Part 2 out of 3
ready and willing for armed resistance, and, resigning his seat in
Congress, entered the Army, as Colonel of the Thirty-first Illinois
Infantry, and remained in the field in active service until Peace was
This statement is, in the main, both fair and correct.
It is no more correct, however, in intimating that "Logan did not
approve the great speech made by Senator Douglas, at Springfield, in
April, 1861, wherein he took the bold ground that in the contest which
was then clearly imminent to him, between the North and the South, that
there could be but two parties, Patriots and Traitors," than others have
been in intimating that he was disloyal to the Union, prior to the
breaking out of hostilities--a charge which was laid out flat in the
Senate Chamber, April 19, 1881.
[In Dawson's Life of Logan, pp. 348-353, this matter is thus
"In an early part of this work the base charge that Logan was not
loyal before the War has been briefly touched on. It may be well
here to touch on it more fully. As was then remarked, the only man
that ever dared insinuate to Logan's face that he was a Secession
sympathizer before the War, was Senator Ben Hill of Georgia, in the
United States Senate Chamber, March 30, 1881; and Logan instantly
retorted: 'Any man who insinuates that I sympathized with it at
that time insinuates what is false,' and Senator Hill at once
retracted the insinuation."
"Subsequently, April 19, 1881, Senator Logan, in a speech,
fortified with indisputable record and documentary evidence,
forever set at rest the atrocious calumny. From that record it
appears that on the 17th December, 1860, while still a Douglas
Democrat, immediately after Lincoln's election, and long before his
inauguration, and before even the first gun of the war was fired,
Mr. Logan, then a Representative in the House, voted affirmatively
on a resolution, offered by Morris of Illinois, which declared an
'immovable attachment' to 'our National Union,' and 'that it is our
patriotic duty to stand by it as our hope in peace and our defense
in war;' that on the 7th January, 1861, Mr. Adrian having offered
the following 'Resolved, That we fully approve of the bold and
patriotic act of Major Anderson in withdrawing from Fort Moultrie
to Fort Sumter, and of the determination of the President to
maintain that fearless officer in his present position; and that we
will support the President in all constitutional measures to
enforce the laws and preserve the Union'--Mr. Logan, in casting his
vote, said: 'As the resolution receives my unqualified approval, I
vote Aye;' and that further on the 5th of February, 1861, before
the inauguration of President Lincoln, in a speech made by Logan in
the House in favor of the Crittenden Compromise measures, he used
the following language touching Secession:
"'Sir, I have always denied, and do yet deny, the right of
Secession. There is no warrant for it in the Constitution. It is
wrong, it is unlawful, unconstitutional, and should be called by
the right name--revolution. No good, sir, can result from it, but
much mischief may. It is no remedy for any grievances. I hold
that all grievances can be much easier redressed inside the Union
than out of it.'
"In that same speech he also * * * said:
"'I have been taught that the preservation of this glorious Union,
with its broad flag waving over us as the shield for our protection
on land and on sea, is paramount to all the parties and platforms
that ever have existed or ever can exist. I would, to day, if I
had the power, sink my own party and every other one, with all
their platforms, into the vortex of ruin, without heaving a sigh or
shedding a tear, to save the Union, or even stop the revolution
where it is.'
"In this most complete speech of vindication--which Senator Logan
said he put upon record, 'First, that my children, after me, may
not have these slanders thrown in their faces without the power of
dispelling or refuting them; and second, that they may endure in
this Senate Chamber, so that it may be a notice to Senators of all
parties and all creeds that hereafter, while I am here in the
Senate, no insinuation of that kind will be submitted to by me,'--
the proofs of the falsity of the charge were piled mountain-high,
and among them the following voluntary statements from two
Democratic Senators, who were with him before the War, in the House
"'United States Senate Chamber,
WASHINGTON, April 14, 1881.
"'DEAR SIR: In a discussion in the Senate a few weeks since you
referred to the fact that a Southern Senator, who had served with
you in Congress before the War, could testify that during your term
of service there you gave no encouragement to the Secession of the
Southern States, adding, however, that you did not ask such
testimony. I was not sure at the time that your reference was to
me, as Senator Pugh of Alabama, was also a member of that Congress.
"'Since then, having learned that your reference was to me, I
propose on the floor of the Senate, should suitable occasion offer,
to state what I know of your position and views at the time
referred to. But, as I may be absent from the Senate for some
time, I deem it best to give you this written statement, with full
authority to use it in any way that seems proper to you.
"'When you first came to Congress in ----, you were a very ardent
and impetuous Democrat. In the division which took place between
Mr. Douglas and his friends, on the one hand, and the Southern
Democrats, on the other, you were a warm and uncompromising
supporter of Mr. Douglas; and in the course of that convention you
became somewhat estranged from your party associates in the South.
In our frequent discussions upon the subjects of difference, I
never heard a word of sympathy from your lips with Secession in
either theory or practice. On the contrary, you were vehement in
your opposition to it.'
"'I remember well a conversation I had with you just before leaving
Washington to become a candidate for the Secession convention. You
expressed the deep regret you felt at my proposed action, and
deplored the contemplated movement in terms as strong as any I
heard from any Republican.'
"'L. Q. C. LAMAR
"'Hon. JOHN A. LOGAN.
"United States Senate, Washington, D. C.'
"Senate Chamber, April 14, 1881.
"'Having read the above statement of Senator Lamar, I fully concur
with him in my recollection of your expressions and action in
opposition to Secession.
Truly yours, J. L. PUGH.'
"At the conclusion of Senator Logan's speech of refutation, Senator
Brown of Georgia (Democrat) said:
"'Our newspapers may have misrepresented his position. I am now
satisfied they did. I have heard the Senator's statement with
great interest, and I take pleasure in saying--for I had some idea
before that there was some shadow of truth in this report--that I
think his vindication' is full, complete, and conclusive.'
"'I recollect very well during the war, when I was Governor of my
State and the Federal army was invading it, to have had a large
force of militia aiding the Confederate army, and that Gen. Logan
was considered by us as one of the ablest, most gallant, and
skillful leaders of the Federal army. We had occasion to feel his
power, and we learned to respect him.'
"Senator Beck, of Kentucky (Democrat), referring to the fact that
he was kept out of the House at one time, and a great many
suggestions had been made to him as to General Logan, continued:
"'As I said the other day, I never proposed to go into such things,
and never have done so; but at that time General Frank Blair was
here, and I submitted many of the papers I received to him,--I
never thought of using any of them,--and I remember the remark that
he made to me: Beck, John Logan was one of the hardest fighters of
the war; and when many men who were seeking to whistle him down the
wind because of his politics when the war began, were snugly fixed
in safe places, he was taking his life in his hand wherever the
danger was greatest--and I tore up every paper I got, and burnt it
in the fire before his eyes.'
"Senator Dawes of Massachusetts (Republican), also took occasion to
"Mr. President, I do not know that anything which can be said on
this side would be of any consequence to the Senator from Illinois
in this matter. But I came into the House of Representatives at
the same session that the Senator did.
"'He was at that time one of the most intense of Democrats, and I
was there with him when the Rebellion first took root and
manifested itself in open and flagrant war; and I wish to say as a
Republican of that day, when the Senator from Illinois was a
Democrat, that at the earliest possible moment when the Republican
Party was in anxiety as to the position of the Northern Democracy
on the question of forcible assault on the Union, nothing did they
hail with more delight than the early stand which the Senator from
Illinois, from the Democratic side of the House, took upon the
question of resistance to the Government of the United States.
"I feel that it is right that I should state that he was among the
first, if not the very first, of the Northern Democrats who came
out openly and declared, whatever may have been their opinion about
the doctrines of the Republican Party, that when it came to a
question of forcible resistance, they should be counted on the side
of the Government, and in co-operation with the Republican Party in
the attempt to maintain its authority.'
"'I am very glad, whether it be of any service or not, to bear this
testimony to the early stand the Senator from Illinois took while
he was still a Democrat, and the large influence he exerted upon
the Northern Democracy, which kept it from being involved in the
condition and in the work of the Southern Democracy at that
So far from this being the case, the fact is--and it is here mentioned
in part to bring out the interesting point that, had he lived, Douglas
would have been no idle spectator of the great War that was about to be
waged--that when Douglas visited Springfield, Illinois, to make that
great speech in the latter part of April, 1861, the writer went there
also, to see and talk over with him the grave situation of affairs, not
only in the Nation generally, but particularly in Illinois. And on that
occasion Mr. Douglas said to him, substantially: "The time has now
arrived when a man must be either for or against his Country. Indeed so
strongly do I feel this, and that further dalliance with this question
is useless, that I shall myself take steps to join the Array, and fight
for the maintenance of the Union."
To this the writer replied that he was "equally well convinced that each
and every man must take his stand," and that he also "purposed at an
early day to raise a Regiment and draw the sword in that Union's
This was after Sumter, and only seventy days before Congress was to meet
in Called Session. When that session met, Douglas had, weeks before,
gone down to the grave amid the tears of a distracted Nation, with the
solemn injunction upon his dying lips: "Obey the Laws and Defend the
Constitution"--and the writer had returned to Washington, to take his
seat in Congress, with that determination still alive in his heart.
In fact there had been all along, substantial accord between Mr. Douglas
and the writer. There really was no "difference between Douglas and
Logan" as to "preparations for War," or in "exhausting all Peaceable
means before a resort to Arms," and both were in full accord with
President Lincoln on these points.
Let us see if this is not of record: Take the writer's speech in the
House of Representatives, February 5, 1861, and it will be seen that he
said: "I will go as far as any man in the performance of a
Constitutional duty to put down Rebellion, to suppress Insurrection, and
to enforce the Laws." Again, he said, "If all the evils and calamities
that have ever happened since the World began, could be gathered in one
Great Catastrophe, its horrors could not eclipse, in their frightful
proportions, the Drama that impends over us."
From these extracts it is plain enough that even at this very early day
the writer fully understood the "frightful proportions" of the impending
struggle, and would "go as far as"--not only Mr. Douglas, but--"any man,
to put down Rebellion"--which necessarily involved War, and
"preparations for War." But none the less, but rather the more, because
of the horrors which he foresaw must be inseparable from so terrible a
War, was he anxious by timely mutual Concessions--"by any sacrifice," as
he termed it--if possible, to avert it.
He was ready to sink Party, self, and to accept any of the Propositions
to that end--Mr. Douglas's among them.
[See his speech of February 5, 1861, Congressional Globe]
In this attitude also he was in accord with Mr. Douglas, who, as well as
the writer, was ready to make any sacrifice, of Party or self; to
"exhaust every effort at peaceful adjustment," before resorting to War.
The fact is they were much of the time in consultation, and always in
In a speech made in the Senate, March 15, 1861, Mr. Douglas had reduced
the situation to the following three alternative points:
"1. THE RESTORATION AND PRESERVATION OF THE UNION by such Amendments to
the Constitution as will insure the domestic tranquillity, safety, and
equality of all the States, and thus restore peace, unity, and
fraternity, to the whole Country.
"2. A PEACEFUL DISSOLUTION OF THE UNION by recognizing the Independence
of such States as refuse to remain in the Union without such
Constitutional Amendments, and the establishment of a liberal system of
commercial and social intercourse with them by treaties of commerce and
"3. WAR, with a view to the subjugation and military occupation of those
States which have Seceded or may Secede from the Union."
As a thorough Union man, he could never have agreed to a "Peaceful
Dissolution of the Union." On the other hand he was equally averse to
War, because he held that "War is Disunion. War is final, eternal
Separation." Hence, all his energies and talents were given to carrying
out his first-stated line of policy, and to persuading the Seceders to
accept what in that line was offered to them by the dominant party.
His speech in the Senate, March 25, 1861, was a remarkable effort in
that respect. Mr. Breckinridge had previously spoken, and had declared
that: "Whatever settlement may be made of other questions, this must be
settled upon terms that will give them [the Southern States] either a
right, in common with others, to emigrate into all the territory, or
will secure to them their rights on a principle of equitable division."
Mr. Douglas replied: "Now, under the laws as they stand, in every
Territory of the United States, without any exception, a Southern man
can go with his Slave-property on equal terms with all other property.
* * * Every man, either from the North or South, may go into the
Territories with his property on terms of exact equality, subject to the
local law; and Slave-property stands on an equal footing with all other
kinds of property in the Territories of the United States. It now
stands on an equal footing in all the Territories for the first time.
"I have shown you that, up to 1859, little more than a year ago, it was
prohibited in part of the Territories. It is not prohibited anywhere
now. For the first time, under Republican rule, the Southern States
have secured that equality of rights in the Territories for their Slave-
property which they have been demanding so long."
He held that the doctrine of Congressional prohibition in all the
Territories, as incorporated in the Wilmot proviso, had now been
repudiated by the Republicans of both Houses of Congress, who had "all
come over to Non-intervention and Popular Sovereignty;" that the "Wilmot
proviso is given up; that Congressional prohibition is given up; that
the aggressive policy is repudiated; and hereafter the Southern man and
the Northern man may move into the Territories with their Property on
terms of entire equality, without excepting Slaves or any other kind of
Continuing, he said: "What more do the Southern States want? What more
can any man demand? Non-intervention is all you asked. Will it be said
the South required in addition to this, laws of Congress to protect
Slavery in the Territories? That cannot be said; for only last May, the
Senate, by a nearly unanimous vote--a unanimous vote of the Southern
men, with one or two exceptions--declared that affirmative legislation
was not needed at this time. * * * What cause is there for further
alarm in the Southern States, so far as the Territories are concerned?
* * *
"I repeat, the South has got all they ever claimed in all the
Territories. * * * Then, sir, according to law, the Slaveholding
States have got equality in the Territories. How is it in fact. * * *
Now, I propose to show that they have got the actual equitable
partition, giving them more than they were disposed to demand.
"The Senator from Kentucky, * * * Mr. Crittenden, introduced a
proposition for an equitable partition. That proposition was, that
north of 36 30' Slavery should be prohibited, and South of it should be
protected, by Territorial law. * * * What is now the case? It is true
the Crittenden proposition has not yet become part of the Constitution;
but it is also true that an equitable partition has been made by the
vote of the people themselves, establishing, maintaining, and protecting
Slavery in every inch of territory South of the thirty-seventh parallel,
giving the South half a degree more than the Crittenden Proposition.
"There stands your Slave-code in New Mexico protecting Slavery up to the
thirty-seventh degree as effectually as laws can be made to protect it.
There it stands the Law of the Land. Therefore the South has all below
the thirty-seventh parallel, while Congress has not prohibited Slavery
even North of it.
* * * * * *
"What more, then, is demanded? Simply that a Constitutional Amendment
shall be adopted, affirming--what? Precisely what every Republican in
both Houses of Congress has voted for within a month. Just do, by
Constitutional Amendment, what you have voted in the Senate and House of
Representatives, that is all. You are not even required to do that, but
merely to vote for a proposition submitting the question to the People
of the States whether they will make a Constitutional Amendment
affirming the equitable partition of the Territories which the People
have already made. * * *
"You may ask, why does the South want us to do it by Constitutional
Amendment, when we have just done it voluntarily by Law? The President
of the United States, in his Inaugural, has told you the reason. He has
informed you that all of these troubles grow out of the absence of a
Constitutional provision defining the power of Congress over the subject
of Slavery. * * * He thinks that the trouble has arisen from the
absence of such a Constitutional Provision, and suggests a National
Convention to enable the People to supply the defect, leaving the People
to say what it is, instead of dictating to them what it shall be."
It may here be remarked that while Mr. Douglas held that "So far as the
doctrine of Popular Sovereignty and Nonintervention is concerned, the
Colorado Bill, the Nevada Bill, and the Dakota Bill, are identically the
same with the Kansas-Nebraska Bill, and in its precise language"--these
former Bills having been passed at the last Session of the 36th
Congress--the Republicans, on the contrary, held that neither in these
nor other measures had they abandoned any distinctive Republican
principle; while Breckinridge declared that they had passed those
Territorial Bills, without the Wilmot proviso, because they felt
perfectly secure in those Territories, with all the Federal patronage in
However that may be, we have here, brought out in strong contrast, the
conciliatory feeling which inspired such Union men as Douglas, and the
strong and persistent efforts they made in behalf of Concession and
Peace up to a period only a few weeks before the bombardment of Sumter;
and the almost total revulsion in their sentiments after that event, as
to the only proper means to preserve the Union. For it was only then
that the truth, as it fell from Douglas's lips at Springfield, was fully
recognized, to wit: that there was no half-way ground betwixt Patriotism
and Treason; that War was an existing fact; and that Patriots must arm
to defend and preserve the Union against the armed Traitors assailing
At last, July 4, 1861, the Congress met, and proceeded at once with
commendable alacrity and patriotism, to the consideration and enactment
of measures sufficient to meet the extraordinary exigency, whether as
regards the raising and equipment of the vast bodies of Union volunteers
needed to put down Rebellion, or in the raising of those enormous
amounts of money which the Government was now, or might thereafter be,
called upon to spend like water in preserving the Union.
It was at this memorable Session, of little over one month, that the
chief of the great "War Measures" as they were termed, were enacted.
THE STORM OF BATTLE
We have seen how Fort Sumter fell; how the patriotic North responded to
President Lincoln's Call, for 75,000 three-months volunteers, with such
enthusiasm that, had there been a sufficiency of arms and accoutrements,
he might have had, within three months of that Call, an Army of 500,000
men in the field; how he had called for 42,000 three-years volunteers
early in May, besides swelling what little there was of a regular Army
by ten full regiments; and how a strict blockade of the entire Southern
Coast-line had not only been declared, but was now enforced and
General Butler, promoted Major-General for his Military successes at
Annapolis and Baltimore, was now in command of Fortress Monroe and
vicinity, with some 12,000 volunteers under him, confronted, on the
Peninsula, by a nearly equal number of Rebel troops, under Generals
Huger and Magruder--General Banks, with less than 10,000 Union troops,
occupying Baltimore, and its vicinage.
General Patterson, with some 20,000 Union troops--mostly Pennsylvania
militia--was at Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, with about an equal number
of the Enemy, under General Joseph E. Johnston, at Harper's Ferry, on
the Potomac, watching him.
Some 50,000 Union troops were in camp, in and about Washington, on the
Virginia side, under the immediate command of Generals McDowell and
Mansfield--Lieutenant General Scott, at Washington, being in Chief-
command of the Union Armies--and, confronting these Union forces, in
Virginia, near the National Capital, were some 30,000 Rebel troops under
the command of General Beauregard, whose success in securing the
evacuation of Fort Sumter by its little garrison of half-starved Union
soldiers, had magnified him, in the eyes of the rebellious South, into
the proportions of a Military genius of the first order.
There had been no fighting, nor movements, worthy of special note, until
June 7th, when General Patterson advanced from Chambersburg,
Pennsylvania, to Hagerstown, Maryland. General Johnston at once
evacuated Harper's Ferry, and retreated upon Winchester, Virginia.
General McClellan, in command of the Department of the Ohio, had,
however, crossed the Ohio river, and by the 4th of July, being at
Grafton, West Virginia, with his small Army of Union troops, to which a
greatly inferior Rebel force was opposed, commenced that successful
advance against it, which led, after Bull Run, to his being placed at
the head of all the Armies of the United States.
Subsequently Patterson crossed the Potomac, and after trifling away over
one month's time, at last, on the 15th of July, got within nine miles of
Winchester and Johnston's Army. Barring a spiritless reconnaissance,
Patterson--who was a fervent Breckinridge-Democrat in politics, and
whose Military judgment, as we shall see, was greatly influenced, if not
entirely controlled, by his Chief of staff, Fitz John Porter--never got
any nearer to the Enemy!
Instead of attacking the Rebel force, under Johnston, or at least
keeping it "employed," as he was ordered to do by General Scott; instead
of getting nearer, and attempting to get between Winchester and the
Shenandoah River, as was suggested to him by his second in command,
General Sanford; and instead of permitting Sanford to go ahead, as that
General desired to, with his own 8,000 men, and do it himself; General
Patterson ordered him off to Charlestown--twelve miles to the Union left
and rear,--and then took the balance of his Army, with himself, to the
In other words, while he had the most positive and definite orders, from
General Scott, if not to attack and whip Johnston, to at least keep him
busy and prevent that Rebel General from forming a junction, via the
Manassas Gap railroad or otherwise, with Beauregard, Patterson
deliberately moved his Army further away from Winchester and gave to the
Enemy the very chance of escaping and forming that junction which was
essential to Rebel success in the vicinity of Manassas.
But for this disobedience of orders, Bull Run would doubtless have been
a great victory to the Union Arms, instead of a reverse, and the War,
which afterward lasted four years, might have been over in as many
It is foreign to the design of this work, to present in it detailed
descriptions of the battles waged during the great War of the Rebellion
--it being the present intention of the writer, at some later day, to
prepare and publish another work devoted to such stirring Military
scenes. Yet, as it might seem strange and unaccountable for him to pass
by, at this time, without any description or comment, the first pitched
battle of the Rebellion, he is constrained to pause and view that
memorable contest. And first, it may be well to say a word of the
general topography of the country about the battle-field.
The Alleghany Mountains, or that part of them with which we have now to
do, stretch in three almost equidistant parallel ridges, from North-East
to South-West, through the heart of Old Virginia. An occasional pass,
or "Gap," through these ridges, affords communication, by good roads,
between the enclosed parallel valleys and the Eastern part of that
The Western of these Alleghany ridges bears the name of "Alleghany
Mountains" proper; the Eastern is called the "Blue Ridge;" while the
Middle Ridge, at its Northern end--which rests upon the Potomac, where
that river sweeps through three parallel ridges almost at right angles
to their own line of direction--is called the "Great North Mountain."
The valley, between the Middle Ridge and the Blue Ridge, is known as the
Shenandoah Valley, taking its name from the Shenandoah River, which, for
more than one hundred miles, flows along the Western foot of the Blue
Ridge, toward the North-East, until it empties into the Potomac, at
The Orange and Alexandria railroad runs from Alexandria,--on the
opposite bank of the Potomac from Washington, and a few miles below the
Capital,--in a general Southeasterly direction, to Culpepper Court-
House; thence Southerly to Gordonsville, where it joins the Virginia
Central--the Western branch of which runs thence through Charlotteville,
Staunton, and Covington, across the ridges and valleys of the
Alleghanies, while its Eastern branch, taking a general South-easterly
direction, crosses the Richmond and Fredricksburg railroad at Hanover
Junction, some twenty miles North of Richmond, and thence sweeps
Southerly to the Rebel capital.
It is along this Easterly branch of the Virginia Central that Rebel re-
enforcements will be hurried to Beauregard, from Richmond to
Gordonsville, and thence, by the Orange and Alexandria railroad, to
Some twenty-five miles from Alexandria, a short railroad-feeder--which
runs from Strasburg, in the Shenandoah Valley, through the Blue Ridge,
at Manassas Gap, in an East-South-easterly direction--strikes the
Alexandria and Orange railroad. The point of contact is Manassas
Junction; and it is along this Manassas-Gap feeder that Johnston, with
his Army at Winchester--some twenty miles North-North-East of Strasburg-
expects, in case of attack by Patterson, to be re-enforced by
Beauregard; or, in case the latter is assailed, to go to his assistance,
after shaking off Patterson.
This little link of railroad, known as the Manassas Gap railroad, is
therefore an important factor in the game of War, now commencing in
earnest; and it had, as we shall see, very much to do, not only with the
advance of McDowell's Union Army upon Bull Run, but also with the result
of the first pitched battle thereabout fought.
From Alexandria, some twelve miles to the Westward, runs a fine turnpike
road to Fairfax Court-House; thence, continuing Westward, but gradually
and slightly dipping award the South, it passes through Germantown,
Centreville, and Groveton, to Warrenton.
This "Warrenton Pike"--as it is termed--also plays a somewhat
conspicuous part, before, during, and after the Battle of Bull Run. For
most of its length, from Fairfax Court-House to Warrenton, the Warrenton
Pike pursues a course almost parallel with the Orange and Alexandria
railroad aforesaid, while the stream of Bull Run, pursuing a South-
easterly course, has a general direction almost parallel with that of
the Manassas Gap railroad.
We shall find that it is the diamond-shaped parallelogram, formed by the
obtuse angle junction of the two railroads on the South, and the
similarly obtuse-angled crossing of the stream of Bull Run by the
Warrenton Pike on the North, that is destined to become the historic
battle-field of the first "Bull Run," or "Manassas;" and it is in the
Northern obtuse-angle of this parallelogram that the main fighting is
done, upon a spot not much more than one mile square, three sides of the
same being bounded respectively by the Bull Run stream, the Warrenton
Pike, which crosses it on a stone bridge, and the Sudley Springs road,
which crosses the Pike, at right-angles to it, near a stone house.
On the 3rd of June, 1861, General McDowell, in command of the Department
of North-Eastern Virginia, with head-quarters at Arlington, near
Washington, receives from Colonel Townsend, Assistant Adjutant-General
with Lieutenant-General Scott--who is in Chief command of all the Union
Forces, with Headquarters at Washington--a brief but pregnant
communication, the body of which runs thus: "General Scott desires you
to submit an estimate of the number and composition of a column to be
pushed toward Manassas Junction, and perhaps the Gap, say in four or
five days, to favor Patterson's attack on Harper's Ferry. The rumor is
that Arlington Heights will be attacked to-night."
In response to this request, General McDowell submits, on the day
following, an estimate that "the actual entire force at the head of the
column should, for the purpose of carrying the position at Manassas and
of occupying both the road to Culpepper, and the one to the Gap, be as
much as 12,000 Infantry, two batteries of regular Artillery, and from
six to eight companies of Cavalry, with an available reserve, ready to
move forward from Alexandria by rail, of 5,000 Infantry and one heavy
field battery, rifled if possible; these numbers to be increased or
diminished as events may indicate." This force of raw troops he
proposes to organize into field brigades under the command of "active
and experienced colonels" of the regular Army. And while giving this
estimate as to the number of troops necessary, he suggestively adds that
"in proportion to the numbers used will be the lives saved; and as we
have such numbers pressing to be allowed to serve, might it not be well
to overwhelm and conquer as much by the show of force as by the use of
Subsequently McDowell presents to General Scott, and Mr. Lincoln's
Cabinet, a project of advance and attack, which is duly approved and
ordered to be put in execution. In that project or plan of operations,
submitted by verbal request of General Scott, near the end of June,--the
success of which is made contingent upon Patterson's holding Johnston
engaged at Winchester in the Shenandoah Valley, and also upon Butler's
holding the Rebel force near Fortress Monroe from coming to Beauregard's
aid at Manassas Junction,--McDowell estimates Beauregard's strength at
25,000, with a possible increase, bringing it up to 35,000 men. The
objective point in McDowell's plan, is Manassas Junction, and he
proposes "to move against Manassas with a force of 30,000 of all arms,
organized into three columns, with a reserve of 10,000."
McDowell is fully aware that the Enemy has "batteries in position at
several places in his front, and defensive works on Bull Run, and
Manassas Junction." These batteries he proposes to turn. He believes
Bull Run to be "fordable at almost anyplace,"--an error which ultimately
renders his plan abortive,--and his proposition is, after uniting his
columns on the Eastern side of Bull Run, "to attack the main position by
turning it, if possible, so as to cut off communications by rail with
the South, or threaten to do so sufficiently to force the Enemy to leave
his intrenchments to guard them."
In other words, assuming the Enemy driven back, by minor flanking
movements, or otherwise, upon his intrenched position at Bull Run, or
Manassas, the plan is to turn his right, destroy the Orange and
Alexandria railroad leading South, and the bridge at Bristol, so as to
cut off his supplies. This done, the Enemy--if nothing worse ensues for
him--will be in a "bad box."
McDowell, however, has no idea that the Enemy will stand still to let
this thing be done. On the contrary, he is well satisfied that
Beauregard will accept battle on some chosen ground between Manassas
Junction and Washington.
On the afternoon of Tuesday, the 16th of July, the advance of McDowell's
Army commences. That Army is organized into five divisions--four of
which accompany McDowell, while a fifth is left to protect the defensive
works of Washington, on the South bank of the Potomac. This latter, the
Fourth Division, commanded by Brigadier-General Theodore Runyon,
comprises eight unbrigaded New Jersey regiments of (three months, and
three years) volunteers--none of which take part in the ensuing
The moving column consists of the First Division, commanded by
Brigadier-General Daniel Tyler, comprising four brigades, respectively
under Brigadier-General R. C. Schenck, and Colonels E. D. Keyes, W. T.
Sherman, and I. B. Richardson; the Second Division, commanded by Colonel
David Hunter, comprising two brigades, under Colonels Andrew Porter and
A. E. Burnside respectively; the Third Division, commanded by Colonel S.
P. Heintzelman, comprising three brigades, under Colonels W. B.
Franklin, O. B. Wilcox, and O. O. Howard, respectively; and the Fifth
Division, commanded by Colonel Dixon S. Miles, comprising two brigades,
under Colonels Lewis Blenker, and Thomas A. Davies, respectively.
Tyler's Division leads the advance, moving along the Leesburg road to
Vienna, on our right, with orders to cross sharply to its left, upon
Fairfax Court House, the following (Wednesday) morning. Miles's
Division follows the turnpike road to Annandale, and then moves, by the
Braddock road,--along which Braddock, a century before, had marched his
doomed army to disaster,--upon Fairfax Court House, then known to be
held by Bonham's Rebel Brigade of South Carolinians. Hunter follows
Miles, to Annandale, and thence advances direct upon Fairfax, by the
turnpike road--McDowell's idea being to bag Bonham's Brigade, if
possible, by a simultaneous attack on the front and both flanks. But
the advance is too slow, and the Enemy's outposts, both there and
elsewhere, have ample opportunity of falling safely back upon their main
position, behind the stream of Bull Run.
[McDowell in his testimony before the "Committee on the Conduct of
the War," said: "At Fairfax Court House was the South Carolina
Brigade. And I do not suppose anything would have had a greater
cheering effect upon the troops, and perhaps upon the Country, than
the capture of that brigade. And if General Tyler could have got
down there any time in the forenoon instead of in the afternoon,
the capture of that brigade was beyond question. It was about
5,000 or 6,000 men, and Tyler had 12,000, at the same time that we
were pressing on in front. He did not get down there until in the
afternoon; none of us got forward in time."]
This slowness is due to various causes. There is a pretty general
dread, for example, among our troops, of threatened ambuscades, and
hence the advance is more cautious than it otherwise would be. It is
thought the part of wisdom, as it were, to "feel the way." The
marching, moreover, is new to our troops. General Scott had checked
McDowell when the latter undertook to handle eight regiments together,
near Washington, by intimating that he was "trying to make a show."
Thus the very essential knowledge of how to manoeuvre troops in large
bodies, has been withheld from our Union generals, while the volunteer
regiments have either rusted in camp from inaction, or have been denied
the opportunity of acquiring that endurance and hardiness and discipline
which frequent movement of troops confers. Hence, all unused to the
discipline of the march, every moment some one falls out of line to
"pick blackberries, or to get water." Says McDowell, in afterward
reporting this march: "They would not keep in the ranks, order as much
as you pleased. When they came where water was fresh, they would pour
the old water out of their canteens and fill them with fresh water; they
were not used to denying themselves much."
Meantime, Heintzelman's Division is also advancing, by cross-roads, more
to the left and South of the railroad line,--in accordance with
McDowell's plan, which comprehends not only the bagging of Bonham, but
an immediate subsequent demonstration, by Tyler, upon Centreville and
beyond, while Heintzelman, supported by Hunter and Miles, shall swoop
across Bull Run, at Wolf Run Shoals, some distance below Union Mills,
turn the Enemy's right, and cut off his Southern line of railroad
communications. Thus, by the evening of Wednesday, the 17th,
Heintzelman is at Sangster's Station, while Tyler, Miles, and Hunter,
are at Fairfax.
It is a rather rough experience that now befalls the Grand Army of the
Union. All unused, as we have seen, to the fatigues and other hardships
of the march, the raw levies, of which it almost wholly consists, which
started bright and fresh, strong and hopeful, full of the buoyant ardor
of enthusiastic patriotism, on that hot July afternoon, only some thirty
hours back, are now dust-begrimed, footsore, broken down, exhausted by
the scorching sun, hungry, and without food,--for they have wasted the
rations with which they started, and the supply-trains have not yet
arrived. Thus, hungry and physically prostrated, "utterly played out,"
as many of them confess, and demoralized also by straggling and loss of
organization, they bivouac that night in the woods, and dream uneasy
dreams beneath the comfortless stars.
A mile beyond Fairfax Court House, on the Warrenton Turnpike, is
Germantown. It is here that Tyler's Division has rested, on the night
of the 17th. At 7 o'clock on the morning of Thursday, the 18th, in
obedience to written orders from McDowell, it presses forward, on that
"Pike," to Centreville, five miles nearer to the Enemy's position behind
Bull Run--Richardson's Brigade in advance--and, at 9 o'clock, occupies
it. Here McDowell has intended Tyler to remain, in accordance with the
plan, which he has imparted to him in conversation, and in obedience to
the written instructions to: "Observe well the roads to Bull Run and to
Warrenton. Do not bring on an engagement, but keep up the impression
that we are moving on Manassas,"--this advance, by way of Centreville,
being intended solely as a "demonstration" to mask the real movement,
which, as we have seen, is to be made by the other divisions across Wolf
Run Shoals, a point on Bull Run, some five or six miles below Union
Mills, and some seven miles below Blackburn's Ford.
Upon the arrival of Richardson's Brigade, Thursday morning, at
Centreville, it is found that, under cover of the darkness of the
previous night, the Enemy has retreated, in two bodies, upon Bull Run,
the one along the Warrenton Pike, the other (the largest) down the
ridge-road from Centreville to Blackburn's Ford. Richardson's Brigade
at once turns down the latter road and halts about a mile beyond
Centreville, at a point convenient to some springs of water. Tyler soon
afterward rides up, and, taking from that brigade two companies of light
Infantry and a squadron of Cavalry, proceeds, with Colonel Richardson,
to reconnoitre the Enemy, finding him in a strong position on the
opposite bank of Bull Run, at Blackburn's Ford.
While this is going on, McDowell has ridden in a Southerly direction
down to Heintzelman's Division, at Sangster's Station, "to make
arrangements to turn the Enemy's right, and intercept his communications
with the South," but has found, owing to the narrowness and crookedness
of the roads, and the great distance that must be traversed in making
the necessary detour, that his contemplated movement is too risky to be
ventured. Hence he at once abandons his original plan of turning the
Enemy's right, and determines on "going around his left, where the
country is more open, and the roads broad and good."
McDowell now orders a concentration, for that night, of the four
divisions, with two days cooked rations in their haversacks, upon and
about Centreville,--the movement to commence as soon as they shall
receive expected commissariat supplies. But, later on the 18th,--
learning that his advance, under Tyler, has, against orders, become
engaged with the Enemy--he directs the concentration to be made at once.
Let us examine, for a moment, how this premature engagement comes about.
We left Tyler, accompanied by Richardson, with a squadron of Cavalry and
a battalion of light Infantry making a reconnaissance, on Thursday
morning the 18th, toward Blackburn's Ford. They approach within a mile
of the ford, when they discover a Rebel battery on the farther bank of
Bull Run--so placed as to enfilade the road descending from their own
position of observation down to the ford,--strong Rebel infantry pickets
and skirmishing parties being in front.
Tyler at once orders up his two rifled guns, Ayres' Battery, and
Richardson's entire Brigade--and later, Sherman's Brigade as a reserve.
As soon as they come up,--about noon-he orders the rifled guns into
battery on the crest of the hill, about one mile from, and looking down
upon, the Rebel battery aforesaid, and opens upon the Enemy; giving him
a dozen shells,--one of them making it lively for a body of Rebel
Cavalry which appears between the ford and Manassas.
The Rebel battery responds with half a dozen shots, and then ceases.
Tyler now orders Richardson to advance his brigade and throw out
skirmishers to scour the thick woods which cover the Bull Run bottom-
land. Richardson at once rapidly deploys the battalion of light
Infantry as skirmishers in advance of his brigade, pushes them forward
to the edge of the woods, drives in the skirmishers of the Enemy in fine
style, and supports their further advance into the woods, with the 1st
Meanwhile Tyler, discovering a favorable opening in the woods, "low down
on the bottom of the stream," for a couple of howitzers in battery,
sends Captain Ayres of the 5th U. S. Artillery, and a detached section
(two 12-pound howitzers) of his battery, with orders to post it himself
on that spot, and sends Brackett's squadron of the 2d Cavalry to his
No sooner does Ayres open fire on the Enemy, than he awakens a Rebel
hornet's-nest. Volley after volley of musketry shows that the Bull Run
bottom fairly swarms with Rebel troops, while another Rebel battery,
more to the Rebel right, opens, with that already mentioned, a
concentrated cross-fire upon him.
And now Richardson orders up the 12th New York, Colonel Walrath, to the
left of our battery. Forming it into line-of-battle, Richardson orders
it to charge through the woods upon the Enemy. Gallantly the regiment
moves forward, after the skirmishers, into the woods, but, being met by
a very heavy fire of musketry and artillery along the whole line of the
Enemy's position, is, for the most part, thrown back in confusion--a
mere fragment* remaining in line, and retreating,--while the howitzers,
and Cavalry also, are withdrawn.
Meantime, however, Richardson has ordered up, and placed in line-of-
battle, on the right of our battery, the 1st Massachusetts, the 2d
Michigan (his own), and the 3d Michigan. The skirmishers in the woods
still bravely hold their ground, undercover, and these three regiments
are plucky, and anxious to assault the Enemy. Richardson proposes to
lead them in a charge upon the Enemy's position, and drive him out of
it; but Tyler declines to give permission, on the ground that this being
"merely a reconnaissance," the object of which--ascertaining the
strength and position of the Enemy--having been attained, a further
attack is unnecessary. He therefore orders Richardson to "fall back in
good order to our batteries on the hill,"--which he does.
Upon reaching these batteries, Richardson forms his 2d Michigan, in
"close column by division," on their right, and the 1st Massachusetts
and 3d Michigan, in "line of battle," on their left--the 12th New York
re-forming, under cover of the woods at the rear, later on. Then, with
our skirmishers thrown into the woods in front, their scattering fire,
and the musketry responses of the Rebels, are drowned in the volume of
sound produced by the deafening contest which ensues between our
Artillery, and that of the Enemy from his batteries behind Bull Run.
This artillery-duel continues about one hour; and then seems to cease by
mutual consent, about dusk--after 415 shots have been fired on the Union
side, and have been responded to by an equal number from the Rebel
batteries, "gun for gun"--the total loss in the engagement, on the Union
side, being 83, to a total loss among the Enemy, of Thursday night,
Richardson retires his brigade upon Centreville, in order to secure
rations and water for his hungry and thirsty troops,--as no water has
yet been found in the vicinity of the Union batteries aforesaid. On the
morrow, however, when his brigade re-occupies that position, water is
found in abundance, by digging for it.
This premature attack, at Blackburn's Ford, by Tyler, against orders,
having failed, throws a wet blanket upon the martial spirit of
McDowell's Army. In like degree is the morale of the Rebel Army
It is true that Longstreet, in command of the Rebel troops at
Blackburn's Ford, has not had things all his own way; that some of his
artillery had to be "withdrawn;" that, as he acknowledges in his report,
his brigade of three Virginia regiments (the 1st, 11th, and 17th) had
"with some difficulty repelled" the Union assault upon his position;
that he had to call upon General Early for re-enforcements; that Early
re-enforced him with two Infantry regiments (the 7th Louisiana and 7th
Virginia) at first; that one of these (the 7th Virginia) was "thrown
into confusion;" that Early then brought up his own regiment (the 24th
Virginia) under Lieutenant Colonel Hairston, and the entire seven guns
of the "Washington Artillery;" and that but for the active "personal
exertions" of Longstreet, in "encouraging the men under his command,"
and the great numerical superiority of the Rebels, there might have been
no Union "repulse" at all. Yet still the attack has failed, and that
failure, while it dispirits the Patriot Army, inspires the Rebel Army
with renewed courage.
Under these circumstances, Friday, the 19th of July, is devoted to
reconnaissances by the Engineer officers of the Union Army; to the
cooking of the supplies, which have at last arrived; and to resting the
weary and road-worn soldiers of the Union.
Let us take advantage of this halt in the advance of McDowell's "Grand
Army of the United States"--as it was termed--to view the Rebel position
at, and about Manassas, and to note certain other matters having an
important and even determining bearing upon the issue of the impending
Beauregard has received early information of McDowell's advance from
Arlington, and of his plans.
[This he admits, in his report, when he says; "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,"]
On Tuesday the 16th, he notifies his advanced brigades. On Wednesday,
he sends a dispatch from Manassas, to Jefferson Davis, at Richmond,
announcing that the Union troops have assailed his outposts in heavy
force; that he has fallen back before them, on the line of Bull Run; and
that he intends to make a stand at Mitchell's Ford (close to Blackburn's
Ford) on that stream,--adding: if his (McDowell's) force is
overwhelming, "I shall retire to the Rappahannock railroad bridge,
saving my command for defense there, and future operations. Please
inform Johnston of this, via Staunton, and also Holmes. Send forward
any re-enforcements at the earliest possible instant, and by every
In the meantime, however, Beauregard loses no time in advantageously
posting his troops. On the morning of the 18th of July, when the Union
advance enters Centreville, he has withdrawn all his advanced brigades
within the Rebel lines of Bull Run, resting them on the South side of
that stream, from Union Mills Ford, near the Orange and Alexandria
railroad bridge, up to the stone bridge over which the Warrenton Pike
crosses the Run,--a distance of some six to eight miles.
Between the Rebel left, at Stone Bridge, and the Rebel right, at Union
Mills Ford, are several fords across Bull Run--the general course of the
stream being from the North-West to South-East, to its confluence with
the Occoquan River, some twelve miles from the Potomac River.
Mitchell's Ford, the Rebel center, is about three miles to the South-
West of, and about the same distance North-East from, Manassas Junction.
But it may be well, right here, to locate all these fordable crossings
of the rocky, precipitous, and well-wooded Bull Run stream, between the
Stone Bridge and Union Mills Ford. Thus, half a mile below the Stone
Bridge is Lewis's Ford; half a mile below that, Ball's Ford; half a mile
below that, Island Ford; one and one-half miles below that, Mitchell's
Ford--one mile below that.
Blackburn's Ford; three-quarters of a mile farther down, McLean's Ford;
and nearly two miles lower down the stream, Union Mills Ford.
By Thursday morning, the 18th of July, Beauregard has advantageously
posted the seven brigades into which he has organized his forces, at
these various positions along his extended front, as follows:
At the Stone Bridge, Brigadier-General N. G. Evans's Seventh Brigade, of
one regiment and one battalion of Infantry, two companies of Cavalry,
and a battery of four six-pounders.
At Lewis's, Balls, and Island Fords--Colonel P. St. George Cocke's
Fifth Brigade, of three regiments of Infantry, one battery of Artillery,
and one company of Cavalry.
At Mitchell's Ford, Brigadier-General M. L. Bonham's First Brigade, of
four Infantry regiments, two batteries, and six companies of Cavalry.
At Blackburn's Ford, Brigadier-General J. Longstreet's Fourth Brigade,
of four Infantry regiments, with two 6-pounders.
At McLean's Ford, Brigadier-General D. R. Jones's Third Brigade of three
Infantry regiments, one Cavalry company, and two 6-pounders.
At Union Mills Ford, Brigadier-General R. S. Ewell's Second Brigade, of
three Infantry regiments, three Cavalry companies, and four 12-powder
howitzers--Colonel Jubal A. Early's Sixth Brigade, of three Infantry
regiments and three rifled pieces of Walton's Battery, being posted in
the rear of, and as a support to, Ewell's Brigade.
[Johnston also found, on the 20th, the Reserve Brigade of Brig.
Gen. T. H. Holmes--comprising two regiments of Infantry, Walker's
Battery of Artillery, and Scott's Cavalry-with Early's Brigade, "in
reserve, in rear of the right."]
The disposition and strength of Beauregard's forces at these various
points along his line of defense on Bull Run stream, plainly shows his
expectation of an attack on his right; but he is evidently suspicious
that it may come upon his centre; for, as far back as July 8th, he had
issued special orders to the effect that:
"Should the Enemy march to the attack of Mitchell's Ford, via
Centreville, the following movements will be made with celerity:
"I. The Fourth Brigade will march from Blackburn's Ford to attack him on
the flank and centre.
"II. The Third Brigade will be thrown to the attack of his centre and
rear toward Centreville.
"III. The Second and Sixth Brigades united will also push forward and
attack him in the rear by way of Centreville, protecting their own right
flanks and rear from the direction of Fairfax Station and Court House.
"IV. In the event of the defeat of the Enemy, the troops at Mitchell's
Ford and Stone Bridge, especially the Cavalry and Artillery, will join
in the pursuit, which will be conducted with vigor but unceasing
prudence, and continued until he shall have been driven beyond the
And it is not without interest to note Beauregard's subsequent
indorsement on the back of these Special Orders, that: "The plan of
attack prescribed within would have been executed, with modifications
affecting First and Fifth Brigades, to meet the attack upon Blackburn's
Ford, but for the expected coming of General Johnston's command, which
was known to be en route to join me on [Thursday] the 18th of July."
The knowledge thus possessed on Thursday, the 18th, by Beauregard, that
Johnston's Army is on its way to join him, is of infinite advantage to
the former. On the other hand, the complete ignorance, at this time, of
McDowell on this point,--and the further fact that he has been lulled
into a feeling of security on the subject, by General Scott's emphatic
assurance to him that "if Johnston joins Beauregard, he shall have
Patterson on his heels"--is a great disadvantage to the Union general.
Were McDowell now aware of the real Military situation, he would
unquestionably make an immediate attack, with the object of crushing
Beauregard before Johnston can effect a junction with him. It would
then be a mere matter of detail for the armies of McDowell, McClellan,
and Patterson, to bag Johnston, and bring the armed Rebellion to an
inglorious and speedy end. But Providence--through the plottings of
individuals within our own lines--wills it otherwise.
Long before this, Patterson has been informed by General Winfield Scott
of the proposed movement by McDowell upon Manassas,--and of its date.
On Saturday, July 13th, General Scott telegraphed to Patterson: "I
telegraphed to you yesterday, if not strong enough to beat the Enemy
early next week, make demonstrations so as to detain him in the Valley
of Winchester; but if he retreats in force toward Manassas, and it be
too hazardous to follow him, then consider the route via Keys Ferry,
On Wednesday, the 17th, Scott telegraphs to Patterson: "I have nothing
official from you since Sunday (14th), but am glad to learn, through
Philadelphia papers, that you have advanced. Do not let the Enemy amuse
and delay you with a small force in front whilst he re-enforces the
Junction with his main body. McDowell's first day's work has driven the
Enemy beyond Fairfax Court House. The Junction will probably be carried
On Thursday, the 18th, Patterson replies that to attack "the greatly
superior force at Winchester "when the three months volunteers' time was
about up, and they were threatening to leave him--would be "most
hazardous" and then he asks: "Shall I attack?"
Scott answers the same day: "I have certainly been expecting you to beat
the Enemy. If not, to hear that you had felt him strongly, or, at
least, had occupied him by threats and demonstrations. You have been at
least his equal, and, I suppose, superior in numbers. Has he not stolen
a march and sent re-enforcements toward Manassas Junction? A week is
enough to win victories," etc.
Patterson retorts, on the same day: "The Enemy has stolen no march upon
me. I have kept him actively employed, and by threats, and
reconnaissances in force, caused him to be re-enforced. I have
accomplished in this respect more than the General-in-Chief asked, or
could well be expected, in face of an Enemy far superior in numbers,
with no line of communication to protect."
In another dispatch, to Assistant Adjutant-General Townsend (with
General Scott), he says, that same afternoon of Thursday, the 18th: "I
have succeeded, in accordance with the wishes of the General-in-Chief,
in keeping General Johnston's Force at Winchester. A reconnaissance in
force, on Tuesday, caused him to be largely re-enforced from Strasburg."
Again, on Friday, the 19th, he informs Colonel Townsend that: "The
Enemy, from last information, are still at Winchester, and being re-
enforced every night."
It is not until Saturday, the 20th of July, that he telegraphs to
Townsend: "With a portion of his force, Johnston left Winchester, by the
road to Millwood, on the afternoon of the 18th." And he adds the
ridiculous statement: "His whole force was about 35,200."
Thus, despite all the anxious care of General Scott, to have Johnston's
Army detained in the Shenandoah Valley, it has escaped Patterson so
successfully, and entirely, that the latter does not even suspect its
disappearance until the day before the pitched Battle of Bull Run is
fought! Its main body has actually reached Manassas twenty-four hours
before Patterson is aware that it has left Winchester!
And how is it, that Johnston gets away from Patterson so neatly? And
when does he do it?
[The extraordinary conduct of General Patterson at this critical
period, when everything seemed to depend upon his exertions, was
afterward the subject of inquiry by the Joint-Committee on the
Conduct of the War. The testimony taken by that Committee makes it
clear, to any unprejudiced mind, that while Patterson himself may
have been loyal to the Union, he was weak enough to be swayed from
the path of duty by some of the faithless and unpatriotic officers
with whom he had partly surrounded himself--and especially by Fitz
John Porter, his Chief-of-staff. Let us examine the sworn
testimony of two or three witnesses on this point.
General CHARLES W. SANFORD, who was second in command under
Patterson, and in command of Patterson's Left Wing, testified [see
pages 54-66, Report on Conduct of the War, Vol. 3, Part 2,] that he
was at a Council of War held at the White House, June 29th, when
the propriety of an attack on the Rebel lines at Manassas was
discussed; that he objected to any such movement until Patterson
was in such a position as to prevent the junction between General
Johnston's Army and the troops at Manassas; that on the 6th of
July, he was sent by General Scott, with four picked New York
regiments, to Patterson, and (waiving his own seniority rank)
reported to that General, at Williamsport; that Patterson gave him
command of a division of 8,000 men (and two batteries) out of a
total in his Army of 22,000; that he "delivered orders from General
Scott to General Patterson, and urged a forward movement as soon as
possible;" that there was "Some delay at Martinsburg,
notwithstanding the urgency of our matter," but they "left there on
[Monday] the 15th of July, and went in the direction of
Winchester,"--down to Bunker Hill,--Patterson with two divisions
going down the turnpike, and Sanford taking his division a little
in advance and more easterly on the side roads so as to be in a
position to flank Johnston's right; that on that afternoon (Monday,
July 15) General Patterson rode up to where Sanford was locating
Continuing his testimony, General Sanford said: "I was then within
about nine miles of Johnston's fortified camp at Winchester.
Patterson was complimenting me upon the manner in which my
regiments were located, and inquiring about my pickets, which I had
informed him I had sent down about three miles to a stream below.
I had driven out the Enemy's skirmishers ahead of us. They had
some cavalry there. In answer to his compliments about the
comfortable location I had made, I said: 'Very comfortable,
General, when shall we move on?' * * * He hesitated a moment or
two, and then said: 'I don't know yet when we shall move. And if I
did I would not tell my own father.' I thought that was rather a
queer speech to make to me under the circumstances. But I smiled
and said: 'General, I am only anxious that we shall get forward,
that the Enemy shall not escape us.' He replied: 'There is no
danger of that. I will have a reconnaissance to-morrow, and we
will arrange about moving at a very early period.' He then took
"The next day [Tuesday, July 16th], there was a reconnaissance on
the Winchester turnpike, about four or five miles below the
General's camp. He sent forward a section of artillery and some
cavalry, and they found a post-and-log fence across the Winchester
turnpike, and some of the Enemy's cavalry on the other side of it.
They gave them a round of grape. The cavalry scattered off, and
the reconnaissance returned. That was the only reconnaissance I
heard of while we were there. My own pickets went further than
that. But it was understood, the next afternoon, that we were to
march forward at daylight. I sent down Col. Morell, with 40 men,
to open a road down to Opequan Creek, within five miles of the camp
at Winchester, on the side-roads I was upon, which would enable me,
in the course of three hours, to get between Johnston and the
Shenandoah River, and effectually bar his way to Manassas. I had
my ammunition all distributed, and ordered my men to have 24 hours'
rations in their haversacks, independent of their breakfast. We
were to march at 4 o'clock the next morning. I had this road to
the Opequan completed that night. I had then with me, in addition
to my eight regiments amounting to about 8,000 men and a few
cavalry, Doubleday's heavy United States battery of 20 and 30
pounders, and a very good Rhode Island battery. And I was willing
to take the risk, whether Gen. Patterson followed me up or not, of
placing myself between Johnston and the Shenandoah River, rather
than let Johnston escape. And, at 4 o'clock [July 17th] I should
have moved over that road for that purpose, if I had had no further
orders. But, a little after 12 o'clock at night [July 16th-17th,]
I received a long order of three pages from Gen. Patterson,
instructing me to move on to Charlestown, which is nearly at right
angles to the road I was going to move on, and twenty-two miles
from Winchester. This was after I had given my orders for the
* * * * * * * * * *
'Question [by the Chairman].--And that left Johnston free?
"Answer--Yes, Sir; left him free to make his escape, which he did.
* * *"
'Question.--In what direction would Johnston have had to move to
get by you?
"Answer--Right out to the Shenandoah River, which he forded. He
found out from his cavalry, who were watching us, that we were
actually leaving, and he started at 1 o'clock that same day, with
8,000 men, forded the Shenandoah where it was so deep that he
ordered his men to put their cartridge-boxes on their bayonets, got
out on the Leesburg road, and went down to Manassas."
"Question [by the Chairman].--Did he [Patterson] assign any reason
for that movement?
"Answer.--I was, of course, very indignant about it, and so were
all my officers and men; so much so that when, subsequently, at
Harper's Ferry, Patterson came by my camp, there was a universal
groan--against all discipline, of course, and we suppressed it as
soon as possible. The excuse given by Gen. Patterson was this:
that he had received intelligence that he could rely upon, that
Gen. Johnston had been re-enforced by 20,000 men from Manassas,
and was going to make an attack upon him; and in the order which I
received that night--a long order of three pages--I was ordered to
occupy all the communicating roads, turning off a regiment here,
and two or three regiments there, and a battery at another place,
to occupy all the roads from Winchester to the neighborhood of
Charlestown, and all the cross-roads, and hold them all that day,
until Gen. Patterson's whole army went by me to Charlestown; and I
sat seven hours in the saddle near a place called Smithfield, while
Patterson, with his whole army, went by me on their way to
Charlestown, he being apprehensive, as he said, of an attack from
"Question [by Mr. Odell].--You covered his movement?
"Answer--Yes, Sir. Now the statement that he made, which came to
me through Colonel Abercrombie, who was Patterson's brother-in-law,
and commanded one division in that army, was, that Johnston had
been re-enforced; and Gen. Fitz-John Porter reported the same thing
to my officers. Gen. Porter was then the chief of Patterson's
staff, and was a very excellent officer, and an accomplished
soldier. They all had got this story, which was without the
slightest shadow of foundation; for there had not a single man
arrived at the camp since we had got full information that their
force consisted of 20,000 men, of whom 1,800 were sick with the
measles. The story was, however, that they had ascertained, by
reliable information, of this re-enforcement. Where they got their
information, I do not know. None such reached me; and I picked up
deserters and other persons to get all the information I could; and
we since have learned, as a matter of certainty, that Johnston's
forces never did exceed 20,000 men there. But the excuse Patterson
gave was, that Johnson had been re-enforced by 20,000 men from
Manassas, and was going to attack him. That was the reason he gave
then for this movement. But in this paper he has lately published,
he hints at another reason--another excuse--which was that it was
by order of Gen. Scott. Now, I know that the peremptory order of
Gen. Scott to Gen. Patterson, repeated over and over again, was
this--I was present on several occasions when telegraphic
communications went from Gen. Scott to Gen. Patterson: Gen. Scott's
orders to Gen. Patterson were that, if he were strong enough, he
was to attack and beat Johnston. But if not, then he was to place
himself in such a position as to keep Johnston employed, and
prevent him from making a junction with Beauregard at Manassas.
That was the repeated direction of Gen. Scott to Gen. Patterson;
and it was because of Patterson's hesitancy, and his hanging back,
and keeping so far beyond the reach of Johnston's camp, that I was
ordered to go up there and re-enforce him, and assist him in any
operations necessary to effect that object. The excuse of Gen.
Patterson now is, that he had orders from Gen. Scott to move to
Charlestown. Now, that is not so. But this state of things
existed: Before the movement was made from Martinsburg, General
Patterson suggested to General Scott that Charlestown would be a
better base of operations than Martinsburg and suggested that he
had better move on Charlestown, and thence make his approaches to
Winchester; that it would be better to do that than to move
directly to Winchester from Martinsburg; and General Scott wrote
back to say that, if he found that movement a better one, he was at
liberty to make it. But Gen. Patterson had already commenced his
movement on Winchester direct from Martinsburg, and had got as far
as Bunker Hill; so that the movement which he had formerly
suggested, to Charlestown, was suppressed by his own act. But that
is the pretence now given in his published speech for making the
movement from Bunker Hill to Charlestown, which was a retreat,
instead of the advance which the movement to Charlestown he first
proposed to Gen. Scott was intended to be."
* * * * * * * * * * * *
"Question [by the Chairman].--Was not that change of direction and
movement to Charlestown a total abandonment of the object which you
"Answer.--Entirely an abandonment of the main principles of the
orders he was acting under."
"Question.--And of course an abandonment of the purpose for which
you were there?
"Question [by Mr. Odell].-Was it not your understanding in leaving
here, and was it not the understanding also of Gen. Scott, that
your purpose in going there was to check Johnston with direct
reference to the movement here?
"Answer--Undoubtedly. It was in consequence of the suggestion made
by me at the Council at the President's house. * * * And upon the
suggestion of General Scott they wanted me to go up there and
assist Patterson in this movement against Johnston, so as to carry
out the point I had suggested of first checkmating Johnston before
the movement against Manassas was made here."
* * * * * * * * *
Question [by the Chairman].--Would there have been any difficulty
in preventing Johnston from going to Manassas?
* * * * * * * * *
"Question [by the Chairman.]--I have heard it suggested that he
(Patterson) undertook to excuse this movement on the ground that
the time of many of his troops had expired, and they refused to
"Answer.--That to my knowledge, is untrue. The time of none of
them had expired when this movement was made. All the troops that
were there were in the highest condition for the service. These
three-months' men, it may be well to state to you who are not
Military men, were superior to any other volunteer troops that we
had, in point of discipline. They were the disciplined troops of
the Country. The three-months' men were generally the organized
troops of the different States--New York, Pennsylvania, etc. We
had, for instance, from Patterson's own city, Philadelphia, one of
the finest regiments in the service, which was turned over to me,
at their own request; and the most of my regiments were disciplined
and organized troops. They were all in fine condition, anxious,
zealous, and earnest for a fight. They thought they were going to
attack Johnston's camp at Winchester. Although I had suggested to
Gen. Patterson that there was no necessity for that, the camp being
admirably fortified with many of their heavy guns from Norfolk, I
proposed to him to place ourselves between Johnston and the
Shenandoah, which would have compelled him to fight us there, or to
remain in his camp, either of which would have effected General
Scott's object. If I had got into a fight, it was very easy, over
this road I had just been opening, for Patterson to have re-
enforced me and to have come up to the fight in time. The
proposition was to place ourselves between Johnston's fortified
camp and the Shenandoah, where his fortified camp would have been
of no use to him."
"Question.--Even if you had received a check there, it would have
prevented his junction with the forces at Manassas?
"Answer.--Yes, Sir; I would have risked a battle with my own
division rather than Johnston should have escaped. If he had
attacked me, I could have taken a position where I could have held
it, while Patterson could have fallen upon him and repulsed him."
"Question [by Mr. Odell].--Had you any such understanding with
"Answer.--I told him I would move down on this side-road in
advance, leaving Gen. Patterson to sustain me if I got into a
fight. So, on the other hand, if he should attack Patterson, I was
near enough to fall upon Johnston's flank and to support Patterson.
By using this communication of mine to pass Opequan Creek--where, I
had informed Patterson, I had already pushed forward my pickets,
[200 men in the day and 400 more at night,] to prevent the Enemy
from burning the bridge--it would have enabled me to get between
Johnston and the Shenandoah River. On the morning [Wednesday, July
17th] of our march to Charlestown, Stuart's cavalry, which figured
so vigorously at Bull Run, was upon my flank all day. They were
apparently about 800 strong. I saw them constantly on my flank for
a number of miles. I could distinguish them, with my glass, with
great ease. Finally, they came within about a mile of the line of
march I was pursuing and I sent a battery around to head them off,
and the 12th Regiment across the fields in double-quick time to
take them in the rear. I thought I had got them hemmed in. But
they broke down the fences, and went across the country to
Winchester, and I saw nothing more of them. They were then about
eight miles from Winchester, and must have got there in the course
of a couple of hours. That day [Wednesday, the 17th] at 10
o'clock--as was ascertained from those who saw him crossing the
Shenandoah--Johnston started from Winchester with 8,000 men, forded
the Shenandoah, and got to Manassas on Friday night; and his second
in command started the next day with all the rest of the available
troops--something like 9,000 men; leaving only the sick, and a few
to guard them, in the camp at Winchester--and they arrived at the
battle-field in the midst of the fight, got out of the cars, rushed
on the battle-field, and turned the scale. I have no doubt that,
if we had intercepted Johnston, as we ought to have done, the
battle of Bull Run would have been a victory for us instead of a
defeat. Johnston was undoubtedly the ablest general they had in
Colonel CRAIG BIDDLE, testified that he was General Patterson's
aide-de-camp at the time. In answer to a question by the Chairman,
"Answer.--I was present, of course, at all the discussions. The
discussion at Martinsburg was as to whether or not General
Patterson should go on to Winchester. General Patterson was very
full of that himself. He was determined to go to Winchester; but
the opinions of all the regular officers who were with him, were
against it. The opinions of all the men in whose judgment I had
any confidence, were against it. They seemed to have the notion
that General Patterson had got his Irish blood up by the fight we
had had at Falling Waters, and was bound to go ahead. He decided
upon going ahead, against the remonstrances of General [Fitz John]
Porter, who advised against it. He told me he considered he had
done his duty, and said no more. The movement was delayed in
consequence of General Stone's command not being able to move right
away. It was then evident that there was so much opposition to it
that the General was induced to call a council of the general
officers in his command, at which I was present. They were
unanimously opposed to the advance. That was at Martinsburg."
* * * * * * * * *
"Question.--While at Bunker Hill, the night before you left there,
were any orders issued to march in the evening?
"Answer.--I think there were such orders."
"Question.--Did not General Patterson issue orders at Bunker Hill,
the night before you marched to Charlestown, for an attack on the
"Answer.-I think such orders were written. I do not think they
were issued. I think General Patterson was again persuaded not to
make an advance."
Colonel R. BUTLER PRICE, Senior aide to Patterson, testified as
* * * * * * * * *
"Question [by Mr. Gooch].--Was it not the intention to move from
Bunker Hill to Winchester?
"Answer.--Yes, Sir. At one time General Patterson had given an
order to move from Bunker Hill to Winchester. He was very
unwilling to leave Johnston even at Winchester without attacking
him; and on the afternoon before we left Bunker Hill he decided to
attack him, notwithstanding his strong force."
"Question.--Behind his intrenchments?
"Answer.--Yes, Sir; it went so far that his order was written by
his adjutant, General [Fitz John] Porter. It was very much against
the wishes of General [Fitz John] Porter; and he asked General
Patterson if he would send for Colonel Abercrombie and Colonel
Thomas and consult them on the movement. General Patterson
replied: No, Sir; for I know they will attempt to dissuade me from
it, and I have made up my mind to fight Johnston under all
circumstances. That was the day before we left Bunker Hill. Then
Colonel [Fitz John] Porter asked to have Colonel Abercrombie and
Colonel Thomas sent for and consulted as to the best manner to
carry out his wishes. He consented, and they came, and after half
an hour they dissuaded him from it."
"Question.--At that time General Patterson felt it was so important
to attack Johnston that he had determined to do it?
"Answer.--Yes, Sir; the order was not published, but it was
"Question.--You understood General Patterson to be influenced to
make that attempt because he felt there was a necessity for
"Answer.--Yes, Sir; to detain him as long as he possibly could."
"Question.--That order was not countermanded until late on Tuesday,
the 16th, was it?
"Answer.--That order never was published. It was written; but, at
the earnest solicitation of Colonel [Fitz John] Porter, it was
withheld until he could have a consultation with Colonel
Abercrombie and Colonel Thomas."]
It is about 1 o'clock on the morning of Thursday, July 18th,--that same
day which witnesses the preliminary Battle of Blackburn's Ford--that
Johnston, being at Winchester, and knowing of Patterson's peculiarly
inoffensive and timid movement to his own left and rear, on Charlestown,
receives from the Rebel Government at Richmond, a telegraphic dispatch,
of July 17th, in these words: "General Beauregard is attacked. To
strike the Enemy a decisive blow, a junction of all your effective force
will be needed. If practicable, make the movement. * * * In all the
arrangements exercise your discretion."
Johnston loses no time in deciding that it is his duty to prevent, if
possible, disaster to Beauregard's Army; that to do this he must effect
a junction with him; and that this necessitates either an immediate
fight with, and defeat of, Patterson,--which may occasion a fatal
delay--or else, that Union general must be eluded. Johnston determines
on the latter course.
Leaving his sick, with some militia to make a pretense of defending the
town in case of attack, Johnston secretly and rapidly marches his Army,
of 9,000 effective men, Southeasterly from Winchester, at noon of
Thursday, the 18th; across by a short cut, wading the Shenandoah River,
and then on through Asby's Gap, in the Blue Ridge, that same night;
still on, in the same direction, to a station on the Manassas Gap
railroad, known as Piedmont, which is reached by the next (Friday)
morning,--the erratic movements of Stuart's Cavalry entirely concealing
the manoeuvre from the knowledge of Patterson.
From Piedmont, the Artillery and Cavalry proceed to march the remaining
twenty-five miles, or so, to Manassas Junction, by the roads. The 7th
and 8th Georgia Regiments of Bartow's Brigade, with Jackson's Brigade,--
comprising the 2d, 4th, 5th, 27th and 33d Virginia Regiments--are
embarked on the cars, and hurriedly sent in advance, by rail, to
Manassas, reaching there on that same (Friday) afternoon and evening.
These are followed by General Johnston, with Bee's Brigade--comprising
the 4th Alabama, 2d Mississippi, and a battalion of the 11th
Mississippi--which arrive at Manassas about noon of Saturday, the 20th
of July, the balance of Johnston's Infantry being billed for arrival
that same day, or night.
Upon Johnston's own arrival at Manassas, Saturday noon,--the very day
that Patterson ascertains that "the bird has flown,"--after assuming
command, by virtue of seniority, he proceeds to examine Beauregard's
position. This he finds "too extensive, and the ground too densely
wooded and intricate," to be learned quickly, and hence he is impelled
to rely largely upon Beauregard for information touching the strength
and positions of both the Rebel and Union Armies.
Beauregard has now 21,833 men, and 29 pieces of artillery of his own
"Army of the Potomac." Johnston's and Holmes's junction with him has
raised the Rebel total to 32,000 effectives, and 55 guns. McDowell, on
the other hand, who started with 30,000 effectives, finds himself on the
19th--owing to the departure of one of his regiments and a battery of
Artillery, because of the expiration of their term of enlistment,--with
but "28,000 men at the utmost."--[Comte de Paris.]
On the evening of Saturday, the 20th of July, Johnston and Beauregard
hold an important consultation. The former feels certain that
Patterson, with his more than 20,000 effectives, will now lose no time
in essaying a junction with McDowell's Army, and that such junction will
probably be effected by July 22nd. Hence he perceives the necessity of
attacking McDowell, and if possible, with the combined Rebel Forces,
whipping him before Patterson can come up to his assistance.
At this consultation it is agreed by the two Rebel generals to assume
the offensive, at once. Beauregard proposes a plan of battle--which is
an immediate general advance of the Rebel centre and left,
concentrating, from all the fords of Bull Run, upon Centreville, while
the Rebel right advances toward Sangster's cross-roads, ready to fall
either on Centreville, or upon Fairfax Court House, in its rear,
according to circumstances.
The plan proposed, is accepted at once by Johnston. The necessary order
is drawn up by Beauregard that night; and at half past four o'clock on
Sunday morning, July 21st, Johnston signs the written order. Nothing
now remains, apparently, but the delivery of the order to the Rebel
brigade commanders, a hurried preparation for the forward movement, and
then the grand attack upon McDowell, at Centreville.
Already, no doubt, the fevered brain of Beauregard pictures, in his
vivid imagination, the invincible thunders of his Artillery, the
impetuous advance of his Infantry, the glorious onset of his Cavalry,
the flight and rout of the Union forces, his triumphal entry into
Washington--Lincoln and Scott and the Congress crouching at his feet--
and the victorious South and conquered North acclaiming him Dictator!
The plan is Beauregard's own, and Beauregard is to have command. Hence
all the glory of capturing the National Capital, must be Beauregard's.
Why not? But "man proposes, and God disposes." The advance and attack,
are, in that shape, never to be made.
McDowell, in the meantime, all unconscious of what has transpired in the
Shenandoah Valley, and between there and Manassas; never dreaming for an
instant that Patterson has failed to keep Johnson there--even if he has
not attacked and defeated him; utterly unsuspicious that his own
lessened Union Army has now to deal with the Forces of Johnston and
Beauregard combined--with a superior instead of an inferior force; is
executing a plan of battle which he has decided upon, and announced to
his general officers, on that same Saturday evening, at his Headquarters
Instead of attempting to turn the Enemy's right, and cut off his
communications with Richmond and the South, McDowell has now determined
to attack the Enemy's left, cut his communication, via the Manassas Gap
railroad, with Johnston's Army,--still supposed by him to be in the
Valley of the Shenandoah--and, taking him in the left flank and rear,
roll him upon Manassas, in disorder and defeat--with whatever might
That is the plan--in its general features. In executing it, Blenker's
Brigade of Miles's Division is to remain at Centreville as a reserve,
throwing up intrenchments about its Heights, upon which to fall back, in
case of necessity; Davies's Brigade of the same Division, with
Richardson's Brigade of Tyler's Division--as the Left Wing--are to
demonstrate at Blackburn's Ford, toward the Enemy's right; Tyler's other
three brigades, under Keyes, Schenck, and Sherman, are to feign an
attack on the Enemy's left, posted behind the strongly-defended Stone
Bridge over which the Warrenton turnpike, running Westward, on its way
from Centreville to Warrenton, crosses Bull Run stream; while the strong
divisions under Hunter and Heintzelman--forming McDowell's Right Wing--
are to follow Tyler's Division Westward down the turnpike to a point
within one mile and a half of the Stone Bridge, thence, by cross-road,
diverge several miles to the North, then sweep around gradually to the
West, and then Southwardly over Bull Run at Sudley Springs Ford,
swooping down the Sudley road upon the Enemy's left flank and rear, near
Stone Bridge, rolling it back toward his center, while Tyler's remaining
three brigades cross the bridge and join in the assault. That is the
whole plan in a nutshell.
It has been McDowell's intention to push forward, from Centreville along
the Warrenton Pike a few miles, on the evening of this Military
conference; but he makes his first mistake, in allowing himself to be
dissuaded from that, by those, who, in his own words, "have the greatest
distance to go," and who prefer "starting early in the morning and
making but one move."
The attacking divisions now have orders to march at 2:30 A. M., in order
"to avoid the heat," which is excessive. Tyler's three immediate
brigades--or some of them--are slow in starting Westward, along the
Warrenton Pike, to the Stone Bridge; and this leads to a two or three
hours delay of the divisions of Hunter and Heintzelman, before they can
follow that Pike beyond Centreville, and commence the secret detour to
their right, along the cross-road leading to Sudley Springs.
At 6:30 A.M., Tyler's Artillery gets into position, to cannonade the
Enemy's batteries, on the West Bank of Bull Run, commanding the Stone
Bridge, and opens fire. Half an hour before this, (at 6 A.M.), the
Rebel artillerists, posted on a hill South of the Pike, and 600 yards
West of the bridge, have caught sight of Tyler's Union blue-jackets.
Those of the Rebel gunners whose eyes are directed to the North-East,
soon see, nearly a mile away, up the gradual slope, a puff of blue
smoke. Immediately the bang of a solitary rifle cannon is heard, and
the scream of a rifled shot as it passes over their heads. At
intervals, until past 9 A.M., that piece and others in the same
position, keep hammering away at the Rebel left, under Evans, at Stone
The Rebel response to this cannonade, is very feeble. McDowell observes
this. He suspects there has been a weakening of the Enemy's force at
the bridge, in order to strengthen his right for some purpose. And what
can that purpose be, but to throw his augmented right upon our left, at
Blackburn's Ford, and so, along the ridge-road, upon Centreville? Thus
McDowell guesses, and guesses well. To be in readiness to protect his
own left and rear, by reenforcing Miles's Division, at Centreville and
along the ridge to Blackburn's Ford, he temporarily holds back Howard's
Brigade of Heintzelman's Division at the point where the cross-road to
Sudley Springs Ford-along which Hunter's Division, followed by the
Brigades of Franklin and Wilcox, of Heintzelman's Division, have already
gone-intersects the Warrenton Pike.
It is 9 o'clock. Beauregard, as yet unaware of McDowell's new plan,
sends an order to Ewell, on his right, to hold himself ready "to take
the offensive, at a moment's notice,"--and directing that Ewell be
supported in his advance, toward Sangster's cross-roads and the rear of
Centreville, by Holmes's Brigade. In accordance with that order, Ewell,
who is "at Union Mills and its neighborhood," gets his brigade ready,
and Holmes moves up to his support. After waiting two hours, Ewell
receives another order, for both Ewell and Holmes "to resume their
places." Something must have occurred since 9 o'clock, to defeat
Beauregard's plan of attack on Centreville--with all its glorious
consequences! What can it be? We shall see.
While Tyler's Artillery has been cannonading the Rebel left, under
Evans, at Stone Bridge,--fully impressed with the prevailing Union
belief that the bridge is not only protected by strong masked batteries,
heavy supports of Infantry, and by abatis as well as other defenses, but
is also mined and ready to be blown up at the approach of our troops,
when in reality the bridge is not mined, and the Rebel force in men and
guns at that point has been greatly weakened in anticipation of
Beauregard's projected advance upon Centreville,--the Union column,
under Hunter and Heintzelman, is advancing from Centreville, in the
scorching heat and suffocating dust of this tropical July morning,
slowly, but surely, along the Warrenton Pike and the cross-road to
Sudley Springs Ford--a distance of some eight miles of weary and
toilsome marching for raw troops in such a temperature--in this order:
Burnside's Brigade, followed by Andrew Porter's Brigade,--both of
Hunter's Division; then Franklin's Brigade, followed by Willcox's
Brigade,--both of Heintzelman's Division.
It is half past 9 o'clock; before Burnside's Brigade has crossed the
Bull Run stream, at Sudley's Ford, and the head of Andrew Porter's
Brigade commences to ford it. The troops are somewhat slow in crossing.
They are warm, tired, thirsty, and as to dust,--their hair and eyes and
nostrils and mouths are full of it, while most of the uniforms, once
blue, have become a dirty gray. The sky is clear. The sun already is
fiercely hot. The men stop to drink and fill their canteens. It is
well they do.
McDowell, who has been waiting two or three hours at the turn, impatient
at the delay, has ridden over to the front of the Flanking column, and
now reaches Sudley's Ford. He feels that much valuable time is already
lost. His plan has, in a measure, been frustrated by delay. He had
calculated on crossing Bull Run, at Sudley's Ford, and getting to the
rear of the Enemy's position, at Stone Bridge, before a sufficient Rebel
force could be assembled to contest the Union advance. He sends back an
aide with orders to the regimental commanders in the rear, to "break
from column, and hurry forward separately, as fast as possible."
Another aide he sends, with orders to Howard to bring his brigade
across-fields. To Tyler he also sends orders to "press forward his
attack, as large bodies of the Enemy are passing in front of him to
attack the division (Hunter's) which has passed over."
It may here be explained, that the Sudley road, running about six miles
South-Southeasterly from Sudley Springs Ford to Manassas Junction, is
crossed at right angles, about two miles South of the Springs, by the
Warrenton Pike, at a point about one mile and a half West of the Stone
Bridge. For nearly a mile South of Sudley Ford, the Sudley road passes
through thick woods on the left, and alternate patches of wooded and
cleared lands on the right. The country farther South, opens into
rolling fields, occasionally cut by transverse gullies, and patched with
woods. This is what Burnside's Brigade beholds, as it marches
Southward, along the Sudley road, this eventful morning.
Thus far, the cannonade of Tyler's batteries, and the weak return-fire
of the Rebel Artillery, at Stone Bridge, over two miles South-East of
Sudley Ford, is about the only music by which the Union march has kept
But now, as Burnside's foremost regiment emerges from the woods, at half
past 10 o'clock, the Artillery of the Enemy opens upon it.
Let us see how this happens. Evans's Brigade, defending the Stone
Bridge, and constituting the Enemy's extreme left, comprises, as has
already been mentioned, Sloan's 4th South Carolina Regiment, Wheat's
Louisiana battalion, Terry's squadron of Virginia Cavalry, and
Davidson's section of Latham's Battery of six-pounders.
Earlier in the morning Evans has supposed, from the cannonade of Tyler's
batteries among the pines on the hills obliquely opposite the Enemy's
left, as well as from the sound of the cannonade of the Union batteries
away down the stream on the Enemy's right, near Blackburn's Ford, that
McDowell is about to make an attack upon the whole front of the Rebel
line of defense along Bull Run-by way of the Stone Bridge, and the
various fords below it, which cross that stream. But by 10 o'clock,
that Rebel general begins to feel doubtful, suspicious, and uneasy.
Despite the booming of Tyler's guns, he has caught in the distance the
rumbling sounds of Hunter's Artillery wheels.
Evans finds himself pondering the meaning of those long lines of dust,
away to his left; and then, like a flash, it bursts upon him, that all
this Military hubbub in his front, and far away to his right, is but a
feint; that the real danger is somehow connected with that mysterious
far-away rumble, and those lines of yellow dust; that the main attack is
to be on the unprepared left and rear of the Rebel position!
No sooner has the Rebel brigade-commander thus divined the Union plan of
attack, than he prepares, with the limited force at his command, to
thwart it. Burnside and he are about equidistant, by this time, from
the intersection of the Sudley road, running South, with the Warrenton
Pike, running West. Much depends upon which of them shall be the first
to reach it,--and the instinctive, intuitive knowledge of this, spurs
Evans to his utmost energy. He leaves four of his fifteen companies,
and Rogers's section of the Loudoun Artillery,--which has come up from
Cocke's Brigade, at the ford below--to defend the approaches to the
Stone Bridge, from the East side of Bull Run,--and, with the other
eleven companies, and Latham's half-battery, he hurries Westward, along
the Warrenton Pike, toward the Sudley road-crossing, to resist the
impending Union attack.
It is now 10:30 o'clock, and, as he hurries along, with anxious eyes,
scanning the woods at the North, he suddenly catches the glitter of
Burnside's bayonets coming down through them, East of the Sudley road,
in "column of regiments" toward Young's Branch--a small stream turning,
in a Northern and Southern loop, respectively above and below the
Warrenton Pike, much as the S of a prostrate dollar-mark twines above
and below its horizontal line, the vicinity of which is destined to be
hotly-contested ground ere night-fall.
[Says Captain D. P. Woodbury, U. S. corps of engineers, and
who, with Captain Wright, guided the divisions of Hunter and
Heintzelman in making the detour to the upper part of Bull Run: "At
Sudley's Mills we lingered about an hour to give the men and horses
water and a little rest before going into action, our advance guard
in the mean time going ahead about three quarters of a mile.
Resuming our march, we emerged from the woods about one mile South
of the ford, and came upon a beautiful open valley about one and a
quarter miles square, bounded on the right or West by a wooded
ridge, on the Fast by the rough spurs or bluffs of Bull Run, on the
North by an open plain and ridge, on which our troops began to
form, and on the South by another ridge, on which the Enemy was
strongly posted, with woods behind their backs. The Enemy was also
in possession of the bluffs of Bull Run on our left."]
Sending word to Headquarters, Evans pushes forward and gaining Buck
Ridge, to the North of the Northern loop of Young's Branch, forms his
line-of-battle upon that elevation--which somewhat compensates him for
the inferiority of his numbers--nearly at right angles to the Bull Run
line; rapidly puts his Artillery in position; the Rebel guns open on
Burnside's advance--their hoarse roar soon supplemented by the rattle of
Rebel musketry, and the answering roar and rattle of the Union onset;
and the Battle of Bull Run has commenced!
It is after 10:30 A.M., and Beauregard and Johnston are upon an eminence
in the rear of the centre of the Enemy's Bull Run line. They have been
there since 8 o'clock. An hour ago, or more, their Signal Officer has
reported a large body of Union troops crossing the Bull Run Valley, some
two or three miles above the Stone Bridge; upon the strength of which,
Johnston has ordered Bee's Brigade from near Cocke's position, with
Hampton's Legion and Stonewall Jackson's Brigade from near Bonham's
left, to move to the Rebel left, at Stone Bridge; and these troops are
now hastening thither, guided by the sound of the guns.
The artillery-firing is also heard by Johnston and Beauregard, but
intervening wooded slopes prevent them from determining precisely whence
it comes. Beauregard, with a badly-organized staff, is chaffing over
the delay that has occurred in carrying out his own plan of battle. He
is waiting to hear of the progress of the attack which he has ordered
upon the Union Army,--supposed by him to be at Centreville,--and
especially as to the advance of his right toward Sangster's Station. In
the meantime also,--from early morning,--the Rebel commanders have heard
heavy firing in the direction of Blackburn's Ford, toward their right,
where the Artillery attached to the brigades of Davies and Richardson,
constituting McDowell's Left Wing, is demonstrating in a lively manner,
in accordance with McDowell's plan.
It is 11 o'clock. Beauregard has become satisfied that his orders for
the Rebel advance and attack on Centreville, have failed or miscarried.
His plan is abandoned, and the orders countermanded. At the same time
the growing volume of artillery-detonations upon the left of the Bull
Run line of defense--together with the clouds of dust which indicate the
route of march of Hunter's and Heintzelman's Divisions from near
Centreville to the point of conflict, satisfies both Johnston and
Beauregard, that a serious attack is imperilling the Rebel left.
Beauregard at once proposes to Johnston "a modification of the abandoned
plan," viz.: "to attack with the" Rebel "right, while the left stands on
the defensive." But rapidly transpiring events conspire to make even
the modified plan impracticable.
Johnston, convinced by the still growing volume of battlesounds on the
Rebel left, that the main attack of McDowell is being made there, urges
Beauregard to strengthen the left, as much as possible; and, after that
general has sent orders to this end,--to Holmes and Early to come up
with their Brigades from Union Mills Ford, moving "with all speed to the
sound of the firing," and to Bonham to promptly send up, from Mitchell's
Ford, a battery and two of his regiments--both he and Beauregard put
spurs to their horses, and gallop at full speed toward the firing, four
miles away on their left,--stopping on the way only long enough for
Johnston to order his Chief-of-artillery, Colonel Pendleton, to "follow,
with his own, and Alburtis's Batteries."
Meanwhile let us return and witness the progress of the battle, on the
Rebel left,--where we were looking on, at 10:30 o'clock. Evans had then
just posted his eleven companies of Infantry on Buck Ridge, with one of
his two guns on his left, near the Sudley road, and the other not far
from the Robinson House, upon the Northern spur of the elevated plateau
just South of Young's Branch, and nearly midway between the Sudley road
and Stone Bridge.
The battle, as we have seen, has opened. As Burnside's Brigade appears
on the slope, to the North of Buck Ridge (or Hill), it is received by a
rapid, well-sustained, and uncomfortable, but not very destructive fire,
from Evans's Artillery, and, as the Union regiments press forward, in
column, full of impulsive ardor, the Enemy welcomes the head of the
column with a hot musketry-fire also, delivered from the crest of the
elevation behind which the Rebel Infantry lie flat upon the ground.
This defense by Evan's demi-Brigade still continues, although half an
hour, or more, has elapsed. Burnside has not yet been able to dislodge
the Enemy from the position. Emboldened to temerity by this fact, Major
Wheat's Louisiana battalion advances through the woods in front, upon
Burnside, but is hurled back by a galling fire, which throws it into
disorder and flight.
At this moment, however, the brigades of Bee and Bartow--comprising the
7th and 8th Georgia, 2nd Mississippi, 4th Alabama, 6th North Carolina,
and two companies of the 11th Mississippi, with Imboden's Battery of
four pieces--recently arrived with Johnston from Winchester, come up,
form on the right of Sloan's 4th South Carolina Regiment, while Wheat
rallies his remnant on Sloan's left, now resting on the Sudley road, and
the whole new Rebel line opens a hot fire upon Burnside's Brigade.
Hunter, for the purpose of better directing the Union attack, is at this
moment rapidly riding to the left of the Union line,--which is advancing
Southwardly, at right angles to Bull Run stream and the old line of
Rebel defense thereon. He is struck by the fragment of a shell, and
carried to the rear.
Colonel John S. Slocum's, 2nd Rhode Island, Regiment, with Reynold's
Rhode Island Battery (six 13-pounders), having been sent to the front of
Burnside's left, and being closely pressed by the Enemy, Burnside's own
regiment the 1st Rhode Island, is gallantly led by Major Balch to the
support of the 2nd, and together they handsomely repulse the Rebel
onset. Burnside now sends forward Martin's 71st New York, with its two
howitzers, and Marston's 2nd New Hampshire,--his whole Brigade, of four
regiments and a light artillery battery, being engaged with the heavy
masked battery (Imboden's and two other pieces), and nearly seven full
regiments of the Enemy.
The regiments of Burnside's Brigade are getting considerably cut up.
Colonels Slocum and Marston, and Major Balch, are wounded. There is
some confusion in the ranks, and the Rhode Island Battery is in danger
of capture, when General Andrew Porter--whose own brigade has just
reached the field and is deploying to the right of Burnside's--succeeds
Hunter in command of the division, and rides over to his left. Burnside
asks him for Sykes's battalion of regulars, which is accordingly
detached from the extreme right of Andrew Porter's Division, rapidly
forms on the left, in support of the Rhode Island Battery, and opens a
hot and effective fire which, in connection with the renewed fire of
Burnside's rallied regiments, and the opening artillery practice of
Griffin's Battery--that has just come up at a gallop and gone into a
good position upon an eminence to the right of Porter's Division, and to
the right of the Sudley road looking South--fairly staggers the Enemy.
And now the brigades of Sherman and Keyes, having been ordered across
Bull Run by General Tyler, are seen advancing from Poplar Ford, at the
rear of our left,--Sherman's Brigade, headed by Corcoran's 69th New York
Regiment, coming up on Burnside's left, while Keves's Brigade is
following, to the left again of, Sherman.
[Sherman, in his Official Report, after mentioning the receipt by
him of Tyler's order to "cross over with the whole brigade to the
assistance of Colonel Hunter"--which he did, so far as the Infantry
was concerned, but left his battery under Ayres behind, on account
of the impassability of the bluff on the Western bank of Bull Run-
says: "Early in the day, when reconnoitering the ground, I had seen
a horseman descend from a bluff in our front, cross the stream, and
show himself in the open field, and, inferring we could cross over
at the same point, I sent forward a company as skirmishers, and
followed with the whole brigade, the New York Sixty-ninth leading."
This is evidently the ford at the elbow of Bull Run, to the right
of Sherman's front, which is laid down on the Army-maps as "Poplar
Ford," and which McDowell's engineers had previously discovered and
mapped; and to which Major Barnard of the U. S. Engineer Corps
alludes when, in his Official Report, he says: "Midway between the
Stone Bridge and Sudley Spring our maps indicated another ford,
which was said to be good."
The Comte de Paris, at page 241, vol. I. of his admirable "History
of the Civil War in America," and perhaps other Military
historians, having assumed and stated--upon the strength of this
passage in Sherman's Report--that "the Military instinct" of that
successful soldier had "discovered" this ford; and the impression
being thus conveyed, however undesignedly, to their readers, that
McDowell's Engineer corps, after spending two or three days in
reconnaissances, had failed to find the ford which Sherman had in a
few minutes "discovered" by "Military instinct;" it is surely due
to the truth of Military history, that the Engineers be fairly
credited with the discovery and mapping of that ford, the existence
of which should also have been known to McDowell's brigade
If, on the other hand, the Report of the Rebel Captain Arthur L.
Rogers, of the Loudoun Artillery, to General Philip St. George
Cocke, be correct, it would seem that Sherman attempted to cross
Bull Run lower down than Poplar Ford, which is "about one mile
above the Stone Bridge," but was driven back by the fire of
Rogers's guns to cross at that particular ford; for Rogers, in that
Report, says that about 11 o'clock A. M., the first section of the
Loudoun Artillery, under his command, "proceeded to the crest of
the hill on the West Side of Bull Run, commanding Stone Bridge. *
* * Here." continues he, "I posted my section of Artillery, and
opened a brisk fire upon a column of the Enemy's Infantry, supposed
to be two regiments, advancing towards me, and supported by his
battery of rifled cannon on the hills opposite. These poured into
my section a steady fire of shot and shell. After giving them some
fifty rounds, I succeeded in heading his column, and turned it up
Bull Run to a ford about one mile above Stone Bridge, where, with
the regiments which followed, they crossed, and proceeded to join
the rest of the Enemy's forces in front of the main body of our
Before this developing, expanding, and advancing attack of the Union
forces, the Rebel General Bee, who--since his coming up to support
Evans, with his own and Bartow's Brigades, to which had since been added
Hampton's Legion,--has been in command of this new Rebel line of defense
upon the left of the Bull Run line, concludes that that attack is
getting too strong for him, and orders his forces to retreat to the
Southward, and re-form on a second line, parallel to their present line,
and behind the rising ground at their rear. They do so, somewhat faster
than he desires. The whole line of the Rebel centre gives way, followed
by the wings, as far as the victorious Union troops can see.
We must be blind if we cannot perceive that thus far, the outlook, from
the Union point of view,--despite numberless mistakes of detail, and
some, perhaps, more general in their character--is very good. The "Boys
in Blue" are irresistibly advancing, driving the "Rebel Gray" back and
back, without let or hindrance, over the Buck Hill ridge, over Young's
Branch, back to, and even over, the Warrenton Pike. Time, to be sure,
is flying--valuable time; but the Enemy also is retiring.--There is some
slight confusion in parts of our own ranks; but there is much more in
his. At present, we have decidedly the best of it. McDowell's plan has
been, thus far, successful. Will that success continue? We shall see.
Heintzelman's Division is coming, up from the rear, to the Union right--
Franklin's Brigade, made up of the 5th and 11th Massachusetts, and 1st
Minnesota, with Ricketts's splendid battery of six 10-pounder Parrotts,
forming on the right of Andrew Porter's Brigade and Division; while
Willcox's demi-Brigade, with its 11th ("Fire Zouaves") and 38th New
York--having left Arnold's Battery of four pieces, with the 1st Michigan
as its support, posted on a hill commanding Sudley's Ford--comes in, on
the right of Franklin, thus forming the extreme right of the advancing
Union line of attack.
As our re-enforcing brigades come up, on our right, and on our left, the
Enemy falls back, more and more discouraged and dismayed. It seems to
him, as it does to us, "as though nothing can stop us." Jackson,
however, is now hurrying up to the relief of the flying and disordered
remnants of Bee's, Bartow's, and Evans's Brigades; and these
subsequently rally, with Hampton's Legion, upon Jackson's strong brigade
of fresh troops, so that, on a third new line, to which they have been
driven back, they soon have--6,500 Infantry, 13 pieces of Artillery, and
Stuart's cavalry-posted in a belt of pines which fringes the Southern
skirt of the Henry House plateau--in a line-of-battle which, with its
left resting upon the Sudley road, three-quarters of a mile South of its
intersection with the Warrenton Pike, is the irregular hypothenuse of a
right-angled triangle, formed by itself and those two intersecting
roads, to the South-East of such intersection. It is within this right-
angled triangular space that the battle, now proceeding, bids fair to
rage most fiercely.
Johnston and Beauregard, riding up from their rear, reach this new
(third) line to which the Rebel troops have been driven, about noon.
They find the brigades of Bee, Bartow, and Evans, falling back in great
disorder, and taking shelter in a wooded ravine, South of the Robinson
House and of the Warrenton Pike. Hampton's Legion, which has just been
driven backward over the Pike, with great loss, still holds the Robinson
House. Jackson, however, has reached the front of this line of defense,
with his brigade of the 2nd, 4th, 5th, 27th, and 33rd Virginia Infantry,
and Pendleton's Battery--all of which have been well rested, since their
arrival, with other brigades of Johnston's Army of the Shenandoah, from
Winchester, a day or two back.
As Jackson comes up, on the left of "the ravine and woods occupied by
the mingled remnants of Bee's, Bartow's and Evans's commands," he posts
Imboden's, Stanard's, and Pendleton's Batteries in line, "below the brim
of the Henry House plateau," perhaps one-eighth of a mile to the East-
Southeastward of the Henry House, at his centre; Preston's 4th Virginia,
and Echol's 27th Virginia, at the rear of the battery-line; Harper's 5th
Virginia, with Radford's Cavalry, at its right; and, on its left,
Allen's 2nd Virginia; with Cumming's 33rd Virginia to the left of that
again, and Stuart's Cavalry covering the Rebel left flank.
It is about this time that the chief Rebel generals find their position
so desperate, as to necessitate extraordinary measures, and personal
exposure, on their part. Now it is, that Jackson earns the famous
sobriquet which sticks to him until he dies.
[Bee approaches Jackson--so goes the story, according to Swinton;
he points to the disordered remnants of his own brigade mingled
with those of the brigades of Bartow and Evans huddled together in
the woods, and exclaims: "General, they are beating us back!"
"Sir," responds Jackson, drawing himself up, severely, "We'll give
them the bayonet!" And Bee, rushing back among his confused troops,
rallies them with the cry: "There is Jackson, standing like a Stone
wall! Let us determine to die here, and we will conquer."]
Now it is, that Johnston and Beauregard, accompanied by their staffs,
ride backward and forward among the Rebel ranks, rallying and
encouraging them. Now it is, that, Bee and Bartow and Hampton being
wounded, and the Lieutenant-Colonel of the Hampton Legion killed,
Beauregard leads a gallant charge of that legion in person. And now it
is, that Johnston himself, finding all the field-officers of the 4th
Alabama disabled, "impressively and gallantly charges to the front" with
the colors of that regiment at his side!
These conspicuous examples of bravery, inspire the Rebel troops with
fresh courage, at this admittedly "critical" moment.
Johnston now assigns to Beauregard the chief "command of the left" of