G. H. Price*, 14th New York State Militia, On the Campaign

10 06 2020

[Letter from a son to his parents.]

Camp Porter, Alexandria, Va.,
Tuesday, July 23rd, 1861.

We have fought a great battle and lost it, and thank God I am but slightly injured in the side, under the left arm, from a shell that exploded at our feet. On Tuesday last we left this place at 3 o’clock in the afternoon and marched until 11 or 12 at night; we then rested in the open field till daylight, and then started forward again to three entrenchments of the enemy which they had deserted. At about 3 o’clock on Wednesday P. M. we marched into Fairfax, the enemy having retreated on our approach. We marched through the little village of Fairfax, which hardly deserved the name, there being only the Court House and half a dozen huts. In the afternoon of the next day we started on again, and marched about six miles to a place this side of Centreville, where we encamped until 2 o’clock Saturday morning, where we again started – this time to fight. We marched at a pretty quick time to Bull’s Run, a distance of sixteen miles. We halted for a few minutes, and we could see the enemy firing from his battery. We then had orders to march double quick time to the other side of the run, which was about two miles. We had our blankets, which, with two days’ rations, we threw away as we ran. We no sooner got there, all panting and blowing, than we were ordered to charge up a hill and at an enemy we could not see, they being behind their masked battery. We then made a charge and fell back to reload. We were drawn into a ditch to draw the enemy’s fire from our artillery. We went up a road and were fired upon by some of our own men, whether the 71st, 27th, or 8th regiment I do not know. We all fell on our faces till they had done firing, when we, of course not knowing who they were, stood up and fired at them. All this took place in less time than you can read of it. We went in the ditch were we were ordered and lay there to be shot at for almost a quarter of an hour, we then made three distinct charges at the enemy who fired at us with buckshot and bullets which mowed us down like grass. In the third charge within ten feet of the enemy’s guns a shell exploded among our company and some ten or twelve fell, I among them. I felt a sharp pain in my left shoulder or rather behind it. I put my hand there and found a piece of my jacket and shirt gone, there was a cut big enough to lay your finger in. I turned round and saw our captain fall**. I ran to him and a sergeant and I carried him off the field. He is wounded in the left breast by a ball. It is not extracted yet. We were ordered to retreat to Washington the enemy having a reinforcement of some forty thousand men as near as Gen. McDowell could tell. Our poor Colonel was shot in the hip after his horse was shot under him. How we travelled almost sixty miles in twenty-eight hours, and how we ever reached the camp I do not know. When we got in I fell down and went to sleep. I cannot write any more at present.

G. H. Price*,

P. S. – I hear the 14th was cut off; that the enemy fired into our ambulances and killed all the wounded, our Colonel among them. Whether it is true I can’t tell.

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

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Also on web 

Contributed by John Hennessy

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

* The only Price found in the regimental roster is James Price of Co. C.

** Capt. R. B. Jordan of Co. A, and Capt. C. F. Baldwin, Co. D, were reported wounded in the battle.