Pvt. George Plaskett, Co. E, 14th New York State Militia, On the Battle

29 11 2012

From the War.

Mr. James Plaskett has received a very interesting letter from his son, who was in the fight Sunday, as a member of the 14th regiment New York militia. We make a few extracts. He says:

We had to march about 17 miles over a rough road, and without stopping, as our division was behind time. The last mile and a half we were put forward in double quick time, so that we went into action tired out. After fighting until our artillery ammunition – 2600 rounds – was used up, we had to retreat, and fall back for some six miles, to a point leading out of the wood, where we received a murderous fire from the enemy, which proved very disastrous, killing our Colonel, and wounding one Lieut. Colonel. One of the most inhuman occurrences which we were compelled to witness that day, was the destruction of a building erected by us for a temporary hospital. The building was about a mile from the batteries, and was filled with the wounded and dying, and they were also lying all around the outside of the building. The rebels pointed their guns, and threw bomb-shells into the building, which blew it up and killed all who were in and around the building. A negro regiment came on to the field after the fight was over, and killed all those who showed signs of life.

The sight upon the battle-field, in view of the carnage, was a sad one to me: legs, arms, and heads off.

There were only 18,000 of our troops in the engagement, against 80,000 or 90,000 of the rebels. We were on the move from 2 A. M. Sunday till Monday noon; fought five hours, and marched 60 miles.

Hartford Daily Courant, 7/27/1861

Clipping Image

George Plaskett at Ancestry.com

Contributed by John Hennessy



4 responses

29 11 2012
Jim Madden

There is a Pvt George Plaskett from Co E, 84th NY, 14th NYSM, It’s obvous this 14th Brooklyn solider doesn’t have his facts straight, neither his Col or the Lt Col was killed. Col Wood was wounded and captured at Bull Run but survived, Lt Col Fowler took command. Both men lived long after the war ended, so that puts into question the accuracy of his “negro regiment” allegations. There are other battlefield attrocities witnessed by the 14th Brooklyn that have been previous documented, especially after Bull Run, but never has this southern Black regiment been mentioned. One mention with other questionable facts within should only make an interesting footnote and nothing more.


29 11 2012
Harry Smeltzer

Thanks, Jim.

I would say that pretty much every letter I’ve reproduced here is factually incorrect to some degree. In the days following the battle there were many erroneous reports of men wounded, killed and captured. We can’t expect “perfect knowledge”, nor can we assume fabrication based on whether or not something turned out later to be false. There are mentions of black Confederate soldiers at Bull Run in other soldier accounts, and the hospital burning is not unique to Plaskett’s letter either. That of course neither prooves nor disproves anything. It is, however, part of the record, and is presented here for consideration.

I also found mention on the 14th B’Klyn Co. E. site that Plaskett eventually deserted the regiment.


29 11 2012
Jim Madden


Good points, yes in many accounts and letters home there are always conflicting reports, however saying your Col and Lt Col were killed is something which could have been easily been verified shortly after the regiment was rallied or brought back into line and certainly before a soldier had time to sit down to write a letter home then to post it, especially in the field.

I was in the process of looking up Plasket and the thought crossed my mind he may have deserted, especially looking through the service and then the lack of a pension record, but that was a gut, but you confirmed it. The million dollar question is who were these “black soldiers” and were they even armed and uniformed soldiers?



29 11 2012
Harry Smeltzer

I can forgive the colonel being considered dead, given that he was indeed captured. Keep in mind that this letter was published 6 days after the battle, and came to the paper via the original recipient. Curious about “one” Lt. Colonel he refers to – could be another officer altogether.

As it was clearly illegal for black men to be armed in the Confederacy, I doubt that these were. But given the context, the “regiment” appears to be something Plaskett heard about rather than saw.


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