Leonard Belding, Co. K, 2nd Rhode Island Infantry, On the Battle

4 10 2011

Letter From The Battle-Field

The following is a copy of an interesting letter from a Worcester county boy, who was in the fight at Bull Run.

Washington, D. C., Camp Clark,

 July 2[?], 1861.

Dear Father and Mother: – I take this, the earliest opportunity to let you know that I am in the land of the living, and enjoying good health. Probably you have heard of the “Grand Ball” which we had a Bull Run, and of our laying out about two thousand of the rebels. I will tell you some of the particulars of the battle. Last Sunday morning, the 21st of July, we were ordered to march, and at three o’clock A. M. were on the road, and marched twelve miles without anything to eat. Our regiment, the second Rhode Island, was the advance guard, and was thrown into the field against eighty thousand rebels, whom we fought for forty five minutes without any other of the regiments coming to our relief, during which time, our regiment drove back upward of ten thousand of the rebels three times, killing about six hundred of them, and they killed some one or two hundred of us. Every man of our regiment fought like bull-dogs, the bullets flying about our heads in a perfect hail-storm. Three of my most intimate friends were shot down by my side, one of them having his head shot from his body, and another had his leg taken entirely off, the blood flying in my face. I felt so badly that I almost fainted, but I rallied immediately, and clenching my teeth, went in, and every shot that I fired I made it tell, as I can assure you that I saw five of the rebels fall dead, and I thought the death of my friends avenged. I had several bullet holes in my clothes, and thought some of the time that I should never see home again. I went down with other of our men into the woods where the rebels had been, the blood in many places being over the soles of our shoes, and the dead rebels lying three deep in some places. While I was in the swamp I came across a wounded Alabamian, who begged me not to kill him, and asked me to give him some water. He said we had cut his regiment all to pieces, and that he was pressed onto the southern army, and that many others were, also. We were probably led on to the field by a traitor, who is now in jail, and who ought to be shot, as he certainly will be if he falls into the hands of the New York Fire Zouaves. If we had had ten thousand more men, we should have whipped them high and dry. All we wish for now is, that we may have another sight at them, and we will whip them just as sure as I am a “greasy mechanic.” You will probably have heard all the particulars of the battle, and the cause of our retreat, before you receive this, so I will bring my letter to a close by bidding you all good-bye for the present, and by saying that all of us are as firm and determined as ever, and only awaiting another brush with the enemy, when we will rub him out completely. Give my love to all the boys and tell them the Rhode Island troops did their duty nobly.

From your affectionate son,
Leonard C. Belding,
Co. K, 2d R. I. Vol.

Worcester Daily Spy 8/2/1861

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