previous next

Doc.7.-secession letters and narratives. Doctor J. C. Nott's account.

Richmond, July 23, 1861.
Dear Harleston: I have seen the great and glorious battle of Manassas, which brought a nation into existence, and the scene was grand and impressive beyond the power of language. We foresaw the action several days ahead — the enemy were known to be advancing in immense masses from Arlington towards Fairfax, and the master stroke was at once made, to order Johnston down from Winchester, by forced marches, before Patterson could get down on the other side. Johnston's troops marched all twenty-six miles, then crowded into the railroad, came down in successive trains, without sleeping or eating, (15,000,) and arrived, many of them, while the battle was raging.

I got to Manassas the morning of the day previous to the fight; and knowing well both Generals Beauregard and Johnston, and their staff officers, I went immediately to headquarters. Zac. Deas, among the rest, was there in full feather, and I of course felt at home in his camp, where I spent the night. General Beauregard determined to attack them in several columns at once the next morning, so as to cut them up before Patterson could arrive — but our scouts came early in the morning, informing the generals that the enemy had been in motion since two hours before day, which settled the question as to their intention to make the attack. Beauregard, who had studied the whole ground around — knew every hill, ravine, and pathway — had made all the necessary arrangements and planned the battle. Not knowing at what point of a semicircle of ten miles around Manassas the enemy would attack, his forces had to be scattered in such a way as to guard all points, prevent a flank movement on either side, and guard his intrenchments and supplies in the centre.

We got up in the morning at daylight, took a cup of coffee and remained quietly laughing and talking at Headquarters, while the scouts were passing in and out bringing news from the enemy. At a quarter past six in the still, bright morning, we heard the first deep-toned sound of cannon on the centre of our line, about three miles off. We waited till nine for further information, and at nine the generals ordered to horse, and away we dashed to the hill overlooking the point at which cannon, like minute guns, had continued slowly to fire. The enemy could not see any of our troops, but were firing at the dust kicked up along the road, which they saw above the low trees. We were for some time at the point they were firing at, and some twenty or thirty balls of their rifled cannons whizzed through the air above us, and I felt very forcibly the remark of Cuddy to his mother Mause, that “a straggling bullet has nae discretion” and might take my head off as well as that of anybody else. The firing at this point kept up slowly from a quarter past six till eleven, when we heard a gun fire on the extreme left of the semicircle, and we were then satisfied that the firing in front was a mere feint. In a few minutes the cannon firing came in rapid succession, as if one battery was answering another. The generals then ordered “to horse” again, and away we rode to the seat of battle, about three miles off. When we arrived on the top of a hill, in an old field, we could get glimpses of the fight through the woods. The cannons were roaring and the musketry sounded like a large bundle of fire crackers, and the constant roaring of the big guns, the sharp sound of rifled cannons, Minie rifles and muskets, with the bursting of shells, made one feel that death was doing his work with fearful rapidity.

The enemy had concentrated all his forces on this one point, while ours were scattered around a half circle of ten miles, and the few regiments who received the first onset were most terribly cut up. It was far greater odds than human nature could stand, the regiments were torn to pieces, driven back, and so overwhelmed by numbers that I feared the day was lost. At this stage of the game the enemy was telegraphing to Washington that the battle had been won, and secession was about to be crushed. My heart failed me as I saw load after load of our poor wounded and dying soldiers brought and strewed on the ground, along the ravine where I was at work. Dr. [94] Fanthray, who belonged to General Johnston's staff, and myself were just getting fully to work, when an old surgeon, whom I do not know, came to us and said the enemy were carrying every thing before them, and ordered us to fall back to another point with the wounded, as they were turning our flank, and the battle would soon be upon us. Accordingly the wounded were taken up and we fell back, but after following the ambulances for a mile, we found that they were to be taken all the way to Manassas — about four miles--where there were hospitals and surgeons to receive them, and we returned to our position near the battle.

At this juncture I saw our reinforcements pouring in with the rapidity and eagerness of a fox chase, and was satisfied that they would drive every thing before them. No one can imagine such a grand, glorious picture as these patriots presented, rushing to the field through the masses of wounded bodies which strewed the roadside as they passed along. For half a mile behind me the road passed down a gradual slope, and through an old field, as I looked back, I could see a regiment of infantry coming in a trot, with their bright muskets glittering in the sun; then would come a battery of artillery, each gun carriage crowded with men and drawn by four horses in full gallop. Next came troops of cavalry, dashing with the speed of Murat; after these followed, with almost equal speed, wagons loaded with ammunition, &c., screaming all the while, “push ahead boys,” “pitch into the d — d Yankees,” “drive them into the Potomac.” This kept up from about mid-day till dark, and I felt as if the Alps themselves could not withstand such a rush. The cannon and small-arms were roaring like a thunder storm as they rushed to the battle-field. One regiment, which had been driven back by overwhelming numbers, was now supported, and I soon perceived that the firing was getting further off, as I had expected, and I knew that the “pet lambs” now could only be saved by their superior heels. About this time, too, the last of General Johnston's command arrived on the cars, opposite the battle-ground, to the number of some three or four thousand, and although they had been two nights without sleep, they jumped from the cars and cut across to the field. By this time we had collected about 15,000 against their 35,000, and, from all accounts, no red fox ever made tracks so fast as did these cowardly wretches. They were all fresh and better accoutred in every respect than our men, one half or more of whom had to make forced marches to get at them. They had selected their position coolly and deliberately in the morning, while ours were scattered over ten miles and had to run through the mid-day sunshine. If our men had been equally fresh they would have gone straight into their intrenchments at Arlington. But I will not speculate on the future and weary you with details which will reach you through print long before this.

The victory was dearly bought, but still blood is the price of freedom; and we can at least, while we drop a tear over the graves of our fallen friends, feel the proud consolation that they have died like heroes, and given liberty to unborn generations.

Our troops are pouring in every day from the South, and if Beauregard and Johnston choose to lead them, they can plant the hated Palmetto tree beside the Bunker Hill monument, which was erected to commemorate the same principles for which we are now fighting, and to which a degenerate race has proved recreant. They have forced this fight upon us, and after exhausting every thing but honor for peace, it is their turn to sue for terms.

I never had any idea of military science be-fore. Beauregard and Johnston played it like a game of chess without seeing the board — when a messenger came and told the enemy's move, a move was immediately ordered to put him in check.1

The times are so exciting here that I cannot yet foresee my movements. I found that they had surgeons enough for the wounded in the hospitals at Manassas, and having no commission, I left and came up to Richmond to send down many things needed for the patients, thinking I could serve them better in this way than any other.

--Mobile Evening News, July 30.


[95]

Notes taken on the battle-field.

Bull Run, Sunday Morning, July 21--10 o'clock.
It seemed to be conceded that this was to be the day of trial for which we have been working for many months past, and, in common with the immense mass of men assembled here, I have taken my position upon Bull Run, to share the fortunes of the contest.

The scene a moment since, and yet, is unutterably sublime. Upon the hill, just one and a third mile off, the enemy are placing their artillery. We see them plunging down the Centreville road to the apex of the eminence above Mitchell's ford, and deploying, to the right and left. Dark masses are drifting on with the power of fate in the road. We see the columns moving, and, as they deploy through the forests, we see the cloud of dust floating over them, to mark their course. When the dust ceases we are sure that they have taken their position. The firing now commences from two batteries to the right and left of the road. It is constant, and another has been opened about a mile lower down. That, however, has been firing for an hour past. The guns are served with great rapidity and precision, and, as we are within range, and uncertain, therefore, when they will favor us, there is quite an interest in the position. Our own troops are in the dense forest that lies below us on Bull Run. They are still, not a gun has yet been fired, and there would seem to be nothing to indicate their presence. Of their presence and their readiness the enemy is advised, however, and is making all the headway he can. Of the precise position, however, they are still unadvised; and in every clump of trees, and all along the line, they are plunging shots. So far, however, none have told. Our own batteries are in reserve, ready for a spring to any point that may come to be available. The hospital is again the object for their fire; and the battery I mentioned as a mile below the ford, having heavier guns than mere fieldpieces, and one at least rifled, is now playing upon it.

The object, however, of the most intense interest is a line of dust that begins to rise above the mass of forest lying for miles away to the right of the enemy. That it is a moving column is evident, but whether of our own or the enemy is the principal question. If ours, we are taking the enemy in flank; if theirs, they outflank us. It moves towards the enemy, and a courier that joins us reports that it is the brigade of General Cocke. On it goes. There is no corresponding column of the enemy. The movement promises success. The enemy may have stationed a force in anticipation, but if not we fall upon their flank.

Half-past 10 o'clock, A. M.
There is firing on our flanking column. The enemy have opened their battery upon it halfway. The column responds. The firing becomes rapid — musketry — rapid. Gens. Beauregard, Johnston, and Bonham have just come to the hill where I have been standing. The whole scene is before us — a grand moving diorama. The enemy have sent a ball from their rifled cannon at us. Another. They pass over us with a sound that makes our flesh crawl. All have left the spot but Gens. Beauregard, Bonham, and Johnston, and their aids. The firing has ceased at the head of our flanking column. It is renewed again, nearer, I think, to the enemy. Another ball exactly over our heads. A very sustaining force follows our flanking column. The enemy, firing at our generals, has dropped a shot among the wagons in the edge of the woods below, and they dash off. Another shot follows them as they fly, and plunges in the ground but a few feet behind one of them.

11 o'clock.
The firing has been awful. The heads of the flanking and resisting columns are distinctly visible from the smoke that rises above them, and they stand stationary for a long time; but at last the enemy's column goes back — a column of dust arises in their rear — a shout rises that roars loud as the artillery from our men — the enemy's fire slackens — our reserves advance — the dust rises on to the position lately occupied by the enemy — we triumph, we triumph, thank God! The dust still rises in the rear of the enemy, as though they were retreating rapidly.

Quarter before twelve o'clock.
The enemy make another stand. Again, there is the roar of musketry, long like the roar of distant and protracted thunder. Again the roar, but always at the head of the enemy's column. A column of dust rises to the left of our forces and passes to the enemy's right. It must be intended to flank them. It is fearful to think how many heart strings are wrung by the work that now goes on — how many brave men must be mangled and in anguish.

Again the enemy has fallen back to another point, half a mile in the rear; and the spirals of the smoke curl up the side of the mountain in the background. The whole scene is in the Piedmont valley, which I have often noticed to have slept so sweetly to the west of Centreville, and sweeping on down to the south. It is nearly level, or seems so, and the Blue Ridge rises to form the dark background of a most magnificent picture.

Twelve o'clock, Noon.
The batteries first opening have been silent for half an hour, and the whole extended valley is now the thick of the fight. Where the enemy last took his stand retreating, the fight is fearful; the dust is denser than the smoke. It is awful. They have been repulsed three times — so it is reported by a courier — and now they have taken their bloodiest and final stand.

Half-past 12 o'clock.
The firing now is at its height. Never, until now, have I dreamed of such a spectacle; for one long mile the whole valley is a boiling crater of dust and smoke.

[96]

Quarter before one o'clock.
The fray ceases; Generals Beauregard and Johnston dash on to the scene of action, and as we cannot doubt that the enemy has again fallen back, it looks as though they were on their way to Washington.

One o'clock.
Column after column is thrown in from all along the line of Bull Run to fall upon the left flank of the enemy, and the firing is again renewed, as though nothing had been done. An effort would seem to have been made to outflank us, and it has brought on another engagement further off, but on a line with the first. The cannon established on the hill was a feint at Mitchell's Ford, while of both armies the effort was to outflank. These guns now but play at the columns of dust as they rise from the infantry and cavalry as they tramp past; and as those columns are near the point where I stand, they have brought a dozen balls at least within 100 yards.

Fifteen minutes past one o'clock.
The firing has almost entirely ceased, but still our reserves are pouring in. The enemy seems to be making an attempt to cross at Mitchell's Ford. All at Mitchell's Ford is a feint, and it is now certain that the grand battle-ground for empire is now to the west, beyond the Stone Bridge, on Bull Run, and I go there.

Evening.
At two o'clock I arrived on the ground; but of the further scenes of this eventful battle I have nothing more to say, save this only, that at five o'clock the enemy was driven from the field, leaving most of the guns of Sherman's battery behind them, with an awful list of dead and wounded.

It will be evident to any one who becomes familiar with the events of the day that I misapprehend many of the occurrences. The attack was made at a point above the Stone Bridge, on Bull Run, by the whole disposable force of the enemy, led by General McDowell. The importance of the movement was not at first estimated, and it was met by Gen. Evans, with only the Fourth South Carolina regiment, Colonel Sloan, the Independent Louisiana battalion, Major Wheat, and two guns of the Washington Artillery. The charge of the enemy was met with an intrepidity that was beyond all praise, and the whole column of the enemy was held at bay until reinforcements came. These were led on by Colonel Jackson, Colonel Bartow, General Bee, and General Jones. The conflict went on in a fierce and terrible struggle of the Confederate troops against great odds and amidst terrible slaughter.

At the crisis of the engagement two regiments of South Carolinians — Kershaw's and Cocke's — were ordered to advance. Kemper's battery was attached to Kershaw's. As these troops advanced, they were joined by Preston's regiment of Cocke's brigade. A tremendous charge was made, which decided the fate of the day. After acts of incredible valor, the enemy was driven off far to the north. As they retreated on the Braddock road to Centreville a charge was made upon them by a portion of our cavalry, and I think of the Radford Rangers. They dashed upon them about a mile away, and dust above them for ten minutes rose up as from the crater of a volcano. The punishment was severe and rapid.

Colonel Hampton's Legion suffered greatly. It came last night, and marched directly into battle. When I went upon the ground I heard that Colonel Hampton and Johnson were both killed, but afterwards I met Colonel Hampton riding from the field, wounded badly, but exhilarated at the thought that his men had exhibited surpassing intrepidity, and that General Beauregard himself had relieved him and led his legion into battle.

Colonel Sloan's Fourth regiment South Carolina Volunteers suffered as much. They stood decimated at every fire until reinforcements came, and they exhibit a sad remnant of the noble body of men that entered into battle.

The Second regiment, Colonel Kershaw, did fearful execution at the crisis of the contest, but suffered less.

The Fourth Alabama regiment, Col. Jones, and the Eighth Georgia regiment, Col. Gardner, suffered greatly.

Wearied and worn, and sick at heart, I retired from the field whose glory is scarce equal to its gloom, and I have not the strength now to write more. I send my field notes as they are.

President Davis came upon the ground just as the battle ended, and the wildest cheering greeted him. He rode along the lines of war-worn men who had been drawn off from action, and he seemed proud of them, and of his right to command such noble men, but it was tempered with a feeling of regret that their right to his respect had been vindicated at so dreadful a sacrifice. Many wounded still stood in the ranks, and exhibited the unalterable purpose to stand there while they had strength to do so.

How many of the enemy were killed we have no means of knowing, but it must have been much greater than our own. Our men shot with the utmost possible coolness and precision, and they must have claimed this compliment.

We took Sherman's battery, sixteen guns, and three guns from those batteries that opened upon us first above Mitchell's Ford.

These are facts reported to me on the ground at sundown, but they are not necessarily correct. I have hesitated to state any thing, but upon the whole have thought it best. I will send a corrected list of our casualties to-morrow.

There was an engagement at the batteries above Mitchell's Ford, in which the Fifth, Seventh, and Eighth South Carolina regiments were engaged, but the facts have not transpired beyond the taking of guns.


--Charleston Mercury.


[97]

Another South Carolina report.

army of the Potomac, camp Pickens, Monday, July 22, 1861.
I gave you yesterday, as well as the circumstances would permit, my first impressions of the great battle at the Stone Bridge, and, after a day of constant inquiry, and as much reflection as was possible, I will attempt to give a more perfect outline of that most brilliant military achievement.

As I stated, the battle was expected. All things indicated the approach of an impending crisis. The moral atmosphere was heavy with its awful import, and without being able to say what it was precisely that induced conviction, yet conviction of the contest had become a faith with all, and men rose in the morning to a day pregnant of death to men, and of the fortunes and the fate of the Republic.

Nor did the realization of this conception depend upon the action of the enemy. They took the initiative, and came to meet us; but if they had not, we would have gone to them. It is now reasonably certain that matters here were so matured that the military authorities were ready and determined to advance, and it was with a feeling of relief, perhaps, that the first booming of the cannon at McLean's Ford removed from us the responsibilities of that movement. We were not entirely prepared — as well prepared, at least, as we might have hoped to be. The forces of Gen. Holmes, from Fredericksburg, and of Gen. Evans, from Leesburg, were in the battle; and so, also, were the most of those from Gen. Johnston. But two brigades of Gen. Johnston's force--Gen. Smith's and Col. Elzey's — had not arrived. Hampton's Legion and Wynder's Sixth regiment of North Carolina had not arrived the night before. Many that had arrived from the sources mentioned above were without the provisions of a military life, and were too wearied for the most efficient military service; but still our forces had been greatly strengthened. At least 15,000 men had been added to our too small force. The enemy, in not renewing the attack, or offering to bury their dead, would seem to have been demoralized; and under the circumstances, therefore, it would seem that our generals had resolved to strike and drive the invader back, or challenge fate upon the open field of battle.

To this end it would seem to have been their purpose to lead an attacking force directly on the road to Centreville, by Mitchell's Ford, where Gen. Bonham, with his brigade, had been posted, and a flanking force by Stone Bridge, and along the line which the enemy himself selected for a flanking force on us. This action of the enemy induced a necessary change in our plans. From attacking, we were forced to a defence, and it may be a question whether the result was better than it could have been. Our whole available force would then have been in action. As it was, only those were in that could be thrown upon the plain of battle at Stone Bridge. The rest, in reserve at the several crossings for five miles down, were inactive, suspended on contingencies for movement until too late for a direct movement on the enemy's position.

The action, as I have stated, was commenced by a feint on the hills above Mitchell's Ford, upon the top of which the enemy industriously exhibited large masses of his forces; and the demonstration was followed up, as I have stated, by a movement round by Stone Bridge to our left flank. This movement was anticipated by a like movement of ours to take him upon his right flank; and thus the two flanking forces meeting, monopolized the interest, and became the leading actors in the splendid military drama. Our force, however, was a detachment; theirs was their main body. They had determined to force a crossing at that point — to conquer fate to that object; and to that end they had sent forward, it would seem, their entire force, beyond that necessary for the demonstration, and as the letter which was found on a prisoner, and a copy of which I send you, states their force at 130,000--too much, perhaps. It is certain it was large, and that not less than 80,000 were despatched upon this mission. To meet this, we had only the brigade of Gen. Evans, consisting of the Fourth South Carolina, and Wheat's Louisiana Battalion, and two guns of the Washington Artillery, sustained by Col. Cocke's brigade, consisting of Cols. Cocke's Nineteenth Virginia regiment, Wither's Seventeenth Virginia, and Preston's Twenty-eighth Virginia. The disadvantage, therefore, was in the fact that the great disproportion of our column left it exposed to an accumulated and concentrated fire, which occasioned a mortality disproportioned to what might have been anticipated from a more equal number. In addition to this, the enemy had posted his column with all the available regulars in the service. The Second and Third Infantry, at least, and Doubleday's battalion, late of Patterson's column, it is believed, were in the action, as also some three three thousand collected at Washington for service. [Not one of these men were in the action.--ed. Times.] Staking the fate of his army on this attack, it was truly severe. Never did men fight as our men did. The Fourth regiment and Wheat's battalion stood until almost cut to pieces under a concentrated fire from flank and front, and they did, in fact, as I thought they did, force the enemy to recoil; but the utmost they could expect was to induce but a temporary check to such a moving mass. It still rolled on, and, as brigade after brigade was subsequently thrown in, it but sustained the check; and, as they were successively cut up by the more abundant ordnance of the enemy, they still left to him the advantage of his numbers.

To exhibit the circumstances under which reinforcements were effected, I would state a little more explicitly the position of our forces. [98] Gen. Evans was on the extreme left, and above the Stone Bridge; Col. Cocke was next; Col. Jackson, with his brigade from Gen. Johnston's forces, I think, was next; Bartow was next; Gen. Bonham next; Gen. Jones was next, and Gen. Ewell and Col. Easley, with their respective brigades, completed the display to the right at the Union Mills. These forces covered Bull Run from above the Stone Bridge to the point of crossing by the railroad, a distance of about six miles.

Bull Run, as I have had occasion to remark in former letters, is one of the branches of the Occoquan. They hold the Manassas Junction in the fork, and about three miles from either. From Centreville, as one may see from looking at the map, all the roads cross the run. That by Mitchell's Ford, being the most direct, is seven miles, and all the others longer. The fight occurring on the extreme right, all the reinforcements were necessarily thrown from along this line, and time was necessary; and as a considerable time elapsed after the engagement at the Stone Bridge, before the precise character of the enemy's movement appeared, it was late and long before all the movements could be made to meet it.

When it was ascertained what was the full meaning of the enemy to the left, I have reason to believe it was at once determined to throw a column from Mitchell's Ford upon the batteries above, and taking them, to fall upon the enemy's rear. Why it was not done I am not able to state, but it was not. And standing near Generals Beauregard, Johnston, and Bonham, on the hill of which I spoke yesterday, in the beginning of my report, I heard Gen. Beauregard remark, pointing to the fight to the west, “There is the battle-ground.” Soon after orders were despatched, and the generals, with their aids and attendants, dashed on to enter on the scene of conflict.

The apparent retreat of the enemy was, in fact, his extension to the right, to gain our flank, and sorely was that point contested. The fight began nearly in front of a house owned by a man named Lewes. Against the hill on which that house is situated, the enemy had planted his battery, and it was against that that many of our brave men fell. There the Fourth South Carolina and Wheat's battalion were slaughtered; there the gallant Bartow fell; and that for many of the bloody hours of the contest was the corner-stone of the structure. From this it extended on by successive efforts to outflank for two miles to the west. Brigade after brigade, as they successively fell in, took new ground. The Washington Louisiana Artillery, as the other sections of it came, took ground still to the left, and Shield's and Pendleton's each took its hill for special thunder, and each contributed its contingent to the mass of slaughter.

When I entered on the field at 2 o'clock, the fortunes of the day were dark. The remnants of the regiments, so badly injured, or wounded and worn, as they staggered out, gave gloomy pictures of the scene, and as, up to this time, after four hours of almost unprecedented valor and exertion, no point had been given, as each addition but seemed to stem the current of the enemy, but could not turn it back, as our forces were not exhaustless, as the distances to be traversed were continually greater, and as the enemy stood in possession of almost unlimited military power, and even the event was doubtful. We could not be routed, perhaps, but it is doubtful whether we were destined to a victory. But at this point the fortunes of the day were changed. The God of Battles seemed to stoop to our relief.

By an order of Gen. Beauregard, Gen. Bonham sent Col. Kershaw's regiment, with Kemper's battery of four guns annexed, and Col. Cash's regiment, to the rescue. On they came from four miles below, at a rapid march, driving great masses of the enemy before them, and making fearful execution in their ranks. Hill after hill was passed with the same result, until they reached the Stone Bridge. Here Gen. Beauregard halted them, reinforced them with a Virginia regiment, Hampton's Legion, what .of it was in condition for service, some Marylanders and Louisianians, and started them again after the retreating foe, who fought and broke until the retreat became a rout. Cavalry came in now to finish. They were pursued by our forces to Centreville, some seven miles, leaving the road filled with plunder. The cavalry followed, cut down and captured, until late in the night.

While this was transpiring at one point, other events took place further on in another part of the field. I mentioned that two brigades of Gen. Johnston's forces were behind, having been delayed by a collision on the Manassas railroad. The brigade of Gen. Smith, consisting of 1,80.0 men, arrived at Manassas after the fight began and hurried to the field. And at the instant when the regiments of the Fourth Carolina, Fourth Georgia, Fourth Alabama, Hampton's Legion, and others were struggling back for a moment's relief, and to fire again, they rushed with deafening shouts to the field of action. Col. Elzey, another portion of Gen. Johnston's force detained upon the railroad, was coming down. As he neared Manassas he heard the firing; he saw from the direction he could reach the scene of action sooner, and stopping the cars he ordered out the men, pushed directly on a distance of but a few miles, for the enemy's object, doubtless, was to reach the Manassas railroad in our rear. His line of travel brought him directly to the point where there was the effort to outflank again. The enemy, again and again defeated, and met by superior numbers, seemed at once to lose the spur of the contest when driven back. They did not face again over the rising grounds — beyond lines of dirt arose. What was their purpose did not appear. The sinking sun threw his sunlight over the magnificent landscape. The dead and [99] dying lay about. The masses of horse lay under cover of the hills for the occasion that should invoke their action. Men stood to their arms along that bloody line, and looked a strange interest on the enemy. Was he to return and continue a fight of eight hours duration? was he to change the point of his attack, and force them, wearied and broken as they were, to another field? or, were they, broken and outdone, about to retire from a field in which they had become assured by experience there was no harvest of power or glory to be won, but where they were, indeed, welcomed by bloody hands to hospitable graves? That this was their purpose, at length appeared. A shout arose upon the conviction, from 10,000 throbbing and exultant hearts. The cavalry poured down upon them. The dust, as from the crater of a volcano, marked the point of contact. With a singular propriety of occurrence, the honored Chief Magistrate of the Confederacy arrived upon the ground almost as the shouts of victory died upon the distance.

They rose again for him, and again and again for the gallant military chieftains under whose able leadership the action had been won. And there was not one who looked upon that field, strewn with the fragments of war, and glittering in the beams of sunset, and upon those long lines of begrimed and bloody men, and upon the dark columns of the insolent invader, as crushed and cowed, he crawled from the field, who did not feel that he stood upon another historic point in human history. We stood upon one some six months since when we proclaimed the truths of our political faith; we stood upon another when we witnessed the solemnities of their vindication. There was no unbecoming demonstration — no heartless exultation. The common feeling was of sadness, rather that right and liberty, in the inscrutable ways of an overruling Providence, should only be purchased at so dear a price. But there was gratitude and trust, and an honest confidence of a future, which we had not scrupled to purchase at the sacrifices the God above us had seen proper to exact.

The movement on the right wing of our army upon the batteries in front, which seemed to have been resolved on early in the action, was at length made. About the time of our final charge upon the enemy's right, which drove them from the field, Gen. Jones, with the Fifth South Carolina regiment, Col. Jenkins, and the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Mississippi regiments, Cols. Featherston and Burt moved round to gain the rear of the batteries over the hill. above Mitchell's Ford. Gen. Bonham, with the Third and Seventh South Carolina regiments, Cols. Williams and Bacon, moved up the hill in front. The enemy, though in considerable force, at once recoiled from the encounter; and, unlimbering their artillery, they made their way with the utmost rapidity in the direction of Centreville. It was too late for pursuit — too late to intercept the retreating columns from the west, already under rapid headway; and, with no serious loss, and after but a short and spirited engagement on the enemy's left, in which the Fifth Carolina regiment suffered to some extent, they returned to their positions.

Of the many personal incidents of the battle, I have not time to speak to-night. My estimable friend, R. McKay, of Greenville, separated from his company, Capt. Hokes, came upon four of the enemy in charge of three of our prisoners whom they had taken, and was uncomfortably conscious he was about to add to their number; to be certain of the fact, however, he exclaimed interrogatively, “Prisoners, boys?” A Zouave answered, “We don't know exactly who are prisoners here.” “Oh, you, of course,” said our ready friend; whereupon demanding their arms, they laid them down, and were marched off to the rear.

Six horsemen, detached from their company, dashed forward and came upon a company of the enemy all armed, forty-five in number, demanding a surrender as the best means of avoiding their own capture. The enemy complied, and the six men with sabres only marched them in.


army of the Potomac, near Manassas, Tuesday, July 23.
I have visited again to-day the scene of conflict, and am able to add still other particulars of that most memorable action. Your readers will remember that the battle was begun by a feint at Mitchell's Ford, on the road from Centreville to Warrenton. This, however, was only true in part. To that point the mass of the enemy's immense columns was indeed directed, but that also was another feint. Planting batteries against the forces guarding that bridge he exhibited a purpose to force a crossing; but, while seeking to induce that impression, he in fact made a detour of more than a mile above, and further to the west; and when our attention was directed to the bridge, they sought to come upon our rear. To Gen. Evans, as I have said, the task of defending the bridge had been committed. He soon detected the enemy's purposes, and advanced to counteract them. Under him, as I have said, were the Fourth South Carolina regiment, Col. Sloan, Wheat's battalion, two guns of Latham's battery, (not the Washington Artillery, as I was at first informed,) and two companies of Radford's Cavalry. These he advanced to Sudley's Ford, but had hardly placed them in position before he saw the enemy in overwhelming masses on his flank, having already crossed. To resist them successfully was beyond a reasonable hope. A portion of his small force had already been detached to defend the bridge, and with the rest, not more than 1,100, he could not hope to stand against the accumulated thousands on his left; but he knew that victory or death was the determination for the day; he could at least arrest them, and ordering round his two pieces of artillery, and rapidly throwing forward his forces to the left, in the face of the enemy's [100] battery already in position, and of their serried ranks near twenty times his own in number, he advanced to the charge; for a time he was covered by a clump of trees, but passing these he came directly in front of the enemy, within easy distance, and made his charge upon them. The result, of course, could not be questioned. “For one ball of his” there were twenty of the enemy, and there could be no expectation but to be ultimately cut to pieces, but he could sell his forces for their utmost value, and he did. The enemy, in fact, recoiled from the intense severity of his onset, but recovering they began to bear him back. Gen. Bee, with his brigade, then came to his support. That again checked the current for an instant. Col. Bartow then came. That again impeded its resistless progress; but the disparity was still too great. Their forces were driven down to the Warrenton turnpike, then across it, and back to the woods, one hundred yards below. When Hampton's Legion came with this a charge was made, which drove the enemy back to the road. From this they were able to recover, and drove our forces back in turn; again they rallied and drove back the enemy, but extending to the left they forced us back again. Jackson and Cocke had also come to maintain the unequal strife, and in the midst of fearful carnage strove to hold their own against overwhelming numbers.

Then it was, whilst the victory wavered in the balance, and hope seemed almost gone, that the gallant Second, with Kemper's battery, and the Eighth, of bonham's brigade, under a previous and well-timed order of Gen. Beauregard, came, sweeping every thing before them, the fore flying from their deadly fire and fierce charges.

On the other flank Smith, too, marched with four regiments, fresh from the railroad, to the vicinity of the enemy, put them to flight and commenced the pursuit.

Each in turn had met the successive enfilading columns of the enemy, until at length he had no other enfilading columns to advance. The pluck of our men began to tell against even overwhelming numbers. Their batteries, which they had advanced to the eminences east of the Warrenton road, and near a mile within the line of battle which we took at first, became the objects of attack. The assault was fearful, but the defence was stern and bloody. From Rickett's battery every horse was killed, and even to-day there lie around the place where it stood the bodies of one hundred of the enemy. It was taken twice, but retaken again; and it was only when the regiments of Cols. Cash and Kershaw had cleared the land to the left that the effort to retake it was abandoned. The guns were turned at once upon the enemy, and helped to drive them from the field. Not far to the right the same tragedy was enacted to the same result. The line of the enemy cut in two at this point was never formed again. One portion retreated by the Warrenton turnpike, in the direction of Centreville; the others made again the detour round by Sudley's Ford; both made for Centreville; and as they went along the turnpike back, the play of Kemper's battery was as admirable as is often seen. The road is broad and straight for at least three miles. He planted his battery upon it. He was animated to his utmost skill and power by his sense of wrongs. The enemy for months has held and abused his home in Alexandria; and, as he ploughed the road along which they were forced to travel, I fear he did not ask for mercy on the souls of those he sent to their account.

The regiments of Kershaw and Cash, with Kemper's Battery, followed to within a mile of Centreville. The road was strewed with plunder, and at the Hanging Bridge, on Cobb's Creek, they took twenty-one guns, which had become jammed, and which, together with the horses which they were all too hurried to unhitch, were taken and sent back.

I spoke, last night, of the movement of Generals Jones and Bonham upon the batteries in front of them, but I did not state the full effect of their exertions. They followed on to within sight of Centreville. The enemy had preceded them, and had encamped. Alarmed at their approach, he struck his camp again, worn as he was, and did not stop until far beyond Fairfax. Whether he stopped this side of Alexandria or Washington, does not appear. In his route, he left equipage and baggage, and four of his guns at Centreville, which he had not the spirit even to attempt to save. The number of guns now taken is reported to be fifty-one, and as a conclusive indication of what is the true import and effect of our action, it may be stated that yesterday the Confederate flag was run up at Fairfax. That night the town was in possession of a detachment of our cavalry, and tonight it will be occupied by a force sufficient to hold it.

In further evidence of the demoralization of the enemy, it was stated this morning by a gentleman of official position and character in Alexandria, that he left that town unchallenged last night, that he came to our own pickets unquestioned, and that the rumor was, the volunteers whose term of service had expired, have resolved to leave; that it is determined to prevent them, and that the regular soldiers are now called out to keep them in subjection. This is probable. In a house to-day where some forty of the wounded enemy had crept, and where they have since been lying without food or attendance, I met a lad who said the coming of many of the troops was entirely involuntary; that their term of service having expired, they demanded their discharge, but were told they must fight the battle, and that then they would be paid. If not willing to fight, they must do it anyhow.

I mentioned yesterday that much depended on the opportune arrival of Col. Elzey with his brigade. In reference to the time I was mistaken; his was a portion o the command of [101] Gen. Smith, whose coming, however, was most opportune; and when Gen. Smith was shot, Col. Elzey took command, and did at least his share to secure the victory.

When I entered on the field at 2 o'clock of the day of battle, the scene, as I have mentioned, was gloomy, for the battle was undecided, and the chances seemed against us, but I did not mention all that made it painful. In peaceful life we are not familiar with the scenes of war, and it has happened to me, at least, to have seen but little suffering from the casualties or combats of life. I had not, therefore, the advantage of familiarity, and just at once the scene was one to task the nerve of any man. At the first trench I came to, which was just beyond the range of bullets, lay one hundred, at least, in every stage of suffering and endurance. One had his leg shot off with a cannon ball, another had his arm broken, another had his jaw shot away. Col. Hampton met us with the appearance of having had a ball in his temple, and he said he had been insensible from the effects, but he hoped soon to be upon the field again. A few steps further on I saw a Palmetto boy with his under jaw shot off at the instant. I met Col. Shingler, riding before an ambulance, which, he said, contained the late lamented Gen. Bee. The General lay prostrate, and almost expiring, from the wound in his abdomen, which of necessity must prove mortal. A few steps further still, and there lay the helpless form of my late friend, Col. Johnson. Others there were — aged men, whose gray hairs proclaimed them sixty and more; boys whose young hearts yearned, I know, for softer hands and sweeter faces than were around them there. To this spot all had been impelled by the wounded soldiers' constant want of water. The stream, by the constant crossing, was so muddy, it was scarcely fluid, but they drank it; and, with the night approaching, through which they must either be under the cold sky or bear the jolting of a journey to Manassas, and without attendance or the certainty of medical attendance, they yet were cheerful, or, if not, enduring. No one added to the sufferings of others by exhibitions of his, and during the time I felt at liberty to stay — for the order came for all able to bear a gun to enter in the ranks for a final stand — I heard no solitary groan from any one.

But of all imaginable scenes of horror, the battle-field to-day excels. Upon the hills from which the enemy was last driven, still lay the dead they had not time to remove. Some had been buried by our own men, but the task was too repulsive, and the most of them were left upon the bare ground without a leaf to shade them, bloated, blackened, and rotting in the sun, for birds and insects to devour. And it was scarcely possible not to commiserate the fate of men who had offered up their lives for a country that would not show to them the cold charity of even a grave to lie in. Nor was it better with the poor starved wretches who had crawled into the storehouse upon the field of battle. Sick, famished, friendless, and without a home or country they could love or honor, it were scarcely better to be alive than dead. I spoke of the fact to Gen. Evans, in whose military department they are at present, and he promised to keep them from starving at least; but in the mean time the country people were coming in with offers of assistance, and one was taking one poor fellow off to his house at Brentsville.

Battles make singular developments. My friend, Dr. Shepardson, visiting the prisoners yesterday, found a college-mate among them. One of our soldiers found among them his own brother. Gen. Evans found among them Major Tillinghast, long known in Charleston, who had been his classmate — at the instant of recognition, Major T. was at the point of death, and died soon after; and also in a horse that was taken at Fairfax, the charger upon which he rode in the service of the United States. And Col. Mullins, in a customer that was skulking on the road to Centreville upon the evening of the battle, and whom he made his prisoner, the Hon. Mr. Ely, of New York.

There is a feeling of regret for all the gallant men who fell in this engagement, but for none more than for the gallant Bartow. He had gone into this war with such uncalculating zeal and fidelity to the great cause, and bore himself so nobly in the fight, that if there were the wish to, it were hard to withhold our admiration. When his horse was shot, he led the Eighth Georgia regiment, on foot, to storm a battery. This was cut to pieces, and retiring to put himself at the head of the Seventh, he asked of Gen. Beauregard what he would have him do. The General said, “There is the battery.” He started for it again. The color-bearer was shot down, when he seized the colors, and bearing them on, he received a shot in his left breast.

Nor less lamented is the death of Gen. Bee. He has been regarded as one among the best military appointments, and has won opinion in every act of his military life. He was first in the field to sustain our leading column at every succeeding crisis of the contest. He was present at the passage of the turnpike; at the gallant charge of the Hampton Legion; at the storming of the batteries; and at last fell near the fatal spot where also had fallen the gallant Bartow. Of his aids were Gen. Gist, Col. Shingler, and Major Stevens, who was slightly wounded, shared his pains, and remained to the further fortune of the contest.

Nor is less sympathy experienced for the sufferings of Gen. Smith. He came to stem the current of our backward fortunes, and leading his brigade to the very head of the flanking column, fell almost at the first fire, pierced through the breast with a grape shot. Hopes, however, are entertained for his recovery. On his staff were our townsmen, Col. Buist and Capt. Tupper, who were with him when he fell. [102]

Of Col. Johnson, the career was short and brilliant. The Legion arrived in the night, and in a few hours after, almost unfit for service, it was thrown into the very thickest of the fight, and Col. Johnson fell, with Col. Hampton, on the spot upon which their columns had been planted. I sent the casualties of Col. Kershaw's regiment by telegraph to-day; but those of the other regiments, so scattered as they are, and in weather so exceedingly unsuitable to travelling as it has been, I have not yet been able to obtain.

President Davis left the army this morning in the cars for Richmond. Though the Chief Magistrate of a great republic at the most salient period of its greatness, were arrogated no special privilege, he took his seat with others in an overcrowded car; and in that, and in every other instance of his intercourse with his fellow-citizens here, he exhibited but the appearance and bearing of a well-bred gentleman, as he unquestionably is.


army of the Potomac, camp Pickens, Wednesday, July 24.
The great battle at Stone Bridge has been the theme for days, but still is not exhausted. It stirred our hearts so deeply that they cannot take the current of another thought. Nor is it necessary. The military event of this age, and the event upon which hung suspended the private feeling and the public interests of the South, it is scarcely to be thought of that I should offer, or you should ask, the reason why I dwell upon it.

In writing yesterday, I endeavored to present that at one time the fortunes of the day were doubtful — hung suspended on a thread — and that by Beauregard's order, the victorious advance of the Second and Eighth Carolina regiments, with Kemper's battery from the centre at 2 o'clock, after several fierce struggles determined fortune in our favor. At 3 o'clock, too, Gen. Smith, leaving the railroad cars, formed his four regiments and marched against the enemy on the extreme left wing, driving them before him. I hesitate to dwell, however, upon certain incidents which, however apparently established, were yet contested, or seemed to be so, and I was unwilling to commit myself to statements until I had made every reasonable effort to obtain the truth. The first of these was the taking of a battery by Hampton's Legion. Your readers will now have had some faint conception of the battle-ground. It occurred, they will remember, on the turnpike road from Centreville to Warrenton, just after it crosses Bull Run, on the Stone Bridge. The road at this point pursues its path between two ridges or ascending slopes, the summits of which are near a mile apart. The woodland for near a mile has been all cleared away, and it was upon this splendid theatre, and all in full view, were made those constant movements to outflank each other, upon which fate depended. The enemy having made the detour by Sudley's Ford to get upon our flank, of which I spoke first, broke the cover of the trees which crowned the eminence on which we rested, by planting a battery of rifled cannon. Gen. Evans met it the best he could by planting his two guns, the one to the right and the other to the left of his position, and advanced under such cover as they gave to meet the enemy. He could not permanently check them, however; they drove him back across the road, and with him his pieces of artillery. One was disabled; but the others, under Lieut. Davidson, of Latham's battery, took position in the road, and with almost unexampled intrepidity continued to play upon the enemy advancing up the road, into which they had entered lower down, until they were already rising the eminence upon which he stood. Before that, however, Capt. Imboden, with his battery, from Staunton, had been placed within about one hundred yards of the road, and had opened a most galling fire. Gens. Bee and Bartow, and Hampton's Legion, rallied to sustain him. The fight was bloody, but nearer to the road, in position to rake their entire line, the enemy had planted another battery. Fresh columns were thrown from the eminence beyond, across the field upon the road. Our gallant men were forced back by the pressure of these overwhelming numbers. They crossed the road and planted two batteries, the one Rickett's and the other a section of Sherman's, it is supposed, upon our side, but about two hundred yards off from Imboden's, to rake the hill with grape and canister. From these, even, Imboden's was compelled to fall back, which he did, and carried off his guns, when it seemed impossible that any human power could save him. To take these batteries, so established upon our side, or to quit the field, was then the only option left us.

Of these the one, Rickett's, of four guns, was beyond a little house owned and occupied by a man named Henry, and the other to the right of it and lower down the hill. Against the first of these it was that Bee and Bartow fought and fell, and at length, at fearful sacrifice of life, the men and horses were shot down and the guns were silenced, but the other still kept on. No single movement could be made below the brow of the hill against the turning columns of the enemy until this was taken, and against that the legion, as a forlorn hope, was led. In their first charge they had advanced to Henry's house, and were passing through the garden, when Col. Hampton was shot down. Without his further orders they were confused. Thus, Lieut.-Col. Johnson had fallen, and Capt. Conner, of the Washington Light Infantry, senior captain, led them back to form them; retiring under cover of the hill, they found the Seventeenth Virginia regiment, Col. Withers, and through Adjutant Barker, proposed that he should join them, which he did. They formed their line of battle; Capt. Conner led the legion. They tore down upon the enemy through a storm of balls. They reserved their fire until within a certain distance of the [103] enemy. With a single volley they swept the guns of men and horses. The infantry sustaining them gave way before the charge of bayonets, and raising their colors over one, and not knowing in exactly what form to assert a priority of claim to the other, Capt. Gary got astride of it, and thus, for the first time, the line of battle of the enemy was broken. The fighting was not ended. It raged with unabated fury on either side, and great destruction of life. The guard that undertook to defend Rickett's battery were at last driven off by the regiments of Kershaw and Cash; and thus in the hands of these Carolinians the possession of this battery permanently rested; and then, turned upon the flying enemy, it contributed, in no slight degree, to swell the current of mortality that flowed upon them.

At the crisis of this contest, it happened also to Gen. Bee to have contributed, in a special way, to the result, which it were but just to his memory to mention. He it was who had the office of assigning positions to the batteries which were first in position after those sustaining Gen. Evans, and upon a field so swept by musketry and ordnance he had little leisure for selection. Dashing over the field with Imboden, he gave him in an instant a position, which was the very best that could have been selected. The slight elevation just before and on either side of him gave many of the advantages of an embrasure, while his position commanded the entire field of operations of the enemy. When forced to retire, the same advantages facilitated his escape. The next position on the eminence, to the rear, upon which other batteries had been placed, and to which Imboden was also ordered, was equally as fortunate. Without these positions it might have been impossible to have kept the enemy in check while our shattered regiments were reforming and the conquering reinforcements arrived; without these advantages it would have been impossible to hold them. The least mistake might have been fatal; and the promptness of his action, under such particularly trying circumstances, was more like the inspiration of genius than the ordinary exercise of skill and judgment.

I spoke of the efficiency of Capt. Kemper's action on the flying enemy, but I did not mention that the captain was himself taken prisoner. Early in the day, when the fight was fiercest, and matters were so mixed that it was difficult to distinguish enemies from friends, Capt. Kemper was surrounded by about twenty Zouaves, and his sword was demanded. He asked for an officer, declaring that he would only surrender to an officer. They told him to follow, and they would take him to one; he saw a column moving near them, whom he recognized as friends; pointing to these he said, “There is one of your regiments, take me to it.” They started, and approaching a few steps nearer, he told them they were mistaken, and it was for them to surrender, which, seeing themselves under the guns of an enemy, they promptly did. It improves our feelings towards them to fight them, so it is said, at least, and so it seemed to be in this case. At the crisis of the fight, when it was doubtful if we would not be whipped, and when men, sinking from their wounds, were coming from a fight in which their friends and relations had been cut to pieces, some three or four prisoners brought in were rather in the way of being roughly treated. The proposition was made and responded to, to shoot them. I passed them on the way when the fight was going on, and greatly feared that something might be done to shame us, but a few words brought the sufferers to their senses, and the prisoners were spared. In every other instance, however, after the act of battle was over, the feeling was kinder than it could have been before the fight began. I saw the soldiers share their water with them, which they could hardly spare themselves. Many of them were taken and cared for by the very men who shot them, and a friend, passing through the field when the fight was over, passed two wounded men, the one from Georgia, the other from New York. The New York man asked for water, and the wounded Georgian begged my friend for God's sake to give it to him; for that he himself had called upon a soldier from New York for water when his column was in retreat, and, though it was at the risk of his life, he ran to the trench and brought it.

It was in search of water that Adjutant S. M. Wilkes, of the Fourth regiment, lost his life. He had escaped the perils of the fight, and rode to the camp for a drink of water; when starting back, he met a party of the flying enemy, who shot him. Col. Johnson fell the instant he entered into battle. They marched down to take position in the Warrenton turnpike, and before the legion had fired a gun, he was struck by a ball in the forehead, and fell without a word.

When the fire so raged around the house of Henry in the effort to take the batteries, the family were in it; they were utterly unconscious it was to be the theatre of battle, and made no effort to escape until it was too late to do so. Among them was an aged mother, whom the son and daughter carried to a gully, and for the first charge kept her out of the way of balls; but when the fight pressed on, they brought her in again; and when it returned they could not move her again. She lay in bed, therefore, until the batteries were taken. The house was literally riddled with balls, and when the old lady was looked for, she had been sent to her long account. Many balls passed through her, and she was perfectly at rest.

Of individual experience, there were scarcely room to speak. One lad, Oakley, from Alabama, taken prisoner, was tied; but, when the enemy was fighting, he cut the cords, found a musket, plunged it in a Zouave endeavoring to detain him, and started to his friends on the [104] way. On an officer's prospecting, he went up towards him, and when near enough, he ordered him to surrender; the officer did so, and young Oakley bore him in triumph in to Headquarters. He proved to be Col. Corcoran. One of the most obvious features of the battlefield is a group of horses, and the men beside them. The caisson had exploded. Men and horses were all killed, apparently near the close of the engagement, and now lie all together bloated in the sun. The mortality among horses was large; as many as one hundred, at least, may be seen upon the field, and it is of regret for their loss that they were particularly fine ones.

In the percussion shells, with which the enemy so liberally bespattered the country, the enemy have left their sting behind them. Few explode in falling. Of twenty fired into the hill on which we first stood, not one exploded, but they do explode easily when struck upon the right point; and these handled by the soldiers, and dropped carelessly, are liable to do great injury. Two in this way have been exploded, and one killed one man in Col. Preston's regiment, and badly wounded two others.

L. W. S.

--Charleston Mercury, July 20.


Letter to the Richmond Dispatch.

The following statement was prepared by an officer in the rebel army, who is said to have borne a conspicuous part on the field of battle:

Richmond, July 27, 1861.
It may not be unacceptable to your readers to learn something of the battle of Manassas from an eye-witness, who had better opportunities of observation, perhaps, than any one else. The first gun fired by the enemy was at five minutes past six o'clock in the morning, batteries opening against our centre as a feint to conceal the movement against our left. A short time afterwards General Johnston and General Beauregard, with their staff, rode off to the nearest point of elevation and observation convenient to the centre, and there awaited developments whilst the iron hail whistled around and over them. A singular misconception seems to pervade the public mind, which has not yet been corrected, that General Beauregard fought the battle, and that General Johnston yielded to preconceived plans. Whilst, according to General Beauregard, all the merit to which he is entitled — and there does not live a more gallant gentleman and officer, nor one for whom I have a higher admiration as a General — it is due to General Johnston to say, that he planned the battle. Essentially a man of judgment, General Johnston has never risked during the campaign any battle where our chances were not good. Though our men murmured vastly when ordered to go backward from Harper's Ferry, from Bunker's Hill, from Darksville, and from Winchester, no one can now dare to dispute the sagacity which planned all the movements. To have risked a battle by attacking superior numbers, entailing defeat upon us, would doubtless have crushed our proud republic in its inception. When General Johnston (who has always been in correspondence with General Beauregard in regard to the junction of the armies, and who, for weeks, has also pointed out to the President the absolute necessity of such a movement) received orders to form the junction, it came at a fortunate moment, when Patterson had moved to Charleston, twenty-four miles distant, and had placed it out of his power to attack us in the rear. Only ten thousand of our column arrived in time for the battle, but they were enough.

To return, however, to the battle. Our line was extended over a distance of eight miles, in a position nearly assimilating to a semicircle. On Saturday night General Johnston assumed command, and nearly the entire night was consumed by the staff of both generals in writing orders to the different brigades to prepare for a forward movement in the morning. General Beauregard's plans were to be carried out in a great measure, and the rout of the enemy would have been more signal, and doubtless Washington would now be in our possession, if our attack had not been converted into a defence by the movements of the enemy. We intended to move about eight o'clock, and they commenced their attack before our movement could be made. From a letter written by one of the enemy, dated July 20, nine P. M., and afterwards found by the writer, their position was taken, and movements commenced at that hour.

To understand the battle, you must know that our line was faced towards Bull Run, and immediately back of it, defending the various fords. By turning our flank, the line of battle was changed to a direction perpendicular to the one which we had assumed, and commencing at our left extended back for a mile and a quarter. When the musketry betrayed the “cat in the meal-tub,” away went the generals and their staff, flying upon the wings of the wind to reach the scene of action, distant three miles. The country was a rolling one, thickly interspersed with pine thickets, and the battle-ground was an open valley, with a hill upon each side, rising some 100 feet above the low ground, and distant from each other about 600 yards. The struggle was an alternate movement of regiments. When the head of McDowell's column reached Sudley's Spring, a ford much higher than it was anticipated they would cross, as the Stone Bridge was the point we were defending upon our extreme left, quietly they sneaked along, getting in behind us, until discovered, I believe, by General Evans's brigade, who opened fire upon them.

Then in quick succession the enemy's regiments deployed in line to their right, whilst ours came up on our left. The engagement grew hot and heavy; their column numbering [105] 25,000, while we could only oppose them at the beginning with about 8,000. Slowly but surely the heavy column kept on its march, pressing our line back by the weight of numbers, and moving on in the settled purpose of turning our flank, and attacking us in the rear. Gallantly, however, did our army struggle for the right, and, despite of odds, regiment after regiment threw itself in the way, disputing the ground inch by inch, regardless of the fact that its predecessors had been cut to pieces or dispersed. A battery harassing our lines, the Eighth Georgia regiment was ordered to take it, and right well did they do so; but a myriad of Yankees seemed to rise up, who had hitherto been concealed, and pouring in their fire upon our column, it seemed to melt away like snow beneath a summer's sun. Colonel Gardner was here shot down and taken prisoner, but afterwards retaken by our men later in the day.

The Eighth, compelled to retreat with nearly half its number wounded or killed, the attack of the enemy was met by the brigade of General Bee, composed of Mississippians and Alabamians, and one regiment, I think, of Tennesseeans. Later in the day Colonel Bartow was shot near this spot, while leading the Seventh Georgia regiment, commanded by Colonel Gartrell. General Bee's brigade could not withstand the fierce tornado of shot and shell sweeping through its ranks, and slowly retired, fighting bravely all the time. The Fourth Alabama regiment suffered terribly, all of its field officers being shot down, and two (Colonel Jones and Major Scott) left upon the field. Colonel Jones was captured, but afterwards retaken during the rout. Falling back upon the position taken by Hampton's Legion, whose prowess can clearly be shown by the heaps of dead in front of their line, a momentary check was thrown on the enemy's approach.

They had now retreated to the brow of the hill, where the brigade of General Jackson was lying perdu, and this was the most critical point of the day. Fighting for hours under a hot sun, without a drop of water near, the conduct of our men could not be excelled; but human endurance has its bounds, and all seemed about to be lost. Our reserve was yet miles distant from the scene of action, whilst the enemy's reserve kept pressing on. From the knoll near the Lewis House, the two generals had remained anxious spectators of the conflict; but the time had come for action, and plunging their spurs into the quick-footed steeds, away went the generals and their staff into the thickest of the fight, Coming up first to the Alabamians, who were without a field-officer, General Johnston placed the color-bearer by his horse's side and moved on — each and all of the staff, with the generals, viewing with each other in words of encouragement to the men to come on. And well-timed was this movement.

Already our line upon the hill-top was giving way, but, incited to fresh deeds of heroism by the appearance in their midst of our generals, apparently bringing up reinforcements, they pitched into the fray with redoubled ardor, and from that time yielded not an inch of ground. General Beauregard, riding over to the left, took charge of operations there, displaying his reckless bravery by riding everywhere in the face of the enemy's fire, and having his horse killed beneath him, fortunately escaping uninjured himself. The tide of battle thus checked, away went General Johnston's staff to hurry up the reserves, and assign them to proper positions. They first were met two miles back, covered with dust, and coming at double-quick. On they went, plunging into the midst of the fray, and the sunshine of certainty did not gleam from beneath the murky clouds until General Kirby Smith arrived with a portion of his division upon the ground. Coming from Winchester, he heard the roar of the battle, and without waiting for orders he at once disembarked his men, Colonel Elzey's brigade, and marched hurriedly to our assistance. Colonel Kershaw's and Colonel Cash's regiments arrived upon the ground at the same moment, and with these, 4,000 men, General Smith promptly took the extreme left and turned the tide of battle.

The enemy had so far turned our flank as to have gotten entirely behind us, and nearly 4,000 were marching up to attack us in the rear; seeing this, General Smith determined to cut them off, and would have done so but for his misfortune in being shot through the neck with a grape-shot just as Colonel Kershaw was within twenty yards of him for the purpose of receiving orders. His plan of cutting them off was, consequently, not carried out, and they were enabled to join the main body, hotly pursued by our men. General Jackson's brigade had been lying for hours sustaining with unflinching courage a most terrific fire. The general had his horse shot under him, and a finger of the left hand shot off, but, cool as a cucumber, he still urged his “boys” to be steady, and steady they were, when they charged and butchered the Fire Zouaves and other regiments right and left. The general has a way of holding his head up very straight, and his almost invariable response to any remark, is “Very well,” whilst his chin seems trying to get up towards the top of his head. The writer remembers, in the midst of the fight, to have seen the general rallying his men, while his chin seemed to stick out further, and his “Very wells” seemed to sound more euphoniously than ever; and when the writer wished to pour a little whiskey upon the shattered finger, he was told that it was “of no consequence,” and away went the general, with a battery following him, to take position in some advantageous spot. If any one was ever entitled to a sobriquet, the general certainly deserved that of cool.

It is worthy of mention, that in all the vicissitudes [106] of the battle, the enemy at no time took one of our pieces of artillery, and they thundered away all the time, doing great execution, and carrying dismay into the hearts of the Yankees.

The scene of carnage was beyond description. Here a pile of dead and dying men; there struggling, crippled horses, and over the surface of the hitherto peaceful fields, the surging, angry waves of battle still adding its victims to the long list. Our light artillery batteries seem to have been more than a match for the rifled cannon at a short distance, for our guns would be fired three or four times to their once. But it must be admitted that some of their batteries were fired with the precision, almost, of a rifle at one hundred yards' distance.

There was a constant struggle during the day over the enemy's batteries. Time and again were they captured by our men, and very often retaken by the enemy. The most excited creature on the battle field was the Rev. Mr. Repetto, Captain of the Page Co. (Va.) Grays, who claimed the honor of taking Rickett's (Sherman's) battery. Of his whole company, nearly one hundred strong, he had only eighteen uninjured. Another of our reverends, Colonel Pendleton, a graduate of West Point, a resident of Lexington, Virginia, and an Episcopalian minister, was quite busy during the day, and doubtless did more than any one else to check the advancing enemy. The inquiry among the prisoners was very general, “Who commanded that battery on the left that killed so many of our men?” Our reply was that it was a saint named Pendleton.

About 5 o'clock our anxious minds were relieved by the cessation of cannonading from their side, whilst upon ours the thunders still rolled out long and loud. Then we knew we had them. A long line of dust towards Centreville proclaimed that the “stars and bars” waved triumphant over the field. A long line of fugitives defiled across the fields, and the cavalry were ordered to pursue. The history of that pursuit upon our part could well be written in words of blood, for more men were killed then and there than had fallen in the battle. Our infantry hurried on as rapidly as possible, while our batteries gave a parting “fire in the rear.” The amount of plunder strewn upon the road is almost incredible. The quantity of arms taken it is hard to get at, as many of them are in the hands of those who first took them. For instance, one company of Virginia troops, in returning from the pursuit, captured enough Minie muskets to arm the whole command--eighty strong. It is estimated, however, that twelve thousand small-arms will be added to our stock of ordnance. Enough powder was taken to supply the army for another big battle, and sixty-three pieces of artillery, with the caissons full of projectiles, which will be returned shortly, with our compliments, to their former masters. Many hundreds of our brave boys now sport splendid blue overcoats, the owners of which did not have time to call for them.

There is no earthly doubt that our army was overcome several times between 12 and 3, and that the bulletins sent by the enemy are, in the main, correct; but, alas! “the best-laid plans of men and mice aft gang aglee,” and in this instance, verily, was there a great “slip between the cup and the lip.” With all their preparations made, their “grand army,” complete in every department, it is too bad that destruction should come upon them when victory seemed perching upon their standard. And they cannot lay the blame this time upon “those infernal masked batteries.” They chose their own ground, and we met them in the open field with no other intrenchments but bright steel bayonets above our brave-hearted soldiers. The whole plan of attack had been mapped out, as was shown by a splendid map of the entire country, which the writer received from Col. Wilcox, of Michigan, commanding the second brigade. Upon that map, which had been drawn up by order of the War Department from the coast survey records, showing the topography of the country from Washington to Manassas, it was evident that the plan of action had been mapped out by old Scott. At Sudley Springs, where the crossing was made, three columns indicated that the crossing was to be made there.

The number of men actually engaged on our side was 18,000, though some think it was less. The number engaged upon the other side, taken from the admission of captured officers, was about 37,000. What was the secret of our success against such odds? The enemy fought bravely — there can be but one opinion about that — and forced our lines back more than half a mile. Our success can alone be attributed (beyond that which Divine Providence acceded to us) to the dauntless bull-dog courage of our men. They could not quit fighting. Said one of Lincoln's officers: “What sort of men are yours? We broke your regiments all to pieces, and yet we did not whip you.” And so it was. Scattered as they were, every man was for fighting on his own hook, and you could have picked a thousand at any time out of the pine thickets who did not know where their companies were, but kept loading and blazing away. From these scattered fragments of companies General Johnston gathered several hundred, and requested Colonel Thomas to take them to a position, which he indicated a short distance off. It was in performing this service that this gallant gentleman fell, pierced to the heart.

The artillery captured upon the field had splendid horses attached to them, caparisoned in the best style. Sixty-two of them were brought together the next morning. In the rout, however, the artillerists, to save themselves from Colonel Stuart, of our cavalry, cut loose the horses, and left the cannon in the road. [107]

The mortality was immense on both sides. Upon ours the returns will show about six hundred killed and twenty-five hundred wounded. Upon theirs about fifteen hundred fell dead, and forty-five hundred wounded. We could have had as many prisoners as ten thousand, but what good would it have done to take them and feed them?


--Richmond Dispatch, July 29.


Visit to the battle-field.

A correspondent of the Richmond Enquirer says: The writer of this, on Monday last, 29th ult., passed over the scene of the battle of the 21st, near Bull Run. It was gratifying to find, contrary to rumors which have gained some circulation, that the dead, not only of our own army, but also of the enemy, have all been decently buried. In the whole area of that terrible onset, no human corpse, and not even a mangled limb, was to be seen. The earth had received them all, and, so far as the human combatants were concerned, nothing remained to tell of those who had fallen victims of the shock of battle, save the mounds of fresh earth which showed where they had been laid away in their last sleep.

Many of these mounds gave evidence of the pious care of surviving comrades. Enclosures were built around the graves, and branches of evergreens cover the spot. Sometimes boards mark the head and foot, on which were carved or painted the name and fellowship of the deceased. Sometimes boards nailed to a neighboring tree told that the ground adjacent contained the fallen of a certain regiment or company.

Numerous dead horses, scattered over the area, show where the batteries of flying artillery were captured or disabled, or where some officer was dismounted. The prostrate fences, too, served to mark the track of the battle. Where the infantry crossed they were broken down so that a man might step over, and wide gaps showed where the artillery carriages had thundered along. The ground, too, tramped by the feet of rushing men and horses, evidenced where the struggle had been fiercest.

Of relics of the battle, already but few remain. The field has been searched and gleaned by daily crowds of visitors seeking for mementoes. A few bullets that had run their errand, some fragments of exploded bombs, a haversack and a few other things, were all that an extensive ramble brought under our view. Canes cut from the battle-field are also considerably in demand.

The enemy's column of advance, as shown by the battle-ground, presented a front of about one mile. Their onward march from the point where they encountered our advance bodies to the limit where they met our full line, and the full battle was joined, and the fate of the day decided, was about a mile and a half. A parallelogram of about a mile by a mile and a half, therefore, covers the scene of the great conflict.

In this area are included five dwelling-houses; all of which we visited bore evidences of the storm which raged about them. Many were killed in the yard of the house of Mr. J. De Dogan. A bullet-hole in a chamber door remains a memento of the battle. His family escaped just as the battle joined.

But it was on the hill south of the turnpike road, where the enemy's farthest advance was checked, and where the final issue was fought, that the inwrapped dwellings showed most plainly the fury of the fight.

A house here, late the abode of a widow lady--Mrs. Judith Henry--was riddled with cannon and musket shot. Hissing projectiles from the cannon of our enemies had passed through the walls and roof, until the dwelling was a wreck. It is a sad story that we tell. This estimable lady, who had spent here a long life, illustrated by the graces that adorn the meek Christian, was now bed-ridden. There she lay amid the horrid din, and no less than three of the missiles of death that scoured through her chamber inflicted their wounds upon her. It seems a strange dispensation of Providence, that one whose life had been so gentle and secluded, should have found her end amid such a storm of human passions, and that the humble abode which had witnessed her quiet pilgrimage should have been shattered over her dying bed.

Yet, even amid such terrors, Heaven vindicated its laws. When the combatants had retired, the aged sufferer was still alive, and she lived long enough to say that her mind was tranquil, and that she died in peace — a peace that the roar of battle and the presence of death, panoplied in all his terrors, had not disturbed. Noble matron! The daughters of the South will emulate your virtues, and the sons of the South will avenge your sufferings! The heaps on heaps of the enemy that were piled around your doors when you died, are but the earnest. A hundred yards to the right of the house of Mrs. Henry lay five horses in a heap, and near by another heap of as many more. Here a portion of Sherman's battery made its last advance; just as it reached the top of the hill, our riflemen, approaching it in another direction, reached it too. At once they poured in a fire which cut down horses and men, and made the pieces unmanageable. The gallant boys followed the fire with a bayonet charge, and the guns were taken. It was here that Lieut. Ward fell. The cannon were taken and retaken several times in the furious fight; but the horses had been killed, and they could not be removed or used.

On the left of Mrs. Henry's, distant about a fourth of a mile, is a neat house belonging to a colored man named Robinson. A cannon-ball drove through this also. Between these two is an orchard of small trees, where Hampton's Legion fought and suffered so severely. Their graves are here. One of them, which covers the remains of a near relative of Hon. J. L. [108] Orr, is marked by a broken musket planted as a head-stone.

Away on the extreme northern verge of the battle-ground is the pine grove in which the Georgia regiment met the enemy's advance. The gallant band there withstood the enemy's columns until nearly surrounded. They then retreated, not from those in the front, but from those who were closing around them. In this pine grove there seemed scarce a tree that was not struck by the enemy's balls. A number of Georgians fell here, and their graves are close by. In the grove was pointed out the spot where Lamar fell. In the rear was the dead charger of the lamented Gen. Bartow, killed under him, himself to fall soon after. But the Georgians suffered not their heroes to fall unavenged, for they piled the ground before them with the slain of the enemy.


Bulletin of Johnston and Beauregard.

Headquarters of the army of the Potomac, Manassas Junction, July 28, 1861.
Soldiers of the Confederate States:--
One week ago a countless host of men, organized into an army, with all the appointments which modern art and practiced skill could devise, invaded the soil of Virginia.

Their people sounded their approach with triumph and displays of anticipated victory. Their generals came in almost regal state. Their Minister, Senators, and women came to witness the immolation of this army and the subjugation of our people, and to celebrate these with wild revelry.

It is with the profoundest emotions of gratitude to an overruling God, whose hand is manifested in protecting our homes and your liberties, that we, your generals commanding, are enabled in the name of our whole country to thank you for that patriotic courage, that heroic gallantry, that devoted daring, exhibited by you in the action of the 18th and 21st of July, by which the host of the enemy was scattered, and a signal and glorious victory was achieved.

The two affairs of the 18th and 21st were but the sustained and continued efforts of your patriotism against the constantly recurring colors of an enemy fully treble our numbers, and this effort was crowned, on the evening of the 21st, with a victory so complete, that the invaders were driven from the field, and made to fly in disorderly rout back to their intrenchments, a distance of over thirty miles.

They left upon the field nearly every piece of their artillery, a large portion of their arms, equipments, baggage, stores, &c., and almost every one of their wounded and dead, amounting, together with the prisoners, to many thousands; and thus the Northern hosts were driven by you from Virginia.

Soldiers! we congratulate you on an event which insures the liberty of our country. We congratulate every man of you whose glorious privilege it was to participate in this triumph of courage and truth, to fight in the battle of Manassas. You have created an epoch in the history of liberty, and unborn nations will rise up and call you blessed. Continue this noble devotion, looking always to the protection of the just God, and, before time grows much older, we will be hailed as the deliverers of a nation of ten millions of people.

Comrades! Our brothers who have fallen have earned undying renown, and their blood, shed in our holy cause, is a precious and acceptable sacrifice to the Father of Truth and Right; their graves are beside the tomb of Washington, their spirits have joined his in eternal communion. We will hold the soil in which the dust of Washington is mingled with the dust of our brothers. We drop one tear on their laurels, and move forward to avenge them.

Soldiers! We congratulate you on a glorious triumph and complete victory. We thank you for doing your whole duty in the service of your country.


1 The position of the Confederate forces is thus given in the paper:

Explanation of sketch. A. The columns of the enemy making the feint attack on the centre of the Confederate lines.

B. B. The columns of the enemy, 35,000 strong, making the real attack on the left of the Confederate lines.

1. Manassas Junction, with Confederate troops holding the fortified camp.

2. The 15,000 Confederate troops who fought the battle and defeated the 35,000 Federals who attacked them.

3. The centre of the Confederate lines; a battery in position.

4. 4, 4, 4. Positions of troops forming the Confederate lines, where they were kept in line to meet an advance from any quarter. It is understood that some reinforcements were sent down from these positions to join in the fight on the left.

5. 5. Railroads which make the junction at Manassas.

note.--From the extreme left to the extreme right of our lines, which formed nearly a true semicircle, the distance was ten miles; but whether this distance was measured by the are or directly across from right to left, is not clear.

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 Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Centreville (Virginia, United States) (15)
Bull Run, Va. (Virginia, United States) (11)
Washington (United States) (7)
Hampton (Virginia, United States) (7)
Stone Bridge (Virginia, United States) (4)
Fairfax, Va. (Virginia, United States) (4)
Winchester, Va. (Virginia, United States) (3)
Warrenton (Virginia, United States) (3)
United States (United States) (2)
Providence, R. I. (Rhode Island, United States) (2)
Preston (Minnesota, United States) (2)
Manassas, Va. (Virginia, United States) (2)
Charleston, W. Va. (West Virginia, United States) (2)
Arlington (Virginia, United States) (2)
West Point (Virginia, United States) (1)
Sudley Springs (Virginia, United States) (1)
South Carolina (South Carolina, United States) (1)
Palmetto (Florida, United States) (1)
Page county (Virginia, United States) (1)
North Carolina (North Carolina, United States) (1)
Michigan (Michigan, United States) (1)
Lexington, Va. (Virginia, United States) (1)
Leesburg (Virginia, United States) (1)
Headquarters (Washington, United States) (1)
Harper's Ferry (West Virginia, United States) (1)
Greenville (Mississippi, United States) (1)
Georgia (Georgia, United States) (1)
Fredericksburg, Va. (Virginia, United States) (1)
Darksville (Missouri, United States) (1)
Centreville (Virginia, United States) (1)
Bunker Hill (West Virginia, United States) (1)
Brentsville (Virginia, United States) (1)
Braddock (Pennsylvania, United States) (1)
Alabama (Alabama, United States) (1)

Visualize the most frequently mentioned Pleiades ancient places in this text.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

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 (2)
July 20th (2)
July 28th, 1861 AD (1)
July 27th, 1861 AD (1)
July 23rd, 1861 AD (1)
July 22nd, 1861 AD (1)
11 AD (1)
July 30th (1)
July 29th (1)
July 24th (1)
July 23rd (1)
July 18th (1)
29th (1)
21st (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: