2nd Lieut. Harrison D. F. Young, Co. F, 2nd New Hampshire Infantry, On the Battle

17 10 2016

Letter from Lieut. Young.

Camp Sullivan, Washington, D. C.,

Tuesday, July 23d.

Supposing your readers will feel great anxiety in regard to our Regiment since our great battle of Sunday, I take the first opportunity to give a few incidents of the fight and also the preparatory march.

Our Regiment finally started from camp, Tuesday noon with two day’s rations, a rubber and a woolen blanket, and forty rounds of ammunition to a man. We marched over the long bridge into Virginia an after a fatiguing march of 15 miles we encamped for the night in the open air. At 5 o’clock the next morning we again started, being 5 1-2 miles from Fairfax Court House, where we arrived at 7 1-2, having been impeded in our progress greatly by the trees and other hindrances thrown into the road by the rebels.

When we came within two miles of Fairfax we were ordered to “fix bayonets and load at will,” and prepare to take a battery which was within half a mile of the Court House. We obeyed the order with alacrity and were soon on the “double quick” for the fort, which, when we arrived, proved to be a mammoth breastwork of earth, sand, bags, &c., the bags all marked “The Confederate States.” The rebels had fled at our approach, taking with them their cannon and most of their equipments, leaving, however, many blankets, knapsacks, and some small arms. They left their camp kettles on, their breakfast cooking, the dough for the eternally southern hoe cake already mixed, and everything in like confusion. It seemed there had been two regiments of South Carolina Infantry here, and we thought; if this is a specimen of southern chivalry we have a nice little job before us to clear them out. Alas! how little did we know how this siege would turn out.

We stopped all day and night at Fairfax, our 2d N. H. Regiment’s Stars and Stripes taking the place of the Seven Stard rag, which we found floating defiantly from the cupulo of the Court House.

The next morning at seven we marched to within 1 1-2 miles of Centerville, where we encamped in the rain and without food, but we enjoyed the rest after the tiresome march notwithstanding the weather.

The next day, Friday, at 2 P. M. I was detailed to go to Camp Sullivan for goods, which I did and therefore absent from the battle of Sunday, but still I will give you the particulars as I get them from the various members of our Company who have returned. Your readers have already learned that we are joined in a brigade with the 1st and 2d R. I., and 71st N. Y. Regiments, all commanded by Gen. Burnside of Rhode Island; so of course we know more of those than any other regiments.

Our brigade were honored with the right of the line, and at one o’clock we started for Centerville – arrived at two; and then by a circuitous march of fifteen miles, (the last four of which being upon the double quick) reached Bull’s Run where the enemy were entrenched, eighty thousand strong. The Burnside Brigade was ordered immediately into the field, and the 2nd N. H. was the first regiment that formed in line of battle; and here let me say that although we were confident that we could not succeed, our glorious regiment stood the galling fire of eighty thousand rebels and three immense masked batteries without a single man faltering in the least; yes, men stood up beneath that leaden hail and were cut down like grass, and never for one moment flinched. That, indeed was a proud moment for the Old Granite State.

For six and one half hours they stood there, and were mowed down, without orders to retreat; at length came the welcome sound, and then commenced the stampede by a few other regiments – ours never once joining – thus we were the last to leave the field, as well as the first upon it.

Up to this time, our dead and wounded had been carried from the field by details from each company. From our Company, F, Sergeant F. M. Rhodes and Corporal R. O. Young, of Lancaster, and Privates J. H. Foye, of Great Falls, and one or two others, were busy nearly all the time carrying away the dead and dying, being exposed especially to the fire of their sharp shooters, for the southern savages seemed to delight in killing as many of our wounded as possible – the orders they received being to give no quarter.

As I said, our Regiment was the last to leave the field; and as they marched off by companies in regular order they were made the especial mark of their batteries; it was here that our men were cut up the worst – here that our flag was repeatedly shot out of its bearer’s hands, its eagle shot off and its staff completely shattered. – The Color Sergeant of our Regiment, Lawrence, is indeed a brave fellow. After Dustin, the bearer of one of our flags was killed, Lawrence took both, and with them still waving aloft, carried them in triumph from the field, while most of the other regiments lost theirs.

Company F stood the fire bravely, losing more in killed and wounded than any other company, Capt. Snow and Lieut. Littlefield evincing a bravery rarely seen, even in American Soldiers; their commands were given in a cool, yet imperative manner and were never for a single moment disobeyed.

As killed or missing I am obliged to report: – Sergeant Louville W. Brackett who was respected and beloved by the whole company. – Private Cyrus W. Merrill, who was shot through the breast about the middle of the engagement. When it was thought by his watchers that we had taken the batteries, and were successful, although scarcely able to whisper, he clasped his hands composedly and said, “Glorious, glorious, I am now ready to die.”

Badly wounded – Clark Stevens and Charles Buck. Missing – Thomas J. Severance, Lorenzo D. Adley, John G. Ames, Darius K. Bean, George E. Dow, Orrin Willey.

The first five were enlisted in Lancaster, and the rest were from towns around Winnipisaukee.

Poor fellows, you have suffered in a good cause, and the company have sworn to avenge you. A terrible retribution awaits the recipients of a volley from Company F.

I am already trespassing upon your patience, so will say to your readers, adieu.

H. D. F. Young,

2d Lieut, Co. F, 2d N. H. Reg’t.

A letter from the same writer, dated July 24, reduces the list of killed, wounded and missing to 9, all told; some of the missing may yet return. We would advise friends not to consider them dead until the receipt of positive information to that effect. He says: –

We have reason to believe that Sergeant Louville W. Brackett is either killed or a prisoner; also, Cyrus W. Merrill and Clark Stevens we know were left very badly wounded in the hospital, which was charged upon by the rebels and our Surgeon forced to retire therefrom.

Of our Company, W. H. F. Staples is badly wounded in the right arm; Stephen R. Tibbitts, shot through the left hand; George S. Chase, fingers cut off on right hand; “Bonaparte” was hit by bullets twice on his U. S. belt plate, which knocked him down and led those near him to suppose him to be killed. His clothes were actually riddled with bullets” Charles Buck was dangerously wounded in the breast by a minnie ball, but was led off from the ground by George Chauncey, after all the others had returned, and he is now at Alexandria; he will probably recover. Chauncey’s stopping to render this service to Buck led us to suppose them both lost.

Lancaster, NH, Coos Republican, 7/30/1861

Clipping image

History of the 2nd New Hampshire Infantry

Harrison D. F. Young at Fold3

Contributed by John J. Hennessy



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