The regular troops brought into Washington
for its defense at the outbreak of the war included two batteries of field-artillery of exceptional drill and discipline.
The presence of these guns and men helped materially to allay the feeling of apprehension, and General Scott
, in command of the United States army at the time, was able to assure the inhabitants that he could hold Washington
against several times the number that the Confederates
could then bring against him, as he knew from experience that the troops which had been hastily enlisted for the Southern
cause were still in a very unprepared state.
Most of the organizations participating in the first battle of the war were untried and undisciplined.
A few regular companies and batteries made a leaven for the mass, and among those Federal organizations that most distinguished themselves were Ricketts
' and Griffin
's regular field-batteries.
About half-past 2 in the afternoon of July 21, 1861, these were ordered forward to the top of the Henry
hill, where the battle of Bull Run
was raging hottest.
They went with a feeling that the regiments ordered to support them were unreliable.
For a time there was a lull in the battle.
But danger was close at hand.
No sooner had Ricketts
taken up his position than his men and horses began to fall under the well-directed fire of concealed Confederate sharpshooters.
No foe was visible, but death sped from behind fences, bushes, hedges, and knolls.
The battery fought with desperate