JCCW Barbarities – Simon Cameron

7 05 2012

Report of the Conduct of the War, Volume 3, p. 478

WASHINGTON, April 23, 1862.

Hon. SIMON CAMERON sworn and examined.

By the chairman :

Question. We have been directed by the Senate to inquire into the barbarous manner in which the wounded and dead of our army have been treated by the rebels. Will you state to the committee what you know in regard to their treatment of your brother, who was killed in the battle of Bull Run?

Answer. After my brother fell in that engagement, I am informed that his body was carried off by some of his men from the battle-field and placed, as was supposed, in a secure place, so that it could be recovered by his friends after the battle was over. There were eight men who took charge of the body and carried it back off the field, four of whom were killed. The body was placed in an ambulance and left there. When they returned, as I understand, they found that the body had been thrown out of the ambulance upon the ground, and his pockets rifled of his watch, purse, portraits, &c. The blanket that had been left over the body was taken away, and, as we have learned since, the body was thrown into a hole or ditch with several other bodies, and there covered up with earth.

The morning after I heard of his death, Mr. Magraw, of Pennsylvania, formerly State treasurer, called upon me and told me that he had some acquaintances among the rebels out there, and offered to go out and get the body of my brother. I told him that I thought it would be of no use for him to go out there. He went, however, and instead of being able to obtain the body, by order of Generals Johnston and Beauregard he was made prisoner and sent to Richmond, where he was kept four or five months.

By Mr. Chandler:

Question. The rebels knew the body to be that of Colonel Cameron, your brother?

Answer. Yes, sir.

By the chairman :

Question. And they knew these messengers went out there solely for the purpose of obtaining the body?

Answer. Yes, sir. They had no other object in going.

Question. And they took them prisoners of war and sent them to Richmond and kept them there?

Answer. Yes, sir; and part of the time close prisoners. The body of my brother, when lately recovered, was recognized by means of a truss which he wore.





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 Rebel Barbarities – Gen. James B. Ricketts

27 04 2012

Report of the Conduct of the War, Volume 3, pp. 461 – 465

WASHINGTON, April 3, 1862.

General JAMES B. RICKETTS sworn and examined.

[See Bull Run testimony.]

By the chairman:

Question. Did you observe any barbarous treatment on the part of the enemy towards our prisoners and wounded soldiers

Answer. On the field?

Question. On the field or elsewhere.

Answer. A party of rebels passed by where I was lying, and called out. “Knock out his brains, the damned Yankee,” referring to me. I said nothing to them. When we were taken to this house there was a general want of everything for our men. Of course I was on my back and could not see much.

By Mr. Odell:

Question. The house to which you were taken was what is known as the Lewis House?

Answer. Yes, sir; I was taken there in a blanket, and on the way I met General Beauregard. Some one asked who that was, and the reply was that it was Captain Ricketts. When General Beauregard heard my name he jumped off his horse and spoke to me. He was an old acquaintance, but a. year my senior at the Military Academy. I had been a great deal at the south-—in New Orleans, Texas, and other places-—and had been thrown a number of times in his company. He told me my treatment would depend upon the treatment that their privateers should receive.

Question. He told you that at that early period?

Answer. Yes, sir. I was much struck with what he said. I asked him where we were to be taken, and what they were going to do with us. He said: “Your treatment will depend upon that of the privateers,” and then directed me to be taken to the Lewis House.

By the chairman:

Question. How long were you a prisoner in the hands of the rebels?
Answer. I was two weeks at the Lewis House, and then I was in Richmond up to the 18th of December.

Question. It has been said that the rebels mutilated our dead and killed our wounded prisoners. Do you know anything about that?

Answer. I know this: that Lieutenant Ramsay, my first lieutenant, who was killed at my battery, was entirely stripped. The first one of the rebels who asked my name was a Lieutenant Colonel Harman. He was a lieutenant in the Mexican war, where I had known him very well. As soon as he heard my name he asked me if I knew him; and when he mentioned his name, of course I knew him. He said to the men with him, “Respect the captain’s person; he is an old friend of mine; don’t take anything from him.” And I had nothing taken from me, on account of Harman, I suppose.

Question. But your lieutenant was stripped?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. What do you mean by that—stripped of his clothing?

Answer. Yes, sir; he had nothing left on him but his socks, so one of our surgeons who saw him told me.

By Mr. Chandler:

Question. Do you know anything about their method of burying our dead?

Answer. I know nothing except about their manner of burial in Richmond. I could from my room overlook the place where they buried our dead. I know they were buried in the negro burying-ground among the negroes. They had no funeral service over them, but they were just taken out and put in the ground in the most unfeeling manner. At the Lewis House there was a great want of everything in the way of supplies, medicines, bandages, &c.

By the chairman:

Question. That may have been the case with their own men as well as ours.

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. What was their general treatment of prisoners in Richmond?

Answer. The general treatment of the prisoners there, I thought, was very bad, indeed. We were very much crowded. Our diet was very meagre, indeed. I subsisted mainly upon what I purchased with my own money, which my wife brought me. That is the way I got along, and I assisted the others all I could. For instance, we had at times what they called bacon soup, soup made from boiled bacon, the bacon being a little rancid, which you could not possibly eat, and the bacon was served with the soup; and that for a man whose system is being drained by a wound is no diet at all. Then we had some thin beef soup, so thin that we were induced to ask one of the assistants how it happened to be so, and we were told that it was first served to their own people in the hospitals, and afterwards it was watered for us. They stopped giving us tea and coffee, and we had to buy them for ourselves. We had to buy our butter and eggs, and everything of that sort, beyond the mere prison fare that they gave us.

Question. It has been said that they shot some of our prisoners while looking out of the windows?

Answer. I was not in the prison. I was too lame to be taken to the tobacco factory. I was in the hospital all the time.

Question. Did you hear anything about that while you were there?

Answer. Yes, sir; there were a number of our men shot. On one occasion there were two shot, one was killed and the other wounded, by a man on the outside, who rested his gun on the window-sill while he capped it; while drawing back the hammer, in this position, it escaped from his fingers, came down upon the cap, and the gun went off.

Question. That was an accident, was it?

Answer. Well, sir, it was a very singular accident. If I should point a gun towards you, instead of towards the ceiling, when I went to put a cap on, and it should go off, it would, to say the least, be regarded as a very unpardonable accident.

By Mr. Chandler:

Question: You thought it was intentional?

Answer. Yes, sir; I did think so.

By Mr. Gooch:

Question. Do you know whether that man received any punishment?

Answer. The man was taken up, but he made some explanation and was let go again. I considered it very bad treatment, also, to be selected as a hostage for the privateers, when I was so lame I could not walk; while my wounds were still open and unhealed. General Winder came to see me. He had been an officer in my regiment, and I had known him for twenty-odd years. He came to see me on the 9th of November; he saw my wounds, that they were still unhealed; he saw my condition. He that very day received an order to select hostages for the privateers; and, notwithstanding he knew what my condition was, the next day, on Sunday, the 10th of November, I was selected as one of the hostages. I heard of a great many of our prisoners who had been bayonetted and shot. I saw three of them, two of them had been bayonetted and one of them had been shot. One of them was named Lewis Francis, of the New York 14th. He had received fourteen bayonet wounds, one through his privates, by which he lost one of his testicles. And he had one wound, very much like mine, on the knee, in consequence of which his leg was amputated after some 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 surgeon, remark to one of his young assistants, “I won’t be greedy, you may do it;” and the young man did it.

Mr. Odell: I would state here that he has just had his leg amputated the second time in consequence of the faulty manner in which it was done the first time.

The witness: It is surprising how that man lived through it all, old as he was. I should take him to be over forty years of age.

Mr. Odell: He is over fifty years of age; fifty-three or four, I should think.

The witness: I did not think he was as old as that. That only renders his recovery the more surprising. I saw him, and my wife was with him, down where he was, doing what she could for him; she gave him some of my clothes. Then there was a man named Briggs, of a Michigan regiment, who has a scar on his hand now from a bayonet wound. He says he saw the rebels coming, bayonetting our men and pillaging their pockets. He had a little portmonnaie, with about eight dollars in it. He put it inside his shirt, and let it fall down his back, and laid down on it. He was wounded, shot below the knee somewhere. When they came to him they asked for his money, and commenced thrusting a bayonet at him. He caught it in his hand, and as they withdrew it his hand was cut by it.

By Mr. Chandler:

Question. Did this man who received so many bayonet wounds receive them after he was a prisoner?

Answer. He was not wounded at all at first. That was their method of taking him prisoner, piercing him as much as possible. He was in their power entirely; there was no necessity for their doing any such thing, as there was one man against several.

Question. Instead of demanding his surrender they bayonetted him?

Answer. Yes, sir; it was entirely wanton on their part.

By Mr. Julian:

Question. And they supposed they had killed him?

Answer. Yes, sir. Another man was shot through the body, and he fell, and they supposed he was killed. Many of those men came into my room, and I saw them there and talked with them; and many of our men were badly amputated; the laps over the stump were drawn too tight, and soon the bones protruded. A man by the name of Prescott was amputated twice, and was then moved to Richmond before the laps were healed. He died from lockjaw after he reached Richmond, and always said that it was the railroad that killed him.

By Mr. Odell:

Question. Do you know anything more about the treatment of our prisoners?

Answer. I heard a doctor on the steps below my room say that he wished he could take out the hearts of the damned Yankees as easily as he could take off their legs. Those little things show exactly the state of feeling on their part.

By Mr. Gooch:

Question. What was their treatment of you, personally?

Answer. I had no particular consideration shown me personally, excepting from some persons whom I knew. I had a great many acquaintances in Richmond, and a great many among those in the field, for I had been a great deal in the south. I had met many at Newport, a great many from South Carolina. Those Charleston gentlemen treated me very handsomely. Wade Hampton, who was opposed to my battery, came to see me, and behaved towards me as a generous enemy should. He brought me a couple of bottles of ale, riding seven miles to bring it to me.

By Mr. Odell: Question. The papers have criticised their treatment of your lady, alleging that they evinced a lack of respect towards the sex.

Answer. My wife, in the first place, joined me while I was at the Lewis House, on the field of battle. The first rumor she had heard was that I was killed. When she heard that I was alive, but wounded, she started with her carriage and horses to come to me. She almost had to fight her way out there, but succeeded finally in reaching me on the fourth day after the battle. There were eight persons in the Lewis house 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 that one room. There was no door to it. It was very much as it would be here if you should take away the door of this committee room, and then fill up the passage with wounded soldiers. And 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. The hospital was an unfinished building, one half the windows being out of it; and there we were, a common show. There was a general interest to see Colonel Wilcox and myself, as though they expected to see a couple of savages.

Question. Did not the officers of the southern army protect you from that sort of indignity?

Answer. They made some attempt to do it.

Question. But they did not use the means they might have used?

Answer. No, sir; and the people would come in there and say all sorts of things to us and about us. In fact, people that I knew would come in and commence discussions, until I was obliged to tell them that I was a prisoner, and had nothing to say. When we went down to Richmond in the cars from Manassas, wherever we stopped crowds of people would gather around and stare at us. At Gordonsville, particularly, crowds of women came around there to see the prisoners and the Yankee woman. They would ask my wife if she cooked, if she washed, and 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 that if it was continued she would make it known to the authorities. He then said he would stop it. General Johnston took my wife’s carriage and horses away from her at Manassas, and kept them, and has them yet, for aught I know. When we got down to Richmond I spoke to several gentlemen about it, and so did Mrs. Ricketts. They said that of course the carriage and horses would be returned. But they never were. Instead of that, when I was exchanged, and we were about to leave, they refused Mrs. Ricketts a transportation ticket to Norfolk, obliging her to purchase it. Dr. Gibson, who was in charge of the hospital, when he heard of it, said that such a thing was very extraordinary in General Winder, and that he would speak to him about it. I said that it made no difference, though I thought as General Johnston had taken her carriage and horses and left her on foot, it would be nothing more than fair to give her a ticket to Norfolk. Our prisoners were treated very badly there, and I am surprised that some of them lived through it, like that man Lewis Francis.

Mr. Odell. He is recovering, and though he has lost one leg, he is very anxious to get back into the field again.

The witness. I must say that I have a debt 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 again at once.





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.





Cpl. James A. Wright, Co. F, 1st Minnesota Infantry, On the Retreat

12 04 2012

In leaving the position in the road, we observed that everybody seemed to be going, and, in crossing a little rise of ground, we were fired on by some of the advanced skirmishers of this new force, but I do not think that there was a shot from those with whom we had been contending.

This new enemy – we then supposed – was the advance of Johnston’s forces from the Shenandoah Valley, but we have since learned that it was the last of them, under command of Kirby Smith, and that we had been fighting Johnston’s forces all day.  And that this force had got off of the cars at Gainesville and marched towards the firing at an opportune time. Without them, the story of Bull Run might have been a very different one.

After passing the rise, we were sheltered from this musketry fire, but the battery off at the right was throwing shells almost directly down the little valley.

After crossing the stream, which was neither deep nor wide, we started to go up the hill to the point where we had come in, and were again exposed to the batteries which fired on us going down. There was much haste and confusion going up the hill. It was a ‘go as you please’ until we reached the top, where we were out of the range. A hospital had been located at the Sudley Church; an effort had been made to get the wounded there; and both of the surgeons – Stewart and Le Boutillier – were there. Some of the wounded were being assisted up the hill at the time, and I helped carry Joe Garrison on a blanket a part of the way. At the same time, Corporal Schofield was being helped by some of the others of the company.

After we reached the top of the hill, I think there was but very little more firing. There were portions of a number of regiments and some batteries there, with guns in position for firing, but there did not seem to be anyone that knew just what to do. As many as possible of the regiment were assembled here, and an attempt made to find the other companies. After a little delay, we were directed to the ford across Bull Run, where we found what remained of the left wing of the regiment.

It was the first time we had seen or been in close connection with them since forming in line at the beginning of our fighting, and we now learned something of their part in the fight. It had been a terrible experience. Following Ricketts’s Battery – with the left very near the guns – they had come into line and faced the woods. At almost the same time, they saw a force coming out of the woods, and there was uncertainty as to their identity, which caused them to hold their fire – until fired upon. Almost the same time, they received fire from the batteries, which Colonel Franklin says were only about 1,000 feet away.

This was a very destructive fire – killed and wounded many men of the regiment and practically disabled the battery, as it was able to fire but a few round. The regiment returned this fire with such effect as to drive back this force, but their position was untenable on account of the enemy’s artillery. They were obliged to retire to the shelter of the hill, which position they maintained until ordered to withdraw, but – in the meantime – they took part in one or two other attempts to recover the guns. These attempts were failures – but all attempts of the enemy were also failures. If we could not remove the guns, neither could they so long as our forces remained in the shelter of the hill to protect them.

It was after we had reached the top of the hill and were nearly ready to march away, when a large force came out of the woods and charged on the deserted guns, swinging their hats and cheering. Whether these were some of the troops that had been there during the fighting – or some of those who had just come up – of course, I do not know. This was just at the time that the battery near us – Arnold’s, I think it was – limbered up to leave. I saw no other display of their infantry, except those that were coming across the fields on our right.

When we left the position on the hill, both of the surgeons remained with the wounded and fell into the hands of the enemy. This was voluntary on their part.

When we joined the regiment on the other side of the stream, we found several other regiments – or parts of regiments – there, but all were without orders. About this time, Governor William Sprague of Rhode Island joined his regiment and brought the news that our forces were retreating. It was decided by him – or someone else – to return to the bivouac at Centreville.

I do not know the time, but I judge it to have been between four and five o’clock in the afternoon. It was not far from 12 o’clock when we first came under fire. If it was four o’clock when we recrossed Bull Run, then it was probably three or later when we left the cut in the road where we did the last fighting. This is the best estimate we can make of the time, and, if correct, we were confronting the enemy – within musket range – three hours or more. If that was all, then we lived an awful long time in three hours.

When getting ready to march, Colonel Gorman offered the regiment for service as rear guard, but Governor Sprague claimed this for his regiment. This brought on a little discussion as to which was senior in rank – which involved command of the troops present. They were unable to agree, but Sprague settled it – at least to his own satisfaction – by claiming his rank as governor.

With this matter settled, we started for Centreville with the Rhode Island regiment in the rear and ours next in order. In this manner we marched until overtaken by a body of our cavalry – when we were considerably broken up by their hurriedly passing through us, obliging us to take to the sides of the road.

When we reached the main road, we found carriages, hacks, wagons, and artillery on the road, and all the moving – or trying to move – in the same direction we were, Some were stalled and some were broken down. There were frequent collisions and several wrecks, and we saw one runaway – a pair of horses attached to a hack. Of course, it was not possible to march in regular formation under such conditions, and we were too tired to attempt more than was necessary and make our way the best we could and as fast as we could. At one point, the road passed over a hill that was in range of the enemy’s artillery across Bull Run, and they were throwing shells in that direction. This added to the confusion and hurried matters, also, along that stretch of road.

It was getting dark when we reached Centreville and went to the place where we had spent Friday and Saturday nights and where some wagons had been left – with regimental and company property and some Negro cooks. I think that about one-half of those who had gone out of there that morning had returned. Not more. Where were the rest? At that time, we had no definite knowledge of the others and were anxious to learn the fate of absent ones. We sat or laid down on the ground, and for a little time there were inquiries about this and that one – when and where they had been seen last – but nature asserted herself, and it was but a few minutes before the majority were sleeping soundly.

It seemed but a moment – though it might have been an hour – when we were awakened and found a supply of coffee and crackers awaiting us. I do not know as I had realized that I was hungry, but the smell of that coffee made it evident at once. We drank an unknown quantity of the coffee, but it was not a small quantity, and we felt greatly refreshed and strengthened. We also filled our canteens. It was now quite dark and threatening rain, but we again laid down to sleep.

It was not long after this that we were again called up and told that we were to march soon. This was a surprise to us, as we expected to spend the night there. No one knew where we were to go. It was now raining a little and very dark. We had had no opportunity to recover the blankets we had piled up in the woods, and the rain and night air were chilling. I do not know what became of the blankets we left, but I have been told by a Massachusetts comrade who was in the field hospital at Sudley Church that our surgeons sent and had many of them brought in to lay the wounded on.

When we fell in, we marched down to the Warrenton Turnpike and formed on the left-hand side of the road, and we began to consider the probability of our going back. Up to that time, I do not think there was any expectation of a general retreat. I do not know who organized the order of march, but it was a pretty complicated arrangement for a dark night. In the main roadway there was a line of wagons and a line of artillery, side by side, and a line of infantry marching in fours on either side. Our regiment with others was on the left, and on the right was the Jersey Brigade, a body of troops which had not been actively engaged. I knew that the New Jersey men were on the opposite side of the road, and that there were wagons between, but it was too dark to see.

Everyone who made that terrible march knows that ‘confusion worse confounded’  was produced in large quantities that were painfully evident to all of the senses but seeing. When we started on the march, it was raining hard and so dark that you could not recognize the comrade with whom you touched elbows. It was, I judge, ten o’clock or later.

Since leaving the bivouac 20 to 22 hours before, we had marched 25 to 30 miles, under the scorching heat of the mid-summer sun, much of the way through smothering clouds of pulverized clay, which covered our clothing and filled the eyes, ears, nose, and mouth, and was breathed into the lungs. Added to these were the excitement and mental strain of the battle and the bitter, humiliating results: defeat and disaster. To all of these was now to be added another march of 25 miles or more. None of us – of the ranks – really knew where we were going or what distance it was intended to march. All we actually knew was that we were headed back over the road we had come, and that it was dark as Egypt and raining diligently.

When this ‘mixed multitude’ of men, mules, horses, and wheels was set in motion, the situation was intensified. Wagons collided or got off the pike into the ditch; teams balked, and drivers swore and called for assistance; we of the infantry  blundered along the sides of the road as best we could – bumping into each other and everything else bump-able – tired beyond all previous experience and in anything but an amiable frame of mind. After vain attempts to keep some kind of a formation by touch and calling each other’s names or the company letter, all efforts in that direction were given up, and we just plodded along in the pouring rain as best we could.

When the rain began to fall, it was cooling and refreshing, but – as it saturated our scant clothing and poured over us in a continuous shower-bath fresh from the clouds – it became the reverse of agreeable and added much to our discomfort. The accumulations of dust on the road became sloppy mud very quickly, and the gathering water ran in little streams across the road or along the sides and collected in the depressions. Unable to see where we should go, we waded through these – often over our shoes in water and mud. The day’s operations had left a liberal deposit of dust, sand, and gravel in our shoes, and the addition of water increase the discomfort and added to the abrasions of our tired, blistered feet.

To start on such a march, under such conditions, after the efforts of the day, was a great undertaking. While the darkness lasted, it was each man for himself. When men felt that they had gone as far as they could, they turned aside in the woods and, finding a place where they could rest against a tree or stump, went to sleep. When awakened by the pitiless, drenching rain – as soon or later they were – they roused up by sheer will power and forced their stiffened, benumbed limbs to carry them onward.

Personally, that is the way I covered the distance between Centreville and Fairfax. I did not know where I was or what the hour of the night when – after a little debate with myself – I decided to rest awhile and think the situation over. With a comrade, I went a little ways into the bushes, curled up, and went to sleep without doing any thinking.

Daylight was coming, and the rain had almost ceased, when I awoke. We heard voices and knew that men were passing. Satisfying ourselves that they were not enemies, we went back into the road – though so stiff and sore that it was with difficulty we could walk. Groups of men, here and there, had made fires and were boiling coffee, and others were moving along. Going a little ways, we found two members of the company and several more of the regiment at a fire, making coffee in their tincups and little pails. Of course, we joined them at the same occupation, realizing that we were hungry.

After drinking a pint or so of strong, hot coffee and eating crackers and salt pork, we felt refreshed and continued our march. Many groups were marching, and others were halted – cooking – and we soon found others of the company and regiment and, naturally, we kept together. We soon came to Fairfax, where we found some of the wagons and artillery. From Fairfax, we took the road to Alexandria where our tents and the detail had remained. It was nearly twelve miles, but we made the distance before noon.

Here there was found food and drink and a warm welcome from those who had kept the camp. Some had come in before us, and others arrived later. Some water to wash our begrimed faces and something to eat, and, meantime, there was a general inquiry for the missing ones. In my tent, I was so fortunate as to have left a blanket, and I had a shirt and some underclothes, but I did not stop to change then. In a very few minutes, I was sleeping. I had slept, seemingly, but a little time when I was ‘stirred up’ and told that an order had come to move.

It was now well along in the afternoon, and more of the company and regiment had come in. Tents were struck and – with all the other company material – were loaded into the wagons, and we fell in for the march – we knew not where. The rain had ceased during the day, but as night came on it was threatening again. As we passed through Alexandria, it seemed impossible that it had been but a fortnight since we first marched through the city. It seemed like months.

When we reached Fort Runyon, near the Virginia end of the Long Bridge, it was getting dark and raining hard. Here we found more of the company and regiment, and there were glad greetings for some that it was feared were dead or in the hands of the rebels. I do not mean by that that there was anything like rejoicing in the general sense of the word. We had marched out in confidence, expecting a victory, but we had suffered a defeat which had wilted our pride – very much as the great physical efforts had exhausted our strength. We were sincerely glad the price in blood was no greater.

After a short halt, we crossed the Long Bridge and marched to Pennsylvania Avenue. Here and there was another halt. It rained furiously, and the only shelter we had was an iron picket fence. We got a splendid shower-bath, but we had all we wanted of that kind.

After what seemed a long time, we were admitted to some churches for the night. Food and coffee – plenty of it – was soon brought in. It was now getting quite late, and we could take our choice of sleeping on a seat or on the floor between two seats; only, there were not seats enough for all, and some must take the floor anyway. I was too tired to be particular, and gratefully glad to find shelter from the storm anywhere, and turned in on the pulpit floor. Before retiring that night, I found an opportunity to write a few words to my mother, and I think that evening or the next morning most of the boys managed to let their people know that they were still alive.

The next morning, Tuesday, July 23, the storm had ceased, and we again occupied the camp on Seventh Street out of which we had marched on the morning of July 3. It did not seem possible that but twenty  days had elapsed since we had left it. Neither did it seem possible that the 800 depressed, ragged, mud-stained, and foot-sore men who limped into camp and began the work of pitching their tents could be the same ones who had gone out from there less than three weeks before. We were a pretty hard-looking crowd. the blow had fallen with a heavy hand, and we felt its stunning effects. Mechanically, we went to work, but the interest grew as our work progressed.

Before noon, the tents were up, most of the boys had found another shirt in their knapsacks (or washed the one they wore), taken a bath, and presented a better appearance. Tents were stretched, rations were drawn, and the sun was shining and matters began to assume brighter hue. Our clothing had been a subject of complaint before we marched, and it was much more so now, but it was the result of the battle that lay nearest our hearts.

James Wright Papers, Minnesota Historical Society, as quoted on pp. 58 – 64 in Keillor, No More Gallant a Deed: A Civil War Memoir of the First Minnesota Volunteers. Used with permission.





New Original Artwork on “Civil War Monitor”

2 03 2012

Friend Terry Johnston sent me an image of the cover of the new, 3rd issue of The Civil War Monitor. It features one of Daniel Tyler’s brigade commanders. Here it is (click it for a bigger image):

I love this stuff. It really sets Civil War Monitor apart. I know it has to be expensive and maybe we can’t expect to see it on every issue, but I really, really like it.





“C.”, 2nd Wisconsin, On the Battle

22 02 2012

From the Milwaukee Sentinel.

Interesting Letter from the Second Regiment.

———-

Camp Corcoran,

Monday Night, July 22, ’61.

Once again, we are back in the vicinity of Washington, having passed through a battle that will ever have a full page in the history of battles. The full report of it you may have seen, and my work will be to give only a few scenes connected with the Second Wisconsin Regiment, which from the many who narrowly watched us, has received not a few encomiums.

On Sunday morning, July 21st, at 2 o’clock A. M., our camp near Centerville, was aroused by the cry of “Fall in to march.” – The men were ready and eager to be up, it being supposed that the commander-in-chief of the division had made preparations for us to go on and complete a victory which we felt sure was before us. The Second Wisconsin, 79th, 69th, and 13th New York, with Sherman’s battery and Capt. Thompson’s troop of 100 horse, formed one brigade, while two Connecticut and two Ohio regiments, with company E. U. S. artillery, and a troop of 100 horse, formed another. Both were under the command of Gen. Tyler, and formed the centre of McDowell’s grand army. The right wing was under the command of Gen. Hunter, and the left, under Gen. Heintzleman. The right and left were to close on the wings of the enemy’s fortifications, extending to a distance of six miles, while the centre was to attack their principal fortresses.

Our wing waited until nearly daylight before starting, as the others had a much longer distance to go; but at length we were under way. To Bull’s Run was only a distance of three miles, which was soon reached. Here we felt ourselves in the midst of the enemy’s works. The ground we were approaching was known to be full of masked batteries but a few days before, and now the march was necessarily slow and tedious.

The 2nd Wisconsin and the 79th New York to the right of the road and filing off through the woods, flanked with the left on the road, while the balance of the brigade took the left hand side, and Sherman’s battery, with “President Lincoln’s Baby-waker,” as a large 32-pound rifle cannon was called, took the road, the infantry acting as a support to the battery. The column, in this order, worked its way up gradually to the edge of the woods, and came to a halt. Just beyond the woods was an opening some 500 rods in extent; then came Bull’s Run, a deep ravine, and beyond this, high up, rose the natural fortifications of the rebels. No better place could have been selected, and no other natural fortification so easy of self-support could have been found.

On the enemy’s side, as we drew near, nothing out of the usual course of events could be seen. All seemed as natural as though the roads were not alive with armed men and filled with masked batteries.

After reconnoitering a while, the large rifle cannon began picking out some good marks. Sever shots were made, but they were not returned, when some one suggested that in a deep ravine, which could be seen, was a good seclusion. A shot directed there, sent forth into the open field at least 500 cavalry, who scattered like chaff in every direction, but soon returned. The big gun continued its work, and the riderless horses that came flying out, several of which came over to our lines, showed that it was no idle play. Sherman, too, opened his battery, and, at the same time, a masked battery, almost within musket shot of the Connecticut regiments, opened upon them, and then battery after battery poured in, and the shower of lead came out from every clump of trees.

The men threw themselves upon the ground, with their arms ready to come to a charge, and although the fire was hat and heavy, only one man was killed and two wounded, both of the Connecticut. The fire of the big gun and of Sherman’s and Co. E batteries was directed against those of the enemy, and in a remarkably short space of time, so accurate was the aim, they were all silenced.

Almost the same instant our battery commenced, that of the left wing opened in the stronghold we had attempted to take a few days before. They were soon silenced, and when the guns of Gen. Hunter’s wing opened, the other wings started on the march, the right pressing, formed in line, the center making the circuit around, in order to aid Hunter. On the route and in crossing Bull’s Run, fires from batteries opened on the columns, and in this movement several were killed. The rebels seemed to possess innumerable batteries. They had them everywhere, and no point where a gun could be planted to have an effect upon our column, seems to have been neglected. The column soon crossed, and we went up the mountain road, we could see the enemy flying in companies, in squads and in regiments, before Gen. Hunter’s men, towards a long and narrow piece of woods, while from the right they came pouring down in the same hasty manner before Gen. Heintzleman’s men. The ravine, against which fire had at first been directed, seemed filled with dead. Bodies were laying in every directions, showing that the loss from shot and shell was terrific. With a loud shout for the “stars and stripes” our boys pushed forward, in pursuit of the flying rebels until we reached Hunter’s command, it having halted to be recruited. The open plain before us had been the enemy’s camping ground, and muskets, blankets, knapsacks, canteens, haversacks and dead bodies, were lying about indiscriminately. Our boys threw off everything, down to clothing and cartridge boxes, when the battle line was formed so as to completely hem in the rebel stronghold.

Now the work commenced in earnest. — All along the line of woods batteries opened one after the other, and shot, shell, canister and grape poured in upon us. From the position we occupied it did but little serious damage, although it whistled with so shrill a series of noises as to startle the most brave. By some neglect we had little artillery with us, it having remained behind. — The Rhode Island battery opened on one of the enemy’s, but it had taken a position so near them that before it could be brought into actual service it was used up. Carlisle’s battery and Sherman’s opened a heavy fire, and as far as two batteries could be of use they were. They silenced gun after gun, and at length got out of ammunition. By this time the federal troops got ready for a charge at the point of the bayonet, the battle line being extended all along the enemy’s lines, with the regular cavalry and marines, together with Ellsworth’s Zouaves on the right. The Wisconsin Second occupied about the center of the line. They lay for some time under cover of a hill, while the shot was pouring over them, and then, when the charge was ordered, filed on up a narrow lane, and came into line, It was a dangerous position, as they were subject to a cross fire, and many of them fell wounded.

The grand body now moved forward at a double-quick, until they came within musket shot of the enemy, and the was poured in upon them a most murderous fire of musketry. Never was there anything like it. — Together with the musketry, three batteries were pouring in grape and canister, while our own batteries were silenced from want of ammunition. Had we had our usual amount of artillery, their batteries could have been silenced, but as we had no support from this source, the order was given to fall back, and the regiments fell back a few rods to rally, all in hopes that the enemy would withdraw from their ambush, and follow to give a fair fight.

The command to fall back was given by Gen. Tyler, who it is supposed acted from the order of Gen. McDowell.

The fortress behind which the enemy was entrenched was built of crossed railroad bars and logs, and behind these was an army of 70,00 men, arrayed so as fill up the whole line in front, the rear column loading and the front, two deep firing continually.

Before the order for retreat was given the battle was fairly won, and victory would have been surrendered to the federal flag, but as the rebels were about giving up, Gen. Johnston arrived from Manassas Gap, with 18,000 fresh troops. It was supposed that Gen. Patterson was close upon him, but such was not the case, he, for some reason, which I have not yet learned, having left the track.

When the order to fall back was given, the regiments of the army gave way, then rallied, and as the rebel troops showed themselves outside the entrenchments, poured in upon them volley after volley, but finding it fruitless to continue the fight, they received orders to give way, and take up their line of retreat. They did this by regiments and companies in admirable order, but hundreds fell out, and forming in squads fell behind, and seeking shelter, behind logs and trees, commenced an Indian fight upon the rebel cavalry, which came out of the woods, to the number of 1,000, to pursue the stragglers. They dropped from the saddle in squads under the fire. This Indian skirmishing was a protection to the retreating army; but many of those who were giving the aid, suffered in consequence, as they were taken prisoners, when they got down so few in numbers as to offer little resistance to the rebels.

Among the prisoners known to be taken is S. P. Jackson of La Crosse, a member of Co. B. He had his arm broken by a musket ball and was taken by the cavalry, together with t squad of seven Wisconsin boys. Then they were being taken off, a few of the boys rallied and fired into the cavalry, calling upon the Union prisoners to escape. They all did so but Jackson, who was taken off. Before the others escaped Jackson told the officer of the cavalry that he was useless to them, as his arm was broken. The reply was that he should be taken care of. “yes,” replied Jackson, “the same as our wounded men at Bull’s Run the other day. You bayoneted all our wounded men.” “It’s a lie,” replied the officer. “It is not,” replied Jackson, “you killed every one of our wounded men.” — “Our orders were to take care of the wounded, and we fight humanely. To be sure there are some d—-d rascals in every army who fight like tigers, and kill the wounded, but we prevent it when we can.” At this, one of them spoke up and said, “Not by a d—-d sight; we shall kill every hell-hound of them we take.” The New Orleans Zouave who was taken prisoner, also said, “You may kill me if you please, and you may win the battle to-day, but we will whip you to-morrow when our recruits get in, and then every one of you that falls into our hands will be butchered.” This appeared to be the general sentiment, that no mercy was to be shown, and that all who fell into their hands would have no pleasant situation.

Many of those captured afterwards escaped by a ruse or trick. Ruby, of the Oshkosh company, was kept some time, but escaped by playing Indian, while Whiting, of the La Crosse company escaped by yelling that the artillery was upon them, and they must retreat. The cavalry thought it one of their own officers who gave the command, and scattered, when Whitney escaped. A number of just such cases occurred. Capt. Colwell, of Co. B acted the hero all the way through. He rallied his men and led them on to positions where it would scarcely be deemed men could go. He captured one piece of artillery, he and his men taking the piece by main force and hauling it a long distance off, and then returned to the fight. The Wisconsin regiment was the last body off the field, and their run was caused by the rebel cavalry. Had they been less brave their loss in prisoners would have been greater, as they remained in squads and charged upon the cavalry every time they approached. The retreating column also had to contend against a raking fire of artillery. As they crossed the Run the rebels had a fine rake with their guns, and kept up a constant fire of grape and canister. The loss from this sortie, however, was not heavy.

The enemy did not follow up the retreat, which shows conclusively that they did not consider it a great victory. The retreat was continued to Centreville, when a halt was made for an hour’s rest. The regiments were then re-formed, and continued their march to their old rendezvous, some to Washington, others to Alexandria, and others to Fort Corcoran; the retreat being covered by two regiments who were not in the field.

It is certain that just before Gen. Johnston arrived with his troops, the rebels were whipped, although at no one time did the federal army have more than fifteen regiments in the field; and but for Johnston’s arrival, they would have left very suddenly for Manassas Gap. The federal troops are not disheartened at the result of the conflict. They feel that they have fought bravely, and that they had not well disciplined men to lead them on. After the conflict had commenced, but little was seen of them; but after the retreat was sounded, and while the column was marching until it had got beyond all danger, very few of the field officers were to be seen. Many of the captains and lieutenants of companies exhibited a courage and intuitive knowledge of military matters that was deserving of a better fate.

We lost most of our blankets, haversacks, &c., that were thrown off when we started to join Hunter, and we lost many of our muskets in the field, but their places were supplied with Sharpe’s rifles, with which the enemy were well supplied. I think the trade is about even. They were well supplied with fighting material, having all that is necessary, all bearing the trade mark of the United States.

Just as I am finishing the present, a member of Capt. Langworthy’s  company has come in from the enemy. He was taken prisoner, and set to work digging graves for the dead. Fearful are the preparations made, so immense is the number. All will be huddled together in common graves, friend and foe together, without prayers or service. It is asserted that a determination was expressed by many to bayonet such of our men who were badly wounded, and some proceeded to execute the threat, when stopped by an officer. Dr. Irwin, of our medical staff, is among them as a prisoner, and is looking after our wounded who are prisoners.

C.

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

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Contributed by John Hennessy





Unknown (1), 2nd S. C., On the Battle

3 02 2012

Battle Field of Bull Run,

Monday Morning, July 22, 1861.

We have met the enemy and gained a tremendous and glorious victory. South Carolinians have the most important part in the fight and ours (Colonel Kershaw’s Regiment, Colonel Cash’s Regiment, and Kemper’s Artillery), have the honor of having turned the issue of the fight and first sent the enemy flying before us. There force is not known, but almost their whole army must have been engaged in the fight; ours amounted to about 15,000. On account of the inequality of our forces, those first engaged on our side suffered very severely. Hampton’s Legion was almost cut to pieces. Hampton is wounded, and poor Colonel Johnson was shot dead while leading the Legion to the charge. His death has caused universal sorrow and grief through all the army, for he proved himself a gallant and excellent officer in the short time that life was spared to him on the field. He was killed at the commencement of the battle, by a rifle ball passing entirely through his head. I have not been able to see after him at all, but Henry saw his body taken from the field and attended it in the Hospital.

Col. Bartow, of Savannah, was killed, and has been sent home. The Savannah companies suffered terribly. The Washington Light Infantry went into the fight 110 strong, and joined us, when we advanced, with but 15 – they having been separated from the Legion. All of the missing are not, of course, dead or wounded, but I am afraid many are. None of the officers were injured. Sloan’s South Carolina Regiment was severely injured, but I know no particulars about it. And now for the fight, and their defeat and loss.

Early yesterday morning (Sunday 21st), a heavy cannonading was commenced simultaneously on the centre and left of our line of defence – we being stationed near the centre, a little to the left. This continued for about an hour, when a heavy discharge of musketry commenced on the left, about three miles from us, which actually raged for about three hours. At the end of this time our regiment was ordered to proceed to the same action. We immediately advanced, with Kemper’s (Alexandria) Artillery, which is attached to our regiment and Cash’s regiment. After marching about four miles, we formed in line of battle in the rear of the field of battle, with rifled shells bursting over and around us every minute. The scene at this time was calcuted to appal the oldest veteran, and we were untried and inexperienced volunteers. The dead and wounded were carried by us to the rear in a continuous stream, and squads of the Confederate men were retreating from every portion of the field. The fire in our front kept steadily closing in towards us. We were told that the day was lost; that the South Carolina troops were cut to pieces and ginned out, and the enemy were advancing in vast columns. Yet we firmly advanced through the woods, and soon became engaged in a fierce fight with the New York Fire Zouaves, who stood their ground for a short time, but broke finally and retreated across an open field. We followed them up, and the prospect before us when we reached the open field was indeed hopeless. Not a friend could be seen, and the enemy was drawn up in line after line for a mile in front of us. We kept advancing, pouring in volley after volley upon those nearest us. Kemper’s battery was delayed for half an hour, but finally came up with us and sent in round after round of shell and grape. Col. Cash, at the same time, advanced on our left, and several other regiments on his left. The defeat commenced by us was followed up by them, and soon the Yankees were flying from all parts of the field. Although but a small force, compared with theirs, we followed them up – our Regiment (Kershaw’s) in the advance. their retreat soon became a perfect rout. Infantry, cavalry and artillery joined in the pursuit of the perfect cloud of dust before them. The scene along the road was awful. The dying and dead scattered in every direction. Cannon, baggage wagons, arms, accoutrements of every kind and equipments of every description, were lying in the road and through the woods. We kept on in the pursuit for three miles, until all that we could find of the enemy were completely routed, when, by order of Beauregard, we returned to the battle field, where we are now. We took thirty pieces of splendid artillery – some say forty. The small arms can’t, as yet, be counted – they say we have captured about ten thousand. Blankets, oil cloths, knapsacks, haversacks, &c., I assure you, literally cover the ground. Where the enemy now are, we don’t know. If our whole force is to pursue them, it will be done immediately, as Davis is here – he, Beauregard and Johnston having all been in the field yesterday. About their killed and wounded we can tell nothing; they are scattered everywhere. The cavalry who have began to show themselves are continually bringing prisoners in. McDowell is reported to be wounded. Corcoran and Meagher are killed, they say. The fight for hours was terrible, but the rout was still more so.

I do not know what the loss in our regiment is, but it is very small. In my company only four or five are wounded; none known to be killed as yet. We have gained a victory which will no doubt considerably improve us in the eyes of the world.

Our regiment has had a hard time, not having slept under cover for five nights, and raining all the time.

Charleston Mercury, 8/1/1861

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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





Col. Hiram Berry, 4th ME Infantry, On the March to Manassas and the Battle

17 01 2012

[A series of letters from Col. Hiram G. Berry, 4th Main Infantry]

Headquarters 4th Maine Vols.,

Camp Knox, Fairfax County, Va., July 13, 1861.

Since writing my last we have moved onward apace. We are now encamped on the east side of Alexandria and Manassas Gap railroad, near the town of Fairfax. I am well and never experienced so good a climate as this of Virginia. The country through which we have passed since we left Alexandria is one of the finest imaginable. The plantations are of the medium size, of about 1,000 acres on the average. Houses large, airy, comfortable and well arranged. Most of the people are to my mind secessionists. ‘Tis sad indeed to see so fine a country in so bad a fix; nevertheless, no help for it now but to fight it out. We move forward again in a day or two from five to ten miles. The whole line is some eighteen miles long, and advances at the same time. Our route is down the railroad spoken of above, on its eastern side, or its left flank.  We build bridges as we go along, and also a telegraph. The regiment is in fine health and works hard. I am at work from four in the morning till eleven at night, sleep on the ground and am as well as ever in my life. I dress in blue flannel, have also uniformed my entire regiment in same manner. All feel better since they put on flannel.  ‘Tis the only fit thing to wear in this climate.

———-

Headquarters 4th Regiment, Maine Vols.

Fairfax Station, July 15, 1861.

We are under marching orders and leave at three o’clock this afternoon with three days’ food in haversacks Baggage of all kinds, tents, everything left behind. The whole line, some 18 miles, advances today. We form its left wing. I hope all will be well with us, and trust in God it will be.

———-

Camp Knox, two and one-half miles from Fairfax Court House,

July 18, 1861.

(Written by camp-fire.)

We are now two and one-half miles from Fairfax Court House, on south side, having turned the enemy’s position and taken some twenty prisoners. They report the main column to have left over two hours before us. We have taken their camp, tents, 200 barrels of flour, bacon, sugar, tea, etc. — a pretty good show for hungry men. Captain Walker’s men took possession of these works, called Fairfax Station, in the name of the United States, and the 4th Regiment in particular. The works consist of three earth batteries or breastworks, with no guns. They were constructed to cover infantry, and in good style. My men are in excellent condition. We have fifty axe-men to clear the way, as the enemy have felled trees across the road, torn down bridges, etc. We clear the way, make the roads, scout the country for half a mile ahead, and advance main column. My men work like tigers, and are the admiration of all the army officers. We have one thirty-two and two twenty-eight pound rifle cannon, mounted on carriages, with ammunition, etc.  My men (under command, of course,) have dragged these guns the last twelve miles. The army men who had them in charge got them stuck in a dreadful ravine — hills one-half mile on each side — and gave them up. The Massachusetts 5th tried a hand and gave up also. Colonel Heintzelman said he would try the 4th Maine Regiment and they would bring them if power could do it. I got the request and dispatched Bean and Carver, with their companies, and went also myself. We manned the guns, made our arrangements, and in one-half hour had them at the top of the hill, and turned them over to Colonel Heintzelman in front of the earthworks of the enemy, having dragged them ten miles.

Long roll sounds to fall in. We are now only eight miles from Manassas Gap, and bound thither, enemy in front all the way, trees across the roads, bridges all burned, etc. Hard labor to clear the way. We shall take position in the rear of the enemy to cut off retreat. The left wing, in which we are, has to march in a circuitous road in consequence. I have not yet had an accident of any kind in the regiment since I left Portland. The Fifth lost two men by accident yesterday. Regimental organization stronger every day. New York Fire Zouaves are with us. They are a fine body of men, and the strongest ties of friendship exist between them and this regiment.

Morning — No more now; I am ordered to march.

———-

Alexandria, July 23, 1861.

I am here again with my regiment, acting under orders, having arrived last evening amidst a most pitiless rain storm. We broke camp at Fairfax, near a place called Claremont on Thursday morning at two o’clock, marched to a spot near Centerville, some fourteen miles and located. Stayed there Thursday, Friday and through Saturday.  On this last march we drove some 5,000 of the enemy before us. Sunday morning at half-past one o’clock, we broke camp and marched with the main column of some 30,000 men to attack the enemy at a place called Bull Run, some fourteen miles distant. The brigade my regiment was in was halted till two P. M. some six miles from battlefield to act as a reserve, to go when needed. At that time we moved forward to join our own division, which was having a dreadful light. We moved at double-quick time in one of the most melting of days. Men threw away everything except their guns and equipments, and arrived on the field in less than an hour. The ammunition of our artillery gave out, and also of the regiments which had been in action. The ammunition trains for some reason did not get up to us. We were ordered into position at once, and stood our ground until ordered off by General McDowell. We stood the fire about one hour, holding the enemy in check till the retreat of the main body took place, and we were ordered to move. Two full batteries of the enemy played upon us and if the shot had been well aimed, it would have been worse for us. As it is, it is bad enough — sergeant-major shot through the heart, twenty-five privates killed, three company officers wounded, (Bird, Bean and Clark,) two prisoners, sixty-odd wounded, some very slightly, one hundred and nineteen missing; most of these, however, will soon be in.

My regiment fought bravely and stood their ground manfully. T have no cause of complaint in that respect. We marched fifty miles without halting except to tight a battle — without sleep also. I have lost everything. No change of clothing — nothing. Lost one of my horses, the best one — killed. Say to General Titcomb that one of my flags was carried through the fight — the stars and stripes presented in New York. It is riddled with bullets. I have done my best and my whole duty, as I hope. I am sorry indeed to have lost so many, many men in a losing affair. Not less than 3,000 killed and wounded on our side and prisoners — say twice as many more of the enemy. The victory was ours up to one-half hour of our arrival on the ground. At that time the enemy was reinforced by 17,000 men, and that fact together with the failure of ammunition lost the battle. Our part was to fight, and cover as far as possible the retreat.

I am well, but exhausted, and my men are nearly so. I will mention names of men belonging to Rockland killed :

Company B — Asahel Towne, B. W. Fletcher, Chas. O. Fernald.

Company C — Dennis Canning, P. H. Tillson, S. P. Vose, Jarvis B. Grant.

Company D — J. A. Sparlock, Wm. B. Foss, Geo. C. Starbird, James Bailey.

Company H — G. F. Cunningham, James Finn, West W. Cook, E. W. Anderson.

 ———-

Claremont, Va.

Undated

My health is better than for the past two weeks. I feel quite the thing again. I have not been sick, but somewhat exhausted, growing out of the fatigues consequent upon the movements of two weeks ago. The regiment is now getting over in a measure its recent troubles. I hope they will soon be themselves again. Never was a braver set of men than those who went into battle under my command. They were perfectly cool, did exactly as I wanted, obeyed all my orders and behaved nobly. They should have the thanks of those they battled for and I doubt not will have them. As for my poor self, I tried to do my whole duty. Strange as it may seem to you I was no more excited than ordinarily when in earnest. I did not believe I should be hit in any way, and I did not think of it at all. My mind was occupied by my command entirely. Men fell all around me, killed and wounded. The ground was covered with men and horses, some mine and some of other regiments, who had passed over the same ground. Chapman left me only one minute before he was shot. He came for orders to my post by the Regimental colors; asked for orders with a smile. I gave them, he extended his hand, we exchanged blessings, he cautioned me against unnecessary exposure, and we parted for the last time. He was shot through the heart immediately on resuming his post.

I shall come out all right I have no doubt; shall do my whole duty, and I never again, probably, shall be placed in such a position should the war last for years as that at Bull Run.

You ask me if reports are true concerning carrying the flag, etc. I do not care to say much about myself; I leave that to others. My color-sergeant was shot in the battle. I did carry the flag throughout the entire engagement. It was my post in battle beside or near it. I at once raised it after it fell. Poor flag ! ‘Tis indeed a sorry looking concern for one so pretty when presented. Cannon shot and musketry have well-nigh ruined it, but torn as it is, it is the pride of the regiment. My labor has been to get the confidence of my men, their entire confidence on all occasions. I think I have succeeded, and whilst I am severe on them in the discharge of their duties, nevertheless I try to take care of them in all emergencies. I do not believe there will be any more engagements for some time, and then when they do come it will be principally with artillery.

Major-General Hiram G. Berry: His Career as a Contractor, Bank President, Politician and Major-General of Volunteers in the Civil War Together with His War Correspondence Embracing the Period from Bull Run to Chancellorsville, by Edward K. Gould, pp. 57 – 59, 65, 67-68.

Thanks to reader Terry Johnston








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