War of the Rebellion: Serial 016 Page 0471 Chapter XXIV. CAMPAIGN IN NORTHERN VIRGINIA.

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Numbers 90. Report of Colonel Charles W. Roberts, Second Maine Infantry, commanding First Brigade, of the battle of Bull Run.


Centreville, Va., August 31, 1862.

CAPTAIN: I have the honor to submit the following report, viz:

Upon Saturday, the 30th instant, between the hours of 3 and 4 o'clock a. m., near Manassas Gap, on the road leading toward Gainesville, where we had the previous day been ordered in position for the purpose of resisting any attack which might be contemplated by the enemy, I received orders from Major-General Morell to break camp or bivouac with as little confusion as possible. Taking up our line of march on the road we had advanced the day before I supposed our destination would be Centreville. My only directions, however, were to follow in the rear of Colonel Berdan's regiment U. S. Sharpshooters, which was preceded by a battery and the Third Brigade, General Butterfield. The Second Brigade, General Griffin's, and Martin's Third Massachusetts Regiment, were left as a rear guard. The Twenty-second Massachusetts Regiment, under Captain Burt, just having been relieved from picket duty, also remained behind. Arriving at Manassas Junction, we took the road to the left toward Bull Run. We had proceeded along this road but a short distance when a shell from the enemy bursting toward our front, also the arranging of large columns of troops in line of battle, warned me that an anticipated engagement was near at hand. Approaching near Groveton, I was directed by General Butterfield, in command of the division, to move the brigade to the extreme front, my left connecting with his right, this position being nearly the same as that occupied by General King's command during the battle of the previous day (the 29th). The brigade under the direction of Lieutenant-Colonel Bartrem, Seventeenth New Jork, acting aide for General Butterfield, I posted as follows: The Twenty-fifth New York, Colonel Johnson, deployed as skirmishers, covering our front and connecting with the skirmishers of the Third Brigade; the Eighteenth massachusetts, under Captain Thomas, in lime of battle directly in rear of Colonel Johnson's reserve; The Thirteenth New York, Colonel Marshall, in line of battle in rear of the Eighteenth Massachusetts; the First Michigan, Colonel Roberts, and the Second Maine, Major Sargent commanding, in double column and in rear by echelon of the other regiments respectively, ready to promptly relieve them provided they were obliged to give way. Between the two brigades a section of Smead's battery was posted. In this position we remained nearly two hours awaiting the movements of the enemy, but, with the exception of a scattering fire from my skirmishers, also from those of Colonel Berdan's regiment, to the extreme front, and an occasional shell or round shot whizzing harmlessly over our heads, the coming battle seemed to be at a stand. At this juncture, between the hours of 11 and 12 m., I received through General Butterfield from Major-General Porter an order to advance my skirmishers briskly through the skirt of woods to my front, and following with my command to attack the enemy, take possession of a railroad excavation located just through the woods on my right, to then sweep around to the left, and advance upon the batteries of the enemy posted upon a hill some distance to my left, the above order assuring me that I should receive from the forces under General King a vigorous support on my right. I at once commenced executing the order, my skir-