Unknown Sgt., Co. K, 38th New York Infantry, On the Battle

5 01 2018

Correspondence.

————————

We have been permitted to publish the following letter from a sergeant of Company K, to his friends. — The letter was not intended for publication, but it cannot fail to interest most of our readers.

Camp Scott, Alexandria,

July 23, 1861.

Dear Friends in E’town:

You will doubtless see, or have seen, in the Papers, ere this, the account of the battle fought on Sunday the 21st at Bulls Run, Va., a short sketch of which I here give you, until I have more time to give the account in detail.

We were ordered to march on the enemy at two o’clock, Sunday morning, from our Brigade encampment at Centerville, or near there, a distance of some eight miles by the way we marched.

Our march was countermanded until six o’clock, and accordingly, at six, or seven, we left for the Field; marching by a circuitous route, reaching the battle ground about noon.

We were immediately formed into line of battle and marched under cover of our Artillery, within musket shot of the enemy, where we poured into them a few volleys, and then we were ordered to change our position, and were changing positions on the enemy often until about three o’clock, when we took our position in front of their batteries, where we stood our ground for an hour and a half, or more I should think; sometimes driven back and then again advancing, with terrible loss on our side. None claim to know the loss on the side of the rebels, though we think we did not throw away our fire. Although we were scattered in different Companies we claim to have been cool; and at this moment, while reviewing the battle and its events in my mind, I experience more tremor and excitement than on the battle field. But the most lamentable part of the affair is, that we were finally driven off the Field, and our guns captured by the Rebels, and we compelled to make a forced march back to our encampment near Alexandria; and do this all on Sunday night, making a march of nearly 40 miles and I don’t know but I might say 50 in one day and night.

Our Regiment has lost near one third of its men, either killed, wounded, or taken prisoners, for one is the same as the other, as we were obliged to leave our wounded on the field to the mercy of the Rebels.

It would be needless for me to digress from the truth now, as it will soon be known.

In our company we have some nine or ten missing, whom we hope to hear from yet. O. B. Whitney was wounded in the commencement of the action, and carried off the field by Henry Palmer, and placed under charge of a surgeon. A man by the name of Waters, who had been transferred to our company since leaving New York, was also fatally wounded. Henry Vanorum also badly wounded. The above named were left on the field, and no doubt are prisoners, if not dead. A number of our Captains and Lieutenants, together with our Surgeon were taken prisoners. Our Surgeon was advised to retreat, but replied, if his wounded were to be taken prisoners, it was his duty to remain with them.

A number of our men are missing, whom we hope have strayed into other Regiments and will yet come in; among which are James A. Coburn, George Boutwell, Wesley Sumner, Wm. Todd and Russell Sanders.

Pitt Wadhams was wounded in the thigh, on the outside, merely a flesh wound; the ball entering from the front, midway of the pant’s pocket, and going under the skin about three inches, leaving a space of about 8 inches between the place where it entered and came out. He walked all the way from the field to our present camp with the aid of a man to help him along. We could get no chance for him to ride, as the wagons were all full of the wounded who were unable to foot it. I walked by his side some 20 miles. John Glidden was slightly hurt by a splinter torn from a tree by a cannon ball. It struck him on the back of the head. He says it is a mere pin scratch beside of the wound he got last spring in E’town. Loyal E. Wolcott slightly wounded on the little finger by a ball.

The remainder of our men are safe and sound, with occasionally a bullet hole in their coats, pants, &c.

We consider that we have seen quite a hard battle. Whether we shall get the praise due our Regiment I can’t say, but it seems to me that the 38th Regiment must merit some credit, and certainly do I know that Company K is made up generally of brave men by the way they stood the fire of the rebels.

Our officers, Smith and Livingston, are brave boys, and cheered on their company to the last; using muskets themselves, as swords were of no account.

Capt. Dwyer was left behind, sick, but has since recovered, and will no doubt be with us in our next battle.

Albert Mitchell had his cap knocked off by a piece of rail struck by a cannon ball from a fence near by. The same ball threw a rail which struck my shoulder bruising it slightly. Our boys are some tired, foot-sore and lame, but in time will get over it.

Yours &c.

Elizabethtown (NY) Post, 8/1/1861

Clipping Image

Contributed by John Hennessy

38th NYSV roster


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