Bull Run — the volunteers face fire
The turning point of the battle: ruins of the Stone Bridge — Bull Run, Virginia
Across this little stream that was destined to mark the center of the first, and in many respects the most desperate, battle of the Civil War, we see what was left of the bridge after the day had ended in a Federal rout (see “Bull Run,” page 142). On the farther side of Bull Run the Confederates under Beauregard had taken their stand with the stream as a contested barrier between them and McDowell's troops.
At daylight of July 21, 1861, Tyler's division advanced to this bridge.
It was a day of confusion on both sides.
First, the Confederates were driven back in disorder by the impetuous onslaught of the Federals.
These were congratulating themselves upon a victory, when Johnston's reinforcements from Winchester fell upon the rear of their right, and threw the lines into confusion.
Back across the field fled the first memorable Federal rout.
The little bridge was soon groaning with the weight of the men struggling to get across it. Finally, in frantic haste, it was destroyed by the Federals to delay the dreaded pursuit.
Here Federal engineers are rebuilding the bridge, in order to forward supplies to the army that is some thirty miles to the south in the wooded Virginia country, but dependent on communications with the base at Washington. |
Troops that fought at Bull Run — a three months company
When Lincoln issued his call for volunteers on the evacuation of Sumter, Rhode Island was one of the first to respond.
We here see Company “D” of the First Regiment (organized April, 1861), as it looked during its encampment at Camp Sprague, Washington, from April 24th to July 16th, 1861.
The care-free faces of the men lack all the gravity of veterans.
In the famous first battle of the war, the regiment was in Burnside's Brigade of Hunter's Division, which marched some miles to the north, crossed Bull Run at Sudley Ford, met the Confederates north of Young's Branch, and drove them south across the stream to the Henry house plateau.
Later it yielded to the panic which seized upon the Union army.
On August 2, 1861, Company “D” closed its brief career in the conflict that was to fill four years with continuous combat. |
There had been strife, a bloodless, political strife, for forty years between the two great sections of the American
No efforts to reconcile the estranged brethren of the same household had been successful.
The ties that bound the great sections of the country had severed one by one; their contention had grown stronger through all these years, until at last there was nothing left but a final appeal to the arbitrament of the sword — then came the great war, the greatest Civil War
in the annals of mankind.
For the first time in the nation's history the newly-elected President
had entered the capital city by night and in secret, in the fear of the assassin's plots.
For the first time he had been inaugurated under a military guard.
Then came the opening shots, and the ruined walls of the noble Fort in Charleston harbor
told the story of the beginnings of the fratricidal war. The fall of Sumter
, on April 14, 1861, had aroused the North
to the imminence of the crisis, revealing the danger that threatened the Union
and calling forth a determination to preserve it. The same event had unified the South
; four additional States cast their lot with the seven which had already seceded from the Union
, the Old Dominion, the first born of the sisterhood of States, swung into the secession column but three days after the fall of Sumter
; the next day, April 18th, she seized the arsenal at Harper's Ferry
and on the 20th the great navy-yard at Norfolk
Two governments, each representing a different economic
[A complete record of leading events and the various engagements, giving the troops involved and casualties between January, 1861, and August, 1862, appears on page 344.--The Editors.]
The Southerner of the hour in 1861.
Born in New Orleans on May 28, 1818, the Southern leader upon whom at first all eyes were turned, Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard, was graduated from the U. S. Military Academy in 1838.
Gallant and dashing, he won the brevets of Captain and Major in the war with Mexico and was wounded at Chapultepec.
Early in 1861 he resigned from the army, and joined the Confederacy, being in command of the Confederate forces in the firing on Fort Sumter in April.
Owing to his forceful personality, he became a popular and noted leader in the Confederacy.
After the Union defeat at Manassas, he was looked upon as the coming Napoleon.
He was confirmed as Major-General in the Confederate army on July 30, 1861, but he had held the provisional rank of Brigadier-General since February 20th, before a shot was fired.
After his promotion to Major-General, he commanded the Army of the Mississippi under General A. S. Johnston, whom he succeeded at Shiloh.
He defended Charleston, S. C., in 1862-3 and afterward commanded the Department of North Carolina and Southeastern Virginia.
He died at New Orleans in 1893. |
and political idea, now stood where there had been but one--the North
, with its powerful industrial organization and wealth; the South
, with its rich agricultural empire.
Both were calling upon the valor of their sons.
At the nation's capital all was confusion and disorder.
The tramp of infantry and the galloping of horsemen through the streets could be heard day and night.
Throughout the country anxiety and uncertainty reigned on all sides.
Would the South
return to its allegiance, would the Union
be divided, or would there be war?
The religious world called unto the heavens in earnest prayer for peace; but the rushing torrent of events swept on toward war, to dreadful internecine war.
The first call of the President
for troops, for seventy-five thousand men, was answered with surprising alacrity.
Citizens left their farms, their workshops, their counting rooms, and hurried to the nation's capital to take up arms in defense of the Union
A similar call by the Southern President
was answered with equal eagerness.
Each side believed itself in the right.
Both were profoundly sincere and deeply in earnest.
Both have won the respect of history.
After the fall of Fort Sumter
, the two sides spent the spring months marshaling their forces for the fierce conflict that was to follow.
had called for three-months' volunteers; at the beginning of July some thirty thousand of these men were encamped along the Potomac
about the heights of Arlington
As the weeks passed, the great Northern public grew impatient at the inaction and demanded that Sumter
be avenged, that a blow be struck for the Union
The “call to arms” rang through the nation and aroused the people.
No less earnest was the feeling of the South
, and soon two formidable armies were arrayed against each other, only a hundred miles apart — at Washington
and at Richmond
The commander of the United States Army was Lieut.-General Winfield Scott
, whose military career had begun before most of the men of 1861 had been born.
Aged and infirm,
Young southerners at Richmond making light of war
Skylarking before the lens of the Confederate photographer, we see the Boys in Gray just before Bull Run had taught them the meaning of a battle and elated them with the conviction of their own prowess.
The young and confident troops on both sides approached this first severe lesson of the war in the same jocular spirit.
There is not a serious face in the picture.
The man flourishing the sword bayonet and the one with the drawn dagger are marking with mock heroics their bravado toward the coming struggle, while the one with the musket stands debonair as a comic-opera soldier.
The pipe-clay cross belt and breast plate, the cock plumes in the “shapo” of the officer, indicate that the group is of a uniformed military organization already in existence at the beginning of the war. There was no such paraphernalia in the outfit of Southern troops organized later, when simplicity was the order of the day in camp. |
he remained in Washington
The immediate command of the army was entrusted to Brigadier-General Irvin McDowell
Another Union army, twenty thousand strong, lay at Martinsburg, Virginia
, under the command of Major-General Patterson
, who, like General Scott
, was a veteran of the War
of 1812 and of the Mexican War
, at Manassas Junction
, about thirty miles from Washington
, lay a Confederate army under Brigadier-General Beauregard
who, three months before, had won the homage of the South
by reducing Fort Sumter
Opposed to Patterson
in the Shenandoah valley was Joseph E. Johnston
with a force of nine thousand men. The plans of the President
and General Scott
were to send McDowell
, while Patterson
was to detain Johnston
in the Valley
and prevent him from joining Beauregard
It was confidently believed that, if the two Confederate forces could be kept apart, the “Grand Army” could win a signal victory over the force at Manassas
; and on July 16th, with waving banners and lively hopes of victory, amid the cheers of the multitude, it moved out from the banks of the Potomac
toward the interior of Virginia
It was a motley crowd, dressed in the varied uniforms of the different State militias.
The best disciplined troops were those of the regular army, represented by infantry, cavalry, and artillery.
Even the navy was drawn upon and a battalion of marines was included in the Union
In addition to the regulars were volunteers from all the New England
States, from New York and Pennsylvania
and from Ohio
, and Minnesota
, organizations which, in answer to the President
's call for troops, had volunteered for three months service.
Many were boys in their teens with the fresh glow of youth on their cheeks, wholly ignorant of the exhilaration, the fear, the horrors of the battle-field.
Onward through the Virginia plains
and uplands they marched to the strains of martial music.
Unused to the rigid discipline of war, many of the men would drop out of line to gather
One of the first Union volunteer regiments.
The First Minnesota, a regiment that fought in the flanking column at Bull Run.
On April 14, 1861, the day after Sumter's surrender, the Federal Government received an offer of a volunteer regiment from Minnesota, and on April 29, the First Minnesota was mustered into service by Lieutenant W. W. Sanders, U. S. A. Under Colonel Willis A. Gorman, the regiment proceeded to Washington in June and, attached to Franklin's Brigade, Heintzelman's Division of McDowell's Army, at Bull Run gave an excellent account of itself, finally retiring from the field in good order.
A record for conspicuous bravery was sustained by the First Minnesota throughout the war, notably its famous charge on the field of Gettysburg, July 2, 1863.
The photograph was taken just before the regiment left Fort Snelling in 1861.
In the front line the first from the left is Lieut. Colonel Stephen Miller, the next is Colonel Gorman.
On his left hand is Major Dyke and next to him is Adjutant W. B. Leach.
Between the last two and behind them is Captain William Colvill, while at the left hand of Adjutant Leach is Captain Mark Downie.
At the extreme right of the picture stands General J. B. Sanborn with Lieutenant Sanders (mustering officer) on his right hand, and on Sanders' right is the Honorable Morton S. Wilkinson.
Colvill, as Colonel, led the regiment in its Gettysburg charge. |
berries or tempting fruits along the roadside, or to refill their canteens at every fresh stream of water, and frequent halts were necessary to allow the stragglers to regain their lines.
After a two days march, with “On to Richmond
” as their battle-cry, the army halted at the quiet hamlet of Centreville
, twenty-seven miles from Washington
and seven miles from Manassas Junction
where lay the waiting Confederate army of similar composition — untrained men and boys.
Men from Virginia
, from North
and South Carolina
, from the mountains of Tennessee
, from Alabama
, and Georgia
, even from distant Arkansas
, had gathered on the soil of the Old Dominion State
to do battle for the Southern
Between the two armies flowed the stream of Bull Run
, destined to give its name to the first great battle of the impending conflict.
The opposing commanders, McDowell
, had been long-time friends; twenty-three years before, they had been graduated in the same class at West Point
knew of the coming of the Federal
The news had been conveyed to him by a young man, a former government clerk at Washington
, whose sympathies, however, lay with the cause of the South
He won the confidence of Beauregard
The latter sent him to the capital city bearing a paper with two words in cipher, “Trust bearer.”
With this he was to call at a certain house, present it to the lady within, and wait a reply.
Traveling all night, he crossed the Potomac
, and reached the city at dawn, when the newsboys were calling out in the empty streets the latest intelligence of the army.
The messenger rang the doorbell at a house within a stone's throw of the White House
and delivered the scrap of paper to the only one in the city to whom it was intelligible.
She hurriedly gave the youth his breakfast, wrote in cipher the words, “Order issued for McDowell
to march upon Manassas
to-night,” and giving him the scrap of paper, sent him on his way. That night the momentous bit of news was in the hands of General Beauregard
He instantly wired
Eve of the conflict
Stone Church, Centreville, Virginia.--Past this little stone church on the night of July 20, 1861, and long into the morning of the twenty-first marched lines of hurrying troops.
Their blue uniforms were new, their muskets bright and polished, and though some faces were pale their spirits were elated, for after their short training they were going to take part, for the first time, in the great game of war. It was the first move of the citizen soldier of the North toward actual conflict.
Not one knew exactly what lay before him. The men were mostly from New England and the Middle States.
They had left desk and shop and farm and forge, and with the thought in their minds that the war would last for three months the majority had been mustered in. Only the very wise and farseeing had prophesied the immensity of the struggle, and these were regarded as extremists.
Their ideas were laughed at. So on they went in long lines down the road in the darkness of the night, chattering, laughing and talking carelessly, hardly realizing in the contagion of their patriotic ardor the grim meaning of real war. The battle had been well planned, but who had had the experience, even among the leaders, to be sure of the details and the absolute carrying out of orders?
With the exception of the veterans of the Mexican War, who were regulars, there was not one who had ever maneuvered a thousand men in the field.
A lesson lay before them and it was soon to come.
The surprising battle that opened early in the morning, and whose results spread such consternation through the North, was really the result of popular clamor.
The press and the politicians demanded action, and throughout the South the same confident and reckless spirit prevailed, the same urging to see something done. |
and asked that he be reenforced by Johnston
As we have seen, General Scott
had arranged that Patterson
in the Valley
He had even advised McDowell
that “if Johnston
he shall have Patterson
on his heels.”
But the aged Patterson
was unequal to the task before him. Believing false reports, he was convinced that Johnston
had an army of thirty-five thousand men, and instead of marching upon Johnston
he led his army to Charleston
, twenty miles in the opposite direction.
thereupon was free to join Beauregard
, and he promptly proceeded to do so.
's eager troops had rested at Centreville
for two days. The time for them to test their mettle in a general engagement was at hand.
Sunday, July 21st, was selected as the day on which to offer battle.
At half-past 2 in the morning the sleeping men were roused for the coming conflict.
Their dream of an easy victory had already received a rude shock, for on the day after their arrival a skirmish between two minor divisions of the opposing armies had resulted in the retreat of the Union
forces after nineteen of their number lay dead upon the plain.
The Confederates, too, had suffered and fifteen of their army were killed.
But patriotic enthusiasm was too ardent to be quenched by such an incident, and eagerly, in the early dawn of the sultry July morning, they marched toward the banks of the stream on which they were to offer their lives in the cause of their country.
The army moved out in three divisions commanded by Generals Robert O. Tyler
, David Hunter
, and S. P. Heintzelman
Among the subordinate officers was Ambrose E. Burnside
, who, a year and five months later, was to figure in a far greater and far more disastrous battle, not many miles from this same spot; and William T. Sherman
, who was to achieve a greater renown in the coming war.
On the Southern
side we find equally striking characters.
Prelude to the combat-blackburn's Ford
This crossing of Bull Run, was on July 18, 1861, the scene of a lively prelude to the first great combat.
General Daniel Tyler, commanding a division of McDowell's army, pushed a reconnaissance to the north bank of the stream near this Ford.
Confederates posted on the opposite bank fired upon Tyler's advance line, driving it back in disorder.
Tyler then withdrew “satisfied that the enemy was in force” at this point.
This picture was taken the next year, while Rickett's division of the McDowell Corps was encamped at Manassas. |
A three months regiment — the Third Connecticut
The Third Connecticut was present on the field of Bull Run.
The men had enlisted in April, 1861, and their time was all but up in July, for they were three months men. Their drilling had taken place for a short time in their home State and afterward in the camps around Washington.
They were mostly artisans and farmer boys with a sprinkling of mill hands and men of business from the larger towns.
The regiment was attached to Tyler's division, of McDowell's army.
and suffered little in the battle.
The total losses, including deaths from sickness, in this regiment, which was mustered out at the end of its service, amounted to five all told.
It goes without saying, however, that many re-enlisted and again went to the front, where they stayed until the conflict ended. |
General Joseph E. Johnston
was not held by Patterson
in the Valley
and with a portion of his army had reached Manassas
on the afternoon of the 20th.
In the Indian
wars of Jackson
's time Johnston
had served his country; like McDowell
, he had battled at the gates of Mexico
; and like the latter he chose to cast his lot with the fortunes of the South
There, too, was Longstreet
, who after the war was over, was to spend many years in the service of the country he was now seeking to divide.
Most striking of all was “Stonewall
, whose brilliant military career was to astonish the world.
The Union plan for this fateful July day was that Tyler
should lead his division westward by way of the Warrenton turnpike
to a stone bridge that crossed Bull Run
, about four miles from Centreville
At the same time the main army under Hunter
was to make a detour of several miles northward through a dense forest to a ford of Bull Run
, known as Sudley's Ford.
Here they were to cross the stream, march down its right bank and, while Tyler
guarded the Stone Bridge
, engage the foe on the west side of Bull Run
The plan of the battle was admirably drawn, but the march around to Sudley's Ford was slower than had been expected, and it was ten o'clock before the main army reached the point west of the Stone Bridge
While the Federals
were making their plans to attack the Confederate
left wing, Generals Beauregard
were planning an aggressive movement against the left wing of the Federal
They were to cross Bull Run
by fords several miles below the Stone Bridge
and attack the Northern
troops on the weaker wing of the Union
force in an effort to rout them before relief could be sent from the Federal
The Confederate attack was planned to take place a few hours later than McDowell
had decided to move.
The Southern troops were preparing to cross the stream when the boom of cannon at the Stone Bridge
told that the Federals
had taken the aggressive and that the
Bull Run-battlefield of the morning, July 21, 1861
Along Bull Run Creek on the morning of July 21st Tyler's division vigorously attacked from the east the Confederates under Longstreet and Beauregard on the western bank.
By this attack McDowell hoped to succeed in falling unexpectedly on the rear of the Confederate left with the force sent on a detour of some three miles to the north.
A charge of fresh troops brought forward by Beauregard in person in the late afternoon started the panic of the raw Union volunteers. . . . “Men who had fought courageously an hour before, had become as hares fleeing from pursuing hounds.
The confusion was increased and multiplied by the presence among the fugitives of a multitude of panic-stricken picnickers, Congressmen, civilians of every sort, and lavishly dressed women — who had gone out in carriages and carryalls to see the spectacle of a Federal army walking over the Confederates.
The Confederates fed fat for days afterward upon the provisions that the picnickers abandoned in their flight.”
General Beauregard's headquarters
The handsome old colonial mansion known as the McLean House was near Manassas station, not far from Blackburn's Ford, the scene of a sharp encounter preliminary to the battle of Bull Run.
Tyler's division of McDowell's army, finding the Confederates had retreated from Centreville, attacked near here on the morning of July 18th.
A vigorous cannonade opened the action, and a shell landing in the fireplace of the McLean house deprived General Beauregard of his dinner. |
weak Confederate left was in danger of being overwhelmed by the superior numbers of the Union
Orders countermanding the command to attack were quickly sent to the Southerners at the lower fords, and preparations were hurriedly made to repulse the attack of the Northern
reached the Stone Bridge
before six in the morning and opened fire on a Confederate force under Colonel Evans
on the other side of the run. For some time this was kept up, and Evans
was much puzzled that the Federals
did not attempt to cross the bridge; they merely kept up a desultory fire.
The failure of the Union
troops to advance led Evans
to believe that Tyler
's attack was only a feint and that the real attacking force would approach from some other direction.
This belief was confirmed when he descried a lengthening line of dust above the tree-tops far in the distance, north of the Warrenton turnpike
was now convinced (and he was right) that the main Union army was marching to Sudley's Ford, three miles above the Stone Bridge
, and would reach the field from that direction.
Quickly then he turned about with six companies of brave South Carolinians and a battalion of “Louisiana
Tigers” and posted them on a plateau overlooking the valley of Young's Branch
, a small tributary of Bull Run
Here, not far from the Matthews
and Carter houses, he awaited the coming of the Federals
His force was stationed overlooking the Sudley and New-market road and an open field through which the Federal
troops would be forced to pass to reach the higher ground held by the Confederates
Two 6-pound howitzers were placed to sweep the field of approach, one at each end of Evans
' line of defense.
With guns loaded, and howitzers ready to pour their charges into an advancing force, the Southerners stood and watched the line of dust that arose above the trees.
It moved slowly to the westward.
Then, where the Sudley
road turns to the southward to cross the Sudley Ford
, it followed the
Where a Federal victory seemed assured
Sudley Church--July 21, 1861.--This Methodist Episcopal church stood a half mile south of the ford by which Hunter and Heintzelman crossed Bull Run.
These troops crossed Cat Harpin Run, seen in the foreground, by the ford at the left, and marched southward past the church.
A mile farther south Burnside's brigade engaged the Confederate troops led by Colonel Evans.
As Evans' men fell back, Johnston deemed the situation “critical.”
The remains at the right of the picture are of the Sudley Sulphur Spring House. |
Thornton's House — Bull Run--July 21, 1861
This house, which stood some three miles north of the battlefield of the afternoon, marked the northern point of the detour of the divisions of Hunter and Heintzelman.
The Confederate Colonel Evans, who held the extreme left of Beauregard's line, and whose suspicions had been aroused, marched upstream with half a brigade and confronted the turning column beyond the turnpike.
Instead of deploying a line of battle, Hunter sent successive detached regiments and brigades against it. Evans, heavily reinforced, took up a new position in the rear. |
trend of the highway.
It reached the crossing of Bull Run
, and the line of dust faded as the Federals
spread into battle-line behind the expanse of woodland that hid each column from the other's view.
It was nearing ten o'clock. The rays of the summer sun were beating in sweltering heat upon the waiting troops.
Those who could find shelter beneath the trees moved from their places into the shade.
Heavy banks of storm clouds were gathering on the horizon, giving promise of relief from oppressive warmth.
A silence settled over the ranks of the Confederates
as they watched the edge of the woodland for the first appearance of the approaching troops.
Suddenly there was a glimmer of the sunlight reflected from burnished steel among the trees.
Then, in open battle array, the Federal
advance guard, under the command of Colonel Burnside
, emerged from the wood on a neighboring hill, and for the first time in the nation's history two hostile American armies faced each other in battle array.
At Fort Sumter
only the stone walls had suffered; not a drop of human blood was shed.
But here was to be a gigantic conflict, and thousands of people believed that here on this field on this day would be decided the fate of the Union
and the fate of the Confederacy
The whole country awaited in breathless expectancy the news of this initial conflict, to become known as the battle of Bull Run
With little delay the battle opened.
The Federals had a clear advantage in numbers as their outlying forces came up; but they met with a brave resistance.
, of South Carolina
, with two brigades, crossed a valley to the south of Evans
in the face of a heavy artillery fire to a point within one hundred yards of the Federal
At this short range thousands of shots were fired and many brave men and boys were stretched upon the green.
The outcome at this point was uncertain until the Union
forces were joined by Heintzelman
with heavy reenforcements and by Sherman
with a portion of
Here “Stonewall” Jackson won his name
Robinson House, Bull Run.--“Stonewall” Jackson won his name near this house early in the afternoon of July 21st.
Meeting General Bee's troops retreating in increasing disorder, he advanced with a battery to the ridge behind the Robinson House and held the position until Bee's troops had rallied in his rear.
“Look at Jackson standing there like a stone wall,” was the sentence that gave birth to his historic nickname.
It was General Bee who uttered these words, just before he fell, adding, “Rally on the Virginians.”
Where the Confederates wavered
Center of Battle of Morning--July 21, 1861.--North of this house, about a mile, the Confederate Colonel Evans met the columns of Burnside and Porter in their advance south from Sudley Ford.
Though reinforced by General Bee, he was driven back at noon to this house in the valley near Young's Branch.
Here a vigorous Union charge swept the whole battle to the hill south of the stream.
General Bee sent for reinforcements, saying that unless he could be supported “all was lost.”
could now do nothing but withdraw, and in doing so his men fell into great disorder.
Cheer after cheer arose from the ranks of the Union
Meanwhile, Generals Beauregard
had remained at the right of their line, near Manassas
, nearly four miles from the scene of action, still determined to press their attack on the Federal
left if the opportunity was offered.
As the morning passed and the sounds of conflict became louder and extended further to the westward, it became evident to the Confederate
leaders that the Federals
were massing all their strength in an effort to crush the left of the Southern
Plans for an aggressive movement were then abandoned, the commanders withdrawing all their reserve forces from the positions where they had been held to follow up the Confederate
attack, and sending them to the support of the small force that was holding back the Federals
After dispatching troops to threaten the Union
galloped at full speed to the scene of the battle.
They arrived about noon — at the moment when Bee
's brigade was fleeing across the valley from the hail of Federal bullets.
As the frightened men were running in the utmost disorder, General Bee
, seeing Thomas J. Jackson
's brigade calmly waiting the onset, exclaimed to his men, “Look at Jackson
; there he stands like a stone wall!”
The expression spread to the army and to the world, and that invincible soldier has since been known as “Stonewall
found it a herculean task to rally the fleeing men and re-form the lines, but they succeeded at length; the battle was renewed, and from noon till nearly three o'clock it raged with greater fury than before.
The fight was chiefly for the possession of the plateau called the Henry
Up and down the slopes the two armies surged in the broiling sun. Beauregard
, like McDowell
on the other side, led his men in the thickest of the fight.
A bursting shell killed his horse under him and tore the heel from his boot; he mounted
The storm center of the battle, Bull Run, July 21, 1861
Near where the ruins of this house (the Henry House) are shown, in the middle of the afternoon, the raw, undisciplined volunteers of both sides surged back and forward with the heroism and determined courage of rugged veterans until the arrival of fresh Confederate troops turned the tide, and in the crowning hour of Union victory precipitated the flight and contagious panic.
The Union batteries commanded by Ricketts and Griffin had moved across Young's Branch and taken up a position on the Henry Hill.
Confederate sharpshooters from bushes, fences and buildings picked off cannoneers and horses.
Thirteen Confederate and eleven Federal guns engaged in a stubborn duel till the Confederate regiments swarmed from cover and captured the Union position.
The City of Washington was now threatened. |
another horse and continued the battle.
At half-past 2 the Confederates
had been entirely driven from the plateau, had been pressed back for a mile and a half, and for the second time within three or four hours the Union
troops raised the shout of victory.
At three o'clock, while McDowell
and his men were congratulating themselves on having won the battle, a faint cheering was heard from a Confederate army far across the hills.
It grew louder and nearer, and presently the gray lines were seen marching gallantly back toward the scene of the battle from which they had been driven.
The thrilling cry then passed through the Union
has come, Johnston
and there was terror in the cry. They did not know that Johnston
, with two-thirds of his army, had arrived the day before; but it was true that the remaining third, twenty-three hundred fresh troops, had reached Manassas
at noon by rail, and after a forced march of three hours, under the command of Kirby Smith
, had just united with the army of Beauregard
It was this that caused the cheering and determined Beauregard
to make another attack on the Henry plateau
The Union men had fought valiantly in this, their first battle, untrained and unused to warfare as they were; they had braved the hail of lead and of bursting shells; they had witnessed their comrades, their friends, and neighbors fall at their feet to rise no more.
They nevertheless rejoiced in their success.
But with the long march and the five hours fighting in the scorching July sun they were weary to exhaustion, and when they saw the Confederates
again approaching, reenforced with fresh troops, their courage failed and they began to retreat down the hill.
With waving colors the Confederates
pressed on, opening a volley of musketry on the retreating Federals, and following it with another and another.
In vain McDowell
and his officers attempted to rally his panic-stricken men and re-form his lines.
Only the regulars,
The lost chance.
Confederate fortifications at Manassas.
The Confederates did not follow up their success at Bull Run. “Having won the completest and most conspicuous victory of modern times, they set to work to fortify themselves for defence against the enemy they had so disastrously overthrown, precisely as if they had been beaten in the fight, and were called upon to defend themselves against aggression at the hands of an enemy to be feared.”
It was the lost chance — many military writers aver they could have swept on to Washington.
The Federals fully expected them to do so and all was alarm and confusion within the city.
The North never quite got over the haunting fear that the Confederate army would some day redeem that error and the defenses of the capital were made well nigh impregnable. |
The road that changed hands twice
The Orange & Alexandria R. R. Manassas Station.
Part of the eastern defenses constructed by the Confederates after “Bull Run” during the winter of 1861-2.
Confederate troops had been withdrawn in March, 1862, as the first move in the spring campaign.
This view, taken in August, 1862, after the Union occupation of the abandoned works, looks down the road towards Union Mills ford.
At the close of Pope's disastrous campaign against Richmond the railroad again fell into the hands of Lee's army. |
about sixteen hundred in number, were subject to the orders of their superiors, and they made a brave stand against the oncoming foe while they covered the retreat of the disorganized mass.
On the Henry
hill were the two powerful batteries of Griffin
and the Ricketts
They had done valiant service while the tide of battle ebbed and flowed.
But at last their hour had come.
A Confederate regiment, dashing from a neighboring hill, poured in a deadly volley, cut down the cannoneers almost to a man, killed their horses, and captured the guns.
A few minutes later General Beauregard
rode up to the spot and noticed Captain Ricketts
lying on the ground, desperately wounded.
The two men had been friends in the years gone by. Beauregard
, recognizing his old friend, asked him if he could be of any service.
He then sent his own surgeons to care for the wounded captain and detailed one of his staff to make him comfortable when he was carried to Richmond
as a prisoner of war.
There is little more to relate of the battle of Bull Run
The Union troops could not be rallied.
As they ran down hill and across the plain they became an utterly disorganized mass of frightened men. Some crossed the Stone Bridge
, others forded the stream, and all ran panic-stricken toward Centreville
, leaving their dead and wounded, their arms and ammunition, in the hands of the victorious Confederates.
Some hundreds of civilians, members of Congress and others, had come out from Washington
to witness a victory for the Grand Army
, and they saw that army scattered in wild flight to escape an imaginary pursuer.
The Confederates made no serious effort to follow after them, for the routed Federals had destroyed the Stone Bridge
as they passed it in their retreat, and had obstructed the other avenues of pursuit.
As darkness settled over the field the Confederates
returned to their camps.
made a desperate effort to check and reorganize his army at Centreville
, but he was powerless.
The troops refused to listen to any commands; they rushed on and
The principal Fort at Centreville, 1861-2
This almost circular Fort was constructed in the village of Centreville, Va., by the Confederates during the winter of 1861-2.
All about it on the North can be seen the quarters in which the Confederate troops wintered after their victory at Bull Run.
This picture was taken in March, 1862, when the Federals had occupied the abandoned works.
From Centreville McDowell sent a reconnaisance in force July 18, 1861, under General D. Tyler to feel for the Confederate position.
A strong force under Longstreet was encountered at Blackburn's Ford and a spirited engagement followed.
This was the prelude to the battle of July 21st. |
The dummy guns
Here is another well-built field work of the Confederates at Centreville, Va. We are looking north along the line of the earthworks east of the town and can see the abandoned Confederate winter quarters on the left.
When the Confederates evacuated this line dummy guns of rough hewn logs were placed in position to deceive the Federals into the belief that the works were still occupied in force.
Centreville did not fall into the hands of the Federals until the Peninsula Campaign caused its abandonment.
In the lower picture we see the dummy guns in position, and in the upper two of them are lying on the ground. |
great numbers of them traveled all night, reaching Washington
in the morning.
These raw troops had now received their first baptism of blood and fire.
Nearly five hundred of their number were left dead on the field of battle, and fourteen hundred were wounded.
The captured and missing brought the Federal
loss to nearly three thousand men. The Confederate loss in killed, wounded, and missing was less than two thousand.
The Federal forces engaged were nearly nineteen thousand, while the Confederates
had more than eighteen thousand men on the field.
The Confederate victory at Bull Run
did the South
great injury in that it led vast numbers to believe the war was over and that the South
had won. Many soldiers went home in this belief, and for months thereafter it was not easy to recruit the Southern
, on the other hand, was taught a needed lesson — was awakened to a sense of the magnitude of the task before it.
The first great battle of the American Civil War
brought joy to the Confederacy
and grief to the States of the North
As the Federal
troops marched into Washington
through a drenching downpour of rain, on July 22d, the North
was shrouded in gloom.
But the defeated army had not lost its courage.
The remnants of the shattered forces were gathered, and from the fragments a mightier host was to be rallied under the Stars and Stripes to meet the now victorious foe on future battle-grounds.
Work thrown away--Confederate entrenchments at Centreville
A big gun of the kind now mounted in any of the coast defenses of the United States could have dropped a shot from these entrenchments within a short distance of the heart of Washington.
Yet here the Southern army remained after the battle of Bull Run.
It is a moot question whether Johnston's victorious troops could ever have reached the Federal capital.
Judging from the awful panic into which the city and its defenders had been thrown, the disorganization of army divisions, brigades and regiments due to defeat, perhaps a vigorous Confederate advance might have succeeded.
At all events there is no gainsaying that the Confederate batteries could have reached the Virginia shores of the Potomac and from there made a target of the Capitol itself.
Later in the war had such a victory been given to either side the very men themselves would have gone forward.
Nothing could have stopped them.
But the Confederates, like their opponents, had it all to learn.
So, content with what they had done, they constructed elaborate defenses around Manassas, then rested.
Meanwhile Washington became one huge fortress and the city was surrounded on all sides by fortifications and soldiers at drill.
Ceaseless and untiring were the preparations.
There is no doubt that in the lull that followed before the opening of the Peninsula Campaign the Federal cause gained momentum.
When all was ready and the time ripe for a forward movement the Confederate works at Centreville and Manassas were abandoned.
Here we see some Union soldiers viewing the deserted forts. |
A school for soldiers, McClellan's arduous task
Five days after the disastrous battle of Bull Run, on July 26, 1861, Major-General George B. McClellan was called from his successes in West Virginia to take charge of the raw dispirited troops huddled near Washington.
All during the fall and the winter he applied himself to the herculean task of forging the broken regiments and new levies into the powerful weapon that became famous as the Army of the Potomac.
Besides, this young leader exerted his abilities as an engineer to devise in all its details the system of defensive works from Alexandria to Georgetown, and employed his unrivaled talents for organization in supplying the newly created army with all the material indispensable for an army in the field.
This picture shows the Christmas Day parade of the Second Maine Infantry at Camp James near Washington, 1861.
The regiment, with others, took part in the incessant drilling required to give the raw “thinking soldier” the “blind unquestioning obedience” necessary to military success.
The Second Maine served in the Army of the Potomac two years and lost 139 men. After Chancellorsville, it was ordered home and the three-year men were transferred to the Twentieth Maine Infantry. |
Making an army — the twenty-sixth New York
Passing before us is a regiment that is yet to taste war in its reality.
The regimental drum corps is in position, and, as the marching men step out smartly, the camera catches them as perfectly as would the instantaneous photography of to-day.
The scene is within Fort Lyon--one of the outlying defenses of Washington below Alexandria.
To the defenses established about the capital came the raw recruits who flocked to the standard of the Union at the call of President Lincoln.
Not only were they to serve as defenders of the capital, but here, during the winter of 1861-2, they were made into soldiers for service in the field.
McClellan is said to have created an army out of a mob during this period, but the men we see before us — the Twenty-Sixth New York--although green at the game of war when they enlisted, came from stock that makes good soldiers, and from the State which furnished the most men to the Federal cause and suffered the heaviest losses in battle during the struggle.
The Twenty-Sixth was one of the two-years regiments and its term of service covered some of the hardest fighting in the war. It went into the battle of Fredericksburg 300 strong, and came out with a loss of 170, nearly sixty per cent. |
Drilling the 96th Pennsylvania at Camp Northumberland, near Washington--1861
Along this sloping hillside, well suited for a camp, we see a Federal regiment at its full strength, before bullets and sickness had lowered its numbers to a mere skeleton of its former self.
The band is out in front, the men are standing at “shoulder arms;” the Colonel and his Major and Adjutant, mounted on their sleek, well-fed horses, are grouped at one side, conscious that the eye of the camera is upon them.
There is an old adage among military men that “a straight shot takes the best.”
When a freshly joined regiment, recruited to its full strength, reached the army corps to which it had been assigned and which had been for a long time actively engaged, it caused comment that well may be understood.
“Hello, here comes a new brigade!”
cried a veteran of the Potomac who had seen eight months continuous service, calling the attention of a companion to a new regiment just marching into camp.
exclaimed the other, “I'll bet my hat it's a division!”
There are instances in plenty where a company commander found himself at the head of less than a score of men; where regiments that had started a 1,000 strong could muster but some 200 odd, and where, in a single action, the loss in killed, wounded and missing was over sixty per cent. of those engaged.
We begin to understand what war is when we stop to think of this. |
Scott — the first Lieutenant-General after Washington.
Upon Winfield Scott, hero of the Mexican War, fell the responsibility of directing the Union armies at the outbreak of the Civil War. Sitting here with his staff in Washington, second in command only to President Lincoln, his fine countenance and bearing betoken the soldierly qualities which made him one of the first commanders of his age. In active service for half a century, he had never lost a battle.
Born in Petersburg, Virginia, in 1786, he was now in his seventy-fifth year.
On his left in the picture stands Colonel E. D. Townsend; on his right, Henry Van Rensselaer. General Scott retired on October 31, 1861. |