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The battles fought in 1861.
official reports.
the battle of Manassas,
July 21, 1861.
report of Jos. E. Johnston,
General commanding.


Headq'rs army of the Potomac, Fairfax C. H. October 14, 1861.
to the Adjutant and Inspector General, Confederate States army:

Sir:
I have the honor to submit to the honorable Secretary of War a report of the operations of the troops under my command which terminated in the battle of Manassas.

I assumed command at Harper's Ferry on the 23d of may. the force at that Point then consisted of nine regiments and two battalions of infantry, four companies of artillery with sixteen pieces without caissons, harness or horse, and about three hundred cavalry. They were, of course, undisciplined, several regiments without accoutrements and with an entirely inadequate supply of ammunition.

I lost no time in making a complete reconnaissance of the place and its environs, in which the Chief Engineer, Major (now Brigadier General) Whiting ably assisted. The results confirmed my preconceived ideas.

the position is untenable by any force not strong enough to take the field against an invading army and to hold both sides of the Potomac. It is a triangle, two sides being formed by the Potomac and the Shenandoah, and the Third by Furnace Ridge. The plateau thus enclosed, and the end of Furnace Ridge itself, the only defensible position, which, however, required for its adequate occupation double our numbers, was exposed to enfilade and reverse fires of artillery from heights on the Maryland side of the river. Within that line the ground was more favorable to an attacking than to a defending force. The Potomac can be easily crossed at many points above and below, so that it is easily turned. It is twenty miles from the great route into the Valley of Virginia from Pennsylvania and Maryland, by which General Patterson's approach was expected. Its garrison was thus out of position to defend that Valley, or to prevent General McClellan's junction with General Patterson. These were the obvious and important object to be kept in view. Besides being in position for them, it was necessary to be able, on emergency, to join General Beauregard.

the occupation of Harper's Ferry by our army perfectly suited the enemy's views.--we were bound to a fixed Point. His movements were unrestricted. These views were submitted to the military authorities. The continued occupation of the place was, however, seemed by them indispensable. I determined to hold it until the great objects of the Government required its abandonment.

the practicable roads from the West and Northwest as well as from Manassas meet the route from Pennsylvania and Maryland at Winchester. That Point was, therefore, in my opinion, our best position.

the distinguished commander of the army of the Potomac was convinced, like myself, of our dependence upon each other, and promised to co-operate with me in case of need. To guard against surprise, and to impose upon the enemy, Major Whiting was directed to mount a few heavy guns upon Furnace Ridge, and other wise strengthen the position.

I was employed, until the 13th of June, in continuing what had been begun by my predecessor, Col. (now Major-General) Jackson, the organization, instruction, and equipment of the troops, and providing means of transportation and artillery horses. The river was observed from the Point of Rocks to the Western part of the county of Berkeley--the most distant portions by the indefatigable Stuart, with his cavalry. Gen. Patterson's troops were within a few hours of Williams port, and Gen. McClellan's, in Western Virginia, were supposed to be approaching to effect a junction with Patterson. Whose force was reported, by well-informed persons, to be 18,000 men.

on the morning of the 13th of June information was received from Winchester, that Romney was occupied by 2,000 Federal troops, supposed to be the van-guard of McClellan's army.

Colonel A. P. Hill with his own (13th) and Colonel Gibbon's (10th) Virginia regiments was dispatched by railway to Winchester. He was directed to move-thence towards Romney to take the best position and best measures to check the advance of the enemy. He was to add to his command the Third Tennessee regiment, which had just arrived at Winchester.

during that day and the next the heavy baggage and remaining public property were sent to Winchester by the railway, and the bridges on the Potomac destroyed. On the morning of the 15th, the army left Harper's Ferry for Winchester, (the force had been increased by these regiments since the 1st of June,) and bivouacked four miles beyond Charlestown. On the morning of the 16th intelligence was received that General Patterson's army had crossed the Potomac at Williamsport, also that the United States force at Romney had fallen back. A courier from Richmond brought a dispatch authorizing me to evacuate Harper's Ferry at my discretion.

the arms was ordered to gain the Martinsburg Turnpike by a flank movement to Bunker's Hill in order to place itself between Winchester and the expected advance of Patterson. On hearing of this the enemy re crossed the river precipitately. Resuming my first direction and plan, I proceeded to Winchester. There the army was in position to oppose either McClellan from the West or Patterson from the northeast, and to form a junction with General Beauregard when necessary.

Lieutenant-Colonel George Stewart, with his Maryland battalion, was sent to Harper's Ferry to bring off some public property said to have been left. As McClellan was moving southwestward from Grafton, Colonel Hill's command was with drawn from Romney. The defence of that region of country was entrusted to Colonel McDonald's regiment of cavalry. Intelligence from Maryland indicating another movement by Patterson, Colonel Jackson, with his brigade, was sent to the neighborhood of Martinsburg to support Colonel Stuart. The latter officer had been placed in observation on the line of the Potomac with his cavalry. His moralizing vigilance and activity was relied on to repress small incursions of the enemy, to give intelligence of invasion by them, and to watch, harass, and circumscribe their every movement. Colonel Jackson was instructed to destroy such of the rolling stock of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad as could not be brought off, and to have so much of it as could be made available to our service brought to Winchester.

Major Whiting was ordered to plan defensive works and to have some heavy guns on navy guns on navy carriages mounted. A bout twenty-five hundred militia, under Brigadier-General Carson, were called out from Frederick and the neighboring counties to man them.

on the 2d of July, General Parterson again crossed the Potomac. Col. Jackson, pursuant to Instructions, fell back before him. In retiring he gave him a severe lesson in the affair at Falling Waters. With a battalion of the 5th Virginia regiment (Harper's) and Pendleton's battery of field artillery, he engaged the enemy's advance, skillfully taking a position where the smallness of his force was concealed, he engaged them for a considerable time, inflicted a heavy loss and retired when about to be outflanked, scarcely losing a man, but bringing off forty-five prisoners.

upon this intelligence the army, strengthened by the arrival of General Bee and Colonel Elzey, and the 9th Georgia regiment, was ordered forward to the support of Jackson. It met him at Darksville, six miles from Martinsburg, where it took up a position for action, as General Patterson, it was supposed, was closely following Colonel Jackson. We waited for him in this position four days, hoping to be attacked by an adversary at least double our number, but unwilling to attack him in a town so defensible as Martinsburg, with its solid buildings and enclosures of masonry. Convinced at length that he would not approach us, I returned to Winchester, much to the disappointment of our troops, who were eager for battle with the invaders. Colonel Stuart, with his cavalry, as usual, remained near the enemy.

before the 15th of July, the enemy's force, according to the best intelligence to be obtained, amounted to about 38,000. ours had been increased by eight Southern regiments. On the 15th of July, Col. Stuart reported the advance of Gen. Patterson from Martinsburg. He halted, however, at Baker's Hall, nine miles from Winchester, where he remained on the 16th. On the 17th he moved to his left, to Smithfield. This created the impression that he intended to attack us on the south, or was merely holding us in check, while Gen Beauregard should be attacked at Manassas by Gen. Scott.

about one o'clock on the morning of July 18th, I received from the Government a telegraphic dispatch, informing me that the Northern army was advancing upon Manassas, then held by General Beauregard, and directing me, if practicable, to go to that officer's assistance, sending my sick to Culpeper Court-House.

in the exercise of the discretion conferred by the terms of the order, I at once determined to march to join General Beauregard. The best service which the army of the Shenandoah could vender was to prevent the defeat of that of the Potomac, to be able to do this, it was necessary, in the first instance, to defeat General Patterson or to elude him. The latter course was the most speedy and certain, and was, therefore, adopted. Our sick, nearly seventeen hundred in number, were provided for in Winchester, for the defence of that place the militia of Generals Carson and Moore seemed ample; for I thought it certain that General Patterson would my Government the ...

Colonel Stuart, the army moved through Ashley's Gap to Piedmont, a station of the Manassas Gap Railroad. Hence, the infantry were to be transported by the railway, while the cavalry and artillery were ordered to continue their march. I reached Manassas about noon on the 20th, preceded by the 7th and 8th Georgia regiments, and by Jackson's brigade, consisting of the 2d, 4th, 5th, 27th, and 38d Virginia, regiments. I was accompanied by General Bee, with the 4th Alabama, the 2d and two companies of the 11th Mississippi. The President of the Railroad company had assured me that the remaining troops should arrive during the day.

I found General Beauregard's position too extensive, and the ground too densely wooded and intricate to be learned in the brief time at my disposal, and therefore determined to rely upon his knowledge of it and of the enemy's positions. This I did readily, from full confidence in his capacity.

his troops were divided into eight brigades, occupying the defensive line of Bull Run. Brig.- Gen. Ewell's was posted at the Union Mills Ford; Brig.-Gen. D. R. Jones's at McLean's Ford; Brig.-Gen. Longstreet's at Blackburn's Ford; Brig. Gen. Bonham's at Mitchell's Ford; Col. Cocke's at Ball's Ford, some three miles above; and Col. Evans, with a regiment and battalion, formed the extensive left at the Stone Bridge. The brigades of Brig.-Gen. Holmes and Colonel Early were in reserve in rear of the right. I regarded the arrival of the remainder of the army of the Shenandoah during the night as certain, and Patterson's, with the Grand army, on the 22d, as probable. During the evening it was determined, instead of remaining in the defensive positions then occupied, to assume the offensive, and attack the enemy before such a junction.

General Beauregard proposed a plan of battle, which I approved without hesitation. He drew up the necessary order; during the night, which was approved formally by me at half-past 4 o'clock on the morning of the 21st. The Early movements of the enemy on that morning, and the non-arrival of the expected troops, prevented its execution.--General Beauregard afterwards proposed a modification of the abandoned plan — to attack with our right, while the left stood on the defensive. This, too, became impracticable, and a battle ensued, different in place and circumstance from any previous plan on our side.

soon after sunrise, on the morning of the 21st, a light cannonade was opened upon Col. Evans's position; a similar demonstration was made against the centre soon after, and strong forces were observed in front of it and of the right. About eight o'clock, Gen. Beauregard and I placed ourselves on a commanding Hill in rear of Gen. Bonham's left — near nine o'clock the signal officer, Capt. Alexander, reported that a large body of troops was crossing the Valley of Bull Run, some two miles above the Bridge. Gen. Bee, who had been placed near Col. Cocke's position, Colonel Hampton, with his legion, and Col. Jackson, from a Point near General Bonham's left, were ordered to hasten to the left flank.

the signal officer soon called our attention to a heavy cloud of dust to the Northwest, and about ten miles off, such as the march of an army would raise. This excited apprehensions of General Patterson's approach.

the enemy, under cover of a strong demonstration on our right, made a long detour through the woods on his right, crossed Bull Run two miles above our left, and threw himself upon the flank and rear of position. This movement was fortunately discovered in time for us to check its progress, and ultimately to form a new line of battle nearly at right angles with the defensive line of Bull Bun.

on discovering that the enemy had crossed the stream above him, Colonel Evans moved to his left with eleven companies and two field-pieces, to oppose his advance, and disposed his little force under cover of the woods near the intersection of the Warrenton Turnpike and the Sundley Road. Here he was attacked by the enemy in immensely superior numbers, against which he maintained himself with skill and unshrinking courage. General Bee, moving towards the enemy, guided by the firing, had, with a soldier's eye, selected the position near the Henry House, and formed his troops upon it. They were the 7th and 8th Georgia, 4th Alabama, 2d Mississippi, and two companies of the 11th Mississippi regiment, with Imboden's battery. Being compelled, however, to sustain Colonel Evans, he crossed the Valley and formed on the right and somewhat in advance of his position. Here the joint force, little exceeding five regiments, with six field-pieces, held the ground against about fifteen thousand United States troops for an hour, until, finding themselves outflanked by the continually arriving troops of the enemy, they fell back to General Bee's first position, upon the line of which Jackson, just arriving, formed his brigade and Stanard's battery. Col. Hampton, who had by this time advanced with his legion as far as the Turnpike, rendered efficient service in maintaining the orderly character of the retreat from that Point; and here fell the gallant Lieutenant-Colonel Johnson, his second in command.

in the meantime, I awaited with General Beauregard, near the centre, the full development of the enemy's designs. About 11 o'clock, the violence of the firing on the left indicated a battle, and the march of a large body from the enemy's centre towards the conflict was shown by clouds of dust. I was thus convinced that his great effort was to be made with his right. I stated that conviction to General Beauregard, and the absolute necessity of immediately strengthening our left as much as possible. Orders were accordingly at once sent General Holmes and Colonel Early to move with all speed to the sound of the firing, and to General Bonham to send up two of his regiments, and a battery. Gen. Beauregard and I then hurried at a rapid gallop to the scene of action about four miles off. On the way I directed my Chief of artillery, Col. Pendleton, to follow with his own and Alburtis's batteries. We came not a moment too soon. The long contest against five-fold odds and heavy losses, especially of field officers, had greatly discouraged the troops of Gen. Bee and Col. Evans. Our presence with them under fire, and some example, had the happiest effect on the spirit of the troops. Order was soon restored, and the battle re-established, to which the firmness of Jackson's brigade greatly contributed. Then, in a brief and rapid conference, General Beauregard was assigned to the command of the left, which, as the younger officer, he claimed, while I returned to that of the whole field. The aspect of affairs was artificial, but I had full confidence in the skill and indomitable courage of General Beauregard, the high soldierly qualities of Generals Bee and Jackson, and Colonel Evans, and the devoted patriotism of their troops. Orders were first dispatched to hasten the march of General Holmes's, Colonel Early's and General Bonham's regiments. General Ewell was also directed to follow with all speed.--many of the broken troops, fragments of companies and individual stragglers, were re-formed and brought into action with the aid of my staff and a portion of General Beauregard's. Colonel (Governor) Smith, with his battalion, and Colonel Hampton, with his regiment, were ordered up to reinforce the right. I have since learned that General Beauregard had previously ordered them into the battle. They belonged to his corps. Colonel Smith's cheerful courage had a fine influence, not only on the spirit of his own men, but upon the stragglers from the troops engaged. The largest body of these, equal to about four companies, having no competent field officer, I placed under command of one of my staff, Col. F. J. Thomas, who fell while gallantly leading it against the enemy. These reinforcements were all sent to the right to re-establish more perfectly that part of our line. Having attended to these pressing duties, at the immediate scene of conflict, my eye was next directed to Col. Cocke's brigade, the nearest at hand. Hastening to his position, I desired him to lead his troops into action. He informed me, however, that a large body of the enemy's troops beyond the stream and below the Bridge threatened us from that quarter. He was, therefore, left in his position.

my headquarters were now established near the Lewis House. From this commanding elevation my view embraced the position of the enemy beyond the stream and the approaches to the Stone Bridge, a Point of especial importance. I could also see the advances of our troops far down the Valley in the direction of Manassas, and observe the progress of the action and the manœuvres of the enemy.

we had now sixteen guns and two hundred and sixty cavalry and a little above nine regiments of the army of the Shenandoah, and six guns and less than the strength of three regiments of that of the Potomac, engaged with about thirty five thousand United States troops, amongst whom were full three thousand men of the old regular army. Yet this admirable artillery and brave infantry and cavalry lost no foot of ground. For nearly three hours they maintained their position, repelling five successive assaults by the heavy masses of the enemy, whose numbers enabled him continually to bring up fresh troops as their preceding columns were driven back. Col. Stuart contributed to one of these repulses by a well timed and vigorous charge on the enemy's right flank with two companies of his cavalry. The efficiency of our infantry and cavalry might have been expected from a patriotic people accustomed, like ours, to the management of arms and horses, but that of the artillery was little less than wonderful. They were opposed to batteries far superior in the number, range and equipment of their guns, with educated officers and thoroughly instructed soldiers. We had but one educated artillerist, Col Pendleton, that model of a Christian soldier, yet they exhibited as much superiority to the enemy in skill as in courage. Their fire was superior both in rapidity and precision.

about two o'clock, an officer of General. Beauregard's Adjutant General's office

from our left flank.

the expected reinforcements appeared soon after. Colonel Cocke was than desired to lead his brigade into action to support the right of the troops engaged, which he did with alacrity and effect. Within a half hour the two regiments of General Bonhom's brigade (Cash's and Kershaw's) came up, and were directed against the enemy's right, which he seemed to be strengthening. Fisher's North Carolina regiment was soon after came in the same direction. About 3 o'clock, while the enemy seemed to be striving to outflank and drive back our left and thus separate us from Manassas, General E. K. Smith arrived with three regiments of Elzey's brigade. He was instructed to attack the right flack of the enemy now exposed to us. Before the movement was completed he felt, severely wounded. Colonel Elzey at once taking command, executed it with great promptitude and vigor. General Beauregard rapidly seized the opportunity thus afforded him, and threw forward his whole line. The enemy was driven back from the long contested Hill and victory was no longer doubtful. He made yet another attempt to retrieve the day. He again extended his right with a still wider sweep to turn our left. Just as he re-formed to renew the battle, Colonel Early's three regiments came upon the field. The enemy's new formation exposed his right flank more even than the previous one. Colonel Early was, therefore, ordered to throw himself directly upon it, supported by Colonel Stuart's cavalry and Beckham's battery. He executed this attack bravely and well, while a simultaneous charge was made by General Beauregard in front. The enemy was broken by this combined attack. He lost all the artillery which he had advanced to the scene of the conflict; he had no more fresh troops to rally on, and a General rout ensued.

Instructions were instantly sent to General Bonham to march by the quickest routs to the Turnpike, to intercept the fugitives; and to General Longstreet, to follow as closely as possible upon the right. Their progress was checked by the enemy's reserve, and by night at Centreville.

Schenck's brigade made a slight demonstration towards Lewis's Ford, which was quickly checked by Holmes's brigade, which had just arrived from the right. His artillery, under Captain Walker, was used with great skill.

Col. Stuart pressed the pursuit of the enemy's principal line of retreat, the Sudley Road. Four companies of cavalry, under Colonel Bradford and Lieut.-Col. Munford, which I had held in reserve, were ordered to cross the stream at Ball's Ford, to reach the Turnpike, the line of retreat of the enemy's left. Our cavalry found the roads encumbered with dead and wounded, (many of whom seemed to have been thrown from wagons,) arms, accoutrements, and clothing.

a report came to me from the right that a strong body of United States troops were advancing upon Manassas. General Holmes, who had just reached the field, and General Ewell on his way to it, were ordered to meet this unexpected attack. They found no foe, however.

our victory was as complete as one gained by infantry and artillery can be. An adequate force of cavalry would have made it decisive.

it is due, under Almighty God, to the skill and resolution of General Beauregard, the admirable conduct of Generals Bee, E. K. Smith, and Jackson, and of Colonels (commanding brigades) Evans, Cocke, Earley, and Elzey, and the courage and any fielding firmness of our patriotic volunteers. The admirable character of our troops is incontestably proved by the result of this battle; especially when it is remembered that little more than six thousand men of the army of the Shenandoah, with sixteen guns, and less than two thousand of that of the Potomac, with six guns, for full five hours successfully resisted thirty-five thousand United States troops, with a powerful artillery and a superior force of regular cavalry. Our forces engaged, gradually increasing during the contest, amounted to but — men at the close of the battle. The brunt of this hard-fought engagement fell upon the troops who held their ground so long with such heroic resolution. The unfading honor with which they won was dearly bought with the blood of our best and bravest. Their loss was far heavier, in proportion, than that of the troops coming later into action.

every regiment and battery engaged performed its part well. The commanders of brigades have been already mentioned. I refer you to General Beauregard's report for the names of the officers of the army of the Potomac who distinguished themselves most. I cannot enumerate all of the army of the Shenandoah who deserve distinction, and will confine myself to those of high rank.--Colonels Bartow and Fisher, (killed,) Jones, (mortally wounded,) Harper, J. F. Preston, Cummings, Falkner, Gartrell, and Vaughan; J. E. B. Stuart of the cavalry, and Pendleton of the artillery, Lieutenant Colonel Echols, Lightfoot, Lackland, G. H. Stewart, and Gardner. The last-named gallant officer was severely wounded.

the loss of the army of the Potomac was 108 killed, 510 wounded, 12 missing. That of the army of the Shenandoah was 270 killed, 979 wounded, 18 missing.

Total killed378
Total wounded1,489
Total missing30

That of the enemy could not be ascertained. It must have been between 4,000 and 5,000. Twenty- eight pieces of artillery about 5,000 muskets, and nearly 500,000 cartridges; a garrison flag and 10 colors were captured on the field, or in the pursuit. Besides these, we captured 64 artillery horses, with their harness, 26 wagons, and much camp equipage, clothing, and other property abandoned in their flight.

The officers of my staff deserve high commendation for their efficient and gallant services during the day and the campaign, and I beg leave to call the attention of the Government to their merits. Major W. H. C. Whiting, Chief Engineer, was invaluable to me for his signal ability in his profession and for his indefatigable activity before and in the battle. Major McClean, Chief Quartermaster, and Major Kearsley, Chief Commissary, conducted their respective departments with skill and energy. Major Rhett, A. A. General, who joined me only the day before. was of great service. I left him at Manassas, and to his experience and energy I entrusted the care of ordering my troops to the field of battle as they should arrive, and for warding ammunition for the artillery during the action. Captains C. M. Fauntleroy, C. S. Navy, T. L. Preston, A. A. A. General, Lieutenant J. B. Washington, A. D. C., conveyed my orders bravely and well on this their first field, as did several gallant gentlemen who volunteered their services--Colonel Cole of Florida, Major Deas of Alabama, Colonel Duncan of Kentucky. Lieutenant Beverly Randolph, C. S. N., aided Colonel F. J. Thomas in the command of the body of troops he led into action, and fought with gallantry. With these was my gallant friend, Captain Barlow Mason, who was mortally wounded. I have already mentioned the brave death of ordnance officer Colonel F. J. Thomas. I was much indebted, also, to Colonels J. J. Preston, Manning, Miles, and Chisholm, and Captain Stevens, of the Engineer Corps, members of General Beauregard's staff, who kindly proffered their services, and rendered efficient and valuable aid at different times during the day. Colonel G. W. Lay, of General Bonham's staff, delivered my instructions to the troops sent in pursuit and to intercept the enemy, with much intelligence and courage.

It will be remarked that the three Brigadier-Generals of the Army of the Shenandoah were all wounded. I have already mentioned the wound of General Smith.--General Jackson, though painfully wounded early in the day, commanded his brigade to the close of the action. General Bee, after great exposure at the commencement of the engagement, was mortally wounded just as our reinforcements were coming up.

The apparent firmness of the United States troops at Centreville who had not been engaged, which checked our pursuit, the strong forces occupying the works near Georgetown, Arlington, and Alexandria, the certainty, too, that General Patterson, if needed, would reach Washington, with his army of thirty thousand men, sooner than we could, and the condition and inadequate means of the army in ammunition, provisions, and transportation, prevented any serious thoughts of advancing against the Capital. It is certain that the fresh troops within the works were, in number, quite sufficient for their defence; if not, Gen. Patterson's army would certainly reinforce them soon enough.

This report will be presented to you by my aide-de-camp, Lieut. J. B. Washington, by whom, and by General Beauregard's Aid, Lieut. Ferguson, the captured colors are transmitted to the War Department.

Most respectfully,
Your ob't, serv't,
[Signed,] J. E. Johnston, General.
[Official] R. H. Chilton,
A. A. General.

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