Camp – 1 m. West of Centreville
26 from Washington
July 19, 1861.
I wrote to John yesterday, asking him to send you my letter that you might be assured of my safety. Thus far the enemy has retired before us – yesterday our General Tyler made an unauthorized attack on a battery over Bull Run – they fired Gun for Gun – and on the whole had the best of it – the Genl. finding Centreville a strong place evacuated, followed their tracks to Bull Run which has a valley deeply wooded admitting only of one narrow column. I was sent for and was under fire about half an hour, the Rifled Cannon shot cutting the trees over head and occasionally pitching into the ground. 3 artillerists – 1 infantry a & 3 horses in my Brigade with several wounded – I have not yet learned the full extent of damage – and as it was a Blunder, dont care – I am uneasy at the fact that the Volunteers do pretty much as they please, and on the Slightest provocation bang away – the danger from this desultory firing is greater than from the Enemy as they are always so close whilst the latter keep a respectful distance. We were under orders to march at 2 1/2 A.M. – the Division of Tyler to which my Brigade belongs will advance along a turnpike Road, to a Bridge on Bull Run – This Bridge is gone – and there is a strong Battery on the opposite shore of the River – here I am summoned to a council at 8 P.M at General McDowell’s camp about a mile distant – I am now there, all the Brigade commanders are present and only a few minutes intervene before they all come to this table.
I know tomorrow & next day we hall have had hard work – and I will acquit myself as well as I can – with Regulars I would have no doubts, but these Volunteers are subject to Stampedes[.] Yesterday there was an ugly stampede of 800 Massachusetts men – the Ohio men claim their discharge and so do others of the 3 months men – of them I have the Irish 69th New York which will fight.
I am pretty well, up all night and sleeping a little by day – Prime [,] Barnard, Myers & others of your acquaintance are along – Prime slept in my camp last night.
My best love to all – my faith in you & children is perfect and let what may befal me I feel they are in a fair way to grow up in goodness and usefulness. Goodby for the present yrs. ever
Simpson, Brooks D.& Berlin, Jean V. Sherman’s Civil War: Selected Correspondence of William T. Sherman, 1860-1865, pp. 118-119