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Published: August 12, 1861


WASHINGTON, July 25, 1861.

Capt. A. Baird, Assistant Adjustant-General, Headquarters First Brigade, First Division:

SIR: In compliance with the orders of Brig.-Gen. TYLER, I have the honor to report the operations of the First Brigade, First Division, in the action of the 21st inst., at Bull Run, and during the two successive days.

Leaving my camp near Centreville at 2 o'clock A.M., I took my place in the First Division as a reserve. At 9 1/4 o'clock A.M., at the distance of half a mile from Bull Run, I was ordered by Gen. TYLER to incline the head of my column to the right, and direct it through an open field to a ford about 800 yards above the Stone Bridge. Before the whole brigade had entered upon the new direction, the enemy opened fire from a battery across the Run, and threw upon the First and Second Regiments Connecticut Volunteers some twenty-five or thirty rounds of shot and shell, which caused a temporary confusion and wounded several men. Order was shortly restored, and the brigade closed upon SHERMAN's column before passing the fords.

After crossing I marched at once to the high ground, and, by order of Gen. TYLER, came into line on SHERMAN's left. The order to advance in line of battle was given at about 10 o'clock A.M., and from that hour until 4 P.M. my brigade was in constant activity on the field of battle. The First Regiment Connecticut Volunteers was met by a body of cavalry and infantry, which it repelled, and at several other encounters of different parts of the line the enemy constantly retired before us.

At about 2 o'clock P.M. Gen. TYLER ordered me to take a battery on a height in front. The battery was strongly posted, and supported by infantry and riflemen, sheltered by a building, a fence and a hedge. My order to charge was obeyed with the utmost promptness. Col. JAMESON, of the Second Maine, and Col. CHATFIELD, Third Connecticut Volunteers, pressed forward their regiments up to the base slope about one hundred yards, when I ordered them to lie down at a point offering a small protection and load. I then ordered them to advance again, which they did, in the face of a moveable battery of eight pieces and a large body of infantry, towards the top of a hill. As we moved forward we came under the tire of large bodies of the enemy posted behind breastworks, and on reaching the summit of the hill the firing became so hot that an exposure to it of five minutes would have annihilated my whole line.

As the enemy had withdrawn to a height beyond, and to the support of additional troops, I ordered the Maine regiment to face by the left flank and move to a wooded slope, across an open field, to which point I followed them. The balance of the brigade soon regained me, and after a few moments rest I again put it in motion and moved forward to find another opportunity to charge.

The enemy had a light battery, which he manoeuvred with extraordinary skill, and his shot fell often among and near us. I advanced generally just under the brow of the hill, by a flank movement, until I found myself about half a mile below the Stone Bridge. Our advance caused the rebels to retire from the abattis, and enabled Capt. ALEXANDER, of the engineers, to clean it away. In a short time the enemy moved the battery to a point which enabled him to enfilade my whole line; but as he pointed his guns too far to the right, and only improved his aim gradually, I had time to withdraw my brigade, by a flank movement, around the base of a hill, in time to avoid a raking fire. At this time a lull in the discharge of our artillery, and an apparent change of position of the enemy's left flank, made me apprehensive that all was not right. I continued my march, and sent my aid, Lieut. WALTER, to the rear, to inquire of Gen. MCDOWELL how the day was going. The discontinuance of the firing in our lines becoming more and more apparent, I inclined to the right, and after marching six hundred or seven hundred yards further I was met by Lieut. UPTOWN, Aid to Gen. TYLER, and ordered to file to the right, as our troops were retreating. I moved on at an ordinary pace, and fell into the retiring current about one hundred and fifty yards in the rear of Gen. MCDOWELL and staff. Before crossing Bull Run, and until my brigade mingled with the retreating mass, it maintained perfect freedom from panic, and at the moment I received the order to retreat, and for some time afterwards, it was in as good order as in the morning on the road. Half an hour earlier I supposed the victory to be ours.

The gallantry with which the Second Regiment of Maine Volunteers, and the Third Regiment Connecticut Volunteers, charged up the hill upon the enemy's artillery and infantry was never, in my opinion, surpassed. I was with the advancing line, and closely observed the conduct of Cols. JAMESON and CHATFIELD, which merits in this instance and throughout the day the highest commendation.

I also observed throughout the day the gallantry and excellent conduct of Col. TERRY's Second Regiment Connecticut Volunteers, from whom I received most zealous assistance. At one time a portion of his regiment did great execution with their rifles, from a point of our line which was thin, and where a few of our men were a little tardy in moving forward. Col. TERRY, in his report, calls attention to the coolness, activity and discretion of Lieut.-Colonel YOUNG and Major COLBURN. The latter, with the Adjutant of the regiment, Lieut. CHARLES L. RUSSELL, showed conspicuous gallantry in defending their regimental colors during the retreat this side of Bull Run against a charge of cavalry. Col. TERRY also commends the devotion of Doctors DOUGLAS and BACON to the wounded while under the hottest fire of artillery. Private ARNOLD LEACH is also highly praised for having spiked three abandoned guns with a ramrod, and then bringing away two abandoned muskets. Col. JAMESON, of the Second Maine Regiment, gives great credit in his report to Lieut.-Col. C.W. ROBERTS, Major-Gen. VARNEY and Adj. REYNOLDS for their coolness and courage on the field. Sergeant G.W. BROWN, of Company F; A.J. KNOWLES and LEONARD CARVER, of Company D; A.P. JONES and HENRY WHEELER, of Company A, and PETER WELCH, of Company I, he mentions for their noble conduct in accompanying him to remove the dead and wounded from the field, under a very heavy fire of artillery and musketry. He mentions also Capt. FOSS, Sergeant SAMUEL HICKLEY, of Company A, and Corporal SMART, of Company H, for important extra services during the day. He also speaks in high praise of Sergeant W.J. DEAN, who was mortally wounded while in the advance of the line, bearing the beautiful stand of colors which were presented the day before on the part of the ladies from Maine, residing in California. Capt. E.W. JONES, of the same Regiment, fell mortally wounded while exhibiting great courage in rallying his men to the charge. Lieut.-Col. SPEIDEL, of the First Regiment, Connecticut Volunteers, was set upon by three of the enemy, who undertook to make him a prisoner. The Lieutenant-Colonel killed one and drove off the other two of his assailants and escaped. I observed the activity of Capts. HAWLEY and CHAPMAN, Adjut. BACON and Lieut. DRAKE on the field. Col. CHATFIELD, of the Third Regiment Connecticut Volunteers, gives special credit to Major WARNER and Adjut. DURYEE for their coolness and energy in assisting to keep the men in line and in urging them forward into action. The men of the Third Regiment brought off in the retreat two of our abandoned guns, one caisson and several baggage-wagons, and behaved with great coolness in the retreat, and the bulk of the Regiment was present to repel the charge of cavalry this side of Bull Run.

I received during the day and on the retreat the most gallant and efficient assistance from Lieut. HASCAIR, Fifth United States Artillery, Assistant Adjutant-General. Lieut. WALTER, First Connecticut Volunteers, and Lieut. GORDON, Second United States Cavalry, Aids, obeyed my orders on the field with alacrity, and Lieut. ELY, First Connecticut Volunteers, Brigade Commissary, assisted me zealously. Lieut. WALTER, First Connecticut Volunteers, and Lieut. GORDON, Second United States Cavalry, are both missing. The former I sent to the rear at about 4 o'clock P.M., to ascertain from Gen. MCDOWELL how the day was going, since which time I have not seen him, nor do I know his fate. Lieut. GORDON was with me two miles this side of Bull Run, on the retreat, where I saw him the last time. I trust he will yet be found. My two mounted orderlies, COOPER and BALLOU, were both with me until near the end of the conflict, and are now both missing. My Brigade being far in advance and the ground very hilly, and interspersed with patches of wood, rendered it difficult to avoid being enveloped by the enemy. The last individuals probably missed their way, and were killed or captured. I have delayed this report of the action until all the wanderers could be gathered in, and the following may therefore be taken as a very close approximation of the actual casualties in my Brigade. Those reported missing are supposed to be killed or taken prisoners:

Killed. Wounded. Missing. Total.

Second Regiment Conn. Vols. 2 5 9 16

First Regiment Conn. Vols... -- 8 9 17

Third Regiment Conn. Vols.. 4 13 18 35

Second Regt. Maine Vols..... 15 40 115 170

Prisoners, killed and wounded of Second Maine Regiment.. -- -- -- 4

Total.......................................... 242

In addition to the above reported loss of the Second Maine Regiment, Lieut. SKINNER, Surgeon ALLEN, and his son, while assisting the wounded were taken prisoners. The aggregate loss of this gallant regiment was therefore 174, out of 600, which was the complete strength on going into action. It was impossible to obtain exact returns of my brigade on the morning of the 21st, but I am certain its aggregate strength was about 2,500 men. We captured fifteen of the enemy, and brought six prisoners to Washington. In concluding the account of the battle, I am happy to be able to add that the conduct of the First. Brigade, First Division, was generally excellent. The troops composing it need only instruction to make them as good as any in the world.

I ask the liberty to add, in continuation of this report, that three Connecticut regiments, and a part of the Second Maine Volunteers, of my brigade, left their camp near Centreville at about 10 o'clock A.M., by order of Gen. TYLER, and arrived at Camp McDowell, six and a half miles from the Potomac, at dawn of day the morning after the battle. The camps of my four regiments and that of one company of cavalry were standing, and during the day I learned that the Ohio Camp, a mile and a quarter this way, was vacant of troops, and the camp of the New-York Second had only a guard of fifty or sixty men left in it. Not wishing the enemy to get possession of so many standing tents and such an abundance of camp equipage, I ordered ray brigade to retreat no further until all the public property should be removed. The rain fell in torrents all the 22d. The men were excessively fatigued, and we had only eleven wagons. Brigade Quartermaster HODGE made two journeys to the city to obtain transportation, but, with four or five exceptions, the drivers refused to come out. Over eleven wagons were kept in motion, and at nightfall the troops were drenched to the skin and without shelter. So leaving guards at the regimental camps of my brigade, I moved forward with the bulk of the Third Connecticut Regiment, and by 11 o'clock at night the majority were housed in the Ohio and New-York camps.

We kept good watch through the night, and early in the morning of the 23d. inst. Quartermaster-Gen. MEIGS sent out long trains of wagons, and Brigade-Quartermaster HODGE walked six miles to Alexandria and brought up a train of cars, and the work of removal proceeded with vigor. As early as at 5 1/2 P.M. the last thing of value had been removed and sent forward to the amount of 175 four-horse wagon leads. The order to fall in was then given, and the brigade marched in perfect order, every man with his firelock, and at sunset bivouacked near Fort Corcoran.

I acknowledge great indebtedness to Brigade-Quartermaster HODGE. But for his untiring exertions in procuring the means of transportation nearly all the public properly must have been abandoned. The men of the different regiments labored with extraordinary zeal, considering their great fatigue, and they merit the highest praise. I had given permission to about one hundred sick and lame to limp forward in advance, and about an equal number of cowards and recreants had fled without permission. The balance of my Brigade, faithful and laborious, stood by, and they may claim the right to teach that it is unmanly to destroy public property and base to abandon it to the enemy except in cases of the extremest necessity.

I have the honor to be, Sir, your most obedient servant, E.D. KEYES,

Colonel Eleventh Infantry,

Commanding First Brigade First Division.



FORT CORCORAN, July 25, 1861.

To Capt. A. Baird, Assistant Adjutant-General, First Division:

SIR: I have the honor to submit this my report of the operations of my brigade during the action of the 21st inst. The brigade was composed of the Thirteenth New-York Volunteers, Col. QUIMBY; Sixty-ninth New-York, Col. CORCORAN; Seventy-ninth New-York, Col. CAMERON; Second Wisconsin, Lieut.-Col. PECK; and Company E, Third Artillery, under command of Capt. R.B. AYRES, Fifth Artillery. We left our camp near Centreville, pursuant to orders, at 2 1/2 A.M., taking place in your column next to the brigade of Gen. SCHENCK, and proceeded as far as the halt before the enemy's position, near the stone bridge at Bull Run. Here the Brigade was deployed in line along the skirt of timber, and remained quietly in position till after 10 A.M. The enemy remained very quiet, but about that time we saw a regiment leave its cover in our front and proceed in double-quick time on the road toward Sudley Springs, by which we knew the column of Cols. HUNTER and HEINTZELMAN was approaching. About the same time we observed in motion a large force of the enemy below the stone bridge. I directed Capt. AYRES to take position with his battery near our right, and opened fire on this mass, but you had previously directed the two rifle guns belonging to this battery; and finding the smooth-bore guns did not reach the enemy's position, we ceased firing, and I sent a request that you should send to me the 30-pounder rifled gun attached to Capt. CARLISLE's battery. At the same time I shifted the New-York Sixty-ninth to the extreme right of the brigade. There we remained till we heard the musketry fire across Bull Run, showing that the head of Col. HUNTER's column was engaged. This firing was brisk, and showed that HUNTER was driving before him the enemy, till about noon, when it became certain the enemy had come to a stand, and that our force on the other side of Bull Run were all engaged, artillery and infantry.

Here you sent me the order to cross over with the whole brigade to the assistance of Col. HUNTER. Early in the day, when reconnoitering the ground, I had seen a horseman descend from a bluff, to a point, 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. We found no difficulty in crossing over, and met no opposition in ascending the steep bluff, opposite sour infantry, but it was impassable to the artillery, and I sent word back to Capt. AYRES to follow if possible, otherwise to use his discretion. Capt. AYRES did not cross Bull Run, but remained with the remainder of your division. His report herewith describes his operations during the remainder of the day. Advancing slowly and continuously with the head of the column, to give time for the regiment in succession to close up their ranks, we first encountered a party of the enemy retreating along a cluster of pines. Lieut. Col. HAGGERTY, of the Sixty-ninth Regiment, without orders, rode over and endeavored to intercept their retreat. One of the enemy, in full view and short range, shot HAGGERTY, and he fell dead from his horse. The Sixty-ninth opened fire on this party, which was returned; but determined to effect our junction with HUNTER's division, I ordered this fire to cease, and we proceeded with caution towards the field, when we then plainly saw our forces engaged. Displaying our colors conspicuous at the head of our column, we succeeded in attracting the attention of our friends, and soon formed the brigade in rear of Col. PORTER's. Here I learned that Col. HUNTER was disabled by a severe wound, and that Gen. MCDOWELL was on the field. I sought him out and received his orders to join in the pursuit of the enemy, who were falling back to the left of the road by which the Army had approached from Sudley Springs. Placing Col. QUIMBY's Regiment of rifles in front, in column by division, I directed the other regiments to follow in line of battle in the order of the Wisconsin Second, New-York Seventy-ninth and New-York Sixty-ninth.

QUIMBY's regiment advanced steadily down the hill and up the ridge, from which he opened fire upon the enemy, who had made another stand on ground very favorable to him, and the regiment continued advancing as the enemy gave way till the head of the column reached the point near which RICKETT's Battery was so severely cut up. The other regiments descended the hill in line of battle, under a severe connonading, and the ground affording comparative shelter against the enemy's artillery, they changed directions by the right flank and followed the road before mentioned. At the point where this road crossed the bridge to our left point the ground was swept by a most severe fire by artillery, rifle and musketry, and we saw in succession several regiments driven from it, among them the Zouaves and battalions of marines. Before reaching the crest of the hill, the roadway was worn deep enough to afford shelter, and I kept the several regiments in it as long as possible; but when the Wisconsin Second was abreast of the enemy, by order of Major WADSWORTH, of Gen. MCDOWELL's Staff, I ordered it to leave the roadway by the left flank and to attack the enemy. This regiment ascended to the brow of the hill steadily, received the severe fire of the enemy, returned it with spirit, and advanced delivering its fire. This regiment is uniformed in gray cloth, almost identical with that of the great bulk of the secession army, and when the regiment fled in confusion and retreated towards the road there was a universal cry that they were being fired upon by our own men. The regiment rallied again, passed the brow of the hill a second time, and was again repulsed in disorder. By this time the New-York Seventy-ninth had closed up, and in like manner it was ordered to cross the brow of the hill and drive the enemy from cover. It was impossible to get a good view of the ground. In it there was a battery of Artillery, which poured an incessant fire upon our advancing column, and the ground was irregular, with small clusters of pines, affording shelter, of which the enemy took good advantage. The fire of rifles and musketry was very severe. The Seventy-ninth, headed by its Colonel, (CAMERON,) charged across the hill, and for a short time the contest was severe. They rallied several times under fire, but finally broke and gained the cover of the hill. This left the field open to the New-York Sixty-ninth, Col. CORCORAN, who, in his turn, led his regiment over the crest, and had in full open view the ground so severely contested. The firing was very severe, and the roar of cannon, musketry and rifles incessant. It was manifest the enemy was hero in great force, far superior to us at that point. The Sixty-ninth held the ground for some time, but finally fell back in disorder.

All this time QUIMBY's Regiment occupied another ridge to our left, overlooking the same field of action, and similarly engaged. Here (about 3 1/2 P.M.) began the scene of disorder and confusion that characterized the remainder of the day. Up to that time all had kept their places, and seemed perfectly cool, and used to the shell and shot that fell comparatively harmless. Crossing Bull Run, I sought it at its last position before the Brigadier crossed, but it was not there; then passing through the wood where in the morning we had first formed line, we approached the blacksmith's shop, but there found a detachment of rebel cavalry; then made a circuit, avoiding Cub Run bridge, into Centreville, where I found Gen. MCDOWELL. From him I understand that it was his purpose to rally the forces and make a stand at Centreville.

But about 9 o'clock at night I received from Gen. TYLER, in person, the order to continue the retreat to the Potomac. This retreat was by night, and disorderly in the extreme. The men of different regiments mingled together, and some reached the river at Arlington, some at the Long Bridge, and the greater part returned to their former camps, at or near Fort Corcoran. I reached this point at noon next day, and found a miscellaneous crowd crossing over the aqueduct and ferries. Conceiving this to be demoralizing, I at once commanded the guard to be increased and all persons attempting to pass over to be stopped. This soon produced its effect. Men sought their proper companies and regiments, comparative order was restored, and all now posted to the best advantage.

I herewith inclose the official report of Capt. KELLY, the commanding officer of the New-York Sixty-ninth; also full lists of the killed and wounded and missing. Our loss was heavy and all around us; but the short exposure to an intense fire of small arms, at close range, had killed many, wounded more, and had produced disorder in all the battalions that had attempted to destroy it. Men fell away talking and in great confusion. Col. CAMERON had been mortally wounded, carried to an ambulance and reported dying. Many other officers were reported dead or missing, and many of the wounded were making their way, with more or less assistance, to the buildings or hospitals. On the ridge to the west we succeeded in partially reforming the regiments, but it was manifest they would not stand, and I directed Col. CORCORAN to move along the ridge to the rear, near the position where we had first formed the brigade. Gen. MCDOWELL was there in person, and used all possible efforts to reassure the men. By the active exertions of Col. CORCORAN we formed an irregular square against the cavalry, which was then seen to issue from the position from which we had been driven, and we began our retreat towards that ford of Bull Run, by which we had approached the field of battle. There was no possible order to retreat, although for an hour it had been going on by the operations of the men themselves. The ranks were thin and irregular, and we found a stream of people stirring from the hospital across Bull Run, and far toward Centreville.

After putting in motion the irregular square, I pushed forward to find Capt. AYRES Battery, occupied chiefly at the point near where RICKETT's Battery was destroyed. Lieut.-Col. HAGGERTY was killed about noon, before we effected a junction with Col. HUNTER's Division. Col. CAMERON was mortally wounded leading his regiment in the charge, and Col. CORCORAN has been missing since the cavalry charge near the building used as a hospital.


Killed. Wounded Missing. Total.

Ayres' Battery............ 6 3 -- 9

New-York Thirteenth.... 11 27 20 58

New-York Sixty-ninth... 38 59 95 192

New-York Seventy-ninth... 32 51 115 198

Wisconsin Second........ 24 65 63 152

Total.................. 111 205 293 609

For names of rank, &c., of the above, I refer to the lists herewith. Lieuts. PIPER and MCQUESTEN, of my personal Staff, were under fire all day, and carried orders to and fro with as much coolness as on parade. Lieut. BAGLEY, of the New-York Sixty-ninth, a volunteer Aid, asked leave to serve with his company during the action, and is among those reported missing. I have intelligence that he is a prisoner and slightly wounded. Col. MCCOON, of Wisconsin, a volunteer Aid, also rendered good service during the day.


I have the honor to be your obedient servant,


Colonel, commanding Brigade.


WASHINGTON, July 29, 1861.

Capt. E.B. Fry, Assistant Adjutant-General:

SIR: On the 18th of July, at about 9 A.M., I joined the commanding General about two miles beyond Fairfax Court-house, on the road to Centreville. He was then about going to Sangster's, and invited me to attend him. Not understanding his journey to have the character of a reconnoissance, but as simply to communicate with the Division of Col. HEINTZELMAN, I preferred accompanying the Division of Gen. TYLER at Centreville.

Proceeding to Centreville, I joined Capt. ALEXANDER (Engineers) a short distance on the road lending to Blackburn's Ford. He was at this time preparing to encamp his pioneer party, and it was my intention, as soon as the troops should be fixed in their positions, to propose to Gen. TYLER to make a reconnoissance of the enemy's position at Blackburn's Ford.

It should be borne in mind that the plan of the campaign had been to turn the position of Manassas by the left -- that is to say, that from Fairfax Court-House and Centreville we were to make a flank movement towards Sangster's and Fairfax station, and thence to Wolf Run Shoals, or in that direction. In my interview with the commanding General, just referred to, he said nothing to indicate any change of plan, but on the contrary, his remarks carried the impression that he was more than ever confirmed in his plan, and spoke of the advance on Centreville as a "demonstration."

In proposing, therefore, to reconnoitre the enemy's position at Blackburn's Ford, it was not with the slightest idea that this point would be attacked. But a reconnoissance would be the carrying out of a "demonstration."

While I was awaiting Capt. ALEXANDER I encountered MATHIAS C. MITCHELL, who was secured as a guide. Representing himself as a Union man and a resident of that vicinity, I was engaged questioning him when intelligence was received that Gen. TYLER had sent back for artillery and infantry, and that the enemy was in sight before him. Riding to the front I joined Gen. TYLER and Col. RICHARDSON. Proceeding with them a short distance further, we emerged from the woods, and found ourselves at the point at which the road commences its descent to Blackburn's Ford. The Run makes here a curve or bow towards us, which the road bisects. The slopes from us towards it were gentle and mostly open. On the other side, the banks of the Run rise more abruptly, and are wooded down to the very edge of the Run. Higher up a cleared spot could be seen here and there, and still higher -- higher than our own point of view, and only visible from its gently sloping towards us -- the elevated plateau, comparatively open, in which Manassas Junction is situated. Although, owing to the thickness of the wood, little could be seen, along the edge of the Run, it was quite evident, from such glimpses as we could obtain, that the enemy was in force behind us.

I represented to Gen. TYLER that this point was the enemy's strong position, on the direct road to Manassas Junction; that it was no part of the plan to assail it. I did not, however, object to a "demonstration," believing that it would favor what I supposed still to be the commanding General's plan of campaign. The two 20-pounders of PARROTT's had been ordered up. They were opened upon the enemy's position, firing in various directions, without our being able to perceive the degree of effect they produced. We had fired perhaps a dozen rounds, when we were answered by a rapid discharge from a battery apparently close down to the Run, and at the crossing of the road. The 20-pounders continued their fire, directing at this battery, and AYRES' Battery was brought up and stationed on the left. The enemy's batteries soon ceased answering. After ours had continued playing for about half an hour, I thought it a useless expenditure of ammunition, and so stated to you, (who arrived on the spot shortly before this,) and presume that Gen. TYLER concurred in this opinion, as the firing soon ceased. I supposed that this would be the end of the affair, but perceiving the troops filing down towards the Run, I thought it necessary to impress Gen. TYLER with the fact that it was no part of the commanding General's plan to bring on a serious engagement. I directed Capt. ALEXANDER (Engineers) to state this fact to him, which he did in writing, having stated the same verbally before. At the same time, I directed Lieut. HOUSTON to accompany the troops and make such observations of the enemy's position as he could. I remained on the heights, observing as well as I could the movements of the enemy's forces. The affair becoming more serious than I expected, I was about to go down to the front, when our troops retired, and I returned to Centreville with yourself, to report to Gen. MCDOWELL. It is proper to observe that, before our artillery practice commenced, movements of troops were observed on the road leading from Manassas to Blackburn's Ford. As the road presented itself to the eye, those not very familiar with the locality might feel some doubt -- judging merely by the eye -- whether those troops were advancing to, or retiring from Blackburn's Ford. The impression seemed to be quite common among us that they were retiring. I was perfectly sure that they were columns moving up to meet us from Manassas.

At my interview with the commanding General that evening, he informed me that he had convinced himself that the nature of the country to the left or southward of Manassas was unfit for the operations of a large Army; that he had determined to move by the right, turning the enemy's left; that the provision trains were just coming in, and that the troops would require the next day to cook their provisions for another march.

I told him I would endeavor, the next day, to obtain such information as would enable him to decide on his future movement.

The next most prominent crossing of Bull Run, above Blackburn's Ford, is the stone bridge of the Warrenton turnpike. Such a point could scarcely be neglected by the enemy. Information from various quarters gave good cause for believing that it was guarded by several thousand men -- that at least four cannon were stationed to play upon it and the ford not far below, and moreover that the bridge was mined, and extensive abattis opstructed the road on the opposite shore.

Two or three miles above the Warrenton Bridge is a ford laid down on our maps as Sudley Spring. Reliable information justified the belief that the ford was good, that it was unfortified, that it was watched by only one or two companies, and, moreover, that the run above it was almost everywhere passable for wheeled vehicles.

Midway between the Stone Bridge and Sudley Spring, maps indicated another ford which was said to be good.

Notwithstanding our conviction of the practicability of these fords, no known road connected with them from any of the main roads on our side of Bull Run. We had information that a road branched from the Warrenton turnpike, a short distance beyond Cub Run, by which -- opening gates and passing through private grounds -- we might reach the fords. It was desirable to assure ourselves that this route was entirely practicable. In company with Capt. WOODBURY (Engneers) and Gov. SPRAGUE, and escorted by a company of cavalry, I, on the 19th, followed up the valley of Cub Run until we reached a point west ten degrees north, and about four miles in an air line from Centreville, near which we struck a road which we believed to lead to the fords. Following it for a short distance we encountered the enemy's patrols. As we were most anxious to avoid attracting the enemy's attention to our designs in this quarter, we did not care to pursue the reconnoissance further. We had seen enough to be convinced of the perfect practicability of the route. To make more certain of the fords, however, Capt. WOODBURY proposed to return at night, and with a few Michigan woodsmen from Col. SHERMAN's Brigade, to endeavor to find them. On returning to camp it was determined to send Capt. WRIGHT and Lieut. SNYDER (Engineers) with Capt. WOODBURY. At the same time the commanding General directed Capt. WHIPPLE (Topographical Engineers) and Lieut. PRIME (Engineers) to make a night reconnoissance of the run between Warrenton Bridge and Blackburn's Ford. Both these night expeditions failed. It was found the enemy occupied the woods too strongly on our side of the run to permit the reconnoissance to be accomplished. It was not our policy to drive in his pickets until we were in motion to attack.

On laying before you the information obtained, the commanding General believed himself justified in adopting the following plan of attack, which was decided upon on the 20th:

First -- A false attack to be made by RICHARDSON's Brigade (temporarily attached to MILES' Division) on Blackburn's Ford, the rest of that division remaining in reserve at Centreville.

Second -- TYLER's Division to move from its camp at 3 A.M. (the 21st) towards the stone bridge of the Warrenton Turnpike, to feign the main attack upon this point.

Third -- The divisions of HUNTER and HEINTZLEMAN (in the order named) to leave their camps at 2 1/2 A.M., (they were encamped about two or three miles behind TYLER,) and, following his movement, to diverge from the Warrenton Turnpike at the by-road beyond Cub Run, and take the road for Sudley Spring -- or, rather, it was provided that (if I-mistake not) HUNTER's Division should proceed to Sudley Spring, and HEINTZLEMAN to take the lower ford. These matters, however, to be regulated by circumstances.

It was intended that the head of HUNTER's division should be at the turn-off at early daylight, or about four A.M., and that it should reach Sudley by six or seven.

You are aware of the unexpected delay. The two leading brigades of TYLER's had not cleared the road for HUNTER to this point until half-past five, and our guide, alleging that a nearer route to the ford would bring our columns in sight of the enemy's batteries, led them by so circuitous a way that HUNTER did not reach Sudley until half-past nine or thereabouts.

Accompanying the commanding General, we, as you are aware, after waiting two or three hours at the turn-off, rode on to overtake the front of HUNTER's division, when we emerged from the woods, nearly northeast of Sudley, into the open country, from whence the course of the run and the slopes of the opposite shore could be seen; we could perceive the enemy's column in motion to meet us. The loss of time here, in a great measure, thwarted our plan. We had hoped to pass the ford and reach the rear of the enemy's forces at Warrenton stone bridge before he could assemble in sufficient force to cope with us.

It now became necessary to have TYLER's Division force the passage of the bridge. It had always been intended that this Division should pass at or near the bridge, but it was hoped, by taking its defences in rear, it could be passed without force. The commanding General promptly sent orders to TYLER to press his attack with all vigor.

I had yet much confidence that, though we had been anticipated (owing to the delays mentioned,) the enemy was not yet assembled in numbers to oppose us in great force, (a confidence which I think the facts justified,) that we might successfully attack him in front while the Division of TYLER should fall upon his flank and rear.

When we reached the front of HUNTER's column the battle was just commencing. The events of the battle-field will be described in the reports you will receive from other quarters. I was near the commanding General until some time after the arrival of SHERMAN's Brigade on our left. Being accidentally separated, I saw yourself on the right, and joining you, we observed for some time the action on the heights, where the enemy made his final and successful stand. As we were observing, the Zouave Regiment of HEINTZELMAN was driven back, leaving RICKETT's Battery, upon which we observed the enemy charge.

You left me here, and I remained a few minutes longer an anxious spectator, and for the first time beginning to anticipate a possible defeat. Two brigades of TYLER's Division had passed over the run, and I supposed (and I believe, the commanding General supposed) that the entire division was over. If so, the stone bridge was unguarded, and if we were defeated our retreating columns might be cut off from Centreville by the detachments of the enemy crossing this bridge. I became so anxious on this point that I sought you again, and found you at some distance in the rear. After some consultation you, on my assuming the responsibility, sent an order to. Col. MILES to move up two of his brigades to the stone bridge, and to telegraph the Secretary of War to send up all the troops that could be spared from Washington.

While I was returning towards the front, intending to rejoin the commanding General, I saw our front give way, and it soon became evident that we were defeated.

I have stated that it was a part of the plan of the battle, that TYLER's Division should pass at or near the Stone Bridge. Two of his brigades actually did pass, not at the bridge, (they finding fords a half mile higher up,) and connected themselves with our left. In anticipation that the Stone Bridge would be blown up, Capt. ALEXANDER had been instructed to obtain a trestle bridge to replace it. This he had on the spot, but there appears to have been no mines prepared under the bridge. Capt. ALEXANDER passed over his pioneers one by one, and set them to cutting away the abattis -- two hundred yards in extent -- obstructing the road. This task was accomplished, and the way was opened for SCHENCK's Brigade to fall on the enemy's right at the moment when our lines finally gave way in front.

It will be seen from the above that the combination, though thwarted by adverse circumstances, was actually successful in uniting three entire divisions, (excepting the Brigade of SCHENCK, which had just opened its way to fall on the enemy's right at the moment when our lines finally gave way in front,) upon the decisive point.

A fault, perhaps it was, that it did not provide earlier for bringing the two Brigades of MILES' (in reserve at Centreville) into action. One of his Brigades (RICHARDSON S) actually did participate, (though not on the battle-field,) and in its affair at Blackburn's Ford probably neutralized at least an equal number of the enemy.

On retiring to Centreville my opinion was asked as to maintaining our position, and I gave it in favor of a prompt retreat, for I believed the enemy was far superior in numbers, and that, elated by his victory, he would pursue, and I believed that a defeated Army, actually driven back on Washington before a pursuing enemy, would endanger the safety of the Capital.

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