W. B. P.*, 12th New York Infantry, On Blackburn’s Ford

13 02 2019

Letter from a Volunteer.
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[The following private letter from a volunteer from Salina who acted as one of the skirmishers at the engagement at Bull’s Run has been kindly furnished by his friends for publication. It does not contain any later news than has already been published but it corroborates the statements of other writers and we therefore give it to our readers.]

Arlington Heights, July 23, 1861.

Dear Brother – I am alive and well, although I have been in two engagements. We had a great battle on Thursday. I was among the skirmishers. We were in advance, and had to scour the woods to find the position of the enemy. We went into the woods and the first thing we knew we were fired into by platoons from right and left – a regular cross fire – but we stood our ground manfully and returned their fire to the best advantage. The whole brigade thought by the firing that we were all cut to pieces but we knew out business and skulked behind trees, and every time a rebel showed his face he was picked off. – We went right into their nest three times on Thursday, and we had but about 40 killed and wounded, while the enemy had from 800 to 1000 killed and wounded.

The battle was in a piece of woods about four miles long, with masked batteries every two or three rods. The rebels fight like devils. They were over two to one and had the advantage, and drove us back; but, thank God, we have another day at them.

The officers acted very poorly – that is, the officers in our brigade, not the officers in our regiment, for they stood right up to the rack.

I bid your farewell, for I may never see you if we have to go into the hornets nest again. I am willing for one to go.

The bullets whistled around us like hail stones, but they were aimed too high. There is a report that the 12th ran, but that is no so. They were the only one that stood their ground. Our brigade officers are all Michigan and Massachusetts men, and they try to screen their troops and leave it all to New Yorkers.

I thought I never could stand and see the sights that I saw the day of the battle. I saw men with their heads shot off, and others with arms and legs shot off. It an was awful sight, but it was all war.

Your ever true brother.

W. B. P.

Syracuse Daily Standard, 7/29/1861

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Contributed by John Hennessy

12th New York Infantry Roster

A review of the 12th New York roster indicates five possible identities for the letter writer with the initials W. P., and two specifically with the middle initial B (the other three not showing middle initials at all.) Only one, Corporal William B. Patterson of Co. A, joined the regiment in Salina.

William B. Patterson at Ancestry.com

William B. Patterson at Fold3

Pvt. Wallace B. Page Co. G Chittenango Falls
Cpl. William B. Patterson, Co.A Salina
Pvt. William Pelton, Co. F Liverpool
Pvt. William Peters, Co. G Canastota
Pvt. William Prindle, Co. F Syracuse





Image: Pvt. Thomas Green, Co. B, 11th Mass. Infantry

12 02 2019
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Pvt. Thomas Green, Co. B, 11th MA. Wounded at BR1, killed at BR2. (LOC)

Thomas Green at Ancestry.com

Thomas Green at Fold3

Article mentioning Thomas Green at Irish in the American Civil War

Additional info on Thomas Green on Bull Runnings

Personal Correspondence of Thomas Green on Bull Runnings

 





Capt. Milo W. Locke, Co. F, 12th New York Infantry, On the March and Blackburn’s Ford

5 02 2019

WAR CORRESPONDENCE.
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Letter from Capt. Locke.
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Washington, D. C. July 24

Friend Schmers: – I have a little time to write and will give you a few facts in relation to our regiment on the 18th inst. You have very likely seen several articles in the different papers in regard to our running. I will tell you the truth as near as I can get at it.

When we arrived on the hill in sight of Bull’s Run our batteries opened on the enemy and drove them in the woods in a very short time. After this was done the skirmishers were sent in the woods on the right and made a most desperate fight of ten or fifteen rounds, when they were obliged to retreat a short distance. Next two of Sherman’s howitzers well manned were sent to the right at the same place where the skirmishers were, supported by the skirmishers, and us on the reserve, but a short distance from the field of action. The battery fired two rounds of canister shot and were obliged to retire. When they got clear we were ordered by Gen. Tyler to fall in line of battle, double quick, which was done without a man flinching or asking any question as to where they were going. We had nobody to support us either on the right or left, but we marched up like heroes.

The battle field, where the skirmish took place, was open woods on the right wing and a dense thicket on the left, where your honorable servant happened to be. (It is well enough here to state that the right wing consisted of the companies of Capts. 1st, Church; 2d, Barnum; 3d, Bower; 4th, Root; 5th, Cole; The left wing, 6th, Capt. Brand; 7th, Locke; 8th, Driscoll; 9th, Irish; 10th, Stone.) The different companies continued and marched up in double quick time through this dense thicket which was almost impossible to make our way through, until the masked battery opened on us with a most terrific fire. I gave the command for my men to fire, which was done well, and then gave the command to fall on the ground and load, which they did and fired again. Then thinking that another fire would kill half or more of my men, I gave the command to retreat, which was given I believe, to all the companies on the left and part of the right wing.

In getting out of this thicket on a retreat the men got very much scattered, and when we got to the open field it was almost impossible to find half our men, as part of the men ran considerable farther than I felt like doing at that time.

There is no doubt but that we have cowards in our regiment, but we have any quantity of men that are of the best metal. There are a good many with different diseases. Some want to resign, and others want their discharge. I say let them go by all means, we want no such men to fight such battles as we must fight.

Our companies on the left wing got to within twenty feet of this Hell Hole and I could not see a man at that distance through this thicket.

Col Walrath has been much censured for this retreat. I say Col Walrath acted the part of a soldier and a brave officer. He was nearer the scence of action than his post required him to be, and remained there during the most intense fire I ever listened to, and when the companies were on the retreat, he did all any officer could do to rally the companies. He shouted, “stop these colors or I will take them myself,” and did stop them, and several of the companies, but afterwards they were obliged to retreat to give the batteries a chance for a fire, which was kept up for nearly three hours, when our ammunition gave out, and we all retreated to Centerville, a distance of about two miles, and remained there all night, and again re-took our position in the morning and kept it until a general retreat.

I think there was 10,000 men in and around this masked battery, against our brigade of 4,000. The men all done as well as could be expected of them.

We are now encamped in Virginia near the Long Bridge, where we expect to remain for a few days to get rested and repair damages.

If our sick men don’t get better soon you will hear from me again. I have considerable interest in their health.

“He who fights and runs away,
Will live to run another day.”

I don’t think I shall return to Syracuse until this war is at an end. I had one man killed, Julius O. Westgate, and three others missing who are not known to our people in Syracuse or county.

Capt. Locke
Company F, 12th Regiment N. Y. V.

Syracuse Daily Standard, 7/27/1861

Clipping image

Contributed by John Hennessy

Milo W. Locke at Ancestry.com

Milo W. Locke at Fold3

Milo W. Locke obituary in New York Times





Preview – Mackowski, “The Great Battle Never Fought”

24 01 2019

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New from Savas Beatie and the Emerging Civil War series is The Great Battle Never Fought: The Mine Run Campaign, November 26 – December 2, 1863, by Chris Mackowski. You get:

123 pages of narrative, in thirteen chapters plus epilogue.

  • An Afterword by Ted Savas, featuring how he located the Payne’s Farm battlefield site.
  • A ten stop driving tour with GPS coordinates.
  • Appendix A, Rest, Soldier, Rest, by Mike Block, on the Army of the Potomac’s hospitals during the winter encampment of 1863-1864.
  • Appendix B, I Suppose the Result Will Be a Pretty General Sweeping Out, by Ryan T. Quint, on the reorganization of the Army of the Potomac in the wake of the aborted Mine Run Campaign.
  • Orders of Battle.
  • Suggested Reading.
  • Eight Hal Jesperson Maps.
  • Profusely illustrated with vintage and modern-day photos.
  • No footnotes, no bibliography, no index.

Chris Mackowski is the editor-in-chief of Emerging Civil War. See his author page here.





Preview – Wittenberg, “Holding the Line on the River of Death”

20 01 2019

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Author Eric Wittenberg dips his toe into Civil War western waters with Holding the Line on the River of Death: Union Mounted Forces at Chickamauga, September 18, 1863 (Savas Beatie, $29.95).

This volume focuses on the two important delaying actions conducted by mounted Union soldiers at Reed’s and Alexander’s bridges on the first day of Chickamauga. A cavalry brigade under Col. Robert H. G. Minty and Col. John T. Wilder’s legendary “Lightning Brigade” of mounted infantry made stout stands at a pair of chokepoints crossing Chickamauga Creek. Minty’s small cavalry brigade held off nearly ten times its number on September 18 by designing and implementing a textbook example of a delaying action. Their dramatic and outstanding efforts threw Confederate Gen. Braxton Bragg’s entire battle plan off its timetable by delaying his army’s advance for an entire day. That delay cost Bragg’s army the initiative at Chickamauga. 

You get:

  • 208 pp of narrative
  • Appendices – Orders of Battle
  • Appendix – Vidette and Outpost Duty Defined
  • Illustrated driving tour with 54 GPS benchmarks
  • Bibliography with quite a few manuscript and archive sources
  • Index
  • Bottom-of-page footnotes
  • 17 Mark Moore maps
  • 66 Illustrations

Eric Wittenberg has written multiple books on the American Civil War, with an emphasis on cavalry actions. Visit his Amazon Author Page for more.





Burnside’s Belly Bedazzler

18 01 2019

I was recently invited to follow the Rhode Island Military History Facebook page. I’ve been scrolling through the posts, and came across three that are of First Bull Run interest. Page follower Patrick Donovan shared photos of an item recently received by the Varnum Memorial Armory Museum that was owned by Ambrose Burnside and was possibly worn by him at our favorite Civil War battle. Below are some pics, and Patrick’s description.
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THIS just came in on loan…a sash purported to be Ambrose Burnside’s and worn by him as Colonel of the RI Brigade in 1861. He later gave it to the RI Grand Army of the Republic organization after the War. Burnside would later go on to become commander of the 9th Corps and then head of the famed Army of the Potomac in 1862. Thank you, RI Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, for the loan.


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Behold, Burnside’s 1861 sash as Colonel…the sash will go to a professional conservator for evaluation. In the meantime, we can safely display it. The knots have supports underneath to eliminate any tension on the fabric. The sloped front also keeps the effects of gravity at bay. A special vac was used to clean it and a steamer for removing wrinkles. Climate is controlled and there’s no UV radiation in the room. I’m going to have a Plexiglas cover made for it this winter. Signage will be complete this week.

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Burnside display is coming together with signage…getting quote on a custom Plexiglas cover for the sash…





Civil War Symposium, April 27, 2019

17 01 2019
Capt. Thomas Espy Post 153, Memorial Day 1904

Capt. Thomas Espy Post 153, Memorial Day 1904

On April 27, 2019, I will be presenting at the annual Andrew Carnegie Fee Library and Music Hall Civil War Symposium, in Carnegie, PA. I’ll be giving a mutation of my Future of Civil War History From a Slightly Different Point of View talk. Also on the schedule is Rich Condon of the Civil War Pittsburgh Facebook page (soon to be website, I am told), and Craig Swain of To the Sound of the Guns. Check out the brochure. There’s a theme.

If you plan to attend, set aside some time to check out the library, it’s almost complete collection of Abraham Lincoln photographs, and the finely restored Capt. Thomas Espy GAR Post 153. Plan to dine post-symposium in Carnegie – if you haven’t been there recently, it’s booming.

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Capt. Thomas Espy GAR Post 143 Today