Sgt. Charles W. Fletcher, Co. F, 2nd New Hampshire Infantry, On the Battle and Retreat

20 10 2016

Letter from Sergeant Fletcher.

We are permitted to make the following extracts from a letter from Sergeant C. W. Fletcher of the Lancaster Company. The writer is entirely reliable and his narrative will be read with interest”

Camp Sullivan, Washington, D. C.,

Tuesday, July 23d, 1861.

Dear Parents: – You doubtless have heard of the battle at Bull’s Run, and in fact all the way along from there to Manassas. Will, I suppose you are anxious to know who is dead and who is alive. I wrote you when at Fairfax. – Well we pushed forward almost to Centreville and camped until Sunday morning at 2 o’clock, when we arose, ate a brakefast of hard bread and pushed forward with our column – a forced march of sixteen miles. When we arrived the head of the column had engaged the rebels, and without a minutes rest we were rushed into the heat of the battle amid a raking fire of shot, ball and shell from the enemies batteries. Our men fell like rain, but we had batteries playing into them, and they suffered too. We bought about one and a half hours, when we silenced their batteries and they retreated. Co’ Marston was badly wounded in the shoulder with a grape shot. We held our position a few minutes when they returned with a large reinforcement and we were repulsed; but we rallied upon them again and silenced some of their batteries. Meanwhile tremendous fighting with musketry and cavalry was kept up and things seemed to go in out favor until they opened a hotter fire than ever upon us, and as our artillery had run out of ammunition, we were obliged to retreat after a fight of five hours. During the fight we lost our haversacks and blankets, so we had nothing to eat. We were obliged to leave the sounded behind us to the mercy of the rebels. The surgeons were obliged to quit the building used as a hospital, and the rebels came up and burned it, wounded men and all.

We had retreated a few miles when we came to what is called Bull’s Run Bridge, where they had sent a detachment to cut off our retreat. – They had planted a battery and torn up the bridge, and the way they threw the shells among we poor tired fellows, was a caution; but we made our escape as best we could. They killed a good many and captured some wagons and several pieces of artillery, and took a great many prisoners. At Centerville we had a reserved force and they did not follow us up any farther. We left the force there, but for some reason it was thought best to keep up the retreat to Washington, and we marched all night and arrived in Washington about twelve o’clock, Monday; hungry and worn out; and well we might be, for within thirty-six hours we marched sixty-two miles and fought five hours without eating or sleeping, and almost without drinking. What do you think of that? I am as stiff as an old cart horse; my feet are all raw and I have a bad cold settled on my lungs. But God saw fit to spare me through the battle. I saw the boys fall around me and yet I was unharmed. It is hard telling who is missing and who is not.

It was an awful battle, and I guess you will find it was one of the bloodiest ever fought on this continent. The force was large on both sides and the line of battle must have reached four or five miles. They had all the advantage of the ground, and placed their batteries accordingly. Their infantry and cavalry were in the woods skulking about Indian like, and then there was a mistake among our commanders – the blow being struck too soon, as the other divisions had not arrived to help us. They enemy’s loss must have been very large, but the thing of it is they took a good many of our men prisoners. We have no means of telling how great the loss is at present.

I will now come down to our own regiment. – They, some of them, lagged behind in the retreat, and they keep coming in a few at a time. How many may come along we cannot tell; but at present we have not got half our number. And to come down to our company; we went on to the field with seventy men and have got back with about thirty; but we hope more of them will turn up soon. Our first Lieutenant, Littlefield, is missing. Our Capt. has gone back after him. Sergeant Brackett is doubtless killed or taken prisoner. I saw Cyrus Merrill shot dead, and any amount of others killed or wounded. Ellsworth’s Zouaves went on to the field nine hundred strong and returned with a little over one hundred.

You have read of battles and seen pictures, but the real thing is something else. Words cannot describe it; the noise and confusion; the shrieks and groans of the wounded and dying; to see your friends fall around you; to see a shell burst and blow a head off here and an arm or leg there; then a fire of grape shot mowing men in every direction, and a perfect buzz of musket and rifle ball all the time; such was our position for five long hours, and then the most heartrending of all is to think we had to come off and leave the wounded scattered on the field to die, or perhaps to be finished by a blow from a rebel. All I can say is, it is thought here to have been a terrible battle, and I can testify to the truth of that. A few days will determine our loss, better than we can tell now. Why I was spared more than others and still in the heat of it all the time, I cannot tell; but it must have been the hand of the Almighty that guided the balls by on the other side.

Affectionately yours,


Lancaster, NH, Coos Republican, 7/30/1861

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History of the 2nd New Hampshire Infantry

Charles W. Fletcher at Iowa Gravestones

Contributed by John J. Hennessy

Ohio County Public Library, 10/18/2016

19 10 2016

cid_dbd30eb9-4165-46cf-a86f-90fafa044a7cYesterday I presented my Kilpatrick Family Ties program to the good folks of the Ohio County Public Library in Wheeling, WV, as part of their Lunch with Books program. About 60 were in attendance, including my son who is on break from Waynesburg University, and old friends Jon-Erik Gilot and Jim Dailer.

I thought the presentation went pretty well, though I was thrown when I realized I had left some materials – props, really – at home along with my clicker. I had to leave a few things out because we were on a pretty strict time limit, but managed to get all the important stuff in and field all the questions asked. Sean Duffy at the library does a very nice job, the facilities are great, and the audience engaged. If you are contacted by Sean to speak there, you should jump at the chance. And if you live in or are passing through the area, check out Lunch with Books every Tuesday at noon.

Afterwards my son and I followed Jim to lunch in North Wheeling along the river. A really perfect afternoon weather-wise. Then the boy and I took in a truly fine museum in Wheeling’s Independence Hall. More on that later.

Image: 2nd Lt. Harrison D. F. Young, Co. F, 2nd New Hampshire Infantry

17 10 2016

2nd Lieut. Harrison D. F. Young, Co. F, 2nd New Hampshire Infantry, On the Battle

17 10 2016

Letter from Lieut. Young.

Camp Sullivan, Washington, D. C.,

Tuesday, July 23d.

Supposing your readers will feel great anxiety in regard to our Regiment since our great battle of Sunday, I take the first opportunity to give a few incidents of the fight and also the preparatory march.

Our Regiment finally started from camp, Tuesday noon with two day’s rations, a rubber and a woolen blanket, and forty rounds of ammunition to a man. We marched over the long bridge into Virginia an after a fatiguing march of 15 miles we encamped for the night in the open air. At 5 o’clock the next morning we again started, being 5 1-2 miles from Fairfax Court House, where we arrived at 7 1-2, having been impeded in our progress greatly by the trees and other hindrances thrown into the road by the rebels.

When we came within two miles of Fairfax we were ordered to “fix bayonets and load at will,” and prepare to take a battery which was within half a mile of the Court House. We obeyed the order with alacrity and were soon on the “double quick” for the fort, which, when we arrived, proved to be a mammoth breastwork of earth, sand, bags, &c., the bags all marked “The Confederate States.” The rebels had fled at our approach, taking with them their cannon and most of their equipments, leaving, however, many blankets, knapsacks, and some small arms. They left their camp kettles on, their breakfast cooking, the dough for the eternally southern hoe cake already mixed, and everything in like confusion. It seemed there had been two regiments of South Carolina Infantry here, and we thought; if this is a specimen of southern chivalry we have a nice little job before us to clear them out. Alas! how little did we know how this siege would turn out.

We stopped all day and night at Fairfax, our 2d N. H. Regiment’s Stars and Stripes taking the place of the Seven Stard rag, which we found floating defiantly from the cupulo of the Court House.

The next morning at seven we marched to within 1 1-2 miles of Centerville, where we encamped in the rain and without food, but we enjoyed the rest after the tiresome march notwithstanding the weather.

The next day, Friday, at 2 P. M. I was detailed to go to Camp Sullivan for goods, which I did and therefore absent from the battle of Sunday, but still I will give you the particulars as I get them from the various members of our Company who have returned. Your readers have already learned that we are joined in a brigade with the 1st and 2d R. I., and 71st N. Y. Regiments, all commanded by Gen. Burnside of Rhode Island; so of course we know more of those than any other regiments.

Our brigade were honored with the right of the line, and at one o’clock we started for Centerville – arrived at two; and then by a circuitous march of fifteen miles, (the last four of which being upon the double quick) reached Bull’s Run where the enemy were entrenched, eighty thousand strong. The Burnside Brigade was ordered immediately into the field, and the 2nd N. H. was the first regiment that formed in line of battle; and here let me say that although we were confident that we could not succeed, our glorious regiment stood the galling fire of eighty thousand rebels and three immense masked batteries without a single man faltering in the least; yes, men stood up beneath that leaden hail and were cut down like grass, and never for one moment flinched. That, indeed was a proud moment for the Old Granite State.

For six and one half hours they stood there, and were mowed down, without orders to retreat; at length came the welcome sound, and then commenced the stampede by a few other regiments – ours never once joining – thus we were the last to leave the field, as well as the first upon it.

Up to this time, our dead and wounded had been carried from the field by details from each company. From our Company, F, Sergeant F. M. Rhodes and Corporal R. O. Young, of Lancaster, and Privates J. H. Foye, of Great Falls, and one or two others, were busy nearly all the time carrying away the dead and dying, being exposed especially to the fire of their sharp shooters, for the southern savages seemed to delight in killing as many of our wounded as possible – the orders they received being to give no quarter.

As I said, our Regiment was the last to leave the field; and as they marched off by companies in regular order they were made the especial mark of their batteries; it was here that our men were cut up the worst – here that our flag was repeatedly shot out of its bearer’s hands, its eagle shot off and its staff completely shattered. – The Color Sergeant of our Regiment, Lawrence, is indeed a brave fellow. After Dustin, the bearer of one of our flags was killed, Lawrence took both, and with them still waving aloft, carried them in triumph from the field, while most of the other regiments lost theirs.

Company F stood the fire bravely, losing more in killed and wounded than any other company, Capt. Snow and Lieut. Littlefield evincing a bravery rarely seen, even in American Soldiers; their commands were given in a cool, yet imperative manner and were never for a single moment disobeyed.

As killed or missing I am obliged to report: – Sergeant Louville W. Brackett who was respected and beloved by the whole company. – Private Cyrus W. Merrill, who was shot through the breast about the middle of the engagement. When it was thought by his watchers that we had taken the batteries, and were successful, although scarcely able to whisper, he clasped his hands composedly and said, “Glorious, glorious, I am now ready to die.”

Badly wounded – Clark Stevens and Charles Buck. Missing – Thomas J. Severance, Lorenzo D. Adley, John G. Ames, Darius K. Bean, George E. Dow, Orrin Willey.

The first five were enlisted in Lancaster, and the rest were from towns around Winnipisaukee.

Poor fellows, you have suffered in a good cause, and the company have sworn to avenge you. A terrible retribution awaits the recipients of a volley from Company F.

I am already trespassing upon your patience, so will say to your readers, adieu.

H. D. F. Young,

2d Lieut, Co. F, 2d N. H. Reg’t.

A letter from the same writer, dated July 24, reduces the list of killed, wounded and missing to 9, all told; some of the missing may yet return. We would advise friends not to consider them dead until the receipt of positive information to that effect. He says: –

We have reason to believe that Sergeant Louville W. Brackett is either killed or a prisoner; also, Cyrus W. Merrill and Clark Stevens we know were left very badly wounded in the hospital, which was charged upon by the rebels and our Surgeon forced to retire therefrom.

Of our Company, W. H. F. Staples is badly wounded in the right arm; Stephen R. Tibbitts, shot through the left hand; George S. Chase, fingers cut off on right hand; “Bonaparte” was hit by bullets twice on his U. S. belt plate, which knocked him down and led those near him to suppose him to be killed. His clothes were actually riddled with bullets” Charles Buck was dangerously wounded in the breast by a minnie ball, but was led off from the ground by George Chauncey, after all the others had returned, and he is now at Alexandria; he will probably recover. Chauncey’s stopping to render this service to Buck led us to suppose them both lost.

Lancaster, NH, Coos Republican, 7/30/1861

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History of the 2nd New Hampshire Infantry

Harrison D. F. Young at Fold3

Contributed by John J. Hennessy

New Resource Pages – Soldier Images

16 10 2016

This is something I should have been doing all along. You’ll find a new resource page for soldier images. I haven’t decided if I should include multiple images or just pick one. Anyway, this should fill up some time. You’ll be able to find these in alphabetical order by clicking on the Soldier Images page links in the right hand column and on the Bull Run Resources page accessed via the tab in the header, or in the Orders of Battle next to the individuals name when the letter I shows as a link in the parenthesis.

So, if you have any photos of participants you’d like to share here, send them on to me at the email address in the right hand column. Share great-great-grandpa’s mug for posterity!

Image: Capt. Thomas Snow, Co. F, 2nd New Hampshire Infantry

16 10 2016

Capt. Thomas Snow, Co. F, 2nd NH Contributed by David Morin. Dept. of NH SUVCW. Littlefield Post #8 GAR Great Falls, NH (Sommersworth)

Wilmer McLean – The Rest of the Story

15 10 2016

fig62We all know how it went. Wilmer McLean owned a farm (Yorkshire Plantation) near Manassas that P. G. T. Beauregard used for his headquarters prior to and during the First Battle of Bull Run. We know that a projectile from a Union cannon struck his chimney, and that it ruined a dinner cooking in the fireplace. We know from Bory’s report that Wilmer helped out the Confederate forces as a guide. We know that later on Wilmer relocated to Appomattox Court House, and that his residence was used for the proceedings of the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia in April, 1865. But here are a couple of tidbits I learned, or perhaps was reminded of, in Arwen Bicknell’s Justice and Vengeance: Scandal, Honor, and Murder in 1872 Virginia, which I’m currently reading. Things like why he moved to Appomattox in the first place, and what he did and where he went after the surrender. Since she spent good time writing them, I’ll let her words speak for themselves, with my own emphasis:

McLean, who was too old to fight, made a nice living during the war as a sugar broker supplying the Confederate States Army, and moved his operations Appomattox County, partly because his commercial activities were centered mostly in Southern Virginia and partly to protect his family from a repetition of their combat experience…In 1869, bankruptcy forced the family back to the farm in Manassas, during which time he served as justice of the peace. He secured a job under [President Ulysses S.] Grant working as a tax collector in 1873 and moved his family to Alexandria, transferring to the U. S. Bureau of Customs in 1876 …

A little less romantic than the story of a poor farmer’s failure to avoid the war and being ultimately ruined by it with which many are familiar. But that’s often the case with beloved tales.

The author cites Biography of Wilmer McLean, May 3, 1814 – June 5, 1882, by Frank P. Cauble.