Major Josiah Stevens, Jr., 2nd New Hampshire Infantry, On the Battle

19 11 2016

Letter from Maj. Stevens.

—————

We are permitted to make the following extract from a letter of Maj. Josiah Stevens, Jr., of the Second Regiment, to his father, Col. Josiah Stevens, of this city, dated –

Washington, July 23, 1861.

I am, as you see, once more in Washington, having, as you are aware, seen a battle. We started at 2 A. M., on Sunday morning, from our camp ground, and made a march of 9 miles without anything except hard bread to eat, and at about 10 1-2 o’clock the ball opened. We came upon the enemy upon an eminence that commanded the whole country, with 60,000 men and 150 pieces of cannon. Our force consisted of 18,000 men and 20 pieces of cannon. We fought until 5 P. M., and found it impossible to capture the place.

They showered upon us a complete hailstorm of shot and shell, and wept whole platoons at a time, but our men steadily advanced. Our brigade was the first upon the field, and our regiment the last to leave it. Col. Marston was shot in the right shoulder before we had been fighting twenty minutes. I was within ten feet of him when he fell, and thought him shot dead. – I could not render him any assistance, as I had so much to look after. None of the Concord boys are killed. Charles Cooper was shot through the leg. Sergeant Holmes, of Griffin’s Riflemen, was severely wounded in the shoulder. We have not got the returns made yet, so as to know our exact loss.

We lost our battery and Griffin’s battery was close to us. He continued to fire until he had but one horse left out of 100, and not men enough to move the gun ten feet. Wm. Collier, formerly of Concord, got upon the last horse and rode him off. Bill fired the cannon, and in less than a second a cannon ball struck the hub of the wheel and knocked it into the air. Bill sprang to the limber, unhitched the only living horse, and left. You will see in the papers the reports of the killed and wounded nearer than I can write you now. It was the first time we ever stood under fire, and we had a pretty good chance to try our nerves, as we were exposed for 6 hours. The men stood up to the rack splendidly, and were ready to go into anything. It was a most painful sight to go in the rear of the line and see the dead and wounded, and one which we shall soon not forget. Men were mutilated in every conceivable way. We started from our camp at 2 A. M. on Sunday, marched nine miles, fought six hours and marched back to Washington, a distance of 34 miles, without scarcely anything to eat and miserable water to drink – Statesman.

Manchester Weekly Union, 7/30/1861

Clipping image

Josiah Stevens, Jr., at Find A Grave.com 

Josiah Stevens, Jr., at Ancestry.com 

A History of the Second Regiment, New Hampshire Volunteer Infantry 

Contributed by John J. Hennessy

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