Unknown (1), 5th Maine, On the Battle

16 02 2012

Alexandria, Va., July 27.

Messers. Editors: I see no account of the Maine Brigade in the terrible affair at Bloody Run. The Maine Brigade was there, and fought – fought, as Russell, the correspondent of the London Times said, with such desperation as he never saw surpassed in the Crimean War. We were the last Brigade called into action. The tide of war was doubtful. T’was in the thick of the fight, and all the reporters had left Centreville for safer quarters. So had the members of Congress who had tone there to hear and see the conflict. That may explain the fact of no notice of the Maine Brigade. We were aroused at one o’clock, Sunday morning and marched with various delays to the woods just to the right of Centreville, and there were halted; why, nobody knows, until 12 or 1 o’clock; when we were marched at quick or double quick, nine miles through the woods. We accomplished the distance in an hour and forty-five minutes, the men carrying some 45 lbs vis: gun, canteen, blankets, haversack, with three days provisions, and belts across their body, impeding their free motion. Over half our men, from sheer exhaustion, dropped down in the roads, and were not in the fight. We had now gone some 14 hours without food and with such water as we fished up from brooks tramped through by thousands of men. In such condition we were called upon to ascend the last hill and came out upon the open summit, amidst a galling fire, of batteries of minnie rifles, front and right flank. Our men obeyed the order, marched up and fired, not an enemy in sight; and yet facing this terrible fire from our concealed foes, and fired until the order was given to retreat. We had the honor of retreating last from our part of the field, and Col. Howard brought off his brigade in good order. You will be pleased to learn that the Portland companies did their duty and that their Captains led them on the fields. The exhaustion of our troops was such, that the largest company of the 5th on the field was Capt. Thomas’, and that numbered but forty men. The next largest, Capt. Goodwin’s, of Bideford, had but thirty-two men. Capt. Scammon’s, a noble company, and perhaps the best drilled in the regiment, had 27 men. Some had but 12 or 15. I mention this to show the terribly exhausted state of our troops. Had the battle been delayed one day, Patterson with his fifteen thousand troops and four batteries could have co-operated with us, and the day would have been ours. Our pray is that God may send us such leaders as the occasion demands.

The 5th Regiment, after the battle, were quartered in Alexandria, and on Friday they moved on to Clermont, near their old encampment.

On Friday, Mr. Young, director of our Regimental Band, died. He was universally liked and respected. He had a pleasant word for every body and was a thorough mast of his instrument. The Mayor of Portland was with him in his last moments and generously furnished at his own expense the best metallic casket the city of Washington afforded to bear his remains to his family.

Portland Daily Advertiser, 8/2/1861

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Contributed by John Hennessy