Thursday, July 21, 2011

1:00 pm: The struggle for Henry Hill

Programming note: Over the next three hours things become very confusing in the mayhem on top of Henry Hill. Specific times for events vary wildly as does the sequence. I’ll post on the hour rather than half hour and in a slightly different style than the narrative so far.
Blackburn Ford
Longstreet’s staffers completed their reconnaissance of the batteries of Richardson that were still intermittently raining down shot on them. Unaware of the details of the action on Henry Hill, Longstreet recommended attacking them and beginning the attack on Centreville.

Johnston pulled reinforcements from every corner of the battlefield. Early’s brigade had spent the morning marching from one point to another in the vacillations of Beauregard about his Centreville plan, meaning they had no specific position to defend. At Mitchell’s Ford, Bonham was asked to send two regiments, and Cocke had to give up another battalion of men. And, in a stroke of luck, he received word that his final brigade had just arrived by train at Manassas Junction. Johnston wastes no time and orders them to march immediately sown the Sudley Road to Henry Hill.

Matthew’s Hill
James Fry had been sent by McDowell back from Henry Hill to again urge Tyler to hurry up and deploy his third brigade, which was still on the other side of Bull Run unknown to just about everyone. Now Fry could not find McDowell and so fell back to near the Warrenton Turnpike, where Chief Engineer Bayard was concerned about the Stone Bridge. The regiments of the 8th South Carolina had fallen back from it, but it was entirely undefended and still covered by abatis, tree branches stacked close together to make it difficult to move. He was trying to find some specialized soldiers called pioneers that still had their axes to clear the way.

While Burnside’s brigade watched from Matthew’s Hill, the 2nd New Hampshire (as the closest regiment on hand) was asked for to fill a hole of a regiment that had collapsed.
Just as we were about to start, Colonel Marston came up mounted, with his shoulder bandaged, and said, “Now we New Hampshire boys will have a chance to show what stuff we are made of.” He was received with cheers, and accompanied us until repeated entreaties not to take the risk of aggravating his wound induced him to return; but he left the inspiration of his presence with us.
Henry Hill
Charles Griffin had been ordered by Heintzelman to move his battery of cannons to a place where they could tear apart the Confederate line based on Jackson. Along with another of Heintzelman’s batteries, the West Point artillery drug their guns down Sudley Road and set themselves up at roughly a 90 degree angle from the Confederates and no more than 200 yards distance. They opened fire at point blank range with devastating effect. Heintzelman and two regiments of infantry went with them.

At some point during this hour, Mrs. Judith Henry, an elderly widow living in a house on top of the hill that bore her name was killed by artillery fire. She was bed-ridden and very unwell and refused to leave her home as soldiers approached. Her daughter and a slave hid themselves in the fire place and lived.

Key to People and Places

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