Byron, 13th New York Infantry, On Blackburn’s Ford

17 05 2020

War Correspondence.
The Battle of Thursday.

Ontario, July 21, 1860

Eds. Evening Express, Rochester: – Gents.:
Do me the favor to publish the enclosed letter from my son in the 13th Regiment Volunteers from Rochester. I am a reader of the Express, although no a subscriber at the office, but will be, for you paper is in the hearts of the soldiers and the people.

Very Respectfully yours,


Centreville, July 20, 1861.

Father: – We left Camp Union on the 16th at 2 o’clock, P. M., marching as far as Vienna, which the rebels had left but a few hours before. Early the next morning we took up our line of march, driving the enemy before us but a short distance. We stopped over night of the 17th at Camp Mason from which rebels had left rather hastily to all appearances. In the vicinity there were between three or four thousand rebels. We came the next day to Centreville reaching here about noon, while here a part of the division about noon, while here a part of the division passed us, when they had gone two miles they came upon a masked battery battery which allowed them to approach within a few feet before opening. The Michigan 1st and the New York 12th were the regiments engaged them first, discovered the rebels commenced retreating and cheering, and our troops advancing until within a few feet of the battery, when they rose up out of their entrenchments – sueli vollies of musketry perfectly terrific – opening the battery at the same time cutting down about 40 of our troops – they still advancing, and when within nearly bayonet reach, were ordered to retreat.

At this time we were on the way to the scene of action, meeting troops, some retreating, some wounded and lying aside the road. We asked them how they made out. Their reply was, “we had to back up.” About this time more artillery reached the spot, and began to fire, the rebels returning the fire promptly. We were flanked off one side of the road in the woods – in the din of battle, we being under cover of the woods moved forward, the shot from the enemy’s rifled cannon whistling over our heads rather lively. – We were soon commanded to halt, as we expected they were advancing upon us. We all dropped on our knees, and when a discharge was heard, we listened for the messengers that could soon be heard tearing through the timber, when we would fall on our faces; one ball struck right before us, and bounded over our heads, and struck behind us, we could see; it being a spent ball, one of the boys picked it up.

One poor fellow belonging to one of the regiments engaged, who was lying back of us in the woods, had the top part of his head blown completely off, a horrid sight. Our cannon ceased firing, the enemy being under cover, and fell back, waiting for mortars to come and shell them out. Yesterday there was no movement at all. Last night the guns came up, so to-day there will be awful work. They are going to throw out tar in shells, and burn them out. There are now three batteries within three miles of here. The division under Gen. Tyler is about 40,000 strong.

We are but six miles from Manassas Junction, after the battle we could hear the cars running all night, bringing troops from Manassas, so they must have a large force here. We shall certainly have a fight to-day, and many a poor fellow will never see the rising of to-morrows sun, but as they saying is, “We’re all in the same boat,” and must stand it. I never expect to see home again, but gloomy as the prospect is, I am not at all disheartened. I shall stand to the rack, fodder or no fodder. They say when our troops fell back, leaving the wounded, they came out of the trenches, and bayoneted the wounded. If this be true, we can expect no quarter, if we fall into their hands. This is the most God forsaken country I ever saw; the land is not worth a dollar per acre. Our pickets were firing all night long last night. The mail is about ready to leave, and I must close. My kindest regards to all the folks, and tell them to write. Direct to Washington, and it will come.

Respectfully yours,

Rochester (NY) Evening Express, 7/26/1861

Clipping Image

Contributed by John Hennessy



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