Image: Capt. Henry Alanson Barnum, Co. I, 12th New York Infantry

18 09 2018
Barnum LOC

Later Brig. Gen. Henry A. Barnum (Library of Congress)

Barnum2

Thrice wounded Henry A. Barnum demonstrates the cleaning of his Malvern Hill injury (https://www.gettysburgdaily.com/culps-hill-part-4-licensed-battlefield-guide-charlie-fennell/)





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

17 09 2018

WAR CORRESPONDENCE.
———-

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yours,

H. A. B.

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

Syracuse Daily Standard, 7/31/1861

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Contributed by John Hennessy

Henry A. Barnum at Ancestry.com

Henry A. Barnum at Fold3 

Henry A. Barnum at FindAGrave.com 

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





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

16 09 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

H. A. B.

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

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

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Contributed by John Hennessy

Henry A. Barnum at Ancestry.com

Henry A. Barnum at Fold3 

Henry A. Barnum at FindAGrave.com

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





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

15 09 2018

Letter from Capt. Barnum
———-

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

H. A. B.

Syracuse Daily Standard, 7/24/1861

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Contributed by John Hennessy

Henry A. Barnum at Ancestry.com

Henry A. Barnum at Fold3

Henry A. Barnum at FindAGrave.com

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





Pvt. Robert Porter Bush, Co. D, 12th New York Infantry, On Blackburn’s Ford

6 01 2018

Letter From Old Virginia.

————————

The following letter is from a son of Dr. Wyans Bush, of Branchport, who belongs to the 12th N. Y. (Onondaga) Regiment of N. Y. Volunteers:

Arlington Va., July 23d, 1861

Dear Father: — I received your good, though flattering letter the other day, while at Bull’s Run, after the first fight. – I got one from Mr. Clark, and Henry, at the same time; they did me much good.

I suppose you have seen accounts of the fight on Thursday and Sunday. I have seen several, but the N. Y. Times has the most truthful of any of them. I was one of the skirmishers under Capt. Breckensnider, and we went ahead Thursday, and 160 of us engaged the enemy’s force of some ten to twenty thousand, while the brigade were marching a mile, and manoeuvering some at that. We were deployed in a field and marched into a gully. I did not think they were within a mile of us, until I heard the report of a gun close by, and saw one of my comrades fall dead, and instantly a great number of guns were fired at us. We were ordered forward and marched up about five rods of a masked battery, where I staid and shot as fast as I could load and see anybody. They were within a battery, the earthworks of which were covered with green brush, so that it was not all the time that we could see them; but my rifle got so hot that I could scarcely hold it, and I shot only when I could see some one. At length the Regiment were beginning to approach, and the only boy that I could see ran back up the hill and said that we were ordered to retreat. I backed up the Regiment, fell down and let them pass over me, and after resting half a minute, went on again with the Regiment, but they broke and ran, that is most of them. I could not run as I was so tired, but I made good walking time until I found some of the skirmishers, and got into some woods back. All this time, ever since the first ball had flown, there was a perfect shower of balls all around us. I cannot think why no more of us were hit; but I think they shot too high; only a little, though, as some of the boys’ hats were torn off from them.

As to the fight Sunday, I know nothing only what I hear. We were deployed and sent into the woods once.

I have had but little sleep or food, since last Tuesday, when we started, and I am very tired. I will write more soon; we are at present, east of Arlington hights and are going to encamp here.

Love to all, good bye,

R. P. Bush.

Yates County Chronicle, 8/1/1861

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Contributed by John Hennessy

Robert Porter Bush at Wikipedia 

Robert Porter Bush at Fold3

Robert Porter Bush at Ancestry.com 

12th NYSV Roster

 





Pvt. Franklin E. Gates, Co. G, 12th New York Infantry, On Blackburn’s Ford and the Battle

27 10 2016

 

A CANASTOTA VOLUNTEER’S EXPERIENCE IN BATTLE.

—The Following letter from Frank Gates, a Volunteer in Col. Walrath’s regiment, is communicated by his father for publication:

Washington, July 23, 1861.

DEAR PARENTS:—To relieve your anxiety, I hasten to inform you that Frank is still in the land of the living. We arrived in this city yesterday, and I should have written to you then if I had not been completely exhausted. Until yesterday afternoon I had not received half an hour’s sleep for eighty hours; so you may well imagine that I was pretty well worn out when we came here. After reaching this city I made my way straight to the Capitol, where, by the kindness of one of the Congressmen, I was enabled to get a little rest. He took me into a room where nil was quiet, and provided me a good sofa to lie on.

I suppose you are anxious to hear an account of the battle in which I have been engaged; therefore I will begin now to give you a description of it: We left chain bridge last Tuesday afternoon and proceeded on our way to Fairfax, where the rebels had stationed a force (as near as I can ascertain) of about 5,000. At this place they had thrown up breastworks, blockaded the roads, &c. But as soon as they found our troops were advancing, they left as fast as their heels could carry them, and we took possession of the place. We then proceeded some six miles from Fairfax, and stopped for the night.—In the morning we resumed our march, and after going some two miles we came upon a strong rebel battery. Here we expected to have a ….brush, but on examination we found that the rebels had fled and deserted their posts here. So on we went. Thursday, at half-past twelve, we arrived at the place called Bull’s Run, which is but a short distance this side of Manassas. As soon as we came here our brigade, consisting of four regiments, which was in the advance of the main column, was drawn up in battle array. At ten minutes past one our regiment received orders to march down to the left to ascertain, if possible, the position of the enemy. We were marched in double quick time through ravines and over hills, until we came to a dense thicket which we immediately entered. Suddenly a heavy volley of musketry was poured in upon us but very fortunately it was aimed so high that the most of passed above our heads. We could not see a person in the direction from which we received the fire, although our left flank had approached within three rods of the spot from which the charge was made. The enemy, some five or six thousand strong, had concealed themselves behind a masked battery, and as soon as they fired, dropped down out of sight, and the only way that we could direct our fire was by aiming at the spot where we saw the flash of their guns. We at once charged upon them and then fell flat upon the ground and loaded again. Before we arose, their second volley was fired, which came a little lower and did us more injury than the first. If we had not fallen upon the ground I am sure we could not have escaped utter destruction. We arose to our feet and again charged upon them, and as before, fell and loaded. At this moment the rebels opened upon us from another battery a terrific fire of grape shot and shell. We charged again and then fell back to the first ravine in our rear. Here we were ordered by the Colonel to form in line again and make another charge upon them, but one of our batteries of flying artillery returned the charge we had received from theirs, and this brought us in range of the fire of both batteries, theirs and ours; therefore it was impossible to carry out our plan, and we were ordered to fall back. A heavy cannonade was kept up from both batteries until near sundown.

Then our whole force formed in a body and marched back to Centerville, a distance of two miles and stopped for the night. Nothing of much importance took place from that time until Sunday, when a hard battle was fought in the morning. Our batteries began to shell the woods for the purpose of routing them out of their strongholds and finding out where they were. During the whole of the fight we tried every possible scheme to draw them out of the woods into an open field, but this could not be done. They have adopted the Indian mode of warfare, and whenever they can be drawn out of their entrenchments and ambuscades they prove themselves the veriest cowards in the world. During the fore part of the day our batteries kept up a constant fire while our infantry scoured the woods off at the right. As soon as we begun the fire, they commenced pouring in reinforcements from Manassas, so that by the middle of the afternoon they had a force which more than doubled ours. But notwithstanding this, we kept driving them back, until our batteries had exhausted their ammunition and were compelled to cease firing. Then they began to follow us, and we saw that they were working to outflank us. To avoid this, we fell back to Centerville and drew up our forces in an open field, planting our batteries on a hill in the center of our troops. Here we expected an attack, but to our surprise they did not stir from the woods. We remained here from sundown until midnight, and then commenced our retreat back to this city. If we could have had more artillery, and plenty of ammunition, this movement would not have been made, but as it was, we could not do otherwise. The loss of life was great on both sides. As near as I can ascertain the loss on our side was between 1,500 and 2,000. Theirs was much greater. Ellsworth’s Zouaves suffered more than any other regiment, and about half their number was killed. [Our loss has since been shown to be much less than here stated.—ED.] No body of men ever fought more nobly and bravely than they did. They did not leave the field until they had laid one thousand of the rebels dead before them. Their brave Colonel fell from his horse at the first fire. I believe he was not mortally wounded. Beauregard commanded the rebel forces in person. His horse was seen to fall from under him. F. A. Darling stood by my side, and had the crown of his hat torn off by a grape shot. Another struck the bayonet of his gun and broke it off about two inches from the muzzle of his gun. A. Stone, of Peterboro, had a ball pass through his hat. G. Hammond had his gun knocked out of his hand by a grape shot. Several others in our company escaped in the same way, and there was but one killed, this was a young man by the name of John Markham. When we marched into the thicket, he was exactly in front of me, but when we formed a line and made the charge, he was a little to my left. I will now tell you of the narrow escape I had, and then close for the present. I had just entered a little hollow when I heard the whizzing of a cannon ball from one of the rebel’s guns; I dropped flat upon my face, when the ball passed directly over me and struck in a bank a few feet back of where I lay. If I had not fallen the instant I heard the sound, it would have torn me in pieces. Preparations are being made to attack them again. Whether it will be done before our time is out, I do not know, but I hope it will, for I want to meet them again.—We will have a much stronger force, both of infantry and artillery, which is the most needed. Give my respects to all my friends.

From your affectionate son,

FRANK GATES.

Utica Morning Herald amd Daily Gazette (unknown date)

Transcription per New York State Military Museum and Veterans Research Center

Franklin E. Gates in Annual Report of the Adjutant General of the State of New York For the Year 1899

Thanks to reader Will Hickox





Ezra Walrath Court of Inquiry

24 03 2014

As concerns Col. Ezra Walrath, 12th New York Infantry, and the results of his efforts for a Court of Inquiry into his command of the regiment at Blackburn’s Ford to which he alluded in his correspondence here and here, I was able to locate this unidentified news clipping from this site:

NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS.—Hon. George Geddes only delays his acceptance of the Colonelcy of the Twelfth Regiment until his physician shall assure him that his health will admit of active service. The commissioned officers of the Twelfth were unanimous in selecting Mr. Geddes for commander. The Syracuse Journal says he is the only man now left in the county, whose education and ability fit him for the position. The Twelfth has now about 400 men left, all of whom have served six months, and are said to be under good discipline. Col. Walrath having resigned, and Major Louis having been killed, the regiment is sadly in need of a head, and it is hoped that Mr. Geddes will soon determine upon his course in the matter.

—Col. Walrath, of the Onondaga regiment, (12th) has been entirely cleared of charges cowardice and incompetency, by the verdict of a Court of Inquiry, which awards to the Colonel high praise for his conduct at Bull’s Run. Capt. Locke, of the same regiment, was charged with giving the order to retreat, unauthorized. This charge was not sustained before a Court of Inquiry.

—The commissioned officers of the Onondaga Regiment (12th) have unanimously chosen Hon. George Geddes for Colonel, in place of Walrath in whose hands the regiment has fallen into a deplorable state of demoralization. Desertion has reduced the number from 780 to two or three hundred available men. Recruiting for it has actively commenced, and Col, Geddes will restore the regiment to efficiency if any man can.

Once I’ve identified the newspaper and date, I’ll move this to the resources section. As always, any help is appreciated.