T. H. C., On the 2nd Vermont Infantry In the Battle

14 05 2020

Correspondence of the Journal
The Second Vermont Regiment.

“T. H. C.” writing from Washington, July 24, to the Burlington Times, furnishes additional particulars respecting the Vermont Regiment, from which it will be seen that they were not furnished with the new Enfield guns which were promised, but went into the battle with their old “smooth bores.” Some luck regiment undoubtedly had the nice rifled guns which we understand were offered to Vermont by parties in Canada, but refused. – The War Department had given no authority to purchase them, and of course it could not be done! We give the principal portion of the letter as follows:

Our men, wearied and fatigued by the long march in the sun, without breakfast and water, and being attacked at once upon their arrival, it will be seen they fought at great disadvantages. In fact it seems almost incredible that they could have endured it half the time they did. – The Vermont regiment was the first in the brigade, as I am informed, to commence the action, and were kept in the hottest of the battle most of the time, and were the last to leave the field, and never during the whole engagement did they exhibit any dissatisfaction, until the order came to retreat. With this they were very much displeased.

The enemy used the best rifled cannon, mostly, bringing their infantry and cavalry into action only when necessary to make a charge. It must be evident to every one that under these circumstances, armed as our regiment was with the poorest arms, they could not do great execution against an enemy thus protected, however brave and determined they might be. I have seen every captain and officer of our regiment since the engagement, and received from each their statement as to their particular commands, and the wonder is that they were not completely annihilated, and I have yet to see the first soldier who was not cool and fearless during the whole time, and who is not dissatisfied that they were called away. – The Battleboro Company, Captain Todd, being the Company carrying the flag, received the most injury, their captain receiving a ball through the throat in the early part of the action and was carried from the field.

While some companies were in worse positions than others and of course were called upon to do more, still there were none of them but what fought desperately and until the last moment.

Probably the Bennington Company, Capt. Walbridge, did more execution than the others, from the fact that they were the only company to have Minnie muskets or rifles. In every instance, Capt. W. told me, whenever he came into fair action with a company of rebels, he silenced them after four rounds. The other companies fought at a great disadvantage, their muskets being a poor weapon to contend with the rifles of the enemy. – Every Captain gives his men much credit for their obedience to orders and bravery during the whole action, and our whole regiment came from the field to Centreville in perfect order. Lieut. Col. Stannard, (although not well when he came on to the field) and Major Joyce behaved most nobly, gallantly and bravely – being at their posts in the midst of a perfect shower of balls and shot, rallying their men, and issuing their orders with coolness and dispatch. The men are universal in their expressions of praise and admiration of the conduct of these officers, as well as that of Adjutant Ladd, who passed from company to company in the midst of the thickest fight. Assistant Surgeon Carpenter remained at the Hospital, some two miles from the battle field to take care of the sick and wounded as they were brought in, and so remained in active discharge of his duties until the general rout, when the hospital was fired into by the rebels and destroyed – the sick escaping in every possible way they could – Surgeon Carpenter was the last to leave it, and not until every man was away. No man upon the field was more cool in the performance of his duties than Surgeon Ballou. He took upon himself the duty of going upon the field with the ambulances, to pick up the wounded and take them to the hospital, which proved to be the most dangerous part of all.

The enemy firing on the ambulances, in a short time every one which Dr. Ballou had was shot to pieces, with the wounded in them, he narrowly escaping many times, and finally, when he came in with the last one, it was struck by a ball, separating it from the horses, and about the same time a charge was made by the Black Horse cavalry, of Alexandria, which created a stampede, when the Doctor, mounting one of the horses, left the field. – This was after the whole army was in retreat, and there was general consternation. He soon found a wounded soldier, whom he put on the horse, and being separated from the regiment, made his way back to Alexandria walking through the woods 30 miles.

I regret to say that there is dissatisfaction with Col. Whiting, whether justly or unjustly in not for me to say. If all reports are correct it is due to him, and to the brave sons of Vermont who have fought so gallantly, that the matter should be investigated. Every soldier who survived is ready and anxious to march to the battle-field again; but under their present impression respecting the Col. they will enter a battle with little confidence.

Col. Bowdish, Wm. G. Shaw, John B. Page, F. Chaffee and myself spent Friday and Saturday last with the army at Centreville, and left about six hours before they were ordered to prepare for battle. Yesterday Col. B. and myself spent at Alexandria, gathering a list of the missing, which as near as we can ascertain up to the hour of writing, is as follows:

Company A, Capt. Walbridge, Bennington.

Andrew J. Noyes – Flesh wound below hip, was in ambulance coming from the field.
Wm. E. Murphy – Left on the field to take care of Noyes.
Thomas Morissey – Sick before the battle and supposed to be a prisoner.

Company B, Capt. Hope, Castleton.

Warren Gifford, Danby – Wounded in the hand, left camp at Centreville.
Jeremiah Bolton, Hydeville – Flesh wound in thigh, last seen at hospital near field.
H. L. Breckensaid, Rutland – Killed.

Company C, Capt. Todd, Brattleboro’.

This is the only company which we have not full returns. The Capt. is at the National Hotel in this city and will soon be out. He says that about a dozen of his company are missing.

iCo. D, Capt. Dillingham, Waterbury.i

P. F. Flaherty – gave out on the field.
John Gwoing – wounded in the foot – last seen on the field.
John H. Murray, Duxbury, seen on field.
Dan. K. Stickey, Berling, seen on field.
These are supposed to be prisoners.

Co. E, Capt. Smith, Tunbridge.

Harrison Dewey, Royalton – last seen at Centreville, weary.
S. L. D. Goodale – last seen on retreat.
Edson Wiggins, Chelsea – last seen on retreat.
George A. Martin fell out before reaching the field.
A. Waldo, Royalton – left in the hospital at Centreville sick.

Co. F, Capt. Randall, Montpelier.

Victory Goodrich, Roxbury – Killed.
Benj. Taylor, Montpelier – last seen on the field.

Co. G, Capt. Drew, Burlington.

Capt. J.T. Drew was sick Saturday and when they were ordered to march insisted on going, and was last seen by Sergeant Bliss of Bennington Co. about 2 miles from the field at the hospital, probably prisoner.
Sergeant Geo. W. Woodward, Westford – last seen on retreat before the cavalry attack.
H. W. Conroe, South Hero – last seen on retreat before the cavalry attack.
Benj. Martin, South Hero – last seen on retreat before the cavalry attack.
John Redmond – last seen on field.
L. M. Wilson stopped at his fathers in Fairfax and probably Woodward may be with him.

Co. H, Capt. Burham, Fletcher.

Sergeant Woodbury, arm shot off and amputated, left the hospital near the field.
Geo. Streeter, Milton – wounded below knee pan in both legs, in Stone Church at Centreville.
Jehiel S. Bailey, Bakersfield – last seen on the field.
N. B. Lathrop, Cambridge – last seen on the field.
A. Paris, Fairfax – last seen on the field.
Eugene C. Sleeper, Fairfax – last seen on the field.

Co. I, Capt. Fullam, Ludlow.

John A. Leonard, Shrewsbury – wounded I the arm, last seen o the field.
Geo. H. Lewis, fifer, not seen since he went into the field.

Co. K, Capt. Eaton, Vergennes.

Henry Huntly, seen on retreat.

From this it will be seen there are but about 46 missing and but 8 known to be dead. Soldiers are constantly coming in, and as it is about 30 miles from the Potomac to the field of battle, and the country intervening being covered more or less with woods it will take some time for them to come in. I have no doubt the missing will be reduced to 20. I may ot be correct in all my account but have given from the best authority I could get.

Walton’s Daily Journal (Montpelier, VT), 7/29/1861

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Contributed by John Hennessy





J. B. L., Co. F, 2nd Vermont Infantry, On the Battle

14 05 2020

Correspondence of the Journal
From The Second VT. Regiment

Wednesday, July 24, 1861.

Last Sunday morning at 2 o’clock we received orders to march immediately towards Manassas Junction. The Vermont Second is in the third Brigade and under Brig. General Howard of Me., occupying the left flank of the brigade. The number of brigades were divided into three divisions, ours under General Heintzelman, the whole force being commanded by Gen. McDowell and amounting to about forty thousand men, who were encamped at Centreville, Va., about fourteen miles from Manassas Junction and about twenty-five from Washington. The whole column extended some two miles and it was near 5 A. M. before our regiment moved. We were provided with one days’ rations and supposed that when we advanced they would fall back; also expecting victory as a matter of course. Through carelessness on my part I got separated from the Second and went with Ellsworth’s Zouaves, advancing on the right while the Second went to the left, making Manassas as our concentrating point. But our scouts composed of the Rhode Island 1st and 2d, and New York 71st, encountered two rebel regiments advancing from Winchester, Va., towards a point a little below what is called Bull’s Run, an after a little severe fighting the rebel’s retreated, and as Governor Sprague appeared before his regiments he was enthusiastically cheered with cries – “The day is ours!” Sprague is said to have had two horses shot from under him, and the 2d R. I. lost their Colonel (Slocum). Soon after, as we advanced in column, the repeated discharges of cannon and the showers of grape that we found thrown among us, told that the enemy was not ours, but that we had one of their noted masked batteries to capture.. Soon again, we heard the rapid firing of musketry on the other side and we drew up by brigades and advanced towards the summit, where we could see the smoke from their battery, under the protection of our artillery. We found the attention of their guns to be drawn toward the R. I. Artillery, which the were endeavoring to silence. Our brigade advanced within ten rods of their infantry and each fired nearly at the same moment. The Zouaves suffered terribly; also the Minnesota regiment, wounding or killing a quarter of each. From a wounded Georgian I learned that the force stationed at this point amount to 65,000 men, under command of Gen. Barlow, and that Beauregard had 75,000 more at Manassas ready at any moment to reinforce him. He said that both Generals know that our force amounted to only forty or fifty thousand, and that it was insufficient, and intended to cut us all up, and cut off our retreat, to make our total defeat certain. After desperately fighting against such fearful odds we were ordered to retreat. – As soon as the enemy found we were leaving, they fired it seemed, three times where they did once in the hottest of the action, and our soldiers scattered in every direction to avoid the grape and cannister, as well as the long ranged rifled cannon. After harassing us thus and during the time, they cut us off when we least expected it, by about a thousand cavalry, who were upon us, charging fearfully. It created such a havoc and panic that the whole army fled in all directions; some however taking the main road to Centreville, whereupon they were again cut off, and dropped everything, even their coats, so panic stricken were they. I got over a fence and laid very quiet until the black horsemen had passed on. Our cavalry or artillery did us no good, the former rushing passed us and going ahead.

I never saw a sett of men so afraid before. They all run, no one dared to stop three minutes even to rest, they expected the whole force after them as they saw the infantry about to follow, but nothing could have caught us in our flight. They had no regard at all to the orders of their officers but all seemed to the eager in looking out for this individual self.

Gen. McDowell was insane in marching 35 or 40,000 men, right up to a masked battery defended by some 65,000, reinforced by some 30 or 40,000 more, making in all about 100,000, almost three to one. This was fearful odds, and one could expect nothing but sure defeat. If we had not been allowed to arrive safely and garrison the fort on Arlington Hights, what would have been the consequence to Washington? It would certainly have been captured. Fairfax Court House and Centreville are at present occupied by rebels. They thought we had a larger army near them than we really had and left some of the best fortified entrenchments, that we have yet seen. All our artillery with the exception of two pieces fell into the hands of the rebels. Our incampment now is some four miles from Alexandria near their pickets, and the forts opposite here expected an attack yesterday and prepared against it.

I should judge that about 2,000 of our men were killed or wounded all falling into the hands of the rebels. Our baggage wagons; muskets; equipments, knapsacks and tents, besides all our provisions, horses, and no doubt many men were taken charge of by the rebels. Company F. lost Victor Goodrich who was shot at the first volley, as I have not seen my regiment yet I do not know of others that were shot.

J. B. L.

Walton’s Daily Journal (Montpelier, VT), 7/39/1861

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Contributed by John Hennessy

2nd Vermont Infantry Co. F Roster