Pvt. Michael P. Long, Co. E, 3rd Michigan Infantry, On the Battle

4 04 2020

Arlington Heights

Camp Hunter, Va.

July 12th 1861

Dear Brother,

I received yours from Laporte [Indiana] last Thursday, John. It was with pain & sorrow I received that letter although I had almost expected Father’s death. Still I had fondly hoped that he might be spared until I could give him a home or could have been near him at his last moments. God knows I have suffered in secret for whatever harm I may have done but tis now too late. We are now alone. When I received your letter I felt crushed. I looked around me but not one of the old familiar countenances around and I seemed for the moment lost.

I have been on the sick list for a whole [week] but am now getting better. I may see you soon if you are still in Laporte as there is a prospect of our going home in 30 days. We are 3 years men but there appears to be some fluke in the manner in which we were mustered in so it is calculated we will be ordered home & be sworn in again. Our Colonel [Daniel McConnell] is very unpopular & threats have been made against his life. We are encamped on the estate of Lt. Hunter, C. S. A. The house is an old romantic-looking mansion. The grounds are the most beautiful I ever saw. The scenery is magnificent—the house commanding a view of the Potomac & the City of Washington.

Gen. McClellan is our division commander. The men have every confidence in him. If anybody says says that we did not fairly win the Battle of Bulls Run, tell them they are mistaken, but it was lost by bad generalship. Think of men marching 30 miles & when arriving near the battlefield at 3 P. M., having marched since morning on empty stomachs & then going into the battlefield on double quick & you have some idea of how we felt. To tell the truth, it was murder. To judge of how I felt & others besides, I fell asleep on the battlefield when we were posted on a hill & the boys dodging & squatting all around. We were not allowed to return a shot in the early part of the fight. We were marched within 40 rods of a masked battery & a flank fire of Minié Rifles and after marching down there to no purpose were marched to a hill on the right where they had another fair sweep at us.

Of some of the scenes I must tell you of one. One poor fellow—a member of the New York 12th—was sitting by the roadside on a stone eating a cracker. He supposed he was out of danger, poor fellow, when a rifle cannon ball struck him on side of the face and completely cut it off above the chin. It severed the upper lips from the rest of the face. The poor fellow lived 2 hours after he was shot. It was pitiful to see him put up his hands & feel for his face. Others there were [who] were worse than this.

I would advise you, John, not to enlist when no men can be found to fight their country’s battles than it may do to show patriotism, & as for enlisting any other way, it don’t pay. It costs a man 10 dollars a month to live for Uncle Sam sometimes forgets his boys. We were 3 days without rations at Bulls Run. How can men fight thus? We fare well now as Bull Run has taught them a lesson.

Send me Chicago papers if you can. There are no western papers here. I would write more if I had room.


Your brother,

M. P. Long

Letter Images p. 1, p. 2

Contributed and Transcribed by William Griffing

Michael P. Long info at Spared & Shared 

Michael P. Long info at Men of the 3rd Michigan Infantry 

Michael P. Long at Ancestry.com 

Michael P. Long at Fold3 

Michael P. Long at FindAGrave 



2 responses

5 04 2020
Jonathan soffe

Hi Harry
Hope you and family are ok at this difficult time. The letter is dated 12 July but is it supposed to be 22nd July?



5 04 2020
Harry Smeltzer

Jonathan, looking at the image f page 1 of the letter, it does look like July 12th. It’s possible it is something else, or that he started the letter on the 12th and finished it much later. With the reference to McClellan, I suspect it was finished later than the 22nd.


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