Capt. Simon Goodell Griffin, Co. B, 2nd New Hampshire Infantry, On the Battle

16 09 2016

The Goodwin Rifles. Capt. S. G. Griffin of the Goodwin (Concord) Rifles, 2nd N. H. Regiment, writes to his sister in Nelson a letter from which we are permitted to make the following extract. The letter was not designed for publication, but is none the less valuable on that account: –

Camp Sullivan,

Washington, July 23.

Dear Sister: I write you a line just to let you know that I am alive and unharmed, for you will hear that we have had a battle and been defeated. God knows it was no fault of ours that we lost the battle. but through some terrible mismanagement on the part of higher officers. Fifteen or twenty thousand of us were set to attack a force which proved to be more than fifty – some say eighty thousand strong – with ten pieces of artillery to our one. Our men behaved nobly, but it was of no use. They rushed us into the fight when we were all beat out after a fatiguing march – then for want of competent commanders, we were marched and counter marched on the field of battle, right in the fire of the enemy’s batteries without being able to reach them with our bullets, and to cap the whole they failed to supply our batteries with ammunition.

I begged our field officers to allow me to move forward with my riflemen and get behind a fence within reach of them, but they gave me no leave to do so. I finally gave the order myself, and my boys went up upon the run, with part of another company with us, and poured in the bullets with good effect. The rest of the regiment retreated and left us, and after remaining as long as was prudent, we retreated at double quick and joined them. The regiment finally came off the field in good order, excepting that some of the men were scattered away, – losing in killed and wounded about one hundred men. About a dozen men from my company are missing, – two we know of were killed, five wounded, and probably others of the missing killed. – Keene Sentinel.

Manchester, NH Mirror and Farmer, 8/10/1861

Clipping image

A History of the Second Regiment, New Hampshire Volunteer Infantry

Simon G. Griffin became a brigadier general. Biographical Sketch

Contributed by John J. Hennessy



2 responses

16 09 2016
Jens C. Falster

Co. B, the Goodwin Rifles was the only N.H. company armed with Sharps breech-loading rifles. The other nine companies had .69 cal smoothbore muskets. .The original 1st Lt. Charles W. walker was killed in a train accident enroute to Washington. The next day Abiel W. Colby was promoted in his stead and later became Capt on 11/1/61 before dying of disease.5/13/62. Capt Griffin (36 or 26) advanced to Lt Col of the 6th N.H. on 10/29/61. The 2nd N.H. was a three year regiment but much of the literature refers to it as a poor unit at first, the men showing little respect for their inexperienced officers and consequently it did poorly in the fighting, as implied in Griffin’s account. The later war record was much. much better. Col Gilman Marston (49) was a lawyer and politician with no military experience, but he was wounded in the battle and eventually promoted to Brig Gen 11/29/62.


11 04 2020
1862: Abiel Walker Colby to Folks at Home – Spared & Shared 21

[…] for their inexperienced officers and consequently did poorly in the fighting.” [See letter by Capt. Simon Goodell Griffin, Co. B, 2nd New Hampshire Infantry, on the First Battle of Bull Run contributed by John J. […]


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