James B. Fry, Brevet Major-General, U. S. A. (at Bull Run, Captain and Assistant Adjutant-General on Mcdowell's Staff).
Scrutinizing a pass at the Washington end of the long Bridge.|
As President Buchanan
's administration was drawing to a close, he was forced by the action of the South
to decide whether the power of the general Government should be used to coerce into submission States that had attempted to secede from the Union
His opinion was that the contingency was not provided for, that while a State had no right to secede, the Constitution
gave no authority to coerce, and that he had no right to do anything except hold the property and enforce the laws of the United States
Before he went out of office the capital of the nation seemed to be in danger of seizure.
For its protection, and in order to consult about holding Southern forts and arsenals; General Scott
was in December called to Washington
, from which he had been absent since the inauguration of Pierce
, who had defeated him for the presidency.
's Secretary of War
, and General Scott
had quarreled, and the genius of acrimony controlled the correspondence which took place
Notwithstanding the fact that on account of his age and infirmities he was soon overwhelmed by the rush of events, General Scott
's laurels had not withered at the outbreak of the war, and he brought to the emergency ability, experience, and prestige.
A high light in the whole military world, he towered above the rest of our army at that time professionally as he did physically.
As the effect of his unusual stature was increased by contrast with a short aide-de-camp (purposely chosen, it was suspected), so was his exalted character marked by one or two conspicuous but not very harmful foibles.
With much learning, great military ability, a strict sense of justice, and a kind heart, he was vain and somewhat petulant.
He loved the Union
and hated Jefferson Davis
By authority of President Buchanan
assembled a small force of regulars in the capital, and for the first time in the history of the country the electoral count was made and a President was inaugurated under the protection of soldiery.
But before the inauguration of Lincoln
, March 4th, the secession movement had spread through the “cottonbelt” and delegates from the secession States had met as a congress at Montgomery, Alabama
, February 4th.
On the 8th they had organized the “Provisional Government of the Confederate States
Simon Cameron, Secretary of War from March 4, 1861, until Jan. 15, 1862.
from a photograph.|
America,” and on the 9th had elected Jefferson Davis President
and Alexander H. Stephens Vice-President
When the news of the firing upon Sumter
, President Lincoln
prepared a proclamation, and issued it April 15th, convening Congress and calling forth 75,000 three-months militia to suppress combinations against the Government
The Federal situation was alarming.
fell on the 13th of April, and was evacuated on the 14th.
seceded on the 17th, and seized Harper's Ferry
on the 18th and the Norfolk Navy Yard
on the 20th.
On the 19th a mob in Baltimore
assaulted the 6th Massachusetts volunteers as it passed through to Washington
, and at once bridges were burned and railway communication was cut off between Washington
and the North
had had no experience as a party leader or executive officer, and was without knowledge of military affairs or acquaintance with military men. Davis at the head of the Confederacy
was an experienced and acknowledged Southern leader; he was a graduate of the Military Academy; had commanded a regiment in the Mexican
war; had been Secretary of War
under President Pierce
, and had been chairman of the Military Committee in the United States Senate up to the time he left Congress to take part with the South
He was not only well versed in everything relating to war, but was thoroughly informed concerning the character and capacity of prominent and promising officers of the army.
There was nothing experimental in his choice of high military commanders.
With but few exceptions, those appointed at the beginning retained command until they lost their lives or the war closed.
The Southern States, all claiming to be independent republics after secession, with all their governmental machinery, including militia and volunteer organizations, in complete working order, transferred themselves as States from the Union
to the Confederacy
The organization of a general government from such elements, with war as its immediate purpose, was a simple matter.
had only to accept and arrange, according to his ample information and well-matured judgment, the abundant and ambitious material at hand in the way that he thought would best secure his purposes.
had to adapt the machinery of a conservative old government, some of it unsuitable, some unsound, to sudden demands for which it was not designed.
The talents of Simon Cameron
, his first Secretary of War
, were political, not military.
He was a kind, gentle, placid man, gifted with powers to persuade, not to command.
Shrewd and skilled in the management of business and personal matters, he had no knowledge of military affairs, and could not give the President
much assistance in assembling and organizing for war the earnest and impatient, but unmilitary people of the North
Officers from all departments of the Federal
civil service hurried to the Confederacy
and placed themselves at the disposal of Davis
, and officers from all the corps of the regular army, most of them full of vigor, with the same education and experience as those who remained, went South and awaited assignment to the duties for which Davis
might regard them as best qualified.
All Confederate offices were vacant, and the Confederate President
had large if not absolute power in filling them.
On the other hand, the civil offices under Lincoln
were occupied or controlled by party, and in the small regular army of the Union
the law required that vacancies should as a rule be filled by seniority.
There was no retired list for the disabled, and the army was weighed down by longevity; by venerated traditions; by prerogatives of service
Uniform of the 1st Mass. At Bull Run.
From a photograph.|
rendered in former wars; by the firmly tied red-tape of military bureauism, and by the deep-seated and well-founded fear of the auditors and comptrollers of the treasury.
Nothing but time and experience-possibly nothing but disaster-could remove from the path of the Union President
difficulties from which the Confederate President
was, by the situation, quite free.
In the beginning of the war, the military advantage was on the side of the Confederates
, notwithstanding the greater resources of the North
, which produced their effect only as the contest was prolonged.
After the firing of the first gun upon Sumter
, the two sides were equally active in marshaling their forces on a line along the border States from the Atlantic coast
in the east to Kansas
in the west.
Many of the earlier collisions along this line were due rather to special causes or local feeling than to general military considerations.
The prompt advance of the Union
forces under McClellan
to West Virginia
was to protect that new-born free State.
's movement to Hagerstown
and thence to Harper's Ferry
was to prevent Maryland
from joining or aiding the rebellion, to re-open the Baltimore and Ohio railroad, and prevent invasion from the Shenandoah Valley.
The Southerners having left the Union
and set up the Confederacy
upon the principle of State rights, in violation of that principle
invaded the State of Kentucky
in opposition to her apparent purpose of armed neutrality.
That made Kentucky
a field of early hostilities and helped to anchor her to the Union
was rescued from secession through the energy of General F. P. Blair
and her other Union men, and by the indomitable will of Captain Lyon
of the regular army, whose great work was accomplished under many disadvantages.
In illustration of the difficulty with which the new condition of affairs penetrated the case-hardened bureauism of long peace, it may be mentioned that the venerable adjutant-general of the army, when a crisis was at hand in Missouri
, came from a consultation with the President
and Secretary Cameron
, and with a sorry expression of countenance and an ominous shake of the head exclaimed, “It's bad, very bad; we're giving that young man Lyon
a great deal too much power in Missouri
Early in the contest another young Union officer came to the front.
Major Irvin McDowell
was appointed brigadier-general May 14th.
He was forty-three years of age, of unexceptionable habits and great physical powers.
His education, begun in France
, was continued at the United States Military Academy, from which he was graduated in 1838.
Always a close student, he was well informed outside as well as inside his profession.
Distinguished in the Mexican
war, intensely Union in his sentiments, full of energy and patriotism, outspoken in his opinions, highly esteemed by General Scott
, on whose staff he had served, he at once secured the confidence of the President
and the Secretary of War
, under whose observation he was serving in Washington
Without political antecedents or
Uniform of the 2d Ohio at Bull Run.
From a photograph.|
acquaintances, he was chosen for advancement on account of his record, his ability, and his vigor.
Northern forces had hastened to Washington
upon the call of President Lincoln
, but prior to May 24th they had been held rigidly on the north side of the Potomac
On the night of May 23d-24th, the Confederate
pickets being then in sight of the Capitol
, three columns were thrown across the river by General J. K. F. Mansfield
, then commanding the Department of Washington, and a line from Alexandria
below to chain-bridge above Washington
was intrenched under guidance of able engineers.
On the 27th Brigadier-General Irvin McDowell
was placed in command south of the Potomac
By the 1st of June the Southern Government
had been transferred from Montgomery
, and the capitals of the Union
and of the Confederacy
stood defiantly confronting each other.
was in chief command of the Union
forces, with McDowell
south of the Potomac
, confronted by his old classmate, Beauregard
, hot from the capture of Fort Sumter
, of Pennsylvania
, a veteran of the war of 1812 and the war with Mexico
, was in command near Harper's Ferry
, opposed by General Joseph E. Johnston
The Confederate President
, then in Richmond
, with General R. E. Lee
as military adviser, exercised in person general military control of the Southern
The enemy to be engaged by McDowell
occupied what was called the “Alexandria line,” with headquarters at Manassas
, the junction of the Orange
with the Manassas Gap railroad.
The stream known as Bull Run
, some three miles in front of Manassas
, was the line of defense.
's right, 30 miles away, at the mouth of Aquia Creek
, there was a Confederate brigade of 3000 men and 6 guns under General Holmes
The approach to Richmond
from the Lower Chesapeake
, threatened by General B. F. Butler
, was guarded by Confederates under Generals Huger
's left, sixty miles distant, in the Lower
Shenandoah Valley and separated from him by the Blue Ridge Mountains
, was the Confederate army of the Shenandoah
under command of General Johnston
's authority did not extend over the forces of Johnston
, or Holmes
, but Holmes
was with him before the battle of Bull Run
, and so was Johnston
, who, 4 as will appear more fully hereafter, joined at a decisive moment.
Early in June Patterson
was pushing his column against Harper's Ferry
, and on the 3d of that month McDowell
was called upon by General Scott
to submit “an estimate of the number and composition of a column to be pushed toward Manassas Junction
and perhaps the Gap
, say in 4 or 5 days, to favor Patterson
's attack upon Harper's Ferry
had then been in command at Arlington
less than a week, his raw regiments south of the Potomac
were not yet brigaded, and this was the first
Fac-Simile of the face of a Washington pass of 1861.3|
intimation he had of offensive operations.
He reported, June 4th, that 12,000 infantry, 2 batteries, 6 or 8 companies of cavalry, and a reserve of 5000 ready to move from Alexandria
would be required.
, however, gave up Harper's Ferry
, and the diversion by McDowell
was not ordered.
But the public demand for an advance became imperative-stimulated perhaps by the successful dash of fifty men of the 2d United States Cavalry, under Lieutenant C. H. Tompkins
, through the enemy's outposts at Fairfax Court House on the night of June 1st, and by the unfortunate result of the movement of a regiment under General Schenck
, June 9th, as well as by a disaster to some of General Butler
's troops on the 10th at Big Bethel, near Fort Monroe
On the 24th of June, in compliance with verbal instructions from General Scott
submitted a “plan of operations and the composition of the force required to carry it into effect.”
He estimated the Confederate
force at Manassas Junction
and its dependencies at 25,000 men, assumed that his movements could not be kept secret and that the enemy
Fac-Simile of the back of the pass|
would call up additional forces from all quarters, and added: “If General J. E. Johnston
's force is kept engaged by Major-General Patterson
, and Major-General Butler
occupies the force now in his vicinity, I think they will not be able to bring up more than 10,000 men, so we may calculate upon having to do with about 35,000 men.”
And as it turned out, that was about the number he “had to do with.”
For the advance, McDowell
asked “a force of 30,000 of all arms, with a reserve of 10,000.”
He knew that Beauregard
had batteries in position at several places in front of Bull Run
and defensive works behind the Run
and at Manassas Junction
The stream being fordable at many places, McDowell
proposed in his plan of operations to turn the enemy's position and force him out of it by seizing or threatening his communications.
Nevertheless, he said in his report:
Believing the chances are greatly in favor of the enemy's accepting battle between this and the Junction and that the consequences of that battle will be of the greatest importance to the country, as establishing the prestige in this contest, on the one side or the other,--the more so as the two sections will be fairly represented by regiments from almost every State,--I think it of great consequence that, as for the most part our regiments are exceedingly raw and the best of them, with few exceptions, not over steady in line, they be organized into as many small fixed brigades as the number of regular colonels will admit, ... so that the men may have as fair a chance as the nature of things and the comparative inexperience of most will allow.
This remarkably sound report was approved, and McDowell
was directed to carry his plan into effect July 8th.
But the government machinery worked slowly and there was jealousy in the way, so that the troops to bring his army up to the strength agreed upon did not reach him until the 16th.
's Army of the Potomac at Manassas
consisted of the brigades of Holmes
, D. R. Jones
, and of 3 regiments of infantry, 1 regiment and 3 battalions of cavalry, and 6 batteries of artillery, containing in all 27 guns, making an aggregate available force on the field of Bull Run
of about 23,000 men. Johnston
's army from the Shenandoah
consisted of the brigades of Jackson
, and Kirby Smith
, 2 regiments of infantry not brigaded, 1 regiment of cavalry (12 companies), and 5 batteries (20 guns), making an aggregate at Bull Run
of 8340. 4
's army consisted of 5 divisions, Tyler
's First Division, containing 4 brigades (Keyes
's, Schenek's, W. T. Sherman
's, and Richardson
's Second Division, containing 2 brigades (Andrew Porter
's and Burnside
's Third Division, containing 3 brigades (Franklin
's, and Howard
's Fourth Division (9 regiments not brigaded); and Miles
's Fifth Division, containing 2 brigades (Blenker
's and Davies
's),--10 batteries of artillery, besides 2 guns attached to infantry regiments, 49 guns in all, and 7
View of Washington from the signal camp, Georgetown heights.-I.|
companies of regular cavalry.
Of the foregoing forces, 9 of the batteries and 8 companies of infantry were regulars, and 1 small battalion was marines.
The aggregate force was about 35,000 men. Runyon
's Fourth Division was 6 or 7 miles in the rear guarding the road to Alexandria
, and, though counted in the aggregate, was not embraced in McDowell
's order for battle.5
There was an ill-suppressed feeling of sympathy with the Confederacy
in the Southern
element of Washington society; but the halls of Congress resounded with the eloquence of Union speakers.
Martial music filled the air, and war was the topic wherever men met. By day and night the tramp of soldiers was heard, and staff-officers and orderlies galloped through the streets between the headquarters of Generals Scott
Northern enthusiasm was unbounded.
“On to Richmond
” was the war-cry.
Public sentiment was irresistible, and in response to it the army advanced.
It was a glorious spectacle.
The various regiments were brilliantly uniformed according to the esthetic taste of peace, and the silken banners they flung to the breeze were unsoiled and untorn.
The bitter realities of war were nearer than we knew.
marched on the afternoon of July 16th, the men carrying three days rations in their haversacks; provision wagons were to follow from Alexandria
the next day. On the morning of the 18th his forces were concentrated at Centreville
, a point about 20 miles west of the Potomac
View from the signal camp.--ii.
From a sketch made at the time.|
6 or 7 miles east of Manassas Junction
's outposts fell back without resistance.
, flowing south-easterly, is about half-way between Centreville
and Manassas Junction
, and, owing to its abrupt banks, the timber with which it was fringed, and some artificial defenses at the fords, was a formidable obstacle.
The stream was fordable, but all the crossings for eight miles, from Union Mills
on the south to the Stone Bridge
on the north, were defended by Beauregard
[See map, page 180.] The Warrenton Turnpike
, passing through Centreville
, leads nearly due west, crossing Bull Run
at the Stone Bridge
The direct road from Centreville
crosses Bull Run
at Mitchell's Ford, half a mile or so above another crossing known as Blackburn's Ford.
was covered by Ewell
's brigade, supported after the 18th by Holmes
's brigade; McLean's Ford, next to the north, was covered by D. R. Jones
's brigade; Blackburn's Ford was defended by Longstreet
's brigade, supported by Early
's brigade; Mitchell's Ford was held by Bonham
's brigade, with an outpost of two guns and an infantry support east of Bull Run
; the stream between Mitchell's Ford and the Stone Bridge
was covered by Cocke
's brigade; the Stone Bridge
on the Confederate
left was held by Evans
with 1 regiment and Wheat
's special battalion of infantry, 1 battery of 4 guns, and 2 companies of cavalry.
The Stone Church, Centreville.
From a photograph taken in March, 1862.|
was compelled to wait at Centreville
until his provision wagons arrived and he could issue rations.
His orders having carried his leading division under Tyler
no farther than Centreville
, he wrote that officer at 8:15 A. M. on the 18th, “Observe well the roads to Bull Run
and to Warrenton
Do not bring on an engagement, but keep up the impression that we are moving on Manassas
then went to the extreme left of his line to examine the country with reference to a sudden movement of the army to turn the enemy's right flank.
The reconnoissance showed him that the country was unfavorable to the movement, and he abandoned it. While he was gone to the left, Tyler
, presumably to “keep up the impression that we were moving on Manassas
,” went forward from Centreville
with a squadron of cavalry and two companies of infantry for the purpose of making a reconnoissance of Mitchell's and Blackburn's fords along the direct road to Manassas
The force of the enemy at these fords has just been given.
Reaching the crest of the ridge overlooking the valley of Bull Run
and a mile or so from the stream, the enemy was seen on the opposite bank, and Tyler
brought up Benjamin
's artillery, 2 20-pounder rifled guns, Ayres's field battery of 6 guns, and Richardson
's brigade of infantry.
The 20-pounders opened from the ridge and a few shots were exchanged with the enemy's batteries.
Desiring more information than the long-range cannonade afforded,
's brigade and a section of Ayres
's battery, supported by a squadron of cavalry, to move from the ridge across the open bottom of Bull Run
and take position near the stream and have skirmishers “scour the thick woods” which skirted it. Two regiments of infantry, 2 pieces of artillery, and a squadron of cavalry moved down the slope into the woods and opened fire, driving Bonham
's outpost to the cover of intrenchments across the stream.
The brigades of Bonham
, the latter being reenforced for the occasion by Early
's brigade, responded at short range to the fire of the Federal
reconnoitering force and drove it back in disorder.
reported that having satisfied himself “that the enemy was in force,” and ascertained “the position of his batteries,” he withdrew.
This unauthorized reconnoissance, called by the Federals
the affair at Blackburn's Ford, was regarded at the time by the Confederates
as a serious attack, and was dignified by the name of the “battle of Bull Run
,” the engagement of the 21st being called by them the battle of Manassas
The Confederates, feeling that they had repulsed a heavy and real attack, were encouraged by the result.
The Federal troops, on the other hand, were greatly depressed.
The regiment which suffered most was completely demoralized, and McDowell
thought that the depression of the repulse was felt throughout his army and produced its effect upon the Pennsylvania
regiment and the New York battery which insisted (their terms having expired) upon their discharge, and on the 21st, as he expressed it, “marched to the rear to the sound of the enemy's cannon.”
Uniform of the 11th New York (fire Zouaves) at Bull Run.
From a photograph.8|
himself felt the depressing effect of his repulse, if we may judge by his cautious and feeble action on the 21st when dash was required.
The operations of the 18th confirmed McDowell
in his opinion that with his raw troops the Confederate
position should be turned instead of attacked in front.
Careful examination had satisfied him that the country did not favor a movement to turn the enemy's right.
On the night of the 18th
Outline map of the battle-field of Bull Run.
A, A, A, A, A. General line of Confederate dispositions during the skirmish at Mitchell's and Blackburn's Fords (July 18th), and until the morning of the main engagement (July 21st).
B, B, B. General line of Confederate dispositions, made to repel McDowell's flank attack by the Sudley and Newmarket Road.
The Union dispositions are represented as they were at the climax of the fighting on the Henry plateau.|
the haversacks of his men were empty, and had to be replenished from the provision wagons, which were late in getting up. Nor had he yet determined upon his point or plan of attack.
While resting and provisioning his men, he devoted the 19th and 20th to a careful examination by his engineers of the enemy's position and the intervening country.
His men, not soldiers, but civilians in uniform, unused to marching, hot, weary, and footsore, dropped down as they had halted and bivouacked on the roads about Centreville
's elation over the affair at Blackburn's Ford on the 18th, he permitted the 19th and 20th to pass without a movement to follow up the advantage he had gained.
During these two days, McDowell
carefully examined the Confederate
position, and made his plan
to manoeuvre the enemy out of it. Beauregard
ordered no aggressive movement until the 21st, and then, as appears from his own statement, through miscarriage of orders and lack of apprehension on the part of subordinates, the effort was a complete fiasco
, with the comical result of frightening his own troops, who, late in the afternoon, mistook the return of one of their brigades for an attack by McDowell
's left, and the serious result of interfering with the pursuit after he had gained the battle of the 21st.
, though not aggressive on the 19th and 20th, was not idle within his own lines.
The Confederate President
had authorized Johnston
's senior, to use his discretion in moving to the support of Manassas
, and Beauregard
, urging Johnston
to do so, sent railway transportation for the Shenandoah
But, as he states, “he at the same time submitted the alternative proposition to Johnston
that, having passed the Blue Ridge
, he should assemble his forces, press forward by way of Aldie
, north-west of Manassas
, and fall upon
Sudley Springs hotel, on the line of McDowell's flank attack upon the Confederate forces.
Sketched from the Mill, a few rods above the Ford.|
's right rear,” while he, Beauregard
, “prepared for the operation at the first sound of the conflict, should strenuously assume the offensive in front.”
“The situation and circumstances specially favored the signal success of such an operation,” says Beauregard
An attack by two armies moving from opposite points upon an enemy, with the time of attack for one depending upon the sound of the other's cannon, is hazardous even with well-disciplined and well-seasoned troops, and is next to fatal with raw levies.
chose the wiser course of moving by rail to Manassas
, thus preserving the benefit of “interior lines,” which, Beauregard
says, was the “sole military advantage at the moment that the Confederates
The campaign which General Scott
to make was undertaken with the understanding that Johnston
should be prevented from joining Beauregard
With no lack of confidence in himself, McDowell
was dominated by the feeling of subordination and deference to General Scott
which at that time pervaded the whole army, and General Scott
, who controlled both McDowell
, assured McDowell
should not join Beauregard
without having “Patterson on his heels.”
's army, nearly nine thousand strong, joined Beauregard
's brigade and Johnston
in person arriving on the morning of the 20th, the remainder
Sudley Springs Ford, looking North.
From a sketch made in 1884. |
This stream is the Cat Harpin Run, which empties into Bull Run a short distance below the Sudley Springs Ford.
In making the flank movement the Union troops, under Generals Hunter and Heintzelman, crossed this ford, followed later in the day by the ambulances and munition wagons.
The retreat, also, was largely by this ford.
The ruins of the Sudley Sulphur Spring House are shown on the left.
The Sudley church, which was the main hospital after the fight, is a short distance south.-editors.
about noon on the 21st.
Although the enforced delay at Centreville
to provision his troops and gain information upon which to base an excellent plan of attack, it proved fatal by affording time for a junction of the opposing forces.
On the 21st of July General Scott
addressed a dispatch to McDowell
, saying: “It is known that a strong reinforcement left Winchester
on the afternoon of the 18th, which you will also have to beat.
Four new regiments will leave to-day to be at Fairfax Station to-night.
Others shall follow to-morrow — twice the number if necessary,” When this dispatch was penned, McDowell
was fighting the “strong reinforcement” which left Winchester
on the 18th. General Scott
's report that Beauregard
had been reinforced, the information that four regiments had been sent to McDowell
, and the promise that twice the number would be sent if necessary
, all came too late — and Patterson
came not at all. 9
During the 19th and 20th the bivouacs of McDowell
's army at Centreville
, almost within cannon range of the enemy, were thronged by visitors, official and unofficial, who came in carriages from Washington
bringing their own supplies.
They were under no military restraint, and passed to and fro among the troops as they pleased, giving the scene the appearance of a monster military picnic.
Among others, the venerable Secretary of War
, called upon McDowell
Whether due to a naturally serious expression, to a sense of responsibility, to a premonition of the fate of his brother who fell upon the field on the 21st, or to other cause, his countenance showed apprehension of evil; but men generally were confident and jovial.
's plan of battle promulgated on the 20th, was to turn the enemy's left, force him from his defensive position, and, “if possible, destroy the railroad leading from Manassas
to the Valley of Virginia
, where the enemy has a large force.”
He did not know when he issued this order that Johnston
Sudley Springs Ford, looking toward the battle-field.
From a war-time photograph.
On the right are the ruins of the Sudley Sulphur Spring House.
The building on the hill is Sudley Church.
It is a mile by the Sudley and Manassas road from the ford to where the battle began.-editors.|
, though he suspected it. Miles
's Fifth Division, with Richardson
's brigade of Tyler
's division, and a strong force of artillery was to
remain in reserve at Centreville
, prepare defensive works there and threaten.
Blackburn's Ford. Tyler
's First Division, which was on the turnpike in advance, was to move at 2:30 A. M., threaten the Stone Bridge
and open fire upon it at daybreak.
This demonstration was to be vigorous, its first purpose being to divert attention from the movements of the turning column.
As soon as Tyler
's troops cleared the way, Hunter
's Second Division, followed by Heintzelman
's Third Division, was to move to a point on the Warrenton Turnpike
about 1 or 2 miles east of Centreville
and there take a country road to the right, cross the Run
at Sudley Springs
, come down upon the flank and rear of the enemy at the Stone Bridge
, and force him to open the way for Tylers division to cross there and attack, fresh and in full force.
's start was so late and his advance was so slow as to hold Hunter
2 or 3 hours on the mile or two of the turnpike between
their camps and the point at which they were to turn off for the flank march.
This delay, and the fact that the flank march proved difficult and some 12 miles instead of about 6 as was expected, were of serious moment.
The flanking column did not cross at Sudley Springs
until 9:30 instead of 7, the long march, with its many interruptions, tired out the men, and the delay gave the enemy time to discover the turning movement.
's operations against the Stone Bridge
were feeble and ineffective.
By 8 o'clock Evans
was satisfied that he was in no danger in front, and perceived the movement to turn his position.
He was on the left of the Confederate
line, guarding the point where the Warrenton Turnpike
, the great highway to the field, crossed Bull Run
, the Confederate
line of defense.
He had no
instructions to guide him in the emergency that had arisen.
But he did not hesitate.
Reporting his information and purpose to the adjoining commander, Cocke
, and leaving 4 companies of infantry to deceive and hold Tyler
at the bridge, Evans
before 9 o'clock turned his back upon the point he was set to guard, marched a mile away, and, seizing the high ground to the north of Young's Branch
of Bull Run
, formed line of battle at right angles to his former line, his left resting near the Sudley Springs
road, by which Burnside
with the head of the turning column was approaching, thus covering the Warrenton Turnpike
and opposing a determined front to the Federal
advance upon the Confederate
left and rear.11
In his rear to the south lay the valley of Young's Branch
, and rising from that was the higher ridge or plateau on which the Robinson house
and the Henry house
were situated, and on which the main action took place in the afternoon.
, finding Evans
across his path, promptly formed line of battle and attacked about 9:45 A. M. Hunter
, the division commander, who was at the head of Burnside
's brigade directing the formation of the first skirmish line, was severely wounded and taken to the rear at the opening of the action.
not only repulsed but pursued the troops that made the attack upon him. Andrew Porter
's brigade of Hunter
's division followed Burnside
closely and came to his support.
In the mean time Bee
had formed a Confederate line of battle with his and Bartow
's brigades of Johnston
's army on the Henry house
plateau, a stronger position than the one held by Evans
, and desired Evans
to fall back to that line; but Evans
, probably feeling bound to cover the Warrenton Turnpike
and hold it against Tyler
as well as against the flanking column, insisted that Bee
should move across the valley to his support, which was done.
, the preliminary battle continued to rage upon the ground chosen by the latter.
The opposing forces were Burnside
's and Porter
's brigades, with one regiment of Heintzelman
's division on the Federal
side, and Evans
's, and Bartow
's brigades on the Confederate
The Confederates were dislodged and driven back to the Henry house
Fatigue uniform and kilts of the 79th New York.12|
plateau, where Bee
had previously formed line and where what Beauregard
called “the mingled remnants of Bee
's, and Evans
's commands” were re-formed under cover of Stonewall Jackson
's brigade of Johnston
The Sudley Springs road, looking North from the slope of the Henry House Hill.
In the middle-ground on the Warrenton turnpike stands the Stone house, a central landmark in both battles of Bull Run.
The bank in the right foreground was a cover during the first battle for some of the supports of Griffin's and Ricketts's batteries that were on the Henry house hill, the crest of which is two hundred and fifty yards from the right of the picture.
In the first battle the fighting began on the Matthews hill, seen in the background behind the Stone house, and was most desperate on the Henry hill.
Young's Branch (see map, page 180) crosses the Sudley road near its junction with the turnpike, and flows near the Stone house.|
The time of this repulse, as proved by so accurate an authority as Stonewall Jackson
, was before 11:30 A. M., and this is substantially confirmed by Beauregard
's official report made at the time.
had nothing to do with it. They did not begin to cross Bull Run
until noon. Thus, after nearly two hours stubborn fighting with the forces of Johnston
, which General Scott
had promised should be kept away, McDowell
won the first advantage; but Johnston
had cost him dearly.
During all this time Johnston
had been waiting near Mitchell's Ford for the development of the attack they had ordered by their right upon McDowell
The gravity of the situation upon their left had not yet dawned upon them.
What might the result have been if the Union
column had not been detained by Tyler
's delay in moving out in the early morning, or if Johnston
's army, to which Bee
, and Jackson
belonged, had not arrived But the heavy firing on the left soon diverted Johnston
from all thought of an offensive movement with their right, and decided them, as Beauregard
has said, “to hurry up all available reinforcements, including the reserves that were to have moved upon Centreville
, to our left, and fight the battle out in that quarter.”
, and Longstreet
to make a strong demonstration all along their front on the other side of Bull Run
, and ordered the reserves, Holmes
's brigade with
six guns, and Early
's brigade, to move swiftly to the left,” and he and Johnston
set out at full speed for the point of conflict, which they reached while Bee
was attempting to rally his men about Jackson
's brigade on the Henry house
had waited in the morning at the point on the Warrenton Turnpike
where his flanking column turned to the right, until the troops, except Howard
's brigade, which he halted at that point, had passed.
He gazed silently and with evident pride upon the gay regiments as they filed briskly but quietly past in the freshness of the early morning, and then, remarking to his staff, “Gentlemen, that is a big force,” he mounted and moved forward to the field by way of Sudley Springs
He reached the scene of actual conflict somewhat earlier than Johnston
did, and, seeing the enemy driven across the valley of Young's Branch
and behind the Warrenton Turnpike
, at once sent a swift aide-de-camp to Tyler
with orders to “press the attack” at the Stone Bridge
acknowledged that he received this order by 11 o'clock. It was Tyler
's division upon which McDowell
relied for the decisive fighting of the day. He knew that the march of the turning column would be fatiguing, and when by a sturdy fight it had cleared the Warrenton Turnpike
for the advance of Tyler
's division, it had, in fact, done more than its fair proportion of the work.
did not attempt to force the passage of the Stone Bridge
, which, after about 8 o'clock, was defended by only four companies of infantry, though he admitted that by the plan of battle, when Hunter
had attacked the enemy in the vicinity of the Stone Bridge
, “he was to force the passage of Bull Run
at that point and attack the enemy in flank.”
Soon after McDowell
's arrival at the front, Burnside
rode up to him and said that his brigade had borne the brunt of the battle, that it was out of ammunition, and that he wanted permission to withdraw, refit and fill cartridge-boxes.
in the excitement of the occasion gave reluctant consent, and the brigade, which certainly had done nobly, marched to the rear, stacked arms, and took no further part in the fight.
Having sent the order to Tyler
to press his attack and orders to the rear of the turning column to hurry forward, McDowell
, like Beauregard
, rushed in person into the conflict, and by the force of circumstances became for the time the commander of the turning column and the force actually engaged, rather than the commander of his whole army.
With the exception of sending his adjutant-general to find and hurry Tyler
forward, his subsequent orders were mainly or wholly to the troops under his own observation.
, he had no Johnston
in rear with full authority and knowledge of the situation to throw forward reserves and. reinforcements.
It was not until 12 o'clock that Sherman
received orders from Tyler
to cross the stream, which he did at a ford above the Stone Bridge
, going to the assistance of Hunter
reported to McDowell
on the field and joined in the pursuit of Bee
's forces across the valley of Young's Branch
's brigade, accompanied by Tyler
in person, followed across the stream where Sherman
forded, but without uniting with the other forces on the field, made a feeble advance upon the slope of the plateau toward the Robinson house
, and then about 2 o'clock filed off by flank to its left and, sheltered by the east front of the bluff that forms the plateau, marched down Young's Branch
out of sight of the enemy and took no further part in the engagement.
did not know where it was, nor did he then know that Schenck
's brigade of Tyler
's division did not cross the Run
The line taken up by Stonewall Jackson
upon which Bee
, and Evans
rallied on the southern part of
the plateau was a very strong one.
The ground was high and afforded the cover of a curvilinear wood with the concave side toward the Federal
line of attack.
According to Beauregard
's official report made at the time, he had upon this part of the field, at the beginning, 6500 infantry, 13 pieces of artillery, and 2 companies of cavalry, and this line was continuously reenforced from Beauregard
's own reserves and by the arrival of the troops from the Shenandoah Valley.
To carry this formidable position, McDowell
had at hand the brigades of Franklin
, and Porter
's battalion of regular cavalry, and Ricketts
's and Griffin
's regular batteries.
's brigade had been reduced and shaken by the morning fight.
's brigade was in reserve and only came into action late in the afternoon.
The men, unused to field service, and not yet over the hot and dusty march from the Potomac
, had been under arms since midnight.
The plateau, however, was promptly assaulted, the northern part of it was carried, the batteries of Ricketts
were planted near the Henry house
, and McDowell
clambered to the upper story of that structure to get a glance at the whole field.
Upon the Henry house
plateau, of which the Confederates
held the southern and the Federals
the northern part, the tide of battle ebbed and flowed as McDowell
pushed in Franklin
's, and at last Howard
's brigades, and as Beauregard
put into action reserves which Johnston
sent from the right and reenforcements which he hurried forward from the Shenandoah Valley as they arrived by cars.
On the plateau, Beauregard
says, the disadvantage of his “smooth-bore guns was reduced by the shortness of range.”
short range was due to the Federal
advance, and the several struggles for the plateau were at close quarters and gallant on both sides.
The batteries of Ricketts
, by their fine discipline, wonderful daring, and matchless skill, were the prime features in the fight.
The battle was not lost till they were lost.
When in their advanced and perilous position, and just after their infantry supports had been driven over the slopes, a fatal mistake occurred.
A regiment of infantry came out of the woods on Griffin
's right, and as he was in the act of opening upon it with canister, he was deterred by the assurance of Major Barry
, the chief of artillery
, that it “was a regiment sent by Colonel Heintzelman
to support the battery.”
A moment more and the doubtful regiment proved its identity by a deadly volley, and, as Griffin
states in his official report, “every cannoneer was cut down and a large number of horses killed, leaving the battery (which was without support excepting in name) perfectly helpless.”
The effect upon Ricketts
was equally fatal.
He, desperately wounded, and Ramsay
, his lieutenant, killed, lay in the wreck of the battery. Beauregard speaks of his last advance on the plateau as “leaving in our final possession the Robinson
and Henry houses, with most of Ricketts
's and Griffin
's batteries, the men of which were mostly shot down where they bravely stood by their guns.”
Having become separated from McDowell
, I fell in with Barnard
, his chief engineer, and while together we observed the New York Fire Zouaves
, who had been supporting Griffin
's battery, fleeing to the rear in their gaudy uniforms, in utter confusion.
The contest for the Henry Hill.
Colonel William T. Sherman, who commanded the Third Brigade of Tyler's division, describes as follows some of the efforts to regain the Henry Hill after the capture of Griffin's and Ricketts's batteries: “Before reaching the crest of this [Henry] hill, the roadway [see picture, page 186] was worn deep enough to afford shelter, and I kept the several regiments in it as long as possible; but when the Wisconsin 2d was abreast of the enemy, by order of Major Wadsworth, of General McDowell's staff, I ordered it to leave the roadway by the left flank, and to attack the enemy.
This regiment ascended to the brow of the hill steadily, received the severe fire of the enemy, returned it with spirit, and advanced delivering its fire.
This regiment is uniformed in gray cloth, almost identical with that of the great bulk of the secession army, and when the regiment fell into confusion and retreated toward the road, there was an universal cry that they were being fired on by our own men. The regiment rallied again, passed the brow of the hill a second time, but was again repulsed in disorder.
By this time the New York 79th had closed up, and in like manner it was ordered to cross the brow of the hill and drive the enemy from cover.
It was impossible to get a good view of this ground.
In it there was one battery of artillery, which poured an incessant fire upon our advancing columns, and the ground was very irregular, with small clusters of pines, affording shelter, of which the enemy took good advantage.
The fire of rifles and musketry was very severe.
The 79th, headed by its colonel (Cameron), charged across the hill, and for a short time the contest was severe.
They rallied several times under fire, but finally broke and gained the cover.
of the hill.
This left the field open to the New York 69th, Colonel Corcoran, who in his turn led his regiment over the crest, and had in full open view the ground so severely contested.
The firing was very severe, and the roar of cannon, muskets, and rifles incessant.
It was manifest the enemy was here in great force, far superior to us at that point.
The 69th held the ground for some time, but finally fell back in disorder ... Here, about 3:30 P. M., began the scene of confusion and disorder that characterized the remainder of the day.”
I rode back to where I knew Burnside
's brigade was at rest, and stated to Burnside
the condition of affairs, with the suggestion that he form and move his brigade to the front.
Returning, I again met Barnard
, and as the battle seemed to him and me to be going against us, and not knowing where McDowell
was, with the concurrence of Barnard
, as stated in his official report, I immediately sent a note to Miles, telling him to move two brigades of his reserve up to the Stone Bridge
and telegraph to Washington
to send forward all the troops that could be spared.
After the arrival of Howard
's brigade, McDowell
for the last time pressed up the slope to the plateau, forced back the Confederate
line, and regained possession of the Henry
and Robinson houses and of the lost batteries.
But there were no longer cannoneers to man or horses to move these guns that had done so much.
By the arrival upon this part of the field of his own reserves and Kirby Smith
's brigade of Johnston
's army about half-past 3,
extended his left to outflank McDowell
's shattered, shortened, and disconnected line, and the Federals
left the field about half-past 4. Until then they had fought wonderfully well for raw troops.
There were no fresh forces on the field to support or encourage them, and the men seemed to be seized simultaneously by the conviction that it was no use to do anything more and they might as well start home.
Cohesion was lost, the organizations with some exceptions being disintegrated, and the men quietly walked off. There was no special excitement except that arising from the frantic efforts of officers to stop men who paid little or no attention to anything that was said.
On the high ground by the Matthews house
, about where Evans
had taken position in the morning to check Burnside
and his staff, aided by other officers, made a desperate but futile effort to arrest the masses and form them into line.
There, I went to Arnold
's battery as it came by, and advised that he unlimber and make a stand as a rallying-point, which he did, saying he was in fair condition and ready to fight as long as there was any fighting to be done.
But all efforts failed.
The stragglers moved past the guns, in spite of all that could be done, and, as
Uniform of the Garibaldi Guards, Colonel D'utassy.|
stated in his report, Arnold
at my direction joined Sykes
's battalion of infantry of Porter
's brigade and Palmer
's battalion of cavalry, all of the regular army, to cover the rear, as the men trooped back in great disorder across Bull Run
There were some hours of daylight for the Confederates
to gather the fruits of victory, but a few rounds of shell and canister checked all the pursuit that was attempted, and the occasion called for no sacrifices or valorous deeds by the stanch regulars of the rear-guard.
There was no panic, in the ordinary meaning of the word, until the retiring soldiers, guns, wagons, congressmen, and carriages were fired upon, on the road east of Bull Run
Then the panic began, and the bridge over Cub Run
being rendered impassable for vehicles by a wagon that was upset upon it, utter confusion set in: pleasure-carriages, gun-carriages, and ammunition wagons which could not be put across the Run
were abandoned and blocked the way, and stragglers broke and threw aside their muskets and cut horses from their harness and rode off upon them.
In leaving the field the men took the same routes, in a general way, by which they had reached it. Hence when the men of Hunter
's and Heintzelman
's divisions got back to
Uniform of Blenker's 8th New York volunteers.|
, they had walked about 25 miles. That night they walked back to the Potomac
, an additional distance of 20 miles; so that these undisciplined and unseasoned men within 36 hours walked fully 45 miles, besides fighting
from about 10 A. M. until 4 P. M. on a hot and dusty day in July.
in person reached Centreville
before sunset, 15
and found there Miles
's division with Richardson
's brigade and 3 regiments of Runyon
's division, and Hunt
's, and Greene
's batteries and 1 or 2 fragments of batteries, making about 20 guns.
It was a formidable force, but there was a lack of food and the mass of the army was completely demoralized.
had about an equal force which had not been in the fight, consisting of Ewell
's, and Longstreet
's brigades and some troops of other brigades.
consulted the division and brigade commanders who were at hand upon the question of making a stand or retreating.
The verdict was in favor of the latter, but a decision of officers one way or the other was of no moment; the men had already decided for themselves and were — streaming away to the rear, in spite of all that could be done.
They had no interest or treasure in Centreville
, and their hearts were not there.
Their tents, provisions, baggage, and letters from home were upon the
banks of the Potomac
, and no power could have stopped them short of the camps they had left less than a week before.
As before stated, most of them were sovereigns in uniform, not soldiers.
accepted the situation, detailed Richardson
's and Blenker
's brigades to cover the retreat, and the army, a disorganized mass, with some creditable exceptions, drifted
as the men pleased away from the scene of action.
There was no pursuit, and the march from Centreville
was as barren of opportunities for the rear-guard as the withdrawal from the field of battle had been.17
reached Fairfax Court House in the night, he was in communication with Washington
and exchanged telegrams with General Scott
, in one of which the old hero said, “We are not discouraged” ; but that dispatch did not lighten the gloom in which it was received.
was so tired that while sitting on the ground writing a dispatch he fell asleep, pencil in hand, in the middle of a sentence.
His adjutant-general aroused him; the dispatch was finished, and tie weary ride to the Potomac
When the unfortunate commander dismounted at Arlington
next forenoon in a soaking rain, after 32 hours in the saddle, his disastrous campaign of 6 days was closed.
The first martial effervescence of the country was over.
The three-months men went home, and the three-months chapter of the war ended with the South
triumphant and confident; the North
disappointed but determined.18