in their vicinity, were as innocent-looking woods as any we had passed through. While they worked forward, the 1st Massachusetts regiment, which led the line, was sent down into the valley, and formed close to the thickets. The 2d and 3d Michigan regiments followed them, but were almost immediately afterward sent over to a distant field on the right, from which they were never called excepting to retire. Before these troops were fully formed, a series of tremendous musketry or rifle volleys was heard among the trees. These were directed against the skirmishers, who had encountered a large body at the skirt of the woods. From this time little attention was given to the right of the road, where the Michigan men were stationed, the left being the region of the conflict. For a time the skirmishers received the entire attention of the enemy; but a few minutes after their disappearance the right company of the Massachusetts regiment was instructed to occupy the house and barn before mentioned as having been held by the rebels. They reached it under a sharp and regular fire, found that it was now vacant, and so reported. They were immediately afterward ordered to enter the wood as skirmishers — a duty which cost them their second lieutenant and several men. The circumstances of the lieutenant's death were peculiar. He first discovered the enemy, but doubting, from their gray uniforms, that they were hostile, he ran forward, shouting, “Who are you?” The answer came, “Who are you?” to which he answered, “Massachusetts men.” The enemy then cheered violently, and sent a volley, by which the lieutenant was killed. Five minutes later Col. Richardson ordered two companies of the Massachusetts 1st to enter the woods, from which tile firing proceeded. They immediately started forward, under Lieut.-Col. Wells, the respective companies being led by Capt. Carruth and Lieut. Bird. As they climbed the rail fence which divided the woods from the open field, they were joined by two Fire Zouaves, the record of whose hardy exploits I must here introduce, although it will somewhat anticipate the order of events. These Zouaves had inexplicably appeared at the van a little while before the period of the conflict. Their regiment was far behind, at Fairfax Court House, but they declared they had missed it some night, and were now looking for it with all their might. I privately believe that they scented the battle afar off, and could not control the temptation to step on and share the danger. At any rate they were with us, and they pushed themselves into a fighting position at the first opportunity that opened. For nearly an hour they fought in those woods with daring intrepidity, wholly on their own account, and conscious of no other authority beside their own. They were perpetually in the advance, until the run was reached, when they were obliged to hold back, like the Massachusetts companies, which dashed on at almost the same time. Their manner of treating the rebel soldiers was eccentric. They waited until one showed himself tolerably near, and then ran forward, chased him down and killed him, without regard to the numbers by whom he was surrounded. One of them actually penetrated a small battery, sheltered by a side ravine, bayoneted one of the gunners, and escaped unharmed. In this way they occupied themselves for nearly an hour, toward the end of which they got separated, and, consequently, became uneasy on each other's account. They both came out without a wound. One of them was the last man of our side to leave the ground; and, as he withdrew and walked up the hill on our side, quite unprotected, he kept pausing at intervals, and looking back for minutes at a time, as in need of his comrade, whom he believed to be still among the enemy. He went along the line as our column retired toward Centreville, crying bitterly. “I didn't want to have that fellow shot,” he said; “that fellow has run in the Fire Department with me three years.” It was very touching to see the tender grief of this rough and reckless fireman, and it was even more so to witness the wild and overwhelming delight with which he met his companion at Centreville as uninjured as himself, and filled with an anxiety as great as his own. To-day, I am told, they have rejoined their regiment, which came up from Fairfax Court House last night. When the Massachusetts companies penetrated the woods, somewhat to the left of the main road, they found themselves at the head of a dry water-course which grew gradually deeper as they followed it. Their path was not an easy one; for, beside the enemy who had met them at the edge, they had to contend with irregular and broken ground, which presented a continued series of alternate gullies and high rocks. The rebels attempted no stand here, although their force was the stronger. As they ran in a body over the hills, three or four men appeared to linger and level their pieces at Capt. Carruth's company. The captain, believing that they might be friendly skirmishers, ran swiftly in among them, crying, “Now, then, who are you?” It turned out that he guessed rightly, and that they were Michigan men, who were misled by the gray Massachusetts uniforms. Following on, and mounting a higher eminence than they had before encountered, our men came suddenly upon a deep ravine, which, from their description, was undoubtedly Bull Run. Here, at the angle formed by this ravine and the dry watercourse which emptied into it, they were subjected to volleys from three different directions. They looked about, but their assailants were invisible. Reiterated volleys drew their attention to a point where they discovered a very small number of the rebels, upon whom they showered their rifle-shots. The main body, however, remained hidden in masked batteries. Renewed volleys brought down the
This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
Battle of Bull Run .
Doc . 4 .- N. Y. Tribune narrative.
Doc . 59 : a Virginian who is not a traitor: response of Lieut. Mayo , U. S. N. , to the proclamation of Gov. Letcher .
Doc . 65 -speech of Galusha A. Grow , on taking the Chair of the House of Representatives of the United States , July 4 .
Doc . 135 .- Virginia ordinance, prohibiting citizens of Virginia from holding office under the United States , passed July , 1861 .
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.