Unit History – 69th New York State Militia

28 02 2022

Col., Michael Corcoran; Lieut.- Col., Robert Nugent; Maj., James Bagley. This was a New York city regiment, composed of Irishmen, which responded with alacrity to the first call to arms at the outbreak of the war. The subsequent career of this regiment was highly honorable and its services of the most valuable character. The 69th received orders on April 20,1861, to proceed to Washington. Col. Corcoran at once issued a call for volunteers for his regiment and 48 hours later 6,500 names had been enrolled. It left the state 1,050 strong, April 23, 1861, amid scenes of great enthusiasm, and on its arrival in the capital was first stationed at Georgetown college. On May 9, 1861, it was mustered into the U. S. service for three months. On May 21, Capt. Thomas F. Meagher, with a company of Zouaves and about 300 recruits started to join the regiment at Washington. On May 30 it moved to a new camp on Arlington Heights and raised the Stars and Stripes over the new Fort Corcoran. The 69th behaved with great gallantry at the battle of Bull Run, where it served in the 3d brigade (Sherman’s), 1st division (Tyler’s) , and made one of the most effective charges of that disastrous engagement. Its losses in killed, wounded and missing were 192, Col. Corcoran being captured. Shortly after the battle, its term of service having expired, the regiment returned to New York and was mustered out on Aug 3. Its total losses during the campaign were 1 officer and 37 enlisted men killed in action; 2 enlisted men mortally wounded; 5 enlisted men died of disease, a total of 45. The major portion of the regiment volunteered for three years on its return home, and formed the nucleus of the famous 69th volunteer infantry (q. v.). On May 29, 1862, the regiment again left the state for Washington and was mustered into the U. S. service for three months. Col. Corcoran being a prisoner at Richmond, the regiment went out under command of Maj. Bagley. It served its term in the defenses of Washington and was mustered out at New York city, Sept. 3, 1862. Once more on its return many of the members enlisted in a volunteer organization, known as the 69th national guard artillery and organized as the 1st regiment of the Corcoran brigade, later becoming the 182nd infantry. In the summer of 1863, at the time of Lee’s invasion of Pennsylvania, the 69th left the state for active service a third time. On June 22 it started for Harrisburg, Pa., for 30 days’ service, commanded by Col. James Bagley, with James Cavanagh as lieutenant-colonel. The regiment served its term at Baltimore, attached to the 2nd separate brigade, 8th corps, Middle Department, and was mustered out at New York city on July 25. The regiment was mustered into the U. S. service for a fourth time in 1864: serving in the harbor of New York from July 6 to Oct. 6. During this term it lost 1 officer and 1enlisted man, who died of disease.

From The Union Army, Vol. 2, p. 245.

69th NYSM Roster





On the Conduct of the 8th New York State Militia and Other Reported Acts of Cowardice

27 02 2022

Confessing their Cowardice

We find in the New York Times the following remarkable expose’ of the action of the enemy at Manassas. It will be seen from this that the Eighth New York Regiment, which was represented by some of the Northern papers to have been “torn almost to shreds by the enemy’s balls,” was actually not on the field of battle! Was there ever a more cunning, infamous falsehood? – and yet it is about as near the truth as all the Northern accounts of the battle. But we will let the Times itself tell its own story:

Washington, July 31

I am afraid the good people of New York are doing quite as much to demoralize our troops as did the battle of Bull Run. Idolizing runaways and making heros of cowards is not the way to grow true patriots and real heros. The ovation to some of the returning troops looks like a mockery of valor. For instance, I read in Saturday’s Times the following relating to the reception of the Eighth Regiment, New York State Militia, on their arrival at New York:

“Capt. Varian, with his troop of bronzed and hardy looking artillerist, were also on the pier, with their two guide colors, torn almost to shreds by the enemy’s balls during the late engagement.”

And again, I read of –

“Capt. Varian’s artillery corps, which was in the fight.”

Now I look at the facts. On the Saturday preceding the battle of Bull Run, Capt. Varian and his artillerists demanded their discharge – their time having expired. Gen. McDowell said all that a commander on the eve of a battle could say, to induce them to remain, but without producing any effect.

That day Secretary Cameron visited the camp, and the subject being referred to him, partly by coaxing and partly by truly representing the inglorious action which they contemplated, the artillerists were induced to notify Gen. McDowell that, “with the exception of seventeen, the company would stay with the division, until the time of the Regiment expired, on the 25th.” After Secretary Cameron returned to Washington, however, the company took a sober second thought, and late Saturday evening again demanded their discharge from Gen. McDowell. Of course, it had to be granted; and in addition to his other duties, the commander had to provide for mustering them out of the service and sending them to the rear.

They wanted to take their battery with them, but this Gen. McDowell refused – fearing the effect to be produced upon the moving columns, at seeing a park of artillery withdrawing to the rear as the infantry marched to the front. This artillery lay idle all day at Centreville, and was brought off by stronger hands from another State, and without even having fired one projectile. If the two guide-colors are “toen almost to shreds,” their artillerists must have halted on their march to the war and made their own colors a target, popping them with the pistols they had never yet fired at a foe. This statement of facts come from an authentic source and is literally true.

I saw, some days ago, a statement that a Captain of Lieutenant Alexander displayed cowardice on the field. I have seen since a statement from his friends that “Captain or Lieutenant Alexander was incapable of cowardice.” I did not see Alexander run, and he may be incapable of cowardice, but, if he will go to the headquarters of the Army of the United States, he will hear persons who hold equal or higher rank than himself very bitterly lamenting than an army officer, and a graduate of West Point, should have so entirely failed to do his duty on the field, and should have set an example of running which a raw recruit would be ashamed to follow.

There have been other acts of cowardice on the field of Bull Run – at least there are well-defined rumors of gross dereliction of duty. I cannot, however, yet get them so well authenticated as to justify my giving them publicity. It is not among the volunteers alone that such instances occur. The regulars themselves produce their full quota of instances; and men educated at West Point were as prominent in cowardice as men fresh from the workshops. It is not a pleasant thing to make these statements. It is much easier to commend for bravery than to broad for cowardice; but if the cowards are not branded, how shall the brave be honored?

The Charleston (SC) Mercury, 8/12/1861

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Unknown*, Co. C, 71st New York State Militia, On the Conduct of Capt. William J. Coles

24 02 2022

A Gallant Act. – the following is given upon the authority of a citizen who fought with his rifle in the ranks:

When the battle of the 21st instant raged fiercest, a cry was heard in the gallant Seventy-first Regiment of New York, that they were firing upon friends, and, moved by the instincts of humanity ever responded to by the truly brave, the firing partially ceased, when it was proposed to advance the flag. Captain Coles, of Company C, seized the colors and ran with them some fifty paces in front, when they were greeted with a heavy discharge of musketry. The gallant Captain, concluding that friends would not fire upon the Stars and Stripes, returned to his company untouched. Not so with the flag; that was riddled with several bullets.

The Wheeling (WV) Daily Intelligencer, 7/30/1861

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* The letter writer’s identity is unknown. It is assumed here that he is a member of Co. C.

William J. Coles at Ancestry

William J. Coles at Fold3

William J. Coles at FindAGrave





Upcoming Talks

23 02 2022

In March I’ll be giving two presentations, drawing heavily on the Bull Runnings In the Footsteps of the 69th New York State Militia tour from 2019. Both presentations can be attended remotely.

On March 12, I’ll be speaking live at the Andrew Carnegie Free Library and Music Hall in Carnegie, PA.

And on March 16, I’ll be speaking on Zoom with Civil War Talk.

Hope to see some of you soon!





Pvt. Harry Rockafeller, Co. F, 71st New York State Militia, On His Captivity

23 02 2022

Letter from a Prisoner at Manassas. –

The following letter from a young Philadelphian serving in the New York Seventy-first, who was wounded and captured in the late battle, has been received in New York by his mother. As he was in the hospital at Sudley Church, this letter, giving assurance of his safety, also gives assurance that the report of the burning of the church is untrue:

Manassas Junction, July 26th, 1861.

Dear Mother: – Knowing your deep anxiety regarding my welfare, I am happy to say that I am well, except a wound in the left arm, which I may lose. I am in good spirits, treated in the best style, and am in hopes of seeing you all soon. If you have any opportunity of sending a change of clothing please, do so.

Truly your son,
Harry Rockafeller

The Baltimore (MD) Sun, 8/3/1861

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Records for Harry/Henry Rocka/efeller show below, but as a member of the 71st New York Infantry, Co. F. No Rockafeller shows on the roster of the 71st New York Infantry (not present at First Bull Run). State Militia records are notoriously spotty, particularly for militia units that did not enter 3 year service (like the 71st and 69th). As both records showing Rocka/efeller in the 71st NYVI are handwritten, and as Rockefeller’s FindAGrave notes that he was the post-war Colonel of the 71st NYSM, he is considered here a member of Co. F, 71st NYSM at the First Battle of Bull Run.

Henry Rockafeller at Ancestry

Henry Rockafeller at Fold3

Harry Rockefeller at FindAGrave





Lt. James Gannon, Co. H, 69th New York State Militia, On His Captivity

22 02 2022

LETTER FROM A PRISONER AT RICHMOND.

Lieut. James Gannon, of the New York 69th regiment, who is now a prisoner at Richmond, in a letter to his mother, says:

“Although I am confined, I enjoy excellent health and I am getting stronger every day. The Southern hospitality extended us is better than we expected, and we all feel happy at our lot, none having reason to complain of the treatment they receive. We get enough to eat and plenty of coffee to drink. *  *  We are confined in a tobacco warehouse, a clean, well ventilated and healthy building, 75 by 80 feet, four stories high, and overlooking James river and a vast extent of country. We receive the papers regularly every morning, but they are all greatly prejudiced and incensed against the North, caused chiefly by the articles inserted in the Tribune and Times, believing them to be the sentiments of the Northern people, which I deny.”

The Baltimore (MD) Sun, 8/20/1861

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69th NYSM Roster

James Gannon at Ancestry

James Gannon at Fold3





Brig. Gen. Samuel P. Heintzelman, Diary Entries

21 02 2022

Alex. Mon. July 15, 1861

I got a telegraph to go to Wash. to meet Gen. McDowell & bring Col. Miles. Margaret & I went up with him in the 9 a.m. boat. We met Gen. McDowell & he changed for Col. Miles to go up the Little River Turnpike & my division on the Old Fairfax Road south of the railroad as far as Sangster’s & then probably cross the Occoquan at Wolf Shoals & so on to Brentsville & cut the rail road which communicates with Va.

I went to see Gen. Mansfield but did not find him in. I had dinner at one & came down at 3 p.m. I met Lt. Charles Norton of the Navy. He was on the Seminole & is detached. Matilda is better but not well. Margaret is coming down in the morning to see me start.

After I got down the order to march came. Col. Miles had to start at 3 p.m. We will have to start at 10 a.m. to make our distance to Bone Mill on the Accotink. I was busy till night, have been since 11 p.m. with the brigade commanders arranging the details of the march tomorrow. I believe that we have now done all we can do [in] the short time left us to prepare. The day after tomorrow we will probably meet the enemy. It has been rather cool today.

Five men who escaped a call in mass arrived in town late this afternoon & now after 11 p.m. eleven more. A large portion of the population wont be impressed to serve against the U. S.

Alex. Tues. July 16, 1861

I did not get to bed before midnight. There was an alarm of an attack on our pickets at Springfield. It did not amount to much. Margaret came down in the 8 a.m. boat. I telegraphed for a carpet bag & some things but she did not get it. The first Brigade commenced the march at 10 a.m. Some regts. will be delayed by the misconduct in Lt. Symonds in referring to some provisions at night. We expect to get off about 3 p.m. Mr. Durn of Indiana sent word by Margaret that he wants to go with me. I telegraphed for him to come. We have a pleasant day, though it threatens rain. No instructions have come yet.

Sangsters. Va. on rail road Thurs. July 18, 1861

My written instructions did not arrive on Tuesday till about one p.m. & no horses for the guides although I telegraphed in every direction. A heavy rifled gun was also still behind.

Towards 5 p.m. Gen. McDowell arrived & soon after the gun with jaded horses. It came from Arlington. I also learned that I could get no horses for the guides, so ordered six from the A. Q. M. at Alexandria. As soon as we got part of them we started. In the night some of our guides joined us & reported that only three horses were sent. Capt. Tyler is one of the most inefficient Qr. Ms. I have had to deal with.

We soon overtook the rear of the column & took our opportunities to push ahead.

Before we left Gen. McDowell recommended to go on to the Pohick, about two miles further. I got there before sundown & found most of the First Brigade, Col. Franklin there. It is fortunate that we went on, as we would have found it almost impossible to encamp on the Accotink, it is so hilly & woody.

We bivouacked on a high hill, with the troops around us. The 11th Mass. was detained so late by the neglect of Capt. Symonds to furnish them rations, that the[y] got behind everything & did not get in till 3 a.m. & we were up & ready to march at daylight. We did not however start till 5 a.m. as I had sent back horses for the big gun, as it had stalled on a high & difficult hill at the Accotink on this side. I finally started & left a guard for it. I had sent back some horses from the Artillery wagons to help up the hill & had to wait a little for their return.

We at last got started, but had a continual succession of delays. The road is very narrow & lined with thick wood almost all the way & was crowded with troops. I sent forward several times to hurry them, but Col. Franklin said it was impossible for the skirmishers to advance any faster & as we were told to consider an ambuscade unpardonable I could not hurry them any more.

When the advance reached Elzy’s where the road to Sangsters & the one to Fairfax Station fork they sent me word that they had surprised a picket & the men had fled, that there were two entrenchments on the road to Sangsters & one on that to Fairfax Sta. with the roads obstructed. I passed forward to the advance & got there about 11 a.m.

Col. Franklin took a road to turn his entrenchments & whilst he was clearing the road I sent & had Col. Wilcox take the road to the Station.

In the meantime I had sent three companies of the Zouaves to try & disperse 80 men I heard were at Brinstone Mill on our left. They went & found that 11 foot & 2 cav drafted men had left in the morning for Manassas.

In the meantime the troops filed by & when Col. Howard’s brigade arrived I posted it at Elsy’s with one advanced towards Wolf Run shoals. He reported the gun at hand & it soon arrived.

In an hour Wilcox sent a note that he had possession of Fairfax Station, that 1000 men ran up the r. r. & 1000 towards the Court House. I sent this note to Franklin with orders to push ahead. I also ordered the troops to be ready to march at 3 p.m. & join Franklin at SangstersXHoward’s Brigade. I went forward with Lowe’s Cavalry. As we took the road they turned the place said to have the entrenchments we saw them to the right & went to visit them. They are two lines a little camped, poorly made, for Infy & will hold about 500 men. Nearby we saw their campXGordon, burning. They fled after our troops reached Elys & set fire to their store houses of corn & provisions. We found 11 barrels of flour & a pile of cornXmarked Confederate States. Also many of their mens shirts & some fresh beef & bacon.

We reached here about 5 p.m. & found Col. Franklin in possession. He reported that the retreat commenced at 5 p.m. the day we started. The last train passed not a great while before he got here & men on foot. The last bridge in sight was just set on fire. At Elsy’s we saw several smokes & people reported some firing of musketry & cannon.

We encamped here last night & the Hd. Qrs. put up their tents. We got supper in the poor house of the county & poor enough it was. Coffee & salt & shad & poor, very poor biscuit. This morning we had a cup of coffee made by our men with sardines & bread. I was so tired I did not report to Gen. McDowell as I was under the impression he would be on his way here to make a flank march on this side. As I was writing a report this morning I got a note from Capt. Fry that they did not know where I was & that they were marching on Centreville. I left Wilcox at the Station which is but a couple of miles from here.

Mr. Dunn has gone back, whether to return to Washington or remain with the Army if we advance. I sent a note to Margaret. I also since wrote another & sent it to Alexandria by an officer going in. I am very much annoyed at not having sent forward a report last night, but I was so strongly impressed with the idea that we would proceed by the left flank that I might neglect it.

Near Centreville Va. Fri. July 19, 1861

About 11 a.m. yesterday Gen. McDowell & staff arrived. There was not much of an engagement as our troops advanced. Col. Miles had two men wounded. Our troops burned Germantown & I believe Fairfax Court House.

When the General came most of the troops were near this place, that is in striking distance. I had sent out to look for our supply train, which should have been in & towards Wolf Run Shoals & out the r. road to Bull Run. From the latter place a battery was reported on the r. r. & the bridge burned. I sent again, but I could not get any positive information. I am satisfied the battery is beyond the rear & the bridge burned.

Our position & prospects were discussed & the plan changed. We were ordered to be here by daylight with two days rations in haversacks. We waited till late in the afternoon & I was satisfied no train would arrive so we marched & the head of the column arrived at a creek half a mile from here. As Wilcox was here & water good I came here with Franklin’s brigade & left Howards at the run.

As far as I can learn all the Army is here but Hunters column. I presume they are not far off.

At Sangsters heavy firing of cannon was heard near the direction of this place.

On our arrival we learned that Gen. Tyler had attached a battery, first with Infy. 3 regts. & then with Arty & was repulsed with loss. It was without orders & against the advice of the Engineer & other officers.

Col. Richardson’s Bri. was engaged & the 12 N. Y. Vols. ran awayXnot Col. Butterfields. Our loss instead of being 60 killed & a piece of Arty is but 3 killed, 2 probably mortally wounded & but 30 wounded. It is a disgraceful affair & Gen. Tyler is not excusable.

Our provision trains have arrived & our men are cooking & killing beef. I last night ordered a lot of cattle seized for my Division fearing the train would not arrive. I have just learned that it started for Occoquan.

We had a thunder shower last evening before our baggage arrived but a deserted town afforded us shelter till our tents came.

The coffee kept me awake most of the night. Our pickets were firing at intervals all night. This morning there was firing for hours, so that it was really dangerous to be about. With these long range muskets & raw Vols. it is really dangerous to be near them.

We got some pork meat this morning, the first since we started. No orders yet.

Our loss I find is much greater than I stated before, though no one knows yet as the Vols. have not called their rolls yet. I heard Capt. Alexander of the Eng. & Brackett of the cavalry give an account of the affair. There must have been a large number of troops & the firing was very heavy.

Mr. Dunn was here this morning. He witnessed the battle yesterday. I also saw Mr. Hoard. He was also present. Quite a number of citizens have been about the camps.

I also met Col. Porter & Major Barry. The latter has been appointed Chief of the Arty. I also saw Major Parker of the cavalry.

Camp near Centreville Va. Sat. July 20, 1861

This has been a tolerably warm day. I have not felt very well, but am much better this evening.

Sec. Cameron was in camp & a number of members of Congress. Mr. Dunn & Mr. Hoard called & then Mr. Brady.

I rode up to Centreville to look at the earth works. They are very indifferent & have embrasure for five guns.

We got orders to be ready to march at six p.m. When near the hour it was put off till 2 a.m. tomorrow.

At Fairfax Station in the earth works Col. Wilcox’s men found the secession flag of the Tensaw Rifles. It was presented to me & I sent it to Gen. McDowell. I have made out my report of the march from Alexandria.

Washington Sun. Sept. 1st, 1861

It is six weeks today since the battle of Bull Run, in which I was wounded. I was hit on the right arm, a little below the elbow by a minie ball, nearly spent & it was cut out on the field by Dr. King. It hit me about two inches below the elbow, on the outside & struck the bone & I fear fractured it slightly. I was on horseback & the Doctor he commenced cutting the ball out, but found it difficult & he got off.

On the afternoon before the battle the general officers got orders to appear at Gen. McDowell’s Hd. Qrs. to receive instructions. I went & did not get home till 11 p.m. We found a number of citizens there, many members of Congress amongst them.

The plans were detailed, but no opinions asked. I asked a few questions to understand what I had to do.

Gen. Tyler was to go up the turnpike & attack with artillery the battery protecting the stone bridge across Bull Run. I was to follow Gen. Hunter who was to take a side road to Sudley’s Church, or spring, or millsXwhere it crosses Bull Run. About half way there was a ford I was to stop at & when Hunter turned it cross & we together follow down to the Stone Bridge & then I take position on Hunter’s left. The road for me to turn off did not exist & I had to follow on to Sudley’s Mills where I arrived at 11 a.m. Before we got there Tyler’s heavy guns were heard & the smoke seen at two points. I could also see two heavy clouds of dust indicating reinforcements approaching from Manassas.

Whilst waiting for the last brigade of Col. Hunter’s division to cross I heard his advance attack the enemy in his front. We could hear our men driving the enemy back. Before we could cross Gen. McDowell sent Capt. Wright of the engineers & Major McDowell, the Gen’s brother, to me for reinforcements to prevent the enemy’s out flanking them. I had stopped the first Brigade to fill their canteens, but now ordered the Minnesota Regt. to go with Capt. Wright & follow more to the right, with 5th Mass. having orders for the second brigade to follow, but leaving Arnold’s battery & the 11 Mass. to take post as reserve on the right bank of Bull Run.

In a mile we got on the battlefield & I did not find any one to give orders. Gen. McDowell & his staff had passed up about a mile from Sudley’s Springs. We found the enemy had been driven back & I stopped a few moments to see what was going on & to make inquiries. In the meantime I met the General. He ordered some of the batteries forward, nearer the enemy & me to push the 5th Mass. forward from a position they took on a side hill, where they were lying down.

I went but seeing I could do nothing there that the key of the position was on the enemy’s left I ordered up two regts to try & take the battery covering it. I went up in that direction to wait for the Zouaves & when they came up lead them towards some old fields with scattered pines. As I approached the crest of the ridge I saw a line drawn up in good order at a shoulder & in citizen’s dress. I checked my horse for an instant & surveyed them. I then turned to the Zouaves & said there are the Secession troops, charge them. They rushed forward & in a few steps both parties came in sight of each other & fired & the Zouaves ran & I believe the enemy also. I tried to rally the Zouaves but failed. At the instant the Zouaves fired a party of 30 or 40 Secession cavalry charged them & were fired upon & broke & ran, leaving some half dozen men & three dead horses on the ground. As they fled Capt. Colby’s regular cavalry gave them a volley, killing a few more. It is said this was the famous Black Horse Cavalry.

I next led up the Minnesota regt., Col. Gorman. They got close on a Mississippi regt. & were repulsed & some 150 of their men ran away.

Washington Thursday Sept. 5, 1861

I next brought up the 1st Mich. They also were repulsed. These two regts. went into the woods on the right & did good service. The Zouaves joined some other regt. & did service as skirmishers.

The 14th Brooklin [sic] Regt. came up. I joined it, but at the first fire they broke & ran. Here I was wounded. Ricketts’ & Griffin’s batteries we retook three times, but they were lost at last.

I retreated with the troops till I met Col. Howard with his Brigade. They were engaged with the enemy. I left them after a while & got my arm dressed. I then tried to rally some of the Regts. but not one would form, or advance. We finally had to retreat across the Run, but there they would not form.

I stopped a moment at the Hospital & tried to get off some of the wounded, but most of them were captured by the enemy.

When I got across Bull Run I found that not a Regt. could be rallied nor even a company. I had Capt. Arnold with a section of Artillery & five companies of regular cavalry & with them covered the retreat of the troops on our road of retreat. A few secession cavalry followed us, but a discharge of canister sent them scampering away & they did not molest us any more.

It was about sundown when we got to where the country road we were on joined the turnpike as we approached it, we met a battery of rifle cannon. Here Arnold lost his battery, but we took through the woods & fields & came on the turnpike beyond the range of the guns. We reached Centreville after it was quite dark. Such a rout I never saw before.

I was helped off my horse, but having been on him since 11 a.m., I was so benumbed in my feet I could not stand for a moment.

I got a good drink of Whiskey & took a sleep of half an hour. In the mean time our Doctor was arranging for me to continue on to Washington.

We soon got orders for the Army to retreat to Washington. We got a cup of coffee & had our horses fed & were soon off. We found the road full of fugitives & wagons, but not a regt. in good or any order. I had Capt. Low’s company of 2 Cav. with me, all the way. Some other companies also joined us.

It commenced to rain a little before we got in. At the other end of the Long Bridge was the Buffalo 21 Regt. Some of them knew me. Major Rogers gave me a tumbler of whiskey, helped me to get home. There were orders not to let us pass but as I was wounded they let me & my staff pass. I got to my door at 6 a.m. on Monday. Capt. Wright & Lt. Farquhar helped me off my horse & as soon as I got to my room, Margaret sent for Dr. Abadie.

Washington Fri. Sept. 6, 1861

Dr. Abadie soon came & dressed my arm. He made me stay in bed & required me to keep the elbow wet with cold water. This I continued for some three weeks or more. The wound healed in a few weeks without suppuration. My arm is till a little stiff & I cannot turn my wrist sufficiently. It was six weeks before I could write anymore than sign my name.

I had a great many visitors, the first day & since.

Capt. McKeever was soon relieved from my staff & then put on McDowell’s. From there he was sent to Gen. Fremont’s. I sent the officers to Alexandria to try & reorganize the Division, but they could not do much & in a few days they were all relieved. I dictated my report & Lt. Farquhar wrote it out for me. It was arranged on the 31 July & written out & sent in on the 1st of Aug.

In the mean time Gen. McClellan arrived & assumed command of both sides of the river. I was relieved from duty on the other side & ordered to report to him. On the 2 Aug. reported to him & am to have a Brigade. On the 5 Aug. was made a Brig. Gen. of Vols. on recommendation of Penn. Delegation in Congress.

I rode to the Capitol same day & met a great many Senators. Next day Congress adjourned.

On the 6th Aug. Lt. Col. Day & 3 cos. of 2 inf. arrived & are posted near here. I called on Day, the next day & the day after they went to Georgetown.

Mr. Jewett left for Buffalo [on the] 6th. He took us over to Arlington & the Buffalo regt. the day before.

On the 12 Aug. Dr. Tripler arrived & called. He is the Chief Med. Off. on Gen. McClellan’s staff.

On the 13th I got my commission as Brig. Gen. Vols. & accepted same day. I would have declined but the Penn. Delegation had recommended me. It adds but little to my pay as I get so many longevities.

On the 14th got news of the death of Gen. Lyon near Springfield, Mo. A gallant officer sacrificed from having an inferior force.

Had a photograph taken for Harpers Weekly at Mr. Leavin’s regiment.

On the 15th went to Alexandria to see Col. Davies about my Brigade & Staff. I have the 5th Maine & the 16, 26 & 27 N. Y. We are posted on the left of Ellsworth.

On the 16th Dr. Tripler examined my arm & says the head of the bone is fractured.

Capt. Griffin’s battery is from the other side & encamped near us. He belongs to Gen. Porter’s Brigade. The latter is Provost Marshall & has been for some time. He has cleared the city of straggling officers & soldiers. The disorganization after the battle was frightful. For seven days after I feared for the safety of the city. I believe that the Confederates could have taken the works on the other side if they had attacked us. We lost the 3 mos. men & the panic was great. The chance soon passed. The truth is the enemy suffered so greatly they could not pursue us with rigor & some of their regts were as badly disorganized as ours. On the 20th we had quite a stampede in town about an attack on the city. On the 24th the mayor of Wash. & some women secessionists were arrested. Mr. Phillips & Mrs. Greenhow.

On the 26th Mr. G. W. Eddy arrived. Wants to be a pay master. Has not got it yet & I fear wont.

Stamped[e] & constant alarm on other side.

I was down town & saw Mr. G. H. Penfield make bread & bake it in 30 minutes by Prof. Horsford’s method. It is the great desideratum of the age. Now bread making is reduced to a science. Any child can succeed in making good bread. The bran takes out some of the nutritive qualities & what makes the bread size. This is prepared in the shape of a powder of phosphates of or phosphoric acid & bicarbonate of soda. These are mixed with water & or rather dry mixed with the flour & then mixed with water & baked at once. He is trying to introduce it in the army.

Sept. 1st Heard of the success of the expedition to Hat[t]eras Inlet of Com. Stringham & Gen. Butler. This I hope inaugurates a new era is in our operations. It should have been done 3 mos. before.

The first week or ten days after the battle the weather was cool & then about as many very warm. Since then much rain. It must have been same in the Confederates & we learn they have much sickness.

A few nights ago Griffin’s battery with a Brigade (King’s) went & crossed the Chain bridge & established batteries on the other side. The night before more troops went out. We met them, as we returned from Mr. Young’s when we had been to eat fruit & met Col. & Mrs. Paulding.

I got letters almost every day from some one for my influence to get an office. Jacob Stauffer formerly of Manheim has called. Jno. Bastruff who lives near here & I have had letters from Dyer & Mayer of Manheim.

I got a letter from Andreas Heintzelman in Kansas who inquires whether we are relatives. I have a number of letters of congratulations on my escape from the battle & promotion.

I have been several times to see Gen. McClellan, but he is hard to see & two weeks ago I thought he stood on his dignity, so I have not been to see him since. I must try & go to duty next week.

It cleared off today & has been pleasant. I walked down town with Capt. Lathrop. He got a commission as Capt. in the 17 Infy. & draw my pay of Major McClure for Aug.X$330.63X12 days as Col. & 19 as Brig. General. We went to Express office & got a keg of crackers some one sent Margaret & a box of ointment sent me from western N. Y. for my arm.

———-

Samuel P. Heintzelman’s Diary resides at the Library of Congress

This transcription was made by and presented with the permission of Dr. Jerry D. Thompson, author of Civil War to the Bloody End: The Life and Times of Major General Samuel P. Heintzelman

Contributed by Daniel Winfield

Samuel P. Heintzelman at Wikipedia

Samuel P. Heintzelman at Ancestry

Samuel P. Heintzelman at Fold3

Samuel P. Heintzelman at FindAGrave





Pvt. Bernard Reynolds, Co. A, 69th New York State Militia, On the Battle and Captivity

20 02 2022

An Irish Prisoner.

A member of the 69th regiment, (Col. Corcoran’s) now a prisoner in Richmond, writes the following letter to his brother in Augusta, Georgia:

New Alms Hospital,
Richmond, Va., July 30, 1861.

Dear Pat: I wrote you a few lines last week, which a gentleman either posted or took with him, as he resided near Augusta. I know you were surprised to hear that I was in Richmond wounded; but if we had got our rights I would have been in New York the day the battle was fought, our term of service having expired the day the before, but old Abe or Scott would not let the regiment go home. Well, it served us right, when we were fools enough to fight in such a cause; but I hope the time will come when Irishmen will mind their own business.

Early in the fight I got a ball in the thigh, which broke the bone. I lay on the field 35 hours, a rain falling most of the time, and might have laid there since, if it was not for the kindness of the Southerners – enemies I cannot call them, for they have treated us more like brothers than anything else. I got a hard shaking on the railroad, but now, thank God! I am very comfortable here. I expect to have my leg set to-day. If it is, I hope to recover soon, when I will be a much wiser man.

Owing to the great number of wounded I could not be attended sooner; besides the doctor was afraid of mortification; but I think I am now safe, and that, with God’s help, I will have the use of my leg.

Dear Pat, you could not believe the way our soldiers were treated by Scott. There were eight regiments on the field whose time was up, but could not get home. – But, worse than all, they left the dead and wounded on the field, and never sent a flag of truce in to know how or what would become of us. It is Colonel Corcoran I blame for keeping us; he is now a prisoner here. Many is the heavy curse he got from wounded and dying men. I wish you could send a letter to my wife, poor creature; probably thinks me dead. She lives at 212, West 26th street. Direct, care of Thos. Kiernan. Tall her I hope to be with her soon; also, that I am well treated; get meat three times a day, and splendid soup at dinner time.

I remain, dear Pat, your affectionate brother,
B. R.*

Yorkville (SC) Enquirer, 8/15/1861

* Pvt. Bernard Reynolds is the only 69th NYSM POW found with these initials.

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69th NYSM Roster

Bernard Reynolds at Ancestry

Bernard Reynolds at Fold3





Sgt. Arthur T. Pickett, Co. I, 38th New York Infantry, On the Battle

19 02 2022

THE THIRTY-EIGHTH NEW YORK REGIMENT

Editor Star: In perusing the journals, I barely see notice of the Thirty-eighth New York Regiment as being engaged on Sunday in defense of my country’s flag. Allow me, Mr. Editor, to say that I was there, being hurt seriously in the right leg and left hand and head. I think that I for one was in the action, and if credit is awarded, the Thirty-eighth are worthy of it. We covered Sherman’s battery bravely, and also covered the gallant firemen of New York when the Black Horse Cavalry charged upon them. Company I was three times driven from a battery, and I saw the secession flag lying in the dust. We marched on the field with 64 men, and we now number 30. Our officers led their men gallantly, and many a poor fellow lies dead on Virginia’s soil. While our regiment was advancing on the enemy our eyes were greeted by the glorious flag of our county, and we supposed that they were some of our own men. We marched at double quick to make a charge on a battery that was pouring a deadly fire upon us; but to our cost we found that the stars and stripes were used as a decoy, and under cover they mowed us down. We retreated, and laid down and loaded our pieces, and sir, our boys marched right ahead, and we avenged the deaths of our comrades. My humble opinion is, that if we had been then reinforced we could have whipped them and sent their black hearts to h—l! I hear it denied that the enemy butchered our wounded, and I beg leave to say that I saw the enemy deliberately bayonet our poor men, and they asking for mercy. Such cruelties are not on record, and my wish and prayer is that my wounds will speedily heal, and the remnant of the Thirty-eighth are ready for the field. We bore the regiment banner of the honored old chieftain, Gen. Winfield Scott, and the regiment did not disgrace the colors they bore. Please insert this in your paper, and you will oblige a type and a soldier.

Very respectfully,
Arthur T. Pickett
2d Sergt. Co. I, 38th regt. Scott Life Guard.

N. B. – Our flag shall wave. Boys of New York will always be ready.

(Washington, DC) Evening Star, 7/24/1861

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38th NYVI Roster

Arthur T. Pickett at Ancestry

Arthur T. Pickett at Fold3
Arthur T. Picket at Fold3

Arthur T. Pickett at FindAGrave





Corp. William H. Merrell, Co. E, 27th New York Infantry, On His Captivity

18 02 2022

NORHTERN SLANDERS REFUTED.

The following extract from a letter received by Mrs. W. H. Merrill, wife of one of the wounded Federal officers at Richmond, is published in the Rochester (N. Y.) Express. It shows how utterly false have been the statements of the northern press that the Virginians were treating the Federal prisoners with inhumanity:

“I received a wound from a musket ball in my left breast, the ball lodging in my left side. It was a very narrow escape from instant death, but only Heavenly Father willed it otherwise. I was taken prisoner with hundreds of others, and brought to Richmond, where my wound was dressed and where I have received nothing but kindness, the best of care and good treatment. God bless the doctors and Sisters of Mercy, and all the kindhearted people of Virginia. I could not have been treated better among my own friends than I have been here. I am recovering rapidly, and will be about in a week or two. I expect I will be exchanged in due time.”

The Baltimore (MD) Sun, 8/13/1861

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27th NYVI Roster

William H. Merrill at Ancestry

William H. Merrill at Fold3

William H. Merrill at FindAGrave (Possibly)