Corp. Benjamin Strong Steen, Co. C, 14th New York State Militia, On the Cause of the Defeat

6 12 2022

The following is an extract of a letter from a Corporal of the 14th Regiment, formerly an employee in the Eagle office: –

“Camp Porter, July 22, 1861.

I have been spared by the will of God, although in the battle I had given myself up for lost, as grape shot fell around me like hail, and shell mowed down our ranks. We were overpowered by numbers, but even as it was, if the regulars had supported us we would have driven the enemy back from their position. * * *

Benj. S. Steen

Brooklyn (NY) Daily Eagle, 7/24/1861

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Image: Lt. Col. Edward Brush Fowler, 14th New York State Militia

5 12 2022
Edward Brush Fowler, 14th NYSM (Wikipedia)
Edward Brush Fowler statue in Fowler Square, Brooklyn, NY (Wikipedia)

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Lt. Col. Edward Brush Fowler, 14th New York State Militia, On Looting in Fairfax

5 12 2022


Head-Quarters 14th Regt., N.Y.S.M.
Arlington Heights, July 24, 1861.

To the Editor of the Brooklyn Eagle: A base falsehood has been circulated by the Washington papers, in relation to our Regiment breaking open and robbing houses in Fairfax as we passed through that place. The facts are that our Regiment was near the rear of the advancing column, and when the right of our Regiment reached the village, I stationed a reliable officer and proper guard to prevent any departure from the ranks at that place, and the Regiment marched through the village without halting until we had passed about one-half mile beyond it. There was no pillaging done by the 14th Regiment.

Yours, truly,
E. B. Fowler,
Lt. Col. 14th Regt., N.Y.S.M.

Brooklyn (NY) Daily Eagle, 7/25/1861

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W.W.D., On the Dress of the Zouaves

5 12 2022


Brooklyn, July 24, 1861.

To the Editor of the Brooklyn Eagle.

In your issue of to-night you say a great deal of praise given the Zouaves is due the 14th Regt. – the similarity of uniform causing them to be confounded. If I mistake not, the Zouaves have a blueish grey with a narrow trimming of red and black; the 14th have red pants and dark blue jackets. There may be a striking resemblance, but I for one “can’t see it.”

W. W. D.

Brooklyn (NY) Daily Eagle, 7/25/1861

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Corp. David A. Bower(s), Co. B, 14th New York State Militia, On the Battle

5 12 2022


Copy of a letter from a Corporal in Co. B, 14th regiments of Brooklyn to his parents:

Camp Porter, July 23, 1861.

I must write and let you know that I was not killed in the battle. We fought on Sunday afternoon. Our Colonel is wounded, and a corporal of our company killed. I waw him when his arm was broken by a ball, and he was coming on with us as fast as he could, but when the rebels cut off, or tried to cut off, our retreat at Centreville, a cannon ball took his head off. It was a sad day for our Union army. We were marched about fifteen miles Sunday morning, and as soon as we halted we were made to go straight into the battle, every one of us, whereas the enemy had reinforcements coming up all the time, and we had no reserved to fight them. It is only God’s protection that saved my life. I saw my comrades drop around me, and still I charged up with the last of them until we were obliged to retreat. How I had strength to walk fifty miles without any rest is a wonder to myself when I think of it. I am almost sick; it will be a wonder if I am not very sick. I have not strength enough to write more.

Your affectionate son,
David A. Bower.

Brooklyn (NY) Daily Eagle, 7/25/1861

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Pvt. Albert Pendrell, Co. C, 14th New York State Militia, On the Battle

4 12 2022


Camp Porter, Arlington Heights,
14th Regt., July 23, 1861.

Dear Father, – We are once more at our old camp, where I can sit down quietly and write to you, and let you know some few of the particulars of the great fight we have been in, and through which by the blessing of God I have been spared without a scratch. When we left our camp we marched to Fairfax and took possession of the place without any opposition. We then advanced to within three miles of Centreville and encamped there for three days. We then took up our march for Bull’s Run, and we had scarcely reached there when our artillery commenced firing upon the enemy’s battery. We were then ordered upon the field in double quick time; the enemy’s batteries were almost silenced, when our artillery ran out of ball and retreated. Then we were ordered to charge upon the entrenchments, and nobly did our brave fellows do it. We had scarcely reached the top of the hill, when we received a murderous fire of shell and musketry; one shell came into our company, taking off the head of Brown[*] (one of the new recruits) and killing three of the old members. Our Colonel was also wounded and taken prisoner, and our flag bearer was wounded badly; he called out to the 14th, “Risk your flag!” and rushing in front of the enemy and within twenty feet of them, planted the flag; but no sooner had he done this, than he was shot in the leg and fell over, but still he held on to the colors. After awhile the enemy got our colors, when we made one more charge and regained them; we then retreated, bearing our flag with us. It is supposed the enemy had eight thousand men in the entrenchments we stormed, and the cars arrived, giving them a reinforcement of 1500. Being thoroughly fatigued, we could no longer stand against such overwhelming odds, and retreated in pretty good order to Arlington. We are expecting an attack every night. Let them come; we are ready, and will give them a warm reception. * * * * * *

Your affectionate son,
Albert Pendrell.

Brooklyn (NY) Daily Eagle, 7/25/1861

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*Pvt. Augustus T. Brown, Co. C

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Pvt. John P. Victory, Co. L, 14th New York State Militia, On the Battle and Retreat

4 12 2022


The following letter from one of our assistant corporation counsellors was received this morning. It explains the disgraceful retreat, in part, at Bull’s Run as having been caused by the inefficiency of the leaders.

Camp Porter, Arlington Heights,
July 23, 1861.

My Dear Sir, – I have no doubt that you have heard of the great battle which took place at Bull’s Run, and the disastrous result to the Union forces. Our column under the command of Gen. Porter, left Centreville about 4 A.M. on Sunday, and marched 13 miles to get a position on the right of the enemy. We arrived at our destination about 11 o’clock, A.M. – the last mile being done with double quick time and under a broiling sun. The 14th, under Col. Wood, gallantly took their position near the first battery of the rebels which completely disconcerted them for the moment. I regret to inform you that our Col. (Wood) received a wound in the right leg (the ball passed through the thigh.) I helped to carry him off the field. A great number of our troops were taken as prisoners; I understand, and I think the Col. is among them. The rebels had a regiment of niggers fighting us. The fighting by our column continued for four hours, when our troops retreated panic stricken as they had no leaders. Somebody deserves a great deal of censure as there were no ambulances to carry off the wounded. Russell, of the London Times, who was present at the battle, informed Mr. Odell that he never witnessed a battle so fiercely contested. The rebel troops were estimated at 70,000 or 80,000, and their batteries extend for five mils. I heard this morning that Gen. McDowell was under arrest because he was not authorized to commence a fight until McClellan’s forces were heard from. We have no over 400 men in camp this morning. I must now close as the mail leaves in a few moments. With thanks for paper and envelopes, I remain,

Your obt. servt.,
John P. Victory

Brooklyn (NY) Daily Eagle, 7/25/1861

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Pvt. Walter Chambers, 1st Company Washington Artillery, On the Campaign

4 11 2022

[The following interesting letter was written by a nephew of Rev. P. Stout to his little brother, a member of brother Stout’s family. The writer is a member of the New Orleans Washington Artillery. Though written for the eyes of friends alone, it is so descriptive we do well to give it to the public:}

Camp Lou’a., near Manassas Junction,
July 30th, 1861.

My dear Frank: your letter of the 1st inst, was received and should have been answered ere this, but we have been moving about so much for the last few weeks that we have scarcely had time to cook our victuals, much less write letters. You have seen in the papers accounts of our battles of the 18th and 21st. Hugh and I were in the hottest part of both of them. Charlies was in the first, but was not with us on the 21st. Our Battalion of 13 pieces was split up and stationed at different points, and only five pieces were at the “Stone Bridge.” We went on the field about 10 o’clock, and Hugh’s and my pieces (rifled cannon) were ordered immediately to a position about 1500 yards from the famed “Sherman’s Battery” which was playing on 3 pieces of our “Staunton Artillery.” As soon as we shewed ourselves on the brow of the hill, the whole of the enemy’s fire was directed on us. We unlimbered and came into Battery as quick as possible, and in a few minutes had the satisfaction of seeing our shot strike one of their pieces, killing 3 horses and disabling the piece; the next moment a Battery of 4 more pieces was seen coming down the hill, their horses at a full gallop, they approached 300 or 400 yards neared than the first an commenced throwing shell at us, the other Battery had fired only round shot, and although they struck in front and around us none of our men or horses had been hurt. The “Staunton” on our left had not fared so well, for they lost 3 men and 5 horses. About this time we heard firing on our right, and saw our Infantry who had been stationed in a thick wood to protect us, falling back cut to pieces, and the next moment a tremendous column of the enemy filed down the hillside on the left to outflank us. (The battle ground was a large, narrow wheat field, and we could see each others movements distinctly.) I began to think that we were gone, but at that moment orders came for us to retreat, and if ever you saw fellows limber up and put over the hill, quickly, we did; when we got over the other side and were protected from the enemy, we halted and there saw about 6,000 of our men lying on their faces on the ground, protected by the hill from the shot that had been fired at us; – as soon as we halted the order was given them to “Forward double quick,” and then such a yell arose as you never heard before. They rushed through the woods, and then the battle began in earnest; we could hear the firing, but could see nothing; – in a few moments they began to bring in the wounded, and as the poor fellows were carried past to the hospital (a large framed house about three-fourths of a mile off,) it made us feel very sad. – About 2 o’clock a remnant of a Virginia Regiment passed us in perfect disorder, and reported our men cut to pieces and the enemy advancing. Our hearts sank, for we knew that their cavalry would soon be upon us, and there would be no chance to escape; each man examined his pistol, resolving to die on our posts around the pieces. Then I felt glad that Charlie was not with us. At this moment our gallant General Beauregard rode up and said, “Artillery, if you can hold a position on that hill (near where we were in the morning,) for an hour, the day is ours.” Then it was our turn to shout, – our horses were rested, and up the hill we went as fast as they could run, the shot and shell falling like hail around us. I can hardly recollect what happened after that, much less describe it. The roar of our 5 guns and 3 of another battery on our right, soon made us so deaf that our commands had to be given by signs. General Beauregard had his horse shot under him by my side, and took the horse of my Seargent. After firing some time, one of our drivers who was mounted and could see down the hill side, called out to the gunner of the piece on the extreme left, that the Infantry were coming up the hill, and the next moment a shower of minnie balls rained around us, cutting the leaves from the trees and killing one of our men, the only one we lost; the gunner immediately depressed his range, loaded with canister and gave them three rounds which caused them to fall back, and immediately our Infantry charged and drove them off the field, capturing the whole Battery and completely routing the whole army. The Regiment that charged us was the “New York Fire Zouaves”: they had been held in reserve all day for the express purpose, and their orders (so we learn from the prisoners) were to take the “Washington Artillery, and give no quarters.” Out of 900 men they marched against us, only 230 left the field. – After this we went up to a high hill in front of the hospital, about two miles from, and overlooking the Centreville road, along which they were retreating, and with one of our rifled guns gave them a shot whenever they appeared in sufficiently large numbers to afford an aim; with our glasses we could see them at every fire throw down their arms and scatter like black birds. Our cavalry pursued them that night, killing and taking prisoners.

We slept that night near the battle field in a hard rain and without supper, having had nothing since the night before but a hard biscuit and a little piece of fried shoulder. Next morning we went over the battle field and human eyes never witnessed a more awful sight. During the night our wounded men had been brought in, but the dead of both sides, and the wounded of the enemy were still there. It was distressing to hear the poor wretches beg for water. I soon emptied my canteen and then had to turn a deaf ear to their cries. The ground where the Zouaves charged us was most thickly covered and their bright red uniform made their bodies very conspicuous. Here, too, I saw the most awful sights – men wounded by cannon shot, heads completely cut off, one with his face only left. During the time of their retreat, we found the baggage of the whole army thrown away; our men furnished themselves with all they wanted. I got a splendid blanket, india rubber coat, haversack, &c. They were, without doubt, the best equipped troops that ever went into the field, – every thing they had was of the very best, and in their haversacks were more provisions than we had eaten for a week; each man had a little bag of ground coffee, and sugar, things, the taste of which we had almost forgotten. It poured down rain all that day.

We expected the enemy to send in a flag of truce to bury their dead, but none came, so we had to begin the work ourselves. We worked for two days and at the end of that time had to move our camp, there begin so many unburied and the smell making it impossible for us to do more. Every form house in the neighborhood is converted into a hospital, and a large church is used for the same purpose. We have several of their own surgeons attending them.

When the retreat began they threw the wounded who were in their wagons out by the road side so as to go faster. I cannot tell their loss or ours: before this reaches you, you will have seen the official report. We took 73 of their cannon, among them Gov. Sprague’s Rhode Island Battery, the finest in the world.

After the fight, Gen. Beauregard and President Davis made us little speeches. Gen’l. B. rode up to our Major saying: “Major, give me both of your hands; – I cannot thank you for the service you have done to-day.”

On the 28th, after being scattered about for two or three weeks, we were reunited at this camp, our tents were given to us again and we are now resting after our hardships of the last 20 days.

I have given you no account of our fight on the 18th at Blackburn’s Ford, for the reason that we saw nothing but tree tops. We were in a hollow between two hills, and the enemy above us concealed from sight by the bushes; we had to aim by the smoke of their fires, and notwithstanding their advantage of numbers and position, we whipped them badly. We had seven guns, but one of them became disabled early in the fight, so we were actually 6 against 13. We lost one killed and six wounded. One man was wounded on my piece. I was handing him a ball and just as he reached out his hands a shell bursted at our side and struck him in the mouth. I was sure that he was dead from the way he fell, but I could not stop to see; he lay on the ground until we stopped firing, and then we carried him off the field and sent him to Richmond where he is now recovering and will soon be well, though very much disfigured. In that fight there was a little fellow, who was in the office with me in New Orleans. Poor boy, he was wounded early in the fight. I saw him after the battle; he knew his wound was mortal; but said all he minded was, not being able to fire a single shot. He was not in the Artillery, but was under command of the Col. who we were assigned to that day. It will be a severe blow to his family; he was only 18 years old, and they thought him too young to go, but he insisted, and our employers told him that his situation should be kept open and his salary paid, so he came [*].

Your affectionate brother,
Walter ——–.

(Tuskegee, AL) South Western Baptist, 8/22/1861

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*Likely Pvt. John Stacker Brooks, Co. H, 7th Louisiana, who was not yet 18 years old and in the employ of Messrs. W. M. Perkins & Co. See here.

Image: Pvt. Warren B. Raser, Co. G, 14th New York State Militia

11 10 2022
Pvt. Warren B. Raser (far right), 14th New York State Militia (Courtesy of Mark Krausz)

Also listed as Roser, Racer, and Rasser

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Unit History – 14th New York State Militia

16 06 2022

Cols., Alfred M. Wood, Edward B. Fowler; Lieut.-Cols., Edward B. Fowler, William H. DeBevoice, Robert B. Jourdan; Majs., James Jourdan, William H. DeBevoice, Charles F. Baldwin, Robert B. Jourdan, Henry T. Head. The 84th (the 14th militia), recruited in Brooklyn, left the state for Washington, May 18, 1861; was there joined by Cos. K and I in July, and between May and August was mustered into the U. S. service for three years. The regiment served in the vicinity of Washington until the battle of Bull Run, in which it fought gallantly in Porter’s brigade, with a total loss of 142 killed, wounded or missing. It then served near Ball’s cross roads and Upton’s hill, Va., and in March, 1862, was assigned to the 1st brigade, King’s division, 1st corps, with which it served in northern Virginia, while the campaign on the Peninsula was carried on under Gen. McClellan. Active in the fighting which culminated in the battle of the second Bull Run, the regiment lost 129 men. It was engaged at South mountain, Antietam and Fredericksburg with the 1st brigade, 1st division, 1st corps, to which it was attached on Sept. 12, 1862. After passing the winter in camp near Falmouth, the regiment was active at Chancellorsville in May, 1863, and was prominently engaged in the battle of Gettysburg, where it received the highest official praise for its gallantry in action. It served during this battle with the 2nd brigade, 1st division, 1st corps, and suffered a total loss of 217. It then moved southward with the Army of the Potomac, shared in the Mine Run movement, wintered near Culpeper and at the opening of the Wilderness campaign, was assigned to the 2nd brigade, 4th division, 5th corps. On May 21 the term of service expired. It was mustered out at New York city, June 14, 1864, when the veterans and recruits were transferred to the 5th N. Y. veteran infantry. The total enrollment of the regiment was 1,365, of whom 153 died from wounds and 74 from other causes. Few regiments could boast such a distinguished reputation as the 84th, which served with unfailing bravery through the most severe tests of courage.

From The Union Army, Vol. 2, pp. 112-113

14th NYSM/84th NYVI Roster