Image: Lt. Walter M. Fleming, Co. G (1st), 13th New York Infantry

21 05 2020

Walter Millard Fleming, 13th New York Infantry, co-founder of the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine (Source)

Lt. Walter M. Fleming, Co. G (1st), 13th New York Infantry*, On His Brother’s Return to Washington

20 05 2020

Interesting Letter from Lt. Walter M. Fleming.

We have been furnished with a copy of a highly interesting letter from Lt. Fleming of Capt. Lewis’ company:

Washington, D. C. July 23, 1861.

Dear Parents, – I hasten to write you that my brother William is comparatively safe. He came to my boarding house last night, assisted by two of our company, Mr. Geo. Masseth and one other young man. They had walked and ridden all day, and all the night before. [Illegible] many falling upon him – dead and wounded. But he was fortunate to escape, I trust, slight injuries. I was out around the city yesterday in the rain as long as I dared to be, to ascertain the fate of our regiment. All I could lean was, that they were badly cut up. I returned to my rooms sad, sick, and discouraged, and wet to the skin. I had been in but a few moments when the bell rung, and I heard the tramp of soldiers on the stair case. I felt that I was to learn the worst. Judge of my surprise and joy when in came my brother William, drenched with rain and covered with mud. He truly looked haggard and exhausted; but O, I could have died for that moment of joy. I could not speak, neither could he. We could but embrace each other, the big tears starting mutually from our eyes.

George Masseth, God bless him, found the poor fellow beneath, and among the dead and dying, lying in mud and gore, with the blood flowing from his nose and mouth, almost unrecognizable, and with another noble young soldier helped him here. Although I am happy in such a restoration of my dear brother, I am sad, very sad, when I remember that many of our poor noble fellows are dead on the field of Bull’s Run. My boarding mistress got supper for our suffering party, built fires, and they were fed, dried and slept here last night. William is ill, bruised and completely worn out. He is still sleeping in the next room. I shall keep him here for a time, and he will, I trust, by rest and care, soon to back to all right again. Poor Fred Willson – John’s brother – was among the first to fall; he was shot through the heart.

Our regiment, as near as we can learn, has lost about 200 men. Captain Lewis and Lieutenant Putnam are uninjured. Captain Nolte’s company suffered severely. We shall have full particulars soon. Our regiment, with the New York Sixty-ninth and Seventy-ninth, made the most tremendous charge ad fight of the day. Ellsworth’s Zouaves also fought with perfect desperation, losing many of their noble band.

I have had another hemorrhage, but am remarkably well for me. I have not seemed to suffer any injury from my great anxiety for poor brother William, as I feared I should. I thank Heaven that he is with me, and I trust in no intermediate danger. Wounded soldiers are arriving in Washington every moment, and are constantly passing here.

The Rochester Cavalry has arrived here.

William says when he left the field it was a perfect labor of climbing, for a long distance over the dead and dying, both soldiers and horses, with a perfect wreck of artillery wagons, camp equipage, &c. The rebel loss is immense.

The battle at Bull’s Run will stand out to all future time, as one of the most desperate and bloody battles on record. Our regiment was in three distinct charges at the point of the bayonet, and but for Johnston’s reinforcements to the rebels, at the moment when our men were worn out with fatigue, the day had been ours. As it is, the rebels have suffered a chastisement they will not forget. Notwithstanding their great advantage in numbers and position, their loss, compared with ours, is probably three to one.

Yours, in haste,

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 was commissioned 2nd Lt. 7/4/1861.

13th New York Infantry Roster 

Walter M. Fleming at 

Walter M. Fleming at Fold3 

Walter M. Fleming at FindAGrave (possible) 

Walter M. Fleming bio (possible) 

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,

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 

William L. Fleming at Fold3 

Lt. Israel H. Putnam, Co. G (1st), 13th New York Infantry*, On the Battle

19 05 2020

What they Endured. – From a letter written home by Lieut. Putnam, of Capt. Lewis’ company, we extract the following:

* * * * * * * *

What have we been through! We were on the march from two o’clock Sunday morning till eight o’clock Monday morning. At noon we were completely victorious. *** The charge was made by the cavalry and Fire Zouaves, and they were cut to pieces. The Zouaves rallied again, and our brigade then made an impetuous charge and the slaughter was immense. Our own (13th) regiment held the most dangerous positions, and I am proud to say that we were the last to leave the field – the others having retreated.

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.

13th New York Infantry Roster

Israel H. Putnam at 

Israel H. Putnam at Fold3 

Israel H. Putnam at FindAGrave 

Pvt. Daniel A. Sharpe, Co. A, 13th New York Infantry, On the Battle

18 05 2020

Letter from the Standard Bearer of the Thirteenth.

Fort Corcoran, July 23d.

Dear Parents – Knowing how anxious you will be to hear of our safety, I hasten to write you a few lines concerning our terrible and bloody battle. We had one fight on Thursday, and account of which I sent you.

On Sunday morning, at 2 o’clock, we left camp 40,000 strong, and marched eight miles and attacked 100,000 of the enemy. In the woods. The fight lasted from 9 in the morning till five in the evening. Old soldiers say it was the most desperate and bloody conflict that ever took place in the same length of time.

We were forced to retreat thirty miles to this place, where we arrived (or what is left of us) at 8 yesterday morning. The enemy followed us, cutting off the wounded and stragglers. The only one of the killed that you knew was Charles Buckley; he was shot through the neck and arm. We left him at a house near the battle-field; but I heard that his body was to be brought on this morning.

I was in the heat of the action all this time, with the colors; and all were surprised to see me return with them alive. They were shot through twice.

Tell Johnny I am sorry to tell him the revolver is gone; but he has the satisfaction to know it saved my life twice, and killed two of the enemy.

When we retreated from their battery, four of them followed me, and in jumping a fence I fell and dropped it.

Hoping this will find you in good health,

I remain yours, &c.,
Dan. Sharpe

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

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Contributed by John Hennessy

13th New York Infantry Roster 

Daniel A. Sharpe at 

Daniel A. Sharpe at Fold3 

Daniel A. Sharpe at FindAGrave 

Pvt. George Trimble, Co. F, 13th New York Infantry, On the Battle

17 05 2020

War Correspondence.
Letter from George Trimble of Smith’s Rifles.

Washington, Tuesday, July 23, 1861.

Dear Parents: — I still live to write to you once more, which is indeed a miracle. I received your last letter while we were marching in the field of battle, and was glad to get that letter, for I supposed it was lost. We marched into the enemy’s country, and had a battle. It was life or death with us, and was the smartest game of ball I ever had. We shall all prove “Artful Dodgers” when we return to Rochester.

You will learn from the papers how our brave fellows fought; but the enemy was too many for us. We had them fairly whipped once, if they had not got reinforcements. Then our whole division retreated in all directions, and at last our ranks were broken. No one regiment could be got together.

When we got about a mile from the enemy, their cavalry followed us up to attack the rear of our broken line, and our Colonel got part of the regiment in line to charge on them. Then they put back. But returned again with their battery, and when they got us out in an open field they fired on us with their cannon, but only killed a few of them.

Then we all made for the woods. I got lost in thick wood, ad did not find the main body of our men for two hours. I thought I was a “goner” that time. We were forced to march sixty miles without stopping, and had nothing to eat or drink but muddy water. We left lots of our wounded on the field, and all of our dead.

We could not tell how many of the enemy we killed, for they kept in the woods and fired out on us. When we would silence one battery they would open another and cross-fire on us. Their masked batteries were as thick as toads in a puddle. They put me in mind of wasps’ nests, also, for before you could tell where you were, you would find yourself literally at the cannon’s mouth.

It would take me a week to tell you all. I saw three of Robert’s men, and they said he was in the fight and fought bravely. Edward lost his drum, but is safe himself. I write this letter in the Capitol Garden. It will take a week to get our regiment together. I think that I will have one more hack at the rebels before I go home, but I hope not such a hot one as the last. The bullets seemed to fall like rain. I had a hole put through the stock of my gun by one of them.

Love to all
Geo. Trimble

Rochester (NY) Evening Express, 7/26/1861

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Contributed by John Hennessy

13th New York Infantry Roster 

George Trimble at 

George Trimble at Fold3 

“W,” Co. G (1st), 13th New York Infantry, On the Battle

17 05 2020

War Correspondence.
From a Private in Captain Lewis’ Company.

Washington, July 22.

———-: I am a live and well. You have probably heard before this how the Thirteenth was cut up in the battle of Bull’s Run, on Sunday. Of course you would think I was not born to be shot, after what I went through yesterday. I had my rifle shot out of my hand, and the ball grazed one of my fingers, just taking the skin off. The rebels were within fifty rods of me, and I had just fired two shots. When our troops began to retreat, I ran with three others into a gully. I was out of breath, and was sitting down, when one of the three who were with me stood up and said, “They are coming,” and the others got over the fence before me. I was astraddle of the fence when all three of them were shot dead. The fence I was on was riddled with balls. When they shot my rifle out of my hands, I pulled off everything, and run for dear life along the fence until I got into the woods, from which we had drive the rebels out a few hours before. It was full of dead and wounded rebels. I got one of their canteens full of cold water. It was the first I had since morning, and it have been a very hot day. I reached here at sunrise this morning, after walking all the way – about fifty miles – since two o’clock yesterday morning.

We commenced to retreat about five o’clock in the afternoon. I caught a horse and rode him about a mile, when he threw me, and I had to walk the rest of the way. I don’t know how I stood it. It commenced to rain at two o’clock this morning, and has not stopped yet. ***

***When I arrived here I laid down in a tent and went to sleep, and when I woke up I could not move, I was so stiff, but I will get over that soon. I will write again to-morrow morning.


Rochester (NY) Evening Express, 7/26/1861

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Contributed by John Hennessy

Byron, 13th New York Infantry, On Blackburn’s Ford

17 05 2020

War Correspondence.
The Battle of Thursday.

Ontario, July 21, 1860

Eds. Evening Express, Rochester: – Gents.:
Do me the favor to publish the enclosed letter from my son in the 13th Regiment Volunteers from Rochester. I am a reader of the Express, although no a subscriber at the office, but will be, for you paper is in the hearts of the soldiers and the people.

Very Respectfully yours,


Centreville, July 20, 1861.

Father: – We left Camp Union on the 16th at 2 o’clock, P. M., marching as far as Vienna, which the rebels had left but a few hours before. Early the next morning we took up our line of march, driving the enemy before us but a short distance. We stopped over night of the 17th at Camp Mason from which rebels had left rather hastily to all appearances. In the vicinity there were between three or four thousand rebels. We came the next day to Centreville reaching here about noon, while here a part of the division about noon, while here a part of the division passed us, when they had gone two miles they came upon a masked battery battery which allowed them to approach within a few feet before opening. The Michigan 1st and the New York 12th were the regiments engaged them first, discovered the rebels commenced retreating and cheering, and our troops advancing until within a few feet of the battery, when they rose up out of their entrenchments – sueli vollies of musketry perfectly terrific – opening the battery at the same time cutting down about 40 of our troops – they still advancing, and when within nearly bayonet reach, were ordered to retreat.

At this time we were on the way to the scene of action, meeting troops, some retreating, some wounded and lying aside the road. We asked them how they made out. Their reply was, “we had to back up.” About this time more artillery reached the spot, and began to fire, the rebels returning the fire promptly. We were flanked off one side of the road in the woods – in the din of battle, we being under cover of the woods moved forward, the shot from the enemy’s rifled cannon whistling over our heads rather lively. – We were soon commanded to halt, as we expected they were advancing upon us. We all dropped on our knees, and when a discharge was heard, we listened for the messengers that could soon be heard tearing through the timber, when we would fall on our faces; one ball struck right before us, and bounded over our heads, and struck behind us, we could see; it being a spent ball, one of the boys picked it up.

One poor fellow belonging to one of the regiments engaged, who was lying back of us in the woods, had the top part of his head blown completely off, a horrid sight. Our cannon ceased firing, the enemy being under cover, and fell back, waiting for mortars to come and shell them out. Yesterday there was no movement at all. Last night the guns came up, so to-day there will be awful work. They are going to throw out tar in shells, and burn them out. There are now three batteries within three miles of here. The division under Gen. Tyler is about 40,000 strong.

We are but six miles from Manassas Junction, after the battle we could hear the cars running all night, bringing troops from Manassas, so they must have a large force here. We shall certainly have a fight to-day, and many a poor fellow will never see the rising of to-morrows sun, but as they saying is, “We’re all in the same boat,” and must stand it. I never expect to see home again, but gloomy as the prospect is, I am not at all disheartened. I shall stand to the rack, fodder or no fodder. They say when our troops fell back, leaving the wounded, they came out of the trenches, and bayoneted the wounded. If this be true, we can expect no quarter, if we fall into their hands. This is the most God forsaken country I ever saw; the land is not worth a dollar per acre. Our pickets were firing all night long last night. The mail is about ready to leave, and I must close. My kindest regards to all the folks, and tell them to write. Direct to Washington, and it will come.

Respectfully yours,

Rochester (NY) Evening Express, 7/26/1861

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Contributed by John Hennessy

Unknown, On Why Congressman Ely Went to the Battlefield

15 04 2020

Before the Battle – Reasons why Mr. Ely went to the Battle Field.
[Extract from a Private Letter.]

Washington, July 21st, 1861.

A member of the 13th came to the city yesterday and said that he had been in a battle, in which the whole regiment was employed, and had taken a masked battery, with the loss of thirteen, and a large number wounded. The man was somewhat intoxicated, but told a very plausible story, which was generally believed. It created a great deal of excitement, especially among the large delegation from Rochester. Mr. Ely had concluded to telegraph to Rochester such facts as he could glean from critical examination of the man, and had prepared a dispatch, when a Judge somebody came from the field, and contradicted the story in toto.

Mr. Ely knowing what an excitement his dispatch would create, and not wishing to frighten those who have friends in the 13th, did not send it, but made arrangements for personally ascertaining what truth there was in the report. He left this A. M. at 4 o’clock for the encampment at Bull’s Run. Mr. Ely’s friends tried to persuade him not to go, as it was a very dangerous undertaking, the road being infested with rebel scouts, but he replied it was a duty he owed to those of his friends in the 13th, and to those surviving in the ranks, and he would go.

Rochester (NY) Evening Express, 7/25/1861

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Contributed by John Hennessy

Pvt. Wilbur D. Cook, Co. E, 13th New York Infantry, On the Return of the Regiment from the Field

19 03 2019

After the Battle – Letter from Wilbur D. Cook, of Capt. Schoeffel’s Company.

Mr. Cook, who was left in charge of the camp and the sick, writes his parents as follows.

Camp Union, Va.,
Monday, July 22 – 10 A.M.

I suppose you are aware that our troops have been beaten, and have retreated to their old camp. I never saw such hard looking men in my life, as those that came in this morning. – We have lost batteries, wagons, and many of our men are taken prisoners. Our loss in killed and wounded, as near as I can find out, is about 1,000. Only half our company have returned; but we know of but one of them being killed – Wallace Shove. He was shot in the breast.

Gen. Scott had made an order forbidding any of the troops crossing the river; and it is thought that Washington is now in danger of being taken.

Our regiment was the last one to leave the field, where they did good execution. Tell the people of Rochester that their colors are safe yet, though there are some bullet holes in them.

The sight of the returning troops was one I never saw before, and I never wish to see the like again. Apprehensions were entertained that Fort Corcoran will be attacked by the Rebels to-night or to-morrow night, and we shall all back into that place in an hour or two.

I am well, but greatly fatigued.

Your Son,
W. D. Cook

Rochester Evening Express, 7/25/1861

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Contributed by John Hennessy

13th New York Infantry Roster (see Cook, Wilber D.)

Wilbur D. Cook at