Pvt. Thomas W. Colley, Co. L (Washington Mounted Rifles), 1st Virginia Cavalry, on the Battle (2)

16 11 2018

Fairfax Court House

Fairfax County, Va.

July 26th, 1861

Dear Sister

It is with great pleasure that I seat myself to write you a few lines to let you know that I am well & hope these few lines may find you enjoying the same blessing. We were in a terrible battle on Sunday the 21st inst, we had a pretty hard time of it for 11 or 12 days. We had to be close to the enemy and watch their movement for night and day. We had to keep our horses saddled all the time, we have had a little rest since Tuesday. We came down and back that day from Manasas Junction; we are at this time within 7 miles of the enemy, they are at Alexandria, about place they could stay there. I will now endeavor to give you an account of the battle as near as I can. It commenced abought 2 oclock Sunday morning with cannon; about 9 oclock the small arms commenced, it was nothing but a continual roaring of course. Musketry until 3 oclock in the evening when the Federalists gave away in the greatest disorder with confusion, which continued so till a message arrived. We pursued them a good five miles with cavalry, and had a battery of artillery. Tore up everything they had. We captured every cannon, amounting to 11 pieces of the best cannon in the North. We heaved some 15 missiles on the road the enemy took from the battlefield, and the road is lined with everything that a man could call for: wagons, harnesses, provisions, field packs, and blankets and clothes. Almost every house on the road is full of clothes that they [the Federals] had to dress up in anything. Once they got to Richmond, it [the clothes] was to be forwarded to them at Richmond.

They anticipated a fine time at Richmond, but I guess they haven’t got there yet, at least not all of them, and they got there in a way they did not expect – they went as prisoners, about 12 or fifteen hundred. It is not ascertained what their losses were. They commenced to haul there dead and wounded off, along 1 oclock, and continued to do so til they had to retreat. All that was left on the field, could assure you that there is as many a one left. They may come back to bury their dead. Soldiers were at work Tuesday a burying them and taking care of their wounded. There was a great many of their troops that were wounded that had to lay on the field for 24 hours. Most all of our company were on the field on noon Monday after the fight. I did not go myself and was glad after the company came back and told me what they saw. I will not horror your feelings with a description of their story. I saw enough to see, til five oclock Sunday evening, when we pursued them. The road along which we went, I saw several dead bodies and wounded men of the Yankees. All of our dead and wounded were well cared for. I have no exact account of the loses, the Yankees admit of 6,000 on their side. Our loss was in killed and wounded between 1,500 and 2,000. I am infomed that they had a fight in Alexandria, and many of their soldiers, they had to raise the draws of the bridge to stop their men from running close off, and before they would stop they had to have a fight. I do not think there were any in among us worse whipped and confused. They had one of our generals a prisoner, and he escaped from them. He says he never saw an army worse confused than they were, a great many of them threw away there arms and everything they had.

General Beauregard estimates their loss at 2,000,000 of dollars; that will help us ought right smart. It looks to me like there is enough of things left to supply the whole South. I was in the battle but did not get to fire a shot; we were held in reserve, our company and another company of our regiment. The rest of the regiment made a charge on their battery with great success. They took every piece of cannon they had except one. We were exposed all the time, a heavy fire of bomb shells and grape shot but we were fortunate enough not to get a single man killed or wounded in our company. Our captain was very much pleased with the way we acted in the field. None of our men were very much frightened; I was not at all frightened myself. I must draw my letter to a close. Lewis has volunteered; I expect I hade written several letters to him but have not received but one answer yet, and that was the one that you put that piece in. Tell mother that I am well and have had my health first rate since I left Ashland.

I am in fine spirits now, have plenty of clothes and a tolerable plenty to eat: Yankee beefs and crackers. You must write to me soon I am very anxious to hear from home. I have not heard from father since he left me at Richmond; I wrote to him on Monday just to let him know that I was still alive. I want to know whether you have got the picture I sent him. Tell Mr. Cassell’s folks that Rufus is well; he acted very well in the field. And also give my love to them all and to Jesse Greenway and his family and Mr. Aston and all my friends in general. I have got a Yankee’s Testament with ‘Samuel McDaniels’ name in it, he was from Vermont. I want to bring it home with me when I come. Tell Laura and Sue howdy for me. I do not know where to tell you to write to, you may direct it to Winchester as before, and one to this place. I will tell you all when I come home, from your affectionate brother Thos. W. Colley.

P.S. I stated that I did not know where we would go. I heard we will drive on to Washington, that is the talk now. There is a great force collecting at this point, or in a few hours march of this place. Please write soon, T.W. Colley

From In Memory of Self and Comrades, pp. 200-201

Contributed, annotated, and transcribed by Michael K. Shaffer, courtesy of Thomas W. Colley Collection, Ms2003-017, Special Collections, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Va.

Thomas Wallace Colley at Ancestry.com

T. W. Colley at Fold3

Thomas Wallace Colley at FindAGrave


Actions

Information

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s




%d bloggers like this: