Pvt. James Kelley, Co. G, 2nd Maine Infantry, On the Battle and Retreat

5 06 2020

Another Soldier’s Account of the Battle.

Exeter, Aug. 3d, 1861.

Mr. Editor:

The following is an extract from a private letter from James Kelley of this town, who is a soldier in the 2d Maine Regiment, and was engaged in the battle at Bull Run:

Yours, D. B.

We started from our encampment at 2 o’clock Sunday morning, and marched four miles and came upon four masked batteries. They were about six or seven rods apart, and had trenches dug so that they could go from one to the other without being shot. We drove them all into one, and thus they knew they had got to fight or die, and so they went at it, and I tell you George, they will fight when you get them penned, but when there is a chance they had rather run than stand. We had a long and hard time of it. The first gun was fired at half past four in the morning, and we fought eight hours , and the guns were not silenced during the whole time. We had a flag sent us the day before we fought from California, which cost twelve hundred dollars, and they shot two men from under it but they did not get it.

At 5 o’clock we had driven them back from their guns, and our regiment made a rush for them, but we were too late, for when we had got within twenty feet of their guns they had a reinforcement of five thousand, commanded by Johnston, and we had not eaten anything and had nothing to drink and were all exhausted, and Tyler gave the order to retreat, we turned and walked off. There was not a man run until we were half a mile off, and then the way the government shoes flew was not slow, for they had begun to throw shells into us. A man that was running beside me had his legs taken off by a cannon ball. After we had gone about four miles we were attacked by the South Carolina Black Horse Cavalry. One hundred of them hit the ground, and the others thought it was time to be leaving. I got one of their swords to remember them by.

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

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Contributed by John Hennessy

James Kelley at Ancestry.com 

James Kelley at Fold3