Tag Archives: Robert Patterson

Bull Run Aftermath: Federal Command Changes

July 26, 1861 – Major General George B. McClellan arrived in Washington to take command of all Federal troops around the capital. This was the most significant of several command changes made by the Lincoln administration this month.

In the West, Major General John C. Fremont took over the Western Department, moving his headquarters from Fort Leavenworth to St. Louis. Most operations within his jurisdiction took place in Missouri. Fremont had some 23,000 troops in his department, over a third of whom were 90-day volunteers whose services was about to end.

In the Shenandoah Valley, Major General Robert Patterson learned from a newspaper that he had been relieved as commander of the Federal Army of Pennsylvania. The administration had finally run out of patience with his lack of initiative in keeping Major General Joseph E. Johnston’s Confederates from joining Brigadier General P.G.T. Beauregard at Bull Run. General George Cadwallader, one of Patterson’s brigade commanders, was also relieved.

Major General Nathaniel P. Banks replaced Patterson in command of the new Department of the Shenandoah. Banks became the fourth ranking general in the Federal army (behind only Scott, John C. Fremont, and George B. McClellan). He had been a prominent Massachusetts Republican and former U.S. House speaker who once proclaimed that he was “not acquainted with the details of military matters, and personally have no pride in them.” The department consisted of the Valley, along with Maryland’s Washington and Allegheny counties.

Major General John A. Dix replaced Cadwallader in command of the new Department of Maryland, which absorbed the Department of Pennsylvania and included all Maryland counties within 20 miles of both sides of the railroad from Annapolis to Washington.

McClellan’s Promotion

Federal Major General George B. McClellan | Image Credit: Histmag.org

Federal Major General George B. McClellan | Image Credit: Histmag.org

At 2 a.m. on July 22, General McClellan received a telegram ordering him to report to Washington and take command of Major General Irvin McDowell’s army straggling around Alexandria and the Federal capital. McClellan, whose army faced multiple Confederate forces in western Virginia, responded that he would have to somehow break through Monterey to get to Staunton en route to Washington. McClellan suggested that he should instead stay put and have his army reinforced since Johnston and Beauregard would expect no immediate threat from McDowell.

General-in-Chief Winfield Scott initially agreed, but then sent him another message later that morning: “Circumstances make your presence here necessary. Charge (General William S.) Rosecrans or some other general with your present department and come hither without delay.” McClellan relented, leaving Rosecrans to take over the Department of the Ohio.

The Lincoln administration sought a young, energetic leader for the army that had been demoralized at the Battle of Bull Run, and McClellan had recently enjoyed highly publicized success in western Virginia (even though those victories had been small compared to Bull Run). McDowell could no longer lead the army due to his defeat, even if it was not entirely his fault, and Scott was too old and infirmed to take active field command.

McClellan arrived in Washington late on the afternoon of the 26th, having hurried from his northwestern Virginia headquarters to the nearest railroad station on the Baltimore & Ohio line and traveling 150 miles by rail. McClellan wrote that he found “no army to command–only a mere collection of regiments cowering on the banks of the Potomac, some perfectly raw, others dispirited by the recent defeat.”

The 34 year-old McClellan met with President Lincoln and the cabinet at the White House the next day and officially received command of the new Military Division of the Potomac, which included the Departments of Northeastern Virginia and Washington. McClellan’s responsibilities included protecting the capital while reorganizing the army for a new drive on Richmond.

Lincoln asked McClellan to attend the afternoon cabinet meeting. McClellan agreed but first met with General-in-Chief Scott. The aging commander, hurt by charges from younger officers (including McClellan) that he was no longer competent enough to retain his rank (and stung that he had not been invited to the cabinet meeting), kept McClellan occupied long enough to prevent him from attending. Before he left, McClellan received advice from Scott’s aide, Colonel Townsend:

“You will find splendid material for soldiers sadly in need of discipline. You will be beset on all sides with applications for passes, and all sorts of things, and if you yield to the pressure your whole time will be taken up at a desk, writing. You can from the outset avoid this; another officer can do it as well in your name. The troops want to see their commanding general, and to be often inspected and reviewed by him. Another thing: there is here a fine body of regulars; I would keep that intact, as a sort of ‘Old Guard.’ It may some time save you a battle.”

The new commander spent the rest of the day riding through the soldiers’ camps and observing the undisciplined men. To his dismay, none of the approaches to Washington were guarded, and troops left their units to seek entertainment or drink whenever they pleased. McClellan met with Lincoln that night and informed him that Scott had intentionally kept him from attending the cabinet meeting. Lincoln expressed amusement at such petty behavior and asked McClellan to develop a strategy to win in Virginia and quickly end the war.

McClellan immediately set about reorganizing the army, seeking to boost morale while training the new recruits streaming into Washington every day. He resisted Lincoln’s urgings to launch a new offensive in conjunction with a Federal thrust into Tennessee, insisting that the troops be fully trained before moving out. The new commander wrote, “I see already the main causes of our recent failure; I am sure that I can remedy these, and am confident that I can lead these armies of men to victory once more.” He told his wife:

“I find myself in a new and strange position here–President, Cabinet, Genl Scott & all deferring to me–by some strange operation of magic I seem to have become the power of the land. I almost think that were I to win some small success now, I could become Dictator, or anything else that might please me—but nothing of that kind would please me—therefore I won’t be Dictator. Admirable self-denial!”

And meeting with members of Congress at the Capitol did nothing to deflate McClellan’s ego, as he wrote that he was “quite overwhelmed by the congratulations I received and the respect with which I was treated.” The politicians expressed eagerness “to give me my way in everything.”

One of McClellan’s initial confidants at the outset was Allan Pinkerton, the famous detective who had guarded Lincoln on his trip from Springfield to Washington in February. Pinkerton, alias Major E.J. Allen, reported: “It is beyond a doubt that from some source the rebels have received early, and to them, valuable notice of the intended actions of the government.” Pinkerton soon began supplying McClellan with regular, though questionable, intelligence on Confederate operations.

Military Strategy

Meanwhile, President Lincoln drafted a memorandum of “military policy suggested by the Bull Run defeat.” It included the following points:

  • The Federal blockade would be strengthened
  • Troops defending Washington would be reorganized
  • Federal forces in Virginia would be readied for a new invasion
  • Reinforcements would be sent to the Shenandoah Valley now that the ineffective Patterson had been replaced
  • Baltimore would be held under occupation while Maryland would be ruled “with a gentle(!), but firm, and certain hand”
  • Federals in the Western Theater would begin advancing, “giving rather special attention to Missouri”
  • Volunteer troops would receive proper training, with those ending their service being replaced by long-term enlistments

Whether or not the Federal commanders would agree with these points remained to be seen.

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Sources

Angle, Paul M., A Pictorial History of the Civil War Years (New York: Doubleday, 1967), p. 49; Bailey, Ronald H., Forward to Richmond: McClellan’s Peninsular Campaign (Alexandria, VA: Time-Life Books, 1983), p. 8, 14-16; Catton, Bruce, The American Heritage Picture History of the Civil War (New York: American Heritage Publishing Co., 1960), p. 108; CivilWarDailyGazette.com; Clark, Champ, Decoying the Yanks: Jackson’s Valley Campaign (Alexandria, VA: Time-Life Books, 1983), p. 59-60; Davis, William C., First Blood: Fort Sumter to Bull Run (Alexandria, VA: Time-Life Books, 1983), p. 155; Denney, Robert E., The Civil War Years: A Day-by-Day Chronicle (New York: Gramercy Books, 1992 [1998 edition]), p. 60-61; Fredriksen, John C., Civil War Almanac (New York: Checkmark Books, 2007), p. 50-51; Long, E.B. with Long, Barbara, The Civil War Day by Day (New York: Da Capo Press, Inc., 1971), p. 98-102; McPherson, James M., Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era (Oxford History of the United States Book 6, Oxford University Press, Kindle Edition, 1988), p. 348, 350, 359; Pollard, Edward A., Southern History of the War (New York: The Fairfax Press, 1990), p. 131; Sommers, Richard J., Historical Times Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Civil War (New York: Harper & Row, 1986, Patricia L. Faust ed.), p. 598; Stanchak, John E., Historical Times Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Civil War (New York: Harper & Row, 1986, Patricia L. Faust ed.), p. 561-62, 805-06; Time-Life Editors, Spies, Scouts and Raiders: Irregular Operations (Alexandria, VA: Time-Life Books, 1983), p. 8, 22; Ward, Geoffrey C., Burns, Ric, Burns, Ken, The Civil War (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1990), p. 62-69, 75; Wert, Jeffry D., Historical Times Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Civil War (New York: Harper & Row, 1986, Patricia L. Faust ed.), p. 12, 18, 478-79, 537, 573, 598-99, 676, 814-15

The Bull Run Aftermath

July 22, 1861 – News of yesterday’s Confederate victory spread throughout North and South. Southerners celebrated while northerners resolved to continue the fight.

Confederate President Jefferson Davis | Image Credit: Wikispaces.com

Confederate President Jefferson Davis | Image Credit: Wikispaces.com

Rain began pouring on the battlefield on the night of July 21. The chaotic Federal retreat had compelled Confederate President Jefferson Davis to order a pursuit all the way to Washington, reasoning that such panicked troops could not defend the capital. But the rain prompted Davis to modify his order to begin the pursuit the next morning.

In a late-night meeting between Davis and his top commanders, Generals Joseph E. Johnston and P.G.T. Beauregard, the commanders argued against any pursuit at all. They explained that their men were too disorganized and exhausted to advance, especially in the heavy rain and mud. They did not have enough food or ammunition for another major battle, and they lacked the equipment needed for what could be a long campaign against Washington. Moreover, the Davis administration had maintained that the Confederacy would fight only to secure independence, not to conquer the U.S.

The generals provided intelligence showing that Washington’s defenses were too strong to penetrate. Davis, not wanting to override the commanders who knew their troops best, relented. Meanwhile, Confederates continued gathering their wounded, burying their dead, and rounding up prisoners. The captured Federals and civilians would be transported to Richmond and treated as prisoners of war as leverage against threats from the Lincoln administration to execute Confederate captives as traitors or pirates.

Davis awarded Beauregard a promotion from brigadier to full general for his battle performance:

“Sir: Appreciating your services in the battle of Manassas, and on several other occasions during the existing war, as affording the highest evidence of your skill as a commander, your gallantry as a soldier, and your zeal as a patriot, you are promoted to be a general in the army of the Confederate States of America, and, with the consent of Congress, will be duly commissioned accordingly.”

16th U.S. President Abraham Lincoln | Image Credit: Bing public domain

16th U.S. President Abraham Lincoln | Image Credit: Bing public domain

In Washington, President Abraham Lincoln met with his cabinet on the night of the 21st and listened to eyewitness accounts of the Federal disaster. Emma S. Edmonds, a Federal field nurse at Georgetown Hospital, described the post-battle chaos:

“Washington at that time presented a picture striking illustrative of military life in its most depressing form… Every bar-room and groggery seemed filled to overflowing with officers and men, and military discipline was nearly, or quite, forgotten for a time… The hospitals in Washington, Alexandria and Georgetown were crowded with wounded, sick, discouraged soldiers. That extraordinary march from Bull Run, through rain, mud, chagrin, did more towards filling the hospitals than did the battle itself… Measels, dysentery and typhoid fever were the prevailing diseases after the retreat…”

Federal troops continued straggling into Washington the following day. Walt Whitman, poet and correspondent for the Brooklyn Standard, wrote:

“The defeated troops commenced pouring into Washington over the Long Bridge at daylight on Monday, 22nd–day drizzling all through with rain… The sun rises, but shines not. The men appear, at first sparsely and shame-faced enough, then thicker, in the streets of Washington–appear in Pennsylvania Avenue, and on the steps and basement entrances… Amid the deep excitement, crowds and motion, and desperate eagerness, it seems strange to see many, very many, of the soldiers sleeping–in the midst of all sleeping sound…”

Many panicked soldiers hurried to the railroad station to take trains back home, but Federals officials put the railroads under heavy guard. Some troops nearly swamped a boat coming from Alexandria by rushing onto its decks. Northerners learned of the Federal fiasco in the newspapers, and gloom pervaded the northern states. A New Yorker wrote, “Today will be known as BLACK MONDAY. We are utterly and disgracefully routed, beaten, whipped.”

Major General Irvin McDowell, commanding the Federals at Bull Run, rode into Arlington and issued orders posting troops to defend Washington, just across the Potomac. General-in-Chief Winfield Scott also ordered Federals to garrison the forts surrounding the capital and assigned 15,000 men for McDowell to post on the Virginia side of the river in defense. The rest of McDowell’s army now fell under Major General Joseph Mansfield, who commanded all troops in the capital.

Northern pundits and officials offered many reasons for the defeat. Some blamed Major General Robert Patterson for failing to stop Johnston from reinforcing Beauregard; this had been remedied just before the battle when Scott removed Patterson from command. Others blamed Scott for going through with the battle even though the green Federals troops were not prepared; few acknowledged that Scott had not wanted to fight in the first place but only succumbed to pressure from the northern public and the Lincoln administration. Others blamed McDowell and his officers for a lack of leadership. McDowell had actually performed well during the battle, but his strategy had been too complicated for such inexperienced soldiers to execute.

Lincoln finally concluded that the Federals had fought bravely and would have won the battle had Johnston not arrived with reinforcements. The Federals may have been routed, but they could be reorganized and trained to fight again. A correspondent for the London Times reflected most northerners’ sentiment by predicting: “This prick in the great Northern balloon will let out a quantity of poisonous gas, and rouse the people to a sense of the nature of the conflict on which they have entered.”

In the Confederacy, southerners celebrated the dramatic victory on the 22nd. Confederates at Manassas collected the vast quantity of arms, supplies, and equipment that the retreating Federals had left behind. Many soldiers expressed astonishment at the extravagant stores they found, especially since they were almost out of food.

Davis met with Johnston and Beauregard once more on the night of the 22nd, where the question of whether to pursue the Federals came up again. The rains had turned the roads to mud, and the Potomac River had swelled, making it very difficult to cross. Not only were the Confederate troops just as inexperienced as the Federals, but they were hungry and tired as well. And regarding Washington’s fortifications, Beauregard said, “They have spared no expense.” Unaware of the chaos and panic sweeping the capital at that time, the men resolved once and for all not to pursue.

In Richmond, the Provisional Confederate Congress received Davis’s dispatches from the battlefield. Based on these, Congress approved resolutions thanking God and calling on citizens to offer thanksgiving and praise to God for the victory at Manassas. The resolutions also condemned the bloodshed caused by the Federal invasion and offered to the families of those who died in battle assurance that “the names of the gallant dead as the champions of free and constitutional liberty” would be remembered in the people’s hearts.

In the North, the mood was balanced between grim determination to continue the struggle and hopeless despair. Horace Greeley, influential editor of the New York Daily Tribune, exemplified the latter. Greeley had been one of the most vocal supporters of destroying the Confederacy before the battle; his newspaper had published the war cry, “On to Richmond!” But on July 29, Greeley wrote to Lincoln stating that he now had a change of heart after “my seventh sleepless night–yours, too, doubtless.”

He wrote, “You are not considered a great man, and I am a hopelessly broken one… Can the rebels be beaten after all that has occurred, and in view of the actual state of feeling caused by our late awful disaster?” If the Confederacy could not be defeated, Greeley advised, “do not fear to sacrifice yourself to your country… every drop of blood henceforth shed in this quarrel will be wantonly, wickedly shed, and the guilt will rest heavily on the soul of every promoter of the crime.”

Greeley recommended negotiating an armistice “with a view to a peaceful adjustment.” He then asserted that in New York City, “the gloom… is funereal–for our dead at Bull Run were many, and they lie unburied yet. On every brow sits sullen, scorching, black despair. If it is best for the country and for mankind that we make peace with the rebels at once and on their own terms, do not shrink even from that.”

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Sources

Catton, Bruce, The American Heritage Picture History of the Civil War (New York: American Heritage Publishing Co., 1960), p. 95; CivilWarDailyGazette.com; Davis, Jefferson, The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government (Kindle Edition 2008, 1889), Loc 6177-87, 6293, 6305-16, 6730; Davis, William C., First Blood: Fort Sumter to Bull Run (Alexandria, VA: Time-Life Books, 1983), p. 150-52; Denney, Robert E., The Civil War Years: A Day-by-Day Chronicle (New York: Gramercy Books, 1992 [1998 edition]), p. 59-61; Donald, David Herbert, Lincoln (Simon & Schuster, Kindle Edition, 2011), Loc 6455; Foote, Shelby, The Civil War, A Narrative: Fort Sumter to Perryville (New York: Vintage Books, 1958), p. 85; Fredriksen, John C., Civil War Almanac (New York: Checkmark Books, 2007), p. 52; Long, E.B. with Long, Barbara, The Civil War Day by Day (New York: Da Capo Press, Inc., 1971), p. 98-100, 102; McPherson, James M., Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era (Oxford History of the United States Book 6, Oxford University Press, Kindle Edition, 1988), p. 345, 347; Pollard, Edward A., Southern History of the War (New York: The Fairfax Press, 1990), p. 121, 130; White, Howard Ray, Bloodstains, An Epic History of the Politics that Produced and Sustained the American Civil War and the Political Reconstruction that Followed (Southernbooks, Kindle Edition, 2012), Q361

Sparring and Final Planning in Northern Virginia

July 18, 1861 – The Federal Army of Northeastern Virginia arrived at Centreville, unaware that troops of the Confederate Army of the Shenandoah were en route by rail to reinforce their outnumbered comrades at Manassas.

By the 18th, it had taken the Federals two days to march 22 miles in the sweltering 90-degree heat. Major General Irvin McDowell, army commander, directed a reconnaissance in force led by Brigadier General Daniel Tyler and Colonel Israel B. Richardson, with orders not to bring on a general engagement. They advanced toward Blackburn’s Ford on Bull Run to probe near the Confederate right-center, but they went too far, and skirmishing erupted with Confederates defending both Blackburn’s and Mitchell’s fords.

Federal Gen Irvin McDowell and Confederate Gen P.G.T. Beauregard | Image Credit: Wikipedia.org

Federal Gen Irvin McDowell and Confederate Gen P.G.T. Beauregard | Image Credit: Wikipedia.org

Richardson ordered a withdrawal when Colonel James Longstreet’s three Confederate brigades stopped his 1st Massachusetts and two cannon. But Tyler defied McDowell’s orders by sending more infantry and artillery into the fight. Longstreet counterattacked with support from General Jubal A. Early, but the green troops bungled the effort. Nevertheless, the Confederates prevented the Federals from reaching Bull Run, and both sides fell back to reorganize. The Federals suffered 83 casualties, while Confederates lost 15 killed and 53 wounded.

Colonel William T. Sherman, whose brigade was part of Tyler’s force, described the combat: “From our camp, at Centreville, we heard the cannonading, and then a sharp musketry-fire… We marched the three miles at the double-quick, arrived in time to relieve Richardson’s brigade, which was just drawing back from the ford, worsted, and stood for half an hour or so under fire of artillery, which killed four or five of my men…”

Confederates celebrated this minor victory, as President Jefferson Davis wired Brigadier General P.G.T. Beauregard, overall commander: “God be praised for your successful beginning.” McDowell expressed annoyance at Tyler’s disobedience, and the Federals had been forced to retreat. However, they gained important intelligence regarding Confederate strength, and from this McDowell deemed the Confederate front too strong to penetrate. He spent another two days collecting supplies and reconnoitering the Confederate lines before finally deciding on a flank attack.

While Beauregard’s Confederate Army of the Potomac held an eight-mile line along Bull Run, Major General Joseph E. Johnston prepared to reinforce him with his 11,000-man Army of the Shenandoah. Johnston wrote to Adjutant General Samuel Cooper on the 18th: “(Federal) General (Robert) Patterson, who had been at Bunker Hill since Monday, seems to have moved yesterday to Charlestown, 23 miles to the east of Winchester. Unless he prevents it, we shall move toward General Beauregard to-day…”

Federal Gen Robert Patterson and Confederate Gen J.E. Johnston | Image Credit: Wikipedia.org

Federal Gen Robert Patterson and Confederate Gen J.E. Johnston | Image Credit: Wikipedia.org

Patterson’s move to Charles Town made him too far from Johnston’s forces at Winchester to stop them from reinforcing Beauregard. Patterson had planned to attack the Confederates on the 18th, but he reported to General-in-Chief Winfield Scott that not only had Johnston been neutralized at Winchester, but “he had also been reinforced.” Patterson also expressed reluctance to attack because his 90-day enlistments would expire soon, and he complained that orders from Washington did not clearly state whether he should attack or merely keep Johnston occupied.

Before Patterson could get his Federals in motion to do anything, Colonel J.E.B. “Jeb” Stuart’s Confederate cavalry created a diversion in their front near Charles Town. Meanwhile, Johnston had his troops moving out of Winchester by 12 p.m., with Brigadier General Thomas J. Jackson’s brigade in the lead. Officers read a general proclamation to their men, explaining that Beauregard needed help to repel an impending attack.

The troops, initially excited about going into battle, soon became exhausted by the eastward march through the Blue Ridge Mountains. The Confederates stopped at Piedmont, the nearest stop on the Manassas Gap Railroad, and boarded train cars to finish their journey to Beauregard. This marked the first large-scale strategic troop movement by railroad in military history. By day’s end, four of Johnston’s brigades totaling some 8,300 men were on eastbound trains.

Meanwhile, Scott in Washington received intelligence that Johnston had given Patterson the slip. Scott asked his general: “Has he not stolen a march and sent reinforcements to Manassas Junction?”

McDowell spent July 19th resupplying and reorganizing his army at Centreville, as well as reworking his plan of attack based on yesterday’s engagement at Blackburn’s Ford. Stragglers trickled in and out of camps throughout the day. Meanwhile, Beauregard spent the day strengthening his defenses along Bull Run.

Johnston continued moving his army eastward on the eight-hour train ride from the Piedmont Station to Manassas Junction. Excessive traffic on the single-track railroad prevented more reinforcements from arriving, but they would be coming soon. Jackson’s men arrived near 4 p.m., and their commander surprised Beauregard and his staff by entering their headquarters at the Wilmer McLean house and announcing his arrival.

During the day, a messenger delivered instructions for Johnston from Beauregard to move his forces via Aldie and arrange them on the Federal right flank. Johnston disregarded this, staying with his railroad transport plan. He then wrote to President Davis, asking him to clarify whether Johnston or Beauregard would be the ranking officer over the combined force. Davis made it clear that Johnston outranked Beauregard:

“You are a general in the Confederate Army, possessed of the power attaching to that rank. You will know how to make the exact knowledge of Brigadier-General Beauregard, as well of the ground as of the troops and preparation, avail for the success of the object in which you cooperate. The zeal of both assures me of harmonious action.”

Johnston arrived at Manassas Junction around 12 p.m. on the 20th with another 1,400 reinforcements in three brigades led by Colonel Francis S. Bartow, and Brigadier Generals Barnard E. Bee and Edmund Kirby Smith. By this time, some 9,000 of Johnston’s Confederates had traveled 50 miles by rail in just two days. Brigadier General Theophilus H. Holmes’s brigade also arrived from Aquia Creek, as did Colonel Wade Hampton’s Legion.

Since Beauregard had been at Manassas for nearly two months and had better knowledge of the region, Johnston allowed him to retain top command. Johnston also approved his plan to mass the Confederates on the right and attack the Federal left, despite its complexity for such green troops. Ironically, McDowell also finalized a plan to move right and attack the Confederate left. Had both armies moved at the same time, they would have swung in a circle. But if one moved before the other, the moving army would put the other on the defensive.

McDowell initially planned to move out on the 20th, but delays in supply delivery compelled him to postpone until the next day. Secretary of War Simon Cameron, visiting McDowell’s headquarters, sent a report on the army to President Lincoln. Other politicians and notable civilians came out from Washington to mingle with the Federals and witness the impending battle. Most Federals expressed confidence, despite hearing the train whistles at Manassas Junction; they believed that the trains carried small bodies of troops from Richmond, not Johnston’s entire army.

McDowell met with his division and brigade commanders that night. He issued final orders for tomorrow’s action, basing his decision to assault the enemy left on the repulse at Blackburn’s Ford two days ago. The Federals would move against an unguarded crossing on the Confederate left, with one division feigning an attack on the Stone Bridge while two divisions crossed Bull Run north of the bridge, near Sudley Springs.

Although McDowell sought no advice, some officers expressed concerns that Johnston may have reinforced Beauregard. McDowell, who himself had originally advised against such a hasty campaign as this, would not consider any further objections; the time for fighting had arrived. The Federals began moving in the evening darkness.

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Sources

Catton, Bruce, The American Heritage Picture History of the Civil War (New York: American Heritage Publishing Co., 1960), p. 93; CivilWarDailyGazette.com; Davis, Jefferson, The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government (Kindle Edition 2008, 1889), Loc 6090-102; Davis, William C., First Blood: Fort Sumter to Bull Run (Alexandria, VA: Time-Life Books, 1983), p. 122-24; Denney, Robert E., The Civil War Years: A Day-by-Day Chronicle (New York: Gramercy Books, 1992 [1998 edition]), p. 58-59; Fredriksen, John C., Civil War Almanac (New York: Checkmark Books, 2007), p. 46-47; Long, E.B. with Long, Barbara, The Civil War Day by Day (New York: Da Capo Press, Inc., 1971), p. 96-98; Longacre, Edward G., Historical Times Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Civil War (New York: Harper & Row, 1986, Patricia L. Faust ed.), p. 675; McPherson, James M., Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era (Oxford History of the United States Book 6, Oxford University Press, Kindle Edition, 1988), p. 339; Pollard, Edward A., Southern History of the War (New York: The Fairfax Press, 1990), p. 102-05; Wert, Jeffry D., Historical Times Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Civil War (New York: Harper & Row, 1986, Patricia L. Faust ed.), p. 573

Federals Mobilize in Northern Virginia

July 16, 1861 – The largest army ever assembled in North America went into motion at 2 p.m., targeting the Confederate army at Manassas.

Major General Irvin McDowell | Image Credit: Wikipedia.org

Major General Irvin McDowell | Image Credit: Wikipedia.org

Major General Irvin McDowell, commanding the Federal Army of Northeastern Virginia around Alexandria and Washington, had been planning his march on Richmond since conferring with President Lincoln and other top advisors at the White House on June 29. The initial invasion launch date had been July 8, but delays in fulfilling supply requisitions and organizing troops pushed it back over a week.

Meanwhile, Brigadier General P.G.T. Beauregard’s Confederate Army of the Potomac guarded the vital railroad depot at Manassas Junction. When Beauregard received intelligence that 40,000 Federals were poised to attack his army, he wrote to his friend, Congressman Louis T. Wigfall of Texas, “How can it be expected to that I shall be able to maintain my ground unless reinforced immediately?”

Beauregard asked Wigfall to convince President Jefferson Davis to send reinforcements. Then, he wrote, “If I could only get the enemy to attack me… I would stake my reputation on the handsomest victory that could be hoped for.” Beauregard then ordered his forward units, particularly Brigadier General Milledge Bonham’s Confederates at Fairfax Court House, to fall back if pressured to avoid having the army defeated in detail.

A Confederate spy named Bettie Duval delivered important information to Bonham. Duval worked for prominent Washington socialite Rose O’Neal Greenhow, an attractive widow who ran a spy ring in the capital and gained valuable intelligence from politicians eager to make time with her; these politicians allegedly included Henry Wilson of Massachusetts, chairman of the Senate Military Affairs Committee.

Greenhow’s message came pinned in Duval’s hair. It informed Bonham that General McDowell planned to begin moving his army into northern Virginia on July 16. This message was forwarded to Colonel Thomas Jordan, Beauregard’s chief of staff.

Around Washington, the Federals continued preparing to move. General-in-Chief Winfield Scott met with Brigadier General Daniel Tyler, commanding McDowell’s 1st division, and informed him that the army would begin moving on the 14th. Tyler expressed concern that Major General Joseph E. Johnston’s Confederate Army of the Shenandoah could move eastward and join forces with Beauregard.

Scott took issue with Tyler’s concern, saying, “(Major General Robert) Patterson will take care of Joe Johnston.” Tyler replied that he would be “agreeably surprised if we do not have to go against both (Johnston and Beauregard).” The Federals spent the 14th reconnoitering the area around Alexandria as McDowell planned to move out the next day.

In Richmond, President Davis met with Major General Robert E. Lee, his military advisor, and Congressman James Chesnut, Jr. of South Carolina, representing General Beauregard, in the parlor of Davis’s temporary residence at the Spotswood Hotel. This was the first Confederate council of war. Chesnut conveyed an elaborate plan devised by Beauregard in which he needed 20,000 reinforcements from Johnston to destroy McDowell’s army. Then he would transfer the reinforcements plus another 10,000 men back to Johnston so he would destroy Patterson’s army in the Shenandoah Valley. Johnston would then invade Maryland and threaten Washington from the north while Beauregard advanced and threatened Washington from the south.

Lee opposed the plan because he doubted that Johnston could overcome the Federals’ numerical superiority in the Valley. He also doubted that any Confederate army could penetrate the massive defensive fortifications surrounding Washington. Davis sided with Lee. The men also considered an alternate plan that had been submitted earlier in which Beauregard and Johnston would conduct coordinated operations.

July 15th came and went with no Federal movement; instead McDowell held another meeting with his top subordinates to finalize plans for moving the next day. Each division commander received separate orders, with their units to begin moving by 3 p.m. One division would advance along the Orange & Alexandria Railroad toward Brentsville, two divisions would move down the Little River Turnpike to Fairfax Court House, and the fourth division would cut off any retreating Confederates at Vienna and Germantown.

On the morning of the 16th, McDowell issued marching orders to the officers and men: “The troops will march to the front this afternoon. The three following things will not be pardonable in any commander: 1st. To come upon a battery or breastwork without a knowledge of its position. 2d. To be surprised. 3d. To fall back. Advance guards, with vedettes well in front and flankers and vigilance, will guard against the first and second.”

With 35,000 troops, McDowell commanded the largest army the U.S. had ever assembled (by comparison, General-in-Chief Scott led only 14,000 during the Mexican War). Outnumbering Beauregard by over 10,000 men, McDowell had 50 infantry regiments, 49 cannon in 10 field batteries, and one cavalry battalion. Among McDowell’s troops were nearly 10,000 Regular Army officers and men; all five division commanders and eight of the 11 brigade commanders were Regulars, and most had combat experience. Moreover, McDowell himself had one of the finest reputations in the Federal military.

After over a week of delay, the troops finally began moving out of Alexandria at 2 p.m., marching west, away from the Potomac River. Their first objective was to reach Fairfax Court House, 13 miles away, by 8 a.m. tomorrow. Their final objective was Manassas Junction, 30 miles southwest of Washington, where the Manassas Gap and Orange & Alexandria Railroad crossed.

Cheerful soldiers sang “John Brown’s Body” as they marched. Most of them, unlike their officers, were volunteers with no marching experience, especially in summer heat. Many drank all their water right away without realizing there was no way to get more. They broke ranks to find shade or pick berries, tossing away their heavy equipment to ease their burden. The army covered just six miles on the first day, giving the Confederates much-needed time to prepare.

Colonel William T. Sherman, one of the experienced officers, later wrote: “The march demonstrated little save the general laxity of discipline, for with all my personal efforts I could not prevent the men from straggling for water, blackberries, or any thing on the way they fancied.”

At 8 p.m. on the 16th, Beauregard received a message from Rose O’Neal Greenhow: “McDowell has been ordered to advance.” At this time, Beauregard’s 22,000-man army was posted along an eight-mile line. He immediately ordered his outposts to pull back and began arranging his army in defenses behind Bull Run while awaiting reinforcements from Johnston in the Shenandoah Valley.

The Federal army resumed its march early on the 17th. Colonel Sherman wrote about his brigade: “I selected for the field the 13th New York, Col. Quimby; the 69th New York, Col. Corcoran; the 79th New York, Col. Cameron; and the 2nd Wisconsin, Lt.-Col. Peck. These were all good strong volunteer regiments, pretty well commanded; and I had reason to believe that I had one of the best brigades in the whole army… The other regiment, the 29th New York, Col. Bennett, was destined to be left behind in charge of the forts and camps during our absence, which was expected to be short…”

Advance troops from the middle column, led by Brigadier General David Hunter, began entering Fairfax Court House around 10 a.m., two hours after the entire army was supposed to be there. McDowell had hoped to surprise the Confederates stationed there, but General Bonham had already pulled back seven miles west to Centreville, leaving large quantities of supplies behind.

Federals did not fully occupy Fairfax Court House until that night; troops raised the U.S. flag and looted the town until Regular soldiers finally restored order. The army lacked cohesion, even at the top, as McDowell did not even know where Brigadier General Samuel P. Heintzelman’s southern column was until it reached Fairfax. McDowell halted the men for the night, asserting that they needed rest. The next objective was Centreville, nine miles further and within striking distance of the final objective of Manassas Junction.

On the Confederate side, Beauregard wired President Davis: “The enemy has assailed by outposts in heavy force. I have fallen back on the line of Bull Run near Manassas, and will make a stand at Mitchell’s Ford.” Beauregard said that he would fall back to the Rappahannock River if necessary and requested reinforcements.

Davis promptly sent three regiments and an artillery battery from Fredericksburg to Manassas. He then directed Confederate Adjutant General Samuel Cooper to telegraph Johnston in the Shenandoah Valley: “General Beauregard is attacked. To strike the enemy a decisive blow, a junction of all your effective force will be needed. If practicable, make the movement, sending your sick and baggage to Culpepper Court-House, either by railroad or by Warrenton. In all the arrangements exercise your discretion.”

Beauregard sent a wire on the afternoon of the 17th: “I believe this proposed movement of General Johnston is too late. Enemy will attack me in force tomorrow morning.” However, Johnston easily disengaged from “Granny” Patterson, who had disregarded orders by withdrawing to Charles Town and not keeping pressure on Johnston near Winchester. This gave Johnston freedom to move wherever he wished.

Patterson believed that McDowell had already fought the big battle on the 16th and there was no longer any need to keep Johnston from reinforcing Beauregard. However, General-in-Chief Scott notified Patterson that the battle had been delayed and, unaware that Patterson had fallen back to Charles Town, reminded Patterson to keep Johnston occupied. Patterson replied that he would attack the next day.

However, Johnston planned to move eastward and join forces with Beauregard at dawn on July 18, before Patterson could stop him.

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Sources

Catton, Bruce, The American Heritage Picture History of the Civil War (New York: American Heritage Publishing Co., 1960), p. 100; CivilWarDailyGazette.com; Davis, Jefferson, The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government (Kindle Edition 2008, 1889), Loc 6067-78; Davis, William C., First Blood: Fort Sumter to Bull Run (Alexandria, VA: Time-Life Books, 1983), p. 111, 113, 117; Denney, Robert E., The Civil War Years: A Day-by-Day Chronicle (New York: Gramercy Books, 1992 [1998 edition]), p. 57-58; Foote, Shelby, The Civil War, A Narrative: Fort Sumter to Perryville (New York: Vintage Books, 1958), p. 57-58, 70-72; Fredriksen, John C., Civil War Almanac (New York: Checkmark Books, 2007), p. 45-46; Freeman, Douglas Southall, Lee (Scribner, Kindle Edition, 2008), Loc 2675; Long, E.B. with Long, Barbara, The Civil War Day by Day (New York: Da Capo Press, Inc., 1971), p. 95-96; Longacre, Edward G., Historical Times Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Civil War (New York: Harper & Row, 1986, Patricia L. Faust ed.), p. 246-47; McPherson, James M., Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era (Oxford History of the United States Book 6, Oxford University Press, Kindle Edition, 1988), p. 339; Pollard, Edward A., Southern History of the War (New York: The Fairfax Press, 1990), p. 101; Wert, Jeffry D., Historical Times Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Civil War (New York: Harper & Row, 1986, Patricia L. Faust ed.), p. 472; White, Howard Ray, Bloodstains, An Epic History of the Politics that Produced and Sustained the American Civil War and the Political Reconstruction that Followed (Southernbooks, Kindle Edition, 2012), Q361

Movements in the Shenandoah Valley

July 9, 1861 – The standoff between Federal Major General Robert Patterson and Confederate Major General Joseph E. Johnston continued in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, as each commander waited to see what the other would do next.

As July began, Johnston’s Army of the Shenandoah, numbering some 11,000 men, held various positions in the Valley near the Potomac River. Patterson, commanding about 13,000 troops in his Army of Pennsylvania, remained on the Maryland side of the Potomac around Hagerstown and Williamsport. Another Federal force in Maryland under Colonel Charles P. Stone prepared to leave Poolesville after their Rockville expedition and join forces with Patterson.

Major General Robert Patterson | Image Credit: Wikimedia.org

Major General Robert Patterson | Image Credit: Wikimedia.org

Patterson received a dispatch from General-in-Chief Winfield Scott on July 1 explaining the results of the military conference at the White House on June 29. Scott stated “in confidence” that the Lincoln administration sought to “move a column of about 35,000 men early next week” toward Manassas. It was understood that Patterson needed to prevent Johnston from moving east to reinforce General P.G.T. Beauregard’s Confederate Army of the Potomac at Manassas. But Patterson still needed to cross the Potomac first.

After numerous delays and objections, Patterson finally crossed the river at dawn the next morning. Johnston’s advance unit, a 2,000-man brigade led by Colonel Thomas J. Jackson at Martinsburg, spotted the Federal approach and took positions in woods at Falling Waters and Hoke’s Run.

A small skirmish of less than 30 minutes ensued, after which the Confederates slowly fell back two and a half miles from their camps. Colonel J.E.B. “Jeb” Stuart’s Confederate cavalry took 50 prisoners along the way. Federals suffered 10 killed and 18 wounded in addition to the 50 captured; Confederates lost 11 wounded and eight or nine “missing.” Patterson erroneously reported that he had captured 500 prisoners in the fight while sustaining only three casualties; he also stated that he had faced 3,500 men when he truly faced only about 350.

Back in Maryland, Colonel Stone’s Federals moved some 15 miles north of Rockville to Point of Rocks on the Potomac River. Some of his regiments farthest north were at Sandy Hook, opposite Harpers Ferry, which they reported had been abandoned by Confederates.

Meanwhile, Patterson reported that his men had passed through Martinsburg and were in “hot pursuit of the enemy.” Jackson’s Confederates withdrew farther south to Darkesville, near Inwood. Johnston withdrew to Winchester, where he called for two brigades as reinforcements and up to 7,000 men from Beauregard’s Confederates in northern Virginia.

By July 6, Jackson’s forces had joined with Johnston’s main army as it withdrew from Darkesville to Winchester. Jackson received a promotion to brigadier general after Johnston had praised Jackson’s “courage and conduct” at the Falling Waters engagement. Jackson wrote to his wife that it was “beyond what I anticipated, as I only expected it to be in the volunteer forces of the State.” He added, “I want my brigade to feel that it can itself whip Patterson’s whole army, and I believe we can do it.”

Confederate General J.E. Johnston | Image Credit: CivilWarDailyGazette.com

Confederate General J.E. Johnston | Image Credit: CivilWarDailyGazette.com

Johnston reported from Winchester on the 9th: “Similar information from other sources gives me the impression that the reenforcements arriving at Martinsburg amount to 7 or 8,000. I have estimated the enemy’s force hitherto, you may remember, at 18,000…” Johnston feared that Patterson would attack him, unaware that Patterson was only tasked with keeping Johnston occupied while the main Federal attack was to come against Beauregard at Manassas.

That same day, Patterson postponed his scheduled advance on Winchester; his reinforcements from the Rockville expedition were fatigued, and several of Patterson’s subordinates disagreed with his plan. Moreover, General-in-Chief Scott told Patterson that he heard Johnston was planning to destroy Patterson’s army, move southward to destroy McClellan’s army in the Kanawha Valley, and then move to join Beauregard. Unsubstantiated rumors such as these also made Patterson hesitant.

Patterson wanted to camp his army at Charlestown, not Martinsburg. Scott consented but directed him to stay on the Virginia side of the Potomac to continue threatening Johnston, “except in extreme case.” Scott asked Patterson to contact him on Tuesday the 16th; this was a code informing Patterson that Major General Irvin McDowell’s Federals would advance on Manassas on that date.

After five days of probing and scouting, Patterson reported to his superior that Johnston was “pretending to be engaged in fortifying Winchester,” but he was actually preparing to withdraw “beyond striking distance” if Patterson advanced. However, Patterson remained at Martinsburg, 25 miles from Johnston, despite receiving Scott’s permission to move to Charlestown, which could better prevent Johnston from linking with Beauregard. Federal troops began calling Patterson “Granny” for his reluctance to give battle.

Before dawn on the 15th, Patterson’s Federals finally began advancing southward on the Valley Pike toward Winchester. Federal pickets, supported by cavalry, skirmished with Confederate cavalry making a stand near Bunker Hill, eight miles north of Winchester. After finally driving the Confederates back to Winchester, Patterson halted the advance. He reported that he did not know when he would continue, “and if I did, I would not tell my own father.”

Patterson still would not move to Charlestown, which covered Leesburg and Winchester. On July 16, Patterson was informed that McDowell would attack Beauregard that day, so he planned to attack Johnston tomorrow. However, Patterson was also told that Johnston’s army numbered 42,000 men with 60 cannon, so his subordinates convinced him not to attack and instead withdraw to Charlestown, 17 miles from Winchester. This opened the path for Johnston to link with Beauregard.

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Sources

CivilWarDailyGazette.com; Davis, Jefferson, The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government (Kindle Edition 2008, 1889), Loc 6043-54; Denney, Robert E., The Civil War Years: A Day-by-Day Chronicle (New York: Gramercy Books, 1992 [1998 edition]), p. 54-55, 57-58; Fredriksen, John C., Civil War Almanac (New York: Checkmark Books, 2007), p. 45; Freeman, Douglas Southall, Lee (Scribner, Kindle Edition, 2008), Loc 2651; Long, E.B. with Long, Barbara, The Civil War Day by Day (New York: Da Capo Press, Inc., 1971), p. 90; Longacre, Edward G., Historical Times Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Civil War (New York: Harper & Row, 1986, Patricia L. Faust ed.), p. 675; Wert, Jeffry D., Historical Times Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Civil War (New York: Harper & Row, 1986, Patricia L. Faust ed.), p. 573

The Bull Run Campaign Begins

June 29, 1861 – President Abraham Lincoln held a special cabinet meeting in which Major General Irvin McDowell explained his plan to invade northern Virginia, crush the Confederate army, and capture Richmond.

Major General Irvin McDowell | Image Credit: Wikipedia.org

Major General Irvin McDowell | Image Credit: Wikipedia.org

Five days earlier, McDowell had responded to General-in-Chief Winfield Scott’s request to submit a strategy on how to defeat the Confederates in Virginia. McDowell’s plan was very specific, with two assumptions:

  • Major General Robert Patterson’s Federals in the Shenandoah Valley of western Virginia were too far west to join forces with him;
  • Patterson would occupy Leesburg, Virginia and thus keep General Joseph E. Johnston’s Confederate Army of the Shenandoah from linking with the Confederate Army of the Potomac in northern Virginia under General P.G.T. Beauregard.

Estimating Beauregard’s strength at 25,000 men, McDowell proposed to first advance on Vienna and then on to Manassas with at least 30,000 troops plus 10,000 in reserve. The Federals would march in three columns:

  • The first would move from Vienna to disperse Confederates around Centreville and Fairfax Court House;
  • The second would move from Alexandria on the Little River Turnpike to cut the Confederates’ retreat;
  • The third would move down the Orange & Alexandria Railroad to Manassas.

This plan required McDowell’s army to be heavily reinforced and the railroad to be rebuilt. It made little note of the earlier plans suggested by either Patterson or Scott, and it greatly relied on Patterson preventing Johnston from moving east.

McDowell further explained this plan at the cabinet meeting on the 29th, as the growing impatience among northerners had prompted Lincoln to call his commanders together to finalize plans and set a date for when the offensives would begin.

Scott expressed uncertainty about McDowell’s strategy; the general-in-chief reiterated his unpopular “Anaconda Plan” to blockade the coastline and seize control of the vital Mississippi River. However, Quartermaster General Montgomery Meigs argued that by the time that Scott’s plan was implemented, northern fervor for the war would wane. With McDowell’s plan, the 90-day volunteers would be used before their service terms expired.

McDowell tacked a map to the wall and offered several invasion options. Lincoln and his advisors approved one: based on the presumption that Beauregard would gather up to 35,000 Confederates at Manassas, McDowell would lead his army in three columns westward to seize Fairfax Court House, 16 miles away, and then Centreville, five miles further.

Two of three columns would create a diversion before the supposed enemy center at a creek called Bull Run, while the third column would move around the Confederate right, cut off the railroad to Richmond, and threaten the enemy rear. This would force the Confederates to fall back to the Rappahannock River. However, it had a heavy dependence on Patterson’s 15,000 Federals occupying Leesburg to prevent Johnston’s 11,000 Confederates from moving east to reinforce Beauregard.

This was a sound plan for a veteran army, but it would be difficult for inexperienced officers and soldiers to execute. Scott still expressed skepticism that this single campaign would end the war, and McDowell requested more time to train his three-month volunteers.

Ultimately Lincoln overrode Scott’s objections and denied McDowell’s extension request, telling him, “You are green, it is true, but they are green, also; you are all green alike.” McDowell’s request for 30,000 men was granted, and his campaign was to begin by July 9.

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Sources

CivilWarDailyGazette.com; Davis, William C., First Blood: Fort Sumter to Bull Run (Alexandria, VA: Time-Life Books, 1983), p. 110-11; Denney, Robert E., The Civil War Years: A Day-by-Day Chronicle (New York: Gramercy Books, 1992 [1998 edition]), p. 53; Donald, David Herbert, Lincoln (Simon & Schuster, Kindle Edition, 2011), Loc 6433; Fredriksen, John C., Civil War Almanac (New York: Checkmark Books, 2007), p. 40-41; Long, E.B. with Long, Barbara, The Civil War Day by Day (New York: Da Capo Press, Inc., 1971), p. 88-89; McPherson, James M., Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era (Oxford History of the United States Book 6, Oxford University Press, Kindle Edition, 1988), p. 335

Colonel Charles P. Stone’s Maryland Expedition

June 15, 1861 – Federals led by Colonel Charles P. Stone seized Edwards’s and Conrad’s ferries on the Potomac River, which were the main approaches from Maryland to the strategic town of Leesburg, Virginia.

Colonel Charles P. Stone | Image Credit: Wikipedia.org

Colonel Charles P. Stone | Image Credit: Wikipedia.org

On June 8, General-in-Chief Winfield Scott directed Colonel Stone to march northwest from Washington, guard the upper Potomac River against Confederates, stop the transport of Confederate supplies from Baltimore to Virginia, open the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal which was blocked near Leesburg, and “give countenance to our friends in Maryland and Virginia.” Stone was also ordered to communicate with Major General Robert Patterson, who was about to move out of Pennsylvania toward Harpers Ferry, and if possible, join forces with him.

Stone’s force consisted of his 14th U.S. Infantry along with two infantry regiments, four infantry battalions, two cavalry companies, and two cannon from the District of Columbia militia. These 2,500 men moved out two days later, advancing up the Maryland side of the Potomac to Edwards’s Ferry at Tennallytown. They entered Rockville the next day, where Stone set up headquarters and deployed several detachments to the various other towns along the river. This caused anxiety among Confederates as far west as Harpers Ferry.

Confederate forces crossed the Potomac on the morning of the 12th and tried damaging the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal at Edwards Ferry. They returned to Virginia after the lock-keeper drained the water and persuaded them it was broken. Meanwhile, Stone used both the C&O Canal and local roads to move his Federals from Rockville to Seneca Creek, Seneca Mills, Darnestown, Tennallytown, and Edwards’s Ferry.

Skirmishing occurred between Confederates and Stone’s men at Seneca Falls on the 14th. The Federals also operated at Great Falls and Darnestown while securing the C&O Canal as far north as Edwards’s Ferry and protecting the property of local Unionists. Federal engineers removed a 100-ton boulder from the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad tracks at Point of Rocks, which Confederates had somehow rolled there to block the line. Warned to “look out for squalls” from Confederates supposedly operating at Edwards Ferry, Stone deployed a regiment toward Poolesville and advanced with his cavalry to investigate the ferry.

The Federals seized both Edwards’s and Conrad’s ferries on the 15th before receiving intelligence that a Confederate force of unknown size was advancing from Leesburg to confront him. From Poolesville, between the ferries, Stone reported that Confederates around Leesburg were firing artillery rounds across the Potomac at his troops guarding Conrad’s Ferry. Stone awaited official word that Confederates had abandoned Harpers Ferry while his cannon prevented Confederates from crossing the river at Edwards’s Ferry. He planned to fall back to Washington if the Confederates had not evacuated Harpers Ferry, but if they did, he planned to move on Leesburg.

From Poolesville, Stone reported that a Confederate deserter had assured him that residents of Martinsburg who had been forced into Confederate military service were “strong Union men, who are determined to shoot their officers and go over to the Government troops the first opportunity.” Stone sent scouts to Harpers Ferry, who reported it destroyed and abandoned, but they did not report seeing any Federal troops or sympathizers. This indicated that General Patterson’s forces had not yet occupied Harpers Ferry.

On the 21st, General-in-Chief Scott directed General Patterson to absorb Colonel Stone’s Federals and move on Maryland Heights, overlooking Harpers Ferry. Patterson was also to clear Confederates out of Leesburg while seizing all the fords and ferries in the area. Scott envisioned a two-pronged advance into Virginia by Patterson from the Shenandoah Valley and General Irvin McDowell from Washington. Patterson moved slowly due to rumors that Confederates might have retaken Harpers Ferry, which proved false.

The next day, Scott informed Stone that he “would be glad that you should furnish him any suggestions that may occur to you,” even though Stone’s small Federal force would soon be absorbed into Patterson’s larger army. Stone reported that he had sent troops as far north as the mouth of the Monocacy River and eight miles north of Point of Rocks, but no Confederates were found. Stone requested more artillery so he could occupy Leesburg for Patterson.

On Sunday the 30th, Scott ordered Stone to join forces with Patterson near Martinsburg, northwest of Harpers Ferry. Stone’s Federals had been positioned at Poolesville, between Edwards’s and Conrad’s ferries. Both Patterson and Stone moved with extreme care as June ended because they did not have accurate intelligence on the size of the Confederate force at Leesburg.

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Sources

CivilWarDailyGazette.com; Denney, Robert E., The Civil War Years: A Day-by-Day Chronicle (New York: Gramercy Books, 1992 [1998 edition]), p. 51, 53; Fredriksen, John C., Civil War Almanac (New York: Checkmark Books, 2007), p. 37-38; Long, E.B. with Long, Barbara, The Civil War Day by Day (New York: Da Capo Press, Inc., 1971), p. 84-85, 88; Longacre, Edward G., Historical Times Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Civil War (New York: Harper & Row, 1986, Patricia L. Faust ed.), p. 639