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Page-4 Images 19-26

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The Battle Begins: Opening Action at Matthews Farm

9:30-10:15 am

Col. Nathan " Shanks" Evans responded decisively to E. Porter Alexander's signal that his left had been turned. He promptly left four comapnies of the 4th SC to cover the approaches to the Stone Bridge so as to keep an eye on the three Federal brigades now standing stationary in the fields across the Bull Run. These Federal troops were of Tyler's command (Schrenk, Sherman and Keyes). Gen. McDowell's plan was to pin the Confederates in place and envelop Beaureguard with a wide sweeping movement via the Sudley fords. Evan's took the remaining companies of the 4th SC and Maj. Chatham Roberdeau Wheat's 1st Special Louisiana Infantry Battalion north along a farm lane thinking at first that the Federals were attempting to flank him by crossing at Farm Ford about a mile above the Stone Bridge. He soon learned from some of his skirmishers that Federal troops were already heading toward him on the Sudley Manassas Road. Evan's hurried his men toward the Matthews Farm area and aligned his men to meet the oncoming enemy. After seven hours of marching the Federals had lost the element of surprise. The advance forces were now greeted with a leveled volley of muskets from betwixt the thin rails of a weed shrouded snake rail fence. Burnside's men dropped flat to the ground in wide eyed surprise. Skirmishers from the 2nd Rhode Island were deployed to probe the enemy's front while the rest of the Brigade rested. No hurry now. Word was sent back to Tyler to cross his Brigades at the Stone Bridge.


The 2nd Rhode Island skirmishers steadily pushed back the men Evans rushed to meet them. As Burnside's deployed the remainder of the 2nd RI into line the opposing forces settled down to an exchange of gunfire.The Federals in line across the crest of Matthew's Hill and the Confederates behind a fence at the edge of a small woodlot bordering the 2 foot high cornfield to their front. Evan's placed on high ground to his rear the 2 small 6 lb guns he had brought with him. One atop a rise just north of the Stone House ( Matthew's Tavern) and the other just across the road from the farmlane of a free Blackman named James Robinson.

Dust clouds continued to rise in the north as more Federals pushed across at the Sudley fords and headed south. A battery of 6" ordinace rifles, under a Captain William H. Reynolds, galloped into position, unlimbered and added their firepower to the growing conflict. The Rhode Island men were taking some serious casualties. Major Sullivan Ballou being amongst some of the early casualties.

Col. Hunter was wounded with a serious neck wound and forced him to relinquish his whole command to Ambrose Burnside. There was much confusion to the rear as the brigades began to get stacked up and deployed independently.

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Evan's Aggressively Confronts Burnside's Thrust

10:45 -11:00 am

The gray uniformed 2nd NH have advanced forward on the right side of the Sudley Manassas Rd.

The 71st New York was suppose to come up next in line to support the 2nd Rhode Island but waere delayed. Burnside orders the 1st Rhode Island to come up to extend his line along Matthews Hill. He was shifting the 2nd Rhode Island over towards the Matthew House to make room for the regiment next in line, when Col. Evan's sensing an opportunity, ordered Maj. Wheat and his Louisiana Battalion to take the Federal guns of Reynold's battery to their front. The Louisianans went forth with a yell, some brandishing their bowie knifes, They advanced boldly, firing their muskets as they came, knocking down some rather surprised artillerymen and a few of the horses.


The 2nd Rhode Islanders were caught by surprise as the blue jacketed and red shirted unit advanced uphill through the corn and smoke. Many of the Federals were already very low on ammunition and scrounged the dead and wounded for additional cartridge rounds. Their guns had become quite foul from the rapid exchange of gunfire so they were forced to bang their ramrods againt rocks or fenceposts to seat their charges. "Wheat's men reached a point just twenty yards from the battery when the 1st Rhode Island came into line and delivered a concentrated volley into the attacking Tigers. The Louisianans were forced back and the unit split , some to the left of the Sudley Manassas Road and the remainder to their original position.

Barnard Bee who had placed his brigade defensively atop Henry Hill now came forward with his 4th Alabamians after Evans refused to fall back. "Up Alabamians!" was his command as they raced down Henry Hill and then up the slope of Buck Hill while being shelled by Reynolds' battery every step of the way. Evan's men cheered their approval when they saw the line of Alabamians approaching. Col. Egbert Johns placed his men to the right of the 4th South Carolinians and returning remnants of the Louisiana Battalion. The guns of Latham and Davidson continued to fire rounds into the ever gathering force. Wheat's wild charge had slowed the Federal advance down the Sudley- Manassas Road.

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As the battle raged around the Matthew Farm, the Brigades of the Federal flanking column continued to cross at the Sudley Fords. Porter's columns are crossing in this scene as is the battery of Captain Charles Griffin. His six guns will soon extend the right flank of the Union line across onto Dogan's Ridge. Good time to stop and fill your canteen, there is some hard work up ahead. Sudley Church can be scene at the upper right corner. Some parishoners who had been to early morning services have been unable too re-cross the fords to get home this Sunday morning.

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Bee & Bartow's Brigades Reinforce Evan's

11:00-11:30 am

Bee now ordered the remainder of his Brigade to come forward seeing that the 4th Alabama was insufficient to stem the Federal advance. The 8th Georgia under Bartow advanced on the right into a pine thicket to cover the flank. The 2nd Mississippi and two additional companies of the 11th Misissippi to support Evan's depleted force holding the woods. The 7th Georgia were held in reserve and settled in behind the sunken portion of the Warrenton Turnpike just across the road from the entry to Robinson Farm. Wheat extended his left to the hay stacks of Dogan farm to cover the ever expanding Federal line to his front and flank. Captain John Imboden's battery unlimbered behind a subtle ridge on Henry Hill and opened fire upon the smoke wreathed Federal guns.

A new battery under Captian Charles Griffin now added their weight behind the Federal thrust by extending the line supported by the 2nd New Hampshire across the Sudley-Manassas road along Dogans Ridge. Porter's Brigade was now moving forward to support and lengthen the Federal right. Sykes regulars were advancing to extend the Federal left with the 1st Minnesota close behind in support . The 71st New York came into line next to the 1st and 2nd Rhode Islanders. The men of the 71st New York had even dragged with them two boat howitzers which added more iron being thrown against the Confederate line. The smoke hung heavy and still upon the battlefield. Men at times had to crouch down and peek under the thick smoke to see what they were shooting at. Major Chatam Wheat would be hit and seriously wounded as he rode back and forth to confer with Evans.

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Confederate Defeat on Matthew's Hill

11:30 - 11:45

Col. Porter's Brigade and elements of the 2nd US Cavalry now to their place to the far right flank in line behind another 6 gun 10lb Parrot battery commanded by Capt. James Rickett's. The makeshift Confederate line under the overall command of Barnard bee had been battling along the Matthew Hill area for about an hour. Clumps of men were already drifting rearward. The 8th Georgia had been hit both front and flank, leaving 200 dead and wounded on the field, forced out of their patch of piney woods. Col. Egbert Jones, beloved leader of the 4th Alabama was down with a mortal wound. Bee realizing the line could not be held much longer, gave the order to fall back to his original choice for defense atop Henry Hill. Canister, shot and shell whistled through their ranks and over their heads as the units fell back trying to gain the shelter of Henry Hill. Wheat was carried from the field by a makeshift stretcher while he clasped a bloody hand over a sucking lung wound in his chest. He would survive to fight again even though the doctors who initially examined him thought differently.


Sherman and Keyes brigades now arrived on the disordered Confederate right having crossed at Farm Ford. Ironically it was Major Chatam Wheat's early morning crossing of the Bull Run that alerted the Federals to the feasability of using the then unknown ford. Gen. McDowell and his staff were galloping along the lines yelling "Victory! Victory! The day is ours!" Some Federals were upset when they heard these calls of Victory lamenting the fact that they had not had a chance to meet and defeat the enemy.

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Initial Actions on Henry House Hill

11:30- 11:45 am

The disorganized mob that crested Henry Hill was a sight to behold. Survivng officers that had survived tried to rally their men and bring order to the confusion that now reigned supreme. The action along Matthews Hill had been an hour of hard fighting. The men were hot and exhausted. Some stopped along Cub Run to drink what little they could from the seasonally depleted stream, others helped wounded comrades or just sat down, to tired to go any further, til they caught their breath. To most observers the battle had been fought and the war was over. Generals P.G.T. Beaureguard and Joe Johnston had not even been anywhere near the fight, still believing that the main Federal thrust would be at Mitchell's ford. It was only at 11:00 am that they decided to head north to the sound of the guns and to bring and send other fresh units in that direction. Col. Wade Hampton's 600 man Legion was just arriving having just detrained from Richmond early that morning at Manassas Junction. He would form his men in an around the Robinson farm. Jackson's Brigade was very close behind and marching hard .

No sooner had Hampton entered the yard when a shell exploded under his horse throwing him hard unto the ground. Hampton's men finely outfitted troops in fresh linen impressed the bedraggled, shirtsleeved and dust shrouded men of the 7th Georgia. Small arms fire penetrated their ranks and before them on the near horizon was a sea of bright glittering bayonets, rank upon rank.


The red shirted 1st Minnesotans and Sykes' Regulars re-aligned and pushed forward to clear the field of stragglers. Burnsides Brigade marched off the field to rest, resupply if possible and lick their wounds. They had done their part and held their position. Dead and wounded littered the field in all directions. A steady stream of dazed and bloody men headed back to the Sudley area where a hospital had been set up in the brick structure called Sudley Church. Some men just remained in and around the Matthew buildings either too tired or so badly wounded that they could not move any further. Porter's Brigade was in no shape either to advance after their eight hour march and the last half mile at the double-quick to reach their present spot on the battlefield. Porter's adjutant Lt. William Averell ordered only the 27th New York forward to clear the crossroads near the Stone House. The 27th New Yorkers stripped off any unecessary gear save cartridge box, musket and bayonet. Removing their coats and with sleeves rolled up they moved gallantly forward. They met the remnants of Col. Egbert Jone's 4th Alabamians, who had paused there to catch their breath. The action was short and sharp with the Alabamians continuing their retreat up Henry Hill behind the saftey of Imbodens' guns. Imboden would soon limber up and depart after having almost emptied their limber chests of ordanance.

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Stuart's 1st Va Cavalry charges the 11th NY Fire Zouaves


This illustration is at the moment chronologically out of order. Before I left for the 150th event at ManassasI just had to do it.

Unfortunately in the interwining weeks new information has come forth and I see that revises are essentail. I originally intended to make this illustration wider and narrower. Here I compressed it with Griffin's section and the 1st Minn too close to the 11th New York and Rickett's Battery. I also want to vary some of the Confederate uniforms...too much gray at the moment....Dramatic!?!..yes... confusion and chaos...also yes....Correct...? No.

Turns out the 11th NY (eyewitness account @ www.Bullrunnings blogspot by Harry Smeltzer) were mostly wearing their red Kepis and Havelocks and not wearing their fez's...They also had stripped off their greyish blue jackets near the Sudley church and were wearing sky blue not charcoal gray/black trousers. This means my Centreville Approach art needs to also be changed.. Oy!

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Coming soon


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