Image: Lt. Samuel Johnson Cramer Moore, Co. I, 2nd Virginia Infantry

9 08 2021
Samuel Johnson Cramer Moore (from FindAGrave)

Lt. Samuel Johnson Cramer Moore, Co. I, 2nd Virginia Infantry, On the Battle

9 08 2021

Camp near Manassas July 27th 1861

My Dearest Ellen

It is so difficult, the way I am now situated, to write a letter, that I have it not in my power to let you hear from me as often as I wish, or as I would under other circumstances; the difficulty consists in the want of pen, ink and paper, and of any convenient way of writing. To illustrate, I am now sitting flat on the ground with a board on my knee, upon which rests a sheet of paper I begged of a friend, on which I am writing with a borrowed pen, with ink out of a borrowed inkstand. Had I paper, I could at least write with a pencil, but I have none, and all my efforts to purchase have proved unavailing. Never was a poor country so completely stripped of everything as this is–no stores, no houses of entertainment, houses all deserted of their inhabitants and occupied by troops, very many since the battle as hospitals for the wounded of both our own and the Federal armies–fences destroyed, fields laid waste, crops such as they had, very poor at best, destroyed and trampled–all these present but a portion of the dreaded effects of war.

The enemy, with less humanity than ordinarily is found with savage tribes, ran away from the battlefield on Sunday last, leaving many of their wounded and the dead upon the ground, to whom they have since paid no attention. Their wounded have been gathered up by our men, and are cared for like our own. Our soldiers too buried many of their killed until their bodies became so offensive as to sicken all who approached them, since which they have left them alone, and many bodies now lie on the field where they fell, a sad spectacle of mortality. It is usual to send a flag of truce to the battlefield after a fight is over, for the purpose of taking care of the wounded and the bodies of the dead. But the Yankees, either from excessive fright or from want of regard for the fallen, have failed to conform to this custom–hence this state of affairs of which I have spoken.

The whole condition of affairs has completely changed since we came here, at first no man dared to put his nose outside of our lines, for fear of being shot or captured by the federal pickets. Now our men can roam at large over the country, without the danger of meeting a yankee, unless it be a dead corpse in the fence corner or a half starved refugee begging for quarter or a mouthful to eat. These last they take prisoner and send them to Richmond to swell the trophies of our glorious victory.

You can form no idea of the terrific grandeur of the affair of Sunday last. Cannons booming, muskets rattling, shells bursting around us in every direction, troops marching, and at last gallant bayonet charges from our brave Southern troops, all tended to excite and stir up our men to brave deeds. Our regiment for nearly, if not quite 3 hours, stood under a raging fire of shot & shell without a falter, animated by the promise that at the proper time they should fire upon the enemy & follow the fire with the bayonet, but when the time came for this to be done, instead of ordering us to fire and advance, the Col gave the order to fall back.

I regret to say that Col Allen did not display courage or self possession on the battle field, whether he professes these qualities or not, and also that in his official report of the battle, which I have read, he does, to my certain knowledge, make an erroneous statement to screen himself from censure for his course on the field. These facts, of course, destroy all confidence in him, with every true man in his Regiment who knows them, and there is consequently great disaffection in the Regiment, amounting almost to disorganization. I doubt not too, that many trifling men among us, who are not attracted by principle in the war, are taking advantage of the present state of affairs hoping to get out of service entirely, so that altogether we are in an indifferent state. What will be the result of this I know not, but it may end in my throwing up my commission and shouldering a musket as a private in the ranks of some other regiment. After our Regiment retired on Sunday, I went into the battle with another Regiment, the 18th Virginia Regiment and flatter myself I did some pretty good fighting, but I was among strangers, and had I shown the courage of Julius Caesar, I would not have advanced the object I had in view; my intention has always been at the first battle; if I found I could stand it, to endeavor to do something which would give me an honorable mention of my name in the Colonel’s official report, so that I could make it the basis of an application for a commission in the Confederate States Army. Circumstances, which I have related, prevented this and although I have proof from several individuals that I did not play the coward in the fight, yet I am no nearer my commission that I was before. These matters, personal to myself, I mention to you, because I know that what interests me, is not uninteresting to you. Have you forgiven me for fooling you about my destination, when I saw you on my way here? Although I know it was for your good, yet I felt badly at practicing a deception on you. How are all my dear little children? Keep them for Papa. Tell Scolley if he had been here on Sunday last and heard the guns firing + the balls whistling he would no longer want to be a soldier. What is to be the little daughter’s name? I want you to make your own choice about it. “I hope it may not be long before I get to see you again, The enemy were so completely routed on Sunday that we now have no fears of an attack from them, and our troops are everyday drawing their lines nearer & nearer to Alexandria, without molestation. Soon will come the storming of Arlington Heights and then I think we will pause unless Maryland joins us, when we will whip the Yankees from her border. Some part of our army I think will be forced to the valley to drive the enemy from there…..

yrs fondly, Samuel J. C. Moore

From website July 2012

Transcription by R. E. L. Krick

Contributed by Eric Mink

Samuel Johnson Cramer Moore at Ancestry

Samuel Johnson Cramer Moore at Fold3

Samuel Johnson Cramer Moore at FindAGrave

Samuel Johnson Cramer Moore papers at University of North Carolina

Samuel Johnson Cramer Moore biographical sketch