No. 17. Report of Colonel Erasmus D. Keyes, Eleventh U. S. Infantry, commanding First Brigade, First Division.
HEADQUARTERS FIRST BRIGADE, FIRST DIVISION, Camp on Meridian Hill, Washington, July 25, 1861.
SIR: In compliance with the orders of Brigadier-General Tyler, I have the honor to report the operations of the First Brigade, First Division, in the action of the 21st instant, at Bull Run, and during the two succeeding days.
Leaving my camp near Centreville at 2 o'clock a.m. I took my place in the First Division as a reserve. At 9.15 o'clock a.m., at the distance of half a mile from Bull Run, I was ordered by General Tyler to incline the head of my column to the right, and direct it through an open field to a ford about 800 yards above the stone bridge. Before the whole brigade had entered upon the new direction the enemy opened fire from a battery across the run, and threw upon the First and Second Regiments Connecticut Volunteers some twenty-five or thirty rounds of shot and shell, which caused a temporary confusion and wounded several men. Order was shortly restored, and the brigade closed up on Sherman's column before passing the ford.
After crossing, I marched at once to the high ground, and, by order of General Tyler, came into line on Sherman's left. The order to advance in line of battle was given at about 10 o'clock a.m., and from that hour until 4 p.m. my brigade was in constant activity on the field of battle. The First Regiment Connecticut Volunteers was met by a body of cavalry and infantry, which it repelled, and at several other encounters of different parts of the line the enemy constantly retired before us. At about 2 o'clock p.m. General Tyler ordered me to take a battery on a height in front. The battery was strongly posted, and supported by infantry and riflemen, sheltered by a building, a fence, and a hedge. My order to charge was obeyed with the utmost promptness. Colonel Jameson, of the Second Maine, and Colonel Chatfield, Third Connecticut Volunteers, pressed forward their regiments up the bare slope about one hundred yards, when I ordered them to lie down at a point offering a slight protection and load. I then ordered them to advance again, which they did, in the face of a movable battery of eight pieces and a large body of infantry, towards the top of a hill. As we moved forward we came under the fire of other large bodies of the enemy, posted behind breastworks, and on reaching the summit of the hill the fire became so hot that an exposure to it of five minutes would have annihilated my whole line. As the enemy had withdrawn to a height beyond, and to the support of additional troops, I ordered the Maine regiment to face by the left flank and move to a wooded slope across an open field, to which point I followed them. The balance of the brigade soon rejoined me, and after a few moments' rest I again put it in motion and moved forward to find another opportunity to charge.
The enemy had a light battery, which he maneuvered with extra-ordinary skill, and his shot fell often among and near us. I advanced generally just under the brow of the hills, by a flank movement, until I found myself about half a mile below the stone bridge. Our advance caused the Confederate to retire from the abatis, and enabled Captain Alexander, of the Engineers, to clear it away. In a short time the enemy moved his battery to a point which enabled him to enfilade my
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