Pvt. George Field*, Co. H, 2nd Maine Infantry, On the Battle and Retreat

4 06 2020

Another Soldier’s Account of the Battle.

Extract of a letter from George E. Field* of Lee, private in Capt. Meinecke’s Company, to his father, dated July 23d:

“We were called out at one o’clock Saturday night, and given to understand that there was to be a battle the next day, and were then marched along from point to point, till eleven o’clock on Sunday morning, when the order came to throw aside our blankets and haversacks, and prepare for a charge on the enemy. We then ran some two miles, over streams, through woods and swamps, till nearly one half the regiment dropped behind from sheer exhaustion. We then formed a line under the brow of a hill, and waited for the stragglers to come up. Then came the order to charge up the hill, and the moment we reached the top we were met by a shower of musket balls; we returned the fire and charged again, loading as we ran. The enemy retreated towards their batteries, and the moment they were out of range of their own cannon, we were met by a perfect hurricane of balls, grape-shot and shell; but we kept on till we almost reached the batteries, and then came the order to retreat, which we did slowly, firing as we went.

* * * * *

Our brigade of nearly four thousand men formed and retreated under General Tyler, in good order for a mile, when we began to be joined by others, all broken and in confusion, which produced a panic in our ranks, and we retreated for two or three miles in complete confusion.

As we approached a narrow bridge over a shallow stream, we were attacked by a force of the enemy, and then commenced to rush for the bridge. Men, baggage wagons, ambulances and artillery were all struggling to get across. I jumped off the bridge into the water to escape being jammed to death, and had just got under the bridge, when down came a heavy wagon and four horses, head over heels. I swam across and got out on the other side. Our regiment then formed in a line, waited until all were over and then closed in and acted as rear guard till we met our reserve force. We got to our old camping ground at dark and laid down on the wet ground without blankets, by the side of our guns, some of us wet to the skin, and slept an hour, when the word came to continue our retreat. We marched all night and until ten o’clock next day, when we reached Alexandria. It rained smartly. We had marched about fifty miles, and most of the regiment had nothing to eat for twenty-four hours. When we arrived we stood two hours in the rain. They then gave us a drink of whiskey (I took some that time), and turned us into an old store and left us. About dark we were supplied with a loaf of bread and a slice of raw bacon.

Capt. Meinecke was quite badly injured while crossing the bridge. Our chief surgeon and chaplain were taken prisoners. Capt. Jameson acted with great bravery in the charge and led his men to bring off the wounded.

Bangor (ME) Daily Whig and Courier, 8/6/1861

Clipping Image

Contributed by John Hennessy

* Only George A. Field in 2nd ME was found in available databases (below). Records show him in both Co. H and Co. I. Captain F. Meinecke commanded Co. H.

George A. Field at Ancestry.com 

George A. Field at Fold3 



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