Author: Amanda Rutha

Articles by: Amanda Rutha
First Battle of Bull Run

First Battle of Bull Run

Also known as the First Battle of Manassas

In July 1861, the 90 day enlistments of soldiers in the Union regiments were about to run out and President Lincoln urged Union General Irwin McDowell to engage the Confederate Army, commanded in the field by General Beauregard. On July 18, 1861, McDowell and the 37,000 soldiers of the Army of the Potomac marched into Virginia. Many civilians, including Congressmen, rode out to see the destruction of the Confederate Army.

The two armies met at Bull Run creek near Manassas Junction, Virginia on July 21st just after 9 A.M. Uniform colors were not yet consistent with some Union regiments wearing grey and some Confederate units in blue. Both armies were untried but shared the belief that this battle would end with their side victorious and that the War would end within months.

Fighting went back and forth throughout the day. Confederate General Thomas J. Jackson’s Virginia brigade firmly held the high ground in the middle of the line. General Bernard Bee rallied his Confederate troops by saying: “Look, there is Jackson with his Virginians, standing like a stonewall!”, and General Thomas Jackson became immortalized as “Stonewall” Jackson. Confederate reinforcements arrived late in the afternoon and General Beauregard ordered a massive counterattack at 4 P.M. The Confederates attacked “yelling like furies” at Jackson’s urging and the rebel yell was first heard on a Civil War battlefield. The Union line broke and most regiments ran to the rear in disarray. Combined casualties of both armies killed, wounded and missing was about 4,500.

The Connecticut Brigade consisting of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Regiments Connecticut Volunteer Infantry were engaged from 10 A.M. when they met and repelled a body of infantry and cavalry. They were in action until 4 P.M. and retired from the field in good order. Lucius D. Wilson, the first Mansfield soldier to enlist, was in Co. B of the 1st Connecticut and Willard R. Moulton of Co. D of the 3rd Connecticut was captured at the Battle of Bull Run.

Drewry’s Bluff, Virginia

Drewry’s Bluff, Virginia

Fort Darling, Drewry’s Bluff, James River, Va. Library of Congress

Drewry’s Bluff is 90 feet above a bend in the James River, and Fort Darling was constructed there in 1862 as the key defense point for water access to Richmond. The Confederate Capitol was just seven miles north of the fort.

The Union Army of the James commanded by Benjamin Butler landed at the Bermuda Hundred on May 5, 1864 and advanced to Drewry’s Bluff on the 9th and captured the outer defenses of Fort Darling. Failure to follow up on the initial success due to delays of Union Generals resulted in the initiative being lost. General Beauregard commanded the Confederate forces that launched a counterattack at 4:30 A. M. on May 16, 1864 under the cover of thick fog.

The surprise attack on Heckman’s brigade overwhelmed them, quickly resulting in the capture of the General and over a thousand of his men. Another column assaulted an artillery battery of twenty pound parrot guns. In an effort to blunt the attack, Union reserve regiments entered the battle. The Confederates sent in their reserves and slowly folded back the Union right. The 21st Connecticut was the last regiment on the right, and they were flanked by the enemy in one of their charges. In response, they realigned the regiment in the shape of an “L”, fighting the enemy both in front and on the flank at close quarters. There was nothing before them or on the right except for the attacking rebels. They could see no one on their left in the smoke and fog and Colonel Burpee received no orders from Union Headquarters. The Colonel remained calm as he walked through the regimental ranks and his orders resulted in repeated charges of the enemy being turned back. After more than three hours of heavy fighting, the men had fired more than a hundred rounds and some of the muskets were fouled.  Colonel Burpee ordered the regiment to fall back to the Petersburg Road as he believed that the enemy would flank his line and they could not hold it after the casualties that they had taken. In the battle, the 21st Connecticut had 14 men killed, 69 wounded and 21 missing.

Drewry’s Bluff References

LETTER FROM AN OFFICER  OF HIGH RANK

IN ANOTHER STATE
When I have seen the gallant Twenty-first in battle, I have as an American felt proud of them … Never shall I forget their splendid behavior on that terrible 16th of May, when the field of Drewry’s Bluff was covered with from 8,000 to 10,000 dead and wounded of both armies, and the Twenty-first stood firm and fearless amid the terrible shock of that fearful charge and repulsed it on their front. Many times, in the heat of that conflict, I looked towards the Twenty-first, fearful that I should see them overwhelmed. They did their noble State immortal honor that day, as they have done in every battle in which they have been engaged.

Hall Letters

Hall Letters

All of Hall’s letters and transcripts within MHS possession, in chronological order.

Transcripts

Letter Scans

Hall, Henry 1830-10-30

Hall, Henry 1836-11-25

Hall, Henry 1863-12-5

Hall, Henry 1864-1-29

Hall, Henry 1864-2-7

Hall, Henry 1864-3-9

Hall, Henry After 1864-3-9

Hall, Henry 1864-4-22

Hall, Henry 1864-5-11

Hall, Henry 1864-5-24

Hall, Henry 1864-6-29

Hall, Henry 1865-1-1

Hall, Henry 1865-2-18

Hall, Henry 1865-3-6

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