Thursday, July 28, 2011

July 27, 1861: Return From Manassas

On July 21, 1861, the Federal Army of the Potomac was defeated by Confederate troops near Manassas Junction, VA at Bull Run.  The army retreated to Washington, DC.  The three months enlistments of many state militia soldiers would expire on July 31. 

On July 27, Charles Butts and Abram Depue, of Belvidere, returned home on the Belvidere-Delaware Railroad from Trenton.  Riding the train with Butts and Depue were John Longstaff, Joseph W. Johnston, Jacob T. Thomson, and James Vannatta, of Washington.  Their three months enlistment in the 2nd NJ Militia Regiment was almost up.  When the militia veterans arrived at the Bel-Del Railroad Station in Belvidere they were welcomed by a cheering crowd.  The men returned to Trenton by train on July 31 to muster out of the three months service. 

On August 3, 1861, Butts, Depue Longstaff, Johnston, Thomson and Vannatta were the guests of the Borough of Washington.  A public reception was held in their honor .  The men were met at the train depot and were escorted into town with a parade led by parade marshals J. E. Lynn and Cadet James M. Sanno and the Washington Brass Band.  The returning veterans rode in a fine carriage surrounded by citizens of Washington, who were on foot.  Following a number of speeches, the veterans were escorted to the Washington Hotel for a feast sponsored by the Weller family, the hotel owners.  The dinner was followed by a band concert.  Butts and Depue were transported back to Belvidere in the carriage of Alexander P. Berthoud, Esquire - the man who would command the 31st NJ Volunteer Infantry Regiment in 1862.

[Cadet James Sanno later joined the 7th US Infantry Regiment and would fight in the Civil War, the Plains Indian Wars, and the Spanish-American War.]

One soldier returning from the war, who was riding the Belvidere -Delaware Railroad, became a hero.  The newspapers only knew his last name was May and did not know his hometown nor his regiment.  The August 10, 1861 edition of the Easton Daily Evening Express [Easton, PA] wrote, "A GALLANT SOLDIER. A few evenings since, just as the Belvidere train was leaving Moore's station, a little boy fell from the bridge into the water.  The instant the splash was heard, a soldier, who with his company was on the train, sprang out of the cars, plunged into the canal and saved the boy's life. So quietly was this done that very few on the train knew anything of it, and the gallant soldier was left behind.  We understand his name is May.  All honor to the noble fellow."  There was no follow-up story detailing what happened to Private May and the boy he saved.

Returning Pennsylvania regiments' veterans arrived at Lehigh Valley Railroad Station in Easton for a welcome home parade complete with bands - led by Pomp's Cornet Band - and "three cheers and tiger [a howl]" from residents standing along the streets.  Church bells rang throughout the borough and an artillery salute was fired on Mount Jefferson.  The veterans in Easton were happy to be home, especially those who survived the battle at Manassas, but many were angry with several newspapers and Democratic Party politicians for not supporting their fight to save the Union.  This anger would boil over on August 19, 1861.     

Copyright 1997-2011: Jay C. Richards   

Saturday, July 23, 2011

July 21, 1861: First Battle of Manassas [Bull Run] - Part Three

Confusion from the assorted uniform colors caused Federal and Confederate troops to fire on their allies and, in some cases, to allow their enemies to pass.  Both sides had blue and gray uniforms, and Zouave uniforms were even more confusing to green soldiers who had never seen them before.  Lack of proper training failed to prepare civilians for the fierceness of battle.  In some regiments, green troops fired volleys into their own front ranks from behind. 

On Henry House Hill, Captain James B. Ricketts' field guns were back in Federal hands for a third time after the 69th New York Irish Regiment and the 38th New York Infantry Regiment pushed back Colonel Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson's regiments, but the arrival of the 8th and 18th Virginia Infantry Regiments tipped the balance back to the Confederates on the hill.  After fighting over Ricketts' cannon for two hours, approximately 500 men lay dead and hundreds more were wounded. The battle moved on to other locations: Chinn Ridge and the stone bridge. 

Federal troops started an orderly retreat toward Centerville. Several Confederate cavalry attacks and Confederate artillery fire turned the withdrawl into a mad dash for safety.  The broken Federal ranks ran into Brigadier Theodore Runyon's New Jersey troops, who were moving forward. 

Lt. Colonel Robert McAllister, of Oxford Furnace, and his 1st NJ Volunteer Infantry Regiment were ordered to move forward from Centerville to secure road intersections for the retreating Federal troops and to act as a rear guard as General Joseph E. Johnston's Confederate troops pushed the Federals farther away from Manassas Junction.  Officers of the NJ units tried to rally the retreating troops to bring order and to assist in the rear guard action.

John Schoonover, of Oxford Furnace, Adjutant of the 1st NJV Regiment, wrote to the Belvidere Intelligencer on July 22, "We were stationed at Vienna when the cannonading commenced at Bull Run, which was distinctly heard, and many of us expressed a wish to be present.  To our great pleasure at ten o'clock A.M., we received orders to march to Centerville.  Owing to the absence of two companies 'out scouting' we remained until one o'clock then took to our march, leaving them behind.  This delay alone prevented us from participating in the battle.  About two miles this side of Centerville, we met the retreating army.  As their number was but few when they first appeared, with the exception of the provision train, our Colonel supposed them to be fugitives, and many were compelled to retrace their steps.  I feel happy to say that Lieutenant Colonel McAllister exhibited unflinching valor and determination upon the occasion. All except the wounded were arrested in their flight.

"The scene which followed, my pen utterly fails to describe.  Men exhausted and spiritless came streaming along anxiously inquiring where we were going and what was our number; others for fear of being arrested in their flight turned in the woods; riderless horses were running in every direction; and I am glad to inform you that many imagining the battle was to be renewed turned and said they would try again.  As we passed along, a number of Ellsworth's Fire Zouaves were standing in a body and exclaiming, 'Give it to them, Boys!  Only about 200 of us left,' showing the cause of the many exaggerated reports which were given to the public.  Many of the teamsters seemed  foolishly frightened and came driving down the hills with headlong speed, their wagons frequently turning over and over in one confused mass.  Amidst all this tumult, our little band of 600 men march coolly and deliberately forward; and contrary to the reports of the city papers, the Second Regiment   turned back against the orders of Colonel [William] Montgomery, then commanding [the NJ Brigade].  We marched to Centerville, where we made a halt, lay down tired and wearied, and awaited further orders.  About midnight, it was ascertained that the First NJ Regiment was the only one remaining in the place.

"We shortly received orders to retreat to Arlington Heights and accordingly took up our march, scarcely stopping on the way, which brought us to camp about seven o'clock, having marched since one o'clock of the previous day at least 40 miles, which many of us were disposed to think was a good tramp for the first one...I forgot to mention that five companies of the 1st Regiment were ordered to Arlington Heights, after the retreat, in order to throw up some sort of defense and guard the road."

On July 24, Private Theodore Carhart, Jr.,  of Belvidere,  Company D, 1st NJV Infantry, wrote a letter to his family and friends, "Friends at Home: I hear that you are worried about me, hearing that our Regiment was cut all to pieces; that is not so, we have not lost a man since we left Trenton.  Zach [Zachariah Nye, of Belvidere] received a letter stating the above, but I told him  that I had wrote to you since we got back, and that you must know better, for I told you that I was safe and that I would write when I got time; so I will give you a short history, which I know is true, for I was there myself.  Now, after this, I don;t want you to worry about me, for you will receive a letter, if not from me it will be from somebody, so that you know      all about it.

"I wrote to you that the 1st and 2nd Regiments was ordered down to take charge of Vienna; well, we did until Sunday, 21st, when we were ordered off to Centervillehorses as fast as they could go.  We went on for a few miles further and met a part of the army in retreat; we tried to stop them, and did to a great extent; but when we came on to the main army, running as if the old boy was after them, and it was an awful sight then; some of them were so badly wounded that they could not get any further and had crawled in the woods to lay down and die.  They were shot in the head, arms, body, legs, and in fact all over; it was awful, but on we went with our little band (the 2nd Regiment had left us    on the first sight   of the retreating army and went back to Vienna); our party was about 800 strong; we went on to Centerville, arriving there about nine o'clock in the evening, and found it all deserted, but we went on 'til within three miles of the enemy, and then drew up in line and laid down to take a little rest, not leaving the ranks at all; we laid there for an hour or so, then the officers thought it best to shift our quarters; we got up and moved off to another place, then formed, of the right and left wing, hollow squares on both sides of the road, then laid down for a second time, but had not laid long before the order was given to move again, marching back to Fairfax.

"We left Centerville that morning at 10 o'clock; after we had got some eight miles on the road back, we got news that a Regiment of their celebrated cavalry was after us, (by this time, we had caught up to a part of the retreating army), and after we received that news, there were two Regiments detailed to meet them, and the remainder of Ellsworth's Zouaves - 70 of them - they hid themselves in the woods, and when the cavalry came along, the Zouaves fired into them, confusing their ranks and shooting them down like dogs; the Regiments came up to their assistance, and out of 600, there was only 6 of them to go back and tell the tale.

"After this, we marched straight on through Fairfax to Arlington Heights, where we arrived at 11 o'clock, and at the fort at 11-1/2 o'clock.  The main cause of this defeat was the provision train that was coming up in the rear of the army got scared and turned their teams back and began to retreat; their officers tried to rally them, but if they had had good Captains and other of this kind, they could have made a stand as easily as could be.  Why, I believe that we, as small as we were, could have held it, if we stayed, which the colonel wanted to do, but the orders were to move and we had to go.  The teamsters made such a hasty leave that they threw out all (or nearly so) of their loads and drove some of their wagons off n the gutters, upturning them and killing some of their horses.  When we came back that night, the road was fairly strewn with everything you could think of.

"We are now encamped right along side of Fort Albina [Fort Albany].  Five companies of our Regiment went to Arlington Mills to dig ditches and throw up embankments to protect that place.  I did not go with our company, for I did not feel very well.  I think that I shall go up to-morrow or the next day; our boys are having a gay old time; we move nearly every day.  I just heard that our tents are to be moved down to Fort Runyon, and in a few days take charge of that fort, for the three months boys are going home.  There is more excitement here now than there had been at all since I have been in this section of the country.  The enemy has taken Vienna again.  Well, I must close, so good bye for the present; love and respects to all."

Lt. Colonel McAllister   wrote a letter on July 25, "The whole scene beggars all description; and yet, strange to say, our officers and men, raw as they were, remained cool and collected, and marched through these retreating columns with a firmness which astonished all who saw the regiments, and which has since been a theme of universal praise...Had it not been for our regiment, an immense number of wagons would have been left along the road, and would now be in the hands of the enemy with all stores they contained.  We saved the Government, too, a large amount of other property.  When we went up, parts of the road were literally covered with picks and shovels - in a word, with articles of every description usually belonging to an army.  When we came back, nearly all was picked up, owing to our having stopped the retreat, and so given the fugitives confidence and inspired them with some sense of discipline...A great many claim the credit of protecting the retreat, and being the last to leave the field; but it is all in the imagination.  We were the very last to leave Centerville.  We remained two hours after Colonel [Louis] Blenker left, and we would have been left to be cut to pieces had we not accidentally discovered that his command was retreating."

Dr. Edward Taylor, of Middletown, the surgeon of the 1st NJV Regiment, decided to stay behind in Centerville with the wounded at the field hospital.  Taylor was later captured with the wounded.  McAllister wrote, "Before we moved off, I sent a messenger to inform Dr. Taylor, our surgeon, of our orders to retreat.  the Doctor came to me  and asked permission to remain with the wounded, as all other surgeons had left with the retreating forces.  I told him I knew not the moment we would want his services ourselves, but was willing to grant his request if the Colonel would agree to it.  The Colonel did agree, and this is the last we have seen of that noble-hearted man." 

Private Jacob Cole, the fourteen-year old soldier from Paterson, who was a member of Company A of  the New York Fire Zouaves, recalled in 1906, "The army, meeting with defeat, retreated to Washington, where we found that the city     was filled with stragglers on the retreat. The roads were filled with carriages and baggage wagons. Under the excitement, men cut  horses and mules loose from the wagons, jumped on their backs, and started helter-skelter for Washington.  The roads were so crowded that it was more like a mob than an army.  When we reached the Long Bridge to cross over into Washington, there was such a crush that it was impossible to keep any formation, so it became a case of everyone for themselves.  When we arrived in the city, we found it filled with stragglers, and all was excitement.  After the regiment got into Washington and the excitement began to cool, the officers found that there was about 200 men missing.  when we reached New York, we ascertained the whereabouts of the missing men.  Some had been killed, others were prisoners, and still others had never stopped retreating     until they reached home.  the regiment left Washington for New York on August 4th, and was mustered out of the service as a regiment on August 8th, 1861."   Cole went home to Paterson, NJ for only a couple of days.  He enlisted in Company A of the 57th New York Volunteer Infantry on August 11, 1861, for three years enlistment as a 14-year old veteran soldier.

Copyright 1997-2011: Jay C. Richards                    

Friday, July 22, 2011

July 21, 1861: First Battle of Manassas [Bull Run] - Part Two

Federal General Irvin McDowell ordered Brigadier Gen. Daniel Tyler's division to feint a main attack near the stone bridge on the Warrenton turnpike.  Colonel Dixon S. Miles' division remained in reserve at Centerville, VA along with the New Jersey Brigade and Brigadier Gen. Theodore Runyon's division.  Colonel David Hunter's division and Brigadier Gen. Samuel Heintzelman's division were to cross Bull Run at Sudley Ford and Poplar Ford  above the stone bridge, where Confederate defenses were the weakest.  A push on the lightly guarded stone bridge was ruled out on the assumption that the confederates would have heavily guarded it.

Shortly after the Federal advance began on the fords above the stone bridge, General Pierre G. T. Beauregard received a warning from his signal officer, Edward Porter Alexander, who observed Federal troops crossing Bull Run approximately two miles above the stone bridge.  Beauregard ordered Brigadier Gen. Barnard Bee, Colonel Thomas Jackson, and Colonel Wade Hampton to move their brigades above the stone bridge to oppose the Federal advance.  

Once gunfire could be heard at Sudley Ford, General Joseph E. Johnston ordered his army to join the fight, approximately one mile below the ford.  Colonel Nathan Evans ordered his men to move upstream from the stone bridge to help block the Federals fording Bull Run.  

Before the actual battle began, members of the 4th South Carolina Infantry Regiment accidentally fired on Colonel Robert Wheat's "Louisiana Tiger Zouaves" thinking they were Federal troops.  No one was injured.

The real battle began at Matthews Hill when Confederates opened fire on the 2nd Rhode Island Infantry Regiment.  

A mile away , on Henry House Hill, General Bee set up an artillery battery  to await the Federal advance.  Bee set his infantry units on both sides of the artillery.  Bee later ordered his infantry to reinforce Confederates on Matthews Hill.  When the Confederates were pushed off Matthews Hill, Federal commanders looked toward Henry House Hill.

The New York Fire Zouaves (11th NY Infantry Regiment) and the Brooklyn "Red-Legged Devils" (14th NY Infantry Regiment) and the Marines were sent from Matthews Hill to accompany artillery in an attack on Henry House Hill.  The 1st Minnesota Infantry Regiment, wearing red shirts, was ordered to join in the advance.   However, McDowell's headquarters had no intelligence reports on the number of Confederate batteries and infantry waiting on Henry House Hill.  

Captain James B. Ricketts set up his battery near Henry House.  Confederates in the house fired on Ricketts' men. Ricketts ordered his men to blast the house. Eighty-year old Judith Henry was killed in her bedroom. Federal and Confederate batteries fired at each other on Henry House Hill.  The batteries failed to knock each other out of action, but they caused a lot of infantry casualties on both sides. 

Brigadier Gen. Heintzelman rode over to the Fire Zouaves and escorted them to where he wanted them. He placed two companies in reserve behind the forward companies - which were placed just behind the artillery of Rickett's battery.  Heintzelman placed the 1st Minnesota to the right of the Zouaves.  The Fire Zouaves reached their position just in time to receive a volley of musket fire from the Virginians in front of them.  The Zouaves and the Brooklyn Devils hit the ground just before the second volley was fired at them.

The two reserve companies of Fire Zouaves were attacked by Virginia cavalry from "The Loudon Company" and "The Clarke Cavalry."  The Fire Zouaves fired in volley bringing down the first row of Virginia troopers.  As the cavalry hacked at them with sabers, the Fire Zouaves pulled the troopers off their horses or speared them with their bayonets as they yelled "Remember Ellsworth!"  Half of "The Loudon Company" trooper were casualties.

After the Virginians fired at the main body of Fire Zouaves and Rickett's battery, the Zouaves moved twenty yards forward and fired a volley into the Virginians and then stepped back to reload.  Some of the rear ranks of Zouaves, the Marines and the 1st Minnesota mistook the back step for a retreat and broke ranks in confusion.  Some Fire Zouaves ran and some assisted the wounded. Lieutenant John Mathews, of Belvidere, and his men of Company K held their ground and were joined by the 69th New York Irish Regiment, the 27th New York Infantry Regiment and the 1st Wisconsin Infantry Regiment.   Mathews and his men  joined the Irish in charging up Henry House Hill to try to recapture Ricketts' guns  from the  Virginia Infantry Regiments.  They were repelled but charged a second time.

When two Virginians captured the green Irish Regimental Flag and the National Flag from the 69th New York's wounded color guards, Mathews and his Zouaves charged the Virginians. Mathews killed the rebels with his pistol and returned with both flags.  Company K returned the flags to New York's Fighting Irish.  The Fire Zouaves suffered the heaviest losses among all the Federal units.

During the Confederate attack against the Fire Zouaves and the Brooklyn Red-Legged Devils, the men of the 27th Virginia Infantry Regiment clashed against the Brooklyn regiment.  Ricketts' battery fired canister shot into the Virginians, and the 27th began to crumble.  

Captain Thompson McAllister, age 49, rallied his company in the 27th Virginia.  When asked if they should retreat, McAllister said it would never do. "If you can't stand up, lie down, but keep on shooting!" he told his men.  McAllister's "Allegheny Roughs" were entrusted with the regimental flag. McAllister knew his men had to hold their ground so the regiment would not retreat.

McAllister jumped up with his sword and yelled, "Get up, Boys, Get up!  Come on! Forward!!  Charge them - that's the order!"  McAllister'sdid the 2nd Virginia Infantry.  The men ran with McAllister and his son, William, toward Ricketts' battery and captured the guns for the Stonewall Brigade of Thomas Jackson.  

Captain McAllister's health weakened from illness a few weeks later.  He was discharged by surgeon's certificate and returned to his home in the Shenandoah Valley - never to fight in the war again.

Meanwhile, a few miles away in Centerville, Captain McAllister's brother, Lt. Colonel Robert McAllister, of Oxford Furnace, NJ, waited with his 1st New Jersey Volunteer Infantry Regiment as part of McDowell's reserve force. 

Copyright 1997-2011: Jay C. Richards

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

21 July 1861: First Battle of Manassas [Bull Run] - Part One

On July 17, 1861, the late Elmer Ellsworth's New York Fire Zouaves (11th NY Infantry Regiment) were ordered to leave Alexandria, VA and march to Fairfax Court House, to Centerville, and then to Manassas Junction, VA.  Among the Zouaves were Lieutenant John Mathews, of Belvidere - stepson of Belvidere Intelligencer publisher Franklin Pierce Sellers, in Company K, and 14-year old Jacob H. Cole, of Paterson, in Company A. 

In Fairfax Court House, General Irvin McDowell had halted the Federal Army of the Potomac's advance to wait a couple of days for the supply wagons to arrive.  McDowell did not know Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston and his army arrived by train at Manassas Junction from the Shenandoah Valley during the Army of the Potomac's days of waiting.

On the night of July 20, the Fire Zouaves sat around campfires singing patriotic songs and listening to a regimental band.  None of them had ever been in battle so they did not know what was to happen the next day.  However, the Federal troops had defeated Confederates at Philippi on June 3, at Rich Mountain on June 11, and at Carrick's Ford on July 13 so they felt the upcoming battle might be an easy victory and the war might end quickly. 

McDowell wanted the troops to be ready to march toward Manassas Junction at 2:00 a.m. on July 21 so the battle could begin at dawn.  However, except for Battery E of the 2nd US Artillery, which was limbered and ready to move at 2:00, the volunteer soldiers were not ready to march until 3:00 a.m.  The march was slow since most of the men could not see in the dark.  Five companies of the 2nd Ohio Regiment were sent ahead of the column as skirmishers. 

Confederate General Pierre G. T. Beauregard had placed Brigadier Gen. Richard S. Ewell's brigade near Union Mills, where the railroads intersected.  Colonel Nathan G. Evans' brigade was placed at the stone bridge on the Warrenton turnpike.  Five other brigades were positioned in between Ewell's and Evans' units to guard Mitchell's Ford and Blackburn's Ford.  At Blackburn's Ford, Beauregard placed Brigadier gen. James Longstreet in command.  Beauregard was sure McDowell would cross at these two fording places because they were on the shortest route from Centerville to Manassas Junction. 

Federal scouts and skirmishers reported to their commanders Confederate troops were guarding Mitchell's Ford and Blackburn's Ford.  Skirmishers were fighting Confederate troops at Blackburn's Ford.  Cavalry scouts reported Sudley Ford was not strongly guarded. A second fording place between Sudley Ford and the stone bridge was also clear of Confederate troops.  McDowell ordered a brigade to make a feint attack at Blackburn's Ford while the major part of the Army of the Potomac crossed Bull Run at Sudley Ford and the fording place nearer the stone bridge. 

The Warren County men in the First New Jersey Brigade were still in reserve with the rest of Gen. Theodore Runyon's division.  The 1st and 2nd NJ Volunteer Infantry Regiments were ordered to take charge of Vienna, VA before the battle.  On July 21 the NJ troops were ordered to march 16 miles to Centerville.   

The lieutenant colonel of the 1st NJ Volunteer Infantry Regiment was Robert McAllister, of Oxford Furnace.  McAllister came to Oxford Furnace in Warren County, NJ to help build local railroads and a tunnel outside of Oxford Furnace.  In May 1861,  Robert McAllister enlisted in the 1st NJV Infantry and was commissioned lieutenant colonel - the regiment's second in command.

On the Confederate side, was Captain Thompson McAllister, a railroad man and flour mill owner from the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia - Robert McAllister's brother.  In April 1861,  Thompson McAllister and his 18-year old son William, founded the "Allegheny Roughs" infantry company and offered the services of his men to Governor John Letcher, of the Commonwealth of Virginia.  The "Allegheny Roughs" were assigned to the 27th Virginia Infantry Regiment in Colonel Thomas J. Jackson's division. 

The Fire Zouaves were ordered to march to Sudley Ford to cross Bull Run.  The battle was underway for a few hours before the Fire Zouaves joined the "Brooklyn Red-Legged Devils" (14th NY Infantry Regiment) on Matthews Hill awaiting orders to move up to Henry Hill to protect the artillery.

Copyright 1997-2011: Jay C. Richards      

Thursday, July 14, 2011

July 1861: On the Road to Manassas

In northwestern Virginia, General George B. McClellan's Ohio regiments defeated Confederate troops at Philippi, VA on June 3, 1861; at Rich Mountain on July 11; and at Carrick's Ford on July 13.    At Carrick's Ford, Confederate General Robert S. Garnett was the first general killed in battle in the war.  Garnett was later replaced by Gen. Robert E. Lee.

On July 15, Gen. Irvin McDowell's Federal Army of the Potomac was finally ready to move toward Fairfax Court House, VA from Arlington Heights.  The Army consisted of fifty infantry regiments, ten batteries of artillery (55 guns), and one battalion of cavalry [approximately 30,000 men and 1,450 officers].  McDowell's regiments held evening parades celebrating McClellan's victories.

After the parades, each regiment received their marching orders for the morning.  Fairfax Court House was thirteen miles from Arlington - one day's march - but McDowell's orders were for the march to begin in mid-afternoon. McDowell wanted his troops to march a few miles to the outer pickets, stop for the night, and resume the march to Fairfax in the morning.    Troops were ordered to travel in "Light Marching Order."

At Fairfax Court House, Confederate Gen. Milledge Bonham waited with 5,000 soldiers.  McDowell's troops were spread out in a number of camps throughout the District of Columbia and Virginia. Brigadier Gen. Samuel Heintzelman's division was in the area of Alexandria. Colonel Ambrose Burnside's Brigade was in the District of Columbia. Brigadier Gen. Daniel Tyler's division, the largest in McDowell's army, was in the western side of the expedition moving toward Vienna, VA. Colonel David Hunter's division and Colonel Dixon Miles' division marched toward Annandale, VA - eight miles from Fairfax Court House.  McDowell expected a four-to-one superiority over Confederates of Bonham's command.

On July 17, three of McDowell's divisions marched on Fairfax Court House.  Gen. P. T. G. Beauregard sent a telegram to President Jefferson Davis reporting his outposts were under attack by Federal troops and McDowell's army was on the march.  Davis ordered Gen. Joseph Johnston to give Gen. Robert Patterson's Federal troops the slip and move his troops eastward to reinforce Beauregard's troops at Manassas Junction.  Beauregard expected McDowell's army to attack on July 18 and warned Davis there was not enough time for Johnston's army to reach Manassas.  However, the attack did not come on the 18th or the 19th.

On July 17, Brigadier Gen. Tyler's lead troops arrived at Fairfax Court house in late morning.  Gen. Bonham ordered his regiments to retreat. Three companies of the 2nd South Carolina Regiment, under the command of Lt. Colonel J. W. Jones, were ordered to act as a rear guard.  Bonham's troops retreated to Centerville. 

The lead units of the Federal army entered Fairfax Court House, VA at 11:30 a.m. - with Colonel Burnside's Rhode Islanders in front.  Gen. Tyler's division stopped outside town when his men saw Bonham's soldiers moving westward out of Fairfax Court House.  Tyler ordered his troops to take the right fork in the road, bypassing the town, in hope of intercepting the retreating Confederates at the hamlet of Germantown - located between Fairfax and Centerville.  Bonham's regiments escaped Germantown only a few minutes ahead of Tyler's troops.

McDowell and his division and brigade commanders were unsuccessful in curbing some of their men from ransacking and/or burning houses, stealing or vandalizing property, and killing farm animals in direct violation of the Articles of War. 

McDowell set up his headquarters in Fairfax Court House.  He decided to delay his advance on Manassas Junction to await his supply wagons.

Gen. Johnston's army arrived by train from the Shenandoah Valley to Manassas Junction while McDowell waited for his supplies.  The additional Confederate troops were a surprise to McDowell and his troops when they finally advanced. 

copyright 2011: Jay C. Richards

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

June/July 1861: Moving Toward Manassas

On May 23, 1861, Federal troops crossed the Potomac River to invade the Commonwealth of Virginia.

General Robert E. Lee, commander of Virginia's military forces, had foreseen the importance of Manassas Junction since it was the junction of the Manassas Gap Railroad and the Orange & Alexandria Railroad, which joined northeastern and northwestern Virginia.    On May 16, Lee ordered Colonel Philip St. George Cocke to maintain a large defensive force of militia to protect Manassas Junction. 

 On June 1, 1861, Confederate President Jefferson Davis sent General Pierre T. G. Beauregard to Manassas Junction. Beauregard worked on a plan which would use the Manassas Gap Railroad as a link between troops in Manassas Junction and General Joseph E. Johnston's troops in the Shenandoah Valley - if needed. 

Federal troops defeated Confederate troops at Philippi on June 3 and at Rich Mountain on June 8.  In June, General Robert Patterson ordered his Pennsylvania troops to march into Virginia from Washington, DC to attack Johnston's troops at Harper's Ferry.  On June 13, General George B. McClellan led his Ohio militia troops into Romney, VA on a march toward Harper's Ferry.  

Militia troops of the Warren Brigade celebrated July 4 with parades in Belvidere, Hackettstown, Washington and Phillipsburg.  In Belvidere, the Belvidere Zouave Company, Belvidere Infantry Company, and Warren Guards Company paraded through the county seat with the Belvidere Coronet Band in the lead.  

In Washington, DC, regimental bands played marches and several regiments held dress parades.  Congress was in special session.  Soldiers and tourists sang "The Star Spangled Banner" in the Capitol rotunda in front of the flag.  

On June 17, false intelligence warned that General Beauregard had 60,000 Confederate troops ready to attack Washington, DC.  Federal General Winfield Scott ordered General Patterson to send back his best troops to defend Washington. 

On July 2, Patterson's troops were allowed to cross the Potomac back into Virginia with 14,000 men from Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.  Paterson's 11th Pennsylvania and 1st Wisconsin Regiments ran into 400 of Colonel Thomas J. Jackson's Virginia militia troops at Falling Waters, VA.  After approximately two hours of skirmishing, Jackson withdrew his outnumbered troops.  Patterson's troops advanced to where Jackson's Virginians had stood, but they did not pursue their enemy.  Instead, they celebrated their victory and ate a meal.

Not long after the Fourth of July celebrations, Confederate spy Rose O. Greenhow sent a message to Gen. Milledge L. Bonham, commander of the Alexandria-Manassas defenses, warning him General Irvin McDowell had been ordered to advance on Manassas Junction on July 16.  Five days later, Mrs. Greenhow sent another message warning McDowell and 55,000 men would start their advance from Arlington Heights toward Fairfax Court House, Centerville and Manassas Junction.  Other reports estimated McDowell would have 35,000 men with a reserve of 15,000 Federal troops.  Northern newspapers, such as The New York Tribune, printed detailed plans of McDowell's preparations and logistics for the July 16 start of his campaign, and the news was passed on by The Richmond Dispatch.  

General Beauregard continued Bonham's fortifications around Manassas Junction station, but he also made plans to oppose a large Federal force three miles away at the fording places of a creek called Bull Run.  The two fording places nearest Centerville were Mitchell's Ford and Blackburn's Ford.

On June 29, General Winfield Scott reported to President Abraham Lincoln and his cabinet that McDowell would be ready to start his expedition into Virginia within a week.  However, McDowell reported later he had not received his ambulances and supply wagons until July 13.  

After training at Camp Olden in Trenton, New Jersey regiments of the first NJ Brigade traveled by train to Washington, DC to await orders.  The 1st, 2nd, and 3rd NJ Volunteer Infantry Regiments [three years enlistments] were joined by the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th NJ Militia Regiments [three months enlistments] - even though the militia enlistments were running out later in the month.  

General McDowell assigned Brigadier General Theodore Runyon, of New Jersey, to command a division consisting of the four NJ Militia regiments, First NJ Brigade, and several New York regiments.  Runyon was ordered to keep his division in reserve and to guard the railroad lines in his area while waiting for orders to rush into battle if needed.        

copyright 2011: Jay C. Richards