overlooking the strong position of the enemy, situated at Blackburn's Ford, or Bull Run. A moment's observation discovered a battery on the opposite bank, but no great body of troops, although the usual pickets and small detachments showed themselves on the left of the position. Suspecting, from the natural strength which I saw the position to possess, that the enemy must be in force, and desiring to ascertain the extent of that force and the position of his batteries, I ordered up the two rifled guns, Ayres' battery, and Richardson's entire brigade, and subsequently Sherman's brigade in reserve, to be ready for any contingency. As soon as the rifled guns came up, I ordered them into battery on the crest of the hill, nearly a mile from a single battery which we could see placed on the opposite side of the run. Ten or a dozen shots were fired, one of them seeming to take effect on a large body of cavalry, who evidently thought themselves out of the range. The battery we had discovered on our arrival fired six shots and discontinued fire. Finding that our fire did not provoke the enemy to discover his force and his batteries, I ordered Col. Richardson to advance his brigade, and to throw out skirmishers to scour the thick woods with which the whole bottom of Bull Run was covered. This order was skilfully executed, and the skirmishers came out of the wood into the road, and close to the ford, without provoking any considerable fire from the enemy. Desiring to make a further attempt to effect the object of the movement, and discovering an opening low down on the bottom of the stream, where a couple of howitzers could be put into battery, I ordered Capt. Ayres to detach a section, put himself on the ground I pointed out to him, and sent a squadron of cavalry to support this movement. The moment Capt. Ayres opened his fire, the enemy replied with volleys which showed that the whole bottom was filled with troops, and that he had batteries established in different positions to sweep all the approaches by the road leading to Blackburn's Ford. Capt. Ayres maintained himself most gallantly, and after firing away all his canister shot and some spherical case with terrible effect, as we afterwards learned, withdrew his pieces safely and rejoined his battery. This attack on Capt. Ayres accomplished the object I desired, as it showed that the enemy was in force, and disclosed the position of his batteries, and had I been at hand the movement would have ended here; but Col. Richardson, having previously given an order for the 12th New York to deploy into line and advance into the woods, in an attempt to execute this order the regiment broke, (with the exception of two companies, A and I, who stood their ground gallantly,) and was only rallied in the woods some mile and a half in the rear. The fire which the regiment encountered was severe, but no excuse for the disorganization it produced. Having satisfied myself that the enemy was in force, and also as to the position of his batteries, I ordered Col. Richardson to withdraw his brigade, which was skilfully though unwillingly accomplished, as he requested permission, with the 1st Massachusetts and 2d and 3d Michigan regiments, to charge the enemy and drive him out. It is but justice to these regiments to say that they stood firm, manoeuvred well, and I have no doubt would have backed up manfully the proposition of their gallant commander. After the infantry had been withdrawn, I directed Capt. Ayres and Lieut. Benjamin, who commanded the two 20-pounders, to open their fire both on the battery which enfiladed the road leading to the ford and on the battery which we had discovered in the bottom of Bull Run, which we knew to be surrounded by a large body of men. This fire was continued from three until four o'clock, firing 415 shots. The fire was answered from the enemy's batteries gun for gun, but was discontinued the moment we ceased firing. The concentrated position of the enemy, and the fact that the elevation of our battery and the range were both favorable, induce the belief that the enemy suffered severely from our fire, and this belief is confirmed by the fact that the ensuing day, until twelve M., ambulances were seen coming and going from and to Manassas, two miles distant. In closing this report, it gives me great pleasure to call to your attention the gallant conduct of Col. Richardson, Capt. Britchschneider, who commanded the skirmishers, Capt. Ayres, Lieut. Loraine, who, I regret to say, was wounded, Lieuts. Dresser, Lyford, and Fallen, attached to Ayres' battery, and Lieuts. Benjamin and Babbitt, in charge of the two 20-pounder rifled guns, all of whom displayed great coolness, energy, and skill in the discharge of their official duties. With great respect, your obedient servant,
Official report of Colonel Richardson.
camp of the 4TH brigade, 1ST Div., Gen. Mcdowell's corps, in front of Blackburn's Ford, on Bull Run, July 19, 1861.General: I have the honor to report that I left the camp at Germantown at an early hour yesterday morning, my brigade consisting of the 2d and 3d Michigan regiments, the 1st Massachusetts regiment, and the 12th New York. A battalion of light infantry, consisting of 40 men from each regiment--160 in all — commanded by Capt. Robert Britchschneider of the 2d regiment of Michigan Infantry, moved in front of the brigade some 500 yards in advance, and threw pickets still further in advance of the road. A section of 20-pounder rifled guns, commanded by Lieut. Benjamin of the 5th Artillery, moved in the rear of the light battalion. The march of the column was slow, so as to prevent surprise. No enemy appeared at Centreville, three miles from camp,