Sgt. William L. Fleming, Co. G (1st), 13th New York Infantry*, On the Battle

19 05 2020

From Lieut.** Wm. L. Fleming.

Washington, D. C. July 24.

Dear Father – You are doubtless, ere this, advised of the great battle on Thursday last, and of course feel anxious to know if I am still among the living. I hope this will speedily reach you, and relive you of your fears and anxieties concerning me.

It is impossible for me at present to give you the details of that terrible battle, in which I participated, but I will give you a glimpse of the most important parts.

When our regiment came up to the scene of action, the rebels were out in the field, on and even footing with our troops, but they did not stand their ground long, as our fire mowed them down like grass, and they fled to their covers. The next move we made was to support our (Sherman’s) battery, where we lay some time, the shot and shell whistling around us thick and fast. We next made a charge at a house, close to their masked batteries, where they were shielded by bushes and trees. Here we stood some ten or fifteen minutes under a galling fire, our poor fellows dropping around us like falling leaves. We were told to stop firing, as those in the house were our troops. The infamous rebels displayed the American flag there to deceive us, which infamy they perpetrated several times during the day, to deceive and get the advantage of us. Such was the confusion thus induced, that our own troops commenced firing into us, supposing we were the enemy, killing several. This, together with a galling fire from the enemy’s masked batteries and muskets, compelled us to retreat, under a heavy cavalry charge. I was thrown down and trampled on, which induced an hemorrhage of the nose and mouth, but I shall, I trust, be all right again in a few days. Our boys did nobly throughout the fight. The Fire Zouaves, the 69th and 79th did bravely. The Zouaves made charge after charge till very many of them were killed and all much exhausted. It is impossible for me to tell at present how many of our regiment were killed, but our loss must have been heavy, 200 or more, I judge. It is a perfect marvel to me how I escaped being shot. I had made up my mind that I should unquestionably fall; but I resolved to do my duty, live or die. As I think of it now, it seems a miracle that so many balls, coming like a shower of hail around me, could all miss me. My garments were untouched with them, though like a hail storm they whistled the requiem of many a noble fellow by my side. This for the present must suffice. I am stopping for a few days here in Washington with brother Walter, who is doing finely now.

In haste, yours faithfully,
William.

Rochester (NY) Evening Express, 7/27/1861

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Contributed by John Hennessy

* This company transferred to the 3rd NY Cavalry after the battle.

** Records indicate William L. Fleming was First Sergeant of Co. G. His brother Walter M. Fleming enlisted as an Ensign and was commissioned 2nd Lt. 7/4/1861.

13th New York Infantry Roster 

William L. Fleming at Ancestry.com 

William L. Fleming at Fold3 





J. B. L., Co. F, 2nd Vermont Infantry, On the Battle

14 05 2020

Correspondence of the Journal
From The Second VT. Regiment

Wednesday, July 24, 1861.

Last Sunday morning at 2 o’clock we received orders to march immediately towards Manassas Junction. The Vermont Second is in the third Brigade and under Brig. General Howard of Me., occupying the left flank of the brigade. The number of brigades were divided into three divisions, ours under General Heintzelman, the whole force being commanded by Gen. McDowell and amounting to about forty thousand men, who were encamped at Centreville, Va., about fourteen miles from Manassas Junction and about twenty-five from Washington. The whole column extended some two miles and it was near 5 A. M. before our regiment moved. We were provided with one days’ rations and supposed that when we advanced they would fall back; also expecting victory as a matter of course. Through carelessness on my part I got separated from the Second and went with Ellsworth’s Zouaves, advancing on the right while the Second went to the left, making Manassas as our concentrating point. But our scouts composed of the Rhode Island 1st and 2d, and New York 71st, encountered two rebel regiments advancing from Winchester, Va., towards a point a little below what is called Bull’s Run, an after a little severe fighting the rebel’s retreated, and as Governor Sprague appeared before his regiments he was enthusiastically cheered with cries – “The day is ours!” Sprague is said to have had two horses shot from under him, and the 2d R. I. lost their Colonel (Slocum). Soon after, as we advanced in column, the repeated discharges of cannon and the showers of grape that we found thrown among us, told that the enemy was not ours, but that we had one of their noted masked batteries to capture.. Soon again, we heard the rapid firing of musketry on the other side and we drew up by brigades and advanced towards the summit, where we could see the smoke from their battery, under the protection of our artillery. We found the attention of their guns to be drawn toward the R. I. Artillery, which the were endeavoring to silence. Our brigade advanced within ten rods of their infantry and each fired nearly at the same moment. The Zouaves suffered terribly; also the Minnesota regiment, wounding or killing a quarter of each. From a wounded Georgian I learned that the force stationed at this point amount to 65,000 men, under command of Gen. Barlow, and that Beauregard had 75,000 more at Manassas ready at any moment to reinforce him. He said that both Generals know that our force amounted to only forty or fifty thousand, and that it was insufficient, and intended to cut us all up, and cut off our retreat, to make our total defeat certain. After desperately fighting against such fearful odds we were ordered to retreat. – As soon as the enemy found we were leaving, they fired it seemed, three times where they did once in the hottest of the action, and our soldiers scattered in every direction to avoid the grape and cannister, as well as the long ranged rifled cannon. After harassing us thus and during the time, they cut us off when we least expected it, by about a thousand cavalry, who were upon us, charging fearfully. It created such a havoc and panic that the whole army fled in all directions; some however taking the main road to Centreville, whereupon they were again cut off, and dropped everything, even their coats, so panic stricken were they. I got over a fence and laid very quiet until the black horsemen had passed on. Our cavalry or artillery did us no good, the former rushing passed us and going ahead.

I never saw a sett of men so afraid before. They all run, no one dared to stop three minutes even to rest, they expected the whole force after them as they saw the infantry about to follow, but nothing could have caught us in our flight. They had no regard at all to the orders of their officers but all seemed to the eager in looking out for this individual self.

Gen. McDowell was insane in marching 35 or 40,000 men, right up to a masked battery defended by some 65,000, reinforced by some 30 or 40,000 more, making in all about 100,000, almost three to one. This was fearful odds, and one could expect nothing but sure defeat. If we had not been allowed to arrive safely and garrison the fort on Arlington Hights, what would have been the consequence to Washington? It would certainly have been captured. Fairfax Court House and Centreville are at present occupied by rebels. They thought we had a larger army near them than we really had and left some of the best fortified entrenchments, that we have yet seen. All our artillery with the exception of two pieces fell into the hands of the rebels. Our incampment now is some four miles from Alexandria near their pickets, and the forts opposite here expected an attack yesterday and prepared against it.

I should judge that about 2,000 of our men were killed or wounded all falling into the hands of the rebels. Our baggage wagons; muskets; equipments, knapsacks and tents, besides all our provisions, horses, and no doubt many men were taken charge of by the rebels. Company F. lost Victor Goodrich who was shot at the first volley, as I have not seen my regiment yet I do not know of others that were shot.

J. B. L.

Walton’s Daily Journal (Montpelier, VT), 7/39/1861

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Contributed by John Hennessy

2nd Vermont Infantry Co. F Roster





Sgt. Abraham Ford, Co. H, 2nd Vermont Infantry, On the Battle

12 05 2020

From the Second Vermont Regiment.

Alexandria, Va., July 23, 1861.

Dear Sir – * * * * When the head of our column came up to theirs, they opened on us with their artillery. We had then marched fifteen miles, were all out of breath, had no breakfast except hard crackers which we eat on the march, had drank nothing but muddy water, and the last two miles of our march we had made on the “double-quick;” but notwithstanding all that, we went into them, and drove them back to their stronghold. There they drew on us and gave us the best whipping an army ever had. But we fought until we were ordered to retreat, and then came bitter disappointment to crown a day of severe fighting, hard labor and dreadful misery. – They followed us up with artillery and cavalry in the rear, while they sent a force around to cut off our retreat where we had to cross a bridge; but they did not cut us up very badly there, for we took to the woods. We could not return fire, for we had no ammunition.

The number of killed and wounded is not known, for we had to leave them all, poor fellows. Only two of them, in a shed that I stopped in on our retreat, had their wounds dressed. I think there must have been fifty in that shed, and they were only a small portion of what were on the field. – Our Orderly Sergeant [of the Fletcher Company] had his arm shot through. I took him off the field and helped our surgeon perform the amputation; and just as we had got through and got it done’up the order came to retreat to our old quarter; but when we got there we found no place would be safe for us short of Alexandria, and so we kept on; and a longer road, for one that had no more miles in it, I think I never saw. We arrived here about 11 o’clock on Monday forenoon, making about thirty-six hours that we were under arms, marching in the time at least fifty miles, and fighting severely about half an hour. When I say this, I mean the Vermont regiment; you will see by the papers how long the fight lasted, from 7 A. M. to 4 P. M., I think.

When we arrived here we were tired, hungry and wet; our feet were blistered and bleeding. – All the wounded came on that were able. To-day we are all sore and lame; not a man of us can walk without limping.

We expect the wounded that we left are all murdered; for we showed a flag of truce on the field, and they fired into it. I nailed a white flag on the door of the shed where some of the wounded were, and left with our orderly two canteens of water, a filter to drink through and some hard crackers – all I had. Then I had to leave or be taken prisoner. The poor fellow begged of me to get a team and take him along, but that was impossible. I had to leave him to the mercy of a southern chivalry. I have heard since that the building was blown to pieces by their artillery and the wounded all killed.

Our Surgeon lost all his instruments and had to run for dear life. I could write a whole week of incidents which came under my observation, but I am tired and weak, and must close. More anon.

Yours Truly,
Abraham Ford.

The above letter inclosed a photograph of Col. Ellsworth, which the author found near the body of a fire Zouave who had been killed in the battle. It was taken in New York, by J. Gurney & Son, as their card is on the back of it.

Walton’s Daily Journal (Montpelier, VT), 7/23/1861

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Contributed by John Hennessy

Abraham Ford at Ancestry.com 

Abraham Ford at Fold3 





Pvt. Charles W. Farrand, Co. F, 1st Michigan Infantry, On the Battle

11 05 2020

The Michigan First at Bull Run.
———-

We are favored with the following account of the battle at Bull Run by Mr. Charles Farrand, of this city. He belonged to Capt. Horace S. Roberts’ company in the 1st regiment, and describes things as he saw them. The reader will see how false is the assumption that the New York Zouaves fought more desperately than others. Mr. Farrand declares that they, they Michigan 1st, and New York 69th, were mingled together, and fought promiscuously thro’ all the fiercest of the conflict. He was “one of ‘em,” and had two guns struck and ruined in his hands.

No person could see all the battle; and this letter-writers disagree in many things; but Mr. F. states only what came under his own observation, and therefore reliance may be placed in his record. He says Bull Run was several miles from the field of battle.

Commencing with the attack, he says:

In the first charge upon the masked battery, in line of battle, the 69th New York were in front, then the Zouaves, and in the rear the 1st Michigan. Rising to the top of the hill, about thirty rods from the rebels, we fired, intending to fall back a little and load, as previously ordered. Just then this order was countermanded, and we were ordered to rush on, unloaded. This new order was imperfectly understood, and a portion fell back; upon which all did the same, but not more than two or three rods, creating some disorder; but we were in no sense “driven back.” After loading, we rushed forward, crossed a road, a deep ditch and a fence, descending the hill, firing as we advanced. Bu the time we reached the foot of the hill – the rebels having fallen back – the men of the three regiments were mingled together, every man trying to get in front, as though fighting on his own hook.* The din of battle was so terrific that no orders coud be heard. We were in this position nearly stationary perhaps half an hour.

We then changed, not to retreat, but to take up a new position, more to the right, to get at those who were firing at us from that quarter. We were not followed by the enemy on the left. We were in this vicinity, constantly engaged, between four and five hours; though it did not seem an hour.

Ricket’s battery of eight guns was stationed on the right of our division, and was taken by the rebels. A portion of all three of the regiments without any orders, rushed promiscuously to retake the battery, which was done. Here was some hand to hand fighting. The horses were all killed, or had run away, and we could not take off the guns, till the rebels rallied with an increased force, and, after spiking the guns, we fell back to our former position. Facing again to the rebels I saw them falling back, trying to draw away a gun into which I had myself driven a spike; but ere they had got it many rods, our bullets had made such havoc they abandoned it.

In a few moments I saw two rebels advancing to the gun – one with a rifle, and one with a flag, which he was in the act of planting by the gun. The man standing next to me and the rebel rifleman drew upon each other, and both fell at the same moment, killed, as I believe, by each other. At the same time I took deliberate aim at the flag bearer, and he fell as I fired.

By the time I had reloaded, another rebel was seizing the flag, and he too fell as I fired. Two more fell at this point in a similar manner as fast as I could load. I was some fifteen rods distant, and nearer the gun than most of my comrades, though in other parts of the line others were in advance.

At this moment the black horse cavalry made its appearance obliquely from the right – all the while the masked battery, as well as infantry, was pouring upon us a fearful fire of shot, shells, canister, &c. As the cavalry appeared, 600 strong, upon the full gallop, carbine in hand, our firing for the moment mostly ceased – each man reserving his charge to receive them with suitable honors.

The horses of the cavalry were all black or grey. Their front showed a line of perhaps ten rods. Our fire was reserved until the left of their front was within five or six rods of our right, killing most of the horses in front and many on their sides. As they fell, pitching their riders to the ground, those following fell over them and from our bullets, and in five minutes we had sent them probably four thousand pills, and they piled upon each other, a mangled, kicking, struggling, dying mass of man and horses – a sight of horror, to which no description could do justice! Our aim was mostly at the horses, and I doubt not many more of the men were killed by horses than by our bullets.

The story that all this fighting was done by the Zouaves is false. The three regiments were mingled together, and all fought equally well. I here speak what I know, for I was directly in front of the cavalry, and nearly in the centre. It was the general opinion that not over half a dozen of the cavalry escaped alive, though there may have been more.

During this brief but horrible work the masked battery and large bodies of infantry were pouring their fire into our ranks, and our men were falling on every hand. We again returned their fire, and soon after, Lieut Mauch having been struck down, I and two others assisted him back, and on returning, we found our men still standing their ground.

Soon after this, a flag of truce was raised by the rebels twenty or thirty yards in our front, and our fire slackened. Immediately the white flag fell, and out colors were raised. We knew not what to make of it at the moment, unless they were about to surrender, but supposed afterwards the design was to lure us into a more deadly range of their batteries. In a few minutes the rebel flag was again flying in their place. The contest raged for a time longer, when the firing of the rebels ceased, and we supposed the victory was ours. The rebels were seen to fall back, but very soon Johnson’s army was approaching. We had fought incessantly for four or five hours, without food or drink, almost exhausted at the beginning, our ranks were thinned and broken, we saw no prospect of support, and we retreated in disorder; but the was little running.

Just about this time the general stampede of the army took place, and we returned to Washington and vicinity, feeling that we had won a glorious victory, only snatched from us by the arrival of Johnson’s army, and the failure of proper officers to bring up the reserve force to our relief.

—————

*Col. Heintzelman says part of the Zouaves left the field and took no further part in the action. His report fully corroborates Mr. Farrand’s statement, save that he gives the Zouaves less credit.

Lansing (MI) State Republican, 8/14/1861

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Contributed by John Hennessy

Charles W. Farrand at Ancestry.com 

Charles W. Farrand at Fold3 

Charles W. Farrand at FindAGrave





Unknown, Co. B (Tiger Rifles), 1st Special Louisiana Battalion, On the Battle

28 04 2020

The Tiger Rifles at Manassas.
—————

We have before us a private letter from a member of the Tiger Rifles, who were in the thickest of the fight at Stone Bridge, and rendered efficient service as one of the companies of Wheat’s Battalion:

On Sunday, 21st, at sunrise, the enemy commenced throwing shot and shell among us. Our second platoon, under command of Lieutenant Adrian, ran a party of cavalry some distance towards their lines. We were then ordered to deploy towards the left, and hold them in check for reinforcements to prevent being outflanked on our left, and here we had the honor to open the ball and receive the first fire.

As we were crossing a field in an exposed situation, we were fired upon (through mistake) by a body of South Carolinians, and at once the enemy let loose as if all hell had been let loose. Flat upon our faces we received their showers of balls; a moment’s pause, and we rose, closed in upon them with a fierce yell, clubbing our rifles and using our long knives. This hand to hand fight lasted until fresh reinforcements drive us back beyond our original position, we carrying our wounded with us. Major Wheat was here shot from his horse; Capt. White’s horse was shot under him, our First Lieutenant was wounded in the thigh, Dick Hawkins shot through the breast and wrist, and any number of killed and wounded were strewn all about. The New York Fire Zouaves, seeing our momentary confusion, gave three cheers and started for us, but it was the last shout that most of them ever gave. We covered the ground with their dead and dying, and had driven them beyond their first position, when just then we heard three cheers for the Tigers and Louisiana. The struggle was decided. The gallant Seventh has “double-quicked” it for nine miles, and came rushing into the fight. They fired as they came within point blank range, and charged with fixed bayonets. The enemy broke and fled panic-stricken, with our men in full pursuit.

When the fight and pursuit were over, we were drawn up in line and received the thanks of Gen. Johnston for what he termed our “extraordinary and desperate stand.” Gen. Beauregard sent word to Major Wheat, “you, and your battalion, for this day’s work, shall never be forgotten, whether you live or die.”

At the close of his letter the writer speaks of some of the minor casualties in the following humorous vein:

Tom Williams got his in the jaw by a spent ball, which caused him to shift his chew of tobacco to the other side; Tom Malloy got the tip of his nose chipped off by a splinter from a rail, but says he can spare the piece, as he has plenty left; Old Kelly got it through the calf of the leg, and now he growls because he can’t have the limb cut off, so that he can peddle cigars on the levee; Ben White cursed his luck because he could not get shot, and concluded he’d cut himself, but when he looked for his knife, someone had stolen it, etc.

New Orleans (LA) Daily Crescent, 8/1/1861

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Contributed by John Hennessy





Unknown, 5th Virginia Infantry, On the Battle

19 04 2020

The Fifth Virginia Regiment in the Battle of Manassas.

Early Sunday we were aroused by the drum beating the long roll, and we immediately formed inline of battle. Soon the enemy commenced a heavy cannonading on our right, which our accomplished General soon discovered to be a feint made by the enemy to attract our attention in that quarter, while their real attack would be made on the extreme left. We were immediately ordered to take position several miles to the left. We had not been in position long, before it became evident we were in a warm neighborhood. The enemy’s artillery, just in our front, but hid from our sight by a skirt of woods and an eminence between us, thundered forth it deadly missiles, and presently, too, the sharp, ringing crack of the rifle was heard, showing that the advance guard of skirmishers had met. Cavalry scouts could be seen, galloping within the lines, when a terrible volley of musketry, immediately in our front, assured us that the ball had been opened, and the fight had commenced in right good order.

Between 9 and 10 o’clock A. M., the enemy, in tremendous force, advanced his right against our left, with the view of turning our left wing and getting position in the rear of the “Junction.” They were met by several South Carolina regiments (including Hampton’s Legion) and the Alabama 4th, our regiment (the 5th Virginia) being held in reserve; but soon we were ordered forward to support the 4th Alabama. On our way to take position on a hill we were met by a person from a South Carolina regiment who had been compelled to fall back by an overwhelming force, and who informed us that the 4th Alabama was being literally cut to pieces. Here, also, we met two pieces of the Washington (La.) Artillery retiring, having expended their stock of ammunition. This was by no means encouraging, but we felt the necessity of greater exertion on our part, and forward we rushed to the assistance of our friends. Amid a perfect shower of musketry and cannon balls the command to halt and lie down was given, as it was impossible for us to return the enemy’s fire, they being completely sheltered by the hill. Not being able to return the enemy’s fire, or even see them our men cried out to be led forward or taken back to the foot of the hill; but out gallant Col. Harper assured us that he had no orders to advance, but was ordered to occupy this position until the enemy should make their appearance, when we were to fire and charge bayonets.

Finally, the order to advance was given, and under a perfect shower of shell and shot we arose and started up the hill. A portion of our regiment misunderstanding the order, we were thrown into temporary confusion; but soon rallied, and our gallant Major Wm. S. H. Baylor, taking the lead we rushed forward and gained the position on the hill behind some old houses. Before we gained the position, however, the Fourth Alabama Regiment had been compelled to retreat, and we found ourselves face to face with a powerful force of the enemy, and conspicuous among them was the famous Ellsworth Zouaves. Just in front was the Second New York Regiment. On the left of them the Zouaves were stationed, while on our right, and completely flanking us, was the First or Second Maine Regiment. We fired a telling volley of musketry into the regiment in our front, which drove them rapidly to the rear. This drew the fire of those on our left upon us, and we engaged with them, the Maine regiment on our right, (whom we supposed at first to be friends,) advanced rapidly upon us, and sheltering themselves by lying down behind a fence, they poured a most destructive fire into our ranks, and here some of our best and bravest men fell. Here the noble and brave Billy Wodward exclaimed, “I will never retreat. ‘Give me liberty or give me death.’” His lips had scarcely given utterance to these heroic words, when a ball pierced his brave heart. It soon became evident that with our single regiment it was impossible to maintain this position, exposed as we were to a centre and two raking flank fires from at least four times out number.

We therefore fell back to a skirt of woods some hundred yards in the rear, where we were joined by a portion of the Alabama 4th, who had fought so gallantly and suffered so terribly at the house on the hill before we came up. A portion of a South Carolina regiment also joined in with us here, and during the rest of the evening we fought side by side.

In every part of the field the contest now raged, and desperate efforts were made by each party to gain some decided advantage, without apparent success, though they greatly outnumbered us, and I looked on at the terribly and desperate strife without being able in my own mind to determine which would be victorious.

Greatly to the encouragement of our brave troops, who were so heroically struggling against superior numbers, several fresh batteries made their appearances and took position on an eminence just to our left.

These opened upon the enemy, whose main column was sheltered behind a gradually sloping hill, thickly covered by small timber, and protected by a part of the celebrated Sherman Battery. A tremendous cannonading now took place that far surpassed anything I ever imagined. It appeared to me as if Heaven and earth were being rent asunder, so terrible was the crash and roar of the monster instruments of death. Several times the enemy attempted to rally for a charge on our batteries; but whenever their lines came within the terrible discharges of round shot and canister from our batteries swept them like chaff before the wind, their long and splendidly formed lines fairly melting away. Yet the tremendous force before us seemed not to diminish, and every inch of ground was contested with sullen and determined force, our brave troops fighting with renewed energy and vigor. Being parched with thirst and almost exhausted, I ran down to what appeared to be a branch or mud hole, and drank copiously of the muddy water, and was just returning to my regiment when I met Gen. Johnston, who inquired of me to what regiment I belonged. – I told him. He then inquired how Gen. Jackson’s Brigade was getting along. I told him we were fighting bravely and well, but against large odds, and needed help. He at once said, go join your regiment and tell then to hold their position, and in a few moments I will send reinforcements to their aid. I hurried back to my regiment with a lighter heart than I left it.

On reaching the top of the hill, I could see in the direction of Manassas Junction a large column of men approaching, and filing past then, with the swiftness of the wind, was a splendid body of cavalry, numbering possibly a thousand. These came rushing on like a mighty torrent, with drawn sabres glittering in the evening’s bright sunbeams, mounted on steeds which seemed to be maddened by the contest that was being waged by man against fellow man. I soon recognized this to be the splendid body of Cavalry commanded by the gallant Col. Stuart, of which the excellent company from Augusta (Capt. Patrick’s) forms a part. In the meantime, Gen. Beauregard appeared on the field in person and approaching our regiment inquired who we were, and on being informed, he addressed is in the following cheering language: “Fight on, beave Virginia boys; the day is ours everywhere else, and it must be here also.” He then commanded us to follow him, and, with a loud cheer, we rushed forward, determined to do as commanded, or die.

By this time Sherman’s battery had evidently become somewhat disabled, and had slackened its fire a little. Our course was turned directly in that direction. We reached the top of an eminence, fired a volley and at a charge bayonets rushed down upon it. We found that every horse attached to a battery was either killed or disabled and not a man, except the dead and wounded were left within the guns.

Almost every company of the regiment claim the credit of first reaching the battery. I would not do injustice to any. But a proper regard to truth, and honor to whom honor is due in this particular act, compels me to say that the left of the regiment, under command of Major Baylor, was the first to reach the immediate vicinity of the battery, and corporals R. T. Bucher, of the West Augustus Guards, Capt. Waters, and John Sutz, of the Augusta Rifles, Capt. Antrim, were the first men to reach the captured guns. – Corporal Pucher* sprang astride one of the pieces and fired his musket at the retreating enemy.

By this time the reinforcements I referred to coming from the direction of Manassas, had arrived on the ground, and, unperceived either by us or the enemy, marched rapidly to our left and to the right of the Federal forces under cover of a skirt of woods. These troops consisted of three Tennessee and one Virginia regiments; from this position they poured into the ranks of the enemy (who were partly concealed by thick undergrowth,) the most terrible and deadly volley of musketry I ever witnessed; and then, with a shout that rent the air, they rushed in one grand sweeping charge upon them. The enemy, terror stricken, broke ranks and fled in the wildest confusion over the hill; the cavalry charged upon them, sending terror and dismay among their already confused and broken ranks; the guns of the captured batteries were turned against them; batteries were run upon eminences which commanded roads along which they retreated, and which raked and crushed their disordered columns dreadfully, and shout after shout rent the air from the victorious Southern troops.

Staunton (VA) Spectator, 8/27/1861

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Contributed by John Hennessy

*Misspelled Bucher (Robert F. from preceding sentence, KIA Spotsylvania, 5/12/64).





Private, Co. A*, 1st Minnesota Infantry, On the Battle and Retreat

13 03 2020

Our War Correspondence.
———————–
March To the Battle Field – The Battle – Dreadful Scenes – Behavior of Col. Gorman and Lieut. Col. Miller – Defence of the Regiment, &c. &c.
———————–
From our Regular Correspondent.

Camp Gorman, Alexandria,
July 23, 1861.

I returned here last night with sore feet, lame limbs, wet through, indescribably exhausted, and a heart beating with rapid pulsations for our losses and reverses in the battle at Bull’s Run. Partaking of refreshments at the hands of our colored cook, we retired to rest, and this is the first opportunity I have had to address you a faint description of the scenes of terror through which we have passed.

I will begin with the beginning. On Saturday last we were all encamped at Centreville, and at noon we had orders to prepare for march at 6 P.M. At this hour we had our three days’ rations in our haversacks, our muskets discharged and reloaded, and standing in our ranks, when the orders were countermanded so far as to extend the time till 2 o’clock next morning, when after a good rest we rose and accoutered and quipped as usual for march.

The morning was bright and the moon cast its silvery rays over a beautiful landscape; the atmosphere cool and pleasant, and every thing around us calculated to make us buoyant and hopeful. The column formed in line and passing through Centreville, and we were at once upon our march for the battle field. The sun rose on Sunday in all its glory, and all nature, as we progressed through woodland and fields, seemed aglow with fragrance and beauty.

On arriving into an open field, the occasional reports of artillery which we had heard at intervals grew louder and more frequent; and in the distance we descried the smoke that arose from the battle field. Here we halted a little to fill our canteens with water – a highly commendable move as the day grew hot and sultry. Here we shook hands with some of the Company “C” Second Infantry Regulars, which we relieved at Fort Ripley just as they were about to proceed in advance to the battle field, then three miles distant. Instantly we were again ordered to fall in, and in quick and double quick time, under the burning rays of a July sun, over a rough rocky road, over hills and through valleys, we approached the battle field, the roar of artillery and musketry growing louder and louder every moment. We were first brought into a field in the rear of the battle, and afterwards under the lead of Col. Heintzelman brought right up into the battle, passing regiment after regiment, or rather remnants of them, after they were cut up under the destructive fire of the enemy; and as we passed along the edge of the hill where the battle had for hours been raging with fury, and cannon balls and shells still scattered about, we saw the field covered with dead horses, and men carrying away the dead, dying and wounded. It was a terrible sight to see, but at that time it made little or no impression on us. Our brigade was marched over a little hill, where we were formed into a line of battle, our regiment on the extreme right, and the Fire Zouaves on our left, with Rickett’s battery in the centre. Here the battle raged with fury for upwards of two hours, in the course of which two other regiments were brought to our aid; but the once retreating enemy was reinforced with fifteen thousand of a reserve force, and they became to formidable for our shattered ranks. Yet our brave men did not yield before an aid of General Heintzelman came up to order us to retreat into the woods, with the words, “Why do you stand there to be slaughtered by the enemy?” Simultaneously with our retreat the whole column began to move to the rear, and a precipitous retreat of an unorganized army was the result, the enemy pursuing to harass us in the rear. Rickett’s battery was left on the battle field. The sight that met every eye for a moment, when retreating down the hill, miraculously escaping from the stream of musketry, artillery and shells, which formed the parting salute from the enemy, was horrible beyond description. There lay the dead, riddled with musket balls, in every conceivable condition, some with the skull pierced and brains scattered on the ground; others severed in pieces with cannon balls, and the wounded and dying suffering intense agonies, who called in vain for succor from those who could but save themselves by flight. It was a sad picture, and will carry sadness and sorrow to the hearts and homes of thousands throughout the North, who have lost a father, a son, a husband, a brother or a friend, at the battle of Bull’s Run.

In the rear of the battle field the woods and fields were strewed with knapsacks, haversacks, blankets and other garments, thrown aside in the hurried march into the battle and in the hasty retreat. Broken wagons, provisions, and implements of war lined the road from Bull’s Run to Alexandria – a distance of forty or fifty miles. Boxes of crackers, barrels of bacon and other provisions, and useless garments thrown off to facilitate the hasty retreat of an army of exhausted and fatigued men, will furnish the colored population along the line – who were busily appropriating them to their own use – clothing and provision for years, while the Federal Treasury will lose thousands.

Two miles beyond Centreville the retreating column was again thrown into confusion by shells falling into their midst, and the artillery and cavalry accelerating their speed, heedlessly rushed through, and no doubt over, our own men – leaving a cloud of dust to mark their rapid progress. Our column scattered again into the woods, and an engagement took place with our rear, which lasted but a short time, and resulted in the death of one man on our side. The enemy did not pursue us farther, as we ascertained next morning after passing this night in the woods. The main body marched on and halted at their encampments in and around Centreville for a couple of hours. Here Col. Gorman was seen for the first time after marching us into the battle field, his boasted bravery not being observed by any one – and his voice, so bold and commanding on dress parade, was either drowned in the roar and noise of the battle field, or else he must have kept himself at a safe distance. I have good authority for this statement – authority that can be substantiated by evidence. Lieut. Col. Miller, however, was very active in rallying us, pointing to the Stars and Stripes, and calling on us to justify the fond expectations which Minnesotians have placed in our Regiment. He was in the thickest of the fight, and Minnesota should justly acknowledge his bravery.

After a lapse of about two hours, the retreating column again took up the line of march through Fairfax to their former encampments in Alexandria and Georgetown. A part of our regiment is encamped in Washington. Most of those who were left exhausted along the line, have come here. Stragglers will continue to come in – yesterday quite a number arrived. I learn that four hundred fo the Minnesota First are encamped at Washington. A few of our men are in the Alexandria Hospital. It is impossible to give you any reliable information as to the number of our dead and wounded, as yet; but as soon as I can ascertain it, to any degree of certainty, the statistics shall be immediately forwarded to you.

The telegraph makes some disparaging and unjust statements about our regiment, which I presume some reporter innocently made up from unreliable camp rumors – which are as numerous as they are unreliable. Thus I find in this morning’s Baltimore Clipper the following;

The panic was commenced in a light battery commanded by a fat lieutenant. He was porceeding under orders to flank one of the enemy’s batteries, when a detachment of their cavalry made a dash at them. Instead of unlimbering and essaying to receive the charge with grape or canister, he turned and instantly fled, leaving two of the pieces on the field.

The Second Connecticut and the Minnesota (of Gen. Schenck’s brigade, which were exposed to the fire of the battery which the fat lieutenant had started to flank) then broke and run into the bushes. Instantaneously it seemed that the panic was communicated in all directions.

The above is but a conctanation of misstatements. The first statement about the battery is an evident absurdity. Of the “fat lieutenant” was not “unlimbering to receive the charge with grape or canister,” how could he “leave two pieces on the field.” Secondly, the Minnesota regiment does not belong to Gen. Schenck’s brigade, and we did not “break and run into the bushes” before the proper order was communicated through the proper officers, and then simultaneously with the Fire Zouaves (who always receive so much praise) and the whole column. It is a base slander on the Minnesota First, every man of which fought side by side with the Zouaves, whose bravery is universally acknowledged.

According to the telegraph reports, the enemy’s force at Bull’s Run ws 120,000, while ours is set down at 25,000, which latter number is by many considered exaggerated. I learned from some volunteers who formed the reserve force that there were a number of regiments not called into the field at all; and when taken into consideration that the enemy had the advantages of strong fortifications and masked batteries, acting as they did on the defensive, how could we look for any other result than a disgraceful rout, acting as we did on the aggressive.

There is considerable talk among the boys of trophies taken during the engagement, while some have taken prisoners, some secession flags, some pistols, revolvers and other implements of war, &c., &c.

Considerable excitement exists among the soldiers and others as to the probable attack on Washington, or retaking Alexandria, but I rather think the enemy will have enough to do to bury their dead and nurse their wounded. If they had not force enough to send out from Bull’s Run to head us off our retreat, how could they dare an attempt on the offensive when their policy this far has been on the defensive? We are safe enough here; and the movement to concentrate troops at Washington and on the Potomac is only to organize a strong force for another advance on the rebels.

Later – July 24th. – Mail facilities were cut off to Alexandria yesterday, and I send by a messenger to day. We are ordered to Washington to day, and once there with our regiment, I shall collect further details for you. Captain Wilkin is with us. He estimates the killed and wounded of the company at twenty.

Private.

(St. Paul, MN) Weekly Pioneer and Democrat, 8/9/1861

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Contributed by John Hennessy

* Captain Alexander Wilkin, mentioned in the last paragraph, was in command of Co. A of St. Paul, and so the letter writer is assumed to be a member of that company.





“A,” Co. I, 2nd Wisconsin, On the March, Blackburn’s Ford, Battle, and Retreat

7 02 2020

Letter from the Second Regiment.

Fort Corcoran, July 29, 1861

Messrs. Bliss & Son: I have delayed writing you anything in relation to the great battle, and great defeat as it is called, at Bull’s Run, supposing, in the first place, that some one else had written you, being desirous of getting information of the whereabouts of several members of our company who were missing. The full account with particulars you will find in the newspapers, most of which are nearly true. But there are many omissions of importance. For instance, in your paper of the 23rd, which we just received to-nigh, the 2nd Wisconsin is not mentioned as being in the fight at all. Now, the truth is, we were in both battles at Bull’s Run, on the 18th and 21st. But we did not spend $50.00 to hire reporters to blazon our deeds to the country through a venal press; and what is more, our officers actually refused to pay the $50.00 for doing so in one particular case.

I can only give you a condensed narration of our part in the proceedings,

“— quorum magna pars fui,” *

as I would say, had I the vanity of AEneas, when he told his story to the confiding ear of Dido.

We left our camp near this place on Tuesday, the 16th, in the afternoon, with three days’ rations in our haversacks and with no baggage except our blankets, which were strapped over our shoulders. We marched some fifteen miles and camped at Vienna, where the Ohio boys were attacked in the cars from a masked battery some weeks ago. Starting at daylight next morning we resumed the march, passing through Germantown, where we drew up for a fight, but one or two shots from our cannon sent the enemy flying in double quick time. Here we found batteries just deserted, and quite a quantity of provisions. The batteries, I must say, like most we encountered on the road as far as Centreville, seemed more to have been built to scare us than to injure us. The roads, however, were obstructed with fallen timber, which delayed us very much in removing. Here in Germantown, to the discredit of some of our troops, one or two houses were set on fire and consumed. We pushed on from here until within a short distance of Centreville, when we camped, and the boys had a taste of secession mutton, chicken, etc. The scene on the march, though tiresome, was gay. As far ahead and back as the eye could reach the road was crowded with men, horses, baggage wagons and artillery. It seemed the march of an army to certain victory.

We lay in this camp until 9 or 10 o’clock in the morning, when we heard the booming of cannon in advance on our left. This was Gen. Tyler’s first introduction to the masked batteries of the rebels. About four o’clock a courier came riding up, his horse covered in foam, with orders for Col. Sherman to advance immediately with his brigade, to which we were attached. Of course we lost no time, and in a few minutes were on the march, and soon arrived on the ground above the battery, and were drawn up in line in the woods. The balls from the rifled guns of the rebels flew around and over us lively, crushing trees in their path and killing one of our men and wounding two others. Finding it impossible to dislodge the enemy without great loss of life, we were ordered to return to a camp about a mile in advance of Centreville, on the main road. Our boys had shown their courage and coolness under fire without returning it, and were highly complimented by Col. Sherman. We met while going down to the attack the 12th New York and 2d Massachusetts, puffing and blowing, saying they were all cut to pieces and had left at least half of their regiments on the field. Their fear lent wings to their fancy; the whole loss of all engaged being only some forty killed, but many scattered. There was no reason to complain of the Miners’ Guards, – all being ready to “go in” and take a hand, and only dodging the balls which passed over our heads.

We now remained in camp quietly awaiting reinforcements until Saturday evening, when we received orders to prepare two days’ rations and to be ready to start at 2 o’clock the next morning. At this time every man was ready, his haversack filled with hard bread and cold tongue, and silently as possible we took up our line of march, over a hilly and timbered county. On the way we encountered several of the “contraband” whose masters had deserted their homes, having been impressed into the rebel army. They said that the slaves were kept quiet by the story that the Northern men only wanted to get them to sell in Cuba. They did not all believe the story, however. They gave us correct information in reference to the rebel batteries, as subsequent events proved.

Of the first attack by the left wing, and of the flanking movement of the right wing, I have not time to speak. We were in the center, and from the position we occupied could tell by the dust and smoke the progress of the other divisions. At first, although, after we were drawn into a line on the edge of the wood, we could see a large extent of the country, where not a man could be seen, and it was only after our artillery began to play with thin[?] shells and cannister shot that the men began to swarm out of their hollows, all of which were densely crowded.

About 10 o’clock, after the left wing had taken the first masked battery, and Hunter and Heintzelman had made their attack on the right flank of the enemy, we were ordered to advance, which we did in double-quick time; and after fording a stream and climbing a precipitous bluff, we formed in line of battle. The first sight that met our eyes was the enemy retreating before the gallant charge of the New York 71st, who were slaying them like sheep. The slaughter was awful. But we had no time to lose. We advanced over a rise of ground and found ourselves directly in front of the rebel batteries on the opposite ridge. We marched forward under this fire until we reached a hollow, when we were partially protected from their shot, but not from their shell. A piece from one dented my word, and others hit several of the men, but nobody was killed. We were soon ordered to cross a muddy stream and charge up the hill in the direction of one of the rebel batteries. This was gallantly done, and the regiment drawn up in a road, flanking the enemy. The Fire Zouaves were fighting gallantly on our right. Our men now went to work with a will, and stood under the direct fire of a strong body of infantry for more than an hour, and fought with a spirit and determination which was much admired by their neighbors, the Zouaves, who cheered the Wisconsin boys, and several of them afterward remarked that the Zouaves themselves did no better fighting.

A constant fire was kept up, only interrupted for an instant by the cry of some traitor in the camp, “Don’t shoot your friends!” The hoisting of the stars and stripes by the rebels deceived many until the delusion was dispelled by a volley of musketry. Soon a movement was discovered on our right which proved to be a reinforcement of fresh troops from Manassas. Up to this time the victory was with us. The enemy were giving away in every direction, and had lost several of their best batteries. We were now ordered to fall back for the purpose of reforming our line and renewing the attack, and at the same time evading the flank fire. We had now had over twenty men killed and some sixty wounded. The regiment fell back to the opposite ridge, and under the fire from the battery was thrown into some confusion, like all the others on the field. But the order was given to fall in, and a large number was collected around the flag under one of the regimental officers, who conducted them down the hill where the panic had commenced, and then without any officer they made their way with the crowd in the wake of the “glorious 69th” to Centreville. Near here the regiment was re-organized by several of the company officers, and marched in obedience to orders from Gen. McDowell to camp at this place, – a tedious march of thirty-five miles, after fighting and marching from 2 o’clock in the morning. We did not arrive here till 10 a. m. on Monday morning., having rested only two hours at Fairfax. Thousands were in camp before us. What caused the panic, I do not know. The newspapers may tell. I think it was a want of officers to rally the men. It certainly was not a want of courage in the men, for they had shown the contrary; it certainly was a want of organization that caused a disastrous retreat, after having at one time gained a glorious victory.

The loss of the Miners; Guards was small compared with that in two or three other companies. This was owing to the fact that Lt. Bishop was detailed, just as we started to make the charge, with thirty men, to assist in manning and putting in position the big thirty-two pound Parrot gun, and who found it impossible to rejoin the company under the raking fire to which they would have been exposed. They did good service, however, where they were.

William Owens, of Dodgeville, was killed by a shot through the head; Lieut. LaFleiche was wounded by a shot in the shoulder; Lieut. Bishop was injured internally by his exertions; Philip Lawrence was wounded by a shot in the breast; Emile Peterson was wounded by a shot in the hip; Christian Kessler was also wounded, and is yet among the missing. James Gregory, George W. Dilley and Walter P. Smith have not been heard from, and are probably taken prisoners, as they were well when last seen. They are brave boys, and we hope to see them again soon. The wounded are all doing well and will soon recover.

Of course, the boys were tired, and the more so that they stood around the whole of Monday, in the rain, waiting for accommodations at the Fort. They are recruiting rapidly now, though quite a number are unwell. They will go into the next fight with more coolness, but not with more courage. They fought like old soldiers, and won the praise of all spectators, hundreds of whom were looking on.

I neglected to mention the fact, that, soon after crossing Bull’s Run, on the retreat, the cavalry charged on the regimental colors. The Wisconsin boys rallied around and drive back the cavalry after emptying eight or ten saddles. The colors were not afterward disturbed.

We are now encamped within the walls of Fort Corcoran, ready to assist in the defense of the capital, which lies constantly in sight. How long we shall remain here we do not know. We hope to do our duty wherever we are, and to have a share in the good work of delivering our country from the conspirators who are seeking its destruction.

Hoping to have leisure to continue this brief correspondence, I must retire to my wearied pillow, as the snores of my companions remind me it is high time.

A.

Mineral Point (WI) Weekly Tribune, 8/6/1861

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Contributed by John Hennessy

* Translated “In which I played a great part.”





Pvt. Louis. L. Hingle, Co. E, 14th N. Y. S. M., On the Battle

3 03 2019

Company C*, 14th Regiment,
Camp Porter, July 23, 1861.

Friend Joe – I hasten to inform you that our boys are all well, not one of us shot, but some very narrow escapes, such as balls passing through our caps, coats, &c. I will now try and give you a description of the march and battle. When I wrote my last letter to you, we were about three miles from a small village named Centreville, then occupied by the rebels, but they left as soon as they heard we were coming, so we kept our camp all that day till 2 o’clock in the morning. We then marched towards Manassas, which is about twenty-six miles from Fairfax, but there was a masked battery on our way, which we must take, so we had to march about six miles around it, to get on the other side, which was through a dense woods. At the time the head of our Division arrived any way near the battery, they opened fire upon us, but they were darn poor shots, for nearly all of them went over our heads; but I tell you it was no fools-work to have these cannon balls come humming over our heads, and to see our boys keep their eyes open, so as to dodge them. As yet, we were about 2 ½ miles from their battery, so off went blankets, and all our knapsacks, with our grub, for ach man had to carry two days’ rations with him. So we right-shouldered our muskets and proceeded in double-quick time to the battery, and I tell you when we arrived there, our tongues hung out of our mouths like a parcel of half-choked men. – As we could not water or rest, it was pretty rough. Our cannon opened on their batteries, and our infantry charged on the woods, which were full of their infantry. – We drove them all up into the main battery on a hill. They then put us poor bummers on the side of a hill, in a ditch, for a mark of their rifle guns for about fifteen minutes. Then the First and Second Rhode Island made a charge with the Fire Zouaves on their right, and we on the left, but the Rhode Island boys got played out, and retired, so that there was none left but the Zouaves and us, when they charged on us with their cavalry, about eight hundred men. We shot, that is the Zouaves and us, about half of them, so that they ran back like thunder. So there would another regiment come up and relieve us, and son on, till the rebels got reinforced with about twenty thousand men from Manassas, which was only two hour’s ride from them, and the railroad in good working order, so we retreated to Arlington Heights. We marched altogether, sixty miles. But coming through the woods, they cut us off and took a great many prisoners. The report is that they killed all our wounded, for they shelled the Hospital with all our wounded in it. There are about twenty of our company killed and missing, and about three hundred of the regiment. I will write soon and give you all the particulars. Remember me and Henry to mother. – Write soon.

I remain yours,

L. L. H.*

Brooklyn Evening Star, 7/25/1861

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Contributed by John Hennessy

84th New York Infantry (14th N. Y. S. M.) Roster

*Likely Pvt. Louis L. Hingle, enlisted 4/18/61. Although listed in the above roster as being in Co. E, there is also a Henry W. Hingle in that same company. Either the Evening Star mislabeled the letter, or the roster is incorrect. Ancestry.com shows L. L. Hingle as mustering into Co. E. A muster roll abstract at Fold3 shows Co. E as well. The evening Star appears to have either misprinted the company or read the “E” in the original letter as “C,” an easy enough mistake to make.

Louis L. Hingle at Ancestry.com

Louis L. Hingle at Fold3

Louis L. Hingle at FindAGrave 





J. S.*, Co. H, 14th N. Y. S. M., On the Battle

2 03 2019

Headquarters, 14th Regt., N. Y. S. M.,
Camp Porter, Co. H,
Washington, July 23, 1861.

Dear Father, Mother, and Sister: – I now take this opportunity to let you know the hardships I have gone through since writing my last letter. On last Tuesday, the 16th, we left our encampment, and marched to Fairfax, and on the Court House the rebel flag was flying; but it soon came down, and the stars and stripes were hoisted. The rebels fled as soon as we came in sight, leaving everything after them. We then pursued them to Centreville, and from there to Bull’s Run, where we opened fire on them from six different points, at to o’clock, Sunday morning, the 21st. The battle lasted for about six hours. There was a heavy loss on both sides. We marched thirty miles from Centreville, without sleep, and nothing but hard crackers, and dirty water to drink. When we had got ten miles from Bull’s Run, they had the road blocked up with trees and all the bridges torn down, which took us a long time to repair and resume our march. General McDowell headed our Brigade, which numbered about six thousand. General McDowell ordered the Fourteenth up a road to head the enemy off, when the Seventy-first Regiment of New York fired upon us, thinking that we were rebels, killing and wounded about forty of our Regiment. We were then ordered back to the rear of the field. We then loaded, and marched with the Fire Zouaves, and fired two volleys into the rebel troops, when they returned the fire, and we were mowed down like grass. I am very sorry to tell you that our Colonel was shot in that volley. I stepped out of the ranks, and lifted him up and put my musket under him, and helped carry him off the field. He was shot through the thigh. That was the last I saw of him after leaving the hospital. He has not returned to the camp since, and it is feared by the boys that he has been taken prisoner. As I was coming back after leaving the Colonel, a shell broke, killing and wounding sixteen of our Regiment. One piece of it struck my cap, and took it about 12 yards off my head. I wish you would tell Jimmy Doyle and the boys that Lewis Francis had his head taken off his shoulders. I managed to get off without a scratch, and I thank God for it; but my clothes were all torn to pieces. Our Major showed himself the smartest man on the field, and our Regiment has gained for itself a name which will never be forgotten. I am very glad to tell that we caved our Captain and Lieutenant Davie, and Mr. Weeks safe also, and Mr. McBride. It was the most heart-rending scene I ever witnessed, to see my comrades strewn dead under my feet. After retreating, which we did after advancing three times without success, we saw them advancing and killing our wounded men. Our gallant color bearer planted the stars and bars within ten feet of the rebels’ battery, when he was shot dead. When we were retreating, they came around at the back of us and tried to cut off our retreat, and I was taken prisoner and taken about half a mile from the rebel camp, when the cavalry headed them off through the woods, and saved me. I then made double quick time for about two miles, when I thought I was all safe, so I laid down and took a sleep for about four hours, when a man woke me up and told me that the enemy was about five miles off and coming toward us. All the things we had except our arms we had to throw away, and run, for fear of being captured again. There was an old house on the battle field, which we used for the hospital for our wounded, and the enemy threw a bomb shell into it and it is supposed killed all that were in it. There are very large bodies of men coming over from Washington now, and we expect to make another attack the week; but I don’t think we will go, as there is not more than half of the Regiment left. There is some talk here about sending us home for our gallant conduct during the battle of Sunday. Jim McNamara is all safe. As for Tome, in the Seventy-first, I did not see him. I will try and see him by my next letter.

J. S.

Brooklyn Evening Star, 7/25/1861

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Contributed by John Hennessy

84th New York Infantry (14th N. Y. S. M.) Roster

*Possibly Pvt. James Seymour, enlisted 4/18/61, or Pvt. John Shannon, enlisted 4/18/61, or Pvt. John Smith, enlisted 5/23/61.