Image: Capt. Alfred Horatio Belo, Co. D, 11th North Carolina Infantry

5 08 2021
Alfred Horatio Belo (from FindAGrave)

Capt. Alfred Horatio Belo, Co. D, 11th North Carolina Infantry, On the Battle

5 08 2021

Battle Ground 4 miles north of Manassas
Junction, Va. July 21 [sic], 1861.

Dear Carrie;

Your very welcome note, together with Mollie’s interesting letter came very opportunely to hand this morning. We have just received our tents and put them up. We commenced receiving our baggage yesterday evening, but it was Company’s time to go on picket guard, therefore after going out and posting the pickets, I returned to camp, and with a few men left, succeeded in pitching all our tents last evening and this morning, and now as everything is going on quietly I have seated myself for the purpose off having a nice quiet chat with you.

It is unnecessary to say anything about our departure from Danville, as I noticed an article in the last Press giving the particulars. Our stay in Richmond was not long; we arrived here on Saturday about 10 o’clock P.M. and left on the following Tuesday at 6 o’c P.M. I suppose you have seen an account of the collision of that night. I was in the rear car, asleep at the time, but was waked by the jar. The troops were all on one train, and the baggage on another following behind. Between 11 & 12 o’clock the baggage train ran into our train, but strange to say the rear car was injured very slightly, while one or two next to it were smashed up considerably, wounding several of Capt. Connally’s men, and breaking and bending a number of guns. To look at the wreck afterwards impressed everyone with the thought that nothing else but the divine interpolation of God saved the lives of many of our Regiment on that night. The next morning we proceeded on our way and without anything unusual occurring, arrived at Manassas Junction about sundown. We were under order to report ourselves at Winchester, but learning here that a large force of the enemy was advancing, and in all probability a battle would ensue on the following day, we concluded to wait until Gen’l Beauregard returned, and if he thought our services would be more needed here than at Winchester, remain and go to W afterwards.

On the return of Gen’l Beauregard we were ordered to remain, and between 1 and 2 o’clock A.M. on Thursday the 18th inst. were commanded to wake up the men (who were still in the cars) and have them ready to march by 4 o’clock. Shortly after daylight we took up our line of march, and after marching four miles were halted and placed in the reserves. I will not attempt a description of our feelings and thoughts on that march, but leave you to imagine them. I will only say that events crowded each other so rapidly that we did not find much time for reflection, and marching to a battle field is not near so serious a thing as represented by some. The battle commenced about 12 o’clock and about 10 o’clock were ordered to take our position on the left flank, where we remained during he remainder of the engagement. The fight was chiefly confined to the right front and center, and we did not become generally engaged, altho’ occasionally a cannon ball or bomb shell would whistle past and strike before us to keep us on the alert, and be ready for an attack at any moment. Our men were all remarkably cool during the whole day, and when it was announced that the enemy had retreated seemed to be disappointed that they had not had an opportunity to try their muskets on some Yankee targets. I have often, when reading of battles wished that I could be placed in some position to see one, but then had no idea that wishes would be so soon realized. Carrie, I assure you that it is magnificently grand to hear the continued rattle of musketry, the clash of bayonets, the shouts of exultation rending the air when any point is attained, mingled with the booming of the field pieces, and no one can adequately realize it, unless by actual experience. After the battle we marched and took our position on the center (where we have been ever since). On Friday and Saturday we were busily engaged in strengthening our entrenchments, and were kept on the alert both night and day by constant alarms of the approach of the enemy. We were within sight, and by means of glasses could see the Yankees passing to and fro. On Saturday night, the same night you wrote, we slept in the trenches on our arms, but were not alarmed until about daybreak when we commenced preparations for the coming struggle. We breakfasted as early as possible. It was a beautiful, bright, sunny Sabbath morn, and Dame Nature seemed to have donned her best attire to witness the signal defeat of our enemies.

The first shot was fired about 6 o’clock and a brisk cannonading was kept up. Between 9 and 10 o’clock the enemy made an attack upon our left flank, and a bloody contest ensued lasting for several hours. The evident design was to attack both flanks, and then make a combined effort on the center, but they met with such stout resistance at those two places and had to reinforce so much that they had very few left to make the attack on the center. I heard it remarked yesterday that one of the Yankee prisoners said that they (the Yankees) had taken one of our pickets prisoner a day or two before the battle and had extorted from him the facts that the center was stronger than any other part, and the North Carolina men were in the center, whereupon they said ‘they would not encounter N.C. troops at all, but if they were compelled they would pit off to the last.’ Be that as it may, they did not advance upon us but kept up a constant cannonade upon us, which of course we could not resist, but had to keep well concealed behind our entrenchments. The battle was very bloody, and the victory dear as we lost some very good men, but our loss is not near so heavy as that of the enemy. The regulars and Zouaves are the men who did the hard fighting against us, and they are the ones who suffered the most. I am told that almost all of Ellsworth’s petlambs were left on the field. This was undoubtedly intended as a decisive battle on the part of the enemy. We are informed that a great many ladies and gentlemen, among them Congressmen with their wives and daughters accompanied the army as far as Centerville (three miles north of this), with the intention of going on to Richmond with the army, but in the evening of that great day suddenly concluded to postpone their visit to that city for the present. But I am digressing.

The battle continued with unabated fury until about 4 o’clock P.M. when the firing ceased and shortly afterwards we were told that the enemy were in full retreat, and were ordered to follow immediately. It was very gratifying to see the promptness with which our men leaped from their places, and in a few moments were in hot pursuit and with glistening bayonets and shouts of triumph rending the air. We passed right through the enemy’s camp and saw vast quantities of knapsacks, haversacks, canteens, blankets, uniforms, bread, beef, guns &c, that they had left behind in their haste, and continued the pursuit for several miles, when night came on us and we returned to our camp.

It is impossible for me to say anything correctly about the loss on either side. I know the whole of the next day was occupied in bringing in the booty and prisoners. We took a large number of baggage wagons and fine horses, all of Sherman’s battery besides a good many guns and other articles of war. On the day after the battle some five or six hundred prisoners were sent on to Richmond, including 30 or 40 officers, and there were, and are now a great many more to go on. It was decidedly the most signal victory that has ever been achieved on the American continent and several more lessons of the same sort will I hope have a good effect on Lincoln and his cohorts. But I declare, here comes the end of the paper and I must stop.

Write soon to Your cousin,

Direct 11th Regt. N.C. Volunteers Manassas Junction. Va.

You doubtless heard of the death of Col. Charles Fisher. His remains were sent home.


Contributed by Charles R. Knight

Transcription from North Carolina Museum of History

Original letter at State Archives of NC

Alfred Horatio Belo at Ancestry

Alfred Horatio Belo at Fold3

Alfred Horatio Belo at FindAGrave

Alfred Horatio Belo at Wikipedia

Pvt. Thomas G. Read, Co. I, 33rd Virginia Infantry, On the Victory

4 08 2021

Manassa’s Junction
July 27, 1861

Dear Father,

I have been thinking sometime that I would send you a letter, as I have written twice to mother, I know you want the exact news about the big fight and what they took &ct. well I suppose you know we, that is, our company got here after the fight we got here last Tues. and have been under tent ever since, doing very well it is not near as bad as some report it we have had plenty to eat of fresh beef, bacon, flour, coffee & sugar, and some rice, we are kept right busy drilling three times a day, cooking, bringing water about 200 yds. The water is good freestone, but rather warm, still it does right well, there is plenty of it. As to the fight that took place last Sunday, it is considered by all a great victory, and so it is, I was out in the battleground Wednesday, it is 7 miles west of the Junction, and we are camped 3 miles west of it, so we are 4 miles from the battlefield, it is estimated that we killed 10,000 of the enemy, and they 3,000 of us, besides hundreds of prisoners taken by us, we took 70 pieces of cannon, 8 thirty two pounders, and 62 rifled cannon, besides 18,000 stacks of small arms. The value of all taken from them is estimated at a million and a half dollars so you see it is a pretty good gain to our side and less so theirs; there were a good many old regulars among the enemy; they are their best soldiers, and were dressed in red and blue, even had red pants, good marks to shoot at; it seems they intended to march right through to Richmond from the way they were prepared; they had 3 days rations in their haversacks, and had their Knapsacks on their backs pretty well filled; but God frustrated their designs and they have nothing left but infamy, dishonor, and defeat; if we had been able to follow them, we might have run them clear through, and taken possession of Washington itself, but it was not to be so, our men are very well satisfied as it is and there is no bravado, or boasting that I have heard, but we all believe that God was on our side, we being in the right. At last our men charged bayonets on them about a hundred yds off, but they ran like Yankees and we couldn’t reach them; they kept on running until they got out of danger though the cavalry pursued them and destroyed a good many with sword & pistol. they went back through Alexandria like stray sheep. Well, I can only tell you yet that I have been doing very well so far, we rode 35 miles on the cars from Salem to this place let me know whether Henry has gone in the militia and write soon to your affectionate son

Thos. G. Read

Let mother read this as if it were written to her, as I may not be able to write again soon, love to all, and tell James Zirkle I will write to him soon


Contributed by Eric Mink

Read Family Correspondence at University of Notre Dame Rare Books and Special Collections, including biographical information

This letter at University of Notre Dame Rare Books and Special Collections (transcription and letter images)

Thomas G. Read at Ancestry

Thomas G. Read at Fold3

Thomas G. Read at FindAGrave


Image: Capt. Asher Waterman Harman, Co. G, 5th Virginia Infantry

4 08 2021
Asher Waterman Harman (From FindAGrave)

Capt. Asher Waterman Harman, Co. G, 5th Virginia Infantry, On the Victory

3 08 2021

Camp Jackson, July 25th, 1861

My dear Wife,

It has been a long, long time since I have received a letter from you. I know that it is not your fault, but that makes me the no less anxious to hear from you directly. I went to the Junction last night & was informed that the mail wouldn’t be opened until this morning & when I sent this morning was informed it would not be ready before 10 o’clock. John went in this morning & I am in hopes that he will bring me a letter from you. I know I am anxious. You were & are still to hear from me. I have done my part to communicate with you and have written daily. Some of my letters must have reached & relieved your mind on my account. We have been comparatively quiet for three days now, and we are down to our usual drill daily, & our orders has just come in to cook three days rations which does indicate a movement somewhere, though we may stay here for a week or so yet. Our forces are pressing on towards Alexandria. It seems now that Lion is to be herded in his den, and I think we may yet see the White House & Lincoln before we return to the Valley. Nothing would afford me so much pleasure. The newspaper accounts of the dead, wounded & prisoners of the enemy are moderate, also of wagons & army stores. It is almost incredible one can hardly believe their own eyes at the extraordinary sights. This has been a terrible disaster for them & will take millions of money for them to replace, if they even can their heavy losses. The results of this battle must change the face of the war. Their forces cannot penetrate into the State with a victorious army pressing on Washington & ready at a moment’s warning to be hurled on the rear of them. Such a course on their part would be fatal & render their destruction more than certain. I have no fears now for the final result of the contest. We have proven our superiority over even their Regular forces. Don’t think I am too confident. God is on our side. His finger is pointed direct to the late battlefield and speaks in tones of thunder his approval of our great cause & dare could it be otherwise. Are we not fighting for all we hold dear on this earth, and what is life worth, if we fail. I would not give a fig for it, but enough of this. Long before this you have seen Asher, Graham & Stafford & they have given you all the particulars from this Quarter & about me. Tell Willy he ought just to see the dead Yankees & Yankee prisoners. Father’s boys slayed a lot of them too & fought like wild cats. I am very anxious to hear from Michael. I want by all means to go into his regiment if I can get there. I think he has influence enough to have me there. William is especially anxious to go too. I hope we will all be together. When the horse gets home, if you need him, which I don’t think you do, as two horse plow teams will do the work, keep him, if not, Michael will dispose of him for me again. Bagly will let you have another hand if you need him. You will know best. Tell William or Mr. Dull to have the wheat land ploughed early & the land put in fine order so that the wheat will have a good start. I meant for you to get the Mediterranean wheat from Michael. Only seed as much in white wheat as will make bread for ourselves, say 8 or 10 acres. Sew our own Bouten wheat & the Med. from Michael. I am so anxious to get a letter from you, it seems like a mighty long time. Bearing the water, we are getting on very well, that is miserable & scarce. We suffer for it, but hope to be moved soon to a better place. Did we make much hay. How does the stock look. I hear that we have had a fine season and that the corn looks well. Hope our fall pasture will be good. Try & make a clover seed enough for ourselves. The Timothy seed you will have to buy. There is two bushels at home & five bushels more will do. Don’t sew the new ground in grass this fall. Leave it until next fall. Keep all stock off of the young grass except the colts & calves & don’t let them stay on in wet weather. Do with the wheat just as Michael advised. Remember me to the servants. How does Albert, Ned, Marshall, Fanny & Philbert come on. Hope they are all good. Mind me to Miss Sally & Mr. Dull. Good bye. God less you. Kiss my darling babies for me. Love to Lucy. Kind regards to Mrs. Donaghe. Love to Mary, Betty, Fanny & Corey. Hoping to get a letter from you soon.

I am as ever your fond & devoted Husband,

Asher W.H.

Have you seen my wounded men. I tried to send Doyle home this morning but could not. He has typhoid fever. Will send him up tomorrow. No news. Tom ate dinner with me today & is here now. Will & I are both well. Tom Gates is coming to stay with me.



Contributed by Eric Mink

The original letter and transcript were found by Eric Mink on the website of War Between the States Militaria July 2013.

Asher W. Harman at Ancestry

Asher W. Harman at Fold3

Asher W. Harman at FindAGrave

“L.V.H.”, Co. I, 4th Virginia Infantry, On the Battle

30 07 2021

Manassas Junction, July 24, 1861.

Mr. Editor:

I will now give you a short account of the important events that have lately transpired at this point. On Sunday, the 21st, inst., we fought a bloody and one of the greatest battles ever fought on this side of the Atlantic. I cannot enter into the details of the battle, but can only give you a description of the part played by Jackson’s brigade, and our regiment specifically. Early on the morning of the eventful day it was reported that the enemy were advancing upon us and that a large column was attempting to flank us on our left wing. So our brigade was put in motion and marched off to support the point of attack. Soon after our departure from our camp, the impudent fellows opened a cannonade just opposite our encampment, actually throwing balls, shells, &c., into it, yet we pushed on, and after a good deal of marching, counter-marching, double-quicking, &c., we halted for a short time in a grove. At that time there were cannon firing all along our line, but the heaviest was on our left, where the sharp rattle of musketry plainly told us that there the work had begun. It was then about 11 o’clock, but the firing had been opened some time before. After waiting for a short time, an aid came riding up at full speed and we were ordered into the field, which was at least a mile distant. Away we went over the hills towards the scene, whilst the din of the battle grew louder and louder. On arriving there our brigade was posted on the extreme left of the line of battle. Our regiment was posted just a few yards in the rear of the celebrated “Washington Artillery,” from New Orleans, which was stationed on the summit of a small hill. This we had to support, and await the order to charge on the enemy’s battery, just on an opposite hill. In the meantime the enemy’s whole fire from his artillery on the left was directed on the batteries just in front of our regiment, and we had to throw ourselves flat on the ground as a protection against the balls, shot, shell, &c., of the enemy’s battery, which came thick as hail just a few feet above our heads, and completely cutting to pieces a grove in our rear. Sometimes they would strike in front of us, tear up the ground, and bounce over our heads, and others would just graze the tops of our bodies as we lay prostrate. Whilst laying there, a fatal shell burst in the midst of our company, killed three of our boys and wounded another. Also we had some others wounded there. We lay in that awful place for at least two hours, during which time the suspense was of the most agonizing character. For our inactivity was a burden, and we expected every moment to be swept into eternity. The batteries in front of us did noble and effective work; and Capt. Pendleton’s battery was there too. After a time the enemy moved some of their pieces still further over to our left, so as to obtain an enfilading fire on our lines. Some of our pieces returned the compliment to them with a deadly fire. And then the strife was fiercest and the thunder of the battle the loudest. A large body of the enemy then attempted to get around us on our left, to take the batteries. But the word was given to charge on their lines. And believe me it was a relief for our boys to go get up from their dangerous position behind those batteries and dash forward in the charge. The Yankees cannot stand a charge, so they did not stand firm, but deemed it prudent to retire a short distance. Then our regiment was ordered to halt and open fire upon them. After firing upon their column for a while – many of the shots telling well – we again charged on them, and that was the turning point of the day, for they broke and ran like fine fellows. We immediately took all of their artillery, there, the celebrated Rhode Island battery. Abut the same time the enemy’s ranks broke along the line and the day was won. Some reinforcements then came in and joining in with our troops, pursued the routed army for about two miles. Then our cavalry put out after them for many miles, captured about 20 pieces of cannon from them, many baggage wagons loaded, guns, &c., which they threw aside in their flight. Our gunners turned some of their own rifle pieces upon them and played most beautifully into their ranks for miles. The road along which they fled was filled with blankets, haversacks, canteens, &c., laid aside by them, as they run like brave fellows. It was a complete rout for them and a glorious victory for us. Those were proud moments for our boys when they beheld our regimental flag wave in triumph over the field of Stone Bridge (the name given to the battle). It was the same flag given to our company on the morning of our departure, by the ladies of Falling Spring, as we gave it to the regiment, being the nicest of any among our companies. Opposed to our regiment were the New York Zouaves of Ellsworth’s regiment and some of the Brooklyn Zouaves; but with such a motto as “Pro Aris et Focis” upon our banner, we struggled hard and finally won the day. Also the rest of our brigade had to engage with regulars, and hence had quite brisk work of it. We gained the day, but it was a bloody victory for some of us. Our company lost five, and had seven wounded. There were also others from Rockbridge who fell to rise no more. Our company buried our dead comrades on the morning after the battle, just where we were first stationed, on the edge of the grove. Poor boys! they now sleep their long sleep in their soldier graves amid the hills of Prince William, where they fell in the cause of Freedom, and in defence of all that is dear to the human heart. On the field of Stone Bridge some of the best and bravest blood of the South was shed in the cause of Southern Independence, sons of Virginia, of the Carolinas and of all the other Confederate States, were there sacrificed upon our common alter and in one common cause. But the enemy’s loss far exceeded ours. I walked over the field in the evening of the day of battle, and where they stood the ground was strewn thick their dead and wounded. Some of the wounded said that we Southern boys fought differently from what they had been led to suppose. And that difference is owing to the difference on our respective causes. Had I time and space I could enter more into the details of the battle. Some of our boys remarked on that beautiful Sabbath morning that we would on that day fight a second Waterloo; and I hope it will be to Lincoln what it was to Napoleon. That it will but herald the downfall of the usurper and the tyrant and inaugurate the bright era of Southern Independence, when peace and prosperity will reign over the land of the sunny South.


Lexington (VA) Gazette, 8/1/1861

Contributed by John Cummings. Transcribed by Eric Mink.

Co. I was comprised of the Liberty Hall Volunteers (L. H. V.)

Original Roll of Liberty Hall Volunteers, Co. I, 4th VA Infantry

Unknown Officer, Co. G, 2nd Rhode Island Volunteers, On the Battle

19 07 2021

The following letter from an officer in Company G, Second Regiment Rhode Island Volunteers, giving an account of the battle of last Sunday, will be read with interest. It was addressed to a prominent citizen of this town. It seems that our Company passed thirty-six hours wholly without food, drink, or sleep.

Camp Clark, Washington, D. C.,
July 23d, 1861.

Friend ——:– I suppose, were this, you have heard of our battle and defeat; but thinking that you would like an account from an eye-witness, I will give it to you. We left our camp at Centerville at two o’clock on Sunday morning, and, after marching about ten miles, we engaged the rebels. The Second Rhode Island Regiment, was in the advance, two companies on each side of the road acting as skirmishers, and my own company was the advance company on the road, marching by the flank in four ranks. We were marching in the woods, and could not see where the enemy were, when Col. Hunter came riding down to us and said, “Now, Rhode Islanders, we expect much of you – give it to them!” We assured him we would do it. We then leaped over a fence and found the enemy drawn up in a line and ready for us. We rushed down upon them, firing as fast as we could, but they outnumbered us, and being armed with Minie rifles, cut us completely to pieces. Through some mismanagement, our regiment was engaged with the rebels thirty minutes before any other troops came on the field, receiving a most galling fire. Within the space of ten minutes, Cols. Hunter and Slocum, Major Ballou and Capt. Tower fell, which was a severe loss to commence with. Our men fought like bull-dogs. During the thirty minutes we were all alone on the field out men expended all their ammunition, and we had to rob the dead to last till we were ordered off to replenish. The rebels are armed with first-rate arms, and use them well. They would bring out an American flag in their line and keep it there until they could rally their men in the bushes, and then make a rush upon us. In this way they deceived us.

Our light battery worked first-rate, but was obliged to leave the field for want of ammunition. After a fight of about five hours we were ordered to retreat. On our way back the enemy opened a masked battery upon us, and killed a great many men and horses, and took the light battery, except one piece. The Rhode Island Second Regiment received the highest praise from army officers and the citizens of Washington, for the prompt manner in which they went into battle. The greatest compliment I heard was than of an officer of the army, saying, that if it became necessary to cover the retreat, he would be obliged to take the Rhode Island Regiments and the Regulars to do it, which I thought was very good.

Major Ballou was in the midst of the battle, acting bravely, when a cannon ball passed through his horse, shattering the Major’s leg to pieces, so that they had to take it off. Our retreat was so hasty that we left both dead and wounded. How they will fare the Lord only knows. The rebels are a blood-thirsty set.

You can imagine the shape the men are in at present, when you know that we marched from 2 o’clock in the morning, without any breakfast, ten miles, and immediately attacked the enemy without resting at all; and then our retreat was so sudden that we could not rest. The distance to Washington was thirty miles, which we were obliged to mad before we halted, all without any food except what we could carry in our haversacks, and this we were obliged to throw away. So you see we were on our feet without rest from 2 o’clock Sunday morning, till eight o’clock Monday morning, when we arrived at Long Bridge. The men’s feet are in very bad condition. I never knew what it was to suffer for water before, being obliged to dip it up in the road all muddy, and drink it mud and all. It does not become me to give my opinion of this battle and its management, but I have one and you will, after you have read the whole account.

You must excuse the manner in which this is put together, for I have been writing all day making reports, and thought I would write you, if it was late.

Warren (RI) Telegraph, 7/27/1861

Clipping Image

Contributed by John Hennessy

Image: Robert R. Hemphill, Orderly to Brig. Gen. Milledge Luke Bonham

16 06 2021
Robert R. Hemphill, Orderly to Brig. Gen. Milledge Luke Bonham, Contributed by Erik McBroom

Robert R. Hemphill at Ancestry

Robert R. Hemphill at Fold3

Robert R. Hemphill at FindAGrave

Image: Maj. George W. Varney, 2nd Maine Infantry

14 06 2021
George. W. Varney, 2nd ME Infantry, Contributed by Joseph Maghe
George W. Varney from FindAGrave

George W. Varney at Ancestry

George W. Varney at Fold3

George W. Varney at FindAGrave

George W. Varney at Wikipedia

Asst. Surgeon Frederic de Peyster III, 8th New York State Militia

12 06 2021
Asst. Surg. Frederic de Peyster III, 8th NYSM (L), His Sister Estelle Livingston “Lily” de Peyster (R) Contributed by Ron Coddington
Frederic de Peyster III from FindAGrave
Frederic de Peyster III from FindAGrave

Frederic de Peyster at FindAGrave

Frederic de Peyster at Geni

Frederic de Peyster bio sketch