The American Cyclopædia (1879)/Bull Run

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The American Cyclopædia
Bull Run
Edition of 1879. Written by Alfred H. GuernseySee also First Battle of Bull Run and Second Battle of Bull Run on Wikipedia, and the disclaimer.

BULL RUN, a small stream in N. E. Virginia, which, after a S. E. course of 20 m., falls into the Occoquan, a tributary of the Potomac, about 25 m. from Washington. Upon its banks were fought two important battles of the civil war. I. July 21, 1861. In the early summer the confederates, under Gen. Beauregard, about 20,000 strong, were intrenched at Manassas Junction, 7 m. W. of Bull Run, whence they made forays within sight of the national capital. Gen. J. E. Johnston, with 18,000 men, was at Winchester, 50 m. to the N. W., where he was watched by Gen. Patterson, with about the same force. At the close of June nearly 40,000 troops had been collected near Washington. The command of this force was conferred upon Gen. McDowell, and July 8 was set down for the opening of the campaign; but the movement from Washington was not commenced till the 17th. McDowell, understanding that Patterson would take care of Johnston, moved toward Beauregard. He had 33,000 volunteers, a third of them enlisted for three months; 1,000 regular soldiers, hastily gathered from all quarters; and 1,000 cavalry and artillery; 35,000 in all. Johnston, apprised of the federal advance, set out from Winchester to join Beauregard at Manassas, with 11,000 men, leaving the remainder of his force, as a blind for Patterson. He reached Manassas on the 20th with 6,000 men, all that the railroad could transport at one time; the other 5,000 were to come up the next day. Meanwhile McDowell on the morning of the 18th reached Centreville, a hamlet three or four miles from Bull Run, having left behind Gen. Runyon with 5,000 men to guard his communications with Washington. During the day a reconnoissance was made down the stream, and a skirmish took place at Blackburn's Ford, each side losing about 60 men. McDowell on the 19th learned that the enemy had fallen back to the other side of the run, and were posted for some 8 m. upon its opposite bank. There were fording places at intervals of two or three miles, but for 10 miles there was only a single bridge, over which the turnpike from Centreville rau westward. This bridge, defended by an abatis, was at the extreme left of the confederate line, their main force being posted below. McDowell proposed to cross the run with a part of his force, by fords above the confederate left, and then, marching down the western bank, to clear the bridge, by which the remainder of his force should cross. This movement was begun before daybreak on the morning of the 21st. On the preceding evening McDowell had about 31,000 men at Centreville; but the term of the 4th Pennsylvania regiment, and of a battery attached to the New York 8th, expired that evening, and they insisted upon being discharged. Deducting these and the sick, McDowell had about 28,000 men. The confederates had 27,833; in the course of the battle they received about 3,000 more, being a part of those left behind by Johnston. By half-past 9 Bnrnside, who had the advance of one turning column, was discovered moving down the west bank of the run toward the bridge. Johnston then ordered that his own right should cross the run in force and fall upon the weak federal flank and rear; but the order miscarried, and the battle assumed an aspect not contemplated by either commander. Burnside had been checked for a short time at a plateau, around which Young's branch, a brook falling into Bull Run, curves in a sickle form; but with the aid of Sykes's regulars, Sherman's brigade of Tyler's division, which had crossed the run by a ford just above the bridge, and Porter's brigade, which came upon the field by a wide detour, he drove the confederates in confusion almost to the edge of the plateau. Here they were met by Jackson, who was bringing up his five regiments. Behind these the confederates rallied. It was now past noon. Burnside's brigade, having exhausted its ammunition, was withdrawn to replenish, and took no further part in the battle. Hunter, Heintzelman, and Sherman had gained the upper edge of the plateau, outflanking Jackson. Keyes's brigade of Tyler's division had crossed directly after Sherman, and was menacing the lower edge, while Howard's brigade had secured the now undefended bridge; it needed only to remove the abatis to enable the remainder of Tyler's division, under Schenck, to be brought up. In all 18,000 men had passed the run, and were on or near the plateau, whereon were barely 7,000 confederates, the remainder of their force being stretched for miles down the bank of the stream. Johnston and Beauregard now came up, only, as it seemed, to find a lost battle. But the serious attack by the Union force was delayed a half hour too long; by that time the confederates had been able to concentrate 9,500 men, with 22 guns, on the immediate field; against them were directly moving 13,000 with 18 guns. The strongest position of the confederates was a slight swell, which was commanded by one a little higher near by. The batteries of Ricketts and Griffin were ordered to this, having as support the New York regiment of zouaves. The zouaves, coming in sight of a confederate regiment half hidden by a clump of pines, and of two companies of cavalry riding toward them, broke into confusion, and the cavalry rode straight through their ranks. The batteries, now supported by a Minnesota regiment, moved on, and almost gained the commanding position; but the enemy were there at the same moment. The horses of the batteries were shot down, and a hand-to-hand fight took place for the possession of the guns, which were three times captured and recaptured, and finally remained in the hands of the Unionists, but could not be brought into use. Meanwhile Keyes's brigade, on the right, had moved up the northern slope of the plateau, and for a moment the leading companies gained its crest, from which they were driven by the fire of a light battery; they skirted the base of the hill, but always found themselves confronted by the battery. This movement, lasting an hour, carried the brigade two miles from the scene of action. At 4 o'clock the advantage seemed clearly on the Union side, and McDowell ordered an attack upon the centre, which he hoped would decide the day. But at the very moment his whole right came rushing down in confusion. The confederates had struck a blow from an unexpected quarter. Ever since noon Beauregard had commanded on the plateau, while Johnston took a post in the rear from which he could overlook the whole field, and direct the reënforcements as they came up. At 2 o'clock Kirby Smith's brigade, which had been left behind the previous day, came in sight. Johnston hurried up every regiment; some were sent to strengthen Beauregard's line, which began to advance; others, with Smith's brigade, were hurled upon the flank and rear of the Union right, which was driven in upon the centre, now moving to attack. In a quarter of an hour all was over. The plateau was swept clear, and the whole Union array streamed wildly back toward the bridge and fords. The eight companies of regulars alone kept anything like military order. In retreating they presented a firm front, and checked the pursuit until the fugitives had gained a fair start. The confederate infantry was in no condition to make a vigorous pursuit; half of them had been engaged for hours, and the rest were exhausted by long marches. Some regiments pursued for a mile, and were then recalled, only a few hundred cavalry and a light battery keeping up the chase. By one route or another the fugitives crossed Bull Eun, and reached the turnpike leading to Centreville. This was crossed by a brook, over which was a narrow wooden bridge. A crowd of sight-seers from Washington had come thus far in carriages and on horseback, to look upon a battle which they had been told was already a victory. A cannon shot overturned a caisson which was crossing the bridge, and blocked the way. The artillery horses were cut from their traces, and the drivers mounting rode through the throng. Finally the crowd got over the stream, some by the bridge, others by wading, and hurried to Centreville, where Miles's division had remained all day. The pursuing horsemen were checked by the sight of a regiment of these, drawn up across the road. It was now evening. A hurried council of war was held, and it was determined to fall back to Washington; but the routed regiments were already on their way, and reached the capital before daylight next morning. In six hours of darkness they had traversed a distance which it had taken them 40 hours to accomplish in their advance. The federal loss is officially stated at 2,952, viz.: killed, 481; wounded, 1,011; missing, 1,460. As the dead and those severely wounded were left on the field, many of those reported as missing were undoubtedly killed or wounded. The confederates reported the capture of 1,421 prisoners, of whom 871 were unwounded. The Unionists also lost 20 cannon, 4,000 muskets, 4,500 sets of accoutrements, and a considerable quantity of ammunition. The confederates lost 378 killed, 1,489 wounded, 30 missing; in all, 1,997. II. August 29-30, 1862. While Gen. McClellan was prosecuting his operations in the peninsula, a considerable force had been left in northern Virginia. At the close of June these troops were organized as the army of Virginia, and put under the command of Gen. Pope, while Gen. Halleck as general-in-chief was placed in supreme control of all the armies in the field. Pope collected his forces, and began to demonstrate upon the Rappahannock and Rapidan. To counteract his movements, Lee sent thither Jackson and Ewell, with a third of the army at Richmond. On Aug. 9 a sharp but indecisive encounter took place at Cedar mountain. Halleck ordered McClellan to withdraw from the peninsula, and Lee thereupon moved nearly his whole army northward, hoping to fall upon Pope before he could be reënforced from McClellan. He had about 85,000 men. Pope, who had 45,000, fell back beyond the Rappahannock; and on Aug. 20 the two forces were in front of each other, upon opposite banks of the river, Lee trying to find an unguarded place to cross. On the night of the 22d Stuart made a bold cavalry dash around the right of Pope, and reached Catlett's station, 10 miles in the rear, near which were the Union headquarters. To these Stuart was guided by a negro. He seized Pope's personal baggage, in which was his despatch book, containing information as to the number and position of the whole federal force. This raid, which cost only a single life, shaped the operations of the ensuing campaign. Lee was persuaded that if he could throw his force upon Pope's rear, cutting him off from Washington, his whole army might be captured. To effect this he must divide his own force, a part remaining in the enemy's front, while the other moved rapidly around to his rear. Jackson, with about 30,000 men, set off on the morning of the 25th, moving up the western side of the Bull Run mountains, which lay between him and the Union posts. A forced march of 20 miles brought him to Thoroughfare gap, by marching through which he would gain the Union rear. The pass, which could have been held by a small force, was unguarded. Jackson went through on the morning of the 27th, and by sunset was at Bristoe station, on the Orange railroad, which formed Pope's main source of supply. At Manassas Junction, 7 miles distant, was a large depot of provisions; these were seized by a small body of cavalry, and destroyed. Lee had remained with Longstreet's division in front of Pope. On the 26th this division set out to follow Jackson, moving, however, much more slowly. Pope divined the object of the movement, and began to fall back toward Manassas, whither Jackson had moved, leaving Ewell at Bristoe, where he was attacked on the 27th by Hooker. The engagement was slight, but it showed Jackson that his movement was not a surprise, and that he was in peril of being surrounded by the enemy, who were moving by several routes toward Manassas. His only alternative was to fall back toward Thoroughfare gap, and take a position which he could hold until Longstreet should come up. To blind the enemy he moved northeastward to Centreville; then turning sharply to the west, he crossed Bull Run, and took post about a mile N. W. of the battle field of the preceding year. The position was strong, the abandoned cuttings and embankment of a railroad forming an excellent intrenchment which protected his whole front. Pope had by this time 54,000 infantry, still considerably scattered, and 5,000 cavalry, whose horses were so worn out that scarcely 500 were fit for service. On the evening of the 28th McDowell, who was moving near Jackson's extreme right, was met by a sharp artillery fire. There was some loss on both sides, but no real battle. Pope, supposing that Jackson was in full retreat, hoped now to be able to deal him a crushing blow before he could effect a junction with Longstreet, supposed to be at least two days distant. The attack was opened early on the morning of the 29th. Sigel's corps on the Union left advanced, driving in the confederate skirmishers; but on reaching the embankment it met a fierce musketry fire from which it recoiled, pursued by the enemy, who were in turn driven back by the artillery. At the same time continuous fighting was going on along the whole line, especially at the extreme confederate left, which was at first rather weakly held; but it was soon reënforced by Longstreet, who, instead of being miles away, had passed through Thoroughfare gap early that morning. In the mean while Pope, perceiving his advantage, and the necessity of improving it, ordered Fitz John Porter, then within hearing of the battle, to advance with his corps to the attack. This order was also given to Porter by McDowell; but for some reason Porter did not reach the field that day. He was afterward brought to trial and cashiered. Pope had gained a great advantage, which could not have been jeoparded by the help of Porter's corps, and might have been made conclusive of the action by vigorous coöperation on the part of his subordinates. At nightfall Jackson's extreme left was considerably drawn in toward the centre, a movement which had the aspect of a retreat. On the morning of the 30th neither commander was eager to begin the action; but toward noon a prisoner who had escaped told Pope that he had left the enemy in full retreat, and Pope gave orders for a vigorous pursuit. The whole confederate force was now massed in the form of an irregular L, Jackson's command forming the longer line, and a part of Longstreet's the shorter; this was hidden by low wooded ridges, with a considerable interval between it and Jackson; the reserve, consisting of about half of Longstreet's corps, were in the rear. Pope, ignorant of Longstreet's presence, moved straight upon the railway embankment, where scarcely an enemy was to be seen. The corps of Reno and Heintzelman, on the left, encountered a hot fire from an almost invisible foe, before which they recoiled into the woods. Fitz John Porter's corps, which up to this time had taken no part in the events of the campaign, was directed upon Jackson's right, their line of march going past Longstreet's position, which thus lay upon its flank. Porter's assault was so vigorous that Jackson called for aid. But Longstreet had perceived his advantage, and, instead of sending men to Jackson, opened with all his batteries upon Porter, and in a few minutes advanced his infantry. Porter, outnumbered three to one, was swept back straight across the plateau toward Bull Run. Jackson simultaneously advanced his line, pressing back Reno, Heintzelman, and McDowell. The angle between the confederate wings gradually lessened, the sides seeming to enclose Pope's army like a vice. The Union retreat threatened to become a rout. But Warren, then a colonel, with a weak brigade of Porter's corps, seized a commanding eminence, from which another Union brigade had just withdrawn. This he held until he was enveloped on three sides, holding the confederates in check for a brief space, and then fell back. Out of just 1,990 men he lost 412, of whom 337 were killed and wounded. The breathing space thus gained enabled the army to retreat in fair order across Bull Run, and thence to Centreville. Several of Pope's brigades had that morning missed their way, and were not present in the action of the 30th; and there had also been much straggling from the ranks. Pope's whole force there was 40,000, of whom about 35,000 were engaged. The entire confederate force present was about 65,000; but the reserves, about 19,000, were not brought up, leaving 46,000 actually engaged. Lee's general report makes the confederate loss 1,090 killed and 6,514 wounded; this appears to be imperfect, for the detailed reports of Longstreet and Jackson enumerate 1,340 killed and 7,060 wounded, 8,400 in all. Only partial reports of the Union loss were given; these indicate a total of about 11,000 killed and wounded; besides these were many prisoners, mostly stragglers picked up after the fight. Lee claimed to have taken 9,000 unwounded prisoners. On the morning after the battle Lee had about 60,000 effective men, to which on the following day were added D.H. Hill's division, about 10,000 strong, which came up from Richmond. Pope, at Centreville, had received considerable reënforcements, including his missing brigades, Banks's corps of 5,000, belonging to the army of Virginia, with Sumner's corps of 11,000, and Franklin's of 8,000 from the army of the Potomac; in all he had 62,000, to which 20,000 more might have been added in two days. During the night of Sept. 2 Jackson made a reconnoissance toward Washington, and an encounter took place at Ox Hill, near Chantilly, in which the Union generals Stevens and Kearny were killed. The civil and military authorities were so apprehensive of an attack upon the capital, that they ordered the whole army to fall back behind its defences. Pope, at his own request, was relieved from the command, which was given to McClellan. By the confederates the two battles near Bull Run are styled the first and second battles of Manassas. Some Union authorities give the name of Bull Run to that of 1861, and Groveton to that of 1862, from a hamlet near the battle field.