Inspired by a post in an earlier thread by @Coonewah Creek I decided to take a look at the 1st Minnesota's role at Bull Run. The 1st Minnesota would go on to become one of the best regiment's on either side during the war.
I will be adding to this thread based on the account of James Wright, found in No More Gallant A Deed.
James A. Wright was born in Sangamon County, Illinois, on November 27, 1840. In 1855 the family moved to Goodhue County, Minbesota. David Wright (James's father) died before the family completed their move, and tragedy struck once again later in the year when lightning struck the home they were staying in while their new house was being built. James's oldest sister and a younger brother were killed in the blaze. James was a student at Hamline University when the war began. At a public meeting on April 17, James and many of his fellow students enlisted in what would become Company F, 1st Minnesota.
Part 1 -- March to Battle:
"We marched for some distance in the rear of some other troops over a good road, the Warrenton Turnpike. Soon after crossing a small stream, Cub Run, we turned to the right on a woods road. We --the regiment -- were now at the head of the column and were followed by Ricketts's battery. Behind the battery were the 11th Massachusetts and 5th Massachusetts, completing the brigade. The 4th Pennsylvania, being a three-months' regiment and it's time being out that day, had remained at Centreville or returned to Washington....
Soon after getting on this by-road, arrangements were made to deploy companies -- A and F -- if desirable, but it was not found necessary. Our march was now much more rapid than it had been. The day was very hot and, in the woods, on the narrow roads, very close. From these conditions and our rapid marching, we were sweating profusely, and the march was taxing to the men severely. About this time, we began to hear the report of a cannon occasionally, which continued for some time and increased in frequency. This firing seemed to be on our left and rear, and we appeared to be marching away from it. The firing Wright heard was the opening of the engagement between Tyler's division and Shanks Evans' brigade near the Stone Bridge. Tyler engaged the enemy sometime after 6:00 a.m.
McDowell's plan called for a wide flanking movement to strike the Confederate left. David Hunter's division led the movement. Burnside's brigade led the march, followed by Andrew Porter's brigade, and then Franklin's brigade. The 1st Minnesota was the lead regiment of Franklin's brigade.
When still some distance from the ford, near Dudley Springs Church, the artillery fire was heard again and increased to quite a rapid discharge. Musketry fire was also heard. About this time our regiment was hurried forward at the double-quick, and, when we reached the crossing, we were badly winded. As soon as we reached the ford, there was a rush to get water -- wading in to fill our canteens and pouring it onto our heads. Meanwhile there was a pretty lively artillery fire going on and intermittent musketry fire.
Burnside's brigade reached Sudley's Ford at approximately 9:30. They crossed the ford and continued to advance as Evans shifted his position to counter the threat to his flank. The 2nd Rhode Island and Reynolds battery made contact with two of Evans's regiments on Mathews Hill. This was likely the firing Wright was referring to.
There was but a short halt at the ford, and we reformed and waded the stream, following the road up a little rise, and then leaving it by turning to the left into a small, open wood. The other regiments of the brigade remained -- for a time -- on the other side of the stream, but the battery followed us over. During this time there was rapid firing going on, and we laid down for a few minutes in this wood.
(To be continued....)