Contemporary Accounts of the Battlefield After Confederate Withdrawl

10 05 2012

In yesterday’s post I reproduced an 1865 account of what the 8th PA Reserves saw on the battlefield of Bull Run in the spring of 1862, and wondered whether there were any contemporary accounts to corroborate. Reader Vince, host of Lancaster at War, sent along this account published in a newspaper of the time describing the condition of the battlefield. Also included in the post is the above photo supposed to be a group of civilians posing in front of some disturbed remains on the battlefield of Bull Run (which can be found at Colgate University). I’ve never seen this photo before, and the year it was taken appears to be unknown, but if it is what it is thought to be, it’s the only such photo I know of. Thanks to Vince for pointing it out.

And right here on Bull Runnings, we have this letter. Not corroborative of everything, but of some things.





“Primary” Accounts, Chickens, and Eggs

9 05 2012

Friend Ron Baumgarten of All Not So Quiet Along the Potomac sent me a link to an apparently corroborating account of “rebel barbarities” at Bull Run. While the 8th PA Reserves (37th PAVI) were of course not involved in the battle, they had occasion later in the spring of ’62 to spend some time on the field:

Evan Woodward, Our Campaigns, p. 91 - While here many of us visited the Bull Run battle field, situated about seven miles distant, finding but few occupied houses on the road, most of the inhabitants having left, they believing the stories so freely promulgated in the Southern papers of our monstrosities. Where they remained at home a guard was furnished for their houses and their property protected. Near the battle-field were a number of huts lately occupied by the enemy, and over the door of one was found nailed the cross bones and skull of a human being. Leg bones were also found with the marrow but partially dried up in them, from which finger rings had been sawed off. What singular and refined tastes the chivalry of the South have! It was noticed that while there were quite a number of bibles and tracts left in their cabins, there were no cards to be found, but whether this was to be accounted for by the fact of their being conscientiously opposed to gaming, or considered the cards the most valuable of the two, we cannot say. The field, of course, possessed much interest to all, and the important positions were carefully examined. The bones of men and horses lay scattered about unburied although the enemy laid in the immediate neighborhood for eight months. Near the water courses were found the skeletons of many of the wounded who had crawled to them to quench their thirst.

So, is this an accurate account of what the 8th Reserves (my great-great-uncle’s regiment) saw on the battlefield, or a convenient working in of the testimony before the committee that was common knowledge by 1865, when this regimental history was published? Some primary material is more primary than others. The above is close enough to the JCCW testimony to raise an eyebrow or two. Contemporary correspondence would help firm this up.





JCCW Barbarities – John Kane

8 05 2012

Report of the Conduct of the War, Volume 3, pp. 478 – 480

WASHINGTON, April 24, 1862.

JOHN KANE sworn and examined.

By Mr. Gooch:

Question. Were you present at the battle of Bull Run?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. What position did you occupy there?

Answer. I was sergeant in the 10th company of the 79th regiment, and acting orderly to Colonel Cameron.

Question. Were you near him when he was killed?

Answer. Yes, sir; not more than 15 or 20 yards from him.

Question. Will you state the circumstances of his death, and what was done with his body afterwards?
Answer. He was standing conversing with a lieutenant of the 10th company in relation to taking off the wounded, when he received a bullet in his left breast and fell while in the act of speaking. He endeavored to say something after he was shot, but the blood gushed out of his mouth and nose, and he fell, dying almost instantly. As soon as it was ascertained that he was dead, some eight men placed his body across their muskets, and carried it back off the field, and placed it in an ambulance of the second Maine regiment. The surgeon at first objected to our placing a dead man in the ambulance, saying it was needed for the wounded. But when we told him it was the body of Colonel Cameron, the brother of the Secretary of War, he said we could put it in there.

At that time General McDowell rode up and told me to order our men, who were scattering, to rally on the hill and try to form a square and prepare to repel some cavalry who were coming. I replied that I was in charge of Colonel Cameron’s body, and wanted to take it back to Washington. He then told me to pass the order to the first officer of the regiment I met, when I could return. I mounted Colonel Cameron’s horse and rode back, until I saw the major of the regiment, to whom I gave the orders of General McDowell. General McDowell coming along there, I informed him that I had given his orders to the major of the regiment, when I got permission to return to where I had left the body of Colonel Cameron.

When I got back I met the surgeon of the regiment, who informed me that the hospital had been taken possession of by the enemy, and several prisoners taken; and that if I went where we had left the ambulance with the body of Colonel Cameron I would also be taken prisoner. I replied that it would not much matter if I were, and that I should try to find the body. When I reached where the ambulance was I found that some ten or fifteen of the rebel cavalry— black horse cavalry, as I understood—had been there, thrown all the bodies out of the ambulance, and driven it off for their own wounded. One of the surgeons then told me that I had better make the best of my way to Washington, for if I remained there I should be taken prisoner. I accordingly returned.

I afterwards went out with a flag of truce from Colonel McCunn’s headquarters to endeavor to get the body. I saw a Lieutenant Barbour, who was the senior officer of the post at Fall’s Church, to whom I gave my papers. We were obliged to wait there until he communicated with Colonel Stewart. Towards evening the messenger returned and said that we could not have permission to go to Centreville, but they would forward the papers to headquarters, and would give me an answer the next day. The next day we returned, and were informed that we could not have the permission we asked, because the papers were addressed “to whom it may concern;” that it did not concern them, and if they were not officially addressed they would not recognize any papers sent to them. I asked Lieutenant Barbour to see that some mark was put upon the grave of Colonel Cameron so that it could be found, and he promised that he would do so.

When Centreville was evacuated in March last, I accompanied a party down there to obtain the body of Colonel Cameron, but we could find nothing to indicate where the grave was. We asked one man living there—Mr. Lewis, I believe—who we understood knew where the grave was, but he denied having any knowledge of it, which I have reason to believe was false. I took the party to where Colonel Cameron fell, and also to where the ambulance was that his body was placed in. We met a slave, who said he knew where the body was, because he had heard his mistress—a widow Donn—say it was his body; and he had seen a locket, with a picture in it, and some papers that had been taken from his body. The. negro said the body had remained on the field from Sunday till Thursday before it was buried, and that he had noted the place where it was buried particularly, as he had understood that a reward would be paid for finding the body.

We went to the place pointed out by the negro and opened the grave; we found several bodies there; they had to all appearance been thrown in in any way, just as they came to them; in endeavoring to remove the remains of Colonel Cameron without separating them any, which we did by inserting a board under the lower part of the body and pushing it gradually and carefully up towards the head, we had to take off one of his arms and the skull of another body that was lying on it; we recognized the body from the clothing on it; from a shirt that I had myself bought for him in Washington, and from a truss that we found on the body; several officers with us, who knew Colonel Cameron, also recognized the body; we placed the remains in a rough box coffin that we made there and brought them away with us; the other bodies in the same grave or ditch appeared to be bodies of private soldiers.

Question. Had anything been taken from the body?

Answer. Yes, sir; we found his pockets turned inside out, and his watch, ring, purse, locket, boots and spurs had been taken away; he had over $80 in his purse, for on the morning of the battle I had taken out of his valise and given to him four twenty dollar pieces and some smaller gold pieces; at the time he fell I took his revolvers and keys, and brought them back with me.

Question. Did you make any inquiry as to the rifling of the body?

Answer. Yes, sir; and I was told that the body was rifled by some of the black horse cavalry, and that some of the articles had been shown by one of Stewart’s cavalry.

Question. From whom did you learn that fact?

Answer. This negro said his mistress had told him so; and I heard others speak of it; Lieutenant Barbour said he had heard something of it from his own men.

Question. Who buried the body of Colonel Cameron?

Answer. This negro said that he and two other negroes had buried the bodies there; the other two negroes have been carried away, but this one managed to remain some way; an order was given by some one that each resident should see that the bodies near their houses were buried; that is the way these negroes came to bury them; they dug the hole and put in it all the bodies they found anywhere near.

Question. Did you ask this negro who had rifled Colonel Cameron’s body?

Answer. Yes, sir; he said he did not know, except that he had heard his mistress say that it was done by one of the black horse cavalry when they took it out of the ambulance in which we had left it; the negro said the pockets were turned inside out when he came across the body at the time they buried it.





JCCW Barbarities – Simon Cameron

7 05 2012

Report of the Conduct of the War, Volume 3, p. 478

WASHINGTON, April 23, 1862.

Hon. SIMON CAMERON sworn and examined.

By the chairman :

Question. We have been directed by the Senate to inquire into the barbarous manner in which the wounded and dead of our army have been treated by the rebels. Will you state to the committee what you know in regard to their treatment of your brother, who was killed in the battle of Bull Run?

Answer. After my brother fell in that engagement, I am informed that his body was carried off by some of his men from the battle-field and placed, as was supposed, in a secure place, so that it could be recovered by his friends after the battle was over. There were eight men who took charge of the body and carried it back off the field, four of whom were killed. The body was placed in an ambulance and left there. When they returned, as I understand, they found that the body had been thrown out of the ambulance upon the ground, and his pockets rifled of his watch, purse, portraits, &c. The blanket that had been left over the body was taken away, and, as we have learned since, the body was thrown into a hole or ditch with several other bodies, and there covered up with earth.

The morning after I heard of his death, Mr. Magraw, of Pennsylvania, formerly State treasurer, called upon me and told me that he had some acquaintances among the rebels out there, and offered to go out and get the body of my brother. I told him that I thought it would be of no use for him to go out there. He went, however, and instead of being able to obtain the body, by order of Generals Johnston and Beauregard he was made prisoner and sent to Richmond, where he was kept four or five months.

By Mr. Chandler:

Question. The rebels knew the body to be that of Colonel Cameron, your brother?

Answer. Yes, sir.

By the chairman :

Question. And they knew these messengers went out there solely for the purpose of obtaining the body?

Answer. Yes, sir. They had no other object in going.

Question. And they took them prisoners of war and sent them to Richmond and kept them there?

Answer. Yes, sir; and part of the time close prisoners. The body of my brother, when lately recovered, was recognized by means of a truss which he wore.





JCCW Barbarities – Lewis Francis

7 05 2012

Report of the Conduct of the War, Volume 3, pp. 477 – 478

Brooklyn, NEW York, April 16,1862.

LEWIS FRANCIS, being sworn, testified that he resides in Hamilton street, near Park avenue, in the city of Brooklyn; was at the battle of Bull Run as a private in the 14th regiment New York volunteers. As I was loading my musket I was attacked by two rebel soldiers and wounded in the right knee joint with a bayonet, when I fell. As I lay on the ground they kept bayonetting me until I received fourteen wounds; one of them then left, the other remaining over me, when a Union soldier coming up shot him in the breast, and he fell dead. I lay on the ground until about 10 o’clock the next day. I was then removed in a wagon to a building used as a temporary hospital. My wounds were then examined and partially dressed. On the Saturday following we were removed to the Manassas depot, and from there we were removed to the general hospital at Richmond. In October, my leg having partially mortified, I consented that it should be amputated, which operation was performed by a young man. I insisted that they should allow Dr. Swalm to be present. I wanted one Union man to be present if I died under the operation. The stiches and the band slipped from neglect, and the bone protruded, and about two weeks after another operation had to be performed, at which time another piece of the thigh bone was sawed off. About six weeks after the amputation, and before it healed, I was removed from the general hospital to the tobacco factory. On my removal from the prison to Fortress Monroe another operation was performed, when five pieces of bone were removed. I remained five weeks at this hospital, when I was removed to Washington and spent a week in the hospital at that place, when I was removed to Brooklyn, where an operation was performed by Dr. Lewis Bauer, who removed two splinters of bone and sawed off another piece of the thigh bone. Whilst at Manassas I recived for food but a small amount of boiled rice and hard bread. At Richmond, whilst in the general hospital, I was well fed; at the tobacco factory I had a small amount of sour bread and tough fresh beef. I should have perished for want, but a lady named Van Lew sent her slave every other day with food, and supplied me with clothing until January, when the officer in charge of the prison prevented her from sending me any more provisions. After they had removed me from the general hospital to the tobacco factory, they returned and removed the bed from under me, and removed all the pillows and bed clothing, and laid me on a blanket on a cot, with another blanket to cover me. At this time I was covered with bed sores, having lain in bed from July up to this time, December.





JCCW Barbarities – Daniel Bixby, Jr.

5 05 2012

Report of the Conduct of the War, Volume 3, pp. 476 – 477

WASHINGTON, April 11, 1862.

DANIEL BIXBY, jr., sworn and examined.

By Mr. Covode:

Question. Where do you reside?

Answer. I reside in this city.

Question. Have you been recently on a visit to Manassas and Bull Run?

Answer. I have.

Question. Will you state to the committee, in your own way, what you saw and learned in relation to the condition of our dead there?

Answer. I went out in company with Mr. Gr. A. Smart, of Cambridge, Massachusetts, who went to look for the body of his brother, who fell at Blackburn’s Ford, in the action of the 18th of July. We took with us one who was there at the time, to point out where his brother fell. We found a grave there, which was opened. The clothes there found were identified as those of the brother of Mr. Smart, and were recognized from some peculiarities in the make; they were made by the mother. Other clothes of the same make, and with the same peculiarities, were taken with us, with which to compare those we might find in the grave. They were compared, and found to correspond exactly, We found no head in the grave, and no bones of any kind; nothing but the clothes and portions of the flesh of the body. We also saw the remains of three other bodies together that had not been buried at all, as we concluded from their appearance. The clothes were there, which we examined by cutting them open, and found some remains of flesh in them, but no bones. A Mrs. Pierce Butler, who lived near there, said that she had seen the rebels boiling portions of the bodies of our dead in order to obtain their bones as relics, the rebels not waiting for them to decay, so that they could take their bones from them. She said she had seen drum sticks made of “Yankee shin-bones,” as the rebels call them.

By Mr. Odell:

Question. Are there any bones in a man’s body long enough to make drumsticks?

Answer. The lower leg bone, the shin-bone, was used for that.

By Mr. Covode:

Question. Did you see more than the one grave opened?

Answer. No, sir; that was the only grave we examined.

Question. You were satisfied from examination of the remains that the bones had all been taken away?

Answer. Yes, sir; we examined the clothes thoroughly and found but one small piece of bone, perhaps as large as your little finger; that was all.

Question. Did the body appear to have been taken up after it had been buried?

Answer. We could not tell positively about that, but we thought it probable that it had been.

Question. How deep was it buried?

Answer. Two feet, perhaps; just covered over fairly. Mrs. Butler also said she had seen a skull that one of the New Orleans artillery had, which he said he was going to send home and have mounted, and was going to drink a brandy punch out of it the day he was married. I understood Mrs. Butler to say that the rebels had a force of some 90,000 men at Manassas, Centreville, and Bull Run, until the middle of February, when they began to leave. The artillery and infantry that were stationed near where she lived she said went away on the Friday before our troops went out there. But on Friday night they sent back a regiment of cavalry to do picket duty, and on Saturday morning they went away, and on Saturday afternoon our pickets and scouts came up there.

Question. On Saturday afternoon?

Answer. I will not be certain whether it was Saturday or Sunday afternoon. They came up in the afternoon of the day the enemy left in the morning.

Question. Had you any conversation with any other parties relative to this matter?

Answer. No, sir; we saw none beside our own party, except Mr. Butler and his family.





JCCW Barbarities – Governor William Sprague

3 05 2012

Report of the Conduct of the War, Volume 3, pp. 474 – 476

WASHINGTON, April 11, 1862.

Governor WILLIAM SPRAGUE sworn and examined.

By Mr. Odell:

Question. What is your present position?

Answer. I am governor of the State of Rhode Island.

Question. You have recently visited the battle field of Bull Run?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. For the purpose of recovering the bodies of some of your soldiers who fell there last July?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. Will you state, in your own way, what you saw and learned there, in reference to the treatment of our wounded and dead by the rebels after the battle of Bull Run?

Answer. As to the officers?

Question. Generally, in regard to all. We have been instructed by the Senate to investigate the statements made public, concerning the cruel and barbarous treatment of our wounded and dead.

Answer. In that part of the field where I was our wounded were taken to two different places; one was a storehouse at the point where the engagement first took place; the other was about three-quarters of a mile in the rear of the battle field. Colonel Slocum and Major Ballou were taken to a position at the rear. When the retreat commenced we had in this hospital, as it was termed, several wounded rebel officers; and there were also several of our men there, who were promised, if they would stay with them, that they should be released. They did remain. When I went out there a few days since I took three men with me to designate the places where these officers had been buried. On reaching the place we commenced digging for the bodies of Colonel Slocum and Major Ballou at the spot which was pointed out to us by those soldiers. While we were digging there some negro women came up and asked who we were looking for; and, at the same time, said that “Colonel Slogan” had been dug up by the rebels, some men of a Georgia regiment, his head cut off, and his body taken to a ravine some thirty or forty yards below, and there burned. We stopped digging and went to the place thus designated, where we found coals, ashes, and bones mingled together. A little distance from there we found a shirt and a blanket with large quantities of hair upon it. Everything there indicated the burning of a body there. We then returned and dug down at the spot indicated as the grave of Major Ballou, but found no body there. But at the spot designated as the place where Colonel Slocum was burned we found a box, which, upon having raised and opened, was found to contain the body of Colonel Slocum. The soldiers who had buried the bodies of Colonel Slocum and Major Ballou were satisfied that the grave that had been opened and the body taken out, beheaded, and burned, was that of Major Ballou, because it was not in the spot where Colonel Slocum was buried, but rather to the right of it. They at once said that the rebels had made a mistake, and taken the body of Major Ballou for that of Colonel Slocum. The shirt we found near the place where the body was burned I recognized as one belonging to Major Ballou, as I had been very intimate with him. We gathered up the ashes containing the portions of his remains that were left and put them in a coffin, together with his shirt, and the blanket and the hair found upon it, and some hair also that was brought to us by a civilian who had expostulated with the rebels against this barbarity.

Question. What was the name of that civilian?

Answer. I do not know.

Question. He was a resident there?

Answer. Yes, sir; he resided near Sudley church. After we had done this we went to that portion of the field where the battle had first commenced, and began to dig there for the remains of Captain Tower. We had brought a soldier with us to designate the place where he was buried, who had been wounded at the battle, and had seen from the window of the house in which he was placed the spot where Captain Tower was buried. On opening the ditch, or trench, where he was buried, we found it filled with bodies of soldiers, all buried with their faces downwards. After taking up some four or five of them, we discovered the remains of Captain Tower, mingled with those of the men, and took them and placed them in a coffin and brought them home.

By Mr. Gooch:

Question. The position of these bodies was such that you were satisfied that they were buried intentionally with their faces downwards?

Answer. Undoubtedly; beyond all controversy.

By Mr. Chandler:

Question. Did you consider that that was done as a mark of indignity?

Answer. Yes, sir; as an indignity.

Question. What could have been their object in doing these things, especially what they did with what they considered the body of Colonel Slocum?

Answer. Sheer brutality; nothing else. They did it on account of his courage and chivalry in forcing his regiment fearlessly and bravely upon them, and destroying about one-half of that Georgia regiment, which was made up of their best citizens.

Question. Were these barbarities perpetrated by that regiment?

Answer. By that same regiment, as I was told. We saw where their own dead were buried with marble head and foot stones, and the names upon them, while ours were buried, as I have stated, in trenches. I have published an order to my second regiment, to which these officers were attached, that I shall not be satisfied with what they shall do, unless they give an account of at least one rebel killed for each one of their own number.





JCCW Barbarities – Dr. William F. Swalm

2 05 2012

Report of the Conduct of the War, Volume 3, pp. 472 – 474

WASHINGTON, April 7, 1862.

Dr. WILLIAM F. SWALM sworn and examined.

By Mr. Odell:

Question. Where is your residence?

Answer. No. 28 East Warren street, Brooklyn.

Question. What is your position in the army?

Answer. Assistant surgeon of the 14th regiment, New York State militia.

Question. Were you at the battle of Bull Run?

Answer. I was.

Question. Were you made prisoner there?

Answer. Yes, sir; at Sudley church.

Question. Will you state what you know in reference to the treatment of those of our soldiers who were taken prisoners?

Answer. I was there attending to the wounded when some cavalry rode up and took myself and eight or nine other surgeons prisoners. We remained there until Monday afternoon at 5 o’clock, when we were removed from the church and taken to Manassas. There were some 300 wounded men in the church and on the ground outside. When we got to Manassas we were told that it was unintentional the taking us there and keeping us from the wounded. On Tuesday morning we were ordered to be taken back. On the way back I was detailed to the old Lewis house, and I attended to the wounded there in conjunction with Dr. Norval, of the 79th New York. On Wednesday morning I was told by a captain, as I judged from the uniform he wore, there were two of our men alive, but wounded, still on the field. He pointed up towards the Henry house, and told me that I had better go and get them down. I asked him if I was allowed to do so. He said I was, and gave me a guard of two men. I went up there, and there I saw the most of our men buried. I was there surrounded by some civilians, who were very insulting, until a chaplain came to my rescue and told me that I must go to Manassas again. I was then placed behind a cavalry soldier and taken to Manassas, where I was taken before General Beauregard again. I arrived there at, perhaps, 12 o’clock on Wednesday. He kept me there until, perhaps, 5 o’clock in the afternoon, and then gave me a pass to go and attend to the wounded again. On my way back I was fortunate enough to get into a wagon. It turned off towards the other Lewis house, and I went in there, and saw Dr. Homiston. On Thursday Dr. Homiston was sent off with Colonel Wood, and I did not see him again until I saw him in Richmond. The rebels removed all their wounded, and left me alone entirely with several of our wounded—Captain Ricketts, Captain Withington, and others. The food we had was very scanty, consisting principally of hard crackers, and hardly enough of them to subsist upon. There was a Major Creecy there, who was a relative of Mrs. Ricketts or some of her family, and through him we got something for our wounded men. He was stationed behind the last house on the field. It was in that house that the operations on Prescott and others were performed. The time arrived for us to go to Manassas and from there to Richmond. We went on—Captain and Mrs. Ricketts, Dr. Lewis, and myself. Corporal Prescott, Colonel Wilcox, and others had gone on previously. Upon arriving at Manassas we remained there until evening, and then proceeded to Richmond—being twenty-four hours on the way. There was one death occurred on the way while in the cars from inattention, and was thrown from the cars while they were in motion. It is true they said they would see the body buried. We arrived in Richmond at ten o’clock at night, under charge of a second lieutenant, who took us before Adjutant General Cooper. General Cooper told us to go where we pleased, and to report ourselves to him on Monday at 9 o’clock. We left, and could not get into any of the hotels, they were so crowded. I found my way down to a tobacco warehouse at the foot of Main street. I went in there and made arrangements to remain there altogether, and attended to the wounded there on Sunday. On Monday morning, after some little trouble, I managed to get to see General Cooper, who told me to come again on Tuesday. I did not, however, go there again on Tuesday, but went to the prison and remained there. During my sojourn in the prison there, I was sitting one day leaning back with my feet upon the window sill, when the sentry outside called out to me to take them in; I got up and looked out of the window, and saw the sentry with his musket cocked and pointed towards me. Being cautioned by some one there to get out of the way lest I should be shot, I left the window. The commissary and quartermaster—one person, Mr. Warner, acting as both— who used to feed our men, did as well as he could; but the quality of the soup given their men and that given ours was very different. The soup was made of good enough meat, generally, but they put no vegetables in it. After from the first to the third week they stopped giving us coffee altogether. After some four or five days I was removed from the tobacco warehouse, by order of General Winder, to the general hospital, which was in charge of Dr. Gibson, surgeon general. The nurses there were sisters of charity. The left portion of the building, as you entered it, was set apart for our wounded, the right for theirs, and the main body of the building was used as as an operating room. I noticed that they used to bring in for their wounded nice biscuit, game, soft-boiled eggs, toast with eggs upon it, &c. This was done by the sisters of charity. I asked them to bring in some for our men, and was told that they had none. Of course, seeing what I did, I knew how much to believe of that. As to the way in which their operations were performed, I would mention the instance of Captain McQuade, of the 38th New York. He received a wound in the lower part of the left leg, which rendered amputation necessary. The operation was performed in Richmond, by a surgeon of the name of Peachy, I think. The flap was a very good one, but, in consequence of inattention, the inside flap entirely mortified, so that they had to cut it completely off, leaving the bone protruding from one and a half to two inches. Inflammation set in, and extended up the limb, and in this condition he was taken down to the tobacco warehouse at mid-day, his face exposed to the hot sun, and the result was, what might have been look for, his death.

Question. How long were you on the battle field after the battle?

 Answer. I was at the Lewis house from fourteen to eighteen days. One afternoon Captain Withington and myself concluded we would take a walk over the battle field. This was some ten or twelve days after the battle. As we walked around I saw some of our men still unburied, and some of them entirely naked—shoes, stockings, everything they had had on stripped from them, and their bodies left exposed, naked, on the field. Yet I saw a great many women, ladies I suppose they would call themselves—walking about the field at that time, apparently entirely unmoved. I should judge that I saw ten or twelve of the 14th regiment unburied, many of the 71st regiment, and a number of others whose regiments I did not recognize.

Question. You spoke of going on the field at one time to get two wounded men of the 14th regiment; did you find them?

Answer. No, sir; as I have stated, I was surrounded by some civilians, and not allowed to go up there.

Question. Do you know anything of the manner in which they buried our dead?

Answer. At the time I went up for the two wounded men, on the Wednesday morning after the battle, I saw them digging some trenches, and saw some two or three buried. They paid no attention as to how they put them in, but put them in face downwards or in any other way, just as it happened. They buried a number in a ravine that had been washed out by the rains—throwing the bodies into the ravine, and covering them up with earth. In going over the battle field lately I noticed where some of the graves had been opened by pushing rails down under the bodies and prying them up. Many of the negroes said they had seen the soldiers doing that.

Question. What was their object?

Answer. As I was informed, it was to make drinking cups of the tops of the skulls and rings of the bones, sawing pieces off for that purpose.

Question. You sum it all up as very inhuman treatment.

Answer. Yes, sir; I do. I will tell you how Doctor Ferguson, of New York, was treated. He was taking his ambulance for the wounded when he was fired into. He took of his green sash, to show his calling, and his hankerchief, as a sort of flag of truce, and waved them. A party rode up to him, and asked him who he was. He told them that he was a surgeon of the New York State militia. They said they would take a parting shot at him, any way. They fired at him, and shot him in the leg. He was taken prisoner, and laid in the ambulance. He had his boots on, and his spurs on his boots; and as they drove along his spurs would catch in the tail-board, causing him such agony that he screamed out. One of their officers rode up to him, and placed his pistol at his head, and threatened if he screamed again he would shoot him.

By Mr. Gooch:

Question. When was this?

Answer. On Sunday, the day of the battle.





JCCW Barbarities – J. M. Homiston

1 05 2012

Report of the Conduct of the War, Volume 3, pp. 468 – 472

WASHINGTON, April 7, 1862.

Dr. J. M. HOMISTON sworn and examined.

By Mr. Odell:

Question. Where is your residence?

Answer. No. 83 Sands street, Brooklyn.

Question. What is your position in the army?

Answer. Surgeon.

Question. What position did you occupy at the battle of Bull Run?

Answer. I was the surgeon of the 14th New York (Brooklyn) regiment.

Question. Were you present during that engagement?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. Were you taken prisoner there?

Answer. I was.

Question. We have been directed to inquire into the treatment our wounded and dead received from the enemy there after the battle. Will you, in your own way, give us a statement of what you observed there?

Answer. The place where we first commenced attending to our wounded, whether through accident or some other cause, was fired into and became such a dangerous place that we had to stop bringing the wounded there. I believe there have been some reports about the hospitals being fired into. I have never been able to satisfy myself whether that was done intentionally or hot. I was made prisoner on the field, and immediately taken inside the enemy’s lines. I told them that my wish was to attend to the wounded men, there were so many of them wounded and crippled; that I had remained voluntarily with them for that purpose; I asked as a privilege that I should be permitted to attend to them. Two of the surgeons there permitted me to go to wash and attend to the wounded; I did so until just at dark, when a guard came up and said that I must accompany them. I told them that it was my wish to remain on the field; that I desired to remain all night with the wounded men, as there were so many who needed attention, and some of them in a very helpless and painful condition and suffering for water. I protested against being sent away from the field at that time. They became very rude and talked in a very ugly way, and insisted on my going with them. They marched me with a party of prisoners, mostly privates, to Manassas; they did not offer us even water, let alone anything in the shape of food; we stood in the streets of Manassas about an hour with a guard around us; a crowd collected about us, hooting and threatening in a very boisterous way what they would do with us. We were finally put into an old building and left to sleep on the floor there without anything in the shape of food being given to us. In the morning those of us who were surgeons were brought up before the medical director, as he was called, who took our names and then sent us back to the battle-field; there were three of us in that party; we told them we were already faint and exhausted, having been without food for twenty-four hours. They gave us some cold bacon and sent us back to the battle-field. When we reached the battlefield they took us to the Lewis house, as it is called; they had commenced bringing the wounded in there, mostly their own. They finally allowed us to have an ambulance, and we commenced picking up our wounded and bringing them in ourselves, a guard all the while accompanying us; we were then ordered to report ourselves to a secession surgeon, a Dr. Darby, of South Carolina. He said he had been sent there by General Beauregard to take charge of the wounded. He would not allow us to perform operations upon our own men, but had them performed by his assistants, young men, some of them with no more knowledge of what they attempted to do than an apothecary’s clerk. They performed the operations upon our men in a most horrible manner; some of them were absolutely frightful. I asked Dr. Darby to allow me to amputate the leg of Corporal Prescott, of our regiment. I told him the man must die if it was not done. He told me that it should be done, and that I should be allowed to do it. I told him that there were some things I would like to have; that I had not the proper instruments to perform the operation. He said he would furnish me with the instruments, and told me to sit down and wait a few moments; while I was sitting there, with another of our surgeons, one of their men came through and said, “They are operating on one of the Yankee’s legs up stairs.” I turned to the doctor, who was sitting there with me, and said, “I am sure that is Prescott they are operating upon.” I went up stairs and found that they had cut off Prescott’s leg, and the assistants were pulling on the flesh on each side, trying to get flap enough to cover the bone. They had sawed off the bone without leaving any of the flesh to form the flaps to cover it. With all the force they could use they could not get flap enough to cover the bone. They were obliged to saw off about an inch more of the bone, and even then, when they came to put in the sutures, the stitches, they could not approximate the edges within less than an inch and a half of each other; of course as soon as there was any swelling the stitches tore out and the bone stuck through again. Dr. Swalm tried afterwards to remedy it by performing another operation; but Prescott had become so debilitated that he did not survive.

Question. What kind of a man was Prescott? What was his character and standing?

Answer. He was a very fine young man, and had received a very liberal education. It was almost impossible for us to get anything for our wounded men there to eat; they paid no attention to us whatever. We suffered very much on account of the want of any kind of food for our men. They would not even bring water to us. On the Monday night after the battle all the wounded in that old house were lying there on the floor. They kept bringing in the wounded until they were lying upon the floor as thickly as they could be laid. There was not a particle of light of any kind in the house to enable us to move about among the wounded. They were suffering very much for water; but with all the persuasion I could use they would not bring us any water, and the guard stationed about the house prevented us from going after any. Fortunately, I might say, it rained that night, and through the open windows the rain beat in and run down the floor among the wounded, wetting and chilling them; still I was enabled, by setting some cups under the eaves, to catch a little water for our poor soldiers to drink, and in that way I spent all the night, catching water from the eaves of the house and carrying it to our wounded to drink. As there was no light in the house, being perfectly dark, I was obliged to crawl on my hands and knees to avoid stepping on their wounded limbs. It is not a matter of wonder that the next morning we found that several had died there during the night. They seemed to be perfectly indifferent to the sufferings of our men – entirely so. There was occasionally a man here and there, who seemed to have no connexion with the army at all, who appeared desirous to extend some kindly assistance to our wounded; but those connected in any way with their army seemed to try to do everything to show their perfect indifference.

Question. Did these young men—these assistants you speak of—perform any operations upon their wounded?

Answer. I think not much; there were other surgeons there attending to their wounded; in fact, a great many of their wounded were taken away from there, those who could be moved with safety, so that we had not the chance of knowing so much what their treatment was. Dr. Swalm could tell you more of what their treatment was while he was in their general hospital in Richmond. Many of our men were left lying upon the field until Tuesday night and Wednesday.

Question. Our wounded men?

Answer. Yes, sir; some of them lay there upon the field until the Wednesday after the battle. Men were brought in Tuesday night and Wednesday morning with their wounds completely alive with larvae deposited there by flies. They had lain out there through all the rain-storm of Monday, and the hot, sultry sunshine of Tuesday, and their wounds were completely alive with larvae when they were brought in on Tuesday night and Wednesday. Our dead lay upon the field unburied, to my own knowledge, for five days, and I understood that many of them were left there much longer. But I can speak knowingly up to the time I left, that our dead were left unburied for five days. I was sent away with Colonel Wood to Charlottesville, Virginia, by permission of General Beauregard.

By Mr. Covode:

Question. You mean that some of the dead were not buried for that length of time?

Answer. Yes, sir; our men.

By Mr. Odell:

Question. You mean your own regiment?

Answer. Yes, sir; the 14th regiment. I do not think any of them were buried at the end of five days after the battle.

Question. Were any other of our dead of other regiments left unburied?

Answer. Yes, sir; a great many were not buried at the end of that time. There were some that died Monday night in the Lewis house that were taken out and buried on the premises there the next morning.

Question. Do you know anything about the manner in which they were buried?

Answer. I could see from the house how they buried two or three of them; they dug a hole and put them in just as they had died and were carried out of the house, and then covered them up as they were.

By Mr. Covode:

Question. How deep did they bury them?

Answer. Those who were buried about the house were buried in holes not dug over three feet deep. They buried those because their own safety required it.

By Mr. Odell:

Question. Did they bury their own dead at once after the battle?

Answer. Some were buried down about Manassas, generally; if there were any friends there, their dead were taken away from the field and buried elsewhere.

By Mr. Gooch:

Question. Were they destitute themselves of medical supplies that they refused to assist you?

Answer. They could not have been destitute, for they took all our supplies. Even if they had had none of their own they could not have been destitute. They even took our instruments away from us at last. They allowed us to keep them for the time being, but gave us to understand that they belonged to them. There were many individual instances of kindness extended to our wounded. I know of one instance where one of our officers made himself known to one of their officers as a free-mason, and that officer interested himself in procuring permission from General Beauregard to send this officer to a private house, with one of our surgeons detailed to attend to him. I was not a mason then, but I have become one since I returned. As an instance of the manner in which the surgeons of our army were treated there, I will state that though I was left on the field with only the clothes I had on, I received none of the attentions from those of the profession on their side which I should have deemed it my duty to have shown them had our positions been reversed. I had but one shirt (the one I had on when I was taken prisoner) for a month; and I used to wash that in the morning and go without it during the day that I might have something clean to sleep in at night. The one pair of socks I had on when I was captured I would wash myself until they were completely worn out, when I wore my boots without socks, my feet and ancles becoming so chafed that it was exceedingly painful for me to walk. Yet not one of their surgeons ever offered me any article of clothing to enable me to keep myself clean and decent, though I had to go this way for a month. It was not until some time after I got to Charlottesville that I had the opportunity of purchasing some of these articles with my own money, and while purchasing them a crowd collected about the store, making threats against ” the damned Yankee,” though I had a parole from Beauregard himself. And when I came out I should probably have been killed, for one ruffian there attacked me with a large bowie knife, when I had forced my way nearly through the crowd, and I had but the bundle in my hand to ward off his blows, when an officer seeing my situation came to my aid and drove him off after he had made several passes at me, and enabled me to reach my room in safety. For the first three days after the battle we suffered the most for the want of food. Even Captain Ricketts and Colonel Wilcox, who were in the house, had not enough to eat; and had it not been for Mr. Lewis, who owned the house, we should have suffered more than we did. On several occasions he rode six or seven miles from where he was living to this house and brought us food, which was about all we had to eat.





JCCW Barbarities – Frederick Scholes

30 04 2012

Report of the Conduct of the War, Volume 3, pp. 466 – 468

WASHINGTON, April 7, 1862.

FREDERICK SCHOLES sworn and examined.

By Mr. Odell:

Question. Where is your residence?

Answer. City of Brooklyn, New York.

Question. What do you know in relation to the burial of our dead at Bull Bun, and the treatment of those of our soldiers who fell there?

Answer. I proceeded to the battle field of Bull Run on Friday last, the 4th of this month. We passed across the battle field, and proceeded to the place where I supposed my brother’s body was buried, which was on a knoll on Chinn’s farm. We found a trench there where bodies had evidently been buried. I then proceeded to a stone house on Young’s branch. The owner of that house told me that on the Tuesday after the battle he saw two men sitting by a stone fence, both of them wounded. One of them opened his waistcoat and showed him a gash down the whole of his breast, and begged him for some water. The other one was also badly wounded, and he wanted some water. He could not tell me how the men were dressed, as he was very much excited from what he had passed through. He told me about the number buried, and pointed out the locality of several bodies buried in the yard of his house and in the vicinity. We then proceeded over to the house of a free negro, named Simon or Simons, and had a long conversation with him. He said he was a sutler, or rather kept a little store, and supplied the rebel soldiers with eatables. He said the rebel soldiers would come in his store with bones in their hands, which they showed to him, and said they were bones of Yankees which they had dug up. He said it was a common thing for the soldiers to exhibit the bones of “the Yankees.” From there we proceeded to the portion of the battle-field where Ricketts’s battery was. Near there I found a part of what I supposed, from the description I had heard, to be the uniform of one of Ricketts’s men. The ball had gone through the left breast. On examining it I found a piece of the shirt sleeve, and there was still some flesh in the sleeve. I found portions of the uniforms of the Ellsworth Zouaves in the same state. In the bushes in the neighborhood I found a part of a Zouave uniform with a sleeve sticking out of the grave, and a portion of the pantaloons sticking out. On attempting to pull it up I found that the two ends of the grave were still unopened, but the middle had been pried up, pulling up the extremities of the uniform in some places, and pulling up the sleeves of the shirts and a portion of the pantaloons. There were portions of flesh, as I found, remaining there. I found likewise the remains of one of the 14th New York regiment in the same condition, the grave having been pried open. There were pieces of the backbone and some of the ribs sticking up in the middle of the grave, where the centre had been pried up, the two ends of the grave being unopened. Back in the bushes we found some appearances of where bodies had been buried and washed out by the rains. But those I have been speaking of had evidently been dug up. Doctor Swalm, who was with me, pointed out the trenches where the secessionists had buried their own dead, almost immediately adjoining where our dead had been buried. Their remains had not been disturbed at all. After examining there I went over to the house of a free negro named Hampton, as I understood he had assisted in burying some of our dead. He told me he had buried the bodies on the Chinn farm, in the trenches that we first found. He had been notified by a man named Benjamin Franklin Lewis to proceed over there and bury the bodies there. They were buried on the Tuesday after the battle. I spoke to him about the manner in which these bodies had been dug up. He said he knew it had been done, and said it was most shameful. He said the rebels had commenced digging up the bodies two or three days after they were buried for the purpose, at first, of obtaining the buttons on their uniforms; afterwards they dug them up as they decayed to get their bones. I asked him how they had dug up the bodies. He said they had taken rails and pushed the ends down in the centre under the middle of the bodies and then pried them up in that way. He said that Lewis’s men also knew about it. I went over where some of Lewis’s negro men were and inquired of them. Their information corroborated fully the statement of this man Hampton. They also stated that a great many of the bodies had been stripped naked on the field before they were buried, and some were buried naked; others were buried with their clothes on. They said that numbers of them had been dug up through the winter, and even shortly after they had been buried. I went to Mr. Lewis’s house, and after waiting some time he came in. I spoke to him about the manner in which the bodies had been dug up. He said that their whole army should not be blamed for that. He admitted it was infamous, but said a few men had done it who could not be controlled.

Question. Did he say what soldiers they were who had treated the bodies of our dead in this way?

Answer. He condemned principally the New Orleans Tigers, of General Wheat’s division; the Louisiana Tigers, I believe they were called. He said they were the men who had done the principal part of it. He said that after the battle the men went over the field and robbed all indiscriminately, both friend and foe. He said they had all along been the cause of a great deal of trouble, and that two or three of them had been shot during the winter for mutiny. He said that the most of them had deserted their cause and were over on our side now. He said our wounded had been very badly treated; and Doctor Swalm told me about the unnecessary amputations that had been performed by the rebel surgeons. He said that limbs had been taken off unnecessarily and in a very bad manner; that, after the confederates had taken possession of the hospital, they would not allow our surgeons to use the knife at all, but used it themselves, and that some of the men had died in consequence of their bad treatment, and from want of the necessary nourishment. He mentioned a number of instances of men who had been actually murdered by bad treatment. I spoke to Mr. Lewis about that, and he admitted that it was so. He spoke of doctors on their own side who had spoken about the manner in which the wounded had been cut and neglected and treated badly after the battle. He said that he had become afraid that a pestilence would break out there in the neighborhood, in consequence of the dead being left unburied. And accordingly, on the Tuesday following the battle, finding the dead still unburied, he had gone out and warned out the neighborhood and had them buried, sending his own men to assist in doing so. On Sunday morning (yesterday) I collected a party of men and went to the trench where I supposed my brother might have been buried, and dug down to the bodies. We found them covered by some eighteen inches to two feet of earth, just tumbled in any way, some on their sides and some on their backs. I found one body entirely naked. Upon digging at one end of the trench we found, not more than two inches below the surface, the thigh-bone of a man that had evidently been dug up after burial; and in digging at the other end of the trench, in throwing out the first shovelful of earth, we found the detached shin-bone of a man, which had been struck by a musket ball and split; a part of the thigh-bone was still attached to it. The bodies at the ends had been pried up, the clothing at each end of the body still in the ground, where the middle of the body had been pried up. The other bodies were perfect. While we were digging there a party of soldiers came up and showed us a part of a shin-bone five or six inches long, which had the end sawed off. They said they had found it among many other pieces in one of the cabins that the rebels had deserted. From the appearance of it, pieces had been sawed off, out of which to make finger-rings. As soon as the negroes saw it, they said that the rebels had had rings made of the bones of our dead that they had dug up; that they had had them for sale in their camps. As soon as Doctor Swalm saw the piece of bone the soldier had, he said that it was a part of a shin-bone of a man; and I compared it with the detached shin-bone we had dug up—the one split by a musket ball—and they corresponded exactly. The soldiers said there were lots of these bones scattered all through the rebel huts, sawed into rings, &c. One of the men said he had been looking for the body of his lieutenant, and had found where it had been left in the bushes unburied. He had found the bones and portions of the clothing scattered around by the hogs. They had buried the remains that they gathered up on Sunday last, together with other remains that they had collected. Mr. Lewis and the negroes all spoke of Colonel Cameron’s body, and knew about its being stripped, and where it had been buried. They said that General Johnston, I think, had sent around and collected some of the things taken from the body; among others, a locket, and had endeavored to find his coat. Some of the things had been found. He knew exactly where Colonel Cameron’s body had been buried. All the negroes and those in the neighborhood seemed to know all about it. I talked in the presence of the ladies in Mr. Lewis’s house of the manner in which our dead had been treated. Some of them denied it; it seemed to be well understood in the neighborhood that these things had been done.

By Mr. Covode:

Question. Did you find your brother’s remains?

Answer. I do not know that they were in either of the trenches that we examined, unless it was the body that was naked and could not be recognized. I am not certain that he is dead. I know that he was wounded.

By Mr. Odell:

Question. Did you see any difference in the manner in which the confederates had buried our dead and their own?

Answer. I saw where one of their dead had been buried in a box, and afterwards his remains taken up and removed. A portion of the box was still there. I saw a number of the graves of the confederate soldiers that had little headboards placed at the head and marked. None of them have any appearance of having been disturbed. I noticed in one of the graves where the body had been pried up a shoe with some of the remains still in it.








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