previous next

[82] ensuing morning for the hour of leaving camp. Three days rations were to be served out by the commissary, and the tents of each regiment to remain standing and under guard.

In the moonlight of the stillest hour of the night our force of 36,000 men began to move, in pursuance of the following arrangement for the advance: On the left, or southernmost road, the gallant Colonel Richardson, be it remembered, had continued to hold the approach to the field where he fought so bravely on Thursday, his command consisting of the Fourth Brigade of Tyler's Division, viz., the Second and Third Michigan, tile First Massachusetts, and the Twelfth New York regiments. It was rightly determined that these troops, if they fought at all, should be apportioned to ground of which they already had partial knowledge. Behind Richardson, and near Centreville, Col. Miles was to take up his position in reserve, with his entire First and Second brigades. These included the Eighth (German Rifles) and Twenty-ninth New York regiments, the Garibaldi Guard and the Twenty-fourth Pennsylvania, the Sixteenth, Eighteenth, Thirty-first, and Thirty-second New York regiments, and the Company G (Second Artillery) battery-the one lately brought from Fort Pickens. Thus Richardson could call to his support, if necessary, a reserve of 7,000 men, in addition to the 4,000 with which he was instructed to hold his position, to prevent the enemy from moving on Centreville past our left, but not to make any attack. The centre, on the Warrenton road, commanded by Gen. Tyler, consisted of the First and Second Brigades of the Tyler Division, embracing the First and Second Ohio, and Second New York regiments, under Gen. Schenck, and the Sixty-ninth, Seventy-ninth, and Thirteenth New York, and Second Wisconsin, under Col. Sherman. Carlisle's, Rickett's, and Ayres's battery, accompanied this important column, which numbered 6,000 men, and which was supported in time rear by the Third Tyler Brigade, under Col. Keyes, consisting of the First, Second, and Third Connecticut regiments, and the Fourth Maine--a force of 3,000, available at a moment's call. On the extreme right Col. Hunter took the lead, with the two brigades of his Division, viz., the Eighth and Fourteenth New York regiments under Col. Porter, with a battalion of the Second, Third, and Eighth regular infantry, a portion of the Second cavalry, and the Fifth Artillery battery, under Col. Burnside; the First and Second Ohio, the Seventy-first New York, and two New Hampshire regiments,with the renowned Rhode Island battery. After Hunter's followed Col. Heintzelman's Division, including the Fourth and Fifth Massachusetts and the First Minnesota regiments, with a cavalry company and a battery, all under Col. Franklin, and the Second, Fourth, and Fifth Maine and Second Vermont regiments under Col. Howard. To about 14,000 men was thus intrusted the difficult and most essential labor of turning the enemy by a circuitous movement on the right, and these troops, as i eventuated, were to experience the larger part of the sanguinary fighting of the day.

On the night preceding the battle Gen. Cameron visited the camp, reviewed the Third Tyler brigade, passed a few hours with Gen. McDowell, and then left for Washington, in spirits depressed by no premonition of the disaster which was to befall our arms, and the private grief which would add a deeper sorrow to the feelings he now experiences. After midnight a carriage was placed at Gen. McDowell's tent, which was to bear him to the scene of action. In order to be ready to move with the Army I went down to the familiar quarters of Lieutenant Tompkins, whose company was attached to the general's escort, and there slept an hour while our horses ate the only forage they were to have for a day and a half. At two o'clock we were awakened; the army had commenced to move.

The midnight march.

There was moonlight, as I have said; and no moonlight scene ever offered more varying themes to the genius of a great artist. Through the hazy valleys, and on hill-slopes, miles apart, were burning the fires at which forty regiments had prepared their midnight meal. In the vistas opening along a dozen lines of view, thousands of men were moving among the fitful beacons; horses were harnessing to artillery, white army wagons were in motion with the ambulances-whose black covering, when one thought about it, seemed as appropriate as that of the coffin which accompanies a condemned man to the death before him. All was silent confusion and intermingling of moving horses and men. But forty thousand soldiers stir as quickly as a dozen, and in fifteen minutes from the commencement of the bustle every regiment had taken its place, ready to fall in to the division to which it was assigned. General McDowell and staff went in the centre of Tyler's, the central column. At 2 1/2 A. M. the last soldier had left the extended encampments, except those remaining behind on guard.

The central line appeared to offer the best chances for a survey of the impending action, and in default of any certain pre-knowledge, was accompanied by all non-participators whom interest or duty had drawn to the movement of the day. In order to obtain a full review of its moonlight march to the most momentous effort of the campaign, I started at the extreme rear, and rapidly passed along to overtake the van of the column. For some way the central and right divisions were united, the latter forming off, as I have explained, about a mile beyond Centreville. So, leaving camp a mile below the village, I enjoyed the first spectacle of the day — a scene never to pass from the memory of those who saw it. Here were thousands of comrades-in-arms going forward to lay down their lives in a common cause. Here was all, and more than one had read of the solemn paraphernalia of war. These were


Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Centreville (Virginia, United States) (3)
Washington (United States) (1)
Warrenton (Virginia, United States) (1)
Fort Pickens (Florida, United States) (1)
Carlisle, Pa. (Pennsylvania, United States) (1)

Visualize the most frequently mentioned Pleiades ancient places in this text.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: