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Doc. 104.-the fight at Blackburn's Ford, Va. July 18, 1861.

Report of Gen. Tyler.

Headquarters, 1ST Division, Department N. E. Virginia, Washington, July 27, 1861.
Gen. McDowell, Commanding Department:--
sir: On the 18th inst. you ordered me to take my division, with two 20-pound rifled guns, and move against Centreville, to carry that position. My division moved from its encampment at 7 A. M. At 9 A. M. Richardson's brigade reached Centreville, and found that the enemy had retreated the night before--one division on the Warrentown turnpike, in the direction of Gainsville, and the other, and by far the largest division, toward Blackburn's Ford, or Bull Run. Finding that Richardson's brigade had turned the latter point and halted for the convenience of obtaining water, I took a squadron of cavalry and two light companies from Richardson's brigade, with Col. Richardson, to make a reconnoissance, and, in feeling our way carefully, we soon found ourselves [337] 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,

Daniel Tyler, Brig.-Gen. Commanding lst Division. Brig.-Gen. Mcdowell, Commanding N. E. Virginia.

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, [338] he having abandoned his intrenchments the night before.

On advancing one mile in front of Centreville, I came to a halt near some springs to procure water for the brigade, and Gen. Tyler and myself left with a squadron of cavalry and two companies of infantry for the purpose of making a reconnoissance, to the front, which, on arriving one mile in front of Blackburn's Ford, proved that the enemy had a battery in rear of the run so as to enfilade the road. He had also strong pickets of infantry and skirmishing parties occupying the woods and houses in front of his position. The battalion of light infantry was now ordered to deploy five hundred yards in front of the eminence upon which this camp is situated, and a position was at once taken by the rifled guns, which now opened their fire.

This fire was not answered by the enemy until several rounds had been fired, and I pushed forward the skirmishers to the edge of the woods, they driving in those of the enemy in fine style, and then brought up the 1st Massachusetts regiment to their support, the skirmishers still advancing into the woods.

Capt. Brackett's squadron of the 2d Cavalry, and two 12-pounder howitzers, commanded by Capt. Ayers, 5th U. S. Artillery, now moved up into an opening in the woods, in support. The enemy also opened another battery more to our left, so as to cross fire with the other upon the road. I ordered up at this time the 12th New York regiment, Col. Walrath, to the left of our battery, and it being formed in line of battle, I directed it to make a charge upon their position, the skirmishers still pushing forward and drawing the enemy's fire, but keeping themselves well covered. I now left the position of the 12th New York regiment to place upon the right of the battery the Massachusetts and the 2d and 3d Michigan regiments, when a very heavy fire of musketry and artillery was opened by the enemy, along his whole line. On moving toward our left, I found the 12th New York regiment had fallen back out of the woods in disorder, only parts of two companies, some sixty men in all, remaining in line, and retreating. The howitzers, and also the cavalry, had been withdrawn; our left was thus exposed, although the skirmishers still held their ground in the woods, and the three remaining regiments on the right remained firm and determined.

I now reported to Gen. Tyler that the main body of the New York regiment had fallen back in confusion, and I proposed to make a charge with the three remaining regiments, for the purpose of carrying the enemy's position. The General replied that the enemy were in large force and strongly fortified, and a further attack was unnecessary; that it was merely a reconnoissance which he had made, that he had found where the strength of the enemy lay, and ordered me to fall back in good order to our batteries on the hill, which we did, the enemy closing his fire before we left the ground, and not returning to make an effort to follow us. Our batteries on the hill now opened fire, sustained by the Second Michigan regiment on the right, in close column by divisions — the other two regiments forming line of battle on the left. The New York regiment, after some time, formed under cover of the woods in rear. In this affair our skirmishers advanced so close to the enemy's works and batteries that two mounted officers were killed inside the breastworks, and one of our men was shot through the shoulder with a revolver by one of the enemy's officers, and one of their cannoneers was bayoneted by one of our men while the former was engaged in loading his gun. Our skirmishers, also, in falling back, had several of their wounded bayoneted by order of the enemy's officers.

The enemy's intrenchments and batteries appeared to be in rear of the creek called Bull Run. The batteries on the extreme right of their line were on high ground, and fired over the heads of their infantry in front. At night we fell back to Centreville for water and rations, and this morning have again occupied our ground upon the hill in front of the enemy, they being in large force, and having their pickets and skirmishers in the woods, and in front of them, as yesterday. I have the honor also to inclose a statement of our loss incidental to this affair. I have the honor to be,

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

J. B. Richardson, Col. Commanding Fourth Brigade, First Division. To Brig.-Gen. Tyler, Commanding First Division.

List of casualties incident to the affair at Blackburn's Ford.

Third Regiment U. S. Artillery, Company E, Captain Ayers, Fifth Artillery, commanding.--First Lieut. Loraine wounded. 2 privates killed, 1 private wounded. 4 horses killed, 3 horses wounded.

Capt. Brackett's Squadron, Companies G and I, Second Cavalry.--1 sergeant and 2 privates wounded. 8 horses wounded.

Light Infantry Battalion, Capt. Britchschneider.--1 sergeant and 1 private killed. 4 privates wounded, (3 of the Second Michigan.)

Twelfth New York Regiment, Col. Walrath commanding.--1 corporal and 4 privates killed. 1 corporal and 18 privates wounded. 1 corporal and 9 privates missing.

Second Michigan Infantry, Col. J. B. Richardson commanding.--1 private wounded.

Third Michigan Infantry, Col. McConnell commanding.--1 private wounded.

total.--19 killed, 38 wounded, and 26 missing; 4 horses killed and 11 wounded.

J. B. Richardson, Col. Commanding Fourth Brigade, First Division.

Beauregard's official report.

Headquarters, 1ST corps army of the Potomac, Manassas, August, 1861.
General: With the general results of the engagement between several brigades of my [339] command and a considerable force of the enemy, in the vicinity of Mitchell's and Blackburn's Fords of Bull Run, on the 18th ultimo, you were made duly acquainted at the time by telegraph, but it is my place now to submit in detail the operations of that day.

Opportunely informed of the determination of the enemy to advance on Manassas, my advanced brigades, on the night of the 16th of July, were made aware from these Headquarters of the impending movement; and in exact accordance with my instructions, a copy of which is appended, marked “A,” their withdrawal within the lines of Bull Run was effected with complete success during the day and night of the 17th ultimo in face of, and in immediate proximity to a largely superior force, despite a well-planned, well-executed effort to cut off the retreat of Bonham's brigade--first at Germantown, and subsequently at Centreville, whence he withdrew by my direction, after midnight, without collision, although enveloped on three sides by their lines. This movement had the intended effect of deceiving the enemy, as to my ulterior purposes, and led him to anticipate an unresisted passage of Bull Run.

As prescribed in the first and second sections of the paper herewith, marked “A,” on the morning of the 18th of July, my troops resting on Bull Run, from Union Mills Ford to the Stone Bridge, a distance of about eight miles, were posted as follows:

Ewell's brigade occupied a position in vicinity of Union Mills Ford. It consisted of Rhode's 5th and Siebel's 6th regiments of Alabama, and Seymour's 6th regiment of Louisiana volunteers, with four 12-pounder howitzers, of Walton's battery, and Harrison's, Green's and Cabell's companies of Virginia cavalry.

D. R. Jones' brigade was in position in rear of McLean's Ford, and consisted of Jenkins' 5th South Carolina, and Bunt's 15th and Fetherstone's 18th regiments of Mississippi volunteers, with two brass 6-pounder guns of Walton's battery, and one company of cavalry.

Longstreet's brigade covered Blackburn's Ford, and consisted of Moore's 1st, Garland's 11th and Crose's 17th regiments Virginia volunteers, with two 6-pounder brass guns of Walton's battery.

Bonham's brigade held the approaches to Mitchell's Ford; it was composed of Kershaw's 2d, Williams' 3d, Bacon's 7th and Cash's 8th regiments South Carolina volunteers; of Shields' and Del Kemper's batteries, and of Flood's, Radford's, Payne's, Ball's, Wickman's and Powell's companies of Virginia cavalry, under Col. Radford.

Cocke's brigade held the Fords below and in vicinity of the Stone Bridge, and consisted of Wither's 18th, Lieutenant-Colonel Strange's 19th, and R. T. Preston's 28th regiments, with Latham's battery and one company of cavalry, Virginia volunteers.

Evans held my left flank and protected the Stone Bridge crossing, with Sloane's 4th regiment South Carolina volunteers, Wheat's Special Battalion Louisiana volunteers, four 6-pounder guns and two companies of Virginia cavalry.

Early's brigade, consisting of Kemper's 7th, Early's 24th regiment of Virginia volunteers, Hays' 7th regiment Louisiana volunteers, and three rifle pieces of Walton's battery. Lieutenant Squires' at first were held in position in the rear of, and as a support to, Ewell's brigade, until after the development of the enemy in heavy offensive force, in front of Mitchell's and Blackburn's Fords, when it was placed in rear of and nearly equidistant between McLean's, Blackburn's, and Mitchell's Fords.

Pending the development of the enemy's purpose, about ten (10) o'clock A. M., I established my Headquarters at a central point, McLean's farm-house, near to McLean's and Blackburn's Fords, where two 6-pounders of Walton's battery were in reserve; but, subsequently during the engagement, I took post to the left of my reserve.

Of the topographical features of the country thus occupied, it must suffice to say that Bull Run is a small stream running in this locality, nearly from West to East, to its confluence with the Occoquan River, about twelve miles from the Potomac, and draining a considerable scope of country, from its source in Bull Run Mountain, to a short distance of the Potomac at Occoquan. At this season, habitually low and sluggish, it is, however, rapidly and frequently swollen by the summer rains until unfordable. The banks for the most part are rocky and steep, but abound in long used fords. The country, on either side much broken and thickly wooded, becomes gently rolling and open as it recedes from the stream. On the Northern side the ground is much the highest, and commands the other bank completely. Roads traverse and intersect the surrounding country in almost every direction. Finally, at Mitchell's Ford, the stream is about equidistant between Centreville and Manassas, some six miles apart. On the morning of the 18th, finding that the enemy was assuming a threatening attitude, in addition to the regiments, whose positions have been already stated, I ordered up from Camp Pickens, as a reserve, in rear of Bonham's brigade, the effective men of 6 companies of Kelley's Eighth regiment Louisiana volunteers, and Kirkland's Eleventh regiment North Carolina volunteers, which, having arrived the night before en route for Winchester, I had halted in view of the existing necessities of the service. Subsequently the latter was placed in position to the left of Bonham's brigade.

Appearing in heavy force in front of Bonham's position, the enemy, about meridian, opened fire, with several 20-pounder rifle guns from a hill, over one and a half miles from Bull Run. At the same time Kemper, supported by two companies of light infantry, occupied a [340] ridge on the left of the Centreville road, about six hundred yards in advance of the ford, with two 6-pounder (smooth) guns. At first the firing of the enemy was at random, but by half past 12 P. M. he had obtained the range of our position, and poured into the brigade a shower of shot, but without injury to us in men, horses, or guns. From the distance, however, our guns could not reply with effect, and we did not attempt it, patiently awaiting a more opportune moment.

Meanwhile a light battery was pushed forward by the enemy, whereupon Kemper threw only six solid shot, with the effect of driving back both the battery and its supporting force. This is understood to have been Ayres' battery, and the damage must have been considerable to have obliged such a retrograde movement on the part of that officer.

The purposes of Kemper's position having now been fully served, his pieces and support were withdrawn across Mitchell's Ford, to a point previously designated, and which commanded the direct approaches to the ford.

About half-past 11 o'clock A. M., the enemy was also discovered by the pickets of Longstreet's brigade advancing in strong columns of infantry, with artillery and cavalry, on Blackburn's Ford.

At meridian the pickets fell back silently before the advancing fire across the ford, which — as well as the entire southern bank of the stream, for the whole front of Longstreet's brigade — was covered at the water's edge by an extended line of skirmishers, while two 6-pounders of Walton's battery, under Lieut. Garnett, were advantageously placed to command the direct approach to the ford, but with orders to retire to the rear as soon as commanded by the enemy.

The northern bank of the stream, in front of Longstreet's position, rises with a steep slope at least fifty feet above the level of the water, leaving a narrow berme in front of the ford of some 20 yards. This ridge formed for them an admirable natural parapet, behind which they could, and did approch, under shelter, in heavy force, within less than 100 yards of our skirmishers; the southern shore was almost a plain, raised but a few feet above the water for several hundred yards, then rising with a very gradual, gentle slope, and undulations, back to Manassas. On the immediate bank there was a fringe of trees, but with little, if any, undergrowth or shelter, while on the other shore there were timber and much thick brush and covering. The ground in the rear of our skirmishers, and occupied by our artillery, was an old field extending along the stream about one mile, and immediately back for about half a mile to a border or skirting of dense, second-growth pines. The whole of this ground was commanded at all points by the ridge occupied by the enemy's musketry, as was also the country to the rear, for a distance much beyond the range of 20-pounder rifle guns, by the range of hills on which their batteries were planted, and which, it may be further noted, commanded also all our approaches from this direction to the three threatened fords.

Before advancing his infantry the enemy maintained a fire of rifle artillery from the batteries just mentioned for half an hour, then he pushed forward a column of over 3,000 infantry to the assault, with such a weight of numbers as to be repelled with difficulty by the comparatively small force at not more than twelve hundred bayonets, with which Brigadier-General Longstreet met him with characteristic vigor and intrepidity. Our troops engaged at this time were the First and Seventeenth, and four companies of the Eleventh regiment Virginia volunteers; their resistance was resolute, and maintained with a steadiness worthy of all praise; it was successful, and the enemy was repulsed. In a short time, however, he returned to the contest with increased force and determination, but was again foiled and driven back by our skirmishers and Longstreet's reserve companies, which were brought up and employed at the most vigorously assailed points at the critical moment.

It was now that Brigadier-General Longstreet sent for reenforcements from Early's brigade, which I had anticipated by directing the advance of Gen. Early, with two regiments of infantry and two pieces of artillery. As these came upon the field the enemy had advanced a third time with heavy numbers to force Longstreet's position. Hay's regiment, 7th Louisiana volunteers, which was in advance, was placed on the bank of the stream, under some cover, to the immediate right and left of the ford, relieving Corse's regiment, 17th Virginia volunteers; this was done under a heavy fire of musketry, with promising steadiness. The 7th Virginia, under Lieutenant-Colonel Williams, was then formed to the right, also under heavy fire, and pushed forward to the stream, relieving the 1st regiment Virginia volunteers. At the same time, two rifle guns, brought up with Early's brigade, were moved down in the field to the right of the road, so as to be concealed from the enemy's artillery by the girth of timber on the immediate bank of the stream, and there opened fire, directed only by the sound of the enemy's musketry. Unable to effect a passage, the enemy kept up a scattering fire for some time. Some of our troops had pushed across the stream, and several small parties of Corse's regiment, under command of Capt. Mayre, met and drove the enemy with the bayonet; but as the roadway from the ford was too narrow for a combined movement in force, Gen. Longstreet recalled them to the south bank. Meanwhile, the remainder of Early's infantry and artillery had been called up — that is, six companies of the 24th regiment Virginia volunteers, under Lieut-Col. Hairston, and five pieces of artillery, one rifle gun and four six-pounder brass guns, including two 6-pounder guns under Lieut. Garnett, which had [341] been previously sent to the rear by Gen. Longstreet. This infantry was at once placed in position to the left of the ford, in a space unoccupied by Hays, and the artillery was unlimbered n battery to the right of the road in a line with the two guns already in action. A scattering fire of musketry was still kept up by the enemy for a short time, but that was soon silenced.

It was at this stage of the affair that a remarkable artillery duel was commenced and maintained on our side with a long-trained professional opponent superior in character as well as in the number of his weapons, provided with improved munitions and every artillery appliance, and at the same time occupying the commanding position. The results were marvellous, and fitting precursors to the artillery achievements of the twenty-first of July. In the outset our fire was directed against the enemy's infantry, whose bayonets, gleaming above the tree-tops, alone indicated their presence and force.

This drew the attention of a battery placed on a high, commanding ridge, and a duel began in earnest. For a time the aim of the adversary was inaccurate, but this was quickly corrected, and shot fell and shells burst thick and fast in the midst of our battery, wounding in the course of the combat Capt. Eschelman, five privates, and the horse of Lieut. Richardson. From the position of our pieces and the nature of the ground, their aim could only be directed at the smoke of the enemy's artillery; how skilfully and with what execution this was done can only be realized by an eye-witness. For a few moments, their guns were silenced, but were soon re-opened. By direction of Gen. Longstreet his battery was then advanced by hand out of the range now ascertained by the enemy, and a shower of spherical case, shell, and round shot flew over the heads of our gunners; but one of our pieces had become hors de combat from an enlarged vent. From the new position our guns fired as before, with no other aim than the smoke and flash of their adversaries' pieces — renewed and urged the conflict with such signal vigor and effect, that gradually the fire of the enemy slackened, the intervals between their discharges grew longer and longer, finally to cease, and we fired a last gun at a baffled, flying foe, whose heavy masses in the distance were plainly seen to break and scatter, in wild confusion and utter rout, strewing the ground with cast-away guns, hats, blankets, and knapsacks, as our parting shells were thrown among them. In their retreat one of their pieces was abandoned, but from the nature of the ground it was not sent for that night, and under cover of darkness the enemy recovered it.

The guns engaged in this singular conflict on our side were three 6-pounder rifle pieces and four ordinary 6-pounders, all of Walton's battery — the Washington Artillery, of New Orleans. The officers immediately attached were, Cap. Eschelman, Lieuts. C. W. Squires, Richardson, Garnett, and Whittington. At the sam time, our infantry held the bank of the stream in advance of our guns, and the missiles flew to and fro above them, as, cool and veteranlike, for more than an hour they steadily awaited the moment and signal for the advance.

While the conflict was at its height before Blackburn's Ford, about 4 o'clock P. M., the enemy again displayed himself in force before Bonham's position. At this, Colonel Kershaw with four companies of his regiment, Second South Carolina, and one piece of Kemper's battery, were thrown across Mitchell's Ford to the ridge which Kemper had occupied that morning. Two solid shot, and three spherical case thrown among them — with a precision inaugurated by that artillerist at Vienna — effected their discomfiture and disappearance, and our troops in the quarters were again withdrawn within our lines, having discharged the duty assigned.

At the close of the engagement before Blackburn Ford, I directed Gen. Longstreet to withdraw the 1st and 17th regiments, which had borne the brunt of the action, to a position in reserve, leaving Col. Early to occupy the field with his brigade and Garland's regiment.

As a part of the history of this engagement, I desire to place on record, that on the 18th of July not one yard of intrenchment nor one rifle-pit sheltered the men at Blackburn's Ford, who, officers and men, with rare exceptions, were on that day for the first time under fire, and who, taking and maintaining every position ordered, cannot be too much commended for their soldierly behavior.

Our artillery were manned and officered by those who but yesterday were called from the civil avocations of a busy city. They were matched with the picked artillery of the Federal regular army--Company E, 3d artillery, under Capt. Ayres, with an armament, as their own chief of artillery admits, of two 10-pounder Parrott rifle guns, two 12-pounder howitzers, and two 6-pounder pieces, aided by two 20-pounder Parrott rifle guns of Company G, 5th artillery, under Lieut. Benjamin; thus matched they drove their veteran adversaries from the field, giving confidence in and promise of the coming efficiency of that brilliant arm of our service.

Having thus related the main or general results and events of the action of Bull Run, in conclusion, it is proper to signalize some of those who contributed most to the satisfactory results of that day.

Thanks are due to Brig.-Gens. Bonham and Ewell, and to Col. Cocke and the officers under them, for the ability shown in conducting and executing the retrograde movements on Bull Run, directed in my orders of the 18th of July--movements on which hung the fortunes of this army.

Brig.-Gen. Longstreet, who commanded immediately the troops engaged at Blackburn's Ford on the 18th, equalled my confident expectations, [342] and I may fitly say, that by his presence in the right place, at the right moment, among his men, by the exhibition of characteristic coolness, and by his words of encouragement to the men of his command, he infused a confidence and spirit that contributed largely to the success of our arms on that day.

Col. Early brought his brigade into position, and subsequently into action, with judgment; and at the proper moment he displayed capacity for command and personal gallantry.

Col. Moore, commanding the 1st Virginia volunteers, was severely wounded at the head of his regiment, the command of which subsequently devolved upon Major Skinner, Lieut.-Col. Fry having been obliged to leave the field in consequence of a sun-stroke.

An accomplished, promising officer, Major Carter H. Herrison, 11th regiment Virginia volunteers, was lost to the service while leading two companies of his regiment against the enemy; he fell, twice shot, mortally wounded.

Brigadier-General Longstreet, while finding on all sides alacrity, ardor and intelligence, mentions his special obligations to Cols. Moore, Garland, and Corse, commanding, severally, regiments of his brigade, and to their field-officers, Lieut.-Cols. Fry, Funsten, and Munford, and Majors Brent and Skinner, of whom he says: “they displayed more coolness and energy than is usual among veterans of the old service.” General Longstreet also mentions the conduct of Captain Marey, of the 17th Virginia volunteers, as especially gallant on one occasion, in advance of the Ford.

The regiments of Early's brigade were commanded by Colonel Harry Hays, and Lieutenant-Colonels Williams and Hairston, who handled their commands in action with satisfactory coolness and skill, supported by their field officers, Lieut.-Col. DeChoiseul and Major Penn, of the 7th Louisiana, and Major Patton, of the 7th Virginia Volunteers.

The skill, the conduct, and the soldierly qualities of the Washington Artillery engaged were all that could be desired. The officers and men attached to the seven pieces already specified, won for their battalion a distinction which, I feel assured, will never be tarnished, and which will ever serve to urge them and their corps to high endeavor. Lieutenant Squires worthily commanded the pieces in action. The commander of the battalion was necessarily absent from the immediate field, under orders in the sphere of his duties, but the fruits of his discipline, zeal, instruction, and capacity as an artillery commander, were present, and must redound to his reputation.

On the left of Mitchell's Ford, while no serious engagement occurred, the conduct of all was eminently satisfactory to the general officer in command.

It is due, however, to J. L. Kemper, Virginia forces, to express my sense of the value of his services in the preparation for, and execution of, the retreat from Fairfax Court House on Bull Run. Called from the head of his regiment .by what appeared to me an imperative need of the service, to take charge of the superior duties of the Quartermaster's Department, with the advance at that critical juncture, he accepted the responsibilities involved, and was eminently efficient.

For further information touching officers and individuals of the 1st brigade, and the details of the retrograde movement, I have to refer particularly to the report of Brigadier-General Bonham, herewith.

It is proper here to state, that while from the outset it had been determined, on the approach of the enemy in force, to fall back and fight him on the line of Bull Run, yet the position occupied by Gen. Ewell's brigade, if necessary, could have been maintained against a largely superior force. This was especially the case with the Fifth Alabama volunteers, Colonel Rodes, which that excellent officer had made capable of a resolute, protracted defence against heavy odds. Accordingly, on the morning of the 17th ult., when the enemy appeared before that position, they were checked and held at bay, with some confessed loss, in a skirmish in advance of the works, in which Major Morgan and Capt. Shelly, Fifth regiment Alabama volunteers, acted with intelligent gallantry; and the post was only abandoned under general but specific imperative orders, in conformity with a long-conceived, established plan of action and battle.

Capt. E. P. Alexander, Confederate States engineer, fortunately joined my Headquarters in time to introduce the system of new field-signals which, under his skilful management, rendered me the most important service preceding and during the engagement.

The medical officers serving with the regiments engaged were at their proper posts and discharged their duties with satisfactory skill and zeal; and, on one occasion at least, under an annoying fire, when Surgeon Cullen, First regiment Virginia volunteers, was obliged to remove our wounded from the hospital, which had become the special target of the enemy's rifle guns, notwithstanding it was surmounted by the usual yellow hospital flag, but which, however, I hope, for the sake of past associations, was ignorantly mistaken for a Confederate flag. The name of each individual medical officer I cannot mention.

On the day of the engagement, I was attended by my personal staff, Lieutenant S. W. Ferguson, A. D.C., and my volunteer aides-de-camp, Colonels Preston, Manning, Chestnut, Miles, Chisholm, and Heyward, of South Carolina, to all of whom I am greatly indebted for manifold essential services in the transmission of orders on the field, and in the preliminary arrangements for occupation and maintenance of the line of Bull Run.

Col. Thomas Jordan, Assistant Adjutant-General; Capt. C. N. Smith, Assistant Adjutant-General; Col. S. Jones, Chief of Artillery [343] and Ordnance; Major Cabell, Chief Quarter-master; Capt. W. H. Fowle, Chief of Subsistence Department; Surgeon Thos. H. Williams, Medical Director, and Assistant Surgeon Brodie, Medical Purveyor of the General Staff attached to the army of the Potomac, were necessarily engaged, severally, with their responsible duties at my Headquarters at Camp Pickens, which they discharged with an energy and intelligence for which I have to tender my sincere thanks.

Messrs. McLean, Wilcoxen, Kincheloe, and Brawner, citizens of this immediate vicinity, it is their due to say, have placed me and the country under great obligation for the information relative to this region, which has enabled me to avail myself of its defensive features and resources. They were found ever ready to give me their time, without stint or reward.

Our casualties, in all 68 killed and wounded, were fifteen1 killed and fifty-three wounded, several of whom have since died. The loss of the enemy can only be conjectured; it was unquestionably heavy. In the cursory examination which was made by details from Longstreet's and Early's brigades, on the 18th July, of that part of the field immediately contested and near Blackburn's Ford, some sixty-four corpses were found and buried, and at least twenty prisoners were also picked up, beside 175 stand of arms, a large quantity of accoutrements and blankets, and quite one hundred and fifty hats.

The effect of this day's conflict was to satisfy the enemy he could not force a passage across Bull Run in the face of our troops, and led him into the flank movement of the 21st July, and the battle of Manassas, the details of which will be related in another paper.

Herewith I have the honor to transmit the reports of the several brigade commanders engaged, and of the artillery. Also, a map of the field of battle.

The rendition of this report, it is proper to say in conclusion, has been unavoidably delayed by the constantly engrossing administrative duties of the commander of an army corps composed wholly of volunteers-duties vitally essential to its well-being and future efficiency, and which I could not set aside or postpone on any account.

I have the honor to be, General,

Your obedient servant, P. G. T. Beauregard, General Commanding. To General L. Cooper, Adjutant and Inspector-General, C. S. A.

Washington Star narrative.

Fairfax Court House, July 18, 6 P. M.
According to your instructions, at 10 A. M. I started after the main body of the army, via Germantown, where I found three of the fine buildings of which the village has been comprised burned to the ground. The only citizens visible were females, looking intensely woebegone, as though crushed to earth by the previous oppression of the secessionists, and the recent vandal acts of arson committed by our then uncontrolled troops. They said that all the able-bodied men of the village had been pressed into the traitor service on the day before at tile point of the bayonet, before which they were driven in the direction of Manassas.

Leaving there for Centreville, I found our troops strewed along on each side of the road, resting at their noon halt. The whole road was lined with them thus. A portion of Col. Heintzelman's division was in the rear, in and around Germantown. Those seen on the road to Centreville were principally of Gen. Tyler's column — the Maine, Connecticut, and other regiments. Two and a half miles east of Centreville I heard firing in the advance, and, on reaching there, learned that an engagement was evidently in progress before the enemy's intrenchments at Bull Run, half way from that village to Manassas Junction.

I learned that the enemy had evacuated his slight Centreville works as early as 1 A. M. this morning. They were situated on the crest of the ridge immediately east of the village, consisting of thirty or forty poor and straggling houses, stretching down the west slope of the ridge on either side of the Warrenton turnpike.

No male citizens were visible in the village, and the few white females there wore brighter countenances than their sisters of Germantown. When the enemy evacuated the place, (its males having been impressed the day before,) the women fled to the woods with their children and movables, leaving one only there. They had been told that it was the purpose of the d — d Yankees to burn the town and kill all the male white children. The women left, on realizing that no harm whatever was being done to person or property by our advance on entering the village, and brought those who had fled back, by a negro messenger.

I found no detachment of our troops in the abandoned works or the village, though Federal stragglers were lounging about both. Gen. Tyler had ordered all the front doors to be left open, (to prevent assassin shots from the houses,) and the men were freely passing in and out of them, for water, &c. Not a disrespectful word even had been uttered in Centreville, by a single Federal soldier, nor had any one there been robbed to the value of a penny by them. The effect of their capital behavior there has been most happy, indeed, making up for it at Fairfax and Germantown.

I proceeded as soon as possible on towards the direction of the firing, and 2 1/2 miles out of Centreville saw on the crest of a ridge scattered soldiers and civilians evidently watching the battle in progress at or near its west base. On rising the hill it was in full view.

A portion of Sherman's battery, which had been in the advance, had opened upon the enemy [344] from near the west base of the hill, a low ground flat of some four hundred yards intervening between its position and the creek, and between the barn on the right (on our side of the creek) in which they had learned secession cavalry were concealed.

The enemy's small armed forces were behind intrenchments in the woods, on the west side of the creek, so covered by their works and thick undergrowth, that glimpses of them were rarely obtained.

As soon as our artillery opened on the barn their cavalry rushed out of it and got out of the way, (behind timber, I believe.) When they left it, a concealed battery near the barn opened on our forces, with very little effect, I fancy. Shortly afterwards, more of our artillery came up, and when that opened upon the enemy's position in the woods along the creek border, a second masked battery of theirs, surrounded by their infantry in the woods, replied. That did us considerable damage. I saw four or five of our killed or wounded carried past me to the rear on litters.

Dr. Pullston, of Pa., Mr. McCormick, of the N. Y. Evening Post, Mr. Hill, of the N. Y. Tribune, Mr. Raymond, of the N. Y. Times, myself, and a few other civilians, were at that time standing, surrounded by a few straggling soldiers, quietly looking on from the top of the hill, immediately where Gen. Tyler had taken his station. One of the first shells fired from that second battery of the enemy passed between the shoulders of Dr. Pullston and Mr. McCormick, who were arm-in-arm, and burst against a small building three yards in the rear of them. It grazed Mr. McCormick's shoulder. Just then the enemy's infantry fired a volley of Minie balls, which took effect in our group, wounding half a dozen, all slightly, however. Lieut. Lorain, of New York, was most hurt by a flesh wound. We non-combatants quickly sought different and safer positions.

Just then the New York Sixty-ninth and Seventy-ninth came up and took position near our other infantry on the flat. Gen. Tyler, on finding that the fire of the second of the enemy's batteries was likely to prove destructive, manoeuvred the infantry into a different position, falling them back with wheeling them. They were all as cool as cucumbers, and executed his orders with as much precision as though engaged in a dress parade on Pennsylvania avenue.

I was compelled, by my engagement, to return to Falls Church by nightfall, and then left to return. About six miles from the scene of the engagement I met General McDowell in his carriage, with his staff on horseback. Ere meeting him — indeed, immediately after the arrival of the Sixty-ninth and Seventy-ninth on the field of action, and the change of position of our infantry engaged — the firing on both sides ceased for the time being. It was renewed, however, before I reached where I met General McDowell. He received his first intelligence of the particulars of the engagement just as I was passing him, and went ahead immediately with increased pace.

After passing through Fairfax Court House, I was overtaken by a special messenger, who had remained on the ground after I left. Ere he started, according to the message sent me, the enemy's infantry had essayed to cross the creek to advance upon ours, and had been driven back by the New York 69th and 79th, who charged on them with fixed bayonets. He represents, that as he was leaving, it was judged that the enemy had been fairly whipped by that charge. It was then clear that in a short time he would probably be forced to fall back through the woods towards Manassas Junction.

I may mention that, after every volley fired by the enemy while I was at Bull Run, his men uttered a shout that made the welkin ring, and his banners were waved and flaunted defiantly in our faces. Just before his second battery opened fire, clouds of dust in his rear betokened that he was being reinforced from Manassas Junction.

New York times narrative.

Centreville, Va., Thursday evening, July 18, 1861.
This has been an eventful day for the army of advance, and the result will unquestionably be represented as a great victory on the part of the rebels. In a word, the affair was a reconnoissance in force of a wood at Bull Run, whose contents were unknown. It proved to be a masked battery, behind which some 5,000 of the rebels had intrenched themselves, and our five regiments, which were sent against it, were repulsed with considerable loss — a loss, the extent of which I cannot state with any accuracy, but which probably amounted to not far from 150 killed and wounded. On our side, Sherman's battery, under Capt. Ayres, was the only one engaged. It behaved with great gallantry, but the extent of damage inflicted cannot be known, as it fired constantly into dense woods. Our forces were all withdrawn to the rear, the most of them as far back as Centreville, four miles from Bull Run, which is itself about the same distance from Manassas Junction. The attack will unquestionably be renewed in the morning, not only upon this masked battery, but upon the entire rebel force at Manassas — with what result I shall probably be able to tell you to-morrow.

So much for the general result; now for the details of the affair, so far as they came under my personal observation.

I left Fairfax Court House at a later hour than I intended, and reached Centreville at about 11 o'clock. The rebels here had thrown up intrenchments on a high hill, overlooking the road as it debouches from a fine wood, and a large open field, admirably fitted for defence. They had abandoned them, however, and this confirmed the general impression that they did not mean to fight. The troops which had been brought forward, comprising only a portion of [345] Gen. Tyler's brigade, were here halted for rest, and remained three or four hours. My carriage had become entangled in the baggage train, and was some two miles in the rear. I began the tour of Centreville in search of food, as I had had no breakfast, and was nearly famished. While swallowing a cup of very poor coffee, which I persuaded the servants of a deserted mansion to sell me, I heard the sound of cannon in the direction of Manassas. I immediately pushed forward on foot, under a blazing sun, and after a brisk walk of three miles, during which the only refreshment I could procure was a little vinegar and water, I came to a wood through which the road leads over a high rise of ground, with an oat-field on the right, and on the left a meadow, in which is placed a small house, with an adjoining shed. In the oat field, on the right, were stationed two of the Parrott guns, under Lieut. Benjamin. As you pass the crest of the hill, your eye falls upon a gentle slope of meadow on the left of the road, bordered on the lower side by a thick growth of low trees, and rising, after passing a ravine, to high ground on the other side. At the right of the wood was an open plain, with a house and barn some fifteen or twenty rods from the wood. As I approached the first hill, I saw Sherman's battery drawn up on the left, behind the crest, and the First Massachusetts regiment, in line of battle, some twenty paces behind, in a hollow, to be out of reach of the rebel batteries.

At about 1 o'clock, as the head of our column rose over the crest of the hill, it was saluted by a shot from the rebel battery quite across the ravine, which fired eight or ten rounds from two guns, and was briskly answered by Capt. Ayres. After about ten minutes, their firing ceased, and it was supposed that the rebels had retreated. They had fired no rifled cannon, and it was believed they had none.

Skirmishers were at once thrown out from the whole brigade, which was commanded by Col. Richardson, and consisted of five regiments, into the woods on the left, while the First Massachusetts was drawn up in line of battle immediately in front of the woods, and the Twelfth New York, Col. Walrath, just at their right. The Second and Third Michigan regiments were sent to the extreme right, and marched in a right line from the road, towards the wood, and drew up in line of battle. The skirmishers pushed into the wood, and were permitted to penetrate to some distance without being fired on. Soon a few scattering shots were fired at them, and then the First Massachusetts regiment and the Twelfth New York were pushed in together. I had gone into the field bordering the wood, about one-third of the way to the wood, and watched them enter. They had been gone perhaps five or ten minutes, when a full, round volley was fired directly in their faces from a breastwork in the ravine, behind which the whole rebel force had been drawn up. They could not see their assailants, they scarcely fired a single shot at them, but were shattered by the deadly fire thus suddenly opened upon them. At intervals of perhaps a minute this volley was repeated five or six times — the rebels accompanying each fire with tremendous shouts. Two howitzers, belonging to Sherman's battery, were sent past me through the field into the wood, and opened fire, which was returned by the same volleys. After a few minutes, a rebel battery of cannon, planted upon a small cleared space in the woods, which I could see very distinctly with my glass, opened fire, first upon the howitzers in their vicinity, but after two or three shots, they sent half-a-dozen balls into the field where I stood, and over my head into the group of officers and soldiers gathered about the house to watch the firing. One shot struck some 20 feet from me, another went through the shanty adjoining the house, and a shell exploded in the field some 20 rods from where I stood, without doing any damage.

At 2 1/2 o'clock, a company of cavalry, Texas Rangers, belonging to the regular force, had crossed the field and taken possession, the men dismounting, armed with carbines, immediately in front of the wood. While stationed on the hill during the first firing, one of the rebel shots had fallen in their midst and severely wounded one of them, who had been carried back into the wood. After the firing from cannon and musketry which I have mentioned had been continued some twenty minutes,--many of the musket shots reaching the point where I stood,--I saw the Twelfth New York regiment rush pell-mell out of the wood, followed by the Massachusetts men, marching in good order. Their appearance was the signal for a general retreat of the forces in that neighborhood. The regular cavalry wheeled and ran their horses up the hill at the top of their speed — putting those of us who were on the hill-side in greater peril of life and limb than we had been before during the day. Two companies of the New York Twelfth kept their ground well, and came off in good order. The rest made good time in leaving a position which it could not be expected for a moment that they could hold, The Michigan regiments, on the right, kept their position for a time, but soon drew off with the rest.

It was clear that the rebels were intrenched in great force in the wood, and that they had a powerful battery there, some of the guns being clearly rifled cannon from the noise the balls made as they passed over our heads. Clouds of dust, coming towards the front from the hills in the rear, indicated that they were bringing up reinforcements. The withdrawal of our troops was in pursuance of a purpose to change the plan of attack. Orders were sent back for reinforcements. Sherman's whole battery was ordered into the garden on the left of the road, just in front of the house; two guns were planted in the oat-field on the opposite side, and at three and a half o'clock, a shot [346] from the rebels flying over my head, followed by two from the Parrott guns in the oat-field rushing in the opposite direction, satisfied me that the safest place during an engagement was not between two hostile batteries. We fell back, therefore, behind the crest of the hill. The firing on both sides grew very brisk, and the shot from the rebels nearly all passed overhead, crushing among the trees of the wood beyond, and wounding several of the great number of persons, troops and others, who had collected there for shelter. Just then the Sixty-ninth New York regiment came up through the wood---the ears of its men being constantly saluted by these whistling balls — and was ordered to form in the field behind the house. It was soon followed by the Seventy-ninth, who did not, however, go out of the wood. The firing, which had commenced at three and a half o'clock, ceased on both sides at five minutes before four, and our entire force was ordered to withdraw on Centreville.

This is the whole of it,--and I have no time to add comments, as this hasty letter must be sent at once by a special messenger, who may reach Washington in time for the four and a half o'clock mail to-morrow morning. General McDowell, who had been to visit the other column, came up just as the engagement was over. I believe he says the existence of this battery was well known, and that the men ought not to have been sent against it. Gen. Tyler, formerly of the U. S. Army, is an officer of merit and experience. He displayed great coolness throughout the whole affair. I met a son of Gen. Leavenworth coming off the field, a lad of seventeen, who had stayed in the wood to bathe his feet, after the Twelfth, to which he belonged, was driven out, and who says he was surprised to find he was not half as much scared as he had expected to be. While on the sidehill, being half famished with thirst, I asked a swallow from the canteen of a portly gentleman who was passing. He gave it to me, and I found it was Hon. Mr. Lovejoy, of Illinois. There were half-a-dozen private gentlemen present as spectators.

The criticism which will be made on this mishap will be that men should not have been thus thrust upon a masked battery — that it is a repetition of the old Big Bethel and Vienna affairs. Gen. Tyler, however, says that it was only a reconnoissance in force — that the object he had in view was to determine what force and batteries the enemy had at that point — and that he now understands this perfectly. Undoubtedly, this is so; the only question is, whether the knowledge was not purchased at too dear a cost. Upon one thing you may rely: This misfortune will not delay the attack on Manassas. On the contrary, it will hasten it. But I think that, instead of leading troops directly against batteries, whether masked or not, Gen. McDowell will turn their entire position. The movement of troops, to-night, indicates a purpose to throw the troops upon the north side of the intrenched camp, from this point, while other columns will approach it from other directions. The result will vindicate the movement.

H. J. R.

--N. Y. Times, July 20, 1861.

N. Y. Tribune narrative.

encampment near Bull Run, Friday, July 19, 1861.
The skirmish of yesterday, as I have before intimated, was, after all, an affair of very slight consequence. It is true that an attempt upon the enemy's position was begun, and that it failed; but it was not made in force, and it occasioned us no serious loss. It is difficult to understand, even now, the precise intention of our Generals in arranging the attack. The preparations were too important for a skirmish or reconnoissance, and not sufficiently so for an effective engagement. The fact probably is, that our operations were conducted on no particular plan, and that the successive dispositions of our troops were guided by vague impulses, rather than by sound judgment. Unfortunate errors certainly were committed, both at the commencement and during the progress of the skirmish, but to what extent they may have affected the result can now only be conjectured. After the position shall have been taken, and the ground examined, we can judge more surely.

I last night sent an extremely hasty account of the affair, to which some details may be added to-day, at the risk of occasional repetitions.

When the head of our division left the encampment near Centreville on Thursday morning, it was supposed that the four brigades would follow regularly, and that the movement was, as it had been the previous day, one of magnitude and force. Under this impression, we passed through Centreville, (where, by the way, we learned that five or six thousand rebel troops, with artillery and cavalry, had marched from Fairfax toward Manassas the night before, and there we might have intercepted them had we advanced instead of halting for the night between Germantown and Centreville, and thus prevented their joining the rebel force at Bull Run, or elsewhere,) and made gradual progress southward. The skirmishers were somewhat less cautiously posted, and, indeed, the entire line of march seemed to be less carefully preserved than during the day before. The second brigade, as it afterward appeared, was upward of a mile behind the first, and the remaining two were left at such a distance as to forbid any hope of prompt reinforcement from them, in case of an engagement. The day was excessively warm, and the troops, excepting those of the advance, marched languidly. They were halted at about a mile from Bull Run, to await the result of a reconnoissance by Gen. Tyler, who preceded by the skirmishers, and attended by a squadron of cavalry, under Capt. Brackett, rode forward to the position which was subsequently taken up by our forces. [347]

Bull Run is an insignificant creek, the banks of which are sufficiently high and steep at this spot to suit it for service as a ditch to artificial embankments. It is concealed from view, excepting upon a near approach, by thickets and underbrush. The peculiar chasm through which it runs was perhaps the cause of its selection as a part of Beauregard's long line of fortifications. In other ways, the position is naturally strong. Long ranges of hills rise behind it, with frequent level platforms, like terraces, which appear excellently suited for batteries of any dimensions. The woods reach almost to the top of the eminence, and, excepting in one or two openings, completely hide all operations that may be carried on. The principal road — that upon which we were advancing — takes a sudden turn just at the edge of these woods, and is thereafter almost indistinguishable. On the side where we now found ourselves, the elevation, though considerable, is inferior, and is wholly unsheltered. The hill descends smoothly, without an undulation or a single tree for some hundreds of rods at each side of the road. Upon its summit, to the left, a small country-house, barn, and other buildings stand, surrounded by a few trees. To the right is an open wheat-field, with trees at its rear. By this house Gen. Tyler advanced and made his observations. The skirmishers had rested half way down the hill, having detected pickets near them, which were suddenly withdrawn at their approach. For a short time it was hard to discover indications of the enemy's presence, but presently in the open spaces among the woods, bodies of cavalry were discerned, some in motion, and some at rest and evidently encamped. Higher up, there were lines of infantry in motion, and toward the summit tents were visible. No batteries of any kind were in sight. It did not appear, while the examination was going on, that any of our party knew we had arrived at Bull Run, although it had long been understood that the rebels had at that place established some of their strongest intrenchments.

A house and barn a little beyond the centre of the valley suddenly swarmed with soldiers. Their appearance was probably an inadvertence, for they withdrew themselves immediately, and were afterward only imperfectly seen. This was the nearest point at which we had observed the enemy. It was barely half a mile distant upon the main road, and was apparently unsupported. Gen. Tyler said: “What can you do with them, Capt. Brackett?” and Capt. Brackett answered: “If they have batteries, they'll pick a good many of my men off while we go down; but if you say the word, I'll take them.” Gen. Tyler then sent orders back for the advance of the artillery and the leading brigade. Capt. Brackett showed that his concern respecting the batteries was not a personal one by riding down entirely alone some distance beyond where the enemy's pickets had first been seen, and approaching the barn sufficiently near to find that it communicated by sentinels with a force somewhere behind the trees. This intelligence assured us that at last the rebels had found the strong position they had been retreating to, and that now the chances of a conflict were nearer than ever before.

Our cavalry was withdrawn from the brow of the hill, and dispersed among the woods at the rear, where they were secluded from the enemy. Gen. Tyler returned to meet the artillery, which was rapidly coming up. For a few minutes Capt. Brackett, with two or three others, remained to keep watch of movements on the opposite side. Nothing, however, was changed during the General's brief absence. The few bayonets flitted at the sides of the barn, and the open ground on the hill-side was still filled with picketed cavalry. These last were the most prominent objects to be seen. The battery arrived in good time, but alone, having distanced the infantry by the rapidity of its advance. As it entered the wheat-field, at the right of the road, the cavalry followed, offering the rather unusual spectacle of horse-men supporting artillery. Orders were given for immediate cannonading. The first rifle cannon was sighted by Lieut. Upton, Gen. Tyler's aid, and the shell fell plump amid the principal group of rebel cavalry, scattering them in an instant, so that not a man of them was to be seen when the smoke cleared away. Successive shots were directed toward the barn, and among the most suspicious-looking parts of the woods behind it. Some produced much commotion, others seemed wholly disregarded.

After silently receiving twelve or fifteen shot and shell, the enemy suddenly burst out with four or five rounds from rifled cannon. Their first shot dug the ground a rod or two below the gunners. The second flew higher, and went through our cavalry, who dispersed in a great hurry, and took up their proper position, a little in the rear. Two men of Lieut. Drummond's company were wounded, but not seriously. The brief fire of the enemy was admirably directed, and seemed to prove that the range had been studied before. The fire did not cease until a hundred rounds or so had been discharged. Just after the enemy had spoken, Capt. Ayres' battery came up, and entered the inclosure to the left. Taking position near the deserted dwelling-house, it also opened fire, and blazed vigorously until the arrival of the infantry brigade, under Col. Richardson, of Michigan. But after the first four guns no sound of response came from the enemy. Their intention probably was, since they found their position was undoubtedly discovered, to offer what should appear a feeble opposition — a sort of peevish, powdery remonstrance — in order to lead us rapidly on in the belief that their resources were few, and their preparations insufficient. As soon as the brigade arrived, skirmishers were sent forward to explore the woods, which, apart from the warlike indications [348] in their vicinity, were as innocent-looking woods as any we had passed through. While they worked forward, the 1st Massachusetts regiment, which led the line, was sent down into the valley, and formed close to the thickets. The 2d and 3d Michigan regiments followed them, but were almost immediately afterward sent over to a distant field on the right, from which they were never called excepting to retire. Before these troops were fully formed, a series of tremendous musketry or rifle volleys was heard among the trees. These were directed against the skirmishers, who had encountered a large body at the skirt of the woods. From this time little attention was given to the right of the road, where the Michigan men were stationed, the left being the region of the conflict. For a time the skirmishers received the entire attention of the enemy; but a few minutes after their disappearance the right company of the Massachusetts regiment was instructed to occupy the house and barn before mentioned as having been held by the rebels. They reached it under a sharp and regular fire, found that it was now vacant, and so reported. They were immediately afterward ordered to enter the wood as skirmishers — a duty which cost them their second lieutenant and several men. The circumstances of the lieutenant's death were peculiar. He first discovered the enemy, but doubting, from their gray uniforms, that they were hostile, he ran forward, shouting, “Who are you?” The answer came, “Who are you?” to which he answered, “Massachusetts men.” The enemy then cheered violently, and sent a volley, by which the lieutenant was killed.

Five minutes later Col. Richardson ordered two companies of the Massachusetts 1st to enter the woods, from which tile firing proceeded. They immediately started forward, under Lieut.-Col. Wells, the respective companies being led by Capt. Carruth and Lieut. Bird. As they climbed the rail fence which divided the woods from the open field, they were joined by two Fire Zouaves, the record of whose hardy exploits I must here introduce, although it will somewhat anticipate the order of events. These Zouaves had inexplicably appeared at the van a little while before the period of the conflict. Their regiment was far behind, at Fairfax Court House, but they declared they had missed it some night, and were now looking for it with all their might. I privately believe that they scented the battle afar off, and could not control the temptation to step on and share the danger. At any rate they were with us, and they pushed themselves into a fighting position at the first opportunity that opened. For nearly an hour they fought in those woods with daring intrepidity, wholly on their own account, and conscious of no other authority beside their own. They were perpetually in the advance, until the run was reached, when they were obliged to hold back, like the Massachusetts companies, which dashed on at almost the same time. Their manner of treating the rebel soldiers was eccentric. They waited until one showed himself tolerably near, and then ran forward, chased him down and killed him, without regard to the numbers by whom he was surrounded. One of them actually penetrated a small battery, sheltered by a side ravine, bayoneted one of the gunners, and escaped unharmed. In this way they occupied themselves for nearly an hour, toward the end of which they got separated, and, consequently, became uneasy on each other's account. They both came out without a wound. One of them was the last man of our side to leave the ground; and, as he withdrew and walked up the hill on our side, quite unprotected, he kept pausing at intervals, and looking back for minutes at a time, as in need of his comrade, whom he believed to be still among the enemy. He went along the line as our column retired toward Centreville, crying bitterly. “I didn't want to have that fellow shot,” he said; “that fellow has run in the Fire Department with me three years.” It was very touching to see the tender grief of this rough and reckless fireman, and it was even more so to witness the wild and overwhelming delight with which he met his companion at Centreville as uninjured as himself, and filled with an anxiety as great as his own. To-day, I am told, they have rejoined their regiment, which came up from Fairfax Court House last night.

When the Massachusetts companies penetrated the woods, somewhat to the left of the main road, they found themselves at the head of a dry water-course which grew gradually deeper as they followed it. Their path was not an easy one; for, beside the enemy who had met them at the edge, they had to contend with irregular and broken ground, which presented a continued series of alternate gullies and high rocks. The rebels attempted no stand here, although their force was the stronger. As they ran in a body over the hills, three or four men appeared to linger and level their pieces at Capt. Carruth's company. The captain, believing that they might be friendly skirmishers, ran swiftly in among them, crying, “Now, then, who are you?” It turned out that he guessed rightly, and that they were Michigan men, who were misled by the gray Massachusetts uniforms. Following on, and mounting a higher eminence than they had before encountered, our men came suddenly upon a deep ravine, which, from their description, was undoubtedly Bull Run. Here, at the angle formed by this ravine and the dry watercourse which emptied into it, they were subjected to volleys from three different directions. They looked about, but their assailants were invisible. Reiterated volleys drew their attention to a point where they discovered a very small number of the rebels, upon whom they showered their rifle-shots. The main body, however, remained hidden in masked batteries. Renewed volleys brought down the [349] men of Capt. Carruth's company by half dozens, although Capt. Adams' men escaped without loss. Capt. Adams' company, however, rendered the most effective service at this point by covering the retreat of one of our guns. While the skirmish was going on so briskly, Gen. Tyler had sent down two howitzers from Ayres' battery to the assistance of our men. With extreme intrepidity, they ran their pieces rapidly down the hill and into the woods, until they reached the edge of the dry water-course, before spoken of, at the outlet of which a small battery was now discovered. By the time they had fired their second round in the faces and eyes of the rebels, six of their men were disabled, but they held bravely out until their ammunition was exhausted, and then prepared to withdraw. A disposition to capture one of the howitzers was manifested by a small party of the enemy, but the appearance of Capt. Adams' company restrained this unusual demonstration of spirit.

Simultaneously with these events, the New York 12th regiment had marched down to the woods at the extreme left of our line. The cavalry, also, was stationed beside it, although its efficiency would have been paralyzed in any attempt to act among trees. While the New York regiment waited to receive its order to march in, a perfect hail of shot came flying among them, which seemed to throw them into a panic before their start. It was difficult to drive some of them over the rails and into the woods. At length, however, it was done, and the regiment disappeared. For about one minute they were absent, at the end of which came a volley more tremendous than any that had yet been heard, and the men were seen breaking and running back in disorder. Their officers vainly endeavored to rally them, and they flew irregularly up the hill, passing by the General and his staff, and taking refuge in the grove far behind. I suspect they fancied they were pursued, for I saw one fellow turn suddenly about, and hurriedly fire at one of his own party, who fell instantly to the ground. While they were thus flying, the Massachusetts 1st, which had been ordered to the right, held the flank of the woods until the shot among them became so murderous that they were forced to lie down upon their faces. Still they held their dangerous ground, and waited for instructions, which at last came, but only for their retreat.

This, and the indecision of the commanders, decided our failure. I say commanders, because the multiplicity of authority was really bewildering. At times there was an actual chaos of suggestion and command. It is a question, moreover, if the details of the attack were all as regularly ordained as they should be. The Massachusetts 1st was sent to the right, and remained there. The New York 12th was sent to the left, and fled, but against that mishap the commanders could not, of course, have provided. But the 2d and 3d Michigan regiments were stationed far away to the right of the main road, out of the line of battle, and in a deep hollow, where it was next to impossible for them to take part in the contest under any circumstances. The two howitzers were sent down without any support whatever, in consequence of which one of the pieces, and perhaps both, might have been lost if the rebels had ventured from their pits and batteries. When the New York regiment broke away, it did not appear that any attempt was made to supply their place by better men. And from first to last, the two Massachusetts companies, which entered the woods early, were left for half an hour without reinforcement, and were then compelled to retreat before the great superiority, in numbers and position, which confronted them. All these appear to be strange oversights, and yet they did not end there. Without a loss worth considering in any serious way, with the advantage of a partial knowledge of the enemy's defences, and with a full fresh brigade already upon the spot, and drawn up by regiments in line of battle, the day was suffered to pass by to our disfavor, without a second demonstration from us.

Let me resume the order of events. The cavalry, which had dismounted with the intention of taking a turn in the woods on foot, saw the 12th flying, and themselves menaced with rifled cannon balls, which suddenly flew profusely around them. Finding themselves out of their station, or perhaps believing their services would be needed to cut off an attack up — on the fugitives, they remounted in haste, and galloped furiously up the hill, at the brow of which they formed once more. A few minutes later, the two Massachusetts companies, under Lieut.-Col. Wells, withdrew from the wood, and moved to rejoin their regiment. They had fallen back from their perilous position, and waited awhile in a place of comparative shelter, where they would be better prepared to meet an attack; but the rebels did not turn out to pursue them. The commander urged a return, in order to secure the wounded. For an instant, remembering the terrific fire to which they had been exposed, they hesitated, but the officers sprang forward, and the men were not slow to follow. Upon reaching their old post they were again repeatedly assailed by volleys from three directions, and were compelled to retire without effecting their purpose. As they moved away, they distinctly heard the rebel officers giving a command to “bayonet the wounded.”

It must have been at this time that the order to retire was issued. The two Michigan regiments were fresh, and had had no share in the fight; the Massachusetts regiment at the right, under a heavy fire, was ready to advance at the word; three new and strong regiments were just arriving, and yet the action was abandoned when only about two hundred men of our side had at any time been positively engaged, and when our total loss could hardly [350] have risen above fifty men. The regiments, excepting the New York 12th, retired in good order, leaving the valley free from troops. No attempt whatever was made by the other side to pursue or harass them, although much injury might have been inflicted at that time. The business was then taken up by the artillery, and a heavy cannonading was opened by both our batteries, which was briskly responded to by the enemy. The shots, however, went--four of ours to one of theirs. Some injury was done to our troops by the balls as they plunged through the woods and tore away limbs of trees, and in one or two cases limbs of men. For ten minutes the ugly whirr and hum of their flight through the air were almost incessant. The shriller whistle of the rifle ball filled all intervals in its own unmelodious way. At last our batteries were called upon to cease firing, and the cessation on our side was the instantaneous signal for silence with them.

Our position was then abandoned. The regiments marched slowly back toward Centreville, their rear protected by Lieut. Drummond's cavalry company. On the way, large reinforcements met us, and other divisions of the corps d'armee were seen pouring down by the northern roads. They joined us at Centreville, where all rested for the night, excepting the picket-guards, which were thrown out far toward Bull Run, and a single troop of cavalry, which encamped about two miles from the scene of the contest. Thus the skirmish ended, not creditably to our leaders, but in a manner reflecting no dishonor upon our soldiers, (excepting those of the New York 12th.) Truer valor has never been seen among men than that which was gladly shown a hundred times during the day. Our Generals, too, seemed utterly indifferent to any peril. Col. Richardson commanding the brigade rode through storms of shot unconcerned, and Gen. Tyler with his staff stood for an hour in the most exposed situations, while rifled cannon balls tore through the trees and shattered the walls of houses beside him, and the bullets dropped into the ground about him like cherries shaken from a ripe tree. In some places, thick puffs of dust covered the open field, shaken up by the plunging of the bullets in the loose soil.

1 Including two reported “missing.”

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