BULL RUN, VA
JULY 21, 1861
Bull Run, Va., July 21, 1861. U. S. Forces under Gen.
McDowell. The battle of Bull Run was the first engagement of
consequence in the war. The seizure of Gosport and Harper's
Ferry by the Virginia state troops the destruction of the
Norfolk navy yard; the Baltimore riots, and the threatening
attitude of the Confederates toward the national capital had
aroused general indignation at the North, and public
clamored for a battle which would crush the rebellion in its
incipiency. "Forward to Richmond" was the slogan
Northern newspapers and members of Congress urged the
president and Gen. Scott, the latter being in command of the
Union army, to strike a decisive blow. Virginia, by popular
vote, ratified a secession ordinance on May 23, and the next
day Union troops crossed the Potomac and occupied Arlington
Heights and Alexandria. But this movement was not
sufficiently aggressive to satisfy the general demand for a
fight, and when a train of soldiers belonging to Gen.
Schenck's command was ambushed at Vienna Station, and a
detachment of Gen. Butler's forces was defeated at Big
the fires of patriotism blazed with a fiercer intensity.
the Federals occupied Alexandria and Arlington the
Confederates fell back to Manassas Junction, about 35 miles
from Washington, where Beauregard was assigned to the
on June 1. Beauregard immediately issued his famous
proclamation, declaring the war cry of the Union army to be
"Beauty and Booty," and called on the surrounding
join his own forces. Some responded in person others sent
their slaves, and the work of fortifying a position was
commenced. At that time the Confederate Army of the
Shenandoah, commanded by Gen. J. E. Johnston and numbering
about 10,000 men, was at Harper's Ferry, threatened by the
Union forces under Gen. Patterson. To favor Patterson's
attack on Johnston, by preventing Beauregard from sending
reinforcements to Harper's Ferry, a movement was planned
against the later at Manassas, and on June 3, Scott called
Gen. McDowell, who was in command of the troops south of the
Potomac, to give an estimate of the number of men necessary
for the undertaking. Before the movement could be carried
Johnston evacuated Harper's Ferry and the order was recalled
for the time being. This action again awakened the public
demand for an advance on the enemy at some point and on the
24th, McDowell submitted his plan for an attack on
Five days later this plan was thoroughly reviewed by a
of war at the Executive Mansion, and was finally approved by
the president and his cabinet, as well as the principal
military officers present. Scott was opposed to assuming the
aggressive just then, for the reason that most of the troops
were three months men, whose terms would expire before any
movement of an extensive nature could be carried through.
Notwithstanding these objections it was decided to make the
attack and McDowell was ordered to have his troops in
readiness to begin the advance on July 8.
In proposing his plan of campaign, McDowell estimated the
Confederate strength at Manassas at 25,000 men, and asked
30,000 to take into action, with a reserve of 1O,OOO more.
His greatest fear seems to have been that Beauregard would
reinforced, for in presenting his plan he said: "If
Gen. J. E.
Johnston's force is kept engaged by Maj.Gen. Patterson, and
Maj.Gen. Butler occupies the force now in his vicinity, I
think they will not be able to bring up more than 10,000
so we may calculate upon having to do with about 35,000
Scott assured him that Patterson would keep Johnston too
to permit him to join Beauregard, and added : "If
joins Beauregard, he shall have Patterson on his
Events proved, however, that Scott was mistaken in his
estimate of Patterson as a military commander. Johnston did
join Beauregard, just in the nick of time, and Patterson was
nowhere near his heels. Some delay occurred in the
preparations, so that it was the 16th before McDowell was
ready to move. His army was composed of five divisions. The
1st division, commanded by Brig.-Gen. Daniel Tyler,
of four brigades, the 1st commanded by Col. E. D. Keyes, the
2nd by Brig.-Gen. R. C. Schenck, the 3rd by Col. W. T.
Sherman, and the 4th by Col. I. B. Richardson. The 2nd
division was under the command of Col. David Hunter, and was
made up of two brigades commanded by Cols. Andrew Porter and
E. Burnside. The 3rd division, under Col. S. P.
Heintzelman, consisted of three brigades commanded by Cols.
B. Franklin, O. B. Willcox and O. O. Howard. The 4th
division, commanded by Brig.-Gen. Theodore Runyon, was held
reserve and took no part in the engagement. The 5th
commanded by Col. S. D. Miles, was also in reserve at
Centerville, and was not in the battle proper, though it was
engaged in skirmishing during the 21st and in covering the
retreat of the army. It was composed of the brigades of
Louis Blenker and T. A. Davies. With the army were 49 pieces
The Confederate Army of the Potomac, commanded by Brig.-
Gen. G. T. Beauregard, consisted of six brigades of Bonham,
Ewell, D. R. Jones, Longstreet, Cocke and Early; the reserve
brigade of Holmes; Evans' command, temporarily organized;
regiments of unattached infantry, the 30th Va., ten
independent companies of cavalry, and 27 field guns. The
of the Shenandoah, commanded by Gen. J. E. Johnston, was
composed of four brigades, respectively commanded by
Bartow, Bee and E. K. Smith, the 1st Va. cavalry, under J.
B. Stuart; and 17 pieces of artillery.
As above stated, McDowell marched on the 16th, the men
carrying three days' rations. The next day he drove in the
enemy's outposts at Fairfax C. H., and on the 18th halted at
Centerville for his supply train to come up, so that more
rations could be issued. On that day Tyler made a
reconnaissance (see Blackburn's Ford) that developed the
Confederate position and demonstrated that the enemy was in
force. The Confederate line of battle lay along the west
of Bull Run and extended from Manassas Junction to the stone
bridge on the Warrenton turnpike, a distance of about 8
Between the railroad and the stone bridge were five fords,
viz.: Lewis', Ball's, Mitchell's, Blackburn's and McLean's,
from north to south in the order named. Up to the time of
affair at Blackburn's ford it had been McDowell's intention
turn the enemy's right, then cross at one of the fords and
attack the center. The roads south of the junction were
to be unsuitable for a flank movement in that direction, and
Tyler's reconnaissance showed the enemy to be too strong at
the fords for the Union troops to force a passage without
suffering heavy losses. McDowell therefore, turned his
attention to the Confederate left. During the 19th and 20th
he caused his engineers to make a careful examination of the
ground between the two armies, and to gain as much
as possible of the enemy's position. Two fords were found
above the stone bridge, Sudley ford, the one farthest north,
being unguarded. On Saturday evening, the 20th McDowell
called his officers together at Centerville and explained
plans for battle on the succeeding day. Miles was to remain
at Centerville with his division and construct defensive
there to be used in case of emergency; Richardson's brigade
was to be detached from Tyler's division for the purpose of
making a demonstration against Blackburn's ford, to engage
enemy's attention in the center; the rest of Tyler's
was to march out on the pike to the stone bridge and
the enemy at that point, while Hunter and Heintzelman were
march with their divisions to Sudley ford, cross the run and
then, turning to the left, force away the guard from the
ford and the bridge, thus clearing the way for Tyler to
and join in the attack on Beauregard's left. Tyler was
instructed to move at 2:30 a. m. and to be in position to
fire on the bridge at daybreak. His demonstration was to be
sufficiently vigorous to divert attention from Hunter and
Heintzelman. Unfortunately Tyler started behind time and his
march was so slow as to hold back Hunter and Heintzelman for
some time. Then the distance to Sudley ford was about twice
as great as had been reported, so that the run was not
until 9:30 instead of 6 o'clock, according to the original
The stone bridge was guarded by Evans' who had about a
regiment and a half of infantry and 4 pieces of artillery.
Tyler's demonstration was so feeble that Evans was soon
convinced it was only a feint and that the real attack was
come from some other quarter. About 8 o'clock, he heard of
the column moving toward Sudley ford. Withdrawing all his
force from the bridge, with the exception of four companies
and 2 guns, he moved to the Sudley road to intercept the
movement. This movement of Evans was made without the
knowledge or the orders of his superior officers, but it
displayed good military judgment, and no doubt changed the
whole current of battle. He took up a position north of the
Warrentonpike, on a ridge north of Young's branch, his left
resting on the Sudley road. At 10 a. m. the head of Hunter's
column emerged from the woods about a mile north of the pike
and the battle of Bull Run was commenced by Burnside's
and Evans' line.
Johnston arrived at Manassas about noon on the 20th with
the first detachment of the Army of the Shenandoah, and,
the ranking officer assumed command. Patterson was not
his heels," as Scott had promised, but he might arrive
time, and it was decided to crush McDowell before Patterson
could reinforce him. Beauregard, who was well acquainted
the ground, proposed a plan of battle, which was approved by
Johnston, and that was to cross Bull Run at the fords below
the stone bridge with the whole strength of the combined
armies and attack McDowell at Centerville. The troops were
posted with this view and early on Sunday morning Johnston
written the orders for an advance, but before they could be
carried out the sound of artillery firing was heard in the
direction of the stone bridge. It was then decided to attack
on the right from Blackburn's ford and assume the defensive
the left. Accordingly orders were given for Ewell, on the
extreme right to begin the flank movement on Centerville,
other commands to follow in order to the left, while the
commands of Bee and Bartow were to support Evans. The
reserves were to move without further orders to where the
sound of the firing was heaviest.
When the fighting on the left began, Burnside formed his
brigade in line of battle and moved forward to the support
a battery in the open field east of the Sudley road. Prompt
action on his part would doubtless have forced Evans from
position, but Evans was quickly reinforced by part of Bee's
command and the opportunity was lost. Evans was also
reinforced by Bartow's brigade and Imboden's battery.
Porter's brigade came to the assistance of Burnside and
to the right of the Sudley road, where Griffin's battery of
guns could be brought to bear on the enemy's artillery.
Heintzelman also hurried up his advance regiment and
battery, and under the attack of these combined forces the
Confederate line broke and fell back in some confusion about
half a mile across Young's branch. The Sudley road crosses
the Warrenton pike about three-fourths of a mile west of the
stone bridge. At the junction of the two roads was a stone
house. About half a mile east, on the south side of the
was the Robinson house, and about the same distance west of
the cross-roads on the north side of the pike was the Dogan
house, while further south, on the east side of the Sudley
road was another dwelling, known as the Henry house. South
this last was a semicircular wood, extending from the Sudley
road to Young's branch, and between the wood and the pike
a plateau, over which the Confederates retreated. It was at
this point that Gen. T. J. Jackson received the sobriquet of
"Stonewall." His brigade was in line near the edge
wood, waiting for the command to go in, when Bee's men came
flying back across the plateau. "Look!" called out
Bee in an
attempt to rally his forces, "Here is Jackson standing
stone wall! Rally behind the Virginians!" From that
forth the famous Confederate general was known as
Jackson, and there are probably thousands of people who know
him by no other name
This first repulse of the Confederates came about
11:30 a. m. Some time before this Johnston and Beauregard
realized that McDowell's demonstration on their left was a
real attack, the order for the flank movement on Centerville
was recalled, and the troops ordered to the scene of the
conflict. McDowell, who was early on the field, also ordered
up all his available forces to the support of those engaged.
Tyler sent the brigades of Sherman and Keyes across the run
the ford above the stone bridge, Keyes joining Hunter on the
left, while Sherman moved to the right to the support of
Porter, who was still pressing the enemy down the Sudley
Along the crest in front of the wood Jackson, with his five
regiments and two batteries, formed a new line, extending
the Robinson to the Henry house, and behind this the
Confederates were partially rallied. Hampton's battalion,
which had arrived from Richmond that morning, formed on
Jackson's right. Franklin and Willcox joined the Union line
on the right a little after noon, and Griffin's and
batteries secured a position near the Dogan house, where
could enfilade Hampton's line. About 2 p. m. Keyes made a
dashing charge up the hill, driving Hampton from his
but was repulsed by the fire of some batteries which had
been planted farther to the rear. The whole Federal line now
swung around toward the pike, striking Jackson on the left
forcing him back to the shelter of the woods, where he
concentrated his artillery so as to sweep by a cross fire
whole open plateau in his front. To counteract this fire
Griffin and Ricketts pushed their batteries forward to the
Henry hill, with two regiments in support. For a brief
there was a lull in the battle, but before the Union guns
fairly in position men and horses commenced to fall under a
well-directed fire from the Confederate sharpshooters
concealed in the thicket of pines at short range. The guns
were placed, however, and fire opened on the enemy's lines,
driving the sharpshooters from their place of concealment.
Here a mistake occurred that proved to be one of the prime
factors in the defeat of McDowell's army. A regiment
approached the batteries from the right in plain view.
Griffin charged his guns with canister and trained them on
advancing line, when Maj. Barry, chief of artillery, assured
him that it was a regiment coming to his support. Griffin
ordered the gunners to withhold their fire, the regiment
continued to advance until within short musket range when
leveled their pieces and with one volley almost annihilated
the batteries. Most of the horses were killed, and those
were left broke away and went tearing down the hill through
the Union lines, scattering confusion among the troops. The
11th N. Y. (Ellsworth's Zouaves), supporting the batteries,
fired one volley and fled, upon which the Confederates
out of the woods and charged the batteries, which now became
the center of the fight. Jackson's men seized the guns and
tried to drag them away, but were foiled in the attempt.
Arnold's battery was brought to the assistance of Griffin
Ricketts, but was compelled to withdraw. The Rhode Island
batter, poured in a heavy fire from the hill north of
branch, fresh troops on either side were thrown forward and
for an hour the battle raged around the two batteries. Three
times the guns were taken and recaptured and just as victory
was about to perch on the Union banner the remainder of the
Confederate Army of the Shenandoah arrived on the field.
Kirby Smith's brigade marched up the Sudley road from
Manassas. Smith was wounded, but Col. Arnold Elzey assumed
command and led the brigade to the left of the Confederate
line. About the same time four regiments from Cocke's and
Bonham's brigades came up nearer Bull Run, thus extending
enemy's line in both directions until it overlapped
at either end. No more fresh troops could be brought up by
McDowell, while the enemy was now constantly receiving
accessions to his ranks. The guns of Griffin's and Ricketts'
batteries were in Jackson's hands, Ricketts was wounded and
prisoner, many of the Union regiments had exhausted their
ammunition, and now at 4:30 p. m. there was nothing left but
to retreat. McDowell made the best disposition he could to
cover the retreat of the army and the word was passed along
the lines to fall back to the old position at Centerville.
The disorder which had been growing in the Federal lines all
the afternoon now reached its climax. Although the Warrenton
road was open to Centerville, a distance of about 4 miles,
most of the troops went back by the same route they had come
upon the field in the morning, and made the long detour by
of Sudley ford. With few exceptions all regimental and
brigade formations were entirely lost, every man being
on getting to Centerville as soon as possible. Fortunately
for the panic-stricken army of raw troops Johnston and
Beauregard did not press the pursuit to the extent they
have done. Stuart's cavalry followed but the rear of the
was fairly well protected and all the Confederates could do
was to pick up a straggler here and there. Bonham was
to move against the retreating army, but the brigades of
Sherman, Schenck and Keyes, which went by the pike,
too formidable an appearance and the pursuit was a tame
affair. Bonham followed, however, nearly to Centerville,
where he encountered the brigades of Blenker, Richardson and
Davies, and hurriedly fell back across Bull Run.
While the main battle was taking place near the crossing
of the Warrenton pike and the Sudley road a considerable
skirmish occurred at Blackburn's ford. It will be remembered
that Richardson was sent here to make a demonstration to
divert attention from McDowell's real purpose. In the
afternoon the Confederates became aware of the character of
this movement and Johnston sent word to D. R. Jones to cross
the run and attack Richardson, in the hope that McDowell
weaken his forces on the right to strengthen his position at
the ford. Davies was sent to the support of Richardson, and
with him was Hunt's battery. About 4 o'clock, Jones crossed
at McLean's ford, a short distance below Blackburn's, with
three regiments, and by a flank movement tried to capture
battery. Davies, from a strong position, watched the
until the regiments were beginning to deploy in line of
battle, when he ordered the 6 guns shotted with canister,
at a distance of 500 yards opened on the advancing
Confederates. One volley was sufficient. The enemy broke and
fled, not stopping until he was safely on the other side of
the run. Jones reported his loss here as 14 killed and 62
wounded. No further demonstration was made at this point and
the Union troops retired toward Centerville.
The Union losses at Bull Run were 460 killed, 1,124
wounded and 1,312 captured or missing. The Confederates lost
387 killed, 1,582 wounded and 13 missing.
Source: The Union Army, vol. 5
2nd BULL RUN
AUG. 30th, 1862
Bull Run, Va., Aug. 30, 1862. Army of Virginia and Army of
In this battle, known as the second Bull Run, is included
action at Gainesville late on the afternoon of the 28th, and
the battle of Groveton on the 29th.
Gen. Pope's forces at this time consisted of the Army of
Virginia and the Army of the Potomac. The former was made up
of three corps: the 1st, commanded by Maj.-Gen. Franz Sigel,
included the divisions of Schenck, Von Steinwehr and Schurz,
the independent brigade of Gen. Robert H. Milroy, and the
cavalry brigade of Col. John Beardsley.
The 2nd corps, under the command of Maj.-Gen. N. P. Banks,
composed of the divisions of Williams and Greene and the
cavalry brigade of Gen. John Buford.
The 3rd corps, commanded by Maj.-Gen. Irvin McDowell,
consisted of the two divisions of King and Ricketts, the
cavalry brigade of Gen. George D. Bayard, and the reserve
corps under Brig.-Gen. Samuel D. Sturgis. Reynolds' division
was temporarily attached to this corps.
In the Army of the Potomac there were also three corps, the
3rd, 5th and 9th. The 3rd was commanded by Maj.-Gen. S. P.
Heintzelman and consisted of the divisions of Kearny and
The 5th was commanded by Maj.-Gen. Fitz John Porter and
embraced the divisions of Morell and Sykes. The 9th corps
commanded by Maj.-Gen. Jesse L. Reno, included two divisions
the 1st commanded by Maj.-Gen. Isaac Stevens, and the 2nd by
Reno in person. With this corps was also the 1st provisional
brigade of the Kanawha division, commanded by Col. E. P.
The 1st brigade, 1st division of the 6th corps, Brig.-Gen.
George W. Taylor, was engaged at Bull Run bridge toward the
close of the battle, and there were some unattached
The Confederate forces-known as the Army of Northern
were under the command of Gen. Robert E. Lee, and consisted
the right and left wings. The former, commanded by Maj.-Gen.
James Longstreet, included the divisions of Anderson, D. R.
Jones, Wilcox Hood and Kemper.
The left wing, commanded by Maj.-Gen. Thomas J. Jackson, was
composed of the divisions of Taliaferro, A. P. Hill, Ewell,
and the cavalry division of Stuart.
Authorities differ as to the strength of the two armies, but
it is probable that Pope had about 63,000 men of all arms
By Stuart's dash upon Pope's headquarters at Catlett's
on the night of Aug. 22, the dispatch book of the Federal
commander fell into the hands of Lee, who learned from it
position and approximate strength of the Union forces in his
front, and determined to send part of his army to the right
and rear of Pope, with a view to capturing or destroying his
command, which was then in the vicinity of Rappahannock
Station at the point where the Orange & Alexandria
crosses the Rappahannock river.
On the 25th, Jackson was sent via Thoroughfare gap to strike
Pope in the rear, while Longstreet kept up a show of force
The next day the latter took up his march to join Jackson,
Pope got wind of the movement. At sunset on the 26th his
forces were somewhat scattered. Reno, Kearny and Hooker were
at Warrenton Junction; Sigel was at Warrenton; McDowell was
confronting Longstreet at Waterloo bridge; Banks was at
Fayetteville; Sykes was south of Bealeton, and Morell was at
Kelly's ford, below Rappahannock Station.
Orders were sent to the different commands to move toward
Gainesville and Manassas Junction, with a view to
concentration. Jackson had by this time gained the Federal
rear and occupied the road from Gainesville to Bristoe
Shortly after midnight Stuart's cavalry assaulted the Union
garrison at the junction and captured the place, together
the commissary and quartermaster stores collected there.
About 7 a. m. on the 28th Taylor's brigade of the 6th corps
came up from Alexandria and made a gallant effort to
the stores. In the skirmish Taylor was mortally wounded.
Jackson was now in imminent danger of capture or
In one respect, however, he had the advantage of his
He was aware of the positions of the various detachments of
the Union forces, and could at least hazard a shrewd guess
Pope's intentions, while the latter was puzzled as to what
Jackson might do.
The general opinion of the Federal officers seems to have
that Jackson would move to the southward, fall on the wagon
trains under Banks, then near Warrenton Junction, and join
Longstreet near Warrenton. To unite with Longstreet was of
paramount importance, and in order to do this Jackson
to move northward to the old battle-field of 13 months
where he was well acquainted with the ground, and secure a
strong position where he could hold out until Longstreet's
Accordingly on the night of the 27th Taliaferro moved by the
Sudley road and at daylight on the 28th was north of the
Warrenton pike. At 1 a. m. on the 28th A. P. Hill moved to
Centerville, and at 10 o'clock, joined Taliaferro. Ewell
crossed Bull Run at Blackburn's ford, proceeded up the east
side of the stream to the stone bridge, where he recrossed
by noon the whole command was together.
When Jackson began this movement McDowell and Sigel were in
the neighborhood of Gainesville, directly between the two
wings of the Confederate army. As an evidence that Pope had
no intimation of Jackson's purpose, he sent an order to
McDowell at 9 p. m. on the 27th to move at daylight the next
morning for Manassas.
In this report he said: "If you will move promptly and
at the earliest dawn of day upon Manassas Junction we shall
bag the whole crowd." This order caused McDowell and
waste the greater part of the 28th in a useless march to
Manassas under the impression that Jackson would wait there
McDowell appears to have had better judgment than Pope, for
his report he says: "I varied from your orders to march
'my whole force' only so far as concerned Gen. Ricketts'
division and the cavalry of Buford and Bayard. Knowing that
Longstreet would be coming through Thoroughfare, I sent
in the morning Col. Wyndham's 1st New Jersey regiment of
cavalry to the gap, and sent up other cavalry as fast as I
could get hold of it, and on receiving word the enemy was
coming through I detached Ricketts' division to hold him in
This departure from your orders to move with 'my whole
on Manassas I felt called upon to make to carry out the
of your plan of crushing the enemy at that place before his
reinforcements, of whose position I had just received
intelligence, could join, as those reinforcements, I
could be better held in check at the gap than this side of
Before his advance reached Manassas McDowell received
dispatch from headquarters, stating that the enemy was east
Bull Run, and directing him to march his command toward that
place. King's division, which had formed the rear in the
march of the forenoon, now became the advance.
As this division was marching east on the Warrenton pike
5 p. m. Jackson, thinking the Union army was in retreat,
Taliaferro's division and two brigades of Ewell's against
King. The latter met the attack bravely by throwing forward
strong skirmish line, supported by the infantry in force,
while the batteries were placed where they could enfilade
those of the enemy, compelling them to change their
For over two hours the two lines doggedly held on amidst an
incessant fire of artillery and musketry, after which the
fight waned somewhat, but was continued until 9 p. m., when
the enemy retreated from the field. About the time that this
action commenced Jackson sent a body of cavalry down the
Sudley road, to harass the rear of a retreating army as he
thought, and this detachment ran into Sigel's troops
northward to strike the pike.
Here another sharp skirmish ensued in which the Federals
victorious. These two affairs are known as the battle of
Reynolds hearing the firing, from his position near
Church, at once put his troops in motion and late in the
evening encamped near Sigel, about a mile from Groveton.
took steps to hold his position, but late that night he
learned that Ricketts' who had checked Longstreet at
Thoroughfare gap, was falling back toward Gainesville to
being cut off by a flank movement through Hopewell gap, and
after consulting his brigade commanders decided to fall back
At 1 a. m. on the 29th Ricketts also fell back toward
Manassas, moving via Bristoe Station. At daylight on the
Reynolds occupied a position on the south side of the
Warrenton pike near Groveton. Sigel's corps lay farther
near the crossing of the Sudley road. Reno and Heintzelman
were farther east, toward Centerville, while McDowell and
Porter were near Manassas Junction.
Jackson occupied the ridge north of the pike, behind the
of the unfinished railroad, his left resting on Catharpin
near Sudley springs, and his right on the heights not far
Pope proceeded on the theory that, because Jackson had left
Manassas so suddenly, the enemy was retreating, and prepared
to strike with his whole force. McDowell and Porter were
ordered to move toward Gainesville early on the 29th in
to gain the Confederate rear; Sigel was to attack the
right, and Reno and Heintzelman were to move forward and
engage him in front.
Sigel carried out his part of the program and opened the
battle of Groveton by a vigorous attack about 6 a. m. The
batteries began shelling the woods and under cover of this
artillery fire Schurz and Milroy advanced, the enemy falling
back to the embankment formed by the railroad cut, where a
fierce conflict ensued.
The Federals charged the embankment twice, but each time
repulsed. The Confederates then sallied out in pursuit, but
were checked by the fire from the Union batteries. Meantime
Reynolds had pushed Meade's brigade across the pike in an
effort to turn the enemy's right, but the movement failed
because Schenck, who was supporting it, was compelled to
withdraw Stahel's brigade and send it to the assistance of
In the advance on the railroad a gap was left between Schurz
and Milroy. This was closed by the latter but at the expense
of weakening his line. Seeing this the Confederates made a
vicious charge against Schurz and succeeded in breaking his
The men were rallied without difficulty, however, the enemy
driven back to the railroad, Schimmelfennig's brigade
possession of a part of the embankment and holding it
repeated assaults until relieved by fresh troops in the
afternoon. A little while before noon the divisions of
Hooker, Kearny Reno and Stevens arrived on the field.
Some of the troops belonging to these commands were used to
relieve those who had been engaged all morning, but aside
some skirmishing and artillery firing there was no more
aggressive action until about 4 p. m. Pope deciding to wait
for McDowell and Porter to come up.
These two officers, pursuant to Pope's order of the
evening, moved at an early hour on the Gainesville road. At
11:30 the advance was at Dawkins' branch, about 2 miles
northwest of Bethlehem Church, where the enemy was
encountered. This proved to be a portion of Longstreet's
Skirmishers were thrown forward across the branch and a few
shots exchanged, but a general engagement at this point was
not desirable. King's division, then near the church, was
ordered to march up the Sudley road and join Reynolds,
Ricketts being directed to move in the same direction soon
Later McDowell advised Porter to attack the enemy in front,
while with his own command he would move up the Sudley road
and join the forces there on the left. Porter assumed that
was to wait until he heard from McDowell before beginning
attack and remained idle all the afternoon. This conduct on
his part was made the subject of a court of inquiry.
Late in the day Pope ordered Heintzelman to attack
simultaneously at two points on the enemy's line.
sent in Hooker's and Kearny's divisions, the former against
the center of the line and the latter farther to the right
against Hill's division.
Grover's brigade led the assault made by Hooker and the
has been described as "one of the most gallant and
of the war." With loaded pieces and fixed bayonets they
advanced slowly until the enemy's fire was drawn, when they
fired a volley and rushed forward to carry the position with
the bayonet. The railroad embankment was carried in a
desperate hand-to-hand conflict in which bayonets and
muskets were the principal weapons.
The center of Jackson's line was broken by this terrific
onslaught, but Grover was not supported and the advantage
gained was of short duration as the Confederates came
into the breach, forcing Grover to retire. Kearny's attack
was delayed until after Grover's repulse and was made with
same bravery and determination.
It was successful at first and for a short time it looked as
though Jackson's left had been turned. Gregg's brigade of
Hill's division held on with the bayonet until the brigades
Lawton and Early could come to his relief, and these
reinforcements drove Kearny back.
On the march up the Sudley road King was suddenly taken ill
and the command of the division fell on Brig.-Gen. John P.
Hatch, who arrived on the field, accompanied by McDowell,
between 5 and 6 p. m.
At that moment the Confederates could be seen readjusting
their line and the impression was gained by the Union
that they were retreating. Hatch was ordered along the pike
toward Groveton to convert the retreat into a rout if
Hatch made a dashing assault on what he believed to be the
retreating army of Jackson, and encountered Hood and Evans
Longstreet's command advancing to meet him. After a sharp
action of nearly an hour Hatch was compelled to fall back,
leaving one piece of artillery in the hands of the enemy.
About the same time Reynolds undertook to renew the attack
the extreme left, but was repulsed by the severe artillery
fire of the Confederates and withdrew. The battle of
Not until the repulse of Hatch by Hood and Evans did Pope
that Longstreet had joined Jackson. Even then he was
to believe that only a small portion of the Confederate
wing had reached the scene of action.
Porter arrived at headquarters early on the morning of the
30th and tried to convince the commanding general that all
Longstreet's forces had been on the field since noon of the
preceding day. This statement Pope regarded as an excuse on
the part of Porter for not obeying orders, and, although it
was corroborated by other officers, he still clung to his
cherished opinion that Longstreet had not come up.
The battle of the 29th he considered a great victory, and
a dispatch to that effect to Gen. Halleck at 5 a. m. on the
Flushed with this notion of victory, and believing the
Confederates to be in full retreat, he resolved to continue
the offensive. Accordingly, at noon on Saturday, the 30th,
issued the following order:
"The following forces will be immediately thrown
pursuit of the enemy, and press him vigorously during the
whole day. Maj.-Gen. McDowell is assigned to the command of
Maj.-Gen. Porter's corps will push forward on the Warrenton
turnpike, followed by the divisions of Brig.-Gens. King and
Reynolds. The division of Brig.-Gen. Ricketts will pursue
Haymarket road, followed by the corps of Maj.-Gen.
Heintzelman, the necessary cavalry will be assigned to these
columns by Maj.-Gen. McDowell, to whom regular and frequent
reports will be made. The General Headquarters will be
somewhere on the Warrenton turnpike."
Jackson still held his position along the line of the
unfinished railroad. To reach the Haymarket road in his rear
Ricketts must march some 5 miles via Sudley springs. Had
Jackson been inclined to retreat by that route he could have
struck the road far in advance of Ricketts before that
could have reached a point to intercept him, But Jackson had
no intention of retreating.
He knew that Longstreet, during the night, had moved forward
to a position south of the Warrenton pike, from which he
call reinforcements if it became necessary. Hood lay across
the pike a short distance west of Groveton, ready to move to
the assistance of the right or left, or to hold in check any
movement down the pike toward Gainesville.
Behind him were Wilcox and Anderson. D. R. Jones and Kemper
lay farther south, extending the line almost to the Manassas
Gap railroad. This part of the line was effectually
by the woods and its existence was unknown to the Union
The engagement was opened by a fierce artillery fire and
Porter pushed forward Morell's division, supported by Sykes,
against Jackson's line, under the impression that the
Confederates were in retreat. Farther to the right Hatch
a determined assault on the embankment, receiving a slight
wound as he led his command to the charge.
Both attacks were gallantly made and Jackson was so sorely
pressed that he sent for reinforcements to Lee, who ordered
Longstreet to send the required aid. But Longstreet knew
reinforcements were unnecessary. He had planted his
in a position to enfilade the Federal lines as they
and now opened fire.
In less than ten minutes the Union troops were compelled to
retire, suffering heavy losses. A large part of the forces
Reno, Heintzelman and Ricketts were thrown against Jackson,
but all failed to accomplish any permanent advantage.
To advance against a sheltered foe, while at the same time
subjected to an enfilading fire of artillery, was too great
Meantime Reynolds, to whom had been assigned the duty of
guarding the left against a flank movement, had discovered
Jones and Kemper advancing from that direction and reported
to headquarters. He was first ordered to form his division
resist an attack, but was later directed to cross the pike
This gave Longstreet the opportunity, of which he was not
to avail himself, to strike the assailants on the left
and he hurriedly massed his unemployed forces south of the
pike for that purpose.
Sykes sent Warren's brigade to hold the movement in check,
it was swept aside by overwhelming numbers. All thought of
"pursuit" was now abandoned by the Union
commanders and the
struggle became one for the possession of the pike.
Longstreet advanced his whole line with a rush, Hood in
advance supported by Evans, while Kemper, Jones and Anderson
swung farther to the Confederate right until the line
east of the Sudley road. West of this road was an eminence
known as Bald hill, and on the east side of it, near the
house, was another elevation.
Both had been occupied by the Federal batteries early in the
morning, and these guns now did effective service in
the impetuous advance of the enemy. The possession of these
two hills was now the key to the situation.
Sigel was hurried to the support of the batteries; two
brigades of Ricketts' division under Gen. Tower and two more
batteries were also sent forward to Bald hill, and two
brigades of Sykes, division to the Henry hill, where they
soon afterward reinforced by heavy detachments from the
commands of Reynolds and Meade.
The battle was thus transferred to the south side of the
and the Federal army suddenly thrown on the defensive.
Jackson, as soon as he saw that Longstreet's advance was
likely to be a success, sallied out of his works and
toward the pike, but was met and turned back by Reno and
Heintzelman. The fight now centered around Bald hill.
McLean's brigade of Schenck's division was sent to the
of the troops there engaged in a stubborn defense, and held
the hill against several attacks from different directions.
Schenck was severely wounded while bringing up
Schurz, division was then sent in and for a time held the
Confederates back. In the fight here Gen. Tower was wounded
and Col. Fletcher Webster, a son of Daniel Webster, was
while leading his regiment, the 12th Mass., into action.
Longstreet massed his forces for a final assault and by main
force of superior numbers carried the hill, but not without
paying a severe penalty in killed and wounded.
At the Henry hill a similar scene was being enacted. Here
Sykes' regulars stood in readiness to receive the onset. The
two brigades were commanded by Buchanan and Chapman,
of the Mexican war, who had stood together at Molino del
Behind them were all the troops it was possible to bring to
their support, as this was the last stand that could be made
west of Bull Run. If it were lost the Union army was doomed
to utter defeat.
Already most of the troops were falling back toward the
bridge, and the possession of Henry hill was absolutely
necessary to cover the retreat.
The Confederates had exhausted most of their energies in the
capture of Bald hill but they charged Sykes with a show of
courage and enthusiasm only to be repulsed with severe loss.
Again they advanced and again the invincible line of
stood the shock.
Before the third attack could be made darkness fell with the
hill still in the hands of the Unionists. During the night
the remnant of the army fell back to Centerville.
The losses of the Union army from the 25th to the 30th,
including the engagements at Bristoe Station, Gainesville
Groveton and Bull Run, amounted to 1,747 killed, 8,452
and 4,263 captured or missing.
Lee claims to have captured 7,000 prisoners and 30 pieces of
artillery, but the facts do not bear out the statement.
The reports regarding the Confederate loss are somewhat
conflicting. Taking the figures of the different division
brigade commanders they had in the battles of the 28th to
30th, inclusive, 1,553 killed, 7,812 wounded and 109
The probabilities are that the losses on both sides have
Source: The Union Army, vol. 5, p. 187