Extract of a letter from a member of the Washington Light Infantry Volunteers
Manassas Junction, July 23, 1861
We were thirty six hours coming from Richmond without any food or sleep. Arrived at Manassas Sunday morning, swallowed a few morsels and immediately proceeded to the field of battle. Arriving there we were placed in the advance position. We saw the enemy approaching as in solid columns. As soon as they came within musket distance we gave them a volley which caused them to retreat. They again rallied, and supported by Ellsworth’s Zouaves, advanced an poured a volley of fire amongst us which was most disastrous. Johnson was then killed, and we were compelled to retreat. Beauregard then appeared amongst us, inspired us, and volunteered to lead us if we would follow. We gave him cheer after cheer. The order was then given to charge, which the men obeyed, and carried Doubleday’s batteries of six guns at the point of the bayonet.
The flower of the U. S. Army were against us. The Legion has the honor of carrying the day, and keeping 18,000 men at bay for two hours, subjected to the most galling fire of musketry, shells and cannonry. We went upon the field with six hundred and returned with three hundred.
We pursued the enemy as far as Centreville. The road along which they retreated was strewn with their dead and dying – horses, guns, ammunition, clothing, baggage, provisions, &c., literally covered the ground – fifty-three pieces of artillery captured.
I had the honor of bearing our banner, when we captured the celebrated Doubleday battery. My gun is torn up, and I escaped almost miraculously. None of the boys are hurt. Our Company lost thirty-nine killed, wounded and missing. Captain Conner behaved gallantly. I am sorry we lose him, as he now commands the legion.
Charleston Courier 8/7/1861