Congressman Albert Gallatin Riddle, On the Retreat

16 01 2023


Mr. Riddle, a member of Congress from Ohio, writes a letter to the Cleveland Leader concerning his experience at the battle at Bull Run, from which we make the following extract:

“Well, the further they (the soldiers) ran, the more frightened they grew, and although we moved on as rapidly as we could, the fugitives passed us by scores.

The heat was awful, although now about 6; the men were exhausted; their mouths gaped, their lips cracked and blackened with the powder of the cartridges they had bitten off in the battle; their eyes staring in frenzy – no mortal ever saw such a mass of ghastly wretches.

As we passed the poor, demented, exhausted wretches, who could not climb into the high, close baggage wagons, they made frantic efforts to get on to and into our carriage. They grasped it everywhere, and got on to it, and into it, and over it, and implored us every way to take them on. We had to be rough with them. At first they loaded us down almost to a stand still, and we had to push them off and throw them out. Finally Brown and I, with a pistol each, kept them out, although hone poor devil got in in spite of us, and we lugged the coward two miles. I finally opened the door and he tumbled out.

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

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Edmund Ruffin, On the Battle and Aftermath

22 12 2022



Our Richmond Correspondence.


Richmond, July 61.

Edmund Ruffin – What he says of the Great Battle – His Part in the Fight – An Exciting Scene – The Field after the Fight, etc., etc.

I have, from an eyewitness of, and participator in, the closing scenes of the battle of Manassas, some details of an interesting character; especially so to South Carolinians, because they relate, in part, to the brave men of their State. My informant is well known to the people of Charleston, and to the people of South Carolina, and the whole South, by fame. He is the noble old Virginian who fired the first gun at Sumter, and the last gun at Manassas; he who had sworn he would never live under the Lincoln Government, and left his home in Virginia, before the inauguration of the Black Republican dynasty, and did not return till his State seceded. Edmund Ruffin, the venerable hero, truthful as he is brave, who saw, and participated in the glorious battle, gives me the subjoined facts, in part from memory, and in part from the notes in his private journal.

Mr. Ruffin does not presume to say what impression had been made, or was being made, when he entered the field where the action was going on, by other troops along the line, upon the enemy; he only mentions Kershaw’s command, to which he attached himself. He could not tell the precise time when he saw Kershaw’s brigade and reinforcements march by him to where the battle appeared to be the hottest, but he saw and recognised them, an suppose it was about three o’clock in the afternoon. There were at that time under Kershaw’s command, his own and Cash’s regiments, from South Carolina; Preston’s regiment, or part of a regiment, of Virginia; Kemper’s artillery, the Powhatan, the Hanover, and some of the Albermarle cavalry. – Having witnessed for some time the movements of the different bodies of men, of each side, surging to and fro; now in sight of the crest of a hill, and then hid from view in a valley; all amidst the thunder, and smoke, and dust of battle, he saw the enemy give way where Kershaw’s command was engaged. He could not say what other command, or what other troops than his, aided in breaking the enemy’s line, and turning the tide of battle; but he gives to Kershaw and his brave command the honor due to them.

I quote Mr. Ruffin’s own graphic language, describing scenes of the battle field: “I was told by many of these (troops that had fallen back) that our army had been driven by the enemy for miles (which was true, though falling back gradually, and in good order, and without ceasing fire), that the day was going against us, and that several companies and regiments had been nearly cut to pieces. In the few minutes consumed by these enquiries and answers, I perceived that reinforcements of infantry were passing on by us. (These were Kershaw’s and Col. Cash’s troops.) Stunned as I was by the unexpected and gloomy reports, I thought that these reinforcements might yet save the almost lost day; and that it was the duty of every man who could pull a trigger to lend his aid to their action. I hastily determined, feeble, and then fatigued as I was, that I would go, and try also to induce others who had before retired, to go. Therefore I called out to those around me, and asked those who would join me to go with the reinforcements. Not one replied, or made any indications of leaving, staring at me in silence. I said no more, but turned off and proceeded towards the battle.”

Here Mr. Ruffin describes the movements of troops in the fields and woods, falling back at one time, and advancing another, without naming them, and which would require a diagram to understand it.

He goes on to say: “All the engaged forces had passed out of my view before I had walked to the corn field. The reinforcing regiments of infantry (Col. Kershaw’s, of South Carolina, and some others, he in command of the brigade) marched along the path through the corn field to the position marked.”

“I had not gone one hundred yards from where I set out for the field, before meeting other skulkers who had withdrawn later from the battle. I heard from them repetitions of our disasters. I thought my advancing further to be useless and foolish, and that, in the inevitable speedy rout – for even in an orderly, though rapid retreat, I would not fail to be left behind – I would have turned back, but for sham. I still walked onward, until overtaken by one of Kemper’s field pieces, going the same way, and, as I did not doubt, it was going where it could do most service. The officers in command who knew me before, invited me to take a seat on the gun carriage, which I accepted most gladly. The carriage had proceeded but a short distance, when it was stopped, and, as if by new orders, turned round by the team, and trotted fast backward along the path, and then up the public road, on the left, where it was again stopped. I was entirely at a loss to guess what this movement meant. But I had full confidence in Capt. Kemper, and that he was doing whatever courage and good conduct directed. He was present; and he had his other three pieces close by. They remained still for a short time, during which and before we got there the firing of musketry was rapidly kept up in the direction of the wood alongside of us. Of course the nearest must have been the firing of the enemy, which seemed to me not more than 150 or 200 yards distant. I did not deem it proper at such a time to occupy the attention of Capt. Kemper, or any other officer to answer questions. So I remained under my late impressions, that defeat was inevitable, and that a retreat had already begun; until hearing that it was the enemy that was retreating, and that our army had, at last, by aid mainly of the reinforcements, turned the tide of battle, and gained a glorious victory.”

“We were soon joined by other troops, mostly from South Carolina, and began to march; where I did not know then; but, as it appeared afterwards, in pursuit of the enemy for a few miles only. The movement was by Col. Kershaw’s Brigade only, with Kemper’s Artillery, and some troops of cavalry. Our way was along roads, passing first through the field of battle. We crossed “Stone Bridge” over Bull Run, along the route of the fleeing enemy. Our progress was slow, with several stoppages, the reason of which I did not know, but suppose it was on account of the weariness of our men. We saw many of the killed, though our route was at first only on the outskirts of the hardest contested ground. Muskets and other arms were scattered along the road. Where we first stopped on the top of a hill, I saw our cavalry pursuing the enemy in different directions. While here some acquaintances of Col. Hampton’s Legion approached me. They had suffered severely. As we marched along and passed his corps, they gave three cheers in honor of me. The same was done by the Palmetto Guard, to which I belonged, as we passed them. No one of this company were killed, and only twelve wounded. As we proceeded farther, the indications of the haste and dispersion of the fleeing Yankees became more numerous. The road was strewn with articles thrown away by the fugitives. The haversacks were all filled with crackers or hard biscuit. The road was straight, and of great advantage for our artillery to fire upon the enemy. Several rounds of shot and shell were fired, but we could not tell the effect produced, except that the enemy, who appeared before to show a disposition to stand, made their escape by a lateral road to our left. The Palmetto Guard were sent out skirmishing, and fired two rounds upon the fugitives. They received some few shots in return. A company of the Albemarle cavalry was sent also in pursuit. Col. Kershaw received information that the Yankees had all fled. He then ordered the artillery, wagons, &c., the enemy had left behind, should be brought in. We then marched back.

“The following day, I borrowed a horse of Col. Kershaw, and rode over one portion of the battle field. The sight was horrible. The great number of dead were nearly all of the Yankee army, and were scattered over a field of some thirty acres, and probably extended in like manner for some three miles, over which the conflict had passed. Many were of the Zouave regiment. I saw some five or six of the wounded still alive. All of them lay quiet and motionless, until looking up as I approached near. The first I came near had a tin cup of water, but, as I thought, not within his reach. I alighted from my horse, and asked if he wished to drink, offering the cup to his lips. I was glad to see that all, or nearly all, that I afterwards visited, had been provided in like manner, by the kindness of our men. To one I said, that when placed in the hospital, he would be cared for as well as our own wounded men. To this he replied, he believed it, for he had been kindly treated since lying there.”

Mr. Ruffin, in making his statements, is very careful not to say more than he knows, and therefore, his testimony as to the part which Col. Kershaw and his South Carolina brigade took in the battle of Manassas, is perfectly reliable.

The Charleston (SC) Mercury, 8/5/1861

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Capt. Albert Gallatin Brown, Co. H, ,18th Mississippi Infantry, On the Battle

18 12 2022

Battle of Manasseh – Governor Brown’s Narrative.


The interest of our readers in the subjoined account of the action of Gen. D. R. Jones’ Brigade in the battle of Manasseh, will be heightened by the knowledge that it is from the pen of Ex-Governor A. G. Brown, and was written in a letter to Hon. W. P. Harris, only a few days after the battle. As Captain of one of the companies composing the 18th Mississippi Regiment, Gov. Brown was an eyewitness of the occurrences which he describes; and, though his letter was private, Judge Harris has permitted us to extract the following details, because they will deeply interest our readers who have friends in the 17th and 18th Mississippi regiments, and because he is assured, from numerous other sources, that this account is substantially accurate.

Gov. Brown states that, about half past 11 o’clock, on Tuesday before the battle, “the 17th and 18th Mississippi Regiments, and the 7th South Carolina Regiments, constituting the 3d Brigade, under Gen. D. R. Jones, were marched a distance of about two and a half miles from their encampment near Manasseh to McLean’s Ford on Bull Run, the point at which it was apprehended the main attack would be made.” After giving the occurrences of the several days intervening before the battle, the letter proceeds:

Sunday morning was ushered in by the roar of artillery. Our position was very nearly the same it had been from the beginning. The first gun was heard at a little after six by my time; and soon the rattling of musketry in long lines, and the loud thundering of artillery, assured us that both armies were hotly engaged. It was next to certain that the day of battle for us had come; and yet their was no blenching. Shells and heavy cannon balls came over us and about us only to excite the mirth of our men, so harmless had they come to regard them.

At eight or nine o’clock, we were ordered to cross Bull Run, and, in conjunction with Gen. Ewell’s Brigade, attack the enemy’s forces at Blackburn’s Ford in the rear. The men obeyed the order with alacrity. As we emerged from the wood, shells exploded over the very spot where we lay only a minute before, showing that the enemy had a last got our range. The boys laughed and said, “You are a little too late.” We advanced to the position we had been told to occupy, but Gen. Ewell did not come up. After reconnoitering the enemy, finding them in stronger force than was supposed, Gen. Jones ordered us back to our intrenchments. While we were thus marching and countermarching the battle raged with tremendous force along a line commencing within half a mile of us, and extending some six miles up Bull Run.

At about half past two o’clock, we were again ordered as we had been in the morning. It was now understood that the mistakes which led to our return in the morning, had been corrected, and that we were able to be led to the attack, sustained on the enemy’s rear by Gen. Ewells; while Gen. Longstreet was to engage them in front. Their strength was said confidently to be two pieces of artillery, supported by not more than twice our number of infantry and cavalry. Our men were thus encouraged to hope for a victory, though there was no attempt to disguise the fact that it was to cost some of us our lives. We had been shot at on our march over the same ground in the morning, the enemy’s balls striking close to our lines, right and left. Prompted in part by this fact, but mainly to prevent our being discovered until we should be in position to make effective the blow we were about to strike, we marched to the attack slowly and cautiously, covering our advance as best we could by a forest intervening between us and the enemy. We were discovered, however; and the enemy again fired across the rear of our column as it advanced, distant from their batteries, say three quarters of a mile on an air line. Our march was by a circuitous route; so that we passed over a line, I should think, of near four miles, to get within a quarter of a mile of the enemy. The ground upon which we were sent, no officer our soldier in the whole Brigade had ever seen before. We passed down a sinuous ravine with rugged bottom and uneaven banks until e were brought directly under the unseen guns of the enemy.

When we had reached the point where it was expected the forces under Gen. Ewell were to join us, we were again disappointed. Nothing was heard of him or his command. We had two pieces of light artillery, but they were left in the rear. We had also two detachments of cavalry, certainly not more than seventy-five men in all, perhaps not so many; and these, too, were left behind; so that in fact three Regiments, averaging not more than six hundred men each, and armed, with rare exceptions, with second class muskets, were thrown forward to sustain a conflict which had been appointed for three Brigades, supported by both artillery and cavalry. Instead of being sustained in front by Gen. Longstreet, and in the rear by Gen. Ewell, and on both sides by field batteries and a strong cavalry force, we were not sustained at all. Instead of attacking two pieces of artillery, and some three thousand infantry, in their rear, we were suddenly confronted by the muzzles of eight pieces of artillery, and not less than ten thousand infantry and artillery.

After a little delay, during which we received the enemy’s fire, our Brigade (Gen. Jones’) was pressed forward, and, in the very teeth of the enemy’s strength. made as bold a charge as was ever made by mortal men; and we continued to charge until we found ourselves on the brink of a precipice impassable to us, and where we were within range of the enemy’s guns, while they were without the range of ours. The 18th Regiment were in a hot place, as is evident from the fact that we lost, in this brief conflict, twice as many men as both the 17th Mississippi, and the 7th South Carolina Regiments; and as many as our entire army lost in the battle on Thursday, which lasted nearly five hours. yet many of our men did not see one of the enemy all day, so closely were they hid from our view.

The precipice being impassable, as I have said, the three Regiments abandoned their position and retired until we were partially covered by a hill, and undertook to reform our lines; but finding the ground impracticable for this purpose, we fell back; and the 18th Regiment first formed in a wood, within gun shot of the enemy. The 17th, and a portion of the 18th, had advanced some four hundred yards, or a little over, to an open field in a plain, and drawn up in battle array, where we soon after followed in good order. This was half a mile back of the field where we engaged the enemy, and was the first ground on which a Brigade could be displayed in line of battle. Here the line was formed, and every thing done that was necessary to be done for renewing the attack. The rolls were called, with what results in other companies I know not; but in my own, every man, with a single exception, answered to his name, or was satisfactorily accounted for. One had been killed, others dangerously wounded, and some had been sent back with their wounded friends.

I ought to mention that during our entire stay on Bull Run we had kept out strong picket guard day and night. Those of the 18th Regiment specially entitled to credit for discharging this dangerous and disagreeable duty, are the Confederate Rifles, Capt. Jayne, of Rankin; the Hamer Rifles, Capt. Hamer, of Yazoo; and the Burt Rifles, Capt. Fontaine, of Jackson.

It is apparent that for the failure of the movement on the right, the Regiments of Gen. Jones are in no way responsible. The error if there was error, was not in abandoning the position they took, but in being directed or permitted to take it at all. Under the circumstances retreat was an imperative duty.

Military critics will find much room for comment on the inactivity of the right wing of our army, since it is now apparent that better concerted and more active operations by that wing would have lead to more decisive results. Gen. Ewell’s report will doubtless explain the causes which paralyzed his command. In the mean while it seems that the well aimed attack by the main body of the enemy on our left was pressed with such success, in the early part of the day that our Generals were compelled to suspend or modify the plan marked out for the right wing. Gen. Ewell’s motions were doubtless materially influenced by orders from, or events occurring on the left wing.

The Weekly (Jackson) Mississippian, 9/18/1861

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Capt. Edward Fontaine, Co. K, 18th Mississippi Infantry, On the Battle

17 12 2022

Letter from Capt. Fontaine.


Camp near Leesburg, Va.,
September 6th, 1861.

Editors Mississippian: – I write this to explain the cause of the separation of a part of the Burt Rifles from the company during the battle of Manasseh.

The topographical sketch of the battleground sent with my letter some time since, will enable you to understand the explanation. It must be observed that the ground occupied by the 18th and 17th Regiments when the enemy opened their fire upon us, was of such a character that a line of battle could not be deployed upon it, except one of a very broken and irregular form; and before a single battalion was formed completely, the firing of the enemy had commenced. The bushes of a narrow and winding ravine, hid one half of the column from the view of the rest. The most of the companies were in four ranks and ready to form, as well as the nature of the ground permitted, when the first shot fell among them from the enemy, and the order to charge was given. In charging over the summit of a hill in crowded ranks the companies became mingled with each other. At one point I observed the men of several companies moving with my own in a dense mass six files deep. This was caused in part by the form of the ground, the contracted space, and the eagerness to be the first to reach our foes. When the charge was arrested unexpectedly by a steep wooded bluff, the wings of the company were widely separated by the intermingling of others. The dust and smoke caused by the bursting of shells, and the strokes of cannon, musket and rifle balls, and the fire of our own arms made all objects at times invisible at a short distance; and the noise of 72 or 75 discharges of artillery, from two batteries, the one about 400, and the other 600 yards distant, and the explosion of their missiles among us with the roar of our musketry made all orders inaudible for ten or fifteen minutes. At such a time the men on the left of the company could neither see me, nor hear my orders from the right.

When i ordered them to rally to the right, in order to extricate them, and form them to advantage, those who heard me, and could see me formed promptly, and I marched them to the right of the bluff I have mentioned and halted them in a ravine for a few moments until I ascertained the position of the enemy’s line of battle, and that of the part of the 5th South Carolina Regiment which had formed in advance of our right, and across Rocky Run, and under the hill upon which the enemy was posted. The firing from one of the enemy’s batteries and from all their left wing ceased at this time, and I saw them moving to the right of Col. Jenkins position, and I thought preparing to charge his right, on our regiments from that direction; and discovering at the same time an opening in the hills, and some paths descending from their position down to the creek at a crossing near his right, and seeing that it was entirely defensible by infantry and sheltered from their artillery; I marched the portion of the company with me to that point, and ordered them to use the bank of the creek, and the trees and other natural defences of the spot to hold the position. In performing this movement, I could neither see the rest of my company or be seen by them. The trees on the brow of the bluff in our rear where the charge was stopped by the impracticable cliffs hid me from their view. When the other companies of the regiments were withdrawn from the hill, unable to find me, they followed those with whom they had become necessarily mingled.

Lieut. Rines, of the Brown Rebels, and a number of privates of that and other companies, who had become separated from their proper commands in the same way, were with us. Those who were thus separated behaved with as much bravery and fought as well as those who kept their places. Every officer and private, with the exception of the few who fled to Manasseh, imagining that the withdrawal of the regiments from the hill was a retreat from the enemy, and who spread the report that the brigade was defeated, behaved with coolness and gallantry. Every man left the spot with his gun loaded, and ready and anxious to meet the foe. No man threw away his arms, or exhibited any marks of panic, with the exception of the few above mentioned unfortunate individuals.

Military men will be surprised to learn that any censure has been uttered against the commanders of the regiments for withdrawing their troops from a position from which the enemy could not be charged with the bayonet, or fired upon to advantage; and where they were exposed to a cross fire from two well directed batteries of 8 cannon, and several thousand minne muskets and long range rifles. An officer, who under the circumstances, held his command, without orders, and without an object, exposed to such a fire which could not possibly be returned with effect by common muskets, would certainly deserve to be censured by a court martial for his incapacity. He might not be a coward; but he certainly would be a fool. I heard no order to retire, or I should have obeyed it with alacrity. The regiments were reformed by Gen. Jones a short distance from the spot, at the junction of the McLean Ford and Union Mills Roads, to meet an expected attack from the direction of Centreville. The enemy retreated in that direction; and not knowing that the immense force we attacked was defeated, we supposed that the fight would be renewed at that point. There I found the rest of the Burt Rifles who were formed with the other companies of the 18th regiment and those of the 17th, apparently as ready to renew the fight as they were to begin it; but the enemy had seen enough of us, and were making the best of their way to Alexandria.

To accuse any of the officers and privates of the handful of 1800 rank and file who made a successful attack without the support of artillery or cavalry upon ten times their number strongly posted and with three complete batteries of improved artillery and a heavy corps of horse, of cowardice, exhibits a mixture of ignorance and malice which can only excite the contempt of chivalrous soldiers. I should have preferred having my proper command united; but feel satisfied that those who were displaced from their posts in ranks by the accidents of the day performed their duty heroically as independants, or under other officers as meritorious as myself.

I regret that newspaper correspondents have spoken of myself, and those of the company who happened to be with me, in a manner intended to be complimentary; but which places me in an invidious and false position. I have not authorized their statements, and am not responsible for them. For my actions on the 21st of July i feel that I did my duty, and care but little for what others think of them.


The Weekly (Jackson) Mississippian, 9/18/1861

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Lt. F. B., 18th Mississippi Infantry, On Capt. Adam McWillie, Co. G

16 12 2022

For the Mississippian

Captain Adam McWillie.


Camp “Bull Run,” Va.,
July 30, 1861.

Ed. Mississippian: – The hero and patriot whose name heads this article, fell before the enemy at Bull Run, Va., on the 21st instant, while at the head of his company striking a manly blow for his county.

When the first news reached headquarters of the 18th Miss. Regiment that Capt. McWillie had fallen, all hearts were filled with gloom. Profound sadness hung her sable mantle over a battalion of as brave hearts as ever formed a column. The big tears would make their way down the cheeks of his late fellow officers and soldiers as harbingers of the heaving emotions of generous souls which mourned for their late comrade as one of their brightest jewels.

The writer well remembers his acquaintance with Captain McWillie in connection with the 1st Mississippi Regiment during the Mexican war, under command of Col. Jeff. Davis, and bear testimony to the noble qualities which characterizes the patriot, and hero which he possessed; and amid the arduous struggles of that campaign his name was the watchword to fame. Ever honored be his memory; peace to his sleeping ashes. May Heaven’s messengers mark his resting place. Sighing pines sing his requiem, while the turbid stream will point the passer by to the tomb of the generous dead.

Lieut. F. B. Miss. Regt.

The Weekly (Jackson) Mississippian, 8/21/1861

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“C,” Co. K, 18th Mississippi Infantry, On the Battle

15 12 2022

From Our Correspondent.

The Battle of Manassas.


Genl. Scott’s Late Headquarters,
July 25th, 1861.

The South has won a victory that entitles her to be crowned Queen of Nations. The destroyers of our peace have fled ingloriously. Justice, truth and the God of Nations and of battles, have triumphed over the ruthless invaders of our soil, and joy and gladness reign in every heart.

The fighting commenced Sunday morning about 9 o’clock and continued unceasingly until 6 P.M. – Gen. Johnson led the left wing, and Gen. Beauregard the right wing of a line of battle from six to eight miles long. Standing for a few minutes upon a high hill on the extreme of the right wing, I had a view of the whole line. It was a grand but horrific scene. The mountains beyond the valley seemed to bend mournfully their tall and rugged brows as clouds of smoke continually rose and curled around them. The beast and fowl of the forest fled from the pathway of a terrific and devastating storm. the earth shook beneath the roaring of cannon; rivulets and streams ran red with human gore; hills and hollows were lined with dead men’s bodies, and the air grew faint with the groans of the wounded and dying.

The result was a glorious but dear bought victory to us. The loss of the enemy cannot be estimated. They lost about five men to our one, and from the amount of guns, equipage, &c., that have been taken and brought in, they must have left everything behind. We took more arms and ammunition than we had in our whole army before the fight. Two million dollars will not cover the loss sustained by the Northern army.

The brigade of which Col. Burt’s Regiment was a part was ordered to take a battery on a high hill near McLains Ford. We went over in the morning to make the attack – but just before we got there the order was countermanded. We returned and waited until evening. About 4 o’clock P.M., we went over and made a most daring and reckless charge. The Brigade marched down a hollow in four ranks facing the enemy and his cannon. The South Carolina Regiment being in front were permitted ot form in line of battle. Just as the 18th Mississippi Regiment was forming into line – canister and grape shot, shells and minnie balls poured down on us like hail stones. The command ‘Charge’ being given by some one, the Regiment moved at double quick to the top of the hill about two hundred yards. Finding that they were not in sight of the enemy and seeing their way impeded by a deep ravine and a rocky bluff on the other side up which they could not climb – the regiment became confused, and after remaining there in the old field for half an hour – exposed to continuous volleys of shot and shell trying to rally and get a chance at the Yankees who were safe under cover of the brow of a hill and at the convenient distance of four or five hundred yards off – it was ordered to fall back into the wood and reform.

A portion of the Burt Rifles under the command of Capt. Fontaine and Lieut. Fearn – thinking that the regiment was retreating – and being near the South Carolina Regiment formed on its right wing. This brave and gallant band were the last to leave the field. Had the remainder known that this portion of our company was alive and where it was – with the permission of Col. Burt, we would have left our regiment while reforming in the woods and gone to them, tho’ each one met his death messenger on the way. We had pledged to stand by and with each other, and to the latter strictly would we have fulfilled the pledge.

The enemy, supposed afterwards from various accounts to be ten or twelve thousand strong, commenced retreating as soon as they commenced firing – consequently after reforming we had no chance to return by an available route and attack them. They fled before we hurt them, but Gen. Longstreet stationed us on the other side, pursued them and took many of them prisoners and nearly everything they had.

This was the closing scene of the greatest battle ever fought between the Atlantic and Pacific.

Many a brave and gallant spirit of the South took its flight to distant realms. Among them was that of the good and heroic little Eddie Anderson of the Burt Rifles. Peace be to thy ashes, Eddie! A nobler death thou couldst not have died. A better grave no man can covet.

Capt. McWillie, of the Camden Rifles, Lieut. Leavy, of the Brown Rebels, Lieut York, of the Mississippi College Rifles, and many others whose names I do not now recollect were killed on the field or being mortally wounded have since died.

Our army is in fine spirits, and all are eager to continue the march to Washington City.


The Weekly (Jackson) Mississippian, 8/7/1861

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E. B. W., Madison Light Artillery, 49th Virginia Infantry, On the Eve of Battle

9 12 2022

Letter from Manassas.


The following interesting letter was written on the morning of the 18th, just before the battle commenced. It of course gives no particulars of the fight, but is shows the kind of spirit that animated our troops, and the eagerness with which they awaited the attack:


Manassas Junction,
Prince William County, Virginia.
July 18th, 1861.

Dear Citizen: – Fort Pickens is about one mile east of Manassas Junction, on a beautiful, lovely plain, surrounded with mounds or little hills, dotting the perspective in every direction. These mounds nature has distributed for useful purposes, and upon them are stationed our batteries, commanded every approach of an enemy, and woe be to him who shall have the temerity to attack us either with infantry, cavalry or artillery, for we have large guns in battery at every point, and we have brave, stout, determined hearts to man them, who are determined to conquer or die in the effort. Far be it for me to disparage any soldiers here, but one thing is certain, Captain G. V. Moody’s company are vastly superior to them all in physical power and equal to any, and in patriotism and in cool, determined courage are as impetuous as the most impulsive – and I predict that they will give a good account of themselves to our friends, and a lesson to our enemies that they will never forget in all time to come. A few days ago, when we were at the battery for drill, one of our men asked of the drill officer “if he wanted him to shoulder that fun” pointing to a thirty-two pounder, and indeed the private, Michael Ryan, who asked the question could come nearer doing it than any man in the army, unless it is one some one of his own company.

Our company handle the large field pieces in the batteries with perfect ease and never tire – those men are just suited for the position assigned them, and our Captain and Lieutenants are just the men to lead us to victory – but never to defeat, for be assured that we will perish in the last ditch and the last man before we will be driven from our position, or surrender a single gun to the enemy. “We never surrender.” The greatest enthusiasm prevails through the whole encampment. I took a stroll through the camp a day or two ago, and was struck with some of the mottos upon the camp: one was “Weep not for me.” “The devil take the hindmost.” “We have a burning care for Seward, Scott, Lincoln & Co., and expect to be present when they shall be compelled to shuffle off the mortal coil.” “We are the posse to suppress disorder and restore peace.” I might fill a sheet with them but have given you enough to show the spirit of the soldiers here.

There were five prisoners brought in by our men yesterday – there is not a day or night passes without our gallant men making prisoners of Lincoln’s soldiers; one brought in yesterday was bare footed – in the number there were some Lieutenants and non-commissioned officers and privates.

The enemy is approaching cautiously, as he can. It is said that they are within sixteen or seventeen miles of us, and approaching by their columns. We are ready and trust that they will not delay us until we must exclaim “the long looked for has arrived.” I think our guests will not be pleased with their reception, the booming of cannon and the gleaming of our sabers and bayonets will be more than our enemies can stand.

I will give you the earliest account of the appearance of our foe and the foe of God and man, and how terribly we punished them – for this is as certain as they make their appearance.

I would ask that the citizens of the South, would remember that her defenders who are now in the field, and in a much colder climate than they have been accustomed to [*], and require clothing suited to the climate and the seasons. If we have to winter here, we will want thick heave clothing, shoes, and blankets, for we suffer here now at nights with cold, having nothing but one blanked out of which we have to make our bed and covering. We are stationary here, and anything sent directed to me to the care of Captain George V. Moody, for our company shall be faithfully distributed. It is due to this company that they should be remembered by the citizens of Madison parish, La. It would cost but a small sum to each planter, and it would have a very beneficial effect in keeping the soldiers happy and contented in camp, inspiring them with additional courage and enthusiasm. They have contributed largely to the erection of batteries and the throwing up of the works of defense. These brave men have left no relatives behind them that have the means to anticipate and supply their wants or protect them against the suffering incident to a campaign.

I have made the suggestions, and hope they may meet your approval and that through your valuable paper and the other papers of your city their importance may be urged and impressed upon the generous citizens of the South for the benefit of all her soldiers.

My love to all inquiring friends, and accept for yourself and prosperity my best wishes.

Your friend,
E. G. W.


P. S. The ball opened at Fairfax Court House this morning. Great excitement in camp, and soldiers hurrying to and fro, and starting to join their brethren. When the news reached here, not half an hour ago, the welkin rang with the enthusiastic shouts of men yearning for the fight, and the companies serving in the batteries only regret that they cannot be doing service. But our chance will come soon unless they are beaten back. I hope they may reach here so that we can annihilate them and convince them that we can and will whip them.

I have opened my letter just to give you the latest news in camp. The music is calling to arms whilst I write. We are still undaunted – three regiments taking up the line of march to Fairfax. God speed them. I will write you the result of the day’s conflict to night.

E. G. W.

The Vicksburg (MS) Weekly Citizen, 7/29/1861

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From The company was temporarily assigned to the 49th Virginia Infantry at Battery N, within the entrenched naval batteries at Camp Pickens, Manassas Junction, Prince William County, Virginia, by Special Orders No.122, Paragraph I, Headquarters, Army of the Potomac, Camp Pickens, Manassas Junction, Prince William County, Virginia, on 16 July, 1861

*The Madison Artillery was a Louisiana battery.

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Corp. Julius Converse “Shanghai” Chandler, Co. G, 2nd Wisconsin Infantry, On the Battle and Retreat

8 12 2022

The Battle as seen by one of the Wisconsin Regiments.

Mr. J. C. Chandler of the Adams county Independent, Wis., writes from Washington to his brother, in Cleveland, a letter about the battle, that has found its way into print. – The following is exceedingly graphic:

The horrors of a battle-field are supremely greater than my imagination has ever conceived. I saw the bloodiest part of it; our regiment relieved the Zouaves, whom the rebels rallied and charged on with more than demon vengeance. The Zouaves fought like heroes and devils; but there were ten guns to one against them, and when they retreated, terribly riddled, our regiment marched into the most hellish shower of bullets you can imagine if you try a month. Probably nearly a hundred men were killed and some were taken prisoners.

I had my belt shot off, a bullet hit my cap-box and cut the belt so that it soon burst, and while I was stooping to pick up some of the caps, a soldier in front of me was shot through the breast just as he was aiming, and threw his gun back in his death struggle, and hit me across the back of my head, well nigh killing me. I laid there until the rebels tramped over my body like a flock of sheep. I remember getting up, and seeing our regiment forming a square to resist a charge of the “Black Horse Cavalry,” which they did successfully.

After that I don’t remember much, until our 1st Lieutenant (shot through the shoulder) took my by the ear and told me to retreat with him.

We were some two miles from where we charged, – in a house where they were cutting off legs, arms and – heads, I should think. The boys took me there, and said I was “crazy as a loon.” Well, we retreated – thirty miles – I scarcely remember how I came, but I remember there was great disorder. I don’t remember when or how I got into Washington.

The Weekly Panola (MS) Star, 8/15/1861

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Musician/Band Director Timothy Dwight Nutting, 13th Mississippi Infantry, On the Battle, Casualties, and Aftermath

7 12 2022

We publish below a very full and interesting letter descriptive of the battle of Manassas, from the pen of one of our townsmen, Prof. Nutting, Director of the Brass Band attached to the 13th Mississippi Regiment. The letter was addressed to his lady, who has kindly placed it at our disposal.


Manassas Junction, July 23rd, 1861.

—————, If you have received my last letter (from Lynchburg,) you will be prepared to hear from me here. My head is so confused with the scenes of the last 48 hours, that it seems like moving a mountain, grain by grain, to attempt to give an account of it all. I will write away however, as ideas present themselves, and as long as I can to-day, as I do not know at what moment we may be ordered forward. Sunday morning at 2 o’clock we landed from the cars, having been cooped up in them for 11 days and nights, on our way from Union City, we spread our tents on the ground and laid down on them with nothing over us but the skies and our blankets, at daylight we were summoned to eat breakfast, (after cooking the same,) and holding ourselves in readiness for any orders from Gen. Beauregard. At 7 the Regiment was formed, and we were ordered to a point 4 miles nearly east, where a division of several thousand men was located under Gen. Longstreet, and an attack was expected from the “Yankees” at any moment. Before we had fairly started, the booming guns of the batteries announced that the services had commenced, and upon the way the smoke from their guns was plainly visible. – Our guide took us through a route that exposed us less to the fire of their guns, which they pointed at every moving mass of men or horses that they could discover. Much of the time we were walking in thickets of small pines, which made it very difficult to proceed at all. We finally, after 3 hours marching, took our position as reserve corps, not being in any condition to fight unless required by urgent necessity, being stationed on the south side of a deep ravine calle “Bull’s Run,” upon very high ground, but masked by a skirt of pine trees about 1/2 of a mile through. The batteries of the enemy were constantly playing upon the position which Gen. Longstreet’s troops occupied, and although we were only about 1/2 of a mile from them, (Longstreet’s men,) we had seen none of them, as thickets intervened. The enemy’s batteries now occupied a position nearly 1 1/2 miles north of us on the heights across Bull’s Run and were supported by a very strong force of infantry that had advanced from Centreville and Fairfax Court House, and were intending to take possession of Manassas before night, and proceed directly on to Richmond. By means of a traitor who is taken, they learned perfectly our position and force, and the best route of march to attack, which was to send an immense force west, about 5 miles down the Run, and take Stone Bridge, and march immediately here from the north west. It was for a diversion from this plan that the attack was commenced above and to the eastward, and we were not long halted in the place I have named, before a very strong attack was made at the Stone Bridge, which was sustained by our men at an odds of ten to one until reinforcements could be sent from Manassas consisting of Regiments from several States. Gen. Beauregard saw into the plan immediately, and ordered almost the entire force of artillery, cavalry and infantry, from the eastern wing to the scene of action. Our 13th Regiment was stripped of every thing, knapsacks, blankets, and all but muskets, and ordered to “double quick march” for 5 miles. In such a movement our field music was useless, and Col. Barksdale told us who had no muskets, to fall back and look after our baggage, tents, &c. In returning we passed over a height where we saw distinctly the battle raging about 3 miles to the north west, and a more sublime sight was never witnessed in America. The cannonading was terrific. Sherman’s battery of ten pieces of flying artillery being but a small part of the artillery opposed to our men. The fight lasted till 5 o’clock, which was 9 hours and over, after the attack commenced, and without any cessation of the roar of cannon and rattle of musketry, except for a moment or two, while some flank movements were being made. I cannot stop now to give you many details. the force of the enemy was by their own confession, about 70,000, against which we had at no time, over 35,000, and many of the reinforcements came too late for anything but to join in chasing them in retreat. Our cavalry and artillery followed them back to Fairfax C. H., and made sad havoc among them. They left muskets, rifles, knapsack and blankets on the road and made the best of their way, leaving all their dead and wounded behind on the battle field. Yesterday morning, day after the fight, I saw 500 of the prisoners put on a train for Richmond, who were taken in the battle without being wounded at all. The entire number of prisoners taken so far in this battle, is not less than 1500. Our Regiment and 5 others, went into action in time to make some bayonet charges, which caused the precipitate retreat. – Just at the moment this commenced, Jeff. Dabis arrived from Richmond, jumped on a horse and ordered the cavalry in pursuit, leading them for some time in person. He then returned in season to congratulate the troops on their brilliant victory, which produced the greatest joy and excitement. Now comes the sad part of the tale. Within a long shed not a stones throw from the spot where I am writing, are not less than 800 dead, dying and wounded men. Just before I began my letter, I walked through it, and spent an hour or more, in trying to alleviate suffering – all mingled together, are Southerners and Northerners, brought in from the field in wagons, which have been busy ever since Sunday night in moving those who could not walk. O, and what an idea, that men should be brought to face each other in such plight, who were ready to cut each others throats two days ago! Some would ask imploringly for water. Some to move a limb that was shot and mangled to pieces, others for a Surgeon to dress wounds already filled with living insects. I saw one poor fellow from Minasota with a musket ball wound through his left breast above the back which was swarming so thick with them, that he was trying to dip them out with the end of a large straw. These have all to wait for attention, until our men are attended to, and are in this plight because their men did not stop to take care of them, and all day yesterday, they lay on the battle field in a drenching could rain, till they were picked up by our wagons, and brought to our camps. This is only one of some half dozen places within a half hours walk, each one filled with the same. Twenty wagon loads of the enemy’s dead were taken off the field yesterday, and scarcely a perceptible difference was made in the number on the field., which extends over a distance of about seven miles along the Run, east and west. Our wounded men are sent to Culpeper for attention, so that most that are here now, are of the enemy, who are to be sent to Richmond as fast as possible. It is impossible to compute the number killed and wounded on each side, but it is immense, and I trust will be the last battle needed to bring our enemies to their senses. I have talked with more than twenty of them, and find the same account from them all. They say they came to Washington to defend the Capitol, and they have been ordered over here contrary to the terms of their enlistment. Most of these in this battle enlisted for three months, which expired on Saturday the 20th, their officers told them they should go into it or be branded as deserters, and the first one who grumbled would be shot down. They all say they will never be coaxed ot compelled to fight again.

Their expectations and the promises of their officers were that they would have possession of Manassas junction on Sunday and proceed to Richmond immediately and use up our Rebel organization in a hurry – all these things ae from such men as Dr. Powell of New York City, as good a Surgeon as is in their army, whom I saw and heard express these sentiments and many more like them. He was taken prisoner in the retreat Sunday night, with five assistants in his wagon, with the most splendid assortment of surgical instruments to be found anywhere. Not less than 30 officers of high rank were taken, all of them have paid their respects to Davis and Beauregard and gone to Richmond with a free pass. Sheran’s Battery was taken entire, and most of the men were killed and wounded, and nearly 50 pieces of artillery and 200 horses were taken and brought to this place yesterday morning. Ellsworth’s Zouaves, and the famous 69th New York Rigiment (Col. Corcoran’s Irish Regiment were Court Martialed for not honoring the Prince of Wales by ordering our his command.) were engaged and large numbers of Regulars and Marines all of their best forces from Maine to Minnisota in fact. I cannot stop to particularize further and will only say that the news has just come in that our men, Gen. Johnston’s command, 19,000 strong, are already on the march to Alexandria and we shall all follow to-morrow. We also hear that there is great disaffection existing in Washington and the troops are reported to be fighting among themselves. However this may be, we shall not rest until all of them are driven off our soil. The belief of all the prisoners is that Scott cannot organize and army to invade the Southern soil again, which is pretty near the truth in my opinion. At any rate I believe the question will be settled in less than two months, and we can be allowed to go to our homes once more in peace. God grant that no more blood shall be required to satisfy the craving appetite of Lincoln and Scott. We cannot be taken here by any force that can be brought against us. We have been reinforced by thousands upon thousands since the fight, who will be brought into the field in case of necessity. I suppose it will be best to direct your letters to Manassas Junction as it will be our head quarters for the present. Remember me kindly to all my friends and do not forget us in your prayers to our Heavenly Father.

Your ever affectionate husband,
T. D. Nutting.

The (Jackson, MS) Weekly Mississippian, 8/14/1861

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Corp. Benjamin Strong Steen, Co. C, 14th New York State Militia, On the Cause of the Defeat

6 12 2022

The following is an extract of a letter from a Corporal of the 14th Regiment, formerly an employee in the Eagle office: –

“Camp Porter, July 22, 1861.

I have been spared by the will of God, although in the battle I had given myself up for lost, as grape shot fell around me like hail, and shell mowed down our ranks. We were overpowered by numbers, but even as it was, if the regulars had supported us we would have driven the enemy back from their position. * * *

Benj. S. Steen

Brooklyn (NY) Daily Eagle, 7/24/1861

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