An Eye Witness, 6th North Carolina Infantry, On the Battle

12 08 2020

Camp Bee, 4 Miles N. E. Manassas
Junction, Va., July 28, 1861

Gentlemen: – I know you would like to hear from us, and as I have a leisure moment now, and a chance to send a letter, (for we have no mails,) I drop you this scroll. We of the Sixth N. C. State Troops, Col. Fisher, were ordered to Gen. Johnson’s command at Winchester, where we arrived in time to join in the celebrated “forced march” across the mountains to Gen. Beauregard’s aid, and which has been spoken of by President Davis as the great military achievement of the age. Yes, sire, we travelled on foot, day and night, without even stopping to eat! We arrived Sunday morning of the memorable 21st., at the Junction, about 8 o’clock, and while Col. Fisher was calling at Headquarters for orders we hear the opening fire. Soon after, Col. F. returned and ordered us to “forward,” and at a rapid pace, we set out for the battle field, without rest, water or food for 36 hours. As we approached, the musketry opened on the enemy (the fire before was that of Artillery) when we quickened our step ‘till within range of the enemy’s guns. Under cover of some timber we formed our line and for a few minutes practiced the men in manner of firing – then loaded and went on.

Owing to the position of the enemy the skirts of timber and the manner of carrying up the Regiment into action by the right flank, three of the extreme rear Companies never could get to “open” on the enemy, although exposed to a heavy cross fire of musketry and rifles all the while. The other seven Companies of the Regiment getting in, had the work to do, and right well did they do it.

In our rear was posted a Regiment of the enemy’s riflemen and in front Michigan Marine, Regular and Zouave Regiments in almost endless number, while to our left on tops of the hill, some 50 paces distant was the Sherman Battery.

On receiving fire from so many directions at the same time our men were thrown into temporary confusion and were ordered to “fall back” into the timber just in the rear and re-form. Col. Fisher again ordered them to “forward” in the direction of the Battery, he leading, some distance in advance. When found, the poor Colonel was dead, 25 yards beyond the Battery. About this time, Lieut. Col. Lightfoot was wounded and an officer mounted came up and ordered the men to “cease firing.” Just here there was great confusion, for there was scarcely any telling friends from foes. Yet the Zouaves with their red breeches could always be distinguished, and they kept pouring in a murderous fire. Capt. Avery saw it would not do to remain there inactive and took the responsibility to order a charge upon the Battery and with a yell the men moved rapidly on and driving the enemy from the guns, took possession – our Mississippi and South Carolina friends could not believe but they were the enemy and opened fire on them compelling the gallant Captain and his brave North Carolinians to abandon the guns – which were afterwards seized by other Southern men. This much is certainly true, that after Capt. Avery took the Battery no enemy ever used it, or was near it, for soon after the Yankees began a retreat which finally ended, as all knows, in a rout.

Many of our North Carolina boys acted heroically, but it would be perhaps better not to name these without explanations, which would be too tedious. It is sufficient to say that the fame of our State will not suffer by reason of bac conduct on the part of the Sixth Regiment State Troops. The loss is killed 16, wounded 64. Total 80. Several of the wounded will prove fatal.


(Raleigh, NC) Semi-Weekly Standard, 8/3/1861

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“Palmetto,” Bonham’s Brigade, On the Battle

20 07 2020

The Battle of Manassas.

Richmond, Va., July 29th, 1861.

To the Editors of the Dispatch: – Among the many incidents of the battle of Manassas which have been reported in the city press since the fight, there was one important fact which should not be passed over in silence, and I am surprised that it has not before this time been mentioned, viz: the share which two South Carolina regiments had in the affair.

These regiments (the 2d South Carolina, Col. Kershaw, and the 3d* South Carolina, Col. Cash) reached the scene of action about 1 ½ o’clock P. M. Just before they caught sight of the enemy, they were met by at least fifteen hundred of our men – many of them wounded – coming away from the field of battle, who told them “the day was lost!” that “we could do nothing with the enemy, for their artillery was too strong for us!” that “Col. Hampton and all his officers were killed, and the enemy were driving our forces back!” This was the tenor of the information received by these two Palmetto regiments, who had already gone over four miles of hilly and broken ground at the double-quick step, and were, of course, in no plight to plunge into a contest with twenty times their force, probably flushed with the prospect of victory, and excited to madness by the contest. But, the gallant Palmettos, although believing they were marching on to certain destruction – upon a worse than forlorn hope – never faltered a moment, except to inquire the nearest way to the scene of combat, and hurried on. They soon heard a sharp volley from a wood in front, and the balls whistled through their ranks, cutting down many of their number, while the air overhead was alive with the hoarse scream of shells and the hum of cannon shot, as they crashed through the branches around.

Charging through the wood, they came in sight of the enemy – the N. Y. Fire Zouaves and the Chasseurs – and with a cheer that was heard above the din of battle, rushed upon the foe, firing as they went! The enemy immediately broke and fled across fields, fences and ditches for about a mile; but five or six regiments of them rallied on a high hill opposite. The Palmettos made at them, but were ordered to halt. Why this order was given we could not at first see, for our ranks were being rapidly thinned by the long range Minnie and Maynard guns of the Yankees. But while asking each other what it meant, we heard the clear voice of Col. Kershaw tinging over the field, “Boys, lie down and let the artillery fire over you!” – We immediately fell upon our faces, and the artillery (consisting of two pieces of Kemper’s Alexandria Battery,) sent death and desolation among the well-drawn up lines of the foe on the opposite hill, while our men picked off the officers or individuals occupying the prominent places among them. They began to waver, and a few more shots from Kemper and a volley or two between the pauses of the artillery from the deadly Mississippi rifles of the Palmetto boys completed the rout, and the enemy fled in confusion. Their own artillery, (six splendid rifled pieces of Griffin’s Battery) was turned upon them, and lent additional terror to their flight. But the fact to which I referred in the beginning of this slight outline was this: – These two South Carolina regiments, together with Kemper’s Battery and a detachment of the Va. Black Horse Cavalry, pursued the enemy for six miles beyond the field of battle and captured over twenty pieces of artillery, besides arms and stores innumerable, which otherwise would have been carried off!


Richmond (VA) Dispatch, 8/2/1861

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* The 3rd Carolina was commanded by Col. J. H. Williams. The 8th South Carolina was commanded by Col. E. B. C. Cash. Both regiments were in Bonham’s Brigade along with the 2nd and 7th South Carolina. The action described appears to coincide with that of the 2nd and 8th SC, which operated together. This mistake could have been made by the editors (mistaking an 8 for a 3), or by the letter writer, who may have been unfamiliar with the command of the 8th or 3rd SC, or may not have been an eyewitness and was reporting second-hand information. It is assumed the letter writer was a participant, but not known.

Pvt. John Alden Copeland, Co. G, 27th New York Infantry, On the Battle and Retreat

23 06 2020


Washington, July 24, 1861.

Dear Father – When I left Washington a week ago yesterday I did not expect to see it again under such circumstances as surround me at present. I arrived here last night, direct from the battle field, tired and foot sore, but in good spirits. I was the last almost to return, and found that my name had been entered upon the list of the killed.

Sunday morning, at [?] o’clock, our division left camp, three miles north of Centreville, and marched till noon – about [?] miles – when the battle commenced. After we emerged from the woods – the greatest forest I ever traveled, our route through it being about [?] miles – we were drawn up in battle front, our regiment being the leader. We then went on a run for three miles to the battle field. One of our boys stopped to fill several canteens before we started, and I carried his gun to the field, in addition to my own, and at the same time I was loaded with my haversack, containing three day’s provisions, two blankets, and 40 rounds of cartridges. When I got to the field I threw aside everything except my gun and cartridge box, and took my place in the ranks under heavy fire from the enemy’s artillery, and charged up the hill with the boys, but when half way up, I fell from exhaustion, with several others. I staid about fifteen minutes, and then summoned strength to rejoin our regiment, and crawled over the hill, the balls flying like hail around me. I met our Lieut. Col. Chambers galloping back to get help for our regiment, and he rushed up to one of the field officers and in his stuttering way called for aid, for heaven’s sake, to relieve our boys. He said that they were surrounded in the woods below. When I heard this I ran down in the woods and found our regiment retreating, carrying back our Col., wounded in the thigh, with several of our company wounded but none killed. – Other companies had some of their members killed. Here we made a stand, the balls of the artillery and musketry whizzing over our heads in a perfect storm. Our Major took command and led us out of the woods, to make, as we thought, a second charge. Our Colonel nearly wept when he could not lead us further, and ordered that we should be taken from the field, as we had already had our share of the fight, and were enough cut up without hazarding further loss of life. We left the woods, the fight raging all around us, and lay down behind the banks of a creek, as it was almost instant death to lose cover, as the enemy were continually unmasking new and unseen batteries upon us, and all well planned with good engineers. They had nearly 100,000 men arrayed against us, and they had reinforcements pouring in continually from Manassas, four miles distant.

The battle was in reality the long, long looked for struggle which was to come off at Manassas, although it took place at Bull Run. We had scarcely 15,000 troops to oppose them, and with this odds against us, we drove them from the field three times, forcing their batteries into the woods. But the woods were filled with their troops, and they could lead fresh men to the attack continually. More than that, there was on our side no order whatever. Each Col. attacked or withdrew from field when he pleased, and that is the way the fight was carried on. Our regiment and another went first into the fight, and after driving the enemy from the field, unsustained, were driven back by the guerilla hordes, who never gave us a chance to use the bayonet. Notwithstanding their superiority of numbers, they fled to the cover, and played Indian through it all. Thus the fight continued until the retreat was ordered. I was never in a battle before, but I never saw a braver set of men in my life, than our volunteers. The regulars were less enthusiastic, and seemed to be pushed to the charge, while the volunteers would come rushing along, hurrahing with all their might, driving the enemy into their thicket fast[?], when they were only forced back by the murderous fire of masked batteries and concealed musketry, leaving their wounded to be butchered by the boasted chivalry of the South. Our artillery did terrible execution, but the enemy would bring two pieces to our one, against us. Sherman’s battery was first on the field and mowed down whole ranks of the retreating enemy, and as the remnants came flying past our regiment, we were about to fire upon them when they hoisted the Stars and Stripes, and they were suffered to pass. After getting by, they put up their true colors, and poured a whole broadside into our regiment. Our Colonel, when he saw them, said, “Boys, there are the rascals, fire!” But another countermanded the order, supposing them to be our friends, and thus they escaped. Our boys were mad at this deception, as they were entirely in our power.

Ellsworth’s and Brooklyn Zouaves were about the last to leave the field, and received the special attention of the enemy. The white cap South Carolina Zouaves charged upon them, and the way they routed the Carolinians was a treat to see. They are large swarthy fellows, and hung to each other like brothers, and the enemy have a great terror of them.

When we left the field we expected to encamp on the ground we had taken, and the bold front we showed on our retreat undoubtedly saved us from utter destruction. They did not dare to follow us, having seen too much of our fight during the day, to attack us. But we had not proceeded three miles before it was known throughout the line that we were in a full retreat to the [?], and then the rout commenced. Instead of [?], the regiment broke up, and there was nothing to be seen but a long line of fugitives hurrying to the North. Before we entered the woods the cry arose that the cavalry were upon us, and such a scramble I never saw. The officers ordered the men to the cover to save themselves. Baggage-wagons, artillery, ambulances and carriages of every description, thundered on by us, and the whole route was strewn with broken wagons, or [?] men filled [? ? ?] and all the appurtenances of war, [?] large [?] of private property belonging to the officers.

Thus the road continued through the forest, and when we emerged from the woods we were attacked by a masked battery and the Black Horse Cavalry. Our cavalry rushed on with our artillery in order to save it, and it was saved. Where we came out of the woods there was a deep gully, and here the battery poured down upon the stream of fugitives. The Zouaves charged upon the battery, took two rifled cannon, and cut up the Black Horse Cavalry terribly, thus saving Sherman’s battery and adding two pieces to it. The loss of Sherman’s battery would have been worse than losing a battle to the United States. When they fired upon us I turned to the left and waded a creek three feed deep and passed on toward Centreville; but before I reached the road I came upon the encampment of the New York 69th Regiment, and found them united with the 14th for mutual safety. They were expecting a night attack and lay upon their arms all night. They had secured guides who were to lead them early in the morning to Alexandria, and I concluded to stay and go with them. A soldier of another regiment laid down with me and went to sleep. I woke twice during the night, and the regiments were still on the ground; but, finally, I got into a sound sleep and did not wake up until my comrade awoke me, when he told me the whole body of troops were gone, and we were alone beyond Centreville. I must say that things looked tickelish, but I was determined to pick my way through if such a thing were possible. It was cloudy and raining some when we started, and, inasmuch as I went to bed on the bar ground the night before, after wading the creek, soaking wet and also after marching all day from two o’clock in the morning until ten o’clock at night, with the battle thrown in, I did not feel much like taking a [?] march of some twenty miles to Washington, as I knew I must, a point of safety. We avoided Centreville by crossing the fields and came on in the highway leading from Alexandria to Richmond, but being uncertain of this we took another road leading to Manassas, and I know not how far we should have followed it but for a farmer, who put us on the right track. This was quite a delay as we went about two miles out of the way, and it was about seven o’clock in the morning. When we reached the road we found to our dismay that we were nearly the last of the returning fugitives. I felt very hungry, and although the road was strewed with crackers, bread, sugar and coffee, I did not have time to sit down, build a fire and cook a good dish of coffee, which I might have done at every rod of the way between Centreville and Fairfax. Beef, pork, crackers, bread and sugar lined the roadsides, and the farmers along the route must have picked up enough plunder to feed them for that year, while the enemy, who followed us, must have seized a large number of fine baggage wagons and large amounts of military stores.

I kept up spunk and a quick pace, and I reached Fairfax about three o’clock, P. M. After resting a little, I pushed on, and having overtaken some boys of our regiment, we got a good cup of coffee some four miles this side of Fairfax. It rained in the afternoon steady, but I kept the India Rubber blanket you sent me, and it was of great service to me. I too the road to Alexandria and others went to Arlington Heights. I reached Alexandria about seven P. M., and found Lieut. Hall, and some twenty boys of our regiment. As we could not get to Washington by boat that night, we took up our quarters in the building of the famous Alexandria library. The next day, P. M., went to Washington on foot, and found our regiment out on dress parade, and when our lieutenant marched us into camp before their eyes, it was a joyful sight for both.

This was probably one of the hardest fought battle we have ever had in America, and the rout beats anything I ever read of in our history. Braddock’s defeat, or Green’s retreat, did not begin with it. The Rebels will never give us a fair field fight, and we must bring the heaviest artillery in order to shell them out of their masked batteries. Our Colonel is loved by all the regiment, but the general movement of the army was in unskillful hands. I am a little foot sore and stiff after marching some sixty miles in two days, but I want to get at those rebels again.

J. A. Copeland

Later. – We have just been favored with the perusal of an interesting letter from a volunteer in the 27th regiment, attached to a Binghamton company. He describes minutely the progress of his regiment from Washington to Bull Run and back so far as he understands the movements.

At the point where the 27th went into battle they were the second regiment to engage the enemy, and drove them before them. Suddenly a regiment came out of a piece of woods and the men waved their caps. Col. Slocum thought they were Federal troops and would not fire upon them. They marched up within pistol shot, threw out a secession flag, and opened fire upon the 27th with rifles, the latter being armed with muskets. The 27th returned the fire sharply and compelled them to retire, but when they got out of musket range they poured in the bullets from their rifles and made bloody work. Col. Slocum sent to the New York 14th, near by, for help, but it was refused. At length he ordered his men to retreat to a cover of woods for protection and rest. While on the retreat the Colonel received a shot in his thigh and was borne away to the hospital. Soon after the 27th was ordered to join in a general assault, and went in with other regiments bravely, driving the rebels back to the cover of their masked batteries. Finally the retreat of the Federal army commenced. The 27th left the field in good order, but were charged upon by the rebel cavalry, which broke them up and each man took care of himself.

Rochester (NY) Union Advertiser, 7/30/1861

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Contributed by John Hennessy

27th New York Infantry roster 

John Alden Copeland at Ancestry 

John Alden Copeland at Fold3 

John Alden Copeland at FindAGrave

Capt. William L. B. Stears, Co. E, 14th New York State Militia, On Company Casualties

19 06 2020


To the Editor of the Brooklyn Eagle

Seeing a number of contradictory reports in reference to the killed and wounded of my company, I take the liberty of using your widely circulated paper, with your permission, to set the matter entirely at rest so far as relates to facts.

The friends of my unfortunate comrades whose names are here annexed, will receive this as the truth of the case.

For the first few days after the battle consequent on the confusion incident thereto, I refrained from publishing an account of the members of my command not heard from, hoping that many would rejoin their Regiment, but the returns today do not vary materially from those of Monday. Hoping still against hope and deeply sympathizing with their distressed relatives I now proceed to my most unhappy task.

Killed and Wounded. – C. C. Schell, R. Scott, W. J. Wade, P. McManus, J. Kirchoeffer, C. C. Davenport, A. Copely, G. H. Rogers, M. TenEyck. F. Hardaman, J. Marfing, M. Stone, J. Ryan, Stiles Middleton.

Slightly Wounded. – R. Owen, L. T. Wiggins, but the latter was left on the field.

None but those mentioned are in any way hurt, and I have this to say that they behaved most gallantly, my greatest difficulty being to keep them back.

Wm. L. B. Stears
Capt. of Co. E, 14th Regiment.

Brooklyn (NY) Daily Eagle, 7/29/1861

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84th New York Infantry roster (the 14th NYSM became the 84th New York Volunteer Infantry)

William L. B. Stears at Ancestry 

William L. B. Stears at Fold3 

Image: Capt. Robert B. Jordan, Co. A, 14th New York State Militia

18 06 2020

Capt. Robert B. Jordan, Co. A, 14th NYSM (Source)

Capt. Robert B. Jordan, Co. A, 14th New York State Militia, On Lt. Col. Edward B. Fowler in the Battle

18 06 2020


To the Editor of the Brooklyn Eagle

Having returned late on Saturday night from the scene of war, I was much astonished and mortified to find that there is an impression among the citizens of Brooklyn generally, that Lieut. Col Fowler had not performed his part in the great battle. It was told me that he was not on the field. I was also told that in a recent issue of your paper, you had intimated that he was guilty of cowardice. I wish sir, as an officer of the regiment to say distinctly, that any such statement as the above is a base and malignant falsehood in every particular. I have this day written to one of the officers of the impression existing here, and will in a few days give you the testimony of every remaining, from the hero of the day, Major Jourdan, down, under their own signatures, to prove conclusively the falsehood of any such charges. Col. Fowler, through no fault of his own, was not mounted, and was therefore not as conspicuous as if he had been; but of the fact of his being on the battle field from first to last, I will furnish you with ample evidence. Such statements never came from any officer of the regiment, and the pubic should be cautious how they credit stories coming from unauthorized parties, as they do an incalculable amount of injury to a brave and highly competent officer. You will confer a favor on the regiment by giving this an insertion. I should have called on you myself, but am confined to the house by a wound in the shoulder. Any person wishing further explanation will find me at 76 Powers street.

Respectfully, yours,
Robt. B. Jordan,
Capt. Co. A, 14th Regt.
Brooklyn, July 29.

[We are positive that in no paragraph in the Eagle has it been intimated that Lieut. Col. Fowler was guilty of cowardice. We have always taken him to be a competent officer and brave man, and have heard nothing reliable to the contrary, and would certainly not publish anything derogatory about our Brooklyn men, unless the facts were well authenticated. – Ed.]

Brooklyn (NY) Daily Eagle, 7/29/1861

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84th New York Infantry roster (the 14th NYSM became the 84th New York Volunteer Infantry 

Robert B. Jordan at Ancestry 

Robert B. Jordan at Fold3 

Robert B. Jordan at FindAGrave 

Sgt. John Vliet, Co. D, 14th New York State Militia, On the Battle and Retreat

17 06 2020

Camp Porter, Arlington Heights,
July 23d, 1861.

We left Camp Porter on Tuesday, July 16th, and slept in the open field until last night, as our tents did not go with us, on account of there being too much baggage when on a long march. On Sunday morning we got on our way at three o’clock for Bull’s Run, and marched until near 12 o’clock, without halting scarcely and of the way, and when we arrived within a mile and a half of the battle field they put us on the double quick march, which exhausted the men, it being a warm day and water scarce, so that they were unfit for the duty before them. But they managed to make three rallies with our regiment; the last one I was unable to move one foot before the other, and I laid or dropped down under a tree, which was struck three times with round shot from the enemy’s batteries; but that did not trouble me the least. I thought they would call me cowardly for leaving my post, but it was impossible for me to stand up, as our company had been on picket guard on Friday night, and kept on duty all Saturday; then getting ready on Saturday night to march early Sunday morning was enough to almost kill the stoutest among us. How I escaped God can only tell, for the two first rallies of our regiment the shot and shell fell like hail around us. We fought for five hours in the face of their batteries, and then were obliged to retreat, on account of the ammunition from our artillery giving out. Ad such a retreat you never saw nor heard tell of – the whole of our troops scattered in every direction, and scenes I witnessed are too horrible to relate. As I said before, it was impossible for me to walk, for I seemed to have a burning hot fever and was obliged to drink muddy water by the wayside; but my thirst could not be quenched, and I wished then they had shot me on the spot. I walked a short distance from the field and laid down to rest or die; then I got up and walked again, but could only travel a short space, and as the enemy’s cavalry was close to us I concluded to take my chances in the thick woods. I spread my blanket, which I had picked up by the road side, as all the troops threw their blankets and haversacks away before going into the field. I slept until 5 o’clock in the morning, and then started on my way, but felt very sick. There being a heavy white coating on my tongue, which showed I was in a fever, but the thought of being taken prisoner and hung kept me jogging along until I reached Centreville, when some kind hearted woman gave me a bowl of coffee, which revived me, and I was able to walk along through a heavy rain until I reached our camp in Arlington, having travelled for twelve hours without scarcely eating anything, except two crackers; but I had a good sleep last night. I think that water inside and out, with plenty of exercise, are food for fever. The only thing this morning is a slight stiffness in the calves of my limbs.

Sergt. Jno. Vliet, 14th Regt.

Brooklyn (NY) Daily Eagle, 7/29/1861

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84th New York Infantry roster (the 14th NYSM became the 84th New York Volunteer Infantry 

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Cpl. John Fulton, Co. L (Engineers), 14th New York State Militia, On the Campaign

17 06 2020


Camp Porter, Arlington Heights, July 25, 1861.

There is no doubt ere this you have heard about the battle at Bull’s Run. I want to give you some idea about our regiment from the time we left Arlington until we returned back again. We left Camp Porter at half-past 3 P. M. on the 16th, and marched 12 miles where we came to halt withing 7 miles of Fairfax, when we laid down and had some rest. Nothing of any note transpired during our march. We took up the line of march at 8 A. M. on the 17th for Fairfax. About three miles on the road the rebels had cut down a large number of trees to obstruct our march, but our division took the fields. We arrived at Fairfax at 1 P. M. The rebels left Fairfax in double quick time two hours before we got there. We passed four intrenchments that they vacated. We remained at Fairfax until 4 P. M. of the 18th, then took up our line of march for Centreville. We passed a number of encampments that they had set on fire. They left all their food and camp utensils, so you can judge the hurry they were in. We had a good dinner of the fresh beef that they left behind. We came to a halt 1 ½ miles from Centreville; you must understand we had no tents since we left our camp, all we had was the clear blue sky above us. Thank God we had good weather, but the dear lord how hot it was, soaking wet all the time, but we stand it like men so far, not a man lagged behind and all feel anxious to meet the enemy. But last night was the hardest of all nights, such firing of muskets by the ‘great man’ I never heard before, we were up and down all night. We have in our Brigade the 8th N. Y. S. M., Mart Owens’ Regt. 27th New York Volunteers, one regiment of regular and 600 marines from the Navy Yard besides the gallant 14th; also Griffin’s West Point Battery and a troop of cavalry under the command of Brig. Gen. Porter; the division under Gen. McDowell. Tell Mart Owen that Abe Beatty was in our camp on the 19th; Babcock is sick yet, he is not with his regiment. On the 20th two regulars were flogged for desertion one got thirty-five lashes the other fifty, and in ten days to be drummed out of camp. Now comes the tug of war; we left camp at 2 ½ A. M., for Bull’s Run. Nothing of any importance transpired for about three miles, until we came to a bridge that the rebels hart partly destroyed; but we soon repaired it enough to cross. Shortly after we got on the other side of the bridge we met Gen. McDowell; he put us in quick time for two and a half miles, then came to a halt for about ten minutes, and sent scouting parties. Here we were within 1 ½ miles of the enemy – that is, on a line – but we were to march about six miles, so as to surround them. Here we heard the first gun about 8 A. M., and we kept scouting until we passed Bull’s Run stream. Here we saw Gen. McDowell again; we were within 2 ½ miles of the enemy. Now comes the hot time; the order was double-quick, which we kept up for some time, until, pretty nearly played out, we came to another stream, that we had to cross knee-deep. Here all hands took a drink and filled their canteens. We could hear the guns firing like the very devil only half a mile from the enemy; then double-quick again until we arrived on the field of battle; here we took everything off except undershirts and pants; while doing this, the balls were dropping around us like hail. Then it was double-quick again, until we were in front of the enemy. All out things that we left on the field are lost. Our regiment was ordered on the left flank of the enemy. Griffin’s, Sherman’s, and the Rhode Island batteries were doing good work. The 27th Regiment, New York Volunteers, were the first to engage the enemy’s infantry, but had to fall back; then came the orders for the gallant 14th; Gen. McDowell calls on us to charge the enemy, which we did, and drove them to the woods, where they had entrenchments for their men; our men followed them up to the woods; here a number of our men got wounded; then came an order to retreat, which we did in handsome style, but could not draw them from the woods. We now had a rest for about 15 minutes. Then came the 71st and 8th (the 8th reserve for the 71st), when they opened fire with their howitzers, two in number, on the woods where the enemy had retreated, and drove them out towards their masked battery; here was a complete slaughter-house. As soon as our regiment opened fire on their infantry, the masked battery opened fire on them; such slaughter I never want to see again; our men had to lay down to load and fire. Just before we got this position, a shell wounded John Smith and Dick Coles. Inform Louis Buckman about Smith; tell him he is wounded in the knee, but not very serious. Poor Music, I am afraid, is dead; he was seen wounded in two places, on the right shoulder and leg; this I got from one of his messmates, now in the hospital, also wounded. Our hospital is full of wounded. But to return to the battle – at the time our regiment were lying down loading and firing, the Marines were ordered to cover our men, but they made a hasty retreat and left our men to be slaughtered; but the 71st came up and gave our men a chance to retreat, which we did in good order. The fire was too strong for the 71st, and they had to retreat. Shortly after this our regiment was fired into, some say by the 71st, others say the 8th, and our boys returned it, and made them come out of the woods mighty quick. All this time we were carrying the wounded off the field, I had just carried a wounded man up to the hospital when there came news that our Colonel was wounded. Burtis, Briss, Connor, Ritchie and myself went and brought him off the field amid showers of bullets, but, thank God, we came off safe. It was at this time that our army began to retreat, and it became general throughout our lines. We carried our Colonel about two miles on a litter, when we became exhausted and had to set him down, and some of our men took him up and carried him to the bridge that we had repaired when the rebels cut off our retreat, and that is the last we saw of him. Drs. Homiston and Swalm were with him at the time, also Lewis Phillips, Charles Phillips’ brother, and that is the last we saw of them. Bob Webb had his rifle shot out of his hand at the same place. Thank God, our regiment did their duty, they were the last of our division to leave the field; they made 7 distinct charges on the batteries. Our regiment has not been represented in the proper light; I understand the Zouaves got all the credit; they made but one charge, and that was when the Black Horse Cavalry charged upon them, and that was the last. Some of their men were in our ranks and some in the 71st, and others in the 8th, all the rest were up to the hospital, and you could not get them on the field again; they said they would not go on account of having no one to lead them; that their officers were not worth a d—n, that was the expression of them all. Those that were with the 71st, it is said, did very well, but I did not see them. I must close this letter, for the mail is about starting for Washington. There are about 140 men that we cannot account for, and 60 or 70 that we can, which makes 210, yet we have some hopes that these figures will be reduced, and I hope they will. I suppose we will remain here some time to recruit.

John Fulton.

Brooklyn (NY) Daily Eagle, 7/29/1861

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Clear Copy at 

Contributed by John Hennessy

84th New York Infantry roster (the 14th NYSM became the 84th New York Volunteer Infantry 

John Fulton at Ancestry 

John Fulton at Fold3

Pvt. Richard F. Cole, Co. H, 14th New York State Militia, On the Campaign

16 06 2020

Camp Porter, Arlington Heights,
July 23, 1861.

Tuesday, the 16th inst., we started for Fairfax, at which place we expected to have a brush with the enemies of our country, but when we got there they were gone and we had to go further to find them; they had every thing fixed for us there (Fairfax) but left in a hurry; some of our boys talked pretty loud, but I kept up a devil of a thinking; you know I’ve had the honor of commanding bodies of men in times gone by (not soldiers you may say) and found it necessary to use strategy sometimes even if it was only to keep an engine from being beaten, and it struck me very forcibly that it was only a ruse to draw us on, and so it turned out. We rested in Fairfax one night and part of a day, and then moved on to Centreville where we staid until Sunday morning 2 o’clock, at which time we were moved on, and we kept moving until after 12 o’clock, at which time we came in sight of the bayonets of the rebels; we stopped not over ten minutes, and were marched into the battle, if it may be called by that name; I call it nothing but driving men to the slaughter as the men were well beaten with the march, and had no business to attack a fresh army of men safely entrenched behind batteries and in thick woods in rifle pits with plenty of artillery and twice as many men, all fresh and waiting for us. Only think of 20,000 men half dead with marching attacking from 80,000 to 100,000 fresh men in such a position as they were in. I have my ideas about it; other folks can have theirs, for all I care; it won’t alter mine one mite; but we went in as directed. I didn’t go very far before I got just what I expected, only it was drawn a little milder. I was the second one that went down; my file leader got it first and I got it about the same time and from the same shell; it knocked our pins from under us as if they were made of straw; but thank God neither of us were hurt very seriously. My wounds were only flesh wounds, but my comrade’s knee pan was knocked off. A fragment of shell hit my friend, Robt. Furey, on the cheek, and started the blood, but he went on, not knowing that he was struck until he found the blood running down his face. I had to limp up to the hospital with John Smith (queer name, but he was the first in the 14th regiment that was hurt, notwithstanding) where we found our two surgeons, Homiston and Swalm, assisted by Chaplain Inskip, pretty busy. So we took a back seat for the ones that were hurt more than we were, and looked at the fight. I don’t want to claim any more for our regiment than belongs to it, but I will say that they and the Zouaves charged in the face of the hottest fire of any regiments on that field, that is if I am any kind of judge. It is a miracle that they were not all left on the field, but thank God some of us are alive yet to tell the tale and avenge those that have gone. But I never want to see such a wind up again. I want the shoe on the other foot the next time, just to see if our men will bayonet the wounded, and shell the ambulances containing the wounded, as they did. I expect a great many of our men that are missing got that kind of treatment, in fact I know they did. Our Colonel and surgeons have not returned yet; the supposition is they are prisoners. The Colonel was wounded; we tried to bring him with us, but received a volley of grape and canister as we were crossing the bridge, and had to leave him in an ambulance, thinking he was all safe as a horse can generally get along faster than a man can, we have heard nothing of him since, but have hopes of his turning up to-morrow, as the boys keep straggling in one or two at the time, completely played out. I hardly know how far we have marched since Sunday morning, but should say it was at least fifty, if not sixty miles, without eating or sleeping, and I might say without water, for what we got was half mud, and would have turned our stomachs at any other time; but we were glad to get anything that looked like water, and were thankful for it at that. It is impossible to say how many we have lost, but it will not be as great as we expected at first. There was four missing out of my tent this morning; one has returned, and we have heard from two of the others, leaving one to hear from in our nine, and eight in the company (H). Some of the companies have lost a great many more; C and G, I understand, lost the most, but I am in hopes a great many of them will come back to-morrow or next day. I will try and let you know how many we have lost in my next letter.

R. F. C.*
Co. H, 14th Regt., N.Y.S.M.

Brooklyn (NY) Daily Eagle, 7/29/1861

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* Likely Pvt. Richard F. Cole shown on the roster as wounded in the battle.

84th New York Infantry roster (the 14th NYSM became the 84th New York Volunteer Infantry)

Richard F. Cole at 

Richard F. Cole at Fold3 

G. H. Price*, 14th New York State Militia, On the Campaign

10 06 2020

[Letter from a son to his parents.]

Camp Porter, Alexandria, Va.,
Tuesday, July 23rd, 1861.

We have fought a great battle and lost it, and thank God I am but slightly injured in the side, under the left arm, from a shell that exploded at our feet. On Tuesday last we left this place at 3 o’clock in the afternoon and marched until 11 or 12 at night; we then rested in the open field till daylight, and then started forward again to three entrenchments of the enemy which they had deserted. At about 3 o’clock on Wednesday P. M. we marched into Fairfax, the enemy having retreated on our approach. We marched through the little village of Fairfax, which hardly deserved the name, there being only the Court House and half a dozen huts. In the afternoon of the next day we started on again, and marched about six miles to a place this side of Centreville, where we encamped until 2 o’clock Saturday morning, where we again started – this time to fight. We marched at a pretty quick time to Bull’s Run, a distance of sixteen miles. We halted for a few minutes, and we could see the enemy firing from his battery. We then had orders to march double quick time to the other side of the run, which was about two miles. We had our blankets, which, with two days’ rations, we threw away as we ran. We no sooner got there, all panting and blowing, than we were ordered to charge up a hill and at an enemy we could not see, they being behind their masked battery. We then made a charge and fell back to reload. We were drawn into a ditch to draw the enemy’s fire from our artillery. We went up a road and were fired upon by some of our own men, whether the 71st, 27th, or 8th regiment I do not know. We all fell on our faces till they had done firing, when we, of course not knowing who they were, stood up and fired at them. All this took place in less time than you can read of it. We went in the ditch were we were ordered and lay there to be shot at for almost a quarter of an hour, we then made three distinct charges at the enemy who fired at us with buckshot and bullets which mowed us down like grass. In the third charge within ten feet of the enemy’s guns a shell exploded among our company and some ten or twelve fell, I among them. I felt a sharp pain in my left shoulder or rather behind it. I put my hand there and found a piece of my jacket and shirt gone, there was a cut big enough to lay your finger in. I turned round and saw our captain fall**. I ran to him and a sergeant and I carried him off the field. He is wounded in the left breast by a ball. It is not extracted yet. We were ordered to retreat to Washington the enemy having a reinforcement of some forty thousand men as near as Gen. McDowell could tell. Our poor Colonel was shot in the hip after his horse was shot under him. How we travelled almost sixty miles in twenty-eight hours, and how we ever reached the camp I do not know. When we got in I fell down and went to sleep. I cannot write any more at present.

G. H. Price*,

P. S. – I hear the 14th was cut off; that the enemy fired into our ambulances and killed all the wounded, our Colonel among them. Whether it is true I can’t tell.

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

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Also on web 

Contributed by John Hennessy

14th New York State Militia (84th New York Infantry) roster 

* The only Price found in the regimental roster is James Price of Co. C.

** Capt. R. B. Jordan of Co. A, and Capt. C. F. Baldwin, Co. D, were reported wounded in the battle.