previous next

July 21.

This day the battle of Bull Run, Va., was fought between the national forces under General McDowell and the rebels under Beauregard. Shortly after 5 A. M., three hours later than ordered, the national army moved from Centreville in three divisions, commanded respectively by Gens. Richardson, Tyler and Hunter. Richardson's (one brigade) moved on the road from Centreville to Manassas, to where that road crosses Bull Run, at Blackburn's Ford, and there opened fire upon the enemy with artillery. This movement, the extreme left of all the operations of the day, was intended as a feint, and to hold the enemy in check in case of disaster to the national forces on the right, as the enemy's movement forward here would imperil the retreat. Tyler's Division (three brigades and two U. S. batteries) moved on the Warrenton Turnpike to the Stone Bridge that crosses Bull Run. Beyond this bridge the enemy was in position with artillery, and had impeded the road by a heavy abatis. Hunter's Division (5 brigades, 4 batteries and cavalry), which was the main body, moved along the same road with Tyler's Division until they had crossed a small stream called Cub Run, and then between Cub Run and Bull Run turned off to the right and made its way through the woods to a position on Bull Run, three miles above the Stone Bridge. At this point, Sudley's Springs, there was an undefended ford, and here the men began to cross the stream. They got over very slowly, as many stopped to drink. Clouds of dust in the air indicated that the enemy was moving in force from Manassas toward the right, and it became possible that he would reach the point of passage and attack before the Union force was all across the stream; therefore the regiments were ordered to break from the line of march and cross separately, and a division under Col. Heintzelman moved forward, cutting a road through the woods as it went toward a point on Bull Run, half way between the undefended ford at Sudley's Springs and the Stone Bridge. Gen. Tyler also was ordered to press his feint at Stone Bridge, in hope to divert some portion of the heavy force that the enemy was sending across the front toward the right. When the first brigade of Hunter's command (Burnside's) reached and formed in the open space beyond Bull Run, the rebels at once opened fire with artillery, and soon after with infantry. The national forces received the enemy's fire very steadily, and supported by a battalion of regular infantry, and the first regiment that had crossed from Heintzelman's command, drove the enemy before it, and forced his position at the Stone Bridge.

Thus two brigades (Sherman's and Keyes') of Gen. Tyler's Division stationed on the Warrenton road, were enabled to cross, and to drive the right of the enemy, commanded by Gen. Beauregard in person, from the front of the field. The contest then became severe for a position in front and to the right of Stone Bridge but to the left of the ford at Sudley's Springs. Here was a hill with a farm house on it; from behind this hill the enemy's batteries annoyed the Union forces. Upon it, therefore, the attack was pressed very warmly by the brigades of Wilcox, Howard, Franklin and Sherman, a part of Porter's brigade, and the cavalry under Palmer, and by the Rhode Island, Rickett's and Griffin's batteries. Rickett's battery became an object [37] of the enemy's special attention, and he made strenuous attempts to carry it. Three times he was repulsed, and the third time was even driven from his own position, and entirely from the hill. From the Stone Bridge westward, the Warrenton Road was now entirely in the possession of the national troops, and the engineers were completing the removal of the abatis, that the remainder of Tyler's Division (Schenck's brigade and the batteries) might pass the bridge. The enemy was broken and disheartened. But it was now nearly 4 o'clock in the afternoon, and the Union men had been in battle since ten o'clock in the morning, had previously marched nine miles, and had made no regular meal. Some of the regiments also had become shaken in the severe work that had been done, and were unsteady; and at this time the enemy received reinforcements from Winchester, being that portion of General Johnston's command which had previously come up. These forces immediately attacked “on the right, and towards the rear of the right,” and opened a fire of musketry which threw the Union men into disorder. From this disorder they never recovered. Though every effort was made to rally them, it was in vain with the bulk of the force: the battalion of regulars alone formed, and moved to the attack. They held the rebels in check for a short time. when, as it was evident that no more could be done, the order to retreat was given. The retreat became a rout, and the rout a panic. Col. Porter's force of regulars still maintained their order, however, and covered the passage of the stream, beyond which it was covered by Richardson's Division, and a brigade (Blenker's) of Miles' Division.

The whole Union force, men of all arms, in the main action, and exclusive of Richardson's and Miles' Divisions, the actual force with which we crossed Bull Run, was 18,000 men. Those two divisions if included would swell the force to 35,000 men. One division of the army (Runyon's) was left at Vienna, its foremost regiment being seven miles back of Centreville.

Southern accounts of the battle make it appear that the rebels had 40,000 men upon the field, and 25,000 in reserve at Manassas, and on the road beyond. The National loss in killed and wounded was 1,590; killed alone, 479. Many of the wounds were very slight. The enemy reports his own loss at 1,593; killed alone, 393.--(Docs. 110 and 111.)

Colonel Einstein of the Twenty-Seventh Pennsylvania Regiment, returned late this evening to the field of battle at Bull Run, and brought off six pieces of artillery, which he delivered to the commanding officer on the Potomac.--Philadelphia Press, July 24.

P. G. T. Beauregard was promoted to the rank of General in the rebel army. The New Orleans Delta in noting the fact says: “We have been furnished with a copy of the letter of President Davis, written on the field of battle after the glorious victory at Manassas, acquainting Brig.-Gen. Beauregard of his promotion to the rank of General, the highest grade in the army of the Confederate States. This most richly deserved promotion and honor could not be conveyed in more just, tasteful, and appropriate terms.--The Generals of the Army of the Confederate States are Samuel Cooper, Robert E. Lee, Joseph E. Johnston, and P. G. T. Beauregard.”

Letter of President Davis.

Manassas, Va., July 21, 1861.
Sir: Appreciating your services in the battle of Manassas, and on several other occasions during the existing war, as affording the highest evidence of your skill as a commander, your gallantry as a soldier, and your zeal as a patriot, you are promoted to be General in the Army of the Confederate States of America, and with the consent of the Congress will be duly commissioned accordingly. Yours, &c.,

The schooner S. J. Waring, captured by the privateer Jeff. Davis, on the night of the 16th instant, arrived at New York. When fifty miles south of Charleston, S. C., the colored steward, William Tillman, killed three of the prize crew with a hatchet. The other two were captured, but set at liberty on promising to work the vessel. Their names were James Milnor and James Dawsett, of New Jersey. Tillman, with the aid of the rest of the crew, except one man named Donald McLeod, who refused to assist on the recapture of the vessel, brought her to New York.--N. Y. World, July 22.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
July 21st, 1861 AD (1)
July 24th (1)
July 22nd (1)
July 21st (1)
16th (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: