Pvt. Ezra C. Goodwin*, Co. D, 2nd New Hampshire Infantry, On the March, Battle, and Retreat

21 01 2020

We have been furnished for publication with the following interesting letter which was received in this city on Friday last, from one of our Dover Boys, Co. D, 2d Regiment.

Washington, July 15th [sic]

Dear Father and Mother: – I will improve the few leisure moments I have in writing to you, to give you an account of one of the most bloody battles ever fought on this continent. We left out camp at Washington one week ago to-day, in Col. Burnside’s Brigade, and marched to Fairfax Court House, where we arrived at 12 o’clock the next day. We stayed until 7, the next morning, when we left for Centreville. We had not gone more than one mile, when we received orders to wait for orders from General McDowell. We stayed there until five o’clock in the afternoon and then marched within 1 ½ miles of Centreville, where we remained until Sunday morning, 2 o’clock. Then we left for Bull’s Run, and followed the road to Bull’s Run Bridge, where we went into a piece of woods, in order to come up in the enemy’s rear, supposing that General Patterson would come up in their front. We came up to their batteries about 12 o’clock, having marched ten hours without food or water, and tired most to death. Our artillery being ahead, commenced the fight. Our regiment was ordered to support the R. I. battery, and we marched to the right of it. We were exposed to the fire of two batteries, and from six to seven thousand men. They commenced firing at us, with cannon and musket balls, but, we soon stopped their fun. When we commenced firing at them, they began to run for the woods. We drove them two miles, when they were reinforced by 30,000 men, which was more than we had, they having three to our one. But they could never have driven us back, if it had not been for their masked batteries, and the woods, which were alive with the rebels. We had to charge up a steep hill, with not a thing to cover us, while they were on the top of the hill in the thick woods, and behind earthworks.

I was in the engagement four hours, and only got my head grazed by a musket ball; it just brought blood. When we got back to Bull’s Run Bridge, their cavalry and flying artillery had cut us off, and they thought they had a sure thing on us; but they got much mistaken. One old nigger, came up to me and said “Lay down your arms,” I drew my pistol and put a ball through his head, and he laid down his arms, in double quick time. A cannon ball cut my gun off four inches over my head. Out of 300 that attacked us, not over 12 returned. I had to buy my food on the road or starve. I must now close my letter, and will give you more particulars next time.

E. C. G.

Dover (NH) Enquirer, 8/1/1861

Clipping Image

Contributed by John Hennessy

* Ezra C. Goodwin is the only E. C. G. in Co. D found in this roster.

Ezra C. Goodwin at Fold3

Ezra C. Goodwin at Findagrave.com