Letter to CWT on Gary Gallagher on CW Bloggers

24 05 2012

The August 2012 issue of Civil War Times magazine includes a letter from yours truly commenting on Prof. Gary Gallagher’s Blue & Gray column in the preceding issue. The letter was pretty much a recap of thoughts I wrote about here. I really don’t think Gallagher’s “criticisms” were harsh on blogs and bloggers, any more than they would be if applied, as they can and should, to books and authors. However, I did find G’s implication (though it may simply have been my inference) that somehow the blogosphere can, in light of his criticism, be safely ignored by “serious” historians to be wrong-headed. As happens often in magazines, my letter was edited to fit the space available, so I present the original version below:

As a Civil War blogger, I read with interest Gary Gallagher’s “Blue & Gray” column in the June 2012 issue of Civil War Times. I found it to be a  molehill with lofty aspirations, if you will. Dr. G. sums up his position: “Overall, my limited engagement with the Civil War blogging world has left me alternately informed, puzzled and, on occasion, genuinely amused. I suspect these are common reactions to the mass of valuable information and unfiltered opinion that crowd the multitude of blogs out there.” In other words, the content of the blogs taken as a whole is uneven. As both a consumer and reviewer of Civil War books, I can say the same thing about the print world, including university presses. There’s a lot of crap out there. Unlike print media, with most blogs the comments feature helps to  keep the blogger honest, correct errors of fact, and facilitate an organic research process that can be wonderful to behold. Consumers have a responsibility to separate the wheat from the chaff in any case. Anyone researching the American Civil War – or any topic, for that matter – can only ignore what is published in “non-traditional” formats at their peril. Just because they didn’t read it doesn’t change the fact that it has been written. Adaptation is the key to survival.





JCCW Barbarities – Frederick Scholes

30 04 2012

Report of the Conduct of the War, Volume 3, pp. 466 – 468

WASHINGTON, April 7, 1862.

FREDERICK SCHOLES sworn and examined.

By Mr. Odell:

Question. Where is your residence?

Answer. City of Brooklyn, New York.

Question. What do you know in relation to the burial of our dead at Bull Bun, and the treatment of those of our soldiers who fell there?

Answer. I proceeded to the battle field of Bull Run on Friday last, the 4th of this month. We passed across the battle field, and proceeded to the place where I supposed my brother’s body was buried, which was on a knoll on Chinn’s farm. We found a trench there where bodies had evidently been buried. I then proceeded to a stone house on Young’s branch. The owner of that house told me that on the Tuesday after the battle he saw two men sitting by a stone fence, both of them wounded. One of them opened his waistcoat and showed him a gash down the whole of his breast, and begged him for some water. The other one was also badly wounded, and he wanted some water. He could not tell me how the men were dressed, as he was very much excited from what he had passed through. He told me about the number buried, and pointed out the locality of several bodies buried in the yard of his house and in the vicinity. We then proceeded over to the house of a free negro, named Simon or Simons, and had a long conversation with him. He said he was a sutler, or rather kept a little store, and supplied the rebel soldiers with eatables. He said the rebel soldiers would come in his store with bones in their hands, which they showed to him, and said they were bones of Yankees which they had dug up. He said it was a common thing for the soldiers to exhibit the bones of “the Yankees.” From there we proceeded to the portion of the battle-field where Ricketts’s battery was. Near there I found a part of what I supposed, from the description I had heard, to be the uniform of one of Ricketts’s men. The ball had gone through the left breast. On examining it I found a piece of the shirt sleeve, and there was still some flesh in the sleeve. I found portions of the uniforms of the Ellsworth Zouaves in the same state. In the bushes in the neighborhood I found a part of a Zouave uniform with a sleeve sticking out of the grave, and a portion of the pantaloons sticking out. On attempting to pull it up I found that the two ends of the grave were still unopened, but the middle had been pried up, pulling up the extremities of the uniform in some places, and pulling up the sleeves of the shirts and a portion of the pantaloons. There were portions of flesh, as I found, remaining there. I found likewise the remains of one of the 14th New York regiment in the same condition, the grave having been pried open. There were pieces of the backbone and some of the ribs sticking up in the middle of the grave, where the centre had been pried up, the two ends of the grave being unopened. Back in the bushes we found some appearances of where bodies had been buried and washed out by the rains. But those I have been speaking of had evidently been dug up. Doctor Swalm, who was with me, pointed out the trenches where the secessionists had buried their own dead, almost immediately adjoining where our dead had been buried. Their remains had not been disturbed at all. After examining there I went over to the house of a free negro named Hampton, as I understood he had assisted in burying some of our dead. He told me he had buried the bodies on the Chinn farm, in the trenches that we first found. He had been notified by a man named Benjamin Franklin Lewis to proceed over there and bury the bodies there. They were buried on the Tuesday after the battle. I spoke to him about the manner in which these bodies had been dug up. He said he knew it had been done, and said it was most shameful. He said the rebels had commenced digging up the bodies two or three days after they were buried for the purpose, at first, of obtaining the buttons on their uniforms; afterwards they dug them up as they decayed to get their bones. I asked him how they had dug up the bodies. He said they had taken rails and pushed the ends down in the centre under the middle of the bodies and then pried them up in that way. He said that Lewis’s men also knew about it. I went over where some of Lewis’s negro men were and inquired of them. Their information corroborated fully the statement of this man Hampton. They also stated that a great many of the bodies had been stripped naked on the field before they were buried, and some were buried naked; others were buried with their clothes on. They said that numbers of them had been dug up through the winter, and even shortly after they had been buried. I went to Mr. Lewis’s house, and after waiting some time he came in. I spoke to him about the manner in which the bodies had been dug up. He said that their whole army should not be blamed for that. He admitted it was infamous, but said a few men had done it who could not be controlled.

Question. Did he say what soldiers they were who had treated the bodies of our dead in this way?

Answer. He condemned principally the New Orleans Tigers, of General Wheat’s division; the Louisiana Tigers, I believe they were called. He said they were the men who had done the principal part of it. He said that after the battle the men went over the field and robbed all indiscriminately, both friend and foe. He said they had all along been the cause of a great deal of trouble, and that two or three of them had been shot during the winter for mutiny. He said that the most of them had deserted their cause and were over on our side now. He said our wounded had been very badly treated; and Doctor Swalm told me about the unnecessary amputations that had been performed by the rebel surgeons. He said that limbs had been taken off unnecessarily and in a very bad manner; that, after the confederates had taken possession of the hospital, they would not allow our surgeons to use the knife at all, but used it themselves, and that some of the men had died in consequence of their bad treatment, and from want of the necessary nourishment. He mentioned a number of instances of men who had been actually murdered by bad treatment. I spoke to Mr. Lewis about that, and he admitted that it was so. He spoke of doctors on their own side who had spoken about the manner in which the wounded had been cut and neglected and treated badly after the battle. He said that he had become afraid that a pestilence would break out there in the neighborhood, in consequence of the dead being left unburied. And accordingly, on the Tuesday following the battle, finding the dead still unburied, he had gone out and warned out the neighborhood and had them buried, sending his own men to assist in doing so. On Sunday morning (yesterday) I collected a party of men and went to the trench where I supposed my brother might have been buried, and dug down to the bodies. We found them covered by some eighteen inches to two feet of earth, just tumbled in any way, some on their sides and some on their backs. I found one body entirely naked. Upon digging at one end of the trench we found, not more than two inches below the surface, the thigh-bone of a man that had evidently been dug up after burial; and in digging at the other end of the trench, in throwing out the first shovelful of earth, we found the detached shin-bone of a man, which had been struck by a musket ball and split; a part of the thigh-bone was still attached to it. The bodies at the ends had been pried up, the clothing at each end of the body still in the ground, where the middle of the body had been pried up. The other bodies were perfect. While we were digging there a party of soldiers came up and showed us a part of a shin-bone five or six inches long, which had the end sawed off. They said they had found it among many other pieces in one of the cabins that the rebels had deserted. From the appearance of it, pieces had been sawed off, out of which to make finger-rings. As soon as the negroes saw it, they said that the rebels had had rings made of the bones of our dead that they had dug up; that they had had them for sale in their camps. As soon as Doctor Swalm saw the piece of bone the soldier had, he said that it was a part of a shin-bone of a man; and I compared it with the detached shin-bone we had dug up—the one split by a musket ball—and they corresponded exactly. The soldiers said there were lots of these bones scattered all through the rebel huts, sawed into rings, &c. One of the men said he had been looking for the body of his lieutenant, and had found where it had been left in the bushes unburied. He had found the bones and portions of the clothing scattered around by the hogs. They had buried the remains that they gathered up on Sunday last, together with other remains that they had collected. Mr. Lewis and the negroes all spoke of Colonel Cameron’s body, and knew about its being stripped, and where it had been buried. They said that General Johnston, I think, had sent around and collected some of the things taken from the body; among others, a locket, and had endeavored to find his coat. Some of the things had been found. He knew exactly where Colonel Cameron’s body had been buried. All the negroes and those in the neighborhood seemed to know all about it. I talked in the presence of the ladies in Mr. Lewis’s house of the manner in which our dead had been treated. Some of them denied it; it seemed to be well understood in the neighborhood that these things had been done.

By Mr. Covode:

Question. Did you find your brother’s remains?

Answer. I do not know that they were in either of the trenches that we examined, unless it was the body that was naked and could not be recognized. I am not certain that he is dead. I know that he was wounded.

By Mr. Odell:

Question. Did you see any difference in the manner in which the confederates had buried our dead and their own?

Answer. I saw where one of their dead had been buried in a box, and afterwards his remains taken up and removed. A portion of the box was still there. I saw a number of the graves of the confederate soldiers that had little headboards placed at the head and marked. None of them have any appearance of having been disturbed. I noticed in one of the graves where the body had been pried up a shoe with some of the remains still in it.





JCCW – Report On Rebel Barbarities At Manassas

23 04 2012

Report of the Conduct of the War, Volume 3, pp. 449 – 457

IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED SATES, April 1, 1862.

On motion by Mr. SUMNER,

Resolved, That the select committee on the conduct of the war be directed to collect the evidence with regard to the barbarous treatment by the rebels, at Manassas, of the remains of officers and soldiers of the United States killed in battle there; and that said select committee also inquire into the fact whether Indian savages have been employed by the rebels in their military service, and how such warfare has been conducted by said savages against the government of the United States.

Attest:

J. W. FORNEY, Secretary.

Mr. Wade, from the joint committee on the conduct of the present war, begs leave respectfully to submit a report, in part, as follows:

On the first day of April the Senate of the United States adopted the following resolution; which was referred to the committee on the conduct of the war:

Resolved,That the select committee on the conduct of the war be directed to collect the evidence with regard to the barbarous treatment by the rebels, at Manassas, of the remains of officers and soldiers of the United States killed in battle there ; and that the said select committee also inquire into the fact whether the Indian savages have been employed by the rebels, in their military service, against the government of the United States, and how such warfare has been conducted by said savages.

In pursuance of the instructions contained in this resolution, your committee have the honor to report that they examined a number of witnesses, whose testimony is herewith submitted.

Mr. Nathaniel F. Parker, who was captured at Falling Waters, Virginia, testifies that he was kept in close confinement, denied exercise, and, with a number of others, huddled up in a room; that their food, generally scant, was always bad, and sometimes nauseous; that the wounded had neither medical attention nor humane treatment, and that many of these latter died from sheer neglect; that five of the prisoners were shot by the sentries outside, and that he saw one man, Tibbetts, of. the New York twenty-seventh regiment, shot as he was passing his window on the 8th of November, and that he died of the wound on the 12th. The perpetrator of this foul murder was subsequently promoted by the rebel government.

Dr. J. M. Homiston, surgeon of the 14th New York or Brooklyn regiment, captured at Bull Run, testifies that when he solicited permission to remain on the field and to attend to wounded men, some of whom were in a helpless and painful condition and suffering for water, he was brutally refused. They offered him neither water nor anything in the shape of food. He and his companions stood in the streets of Manassas, surrounded by a threatening and boisterous crowd, and were afterwards thrust into an old building, and left, without sustenance or covering, to sleep on the bare floor. It was only when faint and exhausted, in response to their earnest petitions, they having been without food for twenty-four hours, that some cold bacon was grudgingly given to them. When, at last, they were permitted to go to the relief of our wounded, the secession surgeon would not allow them to perform operations, but intrusted the wounded to his young assistants, “some of them with no more knowledge of what they attempted to do than an apothecary’s clerk.” And further, “that these inexperienced surgeons performed operations upon our men in a most horrible manner; some of them were absolutely frightful.” “When,” he adds, “I asked Doctor Darby to allow me to amputate the leg of Corporal Prescott, of our regiment, and said that the man must die if it were not done, he told me that I should be allowed to do it.” While Doctor Homiston was waiting, he says a secessionist came through the room and said, “they are operating upon one of the Yankee’s legs up stairs.” “I went up and found that they had cut off Prescott’s leg. The assistants were pulling on the flesh at each side, trying to get flap enough to cover the bone. They had sawed off the bone without leaving any of the flesh to form the flaps to cover it; and with all the force they could use they could not get flap enough to cover the bone. They were then obliged to saw off about an inch more of the bone, and even then, when they came to put in the sutures (the stitches) they could not approximate the edges within less than an inch and a half of each other; of course, as soon as there was any swelling, the stitches tore out and the bone stuck through again. Dr. Swalm tried afterwards to remedy it by performing another operation, but Prescott had become so debilitated that he did not survive.” Corporal Prescott was a young man of high position, and had received a very liberal education.

The same witness describes the sufferings of the wounded after the battle as inconceivably horrible; with bad food, no covering, no water. They were lying upon the floor as thickly as they could be laid. “There was not a particle of light in the house to enable us to move among them.” Deaf to all his appeals, they continued to refuse water to these suffering men, and he was only enabled to procure it by setting cups under the eaves to catch the rain that was falling, and in this way he spent the night catching the water and conveying it to the wounded to drink. As there was no light, he was obliged to crawl on his hands and knees to avoid stepping on their wounded limbs; and, he adds, “it is not a wonder that next morning we found that several had died during the night.” The young surgeons, who seemed to delight in hacking and butchering these brave defenders of our country’s flag, were not, it would seem, permitted to perform any operations upon the rebel wounded. “Some of our wounded,” says this witness, “were left lying upon the battle-field until Tuesday night and Wednesday morning. When brought in, their wounds were completely alive with larvae deposited there by the flies, having laid out through all the rain-storm of Monday, and the hot, sultry sunshine of Tuesday.” The dead laid upon the field unburied for five days; and this included men not only of his own, the 14th regiment, but of other regiments. This witness testifies that the rebel dead were carried off and interred decently. In answer to a question whether the confederates themselves were not also destitute of medicine, he replied, “they could not have been, for they took all ours, even to our surgical instruments.” He received none of the attention from the surgeons on the other side, “which,” to use his own language, “I should have shown to them had our position been reversed.”

The testimony of William F. Swalm, assistant surgeon of the 14th New York regiment, who was taken prisoner at Sudley’s church, confirms the statement of Dr. Homiston in regard to the brutal operations on Corporal Prescott. He also states that after he himself had been removed to Richmond, when seated one day with his feet on the window-sill, the sentry outside called to him to take them in, and on looking out he saw the sentry with his musket cocked and pointed at him, and withdrew in time to save his life. He gives evidence of the careless, heartless, and cruel manner in which the surgeons operated upon our men. Previous to leaving for Richmond, and ten or twelve days after the battle, he saw some of the Union soldiers unburied on the field, and entirely naked. Walking around were a great many women, gloating over the horrid sight.

The case of Dr. Ferguson, of one of the New York regiments, is mentioned by Dr. Swalm. “When getting into his ambulance to look after his own wounded he was fired upon by the rebels. When he told them who he was, they said they would take a parting shot at him, which they did, wounding him in the leg. He had his boots on, and his spurs on his boots, and as they drove along his spurs would catch in the tail-board of the ambulance, causing him to shriek with agony.” An officer rode up, and, placing his pistol to his head, threatened to shoot him if he continued to scream. This was on Sunday, the day of the battle.

One of the most important witnesses was General James B. Ricketts, well known in Washington and throughout the country, lately promoted for his daring and self-sacrificing courage. After having been wounded in the battle of Bull Run, he was captured, and as he lay helpless on his back, a party of rebels passing him cried out, “knock out his brains, the d—-d Yankee.” He met General Beauregard, an old acquaintance, only a year his senior at the United States Military Academy, where both were educated. He had met the rebel general in the south a number of times. By this head of the rebel army, on the day after the battle, he was told that his (General Ricketts’s) treatment would depend upon the treatment extended to the rebel privateers. His first lieutenant, Ramsey, who was killed, was stripped of every article of his clothing but his socks, and left naked on the field. He testified that those of our wounded who died in Richmond were buried in the negro burying-ground among the negroes, and were put into the earth in the most unfeeling manner. The statement of other witnesses as to how the prisoners were treated is fully confirmed by General Ricketts. He himself, while in prison, subsisted mainly upon what he purchased with his own money, the money brought to him by his wife. “We had,” he says, “what they called bacon soup—soup made of boiled bacon, the bacon being a little rancid—which you could not possibly eat; and that for a man whose system was being drained by a wound is no diet at all.” In reply to a question whether he had heard anything about our prisoners being shot by the rebel sentries, he answered: “Yes, a number of our men were shot. In one instance two were shot; one was killed, and the other wounded, by a man who rested his gun on the window-sill while he capped it.”

General Ricketts, in reference to his having been held as one of the hostages for the privateers, states: “I considered it bad treatment to be selected as a hostage for a privateer, when I was so lame that I could not walk, and while my wounds were still open and unhealed. At this time General Winder came to see me. He had been an officer in my regiment; I had known him for twenty-odd years. It was on the 9th of November that he came to see me. He saw that my wounds were still unhealed; he saw my condition; but that very day he received an order to select hostages for the privateers, and, notwithstanding he knew my condition, the next day, Sunday, the 10th of November, I was selected as one of the hostages.” “I heard,” he continues, “of a great many of our prisoners who had been bayonetted and shot. I saw three of them—two that had been bayonetted and one of them shot. One was named Louis Francis, of the New York 14th. He had received fourteen bayonet wounds—one through his privates—and he had one wound very much like mine, on the knee, in consequence of which his leg was amputated after twelve weeks had passed; and I would state here that in regard to his case, when it was determined to amputate his leg, I heard Dr. Peachy, the rebel surgeon, remark to one of his young assistants, ‘I won’t be greedy; you may do it;’ and the young man did it. I saw a number in my room, many of whom had been badly amputated. The flaps over the stump were drawn too tight, and some of the bones protruded. A man by the name of Prescott (the same referred to in the testimony of Surgeon Homiston) was amputated twice, and was then, I think, moved to Richmond before the taps were healed—Prescott died under this treatment. I heard a rebel doctor on the steps below my room say, ‘that he wished he could take out the hearts of the d—-d Yankees as easily as he could take off their legs.’ Some of the southern gentlemen treated me very handsomely. Wade Hampton, who was opposed to my battery, came to see me and behaved like a generous enemy.”

It appears, as a part of the history of this rebellion, that General Ricketts was visited by his wife, who, having first heard that he was killed in battle, afterwards that he was alive but wounded, travelled under great difficulties to Manassas to see her husband. He says: “She had almost to fight her way through, but succeeded finally in reaching me on the fourth day after the battle. There were eight persons in the Lewis House, at Manassas, in the room where I lay, and my wife, for two weeks, slept in that room on the floor by my side, without a bed. When we got to Richmond, there were six of us in a room, among them Colonel Wilcox, who remained with us until he was taken to Charleston. There we were all in one room. There was no door to it. It was much as it would be here if you should take off the doors of this committee room, and then fill the passage with wounded soldiers. In the hot summer months the stench from their wounds, and from the utensils they used, was fearful. There was no privacy at all, because there being no door the room could not be closed. We were there as a common show. Colonel Wilcox and myself were objects of interest, and were gazed upon as if we were a couple of savages. The people would come in there and say all sorts of things to us and about us, until I was obliged to tell them that I was a prisoner and had nothing to say. On our way to Richmond, when we reached Gordonsville, many women crowded around the cars, and asked my wife if she cooked? if she washed ? how she got there? Finally, Mrs. Ricketts appealed to the officer in charge, and told him that it was not the intention that we should be subjected to this treatment, and if it was continued she would make it known to the authorities. General Johnston took my wife’s carriage and horses at Manassas, kept them, and has them yet for aught I know. When I got to Richmond I spoke to several gentlemen about this, and so did Mrs. Ricketts. They said, of course, the carriage and horses should be returned, but they never were.” “There is one debt,” says this gallant soldier, “that I desire very much to pay, and nothing troubles me so much now as the fact that my wounds prevent me from entering upon active service at once.”

The case of Louis Francis, who was terribly wounded and maltreated, and lost a leg, is referred to by General Ricketts; but the testimony of Francis himself is startling. He was a private in the New York 14th regiment. He says: ” I was attacked by two rebel soldiers, and wounded in the right knee with the bayonet. As I lay on the sod they kept bayonetting me until I received fourteen wounds. One then left me, the other remaining over me, when a Union soldier coming up, shot him in the breast, and he fell dead. I lay on the ground until 10 o’clock next day. I was then removed in a wagon to a building ; my wounds examined and partially dressed. On the Saturday following we were carried to Manassas, and from there to the general hospital at Richmond. My leg having partially mortified, I consented that it should be amputated, which operation was performed by a young man. I insisted that they should allow Dr. Swalm to be present, for I wanted one Union man there if I died under the operation. The stitches and the band slipped from neglect, and the bone protruded; and about two weeks after another operation was performed, at which time another piece of the thigh bone was sawed off. Six weeks after the amputation, and before it healed, I was removed to the tobacco factory.”

Two operations were subsequently performed on Francis—one at Fortress Monroe, and one at Brooklyn, New York—after his release from captivity.

Revolting as these disclosures are, it was when the committee came to examine witnesses in reference to the treatment of our heroic dead, that the fiendish spirit of the rebel leaders was most prominently exhibited. Daniel Bixby, jr., of Washington, testifies that he went out in company with Mr. G. A. Smart, of Cambridge, Massachusetts, who went to search for the body of his brother, who fell at Blackburn’s Ford in the action of the 18th of July. They found the grave. The clothes were identified as those of his brother on account of some peculiarity in the make, for they had been made by his mother; and, in order to identify them, other clothes made by her were taken, that they might compare them. “We found no head in the grave, and no bones of any kind—nothing but the clothes and portions of the flesh. We found the remains of three other bodies all together. The clothes were there; some flesh was left, but no bones.” The witness also states that Mrs. Pierce Butler, who lives near the place, said that she had seen the rebels boiling portions of the bodies of our dead in order to obtain their bones as relics. They could not wait for them to decay. She said that she had seen drumsticks made of “Yankee shinbones,” as they called them. Mrs. Butler also stated that she had seen a skull that one of the New Orleans artillery had, which, he said, he was going to send home and have mounted, and that he intended to drink a brandy punch out of it the day he was married.

Frederick Scholes, of the city of Brooklyn, New York, testified that he proceeded to the battle-field of Bull Run on the fourth of this month (April) to find the place where he supposed his brother’s body was buried. Mr. Scholes, who is a man of unquestioned character, by his testimony fully confirms the statements of other witnesses. He met a free negro, named Simon or Simons, who stated that it was a common thing for the rebel soldiers to exhibit the bones of the Yankees. “I found,” he says, “in the bushes in the neighborhood, a part of a zouave uniform, with the sleeve sticking out of the grave, and a portion of the pantaloons. Attempting to pull it up, I saw the two ends of the grave were still unopened, but the middle had been prised up, pulling up the extremities of the uniform at some places, the sleeves of the shirt in another, and a portion of the pantaloons. Dr. Swalm (one of the surgeons, whose testimony has already been referred to) pointed out the trenches where the secessionists had buried their own dead, and, on examination, it appeared that their remains had not been disturbed at all. Mr. Scholes met a free negro, named Hampton, who resided near the place, and when he told him the manner in which these bodies had been dug up, he said he knew it had been done, and added that the rebels had commenced digging bodies two or three days after they were buried, for the purpose, at first, of obtaining the buttons off their uniforms, and that afterwards they disinterred them to get their bones. He said they had taken rails and pushed the ends down in the centre under the middle of the bodies, and pried them up. The information of the negroes of Benjamin Franklin Lewis corroborated fully the statement of this man, Hampton. They said that a good many of the bodies had been stripped naked on the field before they were buried, and that some were buried naked. I went to Mr. Lewis’s house and spoke to him of the manner in which these bodies had been disinterred. He admitted that it was infamous, and condemned principally the Louisiana Tigers, of General Wheat’s division. He admitted that our wounded had been very badly treated.” In confirmation of the testimony of Dr. Swalm and Dr. Homiston, this witness avers that Mr. Lewis mentioned a number of instances of men who had been murdered by bad surgical treatment. Mr. Lewis was afraid that a pestilence would break out in consequence of the dead being left unburied, and stated that he had gone and warned the neighborhood and had the dead buried, sending his own men to assist in doing so. “On Sunday morning (yesterday) I went out in search of my brother’s grave. We found the trench, and dug for the bodies below. They were eighteen inches to two feet below the surface, and had been hustled in in any way. In one end of the trench we found, not more than two or three inches below the surface, the thigh bone of a man which had evidently been dug up after the burial. At the other end of the trench we found the shinbone of a man, which had been struck by a musket ball and split. The bodies at the ends had been pried up. While digging there, a party of soldiers came along and showed us a part of a shinbone, five or six inches long, which had the end sawed off. They said that they had found it among many other pieces in one of the cabins the rebels had deserted. From the appearance of it, pieces had been sawed off to make finger-rings. As soon as the negroes noticed this, they said that the rebels had had rings made of the bones of our dead, and that they had them for sale in their camps. When Dr. Swalm saw the bone he said it was a part of the shinbone of a man. The soldiers represented that there were lots of these bones scattered through the rebel huts sawed into rings,” &c. Mr. Lewis and his negroes all spoke of Colonel James Cameron’s body, and knew that “it had been stripped, and also where it had been buried.” Mr. Scholes, in answer to a question of one of the committee, described the different treatment extended to the Union soldiers and the rebel dead. The latter had little head-boards placed at the head of their respective graves and marked; none of them had the appearance of having been disturbed.

The evidence of that distinguished and patriotic citizen, Hon. William Sprague, governor of the State of Rhode Island, confirms and fortifies some of the most revolting statements of former witnesses. His object in visiting the battle-field was to recover the bodies of Colonel Slocum and Major Ballou, of the Rhode Island regiment. He took out with him several of his own men to identify the graves. On reaching the place, he states that “we commenced digging for the bodies of Colonel Slocum and Major Ballou at the spot pointed out to us by these men who had been in the action. While digging, some negro women came up and asked whom we were looking for, and at the same time said that ‘Colonel Slogun’ had been dug up by the rebels, by some men of a Georgia regiment, his head cut off, and his body taken to a ravine thirty or forty yards below, and there burned. We stopped digging and went to the spot designated, where we found coals and ashes and bones mingled together. A little distance from there we found a shirt (still buttoned at the neck) and a blanket with large quantities of hair upon it, everything indicating the burning of a body there. We returned and dug down at the spot indicated as the grave of Major Ballou, but found no body there; but at the place pointed out as the grave where Colonel Slocum was buried we found a box, which, upon being raised and opened, was found to contain the body of Colonel Slocum. The soldiers who had buried the two bodies were satisfied that the grave had been opened, the body taken out, beheaded, and burned, was that of Major Ballou, because it was not in the spot where Colonel Slocum was buried, but rather to the right of it. They at once said that the rebels had made a mistake, and had taken the body of Major Ballou for that of Colonel Slocum. The shirt found near the place where the body was burned I recognized as one belonging to Major Ballou, as I had been very intimate with him. We gathered up the ashes containing the portion of his remains that were left, and put them in a coffin together with his shirt and the blanket with the hair left upon it. After we had done this we went to that portion of the field where the battle had first commenced, and began to dig for the remains of Captain Tower. We brought a soldier with us to designate the place where he was buried. He had been wounded in the battle, and had seen from the window of the house where the captain was interred. On opening the ditch or trench we found it filled with soldiers, all buried with their faces downward. On taking up some four or five we discovered the remains of Captain Tower, mingled with those of the men. We took them, placed them in a coffin, and brought them home.”

In reply to a question of a member of the committee as to whether he was satisfied that they were buried intentionally with their faces downward, Governor Sprague’s answer was, “Undoubtedly! Beyond all controversy!” and that “it was done as a mark of indignity.” In answer to another question as to what their object could have been, especially in regard to the body of Colonel Slocum, he replied : “Sheer brutality, and nothing else. They did it on account of his courage and chivalry in forcing his regiment fearlessly and bravely upon them. He destroyed about one-half of that Georgia regiment, which was made up of their best citizens.” When the inquiry was put whether he thought these barbarities were committed by that regiment, he responded, “by that same regiment, as I was told.” While their own dead were buried with marble head and foot stones, and names upon them, ours were buried, as I have stated, in trenches. This eminent witness concludes his testimony as follows : “I have published an order to my second regiment, to which these officers were attached, that I shall not be satisfied with what they shall do unless they give an account of one rebel killed for each one of their own number.”

The members of your committee might content themselves by leaving this testimony to the Senate and the people without a word of comment; but when the enemies of a just and generous government are attempting to excite the sympathy of disloyal men in our own country, and to solicit the aid of foreign governments by the grossest misrepresentations of the objects of the war, and of the conduct of the officers and soldiers of the republic, this, the most startling evidence of their insincerity and inhumanity, deserves some notice at our hands. History will be examined in vain for a parallel to this rebellion against a good government. Long prepared for by ambitious men, who were made doubly confident of success by the aid and counsel of former administrations, and by the belief that their plans were unobserved by a magnanimous people, they precipitated the war (at a moment when the general administration had just been changed) under circumstances of astounding perfidy. Without a single reasonable ground of complaint, and in the face of repeated manifestations of moderation and peace on the part of the President and his friends, they took up arms and declared that they would never surrender until their rebellion had been recognized, or the institutions established by our fathers had been destroyed. The people of the loyal States, at last convinced that they could preserve their liberties only by an appeal to the God of battles, rushed to the standard of the republic, in response to the call of the Chief Magistrate.

Every step of this monstrous treason has been marked by violence and crime. No transgression has been too great, no wrong too startling for its leaders. They disregarded the sanctity of the oaths they had taken to support the Constitution; they repudiated all their obligations to the people of the free States ; they deceived and betrayed their own fellow-citizens, and crowded their armies with forced levies ; they drove from their midst all who would not yield to their despotism, or filled their prisons with men who would not enlist under their flag. They have now crowned the rebellion by the perpetration of deeds scarcely known even to savage warfare. The investigations of your committee have established this fact beyond controversy. The witnesses called before us were men of undoubted veracity and character. Some of them occupy high positions in the army, and others high positions in civil life. Differing in political sentiments, their evidence presents a remarkable concurrence of opinion and of judgment. Our fellow-countrymen, heretofore sufficiently impressed by the generosity and forbearance of the government of the United States, and by the barbarous character of the crusade against it, will be shocked by the statements of these unimpeached and unimpeachable witnesses; and foreign nations must, with one accord, however they have hesitated heretofore, consign to lasting odium the authors of crimes which, in all their details, exceed the worst excesses of the Sepoys of India.

Inhumanity to the living has been the leading trait of the rebel leaders; but it was reserved for your committee to disclose as a concerted system their insults to the wounded, and their mutilation and desecration of the gallant dead. Our soldiers, taken prisoners in honorable battle, have been subjected to the most shameful treatment. All the considerations that inspire chivalric emotion and generous consideration for brave men have been disregarded. It is almost beyond belief that the men fighting in such a cause as ours, and sustained by a government which, in the midst of violence and treachery, has given repeated evidences of its indulgence, should have been subjected to treatment never before resorted to by one foreign nation in a conflict with another.

All the courtesies of professional and civil life seem to have been discarded. General Beauregard himself, who, on a very recent occasion, boasted that he had been controlled by humane feelings after the battle of Bull Run, coolly proposed to hold General Ricketts as a hostage for one of the murderous privateers, and the rebel surgeons disdained intercourse and communication with our own surgeons taken in honorable battle.

The outrages upon the dead will revive the recollections of the cruelties to which savage tribes subject their prisoners. They were buried in many cases naked, with their faces downward; they were left to decay in the Open air; their bones were carried off as trophies, sometimes, as the testimony proves, to be used as personal adornments, and one witness deliberately avers that the head of one of our most gallant officers was cut off by a secessionist to be turned into a drinking cup on the occasion of his marriage. Monstrous as this revelation may appear to be, your committee have been informed that during the last two weeks the skull of a Union soldier has been exhibited in the office of the Sergeant-at-arms of the House of Representatives, which had been converted to such a purpose, and which had been found on the person of one of the rebel prisoners taken in a recent conflict. The testimony of Governor Sprague, of Rhode Island, is most interesting. It confirms the worst reports against the rebel soldiers, and conclusively proves that the body of one of the bravest officers in the volunteer service was burned. He does not hesitate to add that this hyena desecration of the honored corpse was because the rebels believed it to be the body of Colonel Slocum, against whom they were infuriated for having displayed so much courage and chivalry in forcing his regiment fearlessly and bravely upon them.

These disclosures establishing, as they incontestably do, the consistent inhumanity of the rebel leaders, will be read with sorrow and indignation by the people of the loyal States. They should inspire these people to renewed exertions to protect our country from the restoration to power of such men. They should, and we believe they will, arouse the disgust and horror of foreign nations against this unholy rebellion. Let it be ours to furnish, nevertheless, a continued contrast to such barbarities and crimes. Let us persevere in the good work of maintaining the authority of the Constitution, and of refusing to imitate the monstrous practices we have been called upon to investigate.

Your committee beg to say, in conclusion, that they have not yet been enabled to gather testimony in regard to the additional inquiry suggested by the resolution of the Senate, whether Indian savages have been employed by the rebels in military service against the government of the United States, and how such warfare has been conducted by said savages, but that they have taken proper steps to attend to this important duty.

B. F. WADE, Chairman.





Pvt. Edward H. Bassett, Co. G., 1st Minnesota Infantry, On the Battle (1)

21 03 2012

Camp Minnesota

Washington, D. C.

July 23, 1861

Dear Parents,

I suppose that you will have heard from us by telegraph before you receive this. The day before yesterday was the first time that we have had a chance to try our skill in the field fighting and the boys have done nobly but we lost our captain. He was shot through the heart and fell dead instantly. He stood by is giving commands and had his arms raised up encouraging the boys on. We lament his loss greatly. We all loved him and he was no coward. We lost somewhere between eight and twelve men and about that number wounded. Among the killed was one flag bearer. He was hit by three balls before he fell and after that he loaded and fired some three or four times. His name was Asa Miller from Cannon City I believe. We saved our company flag. Lieutenant Messick pulled it from the staff and wrapped it around him. We were forced to retreat for we found that we had fell in with the principal and in fact the majority of the southern army. They were somewhere between 100,000 and 150,000 strong and we were only about 53,000. The battleground was about 10 miles from Manassas Junction. This information about the strength of the enemy and their position was received from a prisoner that was taken by Co. B. I do not know how many men were lost from the Minnesota Regiment but we suffered less than some other. We were decoyed upon one of their masked batteries and they are the most treacherous people that were ever allowed to exist. They hoisted the Union flag as we advanced and would beckon their hands and show every appearance of being friendly until we got in range of them when they opened up on us. As we had special orders not to fire until ordered, we all dropped down. I did not see the boys drop at first and stood up until they had all laid down and I looked around first on one side, then on the other and could not see the enemy and as the bullets were flying about as thick as raindrops I thought that the safest place for me would be flat on the ground. We laid there about ten minutes when the order was given to retreat firing. By this time the enemy had come up in sight and the boys fired into them and killed them off pretty fast. We then retreated behind a hill covered with timber. The enemy then attempted to make a charge upon the N. Y. Zouaves and they come in range of one or two of our brass field pieces and they opened a fire of grape and canister upon them and it was a sight to see how quick they were driven back. It as a very foolish move. When we were marched up we went up behind our cannon. The enemy were throwing bombs and round shot. Our battery was then about as far off from them as Cole Bloomer’s house is from ours. They threw their shot away beyond us about 100 feet high. We were marched up on the enemy’s right flank intending to give them a flank fire but they were ready for us and had the advantage of us for we had been marched at a double quick step for about one mile besides marching about 10 miles that morning stating at 2:30 in the night.

We were very weary but we gave them what they did not get every day, although we lost our Captain. We carried him off the field and took his sword belt, pistol, hat, etc. which will be sent to his family. We did not want the rebels to rob him. We rallied several times and charged them and it is pretty well known that we killed more than we lost for our boys took good aim as we retreated. Their cavalry tried to cut us off but we beat them badly. There was not more than 5 or 6 of them escaped. Although we had to retreat we did not feel like giving up. We were on a continual move from half past two Sunday morning until Monday night, without half enough to eat but we suffered the most for the want of water. We marched from Centerville to Washington by the way of Fairfax and Alexandria, in about 9 hours, a distance of about 35 miles. We are now quartered in Washington in a huge brick building. It rained yesterday while we were on our way from Alexandria and when we arrived here we were cold and wet. The citizens brought in some hot coffee, bread, ham, eggs and whiskey and we had a dry place to sleep. This morning was the first time that I have felt sick. I did feel pretty sick for two or three hours but have got over it now and feel pretty well again. I have had good health and stood it pretty well. We left our camp at Alexandria on the 16th of July in light marching order which consists of a gun, cartridge box with 40 rounds of ammunition, haversack with three days rations, blanket or overcoat which is rolled in a long roll and the ends tied together and put over the shoulders. I took my coat. We marched all day and camped in a thicket of pines on the ground. We heard some firing in the evening and expected an attack. I slept first rate right on the ground. We got up at sunrise, ate our breakfast and started. When we had traveled about 5 miles we came to the place where the firing had been. Some of the enemy’s cavalry had been scouting and saw a man out hunting some colts. They fired on him, killed his horse, wounded him and fled to camp. This is a miserable country, thinly settled, the buildings poor and old without paint, but whitewashed. The water is poor and the people poor and ignorant; not half of them can talk anything but the Virginia tongue. We traveled until we were about on-half mile from Centreville where we camped. We stayed there until Sunday morning at half past two. They have sent out some 100 mortars and 1000 horses and several large pieces since the battle. It is said that General Scott is mad that we were defeated and he will be apt to send on a pretty large force. It would do you good to see the earthworks around Washington. There are some very heavy pieces of cannon and they will be apt to get enough if they attempt to take Washington.

I have just come from the Smithsonian Institute. I went all through the museum and into the Indian portrait gallery and in fact all over the building. It is a grand sight. I also went up to the Patent Office. There I saw the coat that General Washington wore when he resigned his commission and also his traveling secretary. I did not have much time to look around there for they were just closing when I went. I shall go again when I get an opportunity.

John Russell says that crops do not look very well there, that the wheat is short and thin. Corn here is of all sizes, some 2 feet, some 4 and I saw some that was about 8, but it is an extra piece that will average 3 feet. You must write often and direct as before to Washington. Mr. Messick sends his respects to you. He was not hurt. Boultice Soule is also safe. We have not been paid off as yet but expect to in a few days if we stay here.

With love from your son,

Edward H. Bennett

Krom, Richard G., The 1st MN: Second to None – A Historical Narrative Including the 218 Unpublished Letters of Edward H. Bassett, Rochester, MN, 2010, pp. 42-46

Used with permission.





W. H. Foote, Co. D, 2nd Wisconsin, On the Battle

17 02 2012

The Battle of Bull’s Run.

———-

The following letters were written for the information of friends, by a member of the Janesville Volunteers, and not for publication. We are, however, permitted to publish them to satisfy the public anxiety for all the news that can be procured in relation to the Second Wisconsin regiment, which suffered quite severely in this battle. We hope the missing from the regiment may return, but the probabilities are that many of them never will. Our readers who have read the letters of Corporal Hamilton in our paper, will especially regret to learn that his name is among those placed on the list of those who have not been heard from.

——

Fort Corcoran, Va.,

July 23d, 1861.

Dear Father: – We have at last had the long looked for fight. On Thursday, the 18th, our boys had a little fight at Bull’s Run. The contest was unequal, and the enemy fell back towards Manassas Junction. On Sunday last, our boys came up to a fort of masked batteries. The fight commenced about six in the morning, and lasted till five in the evening. Our men fought with the greatest bravery, and without a leader. The soldiers say that at the commencement of the fight, the officer in command ran away, and was not seen again in the battle field.

All allow that it has been one of the hardest battles ever fought on this continent. The celebrated Sherman’s battery was taken by the rebels, and retaken at the point of the bayonet. Our boys took a battery of six guns, but were afterwards compelled to retreat. At six o’clock, our troops were so badly cut up that the order was given for a general retreat; and a large portion of the federal army broke and ran for their lives, hotly pursued by the rebels. We lost a great many men killed, wounded and taken prisoners, and about one hundred wagons loaded with provisions.

The battle was fought about 25 miles from here. All night on the 21st, and all day Monday, the 22nd, our boys came straggling along, and even to-day, the 23d, some of them have just arrived. Many of our company have come in wounded, and some of them were left dead or wounded on the battle field. None of the officers were killed, and but one wounded slightly in the arm.

The President, Mr. Seward, Gov. Randall, Gen. Sherman and G. B. Smith, of Wisconsin, were all here a little while ago, and all made speeches to us. Lieut. McLain told the President that we had brave men, but no officers. The President said we should have officers before we went into another fight.

Gen. Tyler has been arrested for making the attack on Bull’s Run without orders. – When the first division were retreating, and the rebels were following in hot pursuit with their cannon, killing and wounding many of our men while running for their lives, the second division came upon the rebels, forcing them to retire, with much loss, to Manassas Junction, two miles south, where they will make another stand.

It rained all night, and many thousands were obliged to lay out in it. We are all in good cheer.

Camp Peck, July 24, 1861.

I have just written over two sheets of paper to you, but on receiving a letter from you, I thought I would write a little more, as the excitement here has somewhat abated. This afternoon, all that feel well enough are out to work building a brush fence around our camp. I think by the appearance of things the enemy are advancing on Washington. The man that went up in the balloon this morning, went southeast out of sight. He threw out several messages, but they were sealed, and directed to General Scott. Sergeant Sanders just came in and said the enemy were within twelve miles of here.

We can hear cannon roaring now, and have for several hours. One of our Captains has just returned from Vienna where they are fighting.

I think from what I have heard, we have thirty thousand troops between here and the rebels.

They (the rebels) are being reinforced all the time. The next battle will tell, as we will be about equal in numbers, but they will have to make the attack.

In retreating from Bull’s Run many of our boys threw away their guns and knapsacks. I have had the measles, and was not well enough to be in the battle, but was left with one hundred others to take care of the camp.

One regiment is going home this afternoon. They are called cowards by all who stay. There are many others whose time is up, but they say they will stay till old Jeff. is dead, and they have a piece of him. Good grit, don’t you think so?

If I live I am bound to have a lock of his hair. I am quite smart, and think I shall come out all right.

The enemy are fierce, and are quite sure they will whip us out, and I confess it looks as though it was going to be a hard struggle.

Wheat, corn, oats, and potatoes, and everything looks poor. I have not time now to give you a description of the country, but when the war excitement quiets down a little, I will give you a plain account of it.

We are two miles from Washington, and within two miles of a fort. We are building a brush fence around our camp. I have the rheumatism, and am excused. Many of our boys have bullet holes through their clothes and caps, and yet were not hurt. We are a hard looking set, all covered with dirt, as we have to lay in the mud. We have had hard work to get anything to eat, but we get plenty to-day.

July 25th.

This morning we find that thirteen of our men are missing: Corporals J. Hamilton and Sackett, Chas. Brown, S. McKay, McIntyre, Jason Brown, Perry, O. Wilcox and five others. We are the only regiment, so far as I can learn, but what had some of its commissioned officers killed. We have one wounded in his arm. One of our boys, after receiving a ball through his knee, got down on the other and fired over twenty times, and then retreated twenty-five miles.

We have lost out of our regiment about 200 men – a very small loss compared with some other regiments. The rebels came out and formed a line of battle with their backs toward our brigade, had the stars and stripes flying, and all supposed they were federal troops. One general told the boys not to kill their own men, and so they did not fire. All at once the rebel captain gave orders to about face, and they then fired on our men and killed many of them. The Zouaves pitched into them and cut them down. As soon as the rebels fired they raised the secession flag. F. Lee shot it down. The rebels caught it up and run. Our boys chased them until they ran into a masked battery, when they were forced to retreat.

One of our captains has a young negro slave who ran out of the rebel fort and came to him. The young darkey reports that the rebels have two regiments of slaves, but they had to be kept inside the fort to prevent their running away. At 4 o’clock in the afternoon the rebels came out with seven hundred cavalry, mostly black horses. They made a terrific charge on our men, and dashed through many regiments. The Zouaves made a stand to resist their fury, and with the help of others, killed nearly all the men, took as many of their horses as they could catch, mounted them and rode off. Our boys say the ground was strewed with swords, revolvers and implements of war. Chauncey Ehle shot a cavalry man just in time to save his own life. Clark Thomas shot one under nearly the same circumstances, but he was run over and cut off from the rest of his company. After wandering about for a while, he succeeded in securing a South Carolina charger, mounted him, and made his escape through the woods.

From your affectionate son,

W. H. Foote.

[A letter from the same writer, received to-day, dated the 26th, says: "All the officers are safe except Corporals Hamilton and Sackett. It is reported that Hamilton is in a Highland regiment, and that Sackett was shot in the chin and is in Georgetown hospital."]

Janesville Weekly Gazette and Free Press, 8/2/1861

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Contributed by John Hennessy





John Stacom, Co. E, 69th NYSM, On the Battle

27 01 2012

Mr. John Stacom, of the “Ivy Green,” Elm-street, now a member of the New-York 69th  Regiment, arrived home on Tuesday, having received a wound in the left hand. He says:-

I was in the fight on Sunday all day, until we got completely off the field, and were on the road toward Vienna. On Sunday morning we were within two or three miles of this place. We encamped by the side of a road close by a wood, and then formed in line of battle, and proceeded steadily down through a thick wood into a ravine (Bull’s Run), and kept firing continually, in order to draw out the enemy, and unmask his batteries. After a good deal of firing, they opened upon us. We then fought our way down into the plain. The Wisconsin Regiment and the 69th tacked a large party, estimated at a number of thousands, total about 17,000, partially hidden in some brushwood, and succeeded in driving them completely away at the point of the baynet. They were in great disorder all over the field. Gen. McDowell came in at the other end and headed them off, while Col. Hunter approached on the right with his division, and the action then became general. It continued until about 4 o’clock in the afternoon, when all stood still and we thought the battle won. The Generals collected on the hill, and were cheering and shaking hands. General McDowell took his hat off, complimented Col. Corcoran, and said the victory had been won. All at once the reinforcements on the other side, under Johnston, as was supposed, came down upon us, and the men being completely exhausted, gave way, until they reached the road. Col. Corcoran had only Capt. Meagher with him after Lieut. Col. Haggery was killed, which hapened in the first engagement. I saw him fall by a musket ball. Thomas Francis Meagher was the most conspicuous man on the field, riding on a white horse, with his hat off, and going into the battle most enthusiastically. At one time our regimental color was taken, and Meagher seized the green flag of Ireland, went to the front, leading the men to the charge. The color was recaptured, the enemy was driven back, and we then formed in hollow square, by orders, and retreated steadily off the ground.

We got on the road all well, and in good order. Having got my hand hurt, I took a Secessionists horse, and rode among the civilians, of which a lot, including artists and reporters, were gathered in carriages and on horseback. They were viewing the battle from the hill. Soon after I left my regiment, the civilians got panic stricken, and from them panic seized the teamsters, who imagined they were going to be cut off. From the teamsters it spread into several Ohio regiments and then became general.

I rode back alone. If there was any more fighting, it must have been in the road after the retreat commenced. I think there was no more fighting. The reinforcements opened four or five batteries on us immediately. There was only one party (in the woods) that we fought at all. We did not see any more, except a complete cavalry regiment, that charged on the Zouaves. Among the cavalry about three companies were colored, and officered by white men.

Gen McDowell three times charged us on batteries. It appeared that the 69th and the Zouaves were all over the battle field, as there were Aids running all the time saying the General wanted us over here or over there, to take this or that battery.

There were many killed and wounded lying around on the field, like sheaves in a wheat-field. There was a house on the hill where wounded men were almost piled, and the rebels shelled it, as much as anywhere else, while they must have known, by seeing our ambulances, that they were only wounded. The Ohio, 71st, 8th, and others took part. The 71st made only one charge, and lost very few men. The 69th did all the charging.

New York Irish-American 8/3/1863

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Contributed by Damian Shiels





8th Louisiana Infantry and Crescent Blues In the Battle

31 10 2011

 From the Seat of War in Virginia.
Special Correspondence of The Delta
Manassas Junction, August 5th, 1861.
(Extract.)

Since the battle of the 21st ult, large numbers of troops have been sent forward to this place, many more than enough to counterbalance all our losses. Indeed this division of the army is much stronger now than when it achieved its triumph over the enemy. It is strong enough to assume the offensive, and probably will do so within a brief period, but the when and the where cannot be prophesied by any but those with whom vaticination would be only explanation. I cannot, consistently with the dictates of Military propriety, give you any specific statement of the situation of our forces now lying between Manassas Junction and the Potomac. I can only state, in general terms, that great masses of our troops are far in advance of this position, that we occupy Fairfax Court House, Leesburg, and Vienna, in force, our army this occupying the Arc of a great circle, on the chord of which is situated Alexandria and Arlington Heights. Within the entrenched camp at this place, of course, there are strong reserves. This includes some of our Louisiana troops, the 8th Regiment, Col. Kelly, and the Crescent Blues, Capt. Goodwyn. Col. Kelly is now in command of this post. His regiment is, generally, in good health. In the country companies there is some sickness, principally measles; but in the city companies there is no sickness whatever. Captain Larose, of the Bienville Rifles, assures me that, in his company, there has not been a case of sickness since he left home. The Captain himself is safe and sound, in spite of the report that he had lost both legs in the last battle.

There was not a single man of the 8th Regiment injured in that engagement. Six of its companies were stationed all day at Mitchell’s Ford, on Bull Run, and were under fire of the enemy’s Batteries for most of the time; but being entrenched, they met with no casualty. They were ordered to the left just at the end of the affair but did not have a chance at the flying foe. The Crescent Blues, though about half of the company were engaged in the heaviest of the fight, were almost equally fortunate. They had but one man wounded, none killed. The history of the part taken by their company in the great victory, though yet unwritten, possesses a romantic interest for Louisianans.

The Crescent Blues are an independent company. On the morning of the 21st, they were associated with the Beauregard Rifles, a Washington City company, and the New Market Guards, a Virginia company, all under the command of Captain Schaeffer, of the Beauregard Rifles, and ordered to support Latham’s Battery a company of Lynchburg Artillery. For some reason, yet unexplained, the commanding officer ordered a retreat; but was directed by General Cocke to reassume his position and support Latham’s Battery at all hazards.

A second and third time the acting Major of the Battalion directed a retreat, stating (so it is said) that the day was lost, and that to remain was to court swift and certain destruction. Captain Goodwyn then remarked that he and his company had come there to fight, and not to retreat, and begged to be permitted to remain. The permission was given, and Captain Goodwyn then called for volunteers. His call was responded to by about fifty members of his own company; including Lieutenants Saunders and De Lisle, and a portion of the Beauregard Rifles. The rest of the battalion retired under the orders of the commander. Captain Goodwyn and his followers continued to support Latham’s Battery until they charged and captured Griffin’s Battery (three piece) and turned its guns on the enemy. Gen. Beauregard witnessed this brilliant exploit, and evinced his delight and approbation by riding up to the spot and shaking hands with many of those who had participated in the capture of the battery. Afterwards Capt. Goodwyn fell in with Col. Kershaw’s South Carolina Regiment, just as it was making the final charge on the enemy, and participated in the pursuit of the flying federalists as far as Centreville. I shall say nothing here of the conduct of Captain Schaeffer, as charges have been preferred against him, and he has demanded a court of inquiry, which is now sitting. Another case now under consideration is that of Capt. White, of the Tiger Rifles, who shot Captain G. McCauslin in a duel tha day after the battle.

Major Wheat, I am happy to say, is now considered out of danger. He is improving rapidly, so much so that he has been removed to Culpeper Court-House.

The Daily Delta, 8/13/1861.
Jackson Barracks – Historical Military Data on Louisiana Militia, Vol. 113, pp. 43 – 45.

Notes





Capt. James Conner, Hamtpon’s Legion, On the Battle (2)

27 10 2011

Manassas Virginia
Monday Night
July 22nd, 1861

My dear Mother,

Yesterday was a glorious and a sad day.  We have gained a great victory but lost many noble men.  Fortunately I came out of the battle unhurt.  On Friday morning we received orders to march the next day at 9.  At 12 the orders were given to leave by that nights train.  We packed up and started – marched into Richmond at 6 – but the cars were not ready, piled our arms and lay down in the streets until 12 – traveled all that night, all Saturday, all Saturday night and reached Manassas at 6 Sunday morning, starving all that time we had but one meal.  The cars should have made the trip in 12 hours – 7 is the usual time and we were ordered to take one meal cooked with us.  That of course gave out and we reached Manassas worn out from travel, and being cooped up in box cars, and hungry.  Fortunately I had started with 300 loaves of bread, (I fed the men with them on the road, that is my Company), and I also had four shoulders of raw bacon.  Sunday morning as soon as we landed I started fires, had the bacon cooked, gave the men a little, and a very little it was, breakfast.  We then had orders to move as the battle had begun, and while we eat our mouthful of food, the cannon were roaring in the distance.  We marched about 5 miles and were halted by the Colonel just under the brow of a hill.  I was sent forward to view the position or rather the Colonel permitted me to go.  Standing on the hill, I could see the battle going on in the valley below.  A battery of Artillery moved up at a gallop on our left and commenced firing on the U. S. troops.  This drew their fire in our direction and as we lay down behind the hill the grape shot and round shot came singing over our heads – sometimes so close you could feel the air as they passed.  The fight at this point was altogether an artillery one, and finding that we were exposed without doing any good, the Colonel ordered us back to the shelter of some woods.  We then moved forward some distance, when we received orders to advance to the support of some Georgia regiments.  They had been forced back, and we met them, and formed in front of them, we laying down behind a fence and commencing to fire at the Yankees.  At this moment a body of Yankees were seen moving around, and endeavoring to turn the flank of the army and get in our rear.  The order was given to us to outflank them and we moved down a lane running at right angles to that in which we were.  It was a yard lane or country road, with deep gullies on either side.  The troops opposed to us were Infantry, supported by Artillery.  I could see their numbers but could not estimate them.  Gen’l Beauregard told Hampton today that they were at least 4000.  As we commenced the movement, they opened a terrible fire of grape, canister and musketry.  The balls flew like hail, knocked the flint rocks whistling all around us.  I was in advance – my Company heading the Legion.  We faced to the right and ordered the men into the gully and under the cover of that and the fence on top of the bank, returned the fire.  It was here that we had the hardest fighting and met the heaviest loss.  At the very commencement of it, poor Col Johnson was killed, shot through the head.  He was in line with the 1st platoon of my company.  He threw his sword up, and fell back lifeless.  Hot and heavy the fire fell all around us.  By this time, I had gotten the rest of the men – the companies – down into the gully and at work, but for the first four or five minutes, maybe on half of that time, the Light Infantry were alone in the lane, and receiving the whole fire.  Hampton was in the centre, and I on the right, the men in the gully and he and I on the top of the bank, looking out at the enemy and cautioning the men to keep cool, and aim deliberately, and take resting shots, and above all to deploy out and not crowd.  Hampton’s horse had been shot under him and he was on foot.  Barker alone was on horseback, and he kept dashing between Hampton and me, carrying orders.  Theodore behaved splendidly; his conduct was above praise.  It was glorious, and how he escaped being shot was a miracle.  Once he reeled in the saddle as he went down the lane and I thought the poor fellow was gone, and I ran after him, taking one of my men with me, but found that it was his horse slipping on the rocks that had made him reel – neither he or his horse were hurt and yet his grey charger was always in the thickest of the fight.  All the Legion are loud in his praise.  How long we held the position I cannot tell, but we checked the flank movement of the enemy.  They then advanced from another point and we were in danger of being surrounded and fell back 100 or 150 yards under cover of a farm house.  Here again we made a stand and had an awful fight – the old body and the new body of the enemy opening fire upon us.  It was terrible and the men were falling all around us and fearing that they would be surrounded.

It was the only time in the day that the men looked dashed.  Hampton ordered the colors to the front, and I moved my Company up, met them [the colors] and all my boys came right up to them, moved up to the head of the lane, and exchanged fires.  Some artillery came up when we were nearly wiped out and relieved us – breaking and dispersing the new body which had advanced.  We then reformed – gathered the companies up, moved on, and halted in a deep hollow, thickly wooded, here another regiment, I forgot what, was attached to us or rather moved up to it.  It was a Virginia Regt, so my boys said.  Satisfied that we would not be moved, our men were there at least twenty minutes, and hearing that there was some water in the neighborhood, I had given my men leave to break when one of their officers came up and begged me for God’s sake not to break, else he could not hold his men together.  All the while the rattle of musketry and artillery were going on.  So instead of breaking, I detailed ten men to take all canteens.  You can’t imagine how we suffered for water.  I was hoarse with calling and parched with thirst and as I walked along picked blackberries to moisten my throat and tongue.  The men did the same, and when we could not find blackberries, we chewed grass.  We then advanced about half a mile and again engaged the enemy, driving him out of a farm yard, and taking possession of it myself.  They returned to retake it and the Light Infantry fight was hot and heavy.  Here it was that Hampton was shot. We were fighting from the house and behind the thick hedge and paling fence of the garden.  They brought up Artillery and we in time were driven out.  I was at this time in command of the Legion, and we fell back, closing well on the colors at the bottom of the hill and reforming.  We had got all mixed up in the scrimmage around the house and garden, and here it was that the flag was nearly shot away, the ball cutting nearly half way through the staff.  I reformed the Legion and we were supported by Withers’ Alabama Regiment, and then charged up the hill, drove the Yankees out of the house and garden, and drove back their artillery.  Advancing and leaving the house behind us, we kept forcing them back.  They broke and scattered as Kershaw’s Regiment came up, and I united with Kershaw, and sent Barker back for orders to Beauregard.  He told us to reunite with Kershaw.  It was now about 4 o’clock, the enemy in full retreat and Kershaw determined to pursue.  We were almost dead beat out, and only 160 strong.  We had gone into action in the morning 600 and more.  I could no longer form companies.  I massed the six companies and formed 3 divisions of them.  We pursued the enemy about four miles, he halted as we pursued him hard.  Kemper’s battery galloped up the road, and took position on the crest of the hill.  Wheat fields on each side of the road.  Kershaw’s and ours on the right of the roads, Coal’s S.C. regiment on the left, the Palmetto Guard thrown out as skirmishers.  The artillery opened and played havoc with them, and the cavalry came upon their flank and were preparing to charge them.  When they fled and the Cavalry captured 21 pieces of artillery and a lot of baggage.  We were then ordered by Beauregard to cease pursuit and fall back.  We fell back about 5 miles and bivouacked all night in a wheat field without anything to eat or drink, not even water in plenty.  Luckily we had captured some blankets which the Yankees threw away all about the road in their retreat, so we wrapped up in them and slept.  At daylight it commenced raining and we marched back in the rain, wet, weary, and dead beat out with a 7 mile march before us.  We reached camp and had breakfast.  I was so stiff and foot sore I could hardly walk, but a cup of coffee and clean socks helped me much, as I related to Hampton who was very complimentary to me individually and to the Company.  Spoke in the highest way of the manner in which the company had behaved.  Told me that Beauregard and Davis had both been to his tent to express their great delight at the way in which the Legion had acted in holding their position against a force so far superior, and supported by Artillery.  I ten got a horse and rode back to the battle field to look after my dead and wounded.  Raining all day and I came in about 5 o’clock, wet through after a days work as painful and infinitely more trying than yesterday.  A battle, the day after a battle, is a horrid sight.  Then you realize what war is.  I went of course through all the hospitals.  The most of our wounded are at Culpepper C. H.  The general Hospital is there.  I could not get there today.  Charlie Hutson is wounded, not mortally though – poor fellow.  I was within three feet of him when I saw him roll over, his face covered with blood.  I thought he was killed, but the ball went too high.  I had him moved to the rear.  Thompson was shot through the leg, but he refused to leave the ground and fought the battle out limping on one leg.  Poor Middleton was shot in the garden in the second fight.  I caught him as he fell – he is in a house near the battle ground, and I fear will die tonight.  I have been sad all day, doubly sad when I think of poor Col Johnson.  What a noble soul he had and how we all loved him and he was such a splendid officer.  All the men loved him and nick-named him the old Colonel and he pretended to dislike it but he knew it was the sweet indication that the men loved him.  We have lost a generous, gallant officer, and the State one of her wisest and best men.  Hampton rode up to me, his whole frame shook and his eyes filled with tears as he shook hands with men and said, “Have you seen Johnson?  Great God, how can I write home to his family.”  We sent his body down to Richmond today.  It is well.  I cautioned JM against rumors, for when I returned to camp this morning I found it generally reported that I was killed and Barker too and Spratt had telegraphed this fact to the papers.  Some of my own men it was said had seen me fall.  I at once telegraphed you, and made Spratt telegraph contradicting his report.  I hope the contradiction got there in time.  The whole thing arose from a disposition to magnify everything.  I was struck by a spent ball, which merely bruised me without even breaking the skin, and which I forgot five minutes after it occurred.  The blow was rather sharp, and knocked me back a little and the men reported I had been struck, then somebody added that I was shot, and then somebody said I was shot and killed and Spratt, eager for an item, had me down.  He also had it that the Legion was cut to pieces.   We did lose heavily but are good yet.  If we had had our cavalry and artillery we would have done better.  I do not know when I will have chance to write again.  I am in command and have a great deal to do, but will try and drop you a line if only to say all well.  I have written in a great hurry, on my lap, and only for yourself and the family.  As I was moving from the battle field with the Legion this morning, I got your letter sent by private hand from Richmond.  Love to all.

Yours affectionately,
James Conner

Source:  James Conner to Mother, 22 Jul 61, MSS letter (copy), James Conner Collection, South Caroliniana.

Notes (1)

Notes (2)





Capt. James Conner, Hampton’s Legion, On the Battle (1)

26 10 2011

July 24th, 1861, 10 thirty P.M.

My dear Mother:

At twelve o’clock the orders came to leave by that night’s train.  We packed up and started, marching into Richmond at six o’clock, but the cars were not ready.  We piled our arms and lay down in the street until twelve o’clock, traveled all night, all Saturday and all Saturday night, and reached Manassas at six o’clock Sunday morning.  The cars ought to have made the trip in twelve hours, seven hours is the usual time, and we were ordered to take one meal cooked with us.

We then had orders to move, as the battle had begun, and while we were eating our mouthful of food, the cannon were roaring in the distance.  We marched about five miles and were halted by the Colonel just under the brow of a hill.  I could see the fight going on in the valley below.  A battery of artillery moved up at a gallop on our left end, and commenced firing on the United States troops.  This drew their fire in our direction, and as we lay down behind the hill, the grape and round shot came singing over our heads, sometimes so close that you could feel the air as they passed.

We then moved forward some distance, when we received order to advance to the support of some Georgia regiment.  They had been forced back, and we met them and formed in front of them, we were lying behind a fence.  At that moment, a large body of Yankees were seen moving round, endeavoring to turn the flank of the army and get to our rear.  The order was given to us to outflank them, and we moved down a lane running at right angles to that in which we were.  It was a broad lane, or country road, with deep gullies on either side.  The troops opposed to us were infantry, supported by artillery.  I could see them, but could not estimate them.  General Beauregard told Hampton today that there were at least four thousand.

As we commenced the movement, they opened a terrible fire on us of grape and canister and musketry.  The balls flew like hail and knocked the flint rocks, whistling all around us.  I was in advance, my company heading the Legion.  We faced to the right, and I ordered my men into the gully, hid under cover of that, and the fence on top of the bank, and returned the fire.  It was here we had the hardest fighting and met the heaviest loss.

At the very commencement of it poor Colonel Johnson was killed shot through the head.  He was in line with the first platoon of my company; he threw his sword up, and fell back lifeless.

Hot and heavy the fire fell all around us.  By this time I had got the men of the other Companies down into the gully and to work, but for the first four or five minutes, maybe only one-half that time, the Washington Light Infantry were alone in that lane and receiving the whole fire.  Hampton was in the center and I was on the right, the men in the gully, and he and I on top of the bank, looking out at the enemy and cautioning the men to keep cool, aim deliberately and take resting shots, and above all, to deploy out and not crowd.

Hampton’s horse was shot under him and he was on foot.  Barker alone was on horseback, and he kept dashing between Hampton and myself carrying orders.  Theodore Barker behaved splendidly.  His conduct was above praise.  It was glorious, and how he escaped being shot was a miracle.  Once he reeled in the saddle as he went down the lane, and I thought the poor fellow was gone, and I ran after him, taking one of my men with me, but we found that it was his horse slipping on the rocks that had made him reel.  Neither he nor his horse was hurt, though his gray charger was always in the thickest of the fight.  All the Legion are loud in his praise.

How long we held the position I cannot tell, but we checked the flank movement of the enemy.  Then they advanced from another point, and we were in danger of being surrounded, and fell back about one hundred and fifty yards under cover of a farm house.  Here, again, we made a stand, and had an awful fight the new and old body of the enemy crossing fire upon us.  It was terrible, and the men were falling around, and fearing that they would be surrounded.  It was the only time of the day the men looked dashed.

Hampton ordered the colors to the front, and I moved my Company up with them, and all my boys came right up and moved up to the head of the lane and exchanged fire.  Some artillery then came up when we were nearly whipped out, and relieved us, breaking and dispersing the new body that had advanced.  We then returned and gather the companies up, moved on, and halting in a bottom thickly wooded, had another regiment, I forget which, attached to us.  It was some Virginia regiment, so my boys said.  We then advanced about half a mile, and again engaged the enemy, driving them out of a farm yard, and ourselves taking possession of it.  They returned to take it, and the firing was hot and heavy.  Here it was that Hampton was shot.  We were fighting from the house and behind the thick hedge and paling fence of the garden.  They brought artillery up, and we in turn were driven out.  I was at this time in command of the Legion, and we fell back, closing well on the colors, to the bottom of the hill, and reformed.

I reformed the Legion, and we were supported by Wither’s Alabama regiment, and we then charged up the hill, and drove the Yankees out of the house and garden, and drove back the artillery.  Advancing, and leaving the house behind us, we kept forcing them back.  They broke and scattered as Kershaw’s regiment came up, and I united with Kershaw and sent Barker off to Beauregard for orders.  He told us to unite with Kershaw.

It was now about four o’clock, the enemy in full retreat and Kershaw determined to pursue.  We were now only one hundred and sixty strong.  We had gone into action in the morning six hundred and odd.  We pursued the enemy about four miles.  They halted as we pressed them hard.  Kemper’s battery galloped up the road and took possession of the crest of the hill, wheat fields on each side of the road.  Cash’s South Carolina regiment on the left, Kerhsaw’s and ours on the right, and the Palmetto Guards thrown out as skirmishers.  The artillery opened and played havoc with them, and the cavalry came upon their flank, and were preparing to charge, when they fled, and the cavalry captured twenty-one pieces of artillery and lots of baggage.  We were then ordered by Beauregard to cease pursuit.

I am in command of the Legion, and have a great deal to do, but will try to drop you a line.

Yours, J.C.

Moffett, ed.,  Letters of General James Conner, CSA. pp. 40-43

Notes 1

Notes 2





Jackson Barracks Collection

13 10 2011

8th Louisiana Infantry and Crescent Blues In the Battle 8/13/1861

A Trophy From Manassas (Co. B, 8th Louisiana Infantry) – 8/7/1861

Crescent Blues In the Battle – 9/3/1861

L. D., Co. B, 7th Louisiana Infantry, On the Battle – 8/1/1861

How to Make a Zouave – 7/18/1861

“Louisiana”, on Wheat’s Battalion in the Battle – 7/31/1861

Obituary, John Stacker Brooks, 7th Louisiana Infantry – 8/6/1861

Tiger Rifles – Co. B, 1st Special Louisiana Battalion In the Battle – 8/1/1861

Trophies From the Field Sent to New Orleans – 7/30/1861

The Washington Artillery at Blackburn’s Ford – 7/27/1861

Wheat’s Battalion at Stone Bridge – 8/1/1861








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