Unknown, Co. E, 7th Louisiana Infantry, On the Battle

25 04 2020

Letter from the Field of Battle.

The following is a private letter from a gentleman belonging to Company C, Crescent Rifles, addressed to a friend in this city. It contains some interesting items in regard to the great battle.

Stone Bridge at Battle Ground
July 27, 1861.

Dear B. – Again we are victorious, having driven the enemy beyond Fairfax, taken all their rifled cannon, among them the famous Sherman Battery, the finest in the States, fifty wagon loads of provisions, about fifteen hundred stand of arms, killing between four and five thousand of them, and taking fifteen hundred prisoners. Such a victory was never known since the days of Napoleon, and it was fought on Sunday, the day Waterloo was won. The Tigers commenced the fight at 5 o’clock A. M., charging on and taking a battery, having to give it up twice, but at last succeeding in unlimbering it. Gen. Scott was in the vicinity of the battle; so was President Davis, who visited our regiment in person. He complimented us highly for the work we had done. We had been maneuvering all the morning before the enemy, deceiving them as to our numbers, but getting shelled all the time. Four men were killed not six feet from me by the explosion of a shell thrown two miles from a hill commanding our position; in fact, they always had the advantage, because we had to force them to fight us. You should have seen the devils run when we, with our brigade, charged up the hill on their left flank, the Washington Artillery pouring shot and shell into them. General Beauregard was with the detachment of Washington Artillery when his horse was shot under him. He seems perfectly happy with the result, and says two millions of dollars will not replace the things taken from the enemy. It has been a glorious victory. One would suppose, from the things they brought with them, that all they had to do was come and conquer. Cooking stoves, all kinds of cooking utensils, and provisions enough last the army for sometime to come, they had; but fortune and the God of Battles was against them, and now we are enjoying all their good things. Yesterday I cut one-half a fine fruit-cake made by some Yankee girl for her sweet-heart. And the letters! You would laugh to read them. Everything has been done and said to encourage their soldiers for their cause. Envelopes, with all kinds of bombast, such as Jeff. Davis hanging by a limb of a tree, and the Manassas Railroad, with U. S. Soldiers, their flag flying, with the following words: “Come on, boys, only six miles to the Junction,” (assuming Manassas) and hundreds of others too numerous to mention. Be assured, I never wish to see such another flight. The horrors of this battle-field are enough to make the stoutest heard quake – horses, friends and enemies laying in heaps all around us; and to think of our sleeping on the field, when we could hear the groans of the wounded and their piteous cries for water, was as much as I could endure. The ambulances were going all night, carrying off the dead and wounded. The enemy did not stop to pick up their dead. We had to bury them to get clear of the stench, which was intolerable. In the first fight we were in, I was selected, after it was over, to watch the motions of the enemy. They were all around me. They shot at us a great many times during the day. Some of my men crept through the woods and picked off two of their sentinels. Colonel Hays complimented our behavior on that day, having the most dangerous position on the whole line. But on Sunday our brigade turned the battle in our favor. Our coming on, whooping and yelling, like so many devils, struck terror into their souls. Had we arrived ten minutes later, I think the battle would have been different; as it was, we had marched twenty-five miles under double quick time. We were tired, indeed, without water, dusty and black as negroes. I have had no chance to wash my face for five days. We have been our in the open fields, with the rain on us, for three days, and nothing but the blankets we gathered up from the enemy to cover with. You can judge from that we have had no child’s play. The Washington Artillery boys are trumps, you can tell all; and are considered by all the commanding officers to be the best in the United States, (that way) They returned shot for shot, even when shot and shell were flying all around them; in fact, Louisiana can boast of her soldiers in Virginia. They have done their duty. I might write you sheet on sheet of the incidents of the battle, but will reserve it until I can see you, if ever I do. God knows, I wish this battle may do the thing and peace be declared, as it is a horrible thing to see friend and brother against friend and brother.

This is a Yankee paper, pen and ink I am writing with.

God bless you and yours, is the earnest prayer of your friend.

New Orleans (LA) Daily Crescent, 7/31/1861

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Contributed by John Hennessy