previous next


[357] battle of the thirtieth, the very heavy losses we had suffered, and the complete prostration of our troops from hunger and fatigue, made it plain to me that we were no longer able, in the face of such overwhelming odds, to maintain our position so far to the front; nor could we have been able to do so under any circumstances, suffering, as were the men and horses from fatigue and hunger, and weakened by the heavy losses incident to the uncommon hardships which they had suffered.

About eight o'clock at night, therefore, I sent written instructions to the commanders of corps to withdraw leisurely toward Centreville, and stated to them what route each should pursue, and where they should take post. General Reno was instructed, with his whole corps, to cover the movement of the army toward Centreville. The withdrawal was made slowly, quietly, and in good order, no pursuit whatever having been attempted by the enemy. A division of infantry, with its batteries, was posted to cover the crossing at Cub Run.

The exact losses in this battle I am unable to give, as the reports received from the corps commanders only exhibit the aggregate losses during the whole of the operations from August twenty-second to September second. Before leaving the field that night, I sent orders to Gen. Banks, at Bristow station, to destroy the railroad trains and such of the stores in them as he was unable to carry off, and join me at Centreville. I had previously sent him orders to throw into each wagon of the army trains as much as possible of the stores from the railroad cars, and to be sure and bring off with him, from Warrenton Junction and Bristow station, all the ammunition and all the sick and wounded that could be transported, and for this purpose, if it were necessary, to throw out the personal baggage, tents, etc., from the regimental trains. These several orders are appended. At no time during August twenty-eighth, twenty-ninth, thirtieth, and thirty-first, was the road between Bristow station and Centreville interrupted by the enemy. The whole of the trains of the army were on that road, in charge of Gen. Banks, and covered and protected by his whole corps. If any of these wagons were lost, as I believe none were, it was wholly without necessity. I enter thus specifically into this matter, and submit the orders sent to Gen. Banks, and his subsequent report to me, because no part of the misrepresentation of this campaign has been greater than the statement of our heavy loss of wagons and supplies. The orders submitted will show conclusively that every arrangement was made,. in the utmost detail, for the security of our trains and supplies, and I am quite convinced that Gen. Banks is not the man to neglect the duty with which he was charged.

I arrived at Centreville between nine and ten o'clock on the night of the thirtieth. On the same night I sent orders to the corps commanders to report to me in person as early after daylight as possible on the morning of the thirty-first, and on that morning the troops were directed to be posted as follows: Porter was to occupy the intrenchments on the north or right of Centreville; Franklin on his left, in the intrenchments; in rear of Centreville, between Franklin and Porter, as a support, was posted the corps of Heintzelman; Sigel occupied the intrenchments on the left and south side of the town, with Reno on his left and rear. Banks was ordered to take post, as soon as he arrived, on the north side of Bull Run, and to cover the bridge on the road from Centreville to Manassas Junction; Sumner, as soon as he arrived, was ordered to take post between Centreville and Chantilly, and to occupy Chantilly in force; McDowell was posted about two miles in the rear of Centreville, on the road to Fairfax Court-House. Ammunition-trains and some provisions were gotten up on the thirty-first, and all corps commanders were notified, by special order to each, that the ammunition-trains were parked immediately in rear of Centreville, and were directed to send officers to procure such ammunition as was needed in their respective corps. I directed the whole of the trains of the army to be unloaded at Centreville, and sent to Fairfax station to bring up forage and rations.

We remained during the whole day of the thirty-first, resting the men, getting up supplies of provisions, and re-supplying the commands with ammunition.

The enemy's cavalry appeared in force in front of our advance at Cub Run, during the morning of the thirty-first, but made no attempt to cross, and no attack upon our troops posted there. A few pieces of artillery were fired, but with no result on either side.

The whole force that I had at Centreville, as reported to me by the corps commanders, on the morning of the first of September, after receiving the corps of Sumner and Franklin, was as follows: McDowell's corps, ten thousand men; Sigel's corps, about seven thousand; Heintzelman's corps, about six thousand; Reno's, six thousand; Banks's, five thousand; Sumner's, eleven thousand; Franklin's, eight thousand--in all, sixty-three thousand men. From these forces two brigades, as I before stated, had been sent to Fairfax station, to guard the trains and the depot at that place, which makes it necessary to deduct four thousand men. It is proper for me to state here, and I do it with regret and reluctance, that at least one half of this great diminution of our forces was occasioned by skulking and straggling from the army. The troops which were brought into action fought with all gallantry and determination, but thousands of men straggled away from their commands, and were not in any action. I had posted several men in rear of the field of battle, on the twenty-ninth of August, and although many thousand stragglers and skulkers were arrested by them, many others passed round through the woods, and did not rejoin their commands during the remainder of the campaign. I had telegraphed to the General-in-Chief, from Rappahannock station, on the twenty-second, this practice of straggling was very common, and was reducing our force considerably, even at that time. I al<*> sent orders, on the same day, to



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 People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
N. P. Banks (12)
E. V. Sumner (6)
Jesse L. Reno (6)
W. B. Franklin (6)
F. Sigel (4)
Fitz-John Porter (4)
Irwin McDowell (4)
S. P. Heintzelman (4)
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.
31st (8)
August 29th (4)
September 2nd (2)
September 1st (2)
August 28th (2)
August 22nd (2)
22nd (2)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: