W. B. P.*, 12th New York Infantry, On Blackburn’s Ford

13 02 2019

Letter from a Volunteer.
———-

[The following private letter from a volunteer from Salina who acted as one of the skirmishers at the engagement at Bull’s Run has been kindly furnished by his friends for publication. It does not contain any later news than has already been published but it corroborates the statements of other writers and we therefore give it to our readers.]

Arlington Heights, July 23, 1861.

Dear Brother – I am alive and well, although I have been in two engagements. We had a great battle on Thursday. I was among the skirmishers. We were in advance, and had to scour the woods to find the position of the enemy. We went into the woods and the first thing we knew we were fired into by platoons from right and left – a regular cross fire – but we stood our ground manfully and returned their fire to the best advantage. The whole brigade thought by the firing that we were all cut to pieces but we knew out business and skulked behind trees, and every time a rebel showed his face he was picked off. – We went right into their nest three times on Thursday, and we had but about 40 killed and wounded, while the enemy had from 800 to 1000 killed and wounded.

The battle was in a piece of woods about four miles long, with masked batteries every two or three rods. The rebels fight like devils. They were over two to one and had the advantage, and drove us back; but, thank God, we have another day at them.

The officers acted very poorly – that is, the officers in our brigade, not the officers in our regiment, for they stood right up to the rack.

I bid your farewell, for I may never see you if we have to go into the hornets nest again. I am willing for one to go.

The bullets whistled around us like hail stones, but they were aimed too high. There is a report that the 12th ran, but that is no so. They were the only one that stood their ground. Our brigade officers are all Michigan and Massachusetts men, and they try to screen their troops and leave it all to New Yorkers.

I thought I never could stand and see the sights that I saw the day of the battle. I saw men with their heads shot off, and others with arms and legs shot off. It an was awful sight, but it was all war.

Your ever true brother.

W. B. P.

Syracuse Daily Standard, 7/29/1861

Clipping image

Contributed by John Hennessy

12th New York Infantry Roster

A review of the 12th New York roster indicates five possible identities for the letter writer with the initials W. P., and two specifically with the middle initial B (the other three not showing middle initials at all.) Only one, Corporal William B. Patterson of Co. A, joined the regiment in Salina.

William B. Patterson at Ancestry.com

William B. Patterson at Fold3

Pvt. Wallace B. Page Co. G Chittenango Falls
Cpl. William B. Patterson, Co.A Salina
Pvt. William Pelton, Co. F Liverpool
Pvt. William Peters, Co. G Canastota
Pvt. William Prindle, Co. F Syracuse


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