From contributor Robert H. Moore, II – this account was originally published in the 1920s in the Richmond Missourian:
Mr. C.C. Rowe, of Fleming, Mo., this county, furnishes The Missourian a copy of a letter of historic interest. The message, here printed practically complete, was written to Miss Eliza Jane Kite of Honeyville, Virginia [Miss Eliza Jane Rowe, of Fleming, Missouri, who died on December 28, 1913, aged over 80 years] written by Mr. Martin Van Buren Kite, her brother, just after the Battle of Bull Run, which was fought near Manassas Station, at the opening of the Civil War. Mr. Martin Van Buren Kite and his brother, John William Kite, who was killed in that battle, were gallant Confederate soldiers. The remarkable letter from the battle field of Bull Run is as follows:
“Well Sis, I guess you have been looking to hear something about Willie.
I am sorry to say I did not get to him until he was wounded – and then he was so weak he could scarcely talk.
Poor fellow he was shot through the body, the ball entering his right side and coming out on his left.
From what I can learn he was shot about 3 o’clock in the afternoon. He fell by the side or very near Trenton Graves. He and several others ran to his assistance to see if he was much hurt. He told them to never mind him and let him lie there for he was going to die.
He asked Trenton to give him a drink of water – and while Trenton was stooping, so that he could drink a ball passed through Trenton’s knee which they say gave him a very bad wound.
From the very time Willie was shot he never ceased praying until he died.
He inquired for me a half dozen times.
The reason I did not get to see him any sooner was that the news came to me he was shot dead on the field. I then pacified myself the best I could.
Later in the evening I heard he was not dead but very low. I then rushed to find him. I spoke to him and he knew me and held out his hand to me. I asked him where he was shot – he told me through the side. I asked him if he suffered much, he said ‘no’ but he was going to die.
I then told him to give himself up to God, pray to God to save him.
He said he had been praying all day. He told me I must be a good boy and meet him in Heaven. I got so full and my feelings were so hurt, I walked away so that he might not hear or get disturbed from my crying.
Oh, it is hard to see a dear brother die and no one else to shed a tear for him.
I thought in my heart it would kill me at first, but I am getting in better spirits now. Now, don’t you all mourn after him for I believe he is at rest; he has fought with a brave heart in defence of his country. Oh may he be at rest in heaven now.
I had him moved that evening to the nearest house where I had him buried in the best manner I could. I had him put in a box, the best I could get. I then had his grave dug in a particular place in a garden where I may recognize the spot as long as I live.
See notes here.