the line which I had to relieve, when I halted and dressed it and sent
Having everything in readiness, I gave the order to advance. The line
had advanced but a few steps when the left was struck with such vio
lence by a regiment (which continued the line to the left) which had
broken that the Second Excelsior Eegiment, which was on the left of
the brigade line, was almost Carried away with it. Seeing the confu
sion, I rode hastily to this part of the line, accompanied by my two
aides, Lieutenants Tremain and D wight, and endeavored to stay this
disgraceful retreat, but it was in vain ; the tide could not be stemmed.
On they rushed over and through my line perfectly panic-stricken,
breaking and carrying away with them the left of iny line. The enemy
seeing this charged after them. I then endeavored to throw back my
line to give the enemy a flank fire. This I found on trial impracticable,
the wood being too dense to execute the movement. By this time the
enemy had availed themselves of the large interval opened on my left
and poured through in large numbers, and had got 50 or 60 paces in my
rear, giving the line an enfilading and reverse fire. They, however, soon
ceased firing, as they were so mixed up as to endanger their own men;
they then commenced taking prisoners. Finding my line completely
flanked and turned, and in danger of being entirely cut off, I gave the
order to fall back, which was done in as good order as could be, situated
as we were. The loss on this occasion was not as large as I had reason
to apprehend, yet it was considerable.
It was on this occasion that my two aides, Lieutenants Tremaiu and
Dwight, were taken prisoners, endeavoring to overcome the disorder
and confusion occasioned by the stampede of the troops on my left.
After extricating the brigade from its entanglement I reformed the
line and immediately sent forward upon the line which we had occu
pied skirmishers, and followed them in myself, and remained there
until a regiment from General Kearny s division came and took posi
tion on the line and engaged the enemy. I then withdrew the skir
mishers and fell back to my own line, when I was ordered by Major-
General Hooker to a position in an open field in rear of the Third Brig
ade, where the brigade bivouacked for the night.
The next afternoon (August 30) the brigade was ordered under arms
and to be held in readiness to march in pursuit of the retreating enemy.
Subsequently the brigade was marched in the direction of Centreville,
and ordered to support a battery on the left of our line. Soon after it
was ordered to follow the Third Brigade, which it did, and arrived in
the night at Centreville, where it remained until the afternoon of the
1st instant, when it was ordered to take the road toward Fairfax Court-
House. The column had not proceeded far on the road when heavy
firing was heard on our left. The column was halted, and soon after
the brigade was ordered to cross the road and form line, which it did,
and was soon after, by Brigadier-General Grover, ordered to advance
and support the division of General Kearny. The brigade remained in
line during the night in rear of General Kearny s division and resumed
its march about 2.30 a. m. toward Fairfax Court-House, where it arrived
about 8 a. m. At 11.30 a. m. the march was again resumed toward
Alexandria, and the brigade, with the division, bivouacked about 2
miles east of Fairfax Station.
446 OPERATIONS IN N. VA., W. VA., AND MD. [CHAP. XXIV.
The next morning (September 3) the march was again resumed and
continued until the division arrived at this place, where it encamped.
In closing this report I shall avail myself of the opportunity to ex
press my admiration of the gallant conduct on the field of the officers
and men who so nobly followed the fortunes of the brigade during the
time which this report covers, particularly to the lamented Captain
Donalds, of the Fourth Excelsior Regiment, who fell early in the action
at Bristoe Station; to Lieutenant-Colonel Potter, of the Second Excel
sior Regiment, who was wounded in the same battle ; to Capt. H. J.
Bliss, of the Third Excelsior Regiment, both for the manner in which
he executed the service on which he was ordered on the night of the
26th and his gallant conduct on the field. Capt. Charles L. Young
and Lieut. W. J. Kay, of the First Excelsior Regiment 5 Major Price
and Adjutant Bullard, of the Fifth ; Capts. Owen Murphy and Don
aldson, of the Second Excelsior Regiment, and Captain Burns, of the
Fourth, are entitled to honorable mention for the fearless and intrepid
manner in which they performed their duties, and also Lieutenants
Tremain and Dwight (aides) up to the time I was so unfortunate as to
lose their services by their being taken prisoners.
I would most respectfully call the attention of the commanding gen
eral to the inclosed detailed reports of the commandants of regiments,
and particularly to that part of them in which honorable mention is
made of officers, non-commissioned officers, and men.
Hereunto annexed please find detailed report of the casualties* which
have occurred in the brigade during the eight days which this report
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Brigadier- General, Commanding.
To the ASSISTANT ADJUTANT-GENERAL,
Hooker s Division, Third Army Corps.
Report of Capt. Charles L. Young, Seventieth New York Infantry, of en
gagement at Kettle Run and battles of Oroveton and Bull Run.
HDQRS. FIRST REGT., EXCELSIOR BRIG. (SECOND),
HOOKER S Div. (SECOND), THIRD. ARMY CORPS,
Camp near Fort Lyon, Va., September 4, 1862.
LIEUTENANT : In compliance with orders from brigade headquarters
I have the honor to report the part taken by this regiment in the re
cent battles at Bristoe Station, on the 27th, and Bull Run, on Friday
and Saturday, August 29 and 30 :
The regiment received marching orders at Warrenton Junction on
the morning of the 27th, and before breakfast was on its way toward
Bristoe, being fourth in line of march. The first indication of the pres
ence of the enemy was made known by an exchange of shots between
our skirmishers and the rebel pickets. Over a road, through a dense
wood, running parallel with the Manassas Railway, the Third Brigade
was hurried forward and placed in line of battle facing the enemy s
* Embodied m revised statement, p. 258.
CHAP. XXIV.] CAMPAIGN IN NORTHERN VIRGINIA. 447
left center, quickly supported by the Second, Fourth, and Fifth Kegi-
ments of the Excelsior Brigade. Musketry from the front, artillery
from the left, played furiously upon us, soon followed by a murderous
fire on our right flank from behind the railway embankment. Under
this terrible trip.le fire the First and Third Regiments were ordered for
ward by Colonel Taylor, commanding the brigade, to protect our flank,
which they did under cover of a friendly slope overlooking the enemy s
At this time the fight raged fearfully, each contestant holding weU
his ground. Our comrades fell thick and fast. All felt sad when the
gallant Lieutenant Hoxie fell with a Minie thrpugh the groin. It was
then that Lieutenant Kay proposed a charge. A cheer was substituted,
to give time for consultation with Captain Bliss, commanding Third
Excelsior, relative to the expediency of following Lieutenant Kay s
suggestion. Hardly had that glorious cheer mingled with the whistling
bullets ere the rebels began to fall back before the eyes of our eager
men. Folly it would have been to hold our force then, for the rail
road must be gained. Th^ men were already up, and as a unit pressed
forward, planting our colors on the track and securing the rebel dead
and wounded. Some wished to pursue the enemy, but fearing to dis
arrange plans, we thought best to remain in our present position, which
accorded with Colonel Taylor s ideas when he came from the center.
Meanwhile General Hooker had placed a battery in position on the
left, which under his personal supervision quickly silenced the guns
of the enemy. His right and left broken, we found no difficulty in pierc
ing his center and gaining possession of the field. We bivouacked for
the night 1 mile in advance of the battle ground, throwing forward a
Early on the 28th we resumed march for Manassas Junction ; passed
on, stacking arms toward night at Union Mills.
Left Union Mills August 29, at 3 a. in., reaching Centreyille before
9 a. m., when we "ascertained the enemy had made a stand beyond
Bull Eun. Our division was early ordered forward, reaching the fi eld
about noon. The First and Third Brigades were engaged first, the
Excelsior (Second) being held in reserve. Twice our position was
changed, soon bringing us within supporting distance. The battle raged
fearfully, the enemy making a desperate stand, never flinching. His
artillery worked splendidly, exerting us to hold him in check. It soon
became necessary to forward our brigade. Forming in line of battle
facing a long wood, the Third liegimeiit on the extreme right, this com
mand directly on their left and on the right of the other regiments of
the brigade, with three regiments numbering 2,400 strong immediately
on the left of our brigade, we moved cautiously and steadily into the
wood to relieve a force already engaging the enemy, who was behind
and holding a railway. We had fairly time to reach the point desig
nated when the rebels, with a murderous shout, accompanied by a sharp
fire, broke through the brigade in front, forcing them pell-mell on our
line of battle, at the same time skillfully turning our left flank and
routing the brigade on our left from the wood, our men never waver
ing until Colonel Taylor saw it would be madness to expose his com
mand to the mercies of a desperate and much larger foe. As it was,
we held our ground until manj r of our mounted officers were dragged
from their horses and our colors within the enemy s grasp. Still un
daunted, Colonel Taylor rallied his little force at the edge of the wood
that he might send skirmishers back to protect the recovery of our
wounded comrades, never leaving the field until the skirmishers had
448 OPERATIONS IN N. VA., W. VA., AND MD. [CHAP. XXIV.
been twice driven in and orders arrived from General Hooker for us to
retire. We passed the night on the top of a hill in the rear of a reserve
This regiment and the others of the brigade were employed on Sat
urday, the 30th ultimo, in supporting batteries under the most deadly
artillery fire we had ever been placed, but with little loss of life and
limb, owing to the skillful manner in which we were placed and handled
by the brigade commander. Toward night the enemy turned the entire
left of General Pope s line, when our brigade, with the batteries we had
be.en supporting, were ordered back to Oentreville, where we went into
camp about midnight, resting the 31st until eve, when we were marched
in the direction of Fairfax
Meanwhile Generals Kearny and Stevens had been attacked near
Chantilly. Colonel Taylor was ordered to their support ; remained
under arms in line of battle all night in a drenching rain, but was not
engaged. Just before dawn we resumed march, reaching Fairfax Court-
House for breakfast, when Major Holt reported for duty and assumed
command of the regiment.
I cannot close without a luding to the courage and constancy of the
officers of the regiment my source of strength during the period of
command. So few were present I must mention all. At Bristoe Station
Lieutenants Hoxie (among the wounded), Kay, Bates, McLaughlin,
Foot, and Calkins vied with each other in deeds of bravery and cool
Sergeant-Major Botsford, First Sergeants McFarland, Chamberlain,
Hare, and Masston earned a strap which they do not wear.
At Bull Eun (both days) Lieutenants Kay and McLaughlin were
again at their posts, earnestly supported by Adjutant Hartz and Lieu
tenant Dredger, the last named having previously been excused from
duty on account of ill-health. Sergeants McFarland, Chamberlain,
Hare, and Masston again stood prominent.
Annexed please find a list of casualties.*
All of which is respectfully submitted.
I have the honor to be, your obedient servant,
C. L. YOUNG,
Captain, Commanding First Regiment, Excelsior Brigade.
Lieut. WILLIAM H. POST,
Acting Assistant Adjutant- General, Excelsior Brigade.
Report oj Capt. Owen Murphy, Seventy-first New York Infantry, of en
gagement at Kettle Run and battles of Oroveton and Bull Run.
HDQRS. 2o BEGT., EXCELSIOR BRIO., 2D (HOOKER S) Div.,
Fort Lyon, Alexandria, Va., September 8, 1862.
SIR : The following report of the Second Begiment, Excelsior Brigade,
in the action of the 27th, 28th. 29th, and 30th August is respectfully
The regiment, about 250 strong, under command of Lieut. Col. H. L.
Potter, left camp near Warrenton Junction on Wednesday, the 27th,
and proceeded on its march in company with the other regiments of
* Embodied in revised statement, p. 258.
CHAP. XXIV.] CAMPAIGN IN NORTHERN VIRGINIA. 449
the brigade, which was commanded by Colonel Taylor, toward Catlett s
Station. The day was hot and sultry, nevertheless the officers and
men bore it well and patiently. In the afternoon we left the road and
went through the woods until we came on an open field in front of a
belt of woods to the left of the railroad near Bristoe Station, where we
discovered the enemy. They opened lire on us, to which our men
smartly and ably replied.
The conduct of the officers and men on this occasion was truly ex
cellent. The number of officers present on this occasion was very small.
They stood up to their fight like men, and after a sharp contest com
pletely routed the enemy, whom we pursued for a considerable distance.
Our loss was very severe in killed and wounded. Among the killed
were Lieutenants Lowenrrout, of Company D, and Murphy, of Com
pany E. Among the wounded were Lieut. Col. H. L. Potter, whose
conduct on the occasion was most excellent and praiseworthy ; also
Adjutant Powell, Lieutenants Franklin, Webb, and Captain Greene,
who faithfully discharged their duties on the battle-field.
We slept on our arms that night about 3 miles in advance of the
scene of action, having previously thrown out a strong picket guard,
until morning. We left with the brigade about noon on Thursday, the
28th, and went toward Mauassas without interruption, seeing nothing
on the way but traces of destruction and desolation by the enemy.
We encamped for the night near Bull Run, and proceeded on our
march next morning (Friday, 29th) about 3 o clock in the direction of
Centreville, where we halted to rest for some time, and proceeded in
the heat of the day toward the scene of battle, where we arrived about
noon. Here we remained for a short time awaiting orders, when we
were called to the front in company with the brigade to relieve others
who had been there engaged with the enemy. It gives me great
pleasure to be able to state that the regiment behaved exceed
ingly well. The conduct of the officers and men on this occasion as
on the former one was creditable alike to themselves and their superior
officers. The coolness, firmness, and courage displayed at this trying
time is worthy of all admiration. Not an officer (seven only being
present) 01 private flinched from his post when flanked by the enemy
until ordered to fall back by Acting Brigadier-General Taylor, whose
presence, coolness, and good judgment inspired the officers and men
with the highest confidence in his ability as a commanding officer. We
fell back, after considerable loss in killed, wounded, and missing, to
our former position. Our loss on this occasion, although severe, was
not as heavy as on the 27th. We slept on our arms for the night, and
remained there till the next afternoon (Saturday, 30th), when we were
ordered up to support a battery in front, where we were much exposed
to the artillery fire of the enemy. At night we fell back in good order
to the bridge destroyed by the enemy within half a mile of the battle
field and marched in the direction of Ceutreville, where we remained
for the night, and camped there for some days afterward.
In conclusion I have to state, generally, that at no time previous has
the regiment acted in a more praiseworthy manner than on those days
above referred to. Happily for the -credit of all those concerned we
were relieved of the presence of those cowardly officers who were a
disgrace to us on former occasions. I have reference to such men as
Captains Bradlee and Glover, and Lieutenant Hall and others, who
were absent without authority on plea of sickness or some other pre
text; also Col. George B. Hall, whose character and conduct on a
former occasion at Malveru Hill has been undergoing investigation.
29 R R VOL xn, PT II
450 OPERATIONS IN N. VA., W. VA., AXD 1ID. [CHAP. XXIV.
The officers present on the 29th were Captain Donaldson, who took
a most prominent and praiseworthy part in the management of the
command; Lieutenants Leigh, McBlair, Potter, G-alvin, Fox, and
O Connell, the acting adjutant all having acted so remarkably well
that I cannot with propriety make any discrimination, but of whose
courage and bravery too much cannot be said.
All of which is respectfully submitted.
I have the honor to be, sir, respectfully, your most obedient servant,
Capt., Comdg. Second Regt. Excelsior Brigade, Hooker s Division.
Col. NELSON TAYLOR,
Reports of Capt. Harman J. Bliss, Seventy-second New York Infantry, of
operations near Kettle Run and battles of Groveton and Bull Run.
HEADQUARTERS THIRD REGIMENT,
Camp in the Field, near Manassas Junction, August 28, 1802.
In pursuance to orders received from brigade headquarters at 10
o clock p. m. August 2G, 1862, directing me to "proceed at once with
my command to Manassas, to ascertain what occurred, rejoin the tele
graph wires, and protect the railroad there till further orders," I im
mediately moved to Warrenton Junction, where I was disappointed in
finding no transportation ready. Col. T. C. H. Smith, aide-de-camp to
General Pope, ordered me to proceed by the wagon road, but subse
quently transportation was obtained. I moved my command from
Warrenton Junction at 2 a. in. the 27th of August to Catlett s Station,
per order of Colonel Smith. I called upon Colonel Pierce to approve an
order for a small detachment of cavalry from Kettle Run. Colonel
Pierce informed me that some of his command were at the run. I sub
sequently felt the want of a few cavalrymen very much.
1 moved with all the dispatch possible to within half a mile of
Bristoe. I moved the last mile with a company thrown forward as
skirmishers and flankers. I found an intercepted train burning and
the telegraph destroyed. Discovering the enemy still in possession of
the station, I ordered the regiment into Hue, advanced skirmishers, and
went to the front myself to observe the position they had chosen, their
strength, &c. My own observation, confirmed by skirmishers, soon
satisfied me that they were in force. It was just before daylight, but
the reflection from the burning cars enabled me from my position to
see all their movements. I distinctly heard the commands as they
rapidly formed their lines. I saw one column file to the left, and had
no doubt their purpose was to flank us and cut off my train at Kettle
Run Bridge. I saw a body of ca,valry move on the right of the road
for the same purpose. 1 called Adjutant Iliuman to my position to
confirm my opinion and to profit -by his judgment. I realized my
responsibility and the want of experience. My pride urged me to
accept the honor of leading the gallant Third into battle, but my judg
ment rebelled against this desire to use the accident of my temporary
command to lead the regiment on the field and I reluctantly gave the
order to embark again. I moved back to Kettle Run, where I estab-
CIIAP. XXIV.] CAMPAIGN IN NORTHERN VIRGINIA. 451
lislied pickets at all commanding positions to watch and report the
movements of the enemy. I instructed the telegraph operator attached
to my command to try and open communication with Warrenton Junc
tion. I handed him the following dispatch :
Col. T. C. H. SMITH,
Aide-de-Cainp to General Pope:
Have proceeded to near Bristoe Station. Find a train of cars burning and tele
graph wires broken, and enemy in very heavy force. Do not deem it prudent to go
on without further orders. Have conductor of burned train with me, who reports
there being a large force of the enemy. Have returned to this side of Kettle Run
I ordered three companies into position at the bridge, with instruc
tions to hold it at all hazards, keeping the balance of my command in
reserve 300 yards below the bridge. I personally examined the bridge
with reference to holding it. I found it had no natural advantages
for defense; in fact, they were all against us. The rebel skirmishers
were rapidly advancing on both sides of the road, followed by a large
force, all in plain view. I had seen the cavalry on the right and the
infantry movement on our left for three-quarters of an hour. All the
reply the telegraph operator could get to his call was "Wait a little. 7
I could not consent to the useless sacrifice of my brave 300 men. I
ordered the three companies at the bridge to move back, which they
did in perfect order, under the fire of the enemy s skirmishers. I waited
for the stragglers and the last of two companies of the One hundred
and fifth Pennsylvania, there on picket. Three of the men were so
closely followed that they were taken prisoners.
I had only ordered the engineer to move back, when the enemy
unmasked a field piece they had brought down near the bridge on the
track, covered by a column of troops. The first two shots ricochetted
within 20 or 30 yards from the engine. I joined the brigade at 5 a. m.
with the whole of my command and reported.
I submit that I did the best my judgment seemed to require I con
fess at a great sacrifice to my pride. I trust subsequent events satisfy
you that I did all duty required. The regiment behaved in its usual
praiseworthy manner, and I enjoyed the full co-operation of all the
officers. I must speak especially of the valuable assistance rendered
me by Adjt. H. C. Hinman.
All of which is respectfully submitted.
H. J. BLISS,
Captain, Commanding Regiment.
Col. NELSON TAYLOR,
Commanding Second Brigade, Hooker s Division.
HEADQUARTERS THIRD REGIMENT,
Camp near Spring Hill, September 6, 1862.
I have the honor to report that the Third Excelsior, of your brigade,
under my command, on the 29th of August, took the position assigned
on the right of tbe brigade line, and advanced into the timber, where
a portion of our forces were already engaged with the enemy. My
instructions were to halt behind the line engaged, and when their am
munition was exhausted take their place. I advanced skirmishers cov
ering my whole front to this line and dressed my regiment accurately
452 OPERATIONS IN N. VA., W. VA., AND MD. [CHAP. XXIV.
on the brigade line. Our position was hardly taken when the line of
troops in our front, belonging to regiments never before under lire,
gave way under a dashing attempt of the enemy to turn the left of our
line. Gradually the left gave way, struggling hand-to-hand for life and
their colors, until the line was broken up to the left of my command,
rendered almost powerless by the influence and presence of the disor
ganized troops breaking through my line and preventing my firing
until the enemy were actually in our ranks in overpowering numbers.
We fell back 300 yards to the edge of the timber, and again formed
line and advanced skirmishers forward to the line we had just left.
The enemy had also fallen back, and seemed unwilling to improve his
temporary advantage. By order I again withdrew my skirmishers, and
subsequently took position for the night with the brigade.
In my command 7 were missing and 11 wounded. Among the wounded
is Lieutenant Clark.
I have further to report that on the 30th my command was engaged,
under your orders, in supporting different batteries and in taking dif
ferent positions, preparatory to engaging the enemy. We were at no
time actually engaged, but were almost constantly under fire from shot
and shell. None in my command were injured.
The same officers are deserving of mention as in my report of August
27, except Lieutenant Howard, who was absent.
All of which is respectfully submitted.
H. J. BLISS,
Captainj Commanding Regiment.