.”  He felt, perhaps, that I had gone there upon my discretion.

Question: When this confederate regiment came up in front of you, wasthere a fence intervening between you and them?

Answer: No, sir; but there was a four or five rail fence about two hundred yards in front of me. This regiment got over that fence, and its colonel came out between the regiment and myself and made a speech. The regiment was standing still when I gave the order to fire. There was some kind of grass there, in which the men stood, I should say a little above their knees.

Question: I do not suppose you know certainly, but do you suppose now that that could have been one of Johnston s regiments, part of Johnston’s reserves?

Answer: From what I have learned since, it was a North Carolina regiment.

Question: Are they supposed to have been in Johnston’s reserves?

Answer: My impression is that that regiment was in Johnston’s force.

Question: Was the attack of Johnston that day at that point?

Answer: I have always so understood.

Question: How many of your horses were killed by the fire of this regiment?

Answer: I should suppose there were thirty or forty killed.

By the chairman:

Question: Were the enemy all infantry that attacked you?

Answer: Yes, sir. There was a regiment of cavalry that charged through the Zouaves, as it appears from some of the reports; but that was before we lost our battery. That cavalry I never saw.

Question: How far were you followed off the field ?

Answer: We were followed certainly to Cub Run.

Question: Why did they leave you there?

Answer: I do not know. It was almost dark when we got there. It must have been dark in ten or fifteen minutes after I crossed Cub Run. It was then between seven and eight o clock.

Question: You say this attack was made about three o’clock, or a little after ?

Answer: Yes, sir.

Question: Then it took you about four hours in your retreat to get from where you were attacked to Cub Run ?

Answer: We had troops to cover our retreat; for instance, Arnold’s battery covered our retreat, and the regular infantry and cavalry covered their retreat; and the men went very slowly in a dense mass, probably not more than two or two and a half miles an hour.

By Mr. Gooch:

Question: Were there any other batteries besides yours and Ricketts’s on that part of the field?

Answer: The Rhode Island, I should say, was some 500 or 600 yards to my left in battery, and firing when I first came on the field in the morning.  The position where I first opened my battery was not more than 1,000 to 1,500 yards from where I lost my battery.

Question: Did that battery change its position during the day?

Answer: No, sir; when I came back I found that battery limbered up with the horses turned towards Centreville. They were a mile or a mile and a half from where my battery was lost.

Question: You have supposed that the principal attack was on our right?

Answer: I have always supposed so.

Question: You say if your battery and Ricketts’s had been properly supported, it could not have been taken?

Answer: If those eleven guns had been properly supported, I think the day would have been different; and I think if we had not been moved on that point, and the captains of the batteries had been allowed to exercise their own judgment, the day would have resulted differently.

By Mr. Chandler:

Question: Probably if you had cut up that one regiment in front of you, it might have changed the fate of the day?

Answer: I think it would probably have done so.

Question: They would then have retired in disorder if you had fired canister upon them?

Answer: They would have been cut to pieces.

Question: It is not expected that raw troops will stand point blank range of canister and advance afterwards?

Answer: No troops can stand it long; for we could certainly have cut them all to pieces.

Question: Was it not possible to ascertain, during this time, whether they were or not confederate troops? Could not Major Barry have sent an aid or gone himself and ascertained in time to have saved you?

Answer: Of that I think the committee can best judge. Every man is capable of judging that. For instance, if one who is the chief states to another, “There stands your support,” and he wants to convince another of that fact, he can easily do so if he is on a horse. He might have gone right down in the woods to see where the support was. That is a question that every man is capable of judging about. It would merely be my opinion any way.

By Mr. Covode:

Question: You have fixed a definite number necessary to support your battery. Does it not depend entirely upon the advanced position the battery occupies as to the number of infantry necessary to support it?

Answer: Yes, sir; it might. But a battery, if thrown forward at all, to be properly supported, should have certainly a thousand men to a gun.

Question: If you had occupied a position 500 yards further in the rear of where you were, would not a less number of men have been necessary to support it than you think should have supported you where you were?

Answer: We could have got support easier, and we could have known what the enemy were doing. If I had had 500 yards more space in front of me then, I could have seen what was coming.

Question: Was it not necessary, in your advanced position, that you should have had the largest requisite number to support you?

Answer: Yes, sir. In the first place, a battery should never have been sent forward to reconnoitre. That is a military mistake. Of course, I am only a captain, and a great many would censure me for saying this; but it is so. It was the duty of the infantry to have gone forward and found out what the enemy were doing, and not have sent the battery forward to find that out.

By Mr. Odell:

Question: You spoke of a conversation you had with Major Barry in reference to the character of the regiment that came out in front of you?

Answer: Yes, sir.

Question: How near were you and he to each other when you had that conversation?

Answer: Side by side almost, as two gentlemen who would meet each other and talk to each other would naturally be.

Question: There could be no mistake between you?

Answer: No, sir. There could be no mistake about it, because we had two or three conversations in reference to the support – in reference to the Zouaves more immediately.  When I countermarched my pieces, after they had turned off, and moved up on the hill, my last words were, “These Zouaves will never support us.”

Question: Why did you think that?

Answer: I had seen them on the field in a state of disorganization, and I did not think they had the moral courage to fight. I do not think that any troops that will go through the country in a disorganized state, thieving and robbing, are brave men. They were all running around the field in any way. They were in no kind of order. We got them collected together in some kind of order when we moved on the hill; but before that they were in no kind of order. At least, that is my recollection of it.

Question: And it was that that induced you to say they would not support you?

Answer: Yes, sir.

By Mr. Gooch :

Question: You did not consider them sufficient in number?

Answer: No, sir.

By the chairman:

Question: You do not believe in the maxim, “The worse the man the better the soldier?”

Answer: No, sir; I do not. I believe in the maxim that he who is universally cruel to a fallen foe is a coward.

By Mr. Odell:

Question: Did you have more than one conversation with Major Barry about this regiment of confederates ?

Answer: I did not. Lieutenant Read was a witness to Major Barry’s telling me that those were our troops. I state this that what I say may be established by something beyond my own hearsay. In justice to Major Barry, I will say that before this battle we were never on good terms. We never have been on good terms. But I do not wish to do him a particle of injustice.

Question: Were you in a good position to fire upon this confederate regiment when they presented themselves?

Answer: I could not possibly have been in a better position. They stood about two hundred yards in front of us, with the slightest slope in the world between us and them. All I had to do was to fire right down upon them.

By the chairman:

Question: Could you not tell by the flag they carried what they were?

Answer: I did not see any flag. I saw no flag that day on the field. I do not recollect of seeing a flag the whole day, either with the confederates or our own troops, except after the battle, when I saw a regiment or two going off the field have their flags rolled up. I do not pretend to have seen much on that field. I only know what occurred in reference to my own battery, and those standing by the side of them.

Question: In a battle like that should not the colors be shown, so that there should be no mistake?

Answer: Yes, sir; I have no doubt our troops had their colors; they say they had. But I had a particular duty to perform. I had no support all day long, with the exception that the New York 14th came to me when I was in my second or third position. An officer said, “I have been ordered here to support you; where shall I go?” He went to a fence in rear of the batteries. I said, “Don t go there in rear of us, for you will stand a chance of being hit.  If their batteries fire at me, and don t hit me, it will pass over us and hit you.” They then went to one side, and when I saw them again they were falling back, every man for himself, about 500 yards from me.  That was the last I saw of that regiment that day, excepting a straggling man here and there, or groups of twenty or so.

By Mr. Gooch:

Question: You consider one of the errors – the serious error of that day – was the fact that the artillery was not properly supported by infantry?

Answer: Undoubtedly. I consider that the first great error that was committed that day was the sending these batteries forward without support. And it is my opinion – at any rate, I do not know that I am called upon to express an opinion – but it is my opinion that if an officer received an order from the general to advance those two batteries forward, no matter how peremptory that order was, it was his duty, I think, not to have carried out that order if the batteries could not be supported, especially if he was the chief of the staff. Times may arrive when it is necessary to sacrifice a battery to secure some important result; for instance, Arnold s battery was sacrificed on our retreat to cover that retreat. But this was not one of those desperate cases.

Question: You think that it was a part of Major Barry’s duty to see that the batteries were properly supported before they were ordered forward?

Answer: I pretend to say I should not have done it.

By Mr. Covode:

Question: Could Major Barry order this infantry forward without his superior’s orders?

Answer: According to his report, he did.

By the chairman:

Question: If the general commanding should order the batteries forward, would not the chief of artillery understand that they were to be properly supported, without any particular orders to do so?

Answer: I should certainly consider it so.

Question: You would consider the order to mean that?

Answer: I think if the chief of a corps has no discretion like that, the general is in a bad situation. He certainly cannot be expected in a time like that to enter into all the details of his orders. He cannot do it. He gives his orders in a general form, and the details are attended to by others.

Question: You do not impeach the order of General McDowell in advancing the artillery forward, because undoubtedly he intended them to be supported properly?

Answer: Yes, sir; I take that for granted.

Question: It would be as unreasonable to expect a battery to go forward without a support as without horses – that is, a support is a necessary accompaniment to a battery?

Answer: I have always supposed so. There may be a time when it is necessary to sacrifice a battery. At Buena Vista General Taylor had lost everything, and was trying to retrieve. He ordered General Bragg to go forward. General Bragg undoubtedly turned to him and said, “I shall lose my battery;” and General Taylor probably said, “You must lose your battery, or all will be lost.” And he went forward, and by his fire of grape gained the day.

Question: You were under no such necessity that day?

Answer: No, sir.

Question: You think the battery ought not to have been ordered forward until after the advanced position had been reconnoitred by infantry?

Answer: Or without a sufficiently strong support.

Question: Do you mean to say these two things should have been done: first, to have the advanced position reconnoitred by infantry, so as to have known what there was in advance, and what the position of the enemy was, and what they were doing, as far as possible; and, second, when the batteries did go forward, they should have had a sufficient support of infantry?

Answer: Yes, sir. I contend that as long as the chief of artillery had not the sufficient support for the batteries he should not have moved them forward. If they were to be moved forward on that hill, we should have had a heavy and strong support, for the reason that that was the hill the enemy had occupied. We could see nothing beyond that hill. We could not tell what they were doing. We could not tell whether there were 1,000 or 5,000 beyond the hill. I had occupied about as high a position as any one, and I do not believe any man could see beyond that hill. And then I contend that the next blunder was that Major Barry told me the confederate regiment was our support.

Question: These two errors, you think, led to the first and most important repulse of the day?

Answer: I think these two errors led to the first and the repulse of the day. I think General Porter’s report will sustain me in that.

By Mr. Covode:

Question: Was Major Barry in a position where he was able to distinguish between our forces and theirs?

Answer: The major stood about 200 yards from them, right by my side. That is, he was on his horse and I was on my horse, and we were side by side.

Question: Was his opportunity a good one, from the position he occupied, for knowing the character of these confederate troops?

Answer: That would be a mere matter of opinion. His opportunity was just as good as mine.

By the chairman:

Question: They seemed like our soldiers?

Answer: They may have been dressed like some of our regiments. I went across the river on the 5th of July. The battle was on the 21st. I had not seen all our troops. I knew but four or five regiments.

By Mr. Covode:

Question: Were not cavalry in reach of you at that time?

Answer: I am under the impression that there was a squad of cavalry at my right. But they were in the woods, and might have just as well been at Centreville.

Question: That was not a proper time to use cavalry to reconnoitre?

Answer: No, sir; infantry should have been thrown forward.

By Mr. Gooch:

Question: Had you any cavalry that could be called in to support your battery?

Answer: No, sir. I am told by a cavalry officer that he received an order to charge right down through the woods. In the first place, he could not do it. Even if there was no enemy there, the cavalry could not charge through the woods.

#38 – Capt. Charles Griffin

24 07 2008

Report of Capt. Charles Griffin, Fifth U.S. Artillery

O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 2 [S# 2] — CHAPTER IX, p. 394


COLONEL: In compliance with your instructions, I have the honor to report that Battery D, Fifth Regiment of Artillery, arrived on the battle-field near Manassas at about 11.30 a.m. on the 21st instant, after a march of near twelve miles. The battery immediately opened on the enemy’s battery at about one thousand yards’ distance, and continued firing until his battery was silenced or forced to retire. The battery then advanced about two hundred yards, and opened upon a regiment of infantry formed upon the right of their line, causing it to fall back. The battery then changed position to the right and front, and opened upon a regiment formed near the enemy’s right and a little in front of the one first referred to, doing deadly execution, and causing it to retreat in much confusion.

An order was then received through Major Barry, Fifth Artillery, to advance to the brow of the hill, near the position occupied by the enemy’s battery when we first arrived on the field, The battery opened upon the enemy’s battery amidst a galling fire from his artillery, and continued firing for near half an hour. It then changed position to the right and fired two rounds, when it was charged by the enemy’s infantry from the woods on the right of our position. This infantry was mistaken for our own forces, an officer on the field having stated that it was a regiment sent by Colonel Heintzelman to support the battery. In this charge of the enemy every cannoneer was cut down and a large number of horses killed, leaving the battery (which was without support except in name) perfectly helpless. Owing to the loss of men and horses, it was impossible to take more than three pieces from the field. Two of these were afterwards lost in the retreat, by the blocking up of the road by our own forces and the complete exhaustion of the few horses dragging them. The same thing happened with reference to the battery-wagon, forge, and one caisson. All that is left of the battery is one Parrott rifle gun and one 12-pounder howitzer limber.

Of the 95 men who went into action 27 are killed, wounded, and missing, and of 101 horses 55 are missing.(*)

*          *          *          *          *          *          *          *

In conclusion, I would state that my officers and men behaved in a most gallant manner, displaying great fearlessness, and doing their duty as becomes brave soldiers.

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


Captain, Fifth Artillery, Commanding Battery D

P. S.–In addition, I deem it my duty to add that Lieutenant Ames was wounded so as to be unable to ride on horse at almost the first fire; yet he sat by his command directing the fire, being helped on and off the caisson during the different changes of front or position, refusing to leave the field until he became too weak to sit up. I would also mention Captain Tillinghast, A. Q. M., who gallantly served with the battery, pointing a piece and rendering valuable assistance.


Captain, Fifth Artillery


Commanding Second Brigade

(*) Nominal list omitted

#30 – Lieut. John Edwards

25 04 2008

Report of Lieut. John Edwards, Third U. S. Artillery

O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 2 [S# 2] — CHAPTER IX, pp.381-382

FORT ALBANY, VA., July 27, 1861

SIR: I have the honor to submit the following report with reference to the part taken by Light Company G, First Artillery, in the late engagement at Bull Run:

At about 5 a.m. on the morning of July 21 I left camp with my battery, consisting of two 20-pounder rifled cannon, and proceeded to the camp of Colonel Richardson. By his order was halted on the road about two hours. At the expiration of that time Colonel Davies, who was accompanied by Colonel Richardson, directed me to follow them with my guns. The general direction of the road taken was south-easterly, and winding through a heavily-timbered country. After a march of a mile, came to an open space on the brow of a range of high hills. This seemed to be a position on the extreme left of the line, and from it there was a good view of the valley of Bull Run and the wooded heights beyond. I was directed to open fire upon a white house in front, partially concealed by trees, and from which a secession flag was flying. The distance was about 2,000 yards. Immediately after the firing of the first shell a flight of men, wagons, and horses took place from that locale. The direction of their flight was up the ridge to the left. Their speed being hastened by other shots, they soon disappeared in the forests.  About a half hour thereafter large bodies of troops debouched from the woods at the same point where those who fled had disappeared. They marched across an open space some three miles from my position, and were then lost to sight in the woods, but the direction of their march could be traced by the dust.

Near the summit of the chain of hills, on the opposite side, a large brick house could be seen by the aid of a glass. Towards this these troops moved. By columns of dust thrown up on the right troops were judged to be approaching this direction also. This house on the summit must have been a central rallying point. I kept up an irregular fire from my guns dropping shell occasionally into the wooded ravines below us and throwing solid shot and shell at columns of dust within range raised by rebel troops. My position being somewhat exposed, and having no adequate support, the battery was temporarily withdrawn to the rear, and subsequently reordered to take the same position. I applied to General Miles to have some lighter guns near me, to throw canister, in case of a demonstration on our flank. Hunt’s battery afterwards came up, and took its position in the same field.

After the retreat of the right and center a strong body of rebel infantry appeared on our flank. I placed my guns in position, and opened on it with canister at a distance of two hundred and fifty yards, and as the force fell back into the ravines beyond continued the fire with shell. The enemy being no longer in sight, Colonel Davies said, “Now we have driven them back, we’ll retire upon Centreville.” I proceeded to the rear with my guns. A regiment was drawn up in the woods by the roadside in such a manner that my battery was forced to pass closely in its front. It was the most dangerous position occupied during the day. One gun was fired over the battery, and there was a simultaneous movement of muskets along the line, as if to continue the fire. Fortunately it was not followed up. I left Centreville at about 9 p.m. and proceeded to the Potomac, reaching Arlington between 8 and 9 a.m. on the 22d. Lieutenants Benjamin and Babbitt performed their several duties with gallantry, coolness, and spirit. The enlisted men, though unpracticed in the drill–the company having been hastily mounted–remained unshaken in the conflict.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,


First Lieutenant, Third Artillery, Comdg. Lt. Co. G.

Maj. H. J. Hunt,

Fifth Artillery, U. S. Army, Chief of Artillery

#29 – Bvt. Maj. Henry J. Hunt

13 04 2008

Report of Bvt. Maj. Henry J. Hunt, Second  U. S. Artillery

O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 2 [S# 2] — CHAPTER IX, pp. 377-381


Camp near Fort Albany, July 25, 1861

SIR: I have the honor to submit a report of the operations of my battery on the 21st instant.

The company arrived at New York on the 12th instant from Fort Pickens, Fla., with its battery, but without horses. A large portion of the men were recruits, and no opportunity for instruction as field artillery had been afforded them. The company reached Washington by rail on Sunday, 14th, and on Wednesday evening the battery, which came by sea, was received at the arsenal. Necessary repairs and refitting were at once commenced, ammunition and other stores drawn and packed, horses procured, and on Friday, the 19th, we marched from Capitol Hill to Colonel Richardson’s position in front of the enemy’s works at Blackburn’s Ford, a distance of twenty-eight miles. Saturday was devoted to instructing the recruits, shoeing horses, &c., and on that evening Lieutenant Platt’s section was detached to join the advanced guard. On Saturday night Lieutenant Edwards, Third Artillery, reported to me with a section of two heavy rifled guns. On Sunday morning, the 21st, Lieutenant Thompson’s section was placed in position on the right of the main road, overlooking the ford, and commanding the road by which the enemy’s advance was expected. A few shells were, by direction of Colonel Richardson, dropped into the woods and amongst the buildings which were supposed to contain the enemy, but no answer was returned, and the firing ceased. Soon after this an infantry column was seen pushing into the wood skirting Bull Run. Lieutenant Thompson moved forward a piece, and after a few rounds they disappeared.

At about 10 a.m. Colonel Miles ordered both sections of my battery to the extreme left, occupied by Davies’ brigade. Edwards’ section had been sent early in the morning to that position, from which he had opened his fire upon the woods and houses in front. I transmit herewith his report of the operations of his section, in which he describes the nature of the ground.

The firing was continued at intervals by the whole battery “as a demonstration,” but produced little or no effect, as there was no definite object, except when the enemy’s moving columns came from time to time within our range. We were supported by two infantry battalions, drawn up in line behind the battery. On inquiry, made immediately after my arrival on the ground, I was informed that a brigade of infantry was posted in the wood to our left and rear, commanding a deep and wide ravine on our left flank, and watching the road beyond it, which leads from below the ford to Centreville; and as we had skirmishers pushed forward into the ravine, I felt no apprehension of danger from that quarter, but still requested, as a precaution, that the battalion on the left should be formed on the brink of the ravine and in column, so that it might be readily deployed to front in any direction. No attention was paid to this request, and the regiment remained in line.

About 4.30 or 5 p.m., after the battle was apparently gained on the right, and whilst large re-enforcements of infantry and cavalry were observed hurrying up from the direction of Manassas, a strong force of infantry and some cavalry, variously estimated at from 2,500 to 5,000 men in all, appeared on our left, approaching parallel to our front by the lateral openings into the great ravine on our flank. The infantry only was first seen, and as they approached without any apparent attempt at concealment, preceded by our skirmishers, they were supposed to be our own troops. As the number increased, I rode down the ravine with my first sergeant to reconnoiter them. Some of our skirmishers stated that they had seen no troops; others said they were the Thirty-first [?] New Yorkers coming in. They carried no colors, and their numbers increasing to an alarming extent, I hurried back and changed the front of the battery, so as to command all the openings into the ravine and the approaches to our position. Colonel Davies at the same time detached a couple of companies into the ravine as skirmishers. The latter had scarcely deployed, when a sharp rattle of musketry removed all doubts as to the character of the advancing troops. We had been surprised, and the enemy was close upon us in large force. Our infantry regiments had changed front with the battery, but unfortunately closed their intervals behind it. Precious time was now lost in getting them on our flanks. Had they remained in our rear they would have been unnecessarily exposed to the fire directed on the battery, and in case of a determined charge for our capture, which I confidently expected, they would have been apt to fire through us, destroying men and horses and crippling the guns. At length they were moved to the right and left, and ordered to lie down and await the approach of the enemy, who by this time were closing up in apparently overwhelming numbers. I now directed the gunners to prepare shrapnel and canister shot, and in case the enemy persisted in his advance not to lose time in sponging the pieces–for minutes were now of more value than arms–but to aim low, and pour in a rapid fire wherever the men were thickest or were seen advancing.

The enemy having by this time completed his preparations and driven in our skirmishers, now rushed forward and opened a heavy musketry fire on the battery, but from the shortness of range, or from aiming upwards as they ascended the ravine, their shot mostly passed over us. The command was then given to the battery to commence firing. Under the directions of Lieutenants Platt and Thompson, Second Artillery, and Edwards, Third Artillery, commanding sections, the most rapid, well-sustained, and destructive fire I have ever witnessed was now opened. The men took full advantage of the permission to omit sponging, yet no accident occurred from it. The guns were all of large caliber (two 20-pounder Parrott rifle guns and four light 12-pounders), and they swept the field with a perfect storm of canister. No troops could stand it, and the enemy broke and fled in every direction, taking refuge in the woods and ravines; and in less than fifteen minutes not a living man could be seen on the ground which so recently had swarmed with them. The infantry regiments had not found it necessary to fire a single shot.

Believing now there was no support on our left (original rear), I executed a flank movement, so as to bring the left of the battery close to the wood and in front of the lateral road by which it had reached the ground. This movement threw the regiment on our left into the wood, and thus secured its possession. The fire was now reopened, the rifled guns throwing shell and the others round shot, so as to sweep the woods and search the ravines into which the enemy had been driven. In a few minutes orders were given to retreat, and I sent an officer to Colonel Davies to inquire if such were his directions; that the enemy were defeated, and that they would be unable to reform. The answer returned was “to retire at once on Centreville.” The pieces were limbered up, and, Lieutenant Edwards’ guns leading, moved off.

Scarcely was the column fairly in the road when a scattering fire was opened on the rear, doubtless by those who, having taken refuge in the woods, observed the withdrawal of our troops. The cry to the battery to “trot” was now clamorously raised from the rear, and confusion was fast spreading, when I directed a deliberate walk should be maintained, and pushed forward myself to the place where the ambulances and wagons were standing in the main road. The teamsters had taken the alarm from the rapid firing and the cries, and a panic was rapidly growing, when my assurance of our having beaten the enemy, and that there was no necessity for hurry, together with the appearance of the head of the battery emerging at a walk from the wood, reassured them and calmed the excitement.

The whole column now retired in good order, and was formed, together with all the disposable field artillery, in front of Centreville, under the immediate direction of General McDowell in person, and in so imposing an attitude as to deter the enemy from any advance in that direction, and to hold him completely in check.

During the night the troops were put in motion for their former camps on the Potomac. Barry’s battery, under Lieutenant Tidball, and my own were the last we could perceive on the ground. Just as I was leaving I received a message from Colonel Richardson, stating that his brigade was drawn up in column on the road, and that he wished me to pass him with the battery, but to remain near him, and that we would constitute the rear guard. This was accordingly done, but a mass of stragglers collected around the guns, and could not be prevailed upon to pass them or move without them. I was thus constrained to move forward until some 2,000 or 3,000 men interposed between us, when I received a message from Colonel Richardson, stating that a force of the enemy’s cavalry and horse artillery was in our rear and threatening an attack. I now drew up at the side of the road–to turn back in such a crowd was impossible—and only by representing that the rear was about being attacked could I urge them forward. On Colonel Richardson’s coming up, he stated that the demonstration of the enemy was very feeble, and we saw them no more. It is but just to say that the disorder and mob-like mixture of the volunteers did not appear to proceed from fear, but from sheer fatigue. They were footsore, lame, hungry, and tired, but seemed to be in good heart, and on my representing that it was important that a certain position in our advance should be occupied, some of Blenker’s German and of Montgomery’s New Jersey regiments formed in good order and took the position indicated. Had we been attacked by any force, I have little doubt that a stout resistance would have been made.

The officers of the battery (Lieuts. E. R. Platt and James Thompson, Second Artillery, commanding sections) performed all the duties devolving upon them with promptness, skill, and gallantry. Their labors in bringing the battery into good condition had been untiring, and to the thoroughness of the instruction they had imparted to their sections before they were dismounted in Texas is mainly attributable the efficiency with which the pieces were served on the field and the successful result of the action.

First Lieut. Presley O. Craig, Second Artillery, on sick leave on account of a badly-sprained foot, which prevented his marching with his own company, having heard of the sickness of my second lieutenant, volunteered for the performance of the duties, and joined the battery the day before it left Washington. He was constantly and actively employed during the night preceding and on the day of the battle, and his services were very valuable. When the enemy appeared he exerted himself in perfecting the preparations to receive him, and conducted himself with the greatest gallantry when the onset was made. He fell early in the action, whilst in the active discharge of his duty, receiving a shot in the forehead, and dying in a few minutes afterwards. This was the only casualty in the battery.

Cadet John R. Meigs, of the U.S. Military Academy, being in Washington on furlough, also volunteered his services, and was employed actively from the time he joined at Washington until the close of the battle. On the death of Lieutenant Craig, Cadet Meigs performed his duties until the close of the action with spirit and intelligence, and was very useful, after the affair was over, in conveying orders, observing the enemy, and rallying our troops.

Lieutenant Edwards commanded his section with skill and efficiency, and I can indorse the favorable report he makes of his lieutenants, Benjamin and Babbitt, and of the conduct of his men.

The behavior of the men of my battery was all that could be desired. They were cool, collected, prompt, and obedient, and not an instance of misconduct or neglect occurred during the action in the whole battery.

The first sergeant, Terrence Reily, was very efficient, as were also the chiefs of pieces–Sergeants Smith, Pfeffer, Flood, and Relinger.

A detachment of twenty recruits, under Lieutenant Brisbin, had been dispatched from Carlisle Barracks to fill up my company. Lieutenant Brisbin did not reach Washington until after we had left, but he followed us up, and sought us on the field. He did not succeed in finding the battery, but employed his men usefully in endeavoring to stop the retreat of our forces and in resisting the pursuit of the enemy. In the performance of these duties he was twice wounded. He speaks favorably of the services of Sergeants Bowman and Rogers, of his detachment.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Bvt. Maj. and Capt., Second Artillery, Comdg.

Lt. Co. M. Capt. J. B. FRY,

Assistant Adjutant-General

#24 – Lieut. William D. Fuller

6 03 2008


Report of Lieut. William D. Fuller, Third U.S. Artillery

O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 2 [S# 2] — CHAPTER IX, pp 366-368

FORT CORCORAN, VA., July 24, 1861

SIR: In obedience to your order, I beg leave to make the following report of the battle of Bull Run:

Leaving our camp near Centreville about 2.30 a.m. Sunday, the battery marched in rear of General Schenck’s brigade, immediately preceded by a 30-pounder rifled gun of Parrott’s make. The brigade, feeling its way, with skirmishers and flankers thrown out, arrived about 6 a.m. within two miles of Bull Run, across which the enemy were understood to be in position. At this point the road descends rapidly for three-quarters of a mile towards Bull Run. The 30-pounder rifled gun was placed in position in the road three-fourths of the way from the top to the foot of the hill, and fired twice at the supposed position of the enemy, without any effect of importance. Our battery having gone to the foot of the hill, almost down to the run, was countermarched, and formed into park on the top of the hill, behind and under cover of the woods.

Soon after, the battery was ordered and proceeded at once down the road, turned to the right near the foot of the hill, and came in battery in the edge of the wood. A party of the enemy having been observed to enter an abatis near the bridge, and just across Bull Run, Lieutenant Wilson fired two percussion shells from his rifled section, the first of which struck and burst in the abatis, scattering the enemy from it in all directions. More shots were fired from the 30-pounder rifled gun, and it was afterwards brought from the road and placed immediately on our right. The movements of the enemy were now and during the whole day studiously concealed under cover of woods or undulations of the ground.

At about 8.30 the column of Colonel Hunter was seen approaching across Bull Run and on our right. A movement of the troops of our division now began towards the right, and with the intention of crossing Bull Run. One of these regiments attempted to cut diagonally over the open field in front of our battery. When half way across, a light battery of six guns of the enemy galloped down, came in battery just across the run, and opened a rapid and unexpected fire of canister on this regiment which was marching by the right flank, and scattered it in confusion.

Captain Carlisle at once ordered the battery to open a fire of spherical case and shell on the enemy’s pieces, which at once ceased firing at our volunteer regiment, and began a rapid fire of shell and solid shot on us. After fifteen minutes of rapid firing on our part the fire of the enemy’s battery slackened. We then fired solid shot, and ended with a round of canister, the enemy having ceased firing, and retreated with heavy loss in men and horses, as we afterwards learned. My section consisted of a 6-pounder smooth-bore gun and a 12-pounder howitzer. But for the hot fire from our battery, under the direction of Captain Carlisle, the regiment which was within canister range of the enemy’s battery must have been cut to pieces. The timely diversion caused by the fire of our battery only saved them. A deliberate fire from the 30-pounder rifled gun was kept up with short intervals during the day, and evidently annoyed the enemy, who fired several rifled percussion shells at this piece with great precision.

Late in the afternoon the battery was directed to leave its position and go down near the bridge over Bull Run. While down there, Lieutenant Wilson, with his rifled section, and Lieutenant Lyford, with his section, were ordered out to take a position in front nearer the run, and both of these officers were under a heavy fire of shot and shell from batteries they could not reach with their guns. During their absence, being in command of the center section, by order of Captain Carlisle, I fired several rounds of spherical case and canister into the woods occupied by the enemy’s troops. On the return of the other sections, the battery was drawn just back of the brow of a small hill, to be covered from a fire of Hotchkiss and Parrott shell thrown from masked batteries in position. A Parrott shell which had not exploded fell near me, and on examination proved to be of excellent make, and must, from peculiarities in its construction, have been made by machinery similar to that of Captain Parrott, at the Cold Spring Foundry at West Point. A number of volunteers were killed by these projectiles in my vicinity.

Our battery was finally ordered up the hill a short distance to the rear, to place it and the troops under cover. Accurate information of our movements must have reached the enemy, as they changed the direction of their fire at once, and threw rifled projectiles all around us. After waiting in this road the battery was ordered up the hill, and directed to find a safe position just beyond it. Proceeding up the road in column of pieces, we were unexpectedly charged by cavalry, and from the position we could not come into action. Our cannoneers and drivers were shot or sabered. While moving at a gallop our wheels came off of each piece in my section. Our efforts to repair this damage were unavailing, and amidst a shower of pistol bullets we dragged our pieces until the traces broke. The men and non-commissioned officers behaved with gallantry. I halted at Centreville and attempted to join my brigade, but unsuccessfully. Learning that the regiments of the brigade were marching to Fairfax Court-House, I followed them with as many men and non-commissioned officers of my company as I could collect. An order being issued after this for the troops to retire to Washington, I proceeded with a sergeant, four enlisted men, and five horses to Fort Corcoran, where the baggage of the company was stored, and arrived there about 8 o’clock Monday morning.

Very respectfully,


Brevet Second Lieutenant, Third Artillery


Commanding Company E, Second Artillery