Pvt. Joseph Sands, Co. A, 14th New York State Militia, On the Battle

9 06 2020

Arlington Heights, July 23.

I write you these few lines to let you know that I am safe, but scarcely able to stir from the effects of our marching and our exertions in the battle. Pretty much all of our men are in the same condition. That is, all that is left of us. I am very sorry to tell you we lost the battle, but I hope you and your friends won’t blame us, for God knows that we did our best to win, and particularly the New York troops; they fought manfully; and Brooklyn need not be ashamed of the 14th Regiment, for they did what no others dare do. It was when the Fire Zouaves were in the advance and laying for the rascals to come out, that we charged right upon the battery – in the very cannon’s mouth – and gave them volley after volley, and all of a sudden they opened their guns upon us, and plowed us down with grape and canister. Not only this but their cavalry charged upon us, when we were compelled to retreat. As we were retreating I saw my compatriots fall thick and fast around me, but I hadn’t any chance to help the wounded on the gory field. As we were going over, one of the Generals stepped up and said, “14th are you tired?” We told him no. Said he, “you have done your part.” He shouts out for the other troops to rally. For our part we could not rally without support, and all our officers were shot. We stood firm, and we saw even the regulars retreating. The general shouts out “Give one more rally.” They would not. Said he [illegible] musket, and shot him off his horse. As soon as he fell one of the Fire Zouaves jumped on the horse and galloped away; when, all of a sudden, the fellows turned and fled as fast as they could go. This, you may think, is flattery, but it is not, it is a correct statement as far as I can remember. They have taken an immense number of prisoners, and the wounded they kill, as far as I can understand. They have 150,000 men stationed there. There was 90,000 men there first, and reinforcements coming in all the time, and if we had staid much longer they would most likely have surrounded us and taken us all prisoners. We lost our Colonel and a good many of our officers; our regiment is pretty well cut up. They are talking of sending us home to recruit again. They are going to give us new uniforms, for we are in need of them; mine was bad enough before the battle, but after the battle I notice they were pretty well riddled up. The bayonet belonging to my musket was knocked clean off with a shot.

Joseph Sands, Co. A, 14th Regt.

Brooklyn (NY) Daily Eagle, 7/25/1861

Clipping Image

Contributed by John Hennessy

14th New York State Militia (84th New York Infantry) roster 

Joseph Sands at Ancestry.com 

Joseph Sands at Fold3 

Joseph Sands at FindAGrave 



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