Letter from the 2d New Hampshire Regiment.
Washington, D. C. July 24, 1861
Dear Father: – I suppose you all think I am killed by this time, but I am not, nor much hurt. Sunday morning at 2 o’clock we started and marched to the north side of Bull Run, and it was 10 or 12 miles; we had but very little water to speak of, and we were all tired out; we got within one mile of battle-field and the bullets came fast and close; we were then put into a run, and run onto the field right in front of a masked battery which cut our ranks badly. We stood it for a short time, and then we were ordered to retreat; we went back about 100 rods and were ordered to lie down; we lay a few minutes, and then we run across the road in front of the R. I. Battery in case the enemy should charge on it, and if the bullets didn’t come fast! cannon balls, shells and grape flew as thick as hailstones. We lay close to the ground, but a good many of our men were killed. Men lay all around, some with arms and legs shot off, and all kinds of wounds you could think of. There was a cannon ball came and struck just in front of me and killed four men dead. Our Col. Was shot through the arm but he had it dressed and came on to the field again while we cheered him. Then Lieut. Col. Fisk says “My brave N. H. 2d, I have got a chance to lead you in advance, come on!” We then started down the hill, amid cannon shot and shell. We stopped under the fence and a cannon ball came and struck the top rail over my head and knocked it off. I was then so weak that I could barely walk. The regiment went up the hill on the run, and I lay in the road; but I got a drop of water and then started for the hill where we came from, for I could not see the regiment anywhere. I found a lot of N. H. boys along the road. I fir, ed every gun I could get hold of, that was loaded. When I got back, the retreat had commenced, and I suppose you can read more about that than I can tell. I made out to live through it but much as ever. I walked about 35 miles back without stopping, with mud to drink, but I will not write any more now. I was not much hurt, only hit in the arm with a spent ball, but it is most well, only lame. I have just come from Alexandria, for I lost my way and went there. I am about worn out; I believe the Fisherville boys are all safe.
J. S. S.*
Concord Independent Democrat, 8/8/1861
*Likely Cpl. Joseph S. Sweatt
Biographical information provided by reader David Morin
Sweatt, Joseph S. Co. E; b. Boscawen; age 17; res. Boscawen (Fisherville, now Penacook); enl. Apr. 18, ’61, for 3 mos.; not must. in; paid by State; re-enl. May 21, ’61, for 3 yrs.; must. in June 3, ’61, as Corp.; disch. disab. Aug. 1, ’61, Washington, D. C.
Residence Boscawen NH; a 17-year-old Student. Enlisted on 5/21/1861 at Boscawen, NH as a Corporal. On 6/3/1861 he mustered into “E” Co. NH 2nd Infantry. He was discharged for disability on 8/1/1861 at Washington, D.C.
On 9/4/1862 he mustered into “G” Co. RI 7th Infantry. He died of disease on 3/6/1863 at Boscawen, N.H. (Enlisted at Woonsockett, R.I. Died of typhoid fever.) He was listed as:
Wounded 12/13/1862 Fredericksburg, VA
Hospitalized 12/15/1862 Windmill Point, VA
Promotions: 1st Sergt 9/4/1862 (As of Co. G 7th RI Infantry)
Other Information: born 10/28/1843 in Boscawen, NH
(Parents: Ira & Mary S. Sweatt)
Sources; used by Historical Data Systems, Inc.
JOSEPH S. SWEATT.
Sergeant Joseph Sawyer Sweatt, eldest son of Ira and Mary S. Sweatt, was born in the town of Boscawen, N. H., Oct. 28, 1843. He was fitted in the schools of that town and of Fisherville (now Pena cook) for the Tilton (N. H.) Seminary, which he left for the purpose of enlisting in the Second New Hampshire, a three months’ regiment. He was thus present at the First Bull Run. During the retreat he was one of the many who were lost from their regiment and was reported killed, but, at length, he found his way back to his command. Upon his muster out he immediately joined the Second New Hampshire (three years) Volunteers, but soon after was taken sick, discharged, and sent home.
A little later he went to “Woonsocket, R. I., where an uncle resided, the late Enoch Sweatt, railroad contractor, and was by him employed as an assistant civil engineer. When the call came for “three hundred thousand more,” he enlisted as an orderly sergeant in the Seventh Rhode Island. He was wounded at Fredericksburg Dec. 13, 1862, and was taken to Windmill Point Hospital, Md. There his father visited him, and, after fourteen days, was able to remove him to Washington. After a brief rest he took him home to New Hampshire, but he lived only ten days after his arrival. Yet he was very thankful to gaze once more upon familiar scenes, and to die among his friends. His final and fatal illness was typhoid fever, to which he succumbed March 6, 1863. Three older sisters survive.
Source: The Seventh Regiment Rhode Island Volunteers in the Civil War, 1862-1865 by Hopkins, William Palmer, 1845-; Peck, George Bacheler, 1843-1934, ed
Contributed by John Hennessy