[Correspondent of the Transcript.]
Camp Keyes. Washington, D. C.
July 31st, 1861.
To the Editor of the Transcript: – Since my note of last week, giving you as I did all the facts then in my posession concerning the loss of J. F. Wilkinson, I have taken every opportunity to make enquiries of those who were near the place when he fell at the time he received the wound, and of those who passed near there after our regiment had been ordered to a different part of the field but have not been able to learn anything of importance concerning him beyond what I communicated in my last letter, and his friends here entertain the strongest fears that he was unable to reach the hospital before the retreat, and therefore have but slight hopes of ever seeing him again. – I have been so intimately associated with him for the past three months that his loss has caused feelings of sorrow such as I never before experience. – We who had learned to appreciate his frank and generous qualities, wh had shared with him a soldier’s board, mourn for him as though he were a brother.
From one of our soldiers who was taken prisoner by the rebels and escaped, reaching this city yesterday we learn that Dr. McGregor is a Manassas attending to the wounded and no fears are entertained here but that he will soon be allowed to return to his regiment or his home.
It is also believed that the wounded and prisoners in their hands are well treated.
With regard to the engagement at Bull Run on the 21st, so much has been written and so many conflicting statements have been made that those who witnessed it hardly know what to believe themselves. There are some points however on which we all agree.
There can be no questioning the fact that we fought against a force greatly superior to ours in number that they were protected by scientifically constructed fortifications, that they had the advantage of position and a thorough knowledge of the field over which our troops must pass, that our troops maintained the unequal contest from 6 A. M. until 5 P. M., driving them from some of their strongest batteries that the arrival of reinforcements to the rebel forces compelled us to retreat, that many of our regiments retreated in disorder and that though obliged to retreat we left more than twice the number we lost from of the enemy dead and wounded on the field, also that our soldiers were suffering extremely for food and water having left Centreville at 2 o’clock A. M. with only a scanty supply of dry bread and many of them were without water even before they reached the field.
[Illegible line] water that day, I will only say that we drank from of muddy pool of water deeply tinged with the blood of the dead and wounded who had crawled to its banks in hopes of quenching a thirst more painful that were the wound from which the life blood was flowing.
As we were passing this point, Maj. Warner of the 3d Regiment ordered one of his men to hand him a cup of water. – “It is muddy, and there is blood in it,” says the man. “Will it run out of the cup?” “Yes.” “Then give me a cup and be quick.”
Speaking of the major reminds me of an incident that took place early in the day. The 2d Maine and the 3d Connecticut regiments were ordered to charge one of the rebel batteries and to do so had to pass through a piece of woods, and up a steep hill. Finding it difficult to pass through the woods with his horse, he jumped off, leaving it to go where it pleased, and led on the regiment, the boys cheering him as he did so,
The Conn. regiments are thus noticed by the Washington Star:
“The Conn. regiments under Col. Keyes came from the field, in good order, and marched to their former encampment at Centreville, from which place after an hours rest they started for their old camp at Falls Church. Arriving there in the morning the men remained under arms all day exposed to a severe storm, and having secured all the camp equipage belonging to their regiments marched two miles to the camps of the Ohio and 2 New York regiments, which had been deserted, and remaining here until morning they secured and sent into the fort their tents and other valuables. The regiments came in to FOrt Corcoran in the evening of the 23d, in good order.
A correspondent of the New York Times says: – Within a half mile of Falls Church, we found Gen. Tyler with the Connecticut regiments holding a position temporarily. They were the advance of the attack, their colors were the last to leave the field, and now seven or eight miles behind even the reserve, they were defending the rear in perfect good order.
The regiments enlisted for three years are coming at the rate of three or four a day and no fears are now entertained for the safety of the Capitol or that our forces under the able officers now in command will not soon be able to drive the rebels from Virginia.
I will close this hasty letter by relating a pleasing incident that took place near Fort Corcoran. We had been there but a short time when we met Mr. Daniel Warner of Woodstock with two large baskets filled with provisions which were soon distributed to his acquaintances making them forget that for three days they had hardly tasted of food. “May his shadow never be less.”
J. T. P.*
Windham County (CT) Transcript, 8/8/1861
Some biographical information on James F. Wilkinson, editor of the Windham County (CT) Transcript and member of Co. A, (wounded and captured at Bull Run) can be found here.
*J. T. P. is likely Pvt. John T. Phillips, of Pomfret, CT, also of Co. A.
Surgeon John McGregor was attached to the 3rd CT Infantry. Life and Deeds of Dr. John McGregor
Contributed by John Hennessy