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The Sixth Corps at the Second Bull Run.

by William B. Franklin, Major-General, U. S. V.
The Sixth Corps left Harrison's Landing on the James River on August 16th. 1862, and arrived at Newport News on August 21st. On the 22d and 23d it embarked on transports for Aquia Creek. My impression is that Burnside's corps started first, landing at Aquia Creek; Porter's disembarked at Aquia Creek; Heintzelman's followed, landing at Alexandria; and the Sixth Corps followed Heintzelman's. As soon as I saw the infantry of the corps embarked at Newport News, leaving the chiefs of the quartermaster and subsistence departments and the chief of artillery to superintend the embarkation of the property for which they were responsible, with orders to hasten their departure to the utmost, I preceded the transports, and on Sunday, August 24th, about 2 o'clock, arrived at Aquia Creek, at which point I had orders to disembark and report to General McClellan. The wharves here were so encumbered with the artillery and stores that were already landed for the corps of Burnside and Porter, that McClellan directed me to have my corps landed at Alexandria, and to report upon my arrival to General Halleck. Still preceding the corps, I reported to General Halleck at Washington, arriving there about 4 o'clock P. M. The city was as quiet as though profound peace reigned; no one was at General Halleck's office to whom I could report, and I found him at his house. He told me that he felt under no apprehension about Pope's position, and that he doubted whether it would be necessary for me to go to the front at all; that in any event I could be of no use until my artillery and horses arrived — instancing the fact that Burnside had been much crippled, and had done little good so far, on account of the absence of his artillery. He directed me to go into camp in front of Alexandria, and reorganize the corps as the artillery and transportation reached the camp. The infantry arrived on Monday and Tuesday, the 25th and 26th, but no artillery horses, except sixteen, had arrived on Wednesday night.

The two division commanders and myself were constantly at work during this time, endeavoring to get horses. But we had no success, the answer to our demands always being that the teams then present were absolutely necessary to feed the troops in the forts from day to day, and that this duty was more important under the circumstances than that of providing transportation for artillery. Without transportation the artillery could not be used.

On Wednesday, the 27th, news having arrived that the enemy was at Centreville, Taylor's brigade of Slocum's division was sent there on the cars of the Orange and Alexandria Railroad to reconnoiter. It was received at the railroad bridge over Bull Run by a force of the enemy's artillery and infantry, and lost its gallant commander and many men. The brigade was with-drawn in safety in the face of a large force, four brigades of A. P. Hill's division, Jackson's corps. The order for this movement came from General Halleck. Thursday, the 28th, was employed in organizing such batteries as had arrived, with the horses, which now began to arrive slowly, and in [540] attempting to collect a train for carrying provisions to General Pope's army. Little was accomplished, however. On Friday, the corps was started to the front with orders to communicate with General Pope, and at the same time to guard his communications with Alexandria. On the arrival of the leading division, commanded by General W. F. Smith, at Annandale, ten miles to the front, its commander reported to me that fugitives were constantly coming in, and reported a large force of the enemy near Fairfax Court House, six miles distant. As he had with him only ten rounds of ammunition for each gun, he considered it prudent to await further orders. General McClellan, upon learning this state of things, directed me to stop at Annandale for the night, and proceed the next morning at 6.

During the night more ammunition and provision wagons were collected, numbering about one hundred, and as I was starting in the morning at the designated time I received orders to delay my start until 8:30 A. M., to protect the train so formed. When I arrived at Fairfax Court House I detached a brigade of General Slocum's division and one battery to take position to guard the point where the Little River Turnpike joins the Warrenton pike between Centreville and Alexandria. The detachment of this brigade had an important effect upon the after events of the campaign, as will appear. Proceeding onwards toward Centreville I received, at 1:30 P. M., an order from General McClellan, directing me to join General Pope at once. The corps marched forward through Centreville toward Bull Run about three miles in front of Centreville, without stopping. Going to the front I found General Slocum's division formed across the road, in front of Cub Run, stopping what seemed to be an indiscriminate mass of men, horses, guns and wagons, all going pell-mell to the rear. As General Slocum expressed it, it was as bad as the Bull Run retreat of 1861. Officers of all grades, from brigadier-general down, were in the throng, but none of them exercised any authority. We gathered about three thousand in a yard near by. Presently a force of cavalry appeared to the left and front, about one mile off, and the fugitives, imagining that they were the enemy, ran to the rear as one man;--nothing could stop them.

General W. F. Smith's division was posted in a good position on hills in the vicinity, and shortly afterward Generals Pope and McDowell appeared, and I reported to General Pope. He directed me to return to Centreville, upon which place his army was falling back. The corps remained at Centreville during the 31st of August with the bulk of the army, the enormous trains in the meantime moving toward Washington. On the morning of that day, on my own responsibility, I sent a grand guard, consisting of the 5th Wisconsin infantry under Colonel Amasa Cobb, and a section of artillery, to the Cub Run Bridge, to guard the rear of the army. Large bodies of the enemy appeared in its front, but no attack was made on it. So far as I know, this was the only rear-guard between Pope and the enemy on the 31st of August.

On September 1st, the corps marched to Fairfax Court House with General Pope, and remained there until the evening of the 2d of September, when it moved back to the vicinity of Alexandria. [541]

Colonel (afterward General) Torbert, who commanded the detachment left at Fairfax Court House on August 30th, reports that about 8 o'clock on the night of the 31st the enemy brought three pieces of artillery about three hundred yards from his pickets, and fired upon the trains then crowding the turnpike in his rear, causing great confusion. Torbert drove off the enemy's artillery, reported to General Pope, and on the next morning was reenforced by a brigade and two batteries. It appears from General J. E. B. Stuart's report of his operations that this attack was made by him. Had Colonel Torbert's brigade not been present to defend this very vulnerable point, Stuart's cavalry would easily have been in rear of the army that night; the trains would in all probability have been utterly destroyed, and another great disaster would have occurred. The wisdom of General McClellan's order, which directed me to guard General Pope's communications with Alexandria, was thus demonstrated.

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