Lt. Charles Minor Blackford, Wise Troop, On Blackburn’s Ford

26 08 2012

Bristow, July 19th, 1861

Well, I suppose you are delighted to see my handwriting in ink once more, something I like myself. Now for my adventures.

On Wednesday evening I was still flat on my back at Mr. Meachen’s quite sick. I was summoned in great haste, put into a wagon and rushed off with the troop to Bull Run, at a place called Stone Bridge Ford, the enemy being on the advance from towards Fairfax Courthouse in overwhelming numbers.  The whole of Cocke’s brigade took the same position, and we were tolerably well established by night but I had to sleep on the ground, which was not good for a sick man. I was sent by the surgeon, the next day, to this place in an ambulance, for I could not sit on my horse. This is a quiet hotel where are boarding some nice people; amongst them was Mrs. Hyde and her pretty, attractive niece Constance Cary who had come out of Alexandria when the yankees occupied it.

When the troops fell back it was done by preconcerted plan, and done without firing a gun. The enemy advanced, they thought, to certain victory but they were vastly mistaken. You must know that parallel to the Manassas Gap Railroad runs a stream to towards the Potomac called Bull Run, along which our army was placed in three positions. The center was at Mitchell’s Ford which is the ford where the road to Manassas from Centreville crosses the run; the right wing was down at a ford near where the railroad crosses the same run, and the left wing was under the command of Colonel Cocke, near the stone bridge, which is the bridge over which the pike from Warrington to Washington passes. General Beauregard commands the center in person – who commands the right wing I do not know. From Manassas to Mitchell’s Ford is three miles, from Centreville to the Ford is four miles. The Federal headquarters are at Centreville. It is about four miles from Manassas to our right wing. I think they call it Blackburn’s Ford. From Manassas to the stone bridge is six miles. Most of our troops are on the right and on the center. I have no idea of how many we have. I only know of Cocke’s brigade on the left, with which my command is operating under his orders.

About nine o’clock yesterday morning the enemy commenced an attack on Mitchell’s Ford and repeated it several times. Our position there is a strong one. All of our men behaved nobly. The Virginians stood with the coolness of veterans, yet fought with the fury of tigers in the charge. Our loss, however, was very small. I learn that no member of the Home Guard was killed, wounded or missing. Major Carter Harrison, your cousin and mine, I hear was killed. You can imagine my suspense while lying helpless in Manassas and hearing the battle raging within three miles.

The thunder of guns woke me up from a troubled sleep and at first I thought it was a morning thunder shower but as I became more awake, and heard the people in the house calling to each other I realized what had happened; the battle was commencing. I tried to spring out of bed but my first movement showed me I was still in no condition to join my company so all I could do was lay back, trying from the dim sounds to visualize what was going on at the front. Below me in the road I could hear the mustering of forage details that were in the rear, the jangle and rattle of an artillery company going up at a gallop, ammunition wagons creaking as the driver prodded their horses to greater effort. Now and then the hooves of a courier went past while news and rumors were relayed up from the front of the house to the upper floors by excited shouts. I strained my ears to every word. In the next room I could hear a woman praying, between sobs, for her husband. When John Scott came up i scanned his face, it was as stolid and unmoved by the battle as by any routine maneuver. “What is happening, how is the battle going?” I asked anxiously. “Them yankees ain’t doin’ nuthin,” he answered unmoved by the excitement. “Them yankees are just marchin’ up and bein’ shot to Hell.” John Scott was too much of an old warrior not to be able to sort out the facts from the many rumors that were flying about and I felt easier, especially when I discovered the fighting was going on well away from our position in the lines. As th excitement outside and in the house calmed down, the sound of the fighting remained unchanged and soothed by John Scott’s unemotional reports I was able to relax and sleep.

Fortunately Cocke’s brigade was not engaged yesterday and there is no fighting anywhere on the line today. I expect to join them before my company is engaged.

Blackford, S. L., Blackford, C. M.,  Blackford, C. M.  III, Letters from Lee’s Army or Memoirs of Life In and Out of The Army in Virginia During the War Between the States, pp. 24-26.





Popular Drivel

24 08 2012

If you haven’t heard about “historian” Richard Slotkin’s new book on Antietam, Google it. I will not link to it here. I refuse. Just like the Supreme Court and prior restraint, the book has been roundly rejected by a number of Antietam scholars I know. But check out this critique of a recent interview this “historian” – make that “MAJOR historian” - recently did with NPR.





Col. Arthur C. Cummings, 33rd Virginia Infantry, On the Battle (1)

11 08 2012

Capt. P.L. Burwell

Abingdon Virginia

March 30th 1888

My dear Captain,

Your very kind letter of the 28th received today was both a surprise and a gratification to me – after the lapse of twenty six years it is very gratifying to be kindly remembered by those of my old command with whom I was associated with in the trying times of war, and for whom I have always cherished the kindred recollections – I have a very distinct and pleasant recollection of you and your valuable services when as you well remember I had to take my Regiment in the first battle of Manassas as undrilled and as undisciplined almost as raw material and I have always thought that the charge made by it upon the enemies [sic] battery to left of the Henry house was as gallant if not in as regular a line as could have been made by well drilled regulars – I remember you well, and the fact that you had lost an eye but I do not know that I could have recalled your name if I had not seen it signed to your letter which at once recalled it to my recollection – but the man I remember distinctly as on the memorable 21st of July 1861. I have not a very retentive recollection of names but the men with whom I was associated in earlier life and especially in the army I rarely forget – I think I have a very distinct recollection of all or nearly all the officers who were in the 33rd Regt whilst under my command, but some of their names I cannot now recall though the men themselves are plainly visible to my minds eye but if the name was mentioned I would remember it at once – There were about 400 men of the 33 Regt fit for duty and in the first battle of Manassas – and of that number there were almost 40 killed and wounded and if I am not mistaken and think I give you the figures correct, there were 39 killed and 100 or 101 wounded – I give you as I remember the figures of my report – but I think 36 or 37 would be the accurate number killed, as some two or three who were at first supposed and reported killed were in fact only missing and afterwards turned up – There is no doubt however that the 33rd suffered more heavily than any Regt in the fight – There were only eight companies of the Regt in the fight – one company from Rockingham commanded by Capt J. R. Jones afterwards Col Jones and a company commanded by Capt Holliday afterwards Col & Gen Holliday had been left at and in the neighborhood of Winchester and did not join the Regiment until a few days after the fight – in fact the company commanded by Gen Holliday was not assigned to the Regiment until some days after the battle. I have by few papers relative to the service of the Regt – My home & office in Abingdon together with a good many of my papers having been burned by the Federal army the latter part of the war – but I have a very distinct recollection of most every thing concerning the Regt whilst under my command except names and if there is any special information you desire and will let me know, I shall take pleasure in furnishing it. As you are now near Hampshire County West Virginia you can probably tell me what has become of Capt Grace who commanded a company raised near Frankfort in that County. The 33rd Regiment was from the counties of Rockingham 1 company Shenandoah 5 – Frederick 1 – Page 1 – Hardy 1 – and Hampshire 1 – so far from me in the extreme south west that I rarely meet any of the surviving officers or men though it would afford me great pleasure and gratification to do so – though advancing in years have & have not been exempted from the troubles of time I am in tolerable health and in reasonably comfortable circumstances I feel that I should be thankful in the blessings bestowed by a kind Providence & not ? at the trials from which few are exempt –  I shall be pleased and gratified to hear from you at any time.

Yours very truly,

Arthur C. Cummings

Transcription provided by reader James Myslik

Private collection of Sarah Beverly, Cookeville, TN

Notes





Another Letter Via a Reader

10 08 2012

This weekend I will (hopefully) post an 1888 letter written by the colonel of a prominent Bull Run regiment – in some ways, the most prominent Bull Run regiment – concerning the battle. The letter is in private hands, a transcription of which has been provided by a descendant of the recipient. I also expect to receive a digital copy of the letter itself to be attached to the transcription, but won’t (in this case) wait for that. It’s risky to post such an item without some tangible proof of the authenticity, but due to the prominence of the letter writer I think I’ll make an exception. I can always pull the post later, but I have no reason to doubt this one.

As always, thank you dear readers for your contributions. I know I have one or two others that I have yet to post, but only because I haven’t quite figured out how to use them.  I encourage all readers in possession of relevant material to submit it for inclusion in the Bull Run Resources section.





Save Historic Antietam Foundation Lecture Series 9/8/2012

7 08 2012

Save Historic Antietam Foundation Inc. is pleased to announce a special lecture series in honor of the 150th Anniversary of the battle of Antietam.  The lectures will take place in the Mumma Farm barn at Antietam National Battlefield on Saturday September 8, starting at 9:00.  This event will also feature presentations from the recipients of two special scholarships funded by SHAF.  Daniel Vermilya has received the first Joseph L.  Harsh Scholar Award and will share his research on the Union Army at Antietam.  Susan Rosenwald was awarded the special Sesquicentennial Award and she will share her research about the role and actions of Clara Barton at Sharpsburg.  Other speakers will include Dennis Frye, Chief Historian of Harper’s Ferry National Park, Dr. Mark Snell, director of the George Tyler Moore Center for Study of the Civil War and local columnist and writer Tim Rowland.  The event is free and open to the public, and no reservations will be required.   Donations to SHAF will be accepted and there will be book signing by the authors and other items for sale.

Schedule:

9:00-9:30 – Coffee and Danish

9:30-9:45 – Opening Remarks, Tom Clemens, President, SHAF

9:45-10:30 – Session I, Dr. Mark Snell, “Causes of the Civil War”

10:30-10:45 – Break

10:45-11:30 – Session II, Dan Vermilya, Harsh Scholar recipient, “Perceptions, Not Realities: The Strength, Experience, and Condition of the Army of the Potomac at Antietam”

11:30-12:00 – Awards

12:00-1:00 – Lunch, Box Lunch available, by pre-order only $10.00 each*

1:00-1:45 – Session III, Susan Rosenwald, Sesquicentennial Award recipient, “Clara Barton at Antietam”

1:45-2:00 – Break

2:00-2:45 – Session IV, Dennis Frye, “September Suspense: Lincoln’s Union in Peril”

2:45-3:00 – Break

3:00-3:45 – Session V, Tim Rowland, “Odd Incidents of Maryland Campaign”

3:45 – Closing Remarks

* Preorder on-line at www.SHAF.org, choices will be available on the website.





Unknown Officer, First Maryland Battalion, On the March to Manassas and the Battle

5 08 2012

The Battle of Manassas – Letter From an Officer in the Maryland Brigade to His Wife.

You know when we left Winchester, late the afternoon of Thursday; we marched all that night, and at sunrise the next morning camped for breakfast on the Shenandoah. At eleven our brigade commenced the crossing, and by two got fairly on the march again. After twelve that night we reached Piedmont, when the men got food, only the second meal since leaving Winchester.

Saturday, however, we remained, the railroad dispatching troops with horrid inefficiency. At two A. M. Sunday morning we got on the cars; a train ran off – water gave out – men were called for to shovel water in the trough with spades, and had it not been for Col. Fisher of 6th N. C. I do not know when we should have got off. His energy and experience got us started, and at eleven we reached a point some three miles from Manassas, Gen. E. K. Smith commanding his brigade, and Elzeys our Maryland one as General of Division. Then none of Smith’s men had arrived, and taking command of the Marylanders, who were the first formed, he led off, followed by the Tennessee 3d, Col. Vangham, and Virginia 10th, Col. Gibbons, and a light battery under Lieut. Beckham.

The dust was dreadful, the heat terrific, but unslinging knapsacks we went off at double quick. The Lieut. Col. and Major having been obliged to send their horses by road, were on foot. The boom of heavy artillery gradually extending to our left showed the battle widening there, and an attempted out-flanking us. At the cars we had received a colour presented by the ladies of Baltimore, and fastening that to our old colours, those of the Frederick Volunteers, we had only the flag of Maryland, and her old arms over our heads. As we passed regiment after regiment, cheer after cheer went up for gallant Maryland. Hearing the line of fire which now crashed and rolled and thundered in front; a regiment of cavalry drawn in line showed the preparation for a charge; under a hill a long line of men showed a reserve protecting themselves against the round shot and bullets which whizzed and whistled in a continuous stream over our heads. Then an Aid galloped up – Hill, from N. C. – without a hat, “Forward, Maryland!” was his shout and then a responsive shout showed the spirit of our men. To run for two miles and a half in a terrible heat and dust, by men without sleep the night before and no food since the previous day, told on men and officers. I nearly gave out, and thought it impossible to go a step further, when a halt was had. The men rushed, permission being given, into a mass of mud and water, stirred by thousands of men and horses, and eagerly drank it. General Smith sent to General Beauregard for orders. The answer was, “You must do the best you can. Go where the fire is hottest.” Forward, was the word. On sprang the men. Troops of wounded and dispirited men met us coming slowly back from the field. “Haste,” said they, “we are getting cut to death – they are mowing our men by ranks and companies.” The words infuriated our men. The double-quick became a run, and over fences, through brakes and gullies and briars, they rushed with reckless impetuosity. Just then came up one of my horses. I gave it to Col. Stuart. Soon after a raking volley from our right brought the order from General Smith to “Lie Down,” but it was too late; Company F, and Irish company from Baltimore, had seen the enemy in the woods. Their caps and red breeches showed the Zouaves, and, with a yell, they fired and charged. Gen. Smith fell within ten feet of me, shot through the neck, and four of our men were brought down, but the Zouaves were gone. The long roll of small arms just in front indicated, we thought, a sharp, deadly conflict there, so, charging through a thick wood, we halted just on the other edge. Going up the hill, a splendid horse came up riderless. I caught him and mounted. As we halted – Colonel Elzey then in command, Smith being off the field – was just in the center of our Regiment. The 3d Tennessee on our right, 10th Virginia on our left, and Beckham’s battery on a hill, masked by some light woods. Just then we discovered the enemy in force on top of a high hill, not two hundred and fifty yards from us, flag flying and bayonets glistening in the sun. “Get me a glass, get me a glass,” said the Colonel.

But my eyes were better just then. The wind threw out the Stars and Stripes; the long line of light shivered along their ranks as they bought their guns to a ready preparation to fire. I rode along the line, saying to the men shoot at their knees; and as I got back to the Colonel, her ordered, give it to them, boys; and the Maryland rifles rang out clear and sharp; but high above them – above the roar of battle – above the tempest of whewing, whizzing balls – the cheer of the “Maryland Line” rose full and high. With each volley they cheered. The enemy attempted to stand the leaden hail; but then Col Elzey gave the order to charge, and, with another yell, over the fence we went and up the hill – gallant Tennessee stretching out like a line of light on our right, old Virginia gathering in on our left, while Beckham’s battery fired one, two, three, four, as regularly, as coolly as if firing a salute – one, two, three, four. But we beat them all in the race. Up the hill – no enemy there. Dead, dying and wounded and panic-stricken were lying in heaps. Their fine horses, together with swords and sashes, splendid saddles, all were there. But Captain Edelin, of company B, watching the flag head, had followed it during the charge and took it from the colour-bearer. All his guard shot down or fled, the gallant fellow had taken it from his lance and wrapped it around his left arm, where he was badly shot. It was the flag of the First Michigan Regiment – a crack corps. But just in front was a thick pine wood. In it the man dashed, and the last stand of Yankeedom at the battle of Manassas was taken. They fled like sheep. The Regiments in front of us were First Michigan, Second Vermont, Fourth Maine, New York Fire Zouaves, New York Sixty-ninth. We charged them and ran them with rifles without bayonets, only two companies of the Regiment having muskets. We then went forward, taking prisoners; but the battle was over. Beauregard inquired for us, and told Col. Elzey he was the Blucher of the day. President Davis came along, and the men cheered heartily.

The hard fighting done by other regiments was wonderful. We were particularly blessed, for though under a terrific fire for three hours, we lost one killed – a clever young fellow from Washington county – who joined me on the Maryland Heights. Lieut. Mernot and four wounded. But other regiments were terribly cut up. I saw men lying in ranks as they stood in line around a battery – the Rhode Island one, Burnside’s, I believe – friend and foe were lying so thick it required careful riding to avoid treading on them. Such was what I saw – necessarily a small part. The next day, Monday, we lay out in the rain without shelter, and at midnight started for Fairfax Court-House. A brigade under Col. J. E. B. Stewart leading. The infantry under Col. Stewart leaving the regiment to me. As we got up the road the marks of the rout thickened. Wagons, provisions, guns, pistols, clothes, everything to supply an army completely were there. Patent frying pans, which folded up, patent cartridges, patent tents, patent coats, bedsteads, everything. We came carefully along leaving all behind, and reached our camp, Fairfax Court-House, where we now are. We have the tents of the Maine and Vermont volunteers, conical and every shape, but miserably constructed. The funniest capture was our Chaplain’s – he is always prowling about, and at last got the baggage of the Maine Chaplain, which he seized and brought into camp. He has gowns, surplice bands, cravats, and all other adornments of a High Church clergyman. He saw the Maine parson, who is very saucy and full of fight; but Cameron, got his clothes nevertheless.

August 8th.

———-

Richmond Examiner, 8/17/1861

Clipping Image

Contributed by John Hennessy





Good Account Coming

3 08 2012

Sorry again for the deafening silence. Lots going on and time is at a premium. I have a new (to Bull Runnings) first-hand account of the march to Manassas and the battle from a Marylander, courtesy of FOBR John Hennessy, and will try to get it posted tonight or over the weekend. Bear with me!








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