Pvt. Thomas W. Colley, Co. L (Washington Mounted Rifles), 1st Virginia Cavalry, on the Battle (2)

16 11 2018

Fairfax Court House

Fairfax County, Va.

July 26th, 1861

Dear Sister

It is with great pleasure that I seat myself to write you a few lines to let you know that I am well & hope these few lines may find you enjoying the same blessing. We were in a terrible battle on Sunday the 21st inst, we had a pretty hard time of it for 11 or 12 days. We had to be close to the enemy and watch their movement for night and day. We had to keep our horses saddled all the time, we have had a little rest since Tuesday. We came down and back that day from Manasas Junction; we are at this time within 7 miles of the enemy, they are at Alexandria, about place they could stay there. I will now endeavor to give you an account of the battle as near as I can. It commenced abought 2 oclock Sunday morning with cannon; about 9 oclock the small arms commenced, it was nothing but a continual roaring of course. Musketry until 3 oclock in the evening when the Federalists gave away in the greatest disorder with confusion, which continued so till a message arrived. We pursued them a good five miles with cavalry, and had a battery of artillery. Tore up everything they had. We captured every cannon, amounting to 11 pieces of the best cannon in the North. We heaved some 15 missiles on the road the enemy took from the battlefield, and the road is lined with everything that a man could call for: wagons, harnesses, provisions, field packs, and blankets and clothes. Almost every house on the road is full of clothes that they [the Federals] had to dress up in anything. Once they got to Richmond, it [the clothes] was to be forwarded to them at Richmond.

They anticipated a fine time at Richmond, but I guess they haven’t got there yet, at least not all of them, and they got there in a way they did not expect – they went as prisoners, about 12 or fifteen hundred. It is not ascertained what their losses were. They commenced to haul there dead and wounded off, along 1 oclock, and continued to do so til they had to retreat. All that was left on the field, could assure you that there is as many a one left. They may come back to bury their dead. Soldiers were at work Tuesday a burying them and taking care of their wounded. There was a great many of their troops that were wounded that had to lay on the field for 24 hours. Most all of our company were on the field on noon Monday after the fight. I did not go myself and was glad after the company came back and told me what they saw. I will not horror your feelings with a description of their story. I saw enough to see, til five oclock Sunday evening, when we pursued them. The road along which we went, I saw several dead bodies and wounded men of the Yankees. All of our dead and wounded were well cared for. I have no exact account of the loses, the Yankees admit of 6,000 on their side. Our loss was in killed and wounded between 1,500 and 2,000. I am infomed that they had a fight in Alexandria, and many of their soldiers, they had to raise the draws of the bridge to stop their men from running close off, and before they would stop they had to have a fight. I do not think there were any in among us worse whipped and confused. They had one of our generals a prisoner, and he escaped from them. He says he never saw an army worse confused than they were, a great many of them threw away there arms and everything they had.

General Beauregard estimates their loss at 2,000,000 of dollars; that will help us ought right smart. It looks to me like there is enough of things left to supply the whole South. I was in the battle but did not get to fire a shot; we were held in reserve, our company and another company of our regiment. The rest of the regiment made a charge on their battery with great success. They took every piece of cannon they had except one. We were exposed all the time, a heavy fire of bomb shells and grape shot but we were fortunate enough not to get a single man killed or wounded in our company. Our captain was very much pleased with the way we acted in the field. None of our men were very much frightened; I was not at all frightened myself. I must draw my letter to a close. Lewis has volunteered; I expect I hade written several letters to him but have not received but one answer yet, and that was the one that you put that piece in. Tell mother that I am well and have had my health first rate since I left Ashland.

I am in fine spirits now, have plenty of clothes and a tolerable plenty to eat: Yankee beefs and crackers. You must write to me soon I am very anxious to hear from home. I have not heard from father since he left me at Richmond; I wrote to him on Monday just to let him know that I was still alive. I want to know whether you have got the picture I sent him. Tell Mr. Cassell’s folks that Rufus is well; he acted very well in the field. And also give my love to them all and to Jesse Greenway and his family and Mr. Aston and all my friends in general. I have got a Yankee’s Testament with ‘Samuel McDaniels’ name in it, he was from Vermont. I want to bring it home with me when I come. Tell Laura and Sue howdy for me. I do not know where to tell you to write to, you may direct it to Winchester as before, and one to this place. I will tell you all when I come home, from your affectionate brother Thos. W. Colley.

P.S. I stated that I did not know where we would go. I heard we will drive on to Washington, that is the talk now. There is a great force collecting at this point, or in a few hours march of this place. Please write soon, T.W. Colley

From In Memory of Self and Comrades, pp. 200-201

Contributed, annotated, and transcribed by Michael K. Shaffer, courtesy of Thomas W. Colley Collection, Ms2003-017, Special Collections, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Va.

Thomas Wallace Colley at Ancestry.com

T. W. Colley at Fold3

Thomas Wallace Colley at FindAGrave





Pvt. Thomas W. Colley, Co. L (Washington Mounted Rifles), 1st Virginia Cavalry, on the Battle (1)

15 11 2018

Manassas Junction

July 22, 1861

Dear Father

It is with much pleasure that I seat myself this morning to write you a few lines to let you know that I am well. I know that you will all be uneasy after hearing of the battle that was fought hear yesterday. There was a great many men killed on both sides. Our loss is supposed to be abought 1,000. That of the Federals about three times as many. Our troops entirely routed them. We will persue them on to Alexandria, and on to Washington City. We have about 1,500 prisoners besides what was killed. I was in the thickest of the fight where the bombs were a flying as thick as hail. We did not lose a single man out of our company. Rufe [Rufus Cassell] was right smartly frightened, right when the bombs were a falling about us. I have not time to tell you any more about the fight now. It lasted about five hours. I would like to see you all right well. Tell mother not to be uneasy about me. I have not had much to eat for six days, till this morning, and never had the saddles off our horses. The enemy ran us from camp near Winchester. I will write to you as soon as I can. James King sends his love and respects to you. I do not know where to tell you to direct your letters. You may direct them to Winchester. Nothing more at present but remain your affectionate son.

Ths. W. Colley

It is raining so I can’t write any more.

From In Memory of Self and Comrades, p, 199

Contributed, annotated, and transcribed by Michael K. Shaffer, courtesy of Thomas W. Colley Collection, Ms2003-017, Special Collections, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Va.

Thomas Wallace Colley at Ancestry.com

T. W. Colley at Fold3

Thomas Wallace Colley at FindAGrave





Pvt. William Barrett, U. S. Marine Battalion, On the Battle

24 09 2018

Letter from a Marine who was at Bull’s Run

I was in the fight at Manassas Gap or Bull’s Run, as it may be called. The place has two names but I think Bull’s Run is the right one, by the way they treated us there. Out of our band of 320 marines that entered the field we only brought about 150 home with us. We were the first called to assist the Sixty-ninth. We faced them on the left of the battery, and when about fifty yards from it our men fell like hail stones. I had only fired three shots when my musket received a ball right at the lock, which put me back about three feet. As soon as I came to my ground again two men were shot down on my right and one on my left; about this time I began to look very warlike. As for my part I thought I would lose all presence of mind in such a place, but it was quite different; I was as cool as a cucumber. Then we got orders to retreat and the Sixty-ninth and Ellsworth Zouaves played on them again. This was the time they suffered; they only stood a few minutes when they retreated without orders. Then we were again called on to face the enemy, fifty thousand strong, while we had only about 200. This time we got the Seventy-First to relieve us, but to no purpose; we had to retreat. Then it was a general retreat all round; every one looked out for himself, but they took the short road and caught us again. If you had seen us swimming across Bull’s Run, you would have thought there was something after us then. We had to come to Washington, a distance of forty five miles, in our wet clothes, which were badly used up.

The route we took in going to Manassas Gap was by Arlington Heights and thence by Fairfax Court House, where several batteries had been erected. This was the first time we knew we had to fight; they never told us where we were going till then. When we were about a mile from the place they got us to load our muskets. We were the first up to the battery, where we were drawn up in line of battle, when we found that the rebels had fled to Manassas. Then the cavalry were sent in hot pursuit of the enemy, but failed to overtake them. We camped in Fairfax that night, and the boys enjoyed themselves by burning down the houses of the secessionists. Next morning we took the march again, and went to Centreville by night; here we encamped two days.

On Monday morning at three o’clock we marched to the field, and as well as I can mind it was ten or eleven o’clock when we got there. It then looked very hot. The Seventy-first was the only regiment then at them. When we arrived, just as we got out of the woods in the rear of the battery, we lost three men by cannon balls. I could not describe to you what the battle field looked like. At the time of the retreat we ran over the dead and wounded for a mile from the battery and to hear the wounded crying for help would have made the heart of stone ache. All along the road we had men, only wounded a little, who, when the long march came, had to give out and lie down to die. For ten miles this side of the field they could be seen lying here and there on the road-side.

Only four or five of the Pittsburgh boys, that I know of, were killed. One young fellow, named Frank Harris, who joined the Irish volunteers in Pittsburgh, was my right hand man; going up to the battery he did not fire a single shot; he was one of the first to fall.

There were but few of the marines who were not wounded. I believe there are not thirty in the barracks who are not wounded more or less. I think they intended to fix me when they hit the lock of my musket. You could hear the ball playing “Yankee Doodle” around your ears, but could not move . It was about as hot a place as I ever want to be in. I saw a horse’s head taken off by a cannon ball at the time of our retreat; but he kept on ten or twelve yards before he found out that he was dead, then dropped and the poor fellow that was on his back had to take the hard road for it.

I cannot tell you any more about the battle at present, as I am very tired, have not slept any for forty-eight hours and marched from forty to fifty miles, fighting our way. I wish you would send me a Pittsburgh paper with an account of the battle, that I can see the difference in it.

W.B.

Pittsburgh Daily Post, 7/31/1861

Clipping image

Contributed and transcribed by Damian Shiels

See more on this letter here

Source of identification of Barrett as the letter writer here and here.

William Barrett USMC muster sheets 1861-1864 here.

 





Capt. Henry Alanson Barnum, Co. I, 12th New York Infantry, On the Battle and Retreat (3)

17 09 2018

WAR CORRESPONDENCE.
———-

Camp of the Onondagas,
Arlington Heights, July 28, 1861

Editors Standard: I have but just found time to send you the details of the battle of Sunday, the retreat and the incidents connected therewith.

Friday morning, after our engagement of the previous day, an account of which I sent you, our brigade marched back and occupied the position which we held on the day previous. It was generally understood that the battle would not be resumed on that day, and we laid in the woods skirting the field, ready for any attack that might be made on us. We were not disturbed, however, and the day passed as quietly as tho’ we were holding a pic-nic at home.

Evidently the previous day operations were simply to feel the position of the enemy, and time was now being taken to prepare for an attack that would be victorious beyond a question. We felt that though the rebels covered the wooded hills, valleys, plains and ravines several miles square with their terrible masked batteries, supported by an immense force of infantry and cavalry, yet victory must rest with us, and we talked of visiting the various points when we should have driven the foe from them.

At night our regiment was drawn up in line in the raid reaching to the edge of the woods, where we staid till morning, ready for any emergency.

After daylight Saturday we withdrew a few rods into the woods and prepared our plain breakfast of coffee, crackers and ham, and after partaking thereof, laid around in the shade during the day, endeavoring to become refreshed from the weariness consequent upon our previous labors and the wakeful night.

After nightfall we were again drawn up in line, and again rested all night on our arms, rather expecting a night skirmish attack.

Sunday, the 21st, dawned brightly on the two powerful armies, with their deadly engines of war, resting but half a mile apart, and ready at the word to rush to the eager destruction of each other. All expected a bloody day. I drew the wills of several of our officers, and most of us left our watches and money with the sick, who had to retire to Centreville. It was an impressive morning. The timid paled at the prospective carnage, and the brave set their teeth and features in a stern resolve.

We had learned enough of the enemy to know that the victory which none of us doubted wo’d be ours, would be won at the fearful cost of the lives of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of the gallant men who then walked in the full, buoyant ardor of health, and the impatient courage and bravery of true and loyal freemen.

At an early hour our brigade, the most advanced of the centre of our army, moved forward out of the woods, and was drawn up in line of battle at the edge of the field and in the rear of our battery, ready to attack or resist the enemy, as circumstances might require. From the brow of the hill before us, occupied by our battery, we could at one view see the whole wooded section of the country, occupied by the army of the enemy, as it gradually arose from the low ground skirting Bull’s Creek, or Run, the dividing line of the opposing forces. Only here and there could be seen naked ground, and at these places the baggage wagons of the enemy could occasionally be seen traveling along, and now and then a body of cavalry galloped past.

Clouds of dust rising above the trees in a hundred different places, showed us that, however quiet those woods appeared, they concealed the active movements of a mighty army, whose artillery, cavalry and infantry were hurrying to their several strongholds and preparing the shock of war that was soon to come.

Whenever the dust arose within range of our guns, shells and shot were thrown to the spot, and must have hastened their already hurried movements. Once a body of cavalry filed across the road in front of us and within a half mile of our position. Down the black yawning mouth of one of our “dogs of war” rolled a heavy shot, and in instant the range was taken, a heavy report, and away it sped on its death dealing message. Range too high. Another. Range still too high. “Bring a five second shell.” Away speeds the terrible instrument, bursting directly over their heads, and they scatter out of sight into the woods like sheep.

Their batteries were within range of us and might have done considerable damage, but they deigned not to reply.

Soon, at the right of us and some mile and a half or two miles away, the heavy voice of cannon is heard, slowly at first – then faster, showing that the guns of the enemy send back defiance to our own. Occasional discharges of musketry mingle their sharp tones with the cannon’s heavy roar. Now a volley of musketry chimes in. Another and another. – Thicker and faster sounds the continuous clatter of musketry, louder and deeper rolls the cannon’s heavy bass, the shouts of thousands of maddened men eager for their brothers’ blood, fill the air; clouds of smoke shut out the view, on the curling waves of which I co’d almost imagine devils were riding in hellish glee at the sickening carnage below.

The point of contact, indicated by sound, advances toward the enemy, and gradually the clangor of battle subsides. A line of the enemy’s deadly masked batteries is taken by our brave troops and their forces driven back. A brief interval of comparative quiet passes, and again and again the dreadful scene is enacted.

Our spunky little adjutant, “spoiling for a fight,” gallops over the gory field, and returns with the welcome news that the enemy are being slowly driven back, though they contest every inch of ground with the fury of fiends. In the distance their baggage wagons are seen hurrying away toward the Gap. The day is ours! Officers exchange congratulations, and the men send up a loud hurra for the old flag, which grandly waves as if in conscious pride at its vindicated honor and power.

A heavy cloud of dust a mile in extent rises in the distance, doubtless from the enemy’s retreating columns. But it approaches our lines! it reaches the ground where rests our wearied forces, where lay our gallant dead. – Clangor, crash and rattle again fill the air with their terrific music. The enemy are reinforced. The fight waxes faster than before. – Heavier roars the deep mouthed cannon, thicker sounds the muskets’ rattle, fiercer comes the battle yells, and darker smoke shuts in the scene.

Attention! Left face, forward, file right – march, and away we file back toward Centreville. Firmly erect in each musket borne, and tighter we grasp our trusty swords. “We are to reinforce our side,” runs along the line.

Bet we reach Centreville and file into a large field, and in common with a dozen regiments, form in line of battle.

Sixteen heavy guns are planted on the rise of ground, aids gallop from point to point, generals and colonels apply their glasses to their eyes. “They are trying to flank us on our left.” The dust rises in that direction. Further along and nearly in our rear a body of troops is discovered. Our line is changed to meet them and in breathless silence we await their approach. Nearer they come and the stars and stripes greet our anxious gaze! – They are our troops and a long breath of relief is enjoyed by all.

Another body emerges from the woods on our front carrying a small white flag. Is it a decoy? We send a shot over there and they unfurl the stars and stripes. They are our friends.

The distant firing ceases and the sable wings of night closes down on friend and foe, on the torn and bleeding flesh of the wounded and the cold brows and glassy eyes of the dead.

A night attack is more than probable, and at our request we are posted in the advance. Let the Black Horse Cavalry or the Alabama Wild Cats come, now, on the open field and we will show thoughtless reporters and pompous Generals that we are not cowards, and “do or die” passes from officer to officer and from man to man.

But we are not favored with a trial. At 11 P.M. we are ordered to iretreat to Washington! The command fell like a knell on our troops Retreat? The grand army of the Potomac retreat? Never. But it is the command and we must, though besides the many expressions of indignation and chagrin which I heard tears also flowed at the humiliating duty.

We were near the rear of the retreating column and did not see much of the confusion which was said to have occurred in the advance, but the fruits of that confusion were abundant. The road was literally strewed with barrels of meat and sugar, boxes of crackers, coffee and rice; shovels, spades, picks, guns, belts, knapsacks, blankets, many (27 in all) wagons filled with provisions or ammunition and an indiscriminate variety of articles not here mentioned, which the civilians and soldiers had thrown away to enable them to flee more rapidly.

Our boys took the matter coolly and instead of throwing away their things, kept a sharp eye out for “plunder,” exchanging their old guns for better ones as they found them along the route.

Near Fairfax we turned into a sideroad and encamped until morning, when we resumed our journey and arrived at Arlington about noon of Monday. It rained during Monday and from the fatigue of our campaign and retreat we have hardly yet recovered.

Hundreds of incidents occurred which would be interesting to your readers, but which time nor space will not allow to be written now.

I must not close however without particularly mentioning our detachment of skirmishers under command of C. B. Randall. They were acknowledged to have been the best in the battallion and were complimented by Captain Breslhetneider, commanding battallion, by Col. Richardson commanding brigade, by Gen. Tyler commanding division, and by all who witnessed their daring advances within conversational distances of the enemy’s line of battle and their skilful deploying, rallying and firing.

Ensign Randall particularly distinguished himself for dairing, courage and imperturbable coolness. Much of the time he was far in advance of his line instead of in his proper place, twenty paces to the rear. The boys say that when within plain sight of the line of the enemy’s infantry and in speaking distance, he coolly filled his meerschaum, lighted a match and took a quiet smoke.

Drum Major Daily also deserves particular mention for his valuable services in encouraging the men, supplying them with water, &c. He moved about when the bullets rained the thickest and did all he could to rally the regiment. Orri Storrs, Quartermaster’s Sergeant, followed the regiment into action and when the centre and left retired he came to the right and asked for t place in our ranks and did thorough service to the end. When I mention the coolness and bravery of Capt. Root who remained on the field among the whizzing bullets taking care of his wounded after his company had fallen back I have written of all whom I observed during the fire, beyond which I will not speak.

Spectators agree however, in their testimony of the courage and efficiency of Surgeon Pease and his faithful assistant Dr. Phillips. They followed us immediately in our rear with the ambulances till they reached the woods, so as to be near to care for the wounded. When the firing commenced the shot flew around and over them in a frightful manner, still they held their position faithfully to the close, bringing off their wounded and caring to their every want.

Of the whole affair I will only say that the dullest corporal in the army knows that if not as a whole, in most of the details, it was a stupendous blunder, the inglorious retreat being its culminating point. De Utassy of the Garibaldi Guards says of our attack on Thursday, that we were under a fire that no troops in the world have stood under longer than did we. Our skirmishers whom all commend are a fair sample of our regiment; and reports that persist in calling our regiment cowardly are founded on ignorance or malice.

Yours,

H. A. B.

P. S. We learn that some of those who first fell back from our attack in the woods on Thursday are endeavoring to soften any question of the propriety of their participate retirement on that occasion by claiming that those who stood their ground did not receive so galling a fire as they did. We shall not enter into a discussion of the matter, preferring to grant the claim with the remark that when they retired the entire fire of the enemy, battery and musketry, was centered on the right, yet it was withstood and there was not a square foot of space for several feet above where we were lying that was not perforated by bullet, grape or canister.

Syracuse Daily Standard, 7/31/1861

Clipping image

Contributed by John Hennessy

Henry A. Barnum at Ancestry.com

Henry A. Barnum at Fold3 

Henry A. Barnum at FindAGrave.com 

Henry A. Barnum was later awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions with the 149th New York Infantry at Missionary Ridge





Capt. Henry Alanson Barnum, Co. I, 12th New York Infantry, On the March and Blackburn’s Ford (2)

16 09 2018

WAR CORRESPONDENCE.
———-
From Chain Bridge, 9 miles above Washington, on the Potomac, to within 4 miles of Manassas, Virginia, July 16th, 17th, 18th and 19th, 1861.
———-

Editors Standard: It is 2 ½ o’clock. P. M., Tuesday, July 16, and all is bustle and excitement at the camp of the Onondagas. All who are well are preparing themselves for a march. Guns and equipments are put in order, haversacks are filled with 3 days rations of bread, crackers and meat, canteens with coffee, and blankets are rolled snugly cornerwise, ends tied together and swung diagonally across the body, resting on one shoulder, extra clothing &c., are all packed away, and at the call of the drum 700 Onondagas march out on the color line, and in response to the clarion voice of our gallant Colonel, “right face,” and file away to the appointed pace for our regiment join our brigade in the line of march in the direction of the enemy. Lieut. Wilburt is placed in command of the camp, and those who are unfit for the fatigues of the march, with Dr. Todd as physician, hobble out to cheer us on and prove the chagrin which they feel at not being able to go with us. Our ladies have preceded us to the bridge to take leave of us at the farthest possible point. The 2d and 3d Michigan file across the bridge, passing our front, lusty cheers being exchanged between our regiments. Affecting leave taking occurs between our ladies and their husbands and daughters, (and in this connection I must mention the heroic composure of Mrs. Captain Brower and her, as well as our, daughter Miss Ada,) and we “forward, file right,” and on to the bridge which connects loyal and rebel soil. Reaching the center of the bridge we send back 3 hearty cheers to our old camp flag which floats from the bluff, which is answered by our “cripples” and the loud mouthed guns which command the bridge. Virginia’s “sacred soil” is reached, and we file slowly up the hills and along the fertile fields and vallies of this old commonwealth, once the pride of Americans, now the meanest of the rebel States.

Scarcely a male adult is to be seen, all who are able to bear the musket having volunteered or been pressed into the service of the confederate army. The women look from their windows with sorrowing countenances, while the slaves hang upon or grin through the fences, evidently uncertain in what sentiment to indulge. One beautiful young lady stands at her gate with a defiant air, but her unusual beauty is all that some of our gallants discovered, and they are at once “thirsty.” She complies with their request for water, but at the same time gives them to understand most emphatically that she is opposed to the invasion of Northern troops, and is decidedly a “secesher.” But few slaves are seen along our route, but many deserted houses are found, some elegantly furnished and provisioned. Most of the families found represent themselves to be of strong Union sentiments. One man sitting on a fence, points out the house in which the poll of the precinct was held at the election for or against secession, and informs us that it is the only precinct that gave a Union majority in Eastern Virginia. The boys gave three hearty cheers for the precinct, and at the request of the informant, 3 more for Western Virginia.

Our route extends through a beautifully wooded country, though everything about the improvements betokens a laxity in farm management which is not found in the north.

At about 7 miles from our start, we fall in with the skirmishers of the 79th Highlanders, and further along the 79th and the N.Y. 2d – come in in advance of use from near Alexandria. Carlisle’s battery rolls past us, and heavy guns looking like ugly customers to face. At 9 P,M. Vienna is reached, and the various regiments encamp in the open fields on the ground. Pickets are thrown out, company A, of the Michigan 2d and company I, of our regiment, are detailed as pickets to guard the General’s (Tyler) headquarters. Col. Walrath and all the officers camp on the ground with the men.

The Col. tells a good story of Adjutant Titus, who rouses up at about midnight, seizes his revolver and challenges “who comes there?” It was his horse which had got hold with his teeth in the oat bag, which the Adjutant was using for a pillow, and was shaking it up for his supper.

Here is where the rebel battery opened on the Ohio boys under Gen. Schenck. The charred remains of the cars which were burned are seen at the right of the road. Reville beats at day-break of the 17th, the numerous regiments form in line, preparatory to an advance. Our brigade is ordered to take the right. The 12th is in line, and in 4 minutes, being ready in advance of the other regiments, we are placed on the right and lead the brigade. Other brigades file into the road, and the body move slowly forward. The five miles from Vienna to Fairfax is traversed, and at 11 A.M. we are in sight of the batteries and entrenchments. The various brigades ployed to the right and formed by regiments in column of division, and rested in order of battle, awaiting the command for attack. The rebel flag is in plain view, flaunting defiance to the old stars and stripes. A hurried movement of the confederate troops is observed, and in short time a courier arrives and announced that the enemy had evacuated the town, and our troops soon marched in and took possession. Some lawless soldiers, not however belonging to our brigade, set fire to several houses, which act is strongly denounced by all. Stringent regulations have been made which will prevent all depredations, even to entering the houses of the inhabitants.

Two confederate soldiers from South Carolina, were found in a house sick. They are not molested. Our march is continued, and three miles beyond Fairfax we encamped upon an open space of several hundred acres, at about 5 P.M. We have been joined by large bodies of our troops, and the view as they all take position is worth a year’s existence to observe. Bodies of cavalry, artillery and infantry, to the number of over ten thousand, covering hill, valley and plain with horses, cannons, wagons, and stacks of arms, was truly an imposing sight. Each regiment bussies itself with rations and supper. Camp guards and pickets are posted. Capt. Brand’s company being detailed from our regiment as pickets, the wearied men roll themselves in their blankets and the bosom of mother earth furnishes them a resting place for the night. Deep slumber holds us all, save the watchful guard, till 3 P.M. [sic] of the 18th of July, when the sharp report of a picket’s rifles, followed by another and another, and then a volley, followed by the “long roll” from 20 bands. Every man springs to his feet, seizes his sword or musket, and regimental lines are formed in the briefest time possible, and await orders.

Day-break soon reveals the camp. The alarm seems to be nothing serious and rations and breakfast is the next thing in order. At 8 A.M. the column advances our brigade in front. Manassas Junction is seven miles ahead, where the enemy has assembled in force. A mile and a half from the Junction, and at noon we halt. The artillery is rapidly moved in front. Aids gallop back and forth, every thing betokening an attack on the enemy’s lines. Five hundred mounted riflemen ride past at the top of their speed. At 1 o’clock P.M., a deep mouthed report is heard, and then the sudden bursting of a shell informs us that our artillery has commenced to feel the pulse of the confederates. After several shots our fire is returned, which shows the location of the confederates. We are supported by a heavy force in our rear and on our right and left rear. An uneven open space some half mile square, surrounded by woods, divides the opposing forces. Our battery is planted on a hill on our side of the field, and our brigade rests under cover of the hill and on the rear left of the battery. Our skirmishers go round the field on the left, through the woods, and reconnoiter the enemy’s position. They bravely approach within 25 feet of their line and exchange shots with them. Having found their location, they retire, and the 1st Massachusetts and out skirmishers are ordered forward to attack at the right of their center. They filed down across the field, form in line of battle, and advance steadily into the woods.

A cannon ball from the enemy brings down one of our men at our battery, and an ambulance hurries up to bring him off. Now from the woods comes the report of continuous volleys of musketry, a dozen ambulances hurry down to the scene and return with the wounded; and after some minutes the 1st Massachusetts and our skirmishers retire, having been confronted by an overwhelming force. Two field pieces are hurried forward into the woods to silence their battery, but the odds are too heavy against them, nearly all their men are killed, and several horses, and the pieces in great danger of capture, when up gallops an aid to our position and gives the command, “forward the New York 12th to the “rescue.”

The clarion voice of our gallant Colonel rings out the command, “attention – forward, double quick, march,” and we file down across the field, near the woods, forward into line, and march shoulder to shoulder into the thick underbrush, about thirty rods, and cover the safe retreat of the piece. We continue, and advance still farther into the woods, when, on reaching the edge of a deep gully, a murderous fire opens upon us, which brings to the ground several of our brave fellows, and wounded others. We returned the fire, and at the command we fell on our faces, and loaded and fired in this position until it became apparent that we were fighting against immense odds, and a concealed foe who knows our position, while we are ignorant of theirs. Still the Col. cheered us on, and our boys poured in their volleys in the direction of their reports. A heavy body of cavalry, stationed near to cover our retreat, if forced into one, gallops away, to avoid the deadly volleys from the concealed battery, which pass through our ranks, when one of the line officers, through a mistake, gives out the word that the Colonel has ordered a retreat, when the regiment, except the two right companies and part of the third, breaks and flees in great confusion, running down the Colonel, Major, and Adjutant, who again and again try to rally them, but in vain.

The mistaken command allows the line to break, and once broken and in confusion, with the volleys from the enemy’s infantry and battery pouring in, a panic seems to seize the men, and rally, except when entirely out of danger, is evidently an impossibility.

Company A, Capt. Church, company I, and part of company E, Capt. Brower, stand their ground, and continue to return the fire of the enemy. At this time Lieut. Upton, aid of Gen. Tyler, rides up to us, and exageratedly praises our bravery, and cheers us to the work. He evinces wonderful coolness and bravery, and tells us he too is of New York, (Batavia) and her sons should not flinch before the rebels, who were perhaps the treacherous South Carolinians. One of the Captains ask him what we shall do; whether to stay, and risk a charge and capture, or retire, so as to be covered by our cannon. He replies that he will report our condition to the General, and return to us, and wheels on his horse and gallops away. We continue our fire until that of the enemy ceases, when, supposing they are preparing to charge us in force, we arise, “bout face,” “right dress,” and “forward, guide right,” till we emerge from the bushes and woods, where we halt, and Col Richardson rides up to us and tells us to stand till further orders. Soon adjutant Titus comes, and orders us back to our first position before the attack. The balance of the regiment form on us, and at nightfall we retire a couple of miles, and encamp.

A host of incidents occurred during the day, which I have not time to mention. The attack was a trying ordeal for our raw troops, and army officers say that no regiment of regulars would have stood longer than did ours; though Gen. Tyler censured our Colonel for our retreat. Army regulations will not allow me to safely speak as I think of the management of the General in command, but it will be sifted.

Every one is loud in their praise of the daring and courage of those who stood till the fire of the enemy ceased. I must also particularly mention Capt. Church and Lieut. Wood, of company A, Lieut’s. Combe and Drake, of company I, and the men under their command, as well of those of company E, who remained, and those of other companies who singly joined us. Veterans of a hundred battles could not have shown more coolness and bravery. Capt. Brower, of company E, had two men shot near him, who threw up their arms, exclaiming “I am shot.” He and Lieut’s. Horner and Abbott tried to prevent their men from breaking, and followed them only to attempt their rally. – Capt. Brower and Lieut. Abbott came back, but were so overcome with the excessive heat and fatigue that they had to be assisted from the field. Several of the men belonging to the companies that fled, came to us and asked for a place in the ranks, and fought bravely till the end.

H. A. B.

The following is a list of the killed, wounded and missing, as far as could be ascertained in the confusion following the battle:

Company A – Geo. N. Cheney, missing; Joe LaBeff and — Snyder, slightly wounded.
Company I – Michael Murphy, of Fulton, Killed.
Syracuse Daily Standard, 7/25/1861

Clipping image

Contributed by John Hennessy

Henry A. Barnum at Ancestry.com

Henry A. Barnum at Fold3 

Henry A. Barnum at FindAGrave.com

Henry A. Barnum was later awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions with the 149th New York Infantry at Missionary Ridge





Capt. Henry Alanson Barnum, Co. I, 12th New York Infantry, On Blackburn’s Ford (1)

15 09 2018

Letter from Capt. Barnum
———-

We have been shown a private letter from Capt. H. A. Barnum of Company I, Onondaga 12th Regiment, to his wife, hastily written immediately after the skirmish at Bull’s Run, from which we make a few extracts.

In Front of Manassas, Va.
July 19th, 1861.

We approached Manassas yesterday about noon, and soon our skirmishers returned and reported the enemy in front in large force. At once our battery opened upon the enemy to find their location. Our fire was answered by the rebels, who showed their position.

Our regiment was in advance and rested at the left of our battery. After ascertaining the position of the enemy, the 12th Mass. Regiment was ordered forward to attack the enemy concealed behind a piece of timber. On reaching the woods they were met by a severe volley, which they returned for some minutes and then retreated. This discovered a masked battery at the left of their point of attack and in on our front. Two field pieces were ordered forward to attack it, which they did, but their men were nearly all killed by the deadly fire with which they were met, and the pieces were in imminent danger of capture, when the order came for the 12th (our regiment) to forward to the rescue.

We formed into line and advanced into a low field of brush, and covered the pieces, which retreated in safety. We continued to advance, and on reaching the brow of a gully a murderous fire was poured into us, which killed several of our men and wounded others. We returned the fire and fell upon our faces, loading and firing lying down. Their fire was continued with increasing rapidity, and our left and center fell back out of reach.

Company A, and my Company I, stood their ground and returned volley for volley.

And aid of the General rode forward, and harangued us briefly, complimenting us in unmeasured terms, and rode back to report our dangerous position to the General.

We kept up our fire until the fire of the rebels ceased, and supposing they were about charging on us, I ordered the boys to return to the open field, where we would be protected by our cavalry, which they did in good order.

Gen. Richardson, commanding our brigade, rode up and complimented us for our bravery, and ordered us to stand until further orders. We were soon ordered to join our regiment, and we marched back to them, and during the whole time until we encamped for the night, our Companies A and I did not break their lines.

Our regiment is censured for not rallying promptly, which is deserved. The error will never occur again I am sure.

My company and myself have been very profusely complimented for our coolness and bravery, which I mention so that you may be assured that whatever rumors may reach home derogatory to our regiment cannot be derogatory to us. * * * *

I am delighted with my boys. They stood to a man like veterans, assuring me that wherever I went they would stand by me, and they did so bravely, and in the face of a most appalling fire.

When the retreat commenced, fearing a panic, which you know is very contagious, I cocked my revolver and shouted to my command, that the first man who started to run I would shoot, and the men knew I would be as good as my word. Nut the caution was not needed. They are brave boys, and obey my commands with promptness.

Lieut. Combe cut his foot before leaving camp, but he rode in the baggage wagon and before the fight commenced he took his place and behaved throughout with the utmost coolness and bravery. Lieut. Drake was equally cool and brave, and my boys copied their officers admirably.

I write this sitting at the foot of a tree some half mile in the rear of our position yesterday – our brigade resting and awaiting orders. The battle has not been resumed to-day. * * * *

Only one of my men was killed, Michael Murphy, a brave fellow, who fell at his post nobly doing his duty. His friends reside at Fulton. My not loosing more men was due in part to the nature of the ground we occupied, being slightly hollowing, but still more to the fact that I kept my men lying flat down, except when firing.

Our regiment looses some ten men killed and several wounded. Capt. Root looses two men. – He is unharmed.

H. A. B.

Syracuse Daily Standard, 7/24/1861

Clipping image

Contributed by John Hennessy

Henry A. Barnum at Ancestry.com

Henry A. Barnum at Fold3

Henry A. Barnum at FindAGrave.com

Henry A. Barnum was later awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions with the 149th New York Infantry at Missionary Ridge





Sgt. William Sidney Mullins, Adjutant, 8th South Carolina Infantry, On the Battle

16 02 2018

Vienna 6th August, 1861

My dear Sir,

I received yours of the 27th ult day before yesterday: your first also came safely to hand. I had been thinking of writing to you for some time, but our facilities for writing here are very poor, & until to day, I have hardly found time & convenient arrangements for writing a long & detailed account of any thing. Besides for a month all our correspondence has been under military surveillance & they open our letters without scruple: after the war, if some of us do not get killed, there will be some private war on this account. I hold the claim as against S.C. Volunteers to be insulting & infamous & I will shoot any man without scruple whom I have good reason to believe guilty of opening my correspondence, be his position that of President, General, or what not, when my service has ended & I can meet him as an equal. Of this hereafter.

You have by this time doubtless seen Capt. Evans, & read in the papers many accounts of the Battle. I will however give you a brief statement of what I know, & my opinions about what I have heard. There never will be any fair & just statement of the whole battle. No man living ever can make it. There are many conflicting statements here & even as regards our own Regiment there are facts asserted & denied, about which I am entirely in doubt this day. The ground was broken: there was no position from which the whole could be seen & in some cases Regiments were for hours without orders fighting on their own hook. I will give you now what I think to be the most probable story of the affair – as I go along I will tell you the facts that I know. We were not at all engaged in the first battle: they cannonaded us & the balls fell around us occasionally that day, but no body was hurt. Capt. Harrington was on picket in a wood in front of our unit on Saturday night, & between daylight & sunrise he sent in a man to Col. Cash to say that the enemy were retreating: that from one oclock that morning the sound of their artillery & waggons going off had been heard. These sounds were distinctly audible in our Camp. Col. Cash ordered me to report the fact to Bonham & I gallopped there at once. Gen. B. sent back word to Col. C. by me that it was not a retreat, but that the enemy were moving to attack the left & to be on our guard as the attack might begin on own front. By eight oclock they commenced firing all along our lines with their artillery, which we found afterwards to be only four pieces kept behind to deceive us & prevent us from moving up to the left. Between eight & nine heavy cannonading began on our left in the direction of Stone Bridge & soon afterwards very heavy rollings of musquetry & this continued without intermission save for brief intervals all day. We lay in our trenches quietly. Between eleven & twelve Col. Cash sent me with a good glass to a high hill in the rear of the Camp a mile to see if I report any thing of the Battle. I found there Beauregard, Bonham, & their Staff. The sight was magnificent. We could not see the troops but the smoke indicated the position of the batteries & the whole length of the line. I staid there half an hour, & though I could not make out anything myself, a member of the Staff told me that the enemy had turned our flank & that our friends were giving back. I gallopped back to Col. C. & as I arrived an aid came to order, Kershaw, Kemper & Cash to hurry forward to the battle. As I left the hill, Beauregard & Staff gallopped towards the battle – Bonham back to the right where another attack was expected. We immediately started under a terrible sun to the battlefield at the double quick: it was a terrible thing to run four miles at midday. As we started two regiments of cavalry darted on before us & our own drums beat: this informed the enemy exactly of our position & they directed their batteries exactly at us. The balls fell all around us: many within four or five feet of our line, wonderful it was that no one was hurt. Several I assure you fell so close to me that the rushing & hiss seemed to be felt against my cheek. Believe me – it aint a pleasant feeling. The double quick run carried us out of this. Within a mile or perhaps a mile & a half of the battle field we commenced meeting the wounded & the flying. One man wounded accompanied by four or five perfectly unhurt: we met more than a hundred such parties. All told the same tale: the enemy were cutting our friends to pieces. Hamptons legion cut all to pieces Hampton & Johnson & Bartow all killed – Sloans Regiment utterly cut – these statements were repeated us by nearly as many men as both Kershaws & Cash Regiments contained. Besides these cowards there were many along the way side wounded fatally & writhing in agony & uttering cries of agony. The effect of this upon the Regiment was not inspiriting. As we came upon the field – or in sight of it – artillery at once opened fire upon us & soon afterwards musquetry. Asa Evans, Genl. Evans aid told me next day that this was from our own friends & ordered by Beauregard. He mistook us for the enemy flanking & Asa says he said “we shall have to retire from the field.” They soon discovered who we were however – they knew the white Palmetto & an aid of Genl. Johnson dashed up to us to order us to the left of the point where we had first been ordered. And now let me pause from my story of what I saw to tell you the history of what had happened up to this time, as I learn it from others. Genl. George Evans was in command at Stone Bridge with fourteen hundred men, as he states them: Sloans Reg. Wheats Bat. & some companies: he was drawn up on a high hill near Stone Bridge, expecting the attempt to cross there: with only two pieces of artillery, one of which was disabled before the action began. Fifteen hundred men came up on the other side of the stream at the Bridge and commenced a heavy artillery fire: he forbade his piece to open at all but deployed a few skirmishers on the banks of the stream & waited. For more than an hour it went on thus: heavy artillery playing upon him but without effect, & his line silent & waiting: but from the high hill where he was posted, he finally saw emerging from the wood in his rear & on his flank columns with the sunlight on their bayonets a mile & half off: he knew his flank was turned: that the attack in front was but a faint to deceive him & that the battle was to begin in earnest now on a fair field & with no advantage of position on his side. With Maj. Wheat he rode forward to select a position, hastily did so, changed his whole position & the battle began. The enemy in this column were twenty thousand strong at the lowest calculation: fourteen hundred was Evans force, & so the real fight began. The enemy had crossed at an old ford four miles above unknown to Beauregard. If they had known Evans weakness then, I think they would have swept him from the field in an hour & won the field. But they were afraid of masked batteries & opening their artillery, their infantry kept well back. Evans sent to Gen. Cocke for reinforcements: he refused telling Evans to fall back upon him. To do this was to leave the Road to Manassas open & Evans refused & sent a more urgent message to Cocke, but meantime Bee – I know not how – came upon the field. Slowly, cautiously & but steadily the enemy drove us back: the field – the dead – the path of the enemy showed this the next day: more than a mile our side had fallen back. Of what occurred during all this time read the papers & judge for yourself. Each Regiment claims all the glory of holding the field: let history decide: judge for yourself. But I resume my own story now. Soon after two – perhaps a little before two we came upon the field, Kershaw & ourselves formed in one line & advanced obliquely to the left. All day the enemy had played this game flanking continually: whenever the front was engaged new troops spread out beyond, & attempted to take us in flank & in rear: twas thus their numbers told. Our march brought us into a thick wood: Kershaw kept on in old field & thus met the enemy before us & opened fire: he changed his front at once bringing his Regiment at once at right angles to us thus __| [Cash horizontal, Kershaw vertical] the enemy pursuing his game came down Kershaws line to the same wood where we were advancing intending to go round Kershaw but met us & we gave him along our whole line one deadly sheet of fire at at about fifty yards distance before which they broke & ran like the devil. They were the N.Y. Fire Zouaves & Kershaw himself who could see the effect of our fire better than we could ourselves says they fell before us, trees in a hurricane. We gave them another at a greater distance & a part of our line a third, but by this time they had found shelter in another wood & were safe from us. They formed in this wood & came out upon a hill about 350 or 400 yards from us with two Regts of Volunteers & opened upon us a deadly fire: their Minie Rifles & Muskets reached us perfectly: ours were too short of range & Cash at once ordered us to lie down. For fifteen minutes the balls fell around us thicker than hail. Every tree in that wood is struck with balls: many have five or ten & next day the ground was strewn with leaves cut from the trees. Why we did not lose there one or two hundred men is to me incomprehensible. To look at the trees where we lay even now you would hardly believe that we lay there so long & lost so few men. The fire became galling finally & Col. Cash undertook to move us further down to the left thus ___| [Cash horizontal, ? vertical, enemy hypotenuse] Cash desired to go down as I have dotted [left of diagram] but the woods were thick, his orders were misunderstood, our Regiment fell into confusion for a brief while: meantime Kemper, glorious Kemper, was playing upon them with as rapid & deadly fire as ever flashed – what music it was to us! & before we came out on the left their Regulars fled: the Zouaves & Regulars whipped, the volunteers concluded that they had no call to try it further & the day was won. Now in all this part of the field, Kirby Smith nor any one else had any part of the fight, but Kershaw, Cash & Kemper: that they overrated us in in number I am sure: that they fled under a panic, I am sure for the Regulars & Zouaves, outnumbered us then & if they had come boldly upon us we should have been very glad to see some help, but they fled. Jeff Davis came upon the field late that day and there gave us the credit of turning the day. He has changed his opinion since, they tell me. We were at once ordered to pursue & went onward. Kershaw, Cash, & Kemper. Col. Withers Va. Reg was on the road as we went on & was asked to go on with us: he said he was ordered to stop at Stone Bridge & damned if he went on & not a step did he go. But on we went & yet faster before us went five or ten times our number. Finally we came up with the enemy & glorious Kemper opened once more: they staid not to try muskets, but abandoned to us every gun, their waggons & fled in one inglorious rush for safety. Yes! McDowell was there covering the retreat & his prisoners say at the first fire of Kemper led the race although they utterly overwhelmed us in numbers & artillery. We did not know until the cavalry came in what a capture we had made: nearly thirty guns – among them that long ten foot rifled thirty two pounder, drawn by ten horses, & guns, ammunition, etc. We stayed upon the field guarding these things alone – even Kershaws Regt had left – until two oclock & within three miles of us five thousand troops fresh who had not been in the battle, besides the disomfitted hosts who had fled. My dear sir never did whiskey & champagne taste as sweet as the copious draughts of the enemys stores that night. I was sure they had had not time to poison them & I drank freely & joyously. But shall I tell you now of the battlefield? Of the dead hideous in every form of ghastly death: heads off – arms off – abdomen all protruding – every form of wound: low groans: sharp cries: shrieks for water & convulsive agonies as the soul took flight. It is useless to write. I know something of the power of words to paint & I tell you that a man must see all this to conceive it. One soon becomes callous. We were thirsty ourselves: a slight breakfast – a four miles run – the excitement of battle – the roar of artillery & burning thirst – all this hardens the heart & before we left the field our men were gathering Colts Revolvers & Sharps Rifles from dying & wounded men with utter indifference to their bitter cries. Yet we gave them water when we could get it. On an acre square I saw sixty five dead men – near Shermans battery – mostly Zouaves: how many times it was taken & retaken, Heaven knows, but when we came upon the field the Zouaves had it again, although it was not firing. Kershaw drove them from it & as they fell along his left intending to fall upon his flank they met us as I have told you already. I shall enclose you in another envelope Cashs Report, with his consent. Dont publish this, but he says you may give his report to the Southerner, not to publish but to complete a statement from it as from a witness. They may publish that. Do write me often. Tell me what you have heard at home about us all. If I ever live to see you, I will tell you many things I cannot write. But this I say – if it please God, to stop this war, I will unfeignedly thank him. It wasnt the battle, but the next day – in a heavy rain their wounded & our wounded – lying in their agony – without food or care – nobody to help – nothing to eat & drink – this filled my heart with terror. I heard men imploring the passers by to kill them to relieve their agony. I saw the parties who were out to bury discussing whether to bury a man before he was dead. He could not live & some proposed to bury him any how. Says a sergeant set down a minute & he will be dead & we wont have to come back! This is war!

Genl. Evans proposed to Beauregard (Evans told me himself) as soon as they left the field to take a Regiment, & a battery & by a short country road dash ahead post him himself in front while the whole army advanced in rear & cut them off. Beauregard said “No! our loss of life is great: I will not risk such soldiers as these.” The feeling was noble but it was a terrible mistake of judgment. If it had been done, not a man of that army would have escaped. Such an utter panic in an army is unknown in the history of two centuries. Our brigade could have driven every soldier of the Federal Army from our side of the Potomac.

Davis is not the man for the next President. Beauregard has implored for weeks & weeks most piteously more troops. He has told them that he was crippled for men & during this very time Davis has rejected Regt. after Regt. because they would not volunteer for the war & because he had not appointed the Field Officers. He has been appealed to overlook his objections – to take things as he could & he has let his temper overrule his judgment & risked all our lives. If they the enemy, I mean, had had a great general, our Regiments would not have brought a man away from Fairfax C. H. on our first retreat. Fifteen thousand men deployed in one hundred & fifty yards of our Regiment alone, & but for a wholesome fear of masked batteries, not one man of us would have ever seen home again.

Again, there has not been any provision made for the sick & wounded that is even decent. The offices of the Surgeons department are crammed with utter incapables. In the volunteers, this is bad enough but in the Regular service it is intolerable. I heard the day before the Battle an officer of intelligence say “Well, whoever is wounded seriously will die. There has not been an army in Christendom during this century, where provisions for the wounded was so entirely neglected.” This was a man of intelligence who knew of what he was speaking.

I might say many other things to you of inefficiency & incapacity: of drunkenness, in high places at critical periods: of blunder & ignorance that would disgust you. But I will not close discouragingly. Let me say this, that with all this our army will win our triumph. They our leaders may foolishly fling away many of our lives: our cause will triumph. The soldiers discriminate between the blunders & follies of our leaders & the cause itself, & by that they will stand. I hope some day to talk these things over with you: till then adieu.

Dont let my scribblings get into the papers. You may show them to any discreet friends you choose, but on no account let any word get to a newspaper. Beauregards orders are stringent & a violation would expose me to trouble & danger. Perhaps you had better not show them at all. My regards to Mr. Millin & your sons if they are with you. Present my respectful remembrances to Mrs. Charles & believe me very truly yours

Will S. Mullins

W.S. Mullins 6 Aug 1861 Report of the Battle of Manassas

Letter image

From South Caroliniana Library

A full annotated transcription can be found at the above site, including biographical information regarding the author and persons mentioned in the letter. The transcription was compared to the letter image prior to posting here – those serve as its basis. Per that transcription, this letter was addressed to Edgar Welles Charles of the Darlington District, South Carolina.

William Sidney Mullins at Ancestry

William Sidney Mullins at FindAGrave

E. B. C. Cash’s report, which mentions Mullins and the capture of Congressman Alfred Ely.