was not more than nine and a half miles; and though they had three days provisions served out to them the day before, many no doubt either did not eat them, or threw them away on the march or during the battle, and were therefore without food. They had done much severe fighting. Some of the regiments which had been driven from the hill in the first two attempts of the enemy to keep possession of it had become shaken, were unsteady, and had many men out of the ranks. It was at this time that the enemy's reinforcements came to his aid from the railroad train, understood to have just arrived from the valley with the residue of Johnston's army. They threw themselves in the woods on our right and towards the rear of our right, and opened a fire of musketry on our men, which caused them to break and retire down the hillside. This soon degenerated into disorder, for which there was no remedy. Every effort was made to rally them, even beyond the reach of the enemy's fire, but in vain. The battalion of regular infantry alone moved up the hill opposite to the one with the house on it, and there maintained itself until our men could get down to and across the Warrenton turnpike, on the way back to the position we occupied in the morning. The plain was covered with the retreating troops, and they seemed to infect those with whom they came in contact. The retreat soon became a rout, and this soon degenerated still further into a panic. Finding this state of affairs was beyond the efforts of all those who had assisted so faithfully during the long and hard day's work in gaining almost the object of our wishes, and that nothing remained on the field but to recognize what we could no longer prevent, I gave the necessary orders to protect their withdrawal, begging the men to form in line, and offer the appearance, at least, of organization. They returned by the fords to the Warrenton road, protected, by my order, by Colonel Porter's force of regulars. Once on the road, and the different corps coming together in small parties, many without officers, they became intermingled, and all organization was lost. Orders had been sent back to Miles's division for a brigade to move forward and protect this retreat, and Colonel Blenker's brigade was detached for this purpose, and was ordered to go as far forward as the point where the road to the right left the main road. By referring to the general order it will be seen that, while the operations were to go on in front, an attack was to be made at Blackburn's Ford, by the brigade (Richardson's) stationed there. A reference to his report, and to that of Major Hunt, commanding the artillery, will show that this part of the plan was well and effectively carried out. It succeeded in deceiving the enemy for a considerable time, and in keeping in check a part of his force. The fire of the artillery at this point is represented as particularly destructive. At the time of our retreat, seeing great activity in this direction, much firing, and columns of dust, I became anxious for this place, fearing if it were turned or forced, the whole stream of our retreating mass would be captured or destroyed. After providing for the protection of the retreat by Porter's and Blenker's brigades, I repaired to Richardson's, and found the whole force ordered to be stationed for the holding of the road from Manassas by Blackburn's Ford to Centreville, on the march, under the orders from the Division-Commander for Centreville. I immediately halted it and ordered it to take up the best line of defence across the ridge that their position admitted of, and subsequently taking in person the command of this part of the army, I caused such disposition of the forces which had been added to by the First and Second New Jersey and the De Kalb regiments, ordered up from Runyon's reserve before going forward, as would best serve to check the enemy. The ridge being held in this way, the retreating current passed slowly through Centreville to the rear. The enemy followed us from the ford as far as Cub Run, and, owing to the road becoming blocked up at the crossing, caused us much damage there, for the artillery could not pass, and several pieces and caissons had to be abandoned. In the panic the horses hauling the caissons and ammunition were cut from their places by persons to escape with, and in this way much confusion was caused, the panic aggravated, and the road encumbered. Not only were pieces of artillery lost, but also many of the ambulances carrying the wounded. By sundown most of our men had gotten behind Centreville ridge, and it became a question whether we should or not endeavor to make a stand there. The condition of our artillery and its ammunition, and the want of food for the men, who had generally abandoned or thrown away all that had been issued the day before, and the utter disorganization and consequent demoralization of the mass of the army, seemed to all who were near enough to be consulted — division and brigade commanders and staff — to admit of no alternative but to fall back; the more so as the position at Blackburn's Ford was then in the possession of the enemy, and he was already turning our left. On sending the officers of the staff to the different camps, they found, as they reported to me, that our decision had been anticipated by the troops, most of those who had come in from the front being already on the road to the rear, the panic with which they came in still continuing and hurrying them along. At — o'clock the rear guard (Blenker's brigade) moved, covering the retreat, which was effected during the night and next morning. The troops at Fairfax station leaving by the cars took with them the bulk of the supplies which had been sent there. My aide-de-camp, Major Wadsworth, stayed at Fairfax court-house
This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
Battle of Bull Run .
Doc . 4 .- N. Y. Tribune narrative.
Doc . 59 : a Virginian who is not a traitor: response of Lieut. Mayo , U. S. N. , to the proclamation of Gov. Letcher .
Doc . 65 -speech of Galusha A. Grow , on taking the Chair of the House of Representatives of the United States , July 4 .
Doc . 135 .- Virginia ordinance, prohibiting citizens of Virginia from holding office under the United States , passed July , 1861 .
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