“Soldier,” 16th New York Infantry, On the Battle and Retreat

15 01 2018

Private Letter from a Soldier at Bull’s Run.

[Through the politeness of a friend we are permitted to make the following extract from a letter written by a soldier who was engaged in the battle of Bull’s Run, to his friends in this county. It does not contain anything new; and is chiefly interesting as coming from one who participated in the fight and subsequent stampede. – [Editor Journal]

Head Quarters, 16th N.Y.R.

Near Alexandria, July 29, 61.

Our regiment, in connection with many others, started for Fairfax Court House, where the enemy were encamped in force. About two miles this side we had a smart skirmish with the enemy, who fell back before our advance. It was the first time for all of us, and I confess it sounded strangely to hear the whistle of bullets around our ears. However, none of us were killed, and for the night we camped on the ground which the 8th Alabama regiment left on our approach.

They left behind their whole camp equipage, their dinner cooking, fires burning, &c. We took possession without asking leave. Thursday morning the whole force moved toward Centreville where we camped until the day of the fight. There I saw more of the pomp and circumstance of war than I ever expected to see. On every side the country swarmed with troops of artillery posted on every height, trains of baggage wagons filling every road, making the scene a most novel and interesting one.

You have doubtless read the published accounts of the battle. It was a foolhardy attempt to rout the enemy at great odds. At 2 ½ o’clock, A. M., we were roused for the march, and without breakfast, except such as could be eaten by the way, were led to attack the enemy in position who outnumbered us two to one – Everything was in their favor; complete knowledge of the ground, guns in position, fresh troops outnumbering ours, and sober generals. Against all of those our army had to contend. We did not begin our march until 6 A. M., when an advance on all sides was made. Our position was on the left wing, to repel any flank movement by the enemy. After marching about four miles we halted in front of a rebel battery where the fight of the 18th inst. Occurred. Our artillery opened on it, and we could see the shells burst in and over the entrenchment, but it failed to elicit any reply from the enemy. Two companies from our regiment were then detailed to go nearer as scouts, and force the enemy to discover themselves. The wood was so thick that we went within 100 yards before we were aware of their presence. A sharp skirmish then took place, men firing from behind trees and other shelter. One lieutenant in the other company was slightly wounded, while several of their men were seen to fall. Fearing an ambush, we now fell back and poured in a raking fire of artillery, which soon cleared that portion of the wood. A force of 3000 foot and 2000 horse were soon seen marching down on our left, and the brigade was ordered to the front to repel the attack. – They were in full view, and the most awful sight I ever witnessed was the effect of our artillery on their advancing column. Shells burst among them scattering in every direction, while grape shot mowed them with fearful rapidity.

I see in their account of the fight that the Tiger Rifles (the brigade attacking us) is reported as being cut up the worst of any one engaged, and for the reason that it was the only one that exposed itself – They fired on us very rapidly with rifles, killing one lieutenant and wounding a few privates, but doing us not material damage. At this time, the ammunition of our artillery gave out, and fearing the guns would be captured, they were taken off the field. Owing to confusion of orders, every regiment but ours left with them. The enemy, seeing their advantage, fired on us repeatedly, but injured no one. Orders now came for us to join the retreat, as the right wing was reported as wholly cut up.

On the heights of Centreville we camped until midnight, while the army was falling back on Fairfax, where being in the best condition we covered their retreat, which was soon turned into an utter rout. I have seen in no paper a description of it which answers to the reality. The road was literally strewn with every kind of munition of war and accoutrement of soldiers, which were thrown away or abandoned in the flight. Baggage wagons overturned and their contents tumbled out, horses shot to prevent their falling into the hands of the enemy, or ridden off by their cowardly drivers. But the most painful sight was the men, In all stages of exhaustion, they blocked the way. Scores of them gave out and slept by the roadside. Worn out by the day’s exertions, the panic which spread among them was the only thing which kept all from falling, for the heat had been oppressive and the work arduous. It began to rain before we reached Fairfax, but so great was the exhaustion that, without any preparations for comfort, we slept where we halted. There was no order. Regiments were mixed up in almost inextricable confusion. It was one great train of fugitives from Centreville to Alexandria, and all for nothing, for the enemy was retreating as fast, though perhaps not as disastrously, in the other direction. The defeat is universally acknowledged to be owing to the inefficiency and drunkenness of our Generals. Two have already been removed, and more are trembling.

Soldier.

The People’s Journal [Greenwich, N. Y.] 8/8/1861

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Contributed by John Hennessy





Pvt. Henry Harrison Comer*, Co. A, 1st Ohio Infantry, On the Battle

11 01 2018

For the Lancaster Gazette

Our Army Correspondence.

Washington City, D.C.

July 24, 1861

Messrs. Editors: – Since writing to you last, stirring scenes and startling events have transpired. Leaving Camp Upton at 2 p.m. on Friday July 15, with bright hopes of a speedy reunion with friends and relatives, we joined regiment after regiment, brigade after brigade, division after division until the Grand Army of Occupation, filed in ranks of four numbering 50,000 men, were marching toward Manassas Junction, the bands playing national airs, banners floating in the breeze, voices singing Union anthems, and myriad bayonets gleaming in the sun. High and sanguine hopes were entertained that the horde of political blacklegs, bankrupt politicians, refugees from foreign climes and crimes, murderers, thieves pick pockets and assassins who composed the Southern rebel army would be most effectually wiped out and the Stars and Stripes float in glory and beauty o’er Vienna Station, Germantown, Fairfax Court House, Manassas Gap and Junction, and at last have a crowning glory by waving in majesty and beauty on the Capitol at Richmond. The station at Vienna was taken possession of, our national emblem placed on the track where one month before the 1st Ohio was fired into be a masked battery of the enemy. Germantown, Fairfax and Centreville fell before the stern front and steady march of the army of freedom, until we brought up at the northern fork of Bull’s Run, on July 20. Here a masked battery within an entrenchment was stormed, but with ill success, and both sides got off with considerable loss. Sunday morning dark and early, 2 o’clock, our column, under the command of Gen. McDowell, marched to the since scene of conflict; Schenk’s Brigade, composed of the 1st and 2d Ohio and the 2d New York, was given the post of honor and were thrown out as advance skirmishers in order to detect and draw forth the enemy’s fire of the masked batteries. The enemy lay strongly entrenched in unseen trenches, under cover of the woods and in the long grass. The 1st Ohio made the opening charge of musketry, the 2d New York followed at a double quick, which brought forth the enemy’s fire and regiment of riflemen who were finely repelled by the 2d Ohio. Our brigade loss was comparatively small, considering the dangerous position assigned us, and as you have heard by the newspapers, telegraphic reports and rumors probably more than iIi know of the details, I leave the matter to the official report of our very worthy and efficient Brigadier who has, after a considerable lapse of time, and by keeping us boys over their time, avenged the slaughter of Vienna and gained a reputation for Ohio!

The battle of Bloody Run will never be effaced from the O.V.M.’s memory; the mounds of dead and dying, the heroic charges, the rivers of blood, the death-groans of comrades, the ghastly visage, the faintly articulated cry for water, the booms bursting, the cannon’s flash, the impetuous rush, the Grecian stolidity, the Roman courage, the army of enthusiastic, impetuous, devoted and courageous soldiers who rushed into the jaws of death and charged into the cannon’s mouth, will live vividly in their memories long after the rebels who caused the disaster and death, have expired their crimes by an ignominious death on earth, and a torturing life among the spirits of the damned!

The precipitate retreat, the hurried flight from the field of action, was owing to a misconstrued order, and it is estimated that 15,000 U.S. Troops were in close proximity who were not in the engagement at all. Up to 3 P.M., the battle was ours, when Johnston’s rebel reinforcements turned the tide and compelled a retreat, which, although not compulsory, was a necessity. We were ordered to retreat which we lost time in doing! and starting at the double quick came, a distance of over 30 miles, our muskets, canteens, blankets, haversacks, cartridge boxes, etc., still a component of our baggage. At Fort Corcoran, Arlington Heights, we were kept in a drenching rain for six mortal hours, while regiment after regiment moved past us to shelter, food, and repose. We are now here in Washington City, barracked at Union Block, corner of 6th and Pennsylvania Avenue, while your correspondent has taken rooms at the Avenue House, doffed his soldier clothes, donned clean toggery, and imagines himself once more a icitizen!i

The order has been given to march to camp at 10 o’clock to-day, at the end of 7th st., to attend to roll call, see who are killed, wounded and missing, and to make arrangements for getting home as soon as troops now in waiting for orders are marched to this city to fill our places.

L.M. Dayton and Myron H. Gregory are here, together with Gen. W.T. Sherman of our city, who was commandant of a brigade. Company A has lost none of its members, with, possibly, the exception of William Swygert, who was substituted in place of Kitty Linn as a Pioneer. – He has not yet reported himself at headquarters.

Yours, as ever,

Harry Comer.

The Lancaster [OH] Gazette, 8/1/1861

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Contributed and transcribed by Dan Masters

* Records found for Henry Comer and Harry Comer in 1st Ohio. ID of Henry Harrison Comer is per contributor.

Harrison Comer is listed as a private in Co. A. in the Official Roster of Ohio Troops in the War of the Rebellion found at Ancestry.com

Harrison Comer at Ancestry.com

Harrison Comer at Fold3 





Pvt. Samuel S. Hersey, Jr., Co. K, 4th Maine Infantry, On the Battle

10 01 2018

Military Correspondence.

———-

[Letter from private Hersey, of Co. J*, to a friend, – interesting because the writer only tells what he saw.]

Bush Hill, Alexandria, July 27th, ‘61.

Dear Frank: Your letter came to hand day before yesterday at which time I was too much exhausted to reply. I will try now and give you an account of the battle, that is, what I saw of it. Our Brigade not arriving on the field until about three o’clock, I don’t of course know much about the first of it.

We were marched three or four days before hand to a field about one mile from Centreville, and there encamped. Saturday we were ordered to have three day’s rations in our haversacks, and be ready to march at 5 o’clock; this order was afterwards changed to 3 o’clock Sunday morning.

At 3, then, we formed in the road and took up the line of march. We were detained just this side of Centreville for two or three hours from some cause unknown to me, but at last we started at quick time and kept it up for about four miles. Then we were detained again waiting for the cavalry two or three hours more; all this time we could hear firing away off on our front and left. When the forward next began, the order came “Right shoulder shift arms” – “Double quick,” and the double quick was kept up until we reached the battle field; they would halt us a few seconds to breathe, and then came the dog trot again. When we got there the day was decided, but our officers were determined to have a hack at them. We marched up the road and formed the line at the foot of a long hill or ridge, and then went up the hill in line. When we reached the top our lines were broken by the retreat of our own cavalry, who went through us pell mell. One said, “For God’s sake don’t go up there for they have got a rifle battery posted so as to sweep the hill.” But we did go up, and from the top I got the first view I had of the enemy.

They were drawn up on our front and right in a body of woods; directly in front at about half a mile from us they had a battery of 6 pounders, while on the left of our front they had a large body of sharpshooters thrown out along a fence and lying behind it. Their fire was terrible, and for nearly an hour our Brigade alone and unsupported held them good play. Men fell at times like apples from a wind shaken tree.

Three times we were beaten back by the storm of iron and lead, and three times we charged back again. The general retreat began when we were beaten back the first time, but we did not notice that. In the last rally a little fellow in front of me was shot through the chest, another near me through the arm, still another in the hand; at the same volley a slug passed through my trowsers without touching me.

Our colors have five holes in them, and the standard bearer was shot through the hand. Our Brigade now joined in the retreat. I lingered behind, helping a wounded man, and that was the last I saw of the Brigade until the following Tuesday.

There never was anything so disorderly and disgraceful as our retreat. Had the enemy followed us with any force we should have been cut off. I came across half a dozen of our boys carrying our 5th sergeant, who was shot through the body, and stopped with them; we got him on a cavalry horse by the could not stand the rough motion, and at last we got him on a large white horse along with a fellow from Minn., who was shot through the neck. The enemy’s cavalry coming down the road we had to take to the woods.

At last our artillery formed at Centreville and drove them back. All our fellows kept dropping off, and at last I was left with the wounded man and a Minnesotian, who would not leave his chum. To make the story sort, I got him to the hospital – had the ball extracted, and the next day started from Centreville, and walked to Alexandria through the worst rain storm I have seen here yet, a distance of twenty miles.

That we were whipped, I do not wonder, for we had but 20 regiments in the fight, while detachments of men were coming to the enemies assistance about all the time; at any rate they numbered 90,000 men at the last action.

The Fire Zouaves fought like demons, I am told by witnesses. Once when the cavalry charged them they met them half way and drove them. They are splendid fellows, and fear is a word to them unknown. I tell you, Frank, there will be drafting in the State of Maine yet, and a good deal of it too. In my opinion this war will last a good while. The South is up as well as the North, and can make resistance, and will; our way will be contested inch by inch.

Yours truly,

Sam.

[Extracts from other letters of young Hersey, private in company J]

Aug 1. “I couldn’t help laughing at the lady’s account, who said our regiment were trampled to death. Never believe that kind of talk again. Cavalry are not half as dangerous as they look, and they can’t do a thing in the woods, or on broken ground, or where fences are plenty. A body of cavalry, [Black Horse Cavalry,] charged on the Ellsworth Zouaves. The Zouaves opened their ranks and ”took ‘em in.’ Some went out alive. There cannot be anything imagined half so full of fight as a Zouave. They charged again and again, and piled up the rebels in heaps.” “Our regiment [the 4th] has now got its battery of six rifled cannon, and any kind of horses, so that we can lick blazes out of the rebels the next time.” “All the Grays got safely back, save sergeant Walker, who is wounded and prisoner. I see the Journal has got it that Bill Gardner is wounded, but that is a mistake. He was not in the fight, but was in the hospital at Georgetown. He is doing well.” “The rebels take as good care of our wounded as of their own, and as they captured a lot of our surgeons, they have doctors enough.” “If ever the 4th is in action in another fight, don’t believe every clock and bull story, for they will exaggerate.” “I found that old deed, [which we spoke of last week,] in a chest among a lot of old papers, evidently the accumulation of a century. Some of the documents were on parchment. I took only an old book on Masonry and the deed. The house must have been owned by some rich old chap, by the look of things. It is on the same street with the Marshall House, where Ellsworth was killed.” “We are now in the best of quarters.’ “one of their rifle balls passed through my trowsers leg just below the knee, but did not touch the hide.”

Belfast (ME) Republican Journal, 8/9/1861

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Contributed by John Hennessy

*The 4th Maine, like all Union infantry regiments, had no Co. J. Records for Hersey were found in Co. K.

Samuel S. Hersey, Jr at Ancestry.com

Samuel S. Hersey, Jr. at Fold3

Samuel S. Hersey, Jr. at FindAGrave.com (likely) 





Capt. Silas M. Fuller, Co. K, 4th Maine Infantry, On the Battle

9 01 2018

Military Correspondence.

———-

[Extracts from a letter from Capt. S. M. Fuller]

Bush Hill, Va., July 29th, 1861.

Lieutenant Carter with some men have gone this afternoon to build a bridge, as we are to have artillery and cavalry attached to our brigade. It probably will be some time before we make another push for the enemy. I hope so at any rate; and also hope that the Tribune and other papers will let Gen. Scott have his way, and not try to crowd more the troops into war, until everything is prepared. The rebels are well fortified with masked entrenchments and forts.

At the battle we had, the rebels rushed on, with thirty thousand troops against our two thousand, and our troops on the retreat too, when our brigade arrived.

If they had followed us up they could have shot or taken us all, as our troops were thoroughly used up. A few minutes after we left the hill, there was a perfect line on it, who discharged their guns, but without much effect.

It is said the picket guard of the enemy are very near us now. One of my men says he was out about three miles, and saw four men; one of them beckoned to him; he proved to be an Alabama Lt. with whom he was acquainted when in California. He talked about an hour with him; then they ordered him to come as his prisoner. He went with them a few steps, until he saw four more on horses, and he also saw a good chance to run, which he did for the thick wood, they firing some thirty times at him, and chasing him with horses. He thinks that when he fired he wounded the Lieut. When he returned he had a ball through his canteen, and his fingers hurt a little.

We have some five or six regiments camped about us. The third Maine regt. buried a man to-day, who died of diphtheria.

Wm. Gardner is at Georgetown hospital yet; he is sick with a fever, but is getting better. I have about ten sick to-day, but none dangerously. They will probably be well in a day or two. The rest are well.

I have heard nothing of Walker. Mr. Bisbee was promoted to-day to Sergeant Major.

Belfast (ME) Republican Journal, 8/9/1861

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Contributed by John Hennessy

Silas M. Fuller resigned as Lieut. Col. of the regiment March 1, 1862.

Silas M. Fuller at Ancestry.com

Silas M. Fuller at Fold3

Silas Fuller at FindAGrave.com (likely) 





Pvt. John E. Goundry*, Co. B, 1st Minnesota Infantry, On the Battle

8 01 2018

An Interesting Account Of The Great Battle. – Mr. D. Goundry, who was formerly employed by A. V. Masten, of this village, is not connected with a Minnesota regiment, and was in the thickest of the fight at Bull’s Run. We are permitted to extract the following statement from a letter written by him to Mr. David E. Taylor: –

* * * “Now came ‘the tug of war.’ The Ellsworth or Fire Zouaves were making charge after charge. They sent word to us that they would not charge again with any other regiment but ours. Our regiment was sent into a piece of woods where every other one had refused to go. We had to pass between the fire of two batteries, the cannon balls and shells flying thick and fast. The boys did not mind them only to laugh at each other as on after another would dodge a ball, or jump up to let them pass. They could not see them, but could hear them from the time they left the cannon. Sherman’s Battery soon silenced one of theirs. Our boys then charged into the woods, and drove the enemy before them, across an open field, into his entrenchments. Our Colonel brought us to a halt within about five rods of a concealed rifle pit. Here the enemy sung out, ‘Friends!’ and displayed the Stars and Stripes. Our Colonel told us not to fire, when the black-hearted devils poured a volley into us. Down went our men, flat to the ground, amid a hissing of bullets which sounded like a drawing of a file across a thousand wires. Men who had been through the Mexican War said they had never experienced such a fire before. Our men returned a volley, and then dropping on their backs would load – then rise and fire. After firing a few times the order was given to fall back on the woods. Soon the Fire Zouaves came up and sing out, Go in, Minnesotians! – we’ll stand by you!’ So in we went again. The Black Horse Cavalry tried to charge between us, but they were repulsed and sent flying back. After standing it some time, both regiments had to retreat. It was charge after charge from two o’clock until five, afternoon. Sometimes Zouaves and Minnesotians, in small squads, in companies, and some on their own hook – sometimes side by side with Wisconsonians, Rhode Islanders, or Vermonters. Our men fought like heroes, driving the enemy before them for a mile. At last Sherman’s Battery – which had done good execution, got short of ammunition, and the artillery riders started back on their horse after more. There was a crowd of civilians – Senators, Congressmen and others – seeing these horses running, thought they were retreating, took fright, and started pell mell for Washington. From them it communicated to the teamsters, and then to the army. Then came the order to retreat, and on only a ‘double-quick’ but run. Our regiment walked from the field, but found no reserve to fall back upon. We halted to rest a short way from Bull’s Run, but were told that the enemy were surrounding us, and forced to march on. Monday morning the weary and wounded commenced coming into camp. I could hardly keep the tears back as one after another they came slowly straggling in, from daylight till dark. There were some sad scenes which almost unmanned me.”

Penn-Yan Democrat, 8/2/1861

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Full Penn-Yan Democrat for 8/2/1861

Contributed by John Hennessy

*Found John E. Goundry in Co. B, and Wm. W. Goundry in Co. E. Found no D. Goundry listed. This may be a typographical error by the newspaper. The Penn-Yan Democrat was published in Penn-Yan, New York. John E. Goundry had lived in Stillwater, MN for only a year prior to enlistment, and was from New York. One document lists John E. Goundry as having lived in Penn-Yan. It is most likely that this letter was written by John E. Goundry. John E. Goundry was killed at Antietam and is buried in the National Cemetery in Sharpsburg. Biographies of both John and William can be found at this 1st Minnesota Infantry history and roster.

John E. Goundry biography.

John E. Goundry at Fold3

John E. Goundry at Ancestry.com

John E. Goundry at FindAGrave.com





Unknown Sgt., Co. K, 38th New York Infantry, On the Battle

5 01 2018

Correspondence.

————————

We have been permitted to publish the following letter from a sergeant of Company K, to his friends. — The letter was not intended for publication, but it cannot fail to interest most of our readers.

Camp Scott, Alexandria,

July 23, 1861.

Dear Friends in E’town:

You will doubtless see, or have seen, in the Papers, ere this, the account of the battle fought on Sunday the 21st at Bulls Run, Va., a short sketch of which I here give you, until I have more time to give the account in detail.

We were ordered to march on the enemy at two o’clock, Sunday morning, from our Brigade encampment at Centerville, or near there, a distance of some eight miles by the way we marched.

Our march was countermanded until six o’clock, and accordingly, at six, or seven, we left for the Field; marching by a circuitous route, reaching the battle ground about noon.

We were immediately formed into line of battle and marched under cover of our Artillery, within musket shot of the enemy, where we poured into them a few volleys, and then we were ordered to change our position, and were changing positions on the enemy often until about three o’clock, when we took our position in front of their batteries, where we stood our ground for an hour and a half, or more I should think; sometimes driven back and then again advancing, with terrible loss on our side. None claim to know the loss on the side of the rebels, though we think we did not throw away our fire. Although we were scattered in different Companies we claim to have been cool; and at this moment, while reviewing the battle and its events in my mind, I experience more tremor and excitement than on the battle field. But the most lamentable part of the affair is, that we were finally driven off the Field, and our guns captured by the Rebels, and we compelled to make a forced march back to our encampment near Alexandria; and do this all on Sunday night, making a march of nearly 40 miles and I don’t know but I might say 50 in one day and night.

Our Regiment has lost near one third of its men, either killed, wounded, or taken prisoners, for one is the same as the other, as we were obliged to leave our wounded on the field to the mercy of the Rebels.

It would be needless for me to digress from the truth now, as it will soon be known.

In our company we have some nine or ten missing, whom we hope to hear from yet. O. B. Whitney was wounded in the commencement of the action, and carried off the field by Henry Palmer, and placed under charge of a surgeon. A man by the name of Waters, who had been transferred to our company since leaving New York, was also fatally wounded. Henry Vanorum also badly wounded. The above named were left on the field, and no doubt are prisoners, if not dead. A number of our Captains and Lieutenants, together with our Surgeon were taken prisoners. Our Surgeon was advised to retreat, but replied, if his wounded were to be taken prisoners, it was his duty to remain with them.

A number of our men are missing, whom we hope have strayed into other Regiments and will yet come in; among which are James A. Coburn, George Boutwell, Wesley Sumner, Wm. Todd and Russell Sanders.

Pitt Wadhams was wounded in the thigh, on the outside, merely a flesh wound; the ball entering from the front, midway of the pant’s pocket, and going under the skin about three inches, leaving a space of about 8 inches between the place where it entered and came out. He walked all the way from the field to our present camp with the aid of a man to help him along. We could get no chance for him to ride, as the wagons were all full of the wounded who were unable to foot it. I walked by his side some 20 miles. John Glidden was slightly hurt by a splinter torn from a tree by a cannon ball. It struck him on the back of the head. He says it is a mere pin scratch beside of the wound he got last spring in E’town. Loyal E. Wolcott slightly wounded on the little finger by a ball.

The remainder of our men are safe and sound, with occasionally a bullet hole in their coats, pants, &c.

We consider that we have seen quite a hard battle. Whether we shall get the praise due our Regiment I can’t say, but it seems to me that the 38th Regiment must merit some credit, and certainly do I know that Company K is made up generally of brave men by the way they stood the fire of the rebels.

Our officers, Smith and Livingston, are brave boys, and cheered on their company to the last; using muskets themselves, as swords were of no account.

Capt. Dwyer was left behind, sick, but has since recovered, and will no doubt be with us in our next battle.

Albert Mitchell had his cap knocked off by a piece of rail struck by a cannon ball from a fence near by. The same ball threw a rail which struck my shoulder bruising it slightly. Our boys are some tired, foot-sore and lame, but in time will get over it.

Yours &c.

Elizabethtown (NY) Post, 8/1/1861

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Contributed by John Hennessy

38th NYSV roster





Unknown, Co. K, 38th New York Infantry, On the Battle

4 01 2018

Correspondence.

————————

Camp Scott, July 23d, 1860.

Friend E: — I now have time to write to you. I hope you will excuse me for not writing to you before. I wrote to —- and had not more than finished my letter before we received orders to march. We went tp Fairfax Station, and there drove the rebels from two different batteries. If we had arrived two hours sooner we would have taken them all prisoners; we took 17 as it was, and also the richest flag I ever saw. A large quantity of blankets and camp equipage fell into our hands.

We stayed at Fairfax one day, and then started for Manassas Junction. We met the enemy four miles this side of the Junction. I cannot tell how many there were of the enemy – they were very numerous. They would come out in sight, and our men would charge and fall into their masked batteries – the batteries were dug out like cellars. In the woods there were seven or eight of their batteries.

Our Regiment (38th N. Y. S. V.) and the 1st Regiment of Fire Zouaves led the way to the battlefield. As near as I can find out, we lost about three hundred out of our regiment, and three certain out of our Company, viz: Alvah Coburn, Patrick Waters and Orlando Whitney.[*] Several are missing that were that were seen after the fight, but we think they are with other regiments. The worst of all is, that we were beaten. Their cavalry raised fury with our men. We retreated – some to Alexander, some to Washington, some to Arlington Heights, and others to Fort Ellsworth, which latter place is about 100 rods from our camp. We are right under their guns. We lost 25 baggage wagons and about all our blankets and haversacks. Some threw away their guns and all run for dear life. I was on the field, and when the retreat was sounded, I seized a Secession drum and an officers canteen and run with the rest! For pity’s sake, don’t tell any one! The cavalry were almost on me – I jumped into a wagon and rode about a mile, then walked the rest of the way to Alexandria.

There were five bullets put through our flag. Those that are missing are George Boutwell, James McCormick, Russell Sanders, William Todd, Henry Vanorum, and John and Alexander McDougal; but they have all been seen this side of the battlefield. John Glidden received a slight wound on the back of his neck; Pit Wadhams was shot through the thigh; it is a flesh wound, and he will be well soon. The rest are all well.

Yours truly,

* * *

P. S. Joseph Tromblee and Russell Sanders, who were among the missing, have come to light lately, all right and rugged as bears.

* All three are listed in 38th NYSV roster as members of Co. K; all three wounded and captured at First Bull Run [BR].

Elizabethtown (NY) Post, 8/1/1861

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Contributed by John Hennessy





Asst. Quartermaster Ensign Jacob Leonard, 38th New York Infantry, On the Battle

3 01 2018

The Second Scott Life Guard.

Their Conduct in the Fight – The Killed and Wounded – Major Potter Missing.

Jacob Leonard, Assistant Quartermaster of the Thirty-eighth Regiment, N.Y.S.V., writes to Mr. Thomas Picton, Paymaster, among other things, as follows:

Lieut. Col. Farnsworth had been confined to his tent for several days, and was taken to the battle-field in an ambulance. He remained in the hottest of the fight throughout the day on his feet. The Major, James Decatur Potter, is missing. He was struck twice by a spent ball, and on the retreat he could go no further than three or four miles from Bull’s Run; that was the last seen of him. Capt. McQuade had his leg shot off. Lieut. Thomas S. Hamlin was shot in the knee – both the latter were taken prisoners. Lieut Brady was shot through the wrist. Dr. Griswold, Assistant Surgeon, refusing to leave the sick and wounded, was likewise taken a prisoner. Our loss amounts to about 100 men, killed, wounded and missing. Col. War compliments the men highly on their courageous behavior.

The Fire Zouaves accord to the Thirty-eighth, in the support of the West Point and Griffin Batteries, more credit than they take to themselves. We have fourteen men wounded in the hospital in this camp, some of them mortally. The regiment did not arrive here until 5 o’clock in the morning, being the last to leave the field. Quartermaster Newton preceded them but a few minutes, and fell from his horse in a state of exhaustion.

Capt. Harrold has been disgraced for cowardice, but was permitted to resign. Capt. George F. Briton and Eugene McGrath distinguished themselves for coolness and bravery. Both were seriously ill in the hospital, but are now rapidly recovering. It is reported that Col. Ward will be appointed Brigadier in place of Wilcox, said to be killed.

Every effort has been made to discover the whereabouts of the Major, who is a universal favorite with the regiment and the whole Army.

Elizabethtown (NY) Post, 8/1/1861

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Contributed by John Hennessy

Jacob Leonard at Fold3

Jacob Leonard at Ancestry.com





Pvt. John W. Burrows, Co. D, 27th New York Infantry, On the Battle

2 01 2018

The Gallant 27th — Letters from our Volunteers.

———-

Much praise is awarded the 27th Regiment of N. Y. State Volunteers for their heroic conduct on the field at Bull Run. While our citizens will feel a thrill of patriotic pride as they rehearse the noble deeds of all those fighting in their country’s cause, they will look with peculiar interest upon the doings of the particular regiment in which most of those who have left this vicinity have enrolled. The three Companies formed at Binghamton, and in which several residents of this and adjoining towns enlisted, are in the 27th regiment. This regiment was one of the last to leave Elmira for the seat of war, and they had scarcely formed camp at Washington before they were ordered to proceed with the grand army towards Manassas. They were the first in the field on the battle of Sunday, having marched 15 miles, (the last mile and a half in double-quick time.) They had no breakfast, and while weary and faint, were ordered under fire. They went gallantly into action, and performed wondrous deeds of valor, fighting constantly throughout the day, and being among the last to leave the field when the retreat took place. Their Colonel, Slocum, was wounded, and the whole regiment terribly cut up. Their fighting was harder and their loss greater than any other regiment except the 69th and the Fire Zouaves. The following are among the killed in this regiment: Norman S. Miller, (Chenango Forks;) Wesley Randall and Asa Parks, (Binghamton;) Frank Spencer, (Coventry;) Col. Slocum, and Lieut. Col. Chambers.

There may be other names familiar in this vicinity but we have learned of none. Sergt. A. G. Northrup, (formerly of this village,) reported missing, has turned up. He fell asleep from exhaustion, during the retreat, and was two days getting into camp.

There have been several letters received from the seat of war by the friends of our volunteers. We have been furnished with two, from which we make copious extracts. The first is from Delos Payne, of this village, a member of Company D, Capt. Rogers, 27th regiment, to his wife. * * * The following extracts are from a letter from John W. Burrows, of this town, a member of the same company:

Washington, July 24, 1861

Dear Brother and Sister: * * * We have had a hard battle since I wrote you last. Last Sunday will long be remembered. Our regiment was a picket guard on Saturday night, until 2 o’clock, when we were ordered to march. We were encamped between Fairfax and Centerville, Va. We marched within six miles of the battle field, when six regiments were sent six miles around to flank the enemy, while the main force attacked them in front. We marched around to the field. Here McDowell ordered us to take the right of the battery. We marched half a mile to do it, while the enemy poured shell and chain shot and grape and cannon balls into our midst. We were the first on the ground. We marched down into a small hollow, to take a battery, the enemy on both sides of us. Here the battle commenced in good earnest. We returned the fire on both sides, until one party run up the stars and stripes and surrendered. We marched up to take them when they opened fire on us again, on both sides. We stood and fought as long as there was any chance for us. Napoleon B. Elliot, Frank Spencer, Pardee, and myself got in a file. We fought so until Pardee was shot, and the whole regiment was broken up. We loaded and fired as fast as we could. The infantry fell back a little and we tried to form a line. Our Captain was wounded, and he spoke to me to help, but we could only get eight or ten in line. The firing again commenced on both sides, and we saw the cavalry was going to attack us. We were in no shape to meet them and had to retreat.

Another regiment came to assist us. We met them on the top of the hill, just marching into the field. Our Colonel, Lieut. Col. and our Captain, were wounded, and Ensign was shot dead. We tried to get into other regiments, as ours was so badly cut up it had orders not to attempt to form, but they were all numbered and would not take us in. Elliott was almost melted. We found some water which was muddy, and a dog lay asleep in it. We drank what we dared to, and then went to the woods where the wounded were carried. There was a hard sight. Some had their legs shot to pieces; some had their legs off; some their arms; some were shot through the neck; one sat leaning against a tree spitting large mouthfuls of blood. They were dying in all shapes. One had a bullet put through his head; it come out just between the eyes, and he still breathed; some had their faces blown all to pieces; some had their heads cut off. The living ones bore their pain well.

Our whole force retreated. When we came back to where we left the main road to flank them, their cavalry attacked us at the bridge, and killed quite a number. What become of the main force that was to attack them in front I don’t know; they didn’t help us. We had nothing to cover our retreat and were driven back to Washington. The Southern army was twice as large as ours. They had three masked batteries; one behind the other, and their men in the woods. They would retreat from one to have our men come up and take it; then they would open on us with another and the infantry; then the cavalry would cut us down. They had their whole force there – about 100,000 men. Beauregard was there himself.

I never heard any thing sound better than the chain shot, shell and cannon balls did when they passed over and by us. They sounded so good I was almost willing to be hit by them, though of course I know it would be all day with me if they did. I had no fear of them – they sounded like a jay bird.

We had a hard tramp of it. We went two nights without sleep, and marched 15 miles to battle without eating breakfast or dinner, only what little sea biscuit we could eat on the road. We fought in this way until the retreat.

* * * I never saw tired men before. I would not have carried my body ten miles further, for it. The roads were lined with soldiers that were tired out. Some gave out before we reached the field of battle. When Elliott and I got inside the fort at Washington we lay down and slept, until we were wakened by officers, when we got some supper. * * *

Elliott and I went in together and came out together. We were not separated only once, then he was behind a tree shooting some Secessionists who were hid behind bunches of hay. When we retreated they crowded up the hill after us, and as I was getting over a fence, one man was shot by my side, and a ball passed over my shoulder. There were but a few that did not get holes shot through their clothes, but I did not get hit. Pardee was shot in the hollow. He wou’d look up and say “give it to the cowards.” He was shot just above the knee. He had good grit, and got away, though nearly melted.

* * * I don’t know how long we shall stay here. It will take some time to recruit again, and then we shall give them another try. We only got out “puppy teeth” pulled this time, but some of them came awful hard. It is pleasant while in battle, but it is hard to see what had been done, afterwards. I want to meet them once more even-handed; that is all I desire. We had a hard time of it. They would hoist our flag, and they were dressed so near like us, that we could not tell them from our men. They are worse than Indians, for they had no more principle than to murder our wounded and prisoners. Daniel Hawkins is all right. I saw him last night. Our boys from your way are all sound except some bruises.

Yours, &c.,

JOHN W. BURROWS

Chenango American, 8/1/1861

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Contributed by John Hennessy

John W. Burrows at Fold3

John Burrows at Ancestry.com

History of the 27th Regiment N.Y. Vols





Pvt. Delos Payne, Co. D, 27th New York Infantry, On the Battle

1 01 2018

The Gallant 27th — Letters from our Volunteers.

———-

Much praise is awarded the 27th Regiment of N. Y. State Volunteers for their heroic conduct on the field at Bull Run. While our citizens will feel a thrill of patriotic pride as they rehearse the noble deeds of all those fighting in their country’s cause, they will look with peculiar interest upon the doings of the particular regiment in which most of those who have left this vicinity have enrolled. The three Companies formed at Binghamton, and in which several residents of this and adjoining towns enlisted, are in the 27th regiment. This regiment was one of the last to leave Elmira for the seat of war, and they had scarcely formed camp at Washington before they were ordered to proceed with the grand army towards Manassas. They were the first in the field on the battle of Sunday, having marched 15 miles, (the last mile and a half in double-quick time.) They had no breakfast, and while weary and faint, were ordered under fire. They went gallantly into action, and performed wondrous deeds of valor, fighting constantly throughout the day, and being among the last to leave the field when the retreat took place. Their Colonel, Slocum, was wounded, and the whole regiment terribly cut up. Their fighting was harder and their loss greater than any other regiment except the 69th and the Fire Zouaves. The following are among the killed in this regiment: Norman S. Miller, (Chenango Forks;) Wesley Randall and Asa Parks, (Binghamton;) Frank Spencer, (Coventry;) Col. Slocum, and Lieut. Col. Chambers.

There may be other names familiar in this vicinity but we have learned of none. Sergt. A. G. Northrup, (formerly of this village,) reported missing, has turned up. He fell asleep from exhaustion, during the retreat, and was two days getting into camp.

There have been several letters received from the seat of war by the friends of our volunteers. We have been furnished with two, from which we make copious extracts. The first is from Delos Payne, of this village, a member of Company D, Capt. Rogers, 27th regiment, to his wife.

Washington, July 27, 1861

* * * I am well and safe after the great battle at Bull’s Run. The march and retreat has made my knee worse. [He injured his knee while on a visit home from Elmira – Ed.] We have not got a correct account of the killed and wounded. Men fell to the right and left of me. We drove two regiments into the woods, and they opened a masked battery on us. Our Colonel (Slocum) was shot in the thigh. He was not two feet from me. I carried him off the field. There are twelve killed and missing in our company. I have just heard that there are 94 killed in the regiment. There are about 150 who are not able to drill, from wounds, or sickness.

It was a horrible sight to see men with their legs shot off, their faces mangled, and wounded in all different ways. They shot very careless. I asked one man who lay down beside me, why he did not get up and use his gun, and before the words were out of my mouth he was shot dead, while I escaped. When I left the field I carried one fellow off on my back who was wounded in the knee. After that I got three canteens of water, and returned and gave it to those who were wounded. Their only call was for water. The balls whistled around my head all the time I was doing it. I did not mind it any more than if they were pop-guns. The fear was all gone. * * * When any one fell we were all faster than ever. I shall live to come home yet, all right. I shall not be able to do any more service until my knee gets well. We have not got our pay yet. When I do I shall send it all home. * * *

Yours,

DELOS PAYNE

The prediction that Payne would not shrink from performing his whole duty seems to be verified. The act of going back to the field alone, under the fire of the rebels, to give water to the wounded, is characteristic and highly commendable.

Chenango American, 8/1/1861

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Contributed by John Hennessy

Delos Payne at Fold3

Five Months in Rebeldom, or Notes from the Diary of a Bull Run Prisoner, at Richmond

History of the 27th Regiment N.Y. Vols